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Stephen’s Survivor Strategy Blog: Idiocy Epidemic Hits Samoa

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Rob Kim/Landov

My view is that it is desirable to be both loved and feared; but it is difficult to achieve both, and if one of them has to be lacking, it is much safer to be feared than loved. –Machiavelli, The Prince

Here’s an idea for a future All-Star season — Survivor: Idiots. Take some of the worst players from Survivor’s history and watch them self-destruct. Or would that be too close to what they’re doing now? Honestly, Russell and Parvati are getting a lot of help from their opponents. This week, both Candice and Danielle essentially vote themselves out.

Note to all future contestants: Never, ever flip-flop. As I wrote last week, your new allies won’t trust you and your old allies will hate you. Listen to the vitriol with which Colby and Rupert talk about Candice. “Candice is a pitiful player,” says Rupert. “She’s so pathetic,” says Colby.

People who waffle are almost invariably the next to go — see Christy in the Amazon, Dolly in Vanuatu, John in Samoa and Coach this season. There’s enough confusion in Survivor without someone vacillating in the voting booth. Jerri puts it best when she says, “Someone flips over that quickly to our side, it’s just as easy to flip-flop back. So we don’t really need her anymore.” The end.

While Candice is a victim of her own bad decision-making, Danielle falls prey to island fever. After two almost-consecutive months of scheming and backstabbing, Russell may be succumbing to paranoia. The ladies took the lead in the Candice boot, and now Russell’s convinced he has a female uprising on his hands. So Russell tries to spread the paranoia around. “Parvati might try to get rid of you,” he whispers to Danielle. “Danielle came to me — she wants to vote you off,” he tells Parvati.

Somehow in two seasons, nobody’s had the brains or the guts to do some fact checking. So when Parvati tells him she’s going to confront Danielle, Russell almost has a nervous breakdown. “Parvati, if you do that, you’re out of this game, I promise you,” he says.

Russell has good reason to be afraid. When the girls do talk, they quickly realize that he’s playing them. So Russell tries to get Rupert, Colby and Jerri to vote out Danielle. “Help me to help you,” he tells Jerri, perhaps thinking of Jerry Maguire. When Jerri turns down his generous offer, the issue should have ended there and Rupert should be rocking out with the Dragonz.

But Danielle’s island fever is burning up. “I haven’t done anything to be disloyal to Russell,” she says at Tribal Council. “I don’t know why he’s testing me.” Doesn’t she sound like Job? Russell may be God’s gift to the producers, Danielle, but he’s not actually God. Danielle starts sobbing and tells Russell, “I’m closer to Parvati thank you think.” The slip-up reawakens Russell’s suspicions and convinces Jerri that there is a secret sub-alliance. Together, they send Danielle out to pasture.

After an action-packed episode with two tribal councils, I’m giving out three Fishies. These players made strong moves despite the epidemic of idiocy.

RUSSELL: What makes Russell such a formidable player is his ability to respond to circumstances and switch up his game. When he feels himself losing control, he plays Parvati and Danielle against each other. When that plan instead brings them closer together, he separates them by force. “As soon as we eliminate Danielle, Parvati is going to be so scared of me, she’ll vote the way I tell her to vote,” he says. How Machiavellian.

RUPERT: Rupert’s brilliant “is that an idol in your pocket?” maneuver takes the heat off him and sends Candice home instead. Extra credit for calling Russell out in front of the Villains and for being one of TWO not to give up at the first immunity challenge. (WTF, Colby?!)

SANDRA: Sandra is the only person who wasn’t involved in any of the episode’s shouting; with seven players left, that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment. Her subtlety with the idol she found — Oh, that’s too bulgy; will notice — is the perfect symbol for her entire strategy. Stay out of the way and secretly accumulate power.

One note: please beware that some are posting Spoilers in the comments section.

Tell us: Was voting off Danielle the right thing to do? Who do you think will win it all?Rob Kim/Landov