Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.
“If I told everyone to their face what I said behind their back, I wouldn’t be playing a very good game, would I?”
– Corinne Kaplan, Survivor: Gabon
Corinne Kaplan was in a perfect position – or so it seemed.
She was a day one founding member of the Stealth R Us alliance. She had a side alliance with Michael Snow (whose sexual orientation we may never learn). Then her partner Malcolm approached her about a secret pact with the Bros from Gota. Now Corinne was part of a plot that could unseat her longtime antagonist Phillip and take control of the entire game.
Unbeknownst to Corinne, however, someone was working hard to take her out. Someone had devised a crafty strategy to unravel all her plans and send her home. And that person was Corinne!
How could anybody take Corinne out? Well, Corinne had a great scheme!
Corinne’s first step was to neutralize Phillip. You see, Phillip really wanted to help Corinne. He wanted to split the votes between Eddie and Reynold. That would open the door for the Bros alliance to set up an epic blindside. With the Favorites votes split, their six would be enough to vote out Phillip this week!
Corinne couldn’t have that. She convinced the Favorites that it was crucial that they vote as one cohesive unit. If the six Favorites voted together, there was no way Corinne could have the numbers. Granted, Corinne had to antagonize Phillip, who really wanted a split vote. But Corinne was willing to do whatever it took to stop Corinne!
Corinne’s masterstroke came when she told Dawn all about Corinne’s plans. Corinne divulged that the idea to take out Sherri was only a diversion. The real target was Phillip. Corinne informed Dawn that there was a secret alliance of Fans and Favorites that was ready to take control of the game. She gave Dawn not just her strategy, but also the names and Social Security numbers of all her allies.
Corinne wins the Fishy for the masterful way she blindsided Corinne. She gave Dawn enough information to start a counter-counter-alliance. Dawn recruited Cochran, who recruited Andrea, who recruited Phillip and Erik. Brenda may also have been involved.
If anything good came out of this episode, it was that we got to see the Stealth R Us alliance in action. Their maneuvering reminded me of one of the tunnel-building montages from a 1960s prison escape movie – the whole crack squad coming together, communicating with a wink and a nod, evading the watchful eyes of the German prison guards.
That’s how an alliance is supposed to work: building consensus and then taking decisive action. If Cochran, Dawn, Phillip and Andrea can keep their magnificent six intact, they could ride off into the sunset.
Haunted by the Past
After the first episode, I wondered if all the Favorites would be doomed to repeat their past mistakes. Francesca was too vocal. Brandon had a meltdown and voted himself out.
You could argue that Corinne’s mouth once again got her into trouble. But last night was less about Corinne repeating her past than Dawn refusing to repeat her own.
In South Pacific, Dawn knew that Cochran was about to flip – but didn’t tell her own alliance. The mistake could have cost her the game, and she’s determined not to make it again.
Dawn has evolved into a ruthless Survivor player whose benign, motherly demeanor perfectly masks her cut-throat strategy. She seems so sweet – and gosh, she’s always just overflowing with tears! Yet Francesca, Julia and now Corinne have all made the mistake of putting their trust in Dawn – and being mercilessly backstabbed.
Dawn is able to use people’s expectations against them, a quality shared by many of the best Survivor players. As Cochran said in episode one, this really is “new Dawn.”