Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.
Erik Reichenbach is a Survivor fan-turned-favorite, a comic book author and artist. He placed fifth on both Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: Caramoan. Follow him on Twitter @BloodyAmer1can.
“The only thing I can predict about Brandon is that he’s going to be unpredictable. That gives me very little solace in this game when predictability really is everything.”
– John Cochran, winner, Survivor: Caramoan
How bad is the Brains tribe at challenges? It’s like the setup to a “Yo momma” joke.
The Brains tribe is so bad, they’ll lose Immunity even if you throw the challenge.
The Brains tribe is so bad that you can run the Reward out of order and still beat them.
The Brains tribe is so bad, they practice wearing blindfolds and still get left in the dark.
The theme of this episode of Survivor: Cagayan is idiocy. Beauty has some deep discussions about the chicken reproduction. They’re pretty sure it involves a heat lamp. Brawn wants to throw a challenge to vote out their strongest member. Brains can’t figure out how to center a flag on a platform.
Jeff Probst needs to scrub the word “outwit” off the Cagayan logo.
The Brawn tribe may have been the most boneheaded of all. Cliff is an obvious post-merge target. He’s a huge shield for the rest of the physical powerhouses on Brawn. Why vote him out?
Sarah’s Making Mistakes
The problem is that Tony has made Sarah so paranoid. She’s convinced that Cliff could plot against her at a tribe swap. By voting Cliff out now, she thinks she’s getting rid of an enemy later.
For someone who reads people for a living, Sarah is acting illiterate. Even if Cliff were after her – which he isn’t – rivalries within a tribe dissipate pretty quickly after a swap or a merge.
That’s true unless there’s been a very real betrayal, like a thrown challenge. Had Sarah succeeded at her plan, she could have created an actual enemy in Lindsay. Then she really might have had a problem.
Let’s give the ever-optimistic Woo credit for his smooth gameplay. He’s able to convince Sarah that he’s 100 percent with her, and also save his best bud Cliff by winning the challenge. “I’m just trying to affiliate myself with the majority, and when the opportunity is presented to me, I’ve got to take it,” he says.
Lucky for Cliff and for Brawn, the Brains tribe is so bad, they use rice to try to make fire. Spencer puts in a good effort, but ultimately is beaten in the hoops competition by a professional basketball player.
A Smart Choice
That leaves Tasha and Kass with a problem. They know that a tribe swap is imminent. Who do they vote out to put themselves in the best position? J’tia offers blind loyalty. Spencer is more well-rounded.
Tasha and Kass win this week’s Fishy for making the right decision. They keep Spencer and dump J’tia like J’tia dumped the rice. On Survivor, where so much of the game is out of your control, you want to play with rational players whose motivations you can guess.
“Unpredictability is just as dangerous as disloyalty,” Spencer says. In my opinion, it’s even worse.
Furthermore, J’tia is the anti-Cliff. She’s sucked so bad in every challenge, nobody is going to want to vote her off. Add her legacy as a rice burner into the equation, and if she makes it to the swap or a merge, she’s got smooth sailing into the endgame. That’s a spot that Tasha and Kass should want for themselves.
Conversely, Spencer has performed notably well. If the other two tribes start picking off Brains, he’ll be an early target.
The worst pre-merge tribe can sometimes be the one with the best post-merge prospects. The big tribes turn on each other – and they often turn on themselves to settle their scores.
The Brains tribe, by the very fact of their awfulness, are in an enviable position. With a strong squad, they could go deep in this game. On Wednesday night, they made the right choice.