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Stephen's Survivor Strategy Blog: Sash Severs an Alliance

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Monty Brinton/CBS (2)

“In your desire to please or impress [people], do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite – inspire fear and insecurity.” – Law 1: Never Outshine the Master

Has surfer dude Fabio finally articulated the perfect formula to win Survivor? “I call it ‘being cool,’ ” he says on Wednesday’s episode. “Just not ticking people off.” If only he could have imparted that wisdom to self-proclaimed strategist Marty. Mr. Farty might still be in the game if he had made fewer enemies and combed his hair differently.

Instead, the King of Espada was checkmated by an alliance of all the women plus honorary lady Chase. How funny that a season that started off as Old vs. Young should end up Guys vs. Girls. Apparently, you can be any age and still think Marty is from Mars.

For knowing when to cut his ally’s rope, Sash wins this week’s Fishy. Marty was a loyal friend who had no chance at winning in the finals. Even more useful, he had no filter. “I know he tells me everything,” Sash tells Brenda.

Sash had the option of voting off Jane to save his ally. But doing so would have alienated NaOnka, Holly and Chase. “He’s a thorn in their side,” Sash says. Nevermind the question of why Marty is more personally reviled than NaOnka.

When one player becomes a lightning rod for criticism, your decision to not vote him off can seem like a personal attack on the rest of the tribe, and make you a target. Think of Russell Hantz voting off Ben Browning in Samoa – he had to do it to maintain his influence. That sort of long-term thinking is what separates the Survivors who are playing the game from those who are just on the island.

Brenda’s Trouble

Sash’s game-play this week edges out Brenda’s because he’s able to put the Bro Alliance at ease and not stand out as a threat. He even treats Brenda with deference. “My plan is . . . whatever your plan is,” he tells her.

Brenda, on the other hand, is having trouble comforting the women, especially Chase. Chase may be paranoid and he may be annoying, but it’s Brenda job to make him feel safe.

Instead, while he’s begging for a security blanket, she gives him the cold shoulder. “You seem really unsure right now. Are you just thinking?” Chase asks. “Just thinking,” Brenda responds. “What do you think? You seem really unsure,” he tries again. “No,” is all she says. Am I the only English major who thought of part two of The Waste Land?

That sort of curt dismissal of your allies is a bigger Survivor sin than stealing all the tortillas in Nicaragua. Chase has lost confidence in Brenda, and NaOnka and Holly are wavering too.

The End of Influence?

The problem for the Brenda-Sash Alliance now is that they no longer have the majority. Holly, Jane, NaOnka and Chase are a tight foursome. Brenda is only on the periphery. And the Bro Alliance probably won’t be too thrilled that Sash turned on them.

Brenda and Sash have so far been able to control the action by playing two alliances off against each other. But without Marty around to rile up Jane, that might not be so easy. Who wants to target sweet Uncle Dan? The only other Bros left are Bill and Ted – or, excuse me, Benry and Fabio – and they just want to hang loose.

The real test of Sash’s control will come next week.

Tell Us: What does NaOnka have to do to get voted out?