Stephen Fishbach sizes up the contestants' chances at winning

By Stephen Fishbach
Updated November 25, 2011 08:00 PM
Credit: Rob Kim/Landov

“Cut the enemies down as they advance, crushing them in the direction from which they attack.” – Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of the Five Rings

This week on Survivor: Cochran, we got a fresh perspective on this season‘s most exciting player. Did you know that Cochran has trouble gutting fish? That he has body image issues? That he never fit in with his tribe?

Wait – you did? Well, last night we saw new scenes depicting how mercilessly Savai’i bullied our hero. Whitney advised him how to pick up girls! Elyse listened to his stories about pooping! Ozzy asked him to help around camp!

The horror, the horror. Imagine the atrocities that were too shocking for TV. Did Dawn chat with him about the weather? Did Keith ask him to high five … then fake him out?! John Cochran – Alexander Solzhenitsyn salutes you from the grave.

But rather than dwell on the depths of man’s inhumanity to man, this blog will analyze each player’s position in the game.

Coach: Coach is at the center of every alliance; he’s almost guaranteed a spot in the finals. If he’s sitting next to goats Brandon and Edna, how could he lose?

Coach’s fate may depend on whether or not he can match Boston Rob’s humble final tribal performance from last season. But humility comes hard to a man who calls himself Zeus.

Albert: Like many great heroes, Albert is struggling to get out of his father’s shadow. “Sometimes I think he wants to make a big move just for the hell of it,” Sophie analyzes. But a “big move for the hell of it” may be just what Albert needs. He knows he has to do something to justify the jury voting for him. What that is, and how he’s going to get other people to go along with it, remain the question.

Sophie: I’m a big fan of Sophie’s strategy, which boils down to the poker adage, “Don’t tap the glass and disturb the fish.” Sophie knows that doing anything to upend the tribe hierarchy won’t just eliminate one player – it will throw all the game’s alliances into doubt.

But a little doubt might help Sophie. She has to be wondering how she’s realistically going to make the finals, and where the votes will come from.

Cochran: Did Cochran improve or harm his position by flipping from Savai’i to Upolu? Everyone agrees he can’t win a jury vote. But can he make the finals as a goat? Cochran depends on Coach’s good graces.

But Hercules is voting for Zeus no matter what. Cochran serves Allfather’s plans best from the jury bench.

Brandon: Like Tocantins-era Coach, Brandon is honest to a fault. “We can make [this] a more honorable game!” he exclaims. Not a winning strategy. But Brandon is the type of jury goat that Boston Rob doodles in his sketchbook when he daydreams.

Rick: Who doesn’t love the strong, silent type? If Rick ends up in the finals against two people who cut throats to get there, he could win. Still, you get the sense that Rick hasn’t made any strong endgame pacts. When Rancher Rick’s vote is no longer needed, he’ll be put out to pasture.

Edna: Edna’s strategy all game has been to put herself completely in Coach’s hands, like Natalie Tenerelli to Coach’s Boston Rob. Her best possibility is getting shut out in the finals. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Ozzy: If Ozzy can win his way to the finals, he’s a lock for the million. But one fumbled ball and he’s finished.

Whitney and Dawn: Enjoy the jury!