One team sets a new benchmark in how not to play the game

By Stephen Fishbach
Updated February 27, 2014 11:10 AM
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach. Erik Reichenbach is a Survivor fan-turned-favorite, a comic book author and artist. He placed fifth on both Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: Caramoan. Follow him on Twitter @BloodyAmer1can.

“There is a difference between book smarts and common sense smarts. It seems like none of my group has any common sense. Not a one of them.”
– Russell Hantz, Survivor: Samoa

Is the Brains tribe the worst tribe ever?

These ersatz eggheads don’t just lose challenges. They lose challenges spectacularly in jaw-dropping fiascos. They don’t just make a bad shelter. They spend all day building a structure that can’t support a single person. They don’t just play Survivor badly. They set a new benchmark in how not to play the game.

I’m with Kass, when she wonders, “How did we come up with the criteria for the Brains?” These imitation intellectuals take less after Cochran than they do after Brandon Hantz, who secured his spot in the Survivor Hall of Flameouts by dumping the rice in Caramoan. For the bogus Brains, J’Tia pouring their rice into the fire isn’t even worth voting her out.

The phony philosophers’ problems start when David chooses Garrett as the tribe’s weak link. I liked David, and was sad that he got the role of leader thrust on him. How could he possibly choose just one weak link when every single link around him was about to shatter? David overexplained his thinking, saying that he was gunning for an end game threat. After the counterfeit Cochrans lose the first challenge, he’s the season’s first boot.

It’s after their second challenge loss, when J’Tia panics and squanders a massive lead, that the mock minds really show their idiocy. Garrett has been whining about how hard Survivor is. “I’m not having fun,” he pouts. He doesn’t want to work, and after the challenge loss, he also doesn’t want to strategize. He tells the group that everyone should just announce their intentions in public.

You knew Garrett was a dummy when he showed up on Day One ready for a photo shoot. If you’re in Survivor for the long haul, you pack a little extra padding. Garrett’s mandate that nobody should strategize seems bossy and dumb. At tribal council he one-ups himself by telling Tasha she’s not in his alliance. I bet Garrett’s poker tell is when he actually tells his opponents his cards.

Tasha hardly comes off better. She stamps her feet and complains that “my game is being stifled.” Survivor is all about strategizing – but you don’t tell people you want to strategize!

Only Spencer can claim the name Brain. He sits back and acts unobtrusive. I loved the scene where Spencer needled Garrett about the idol. “It just seems weird there hasn’t been anything to do with an idol so far,” he said. Maybe he was worried that David had a clue, but I’ll bet he was just as worried that Garrett had one.

When Garrett is blindsided, Spencer looks like he’s on the bottom. With a tribe as erratic as the Brains, though, anything could happen.

Beauty and Brawn

It’s fun to talk about the Brain meltdown, but did you know there are two other tribes?

Beauty has been handed some comfortable victories by LJ, who may be the single best puzzle solver in Survivor history.

LJ’s got skills, but he’s also got troubles. Getting picked as tribe leader forced him to alienate Morgan. That could haunt him, now that Morgan has teamed up with devious Brice and pretty-boy Jeremiah.

Brawn has the gung-ho team spirit you would expect from a bunch of jocks. They just want to high five and win the big match – except for Tony, who could be dangerous. He has both an immunity idol and a secret spy shack.

The Fishy this week goes to Sarah, who is the one tribe leader to stay out of hot water. Her cop instincts are already serving her well. I think she could go far.