Monty Brinton/CBS
Stephen Fishbach
April 12, 2012 10:00 AM

“There’s a word in the English language called naïve. And some people are that. And obviously, those people are playing this game.”
– Jonny Fairplay, Survivor: Pearl Islands

Oh Jay, you beautiful idiot. How could you?

For the past few weeks on Survivor, it seemed like Jay was this season’s male voice of reason. He started the game crowing with the Roosters, then jumped to the Misfits when Queen Colton took power. After the swap, he sidled over to the Salanis. And last week, as the women organized Michael’s ouster, he was the only one to stand athwart the plan, yelling “Stop!”

But in just a few short moments, he undoes a season’s worth of careful gameplay. Just as Troyzan is hot on the heels of lady Machiavel Kim, Jay runs and tattles. Troyzan’s going to play his idol! Watch out!

So while Troyzan is trying to win allies, Kim has the info she needs to foil his plan. Who knows what would have happened if Jay had just kept his trap shut? Maybe Tarzan and Christina still wouldn’t have blindsided Kim. After all, Tarzan is pretty well-ensconced in the women’s alliance (he even voted for Jay). But then again, maybe it would have worked.

How to Tell a Lie on Survivor
Of course, it’s easy for viewers to slap our heads and moan. The situation is much more complex on the island. It’s easy to believe someone who’s been cuddling with you at night – especially when you don’t get to hear her behind-the-scenes confessionals.

On the other hand, these girls aren’t even good liars. Look at the way they “deceive” Jay when he asks them to confirm that Alicia’s the target. “Yeah. Yep. Uh-huh. Right-o,” they mutter, as they shuffle their feet and look at the ground.

Compare and contrast with the way the girls talk amongst themselves. They giggle about their endgame strategy. They complain about how hard blindsiding can be. They reaffirm their commitment to each other. Most of all, they look each other full in the face.

Here’s a note to all future Survivor contestants: If people are scheming with you, there’s going to be actual scheming. You’ll talk about plots and counterplots. You’ll fantasize about who’s voted out next. If someone’s feeding you monosyllables, they’re probably not your friend.

Russell Hantz was the master of involving his targets in fake schemes, so that they would never get suspicious. Compared to that, even Kim’s subtle gameplay looks amateur.

Jay’s another victim of a common problem on Survivor. He got so locked into his original game plan, he couldn’t see what was actually happening. His fantasy final three of him, Chelsea and Kim was just too alluring. So when reality starts to intrude, what’s his solution? Block out the reality.

At least Troyzan finally starts to pick up on the signals. He notes, for example, how the girls cheer when he falls out of the immunity challenge. It’s funny how that works. You can be so in control of your emotions and reactions back at camp, but the high adrenaline of the challenges brings out those gut feelings.

Troyzan wins the Fishy this week for finally wising up and getting a clue – even if it is a little too late. Good on him for trusting his intuition and actually playing the idol. I also respected how stoically Alicia accepted that she would be the decoy boot target. That’s a dangerous position. A few stray votes, a misplayed idol, and suddenly you’re the one getting smuffed.

And heck, let’s give Tarzan a nod for going full femme. Not only is he voting with the girls, he’s wearing their clothes. “The girls are a lot smarter than the boys,” he says. No kidding.

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