Josh was looking strategically dominant for weeks, but then his team started acting out

By Stephen Fishbach
Updated November 13, 2014 09:55 AM
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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.

“My biggest strategy going in will just be kill them with kindness. I’ll be so nice to them that they’re not gonna want to kick me off.”
– Taj George, Survivor: Tocantins

The golden rule of Survivor is the same as the golden rule for life.

Just freaking be polite to people.

It’s incredible to watch the same mistake happen over and over again, season after season. Cocky jerks treat people badly. Then they have their butts handed to them.

And speaking of butts: Last night the guys were having some trouble controlling theirs. Wes, Keith and Alec were belching and farting so much that Missy’s monocle fell off and Jeremy’s top hat popped off his head.

Far worse than #belchgate was the condescending way the guys treated Jaclyn. You can find a lot of compelling strategic reasons to vote against people who aren’t respectful of you.

Alec was the worst. When Jaclyn is sitting with Natalie and Baylor, he snidely remarks that he only trusts Natalie to keep the fire going.

“Shouldn’t they try and be nice to me?” Jaclyn asks. “They need my vote.”

Is it any wonder Jaclyn votes against Josh, after Alec embarrassed her in front of the other girls?

When Keith even considers talking strategy with Jaclyn, Alec shoots him down. “I’m telling you, Jon’s riding with the boys,” he asserts.

You probably shouldn’t take advice from a bro about what a man will do. When Jon hears that his girlfriend is being disrespected, of course he decides to switch alliances.

“I feel as comfortable as I probably could,” Alec says. Note to future Survivor contestants: If those words ever leave your mouth, something is about to go disastrously wrong.

Josh’s Situation

Poor Josh.

I’ve been saying for weeks how Josh was strategically dominant. He built all the right alliances. He treated everybody with respect. I was sure he would coast to victory.

Then Julie’s quit happened, and Wesley’s belching, and Alec’s snide remarks. Josh’s fragile majority fractured. Not since Corinne sank Malcolm’s game in Caramoan has a Survivor been so screwed by his own alliance.

Josh made an ineffectual attempt to win over Baylor by trying to guilt her into agreement. “I feel like you owe me at least one vote,” he said.

“You owe me” is one of the worst ways to try to convince somebody. Nobody in almost any situation – especially not on Survivor – is going to be motivated by guilt and obligation.

Josh should have tried a reverse tactic and claimed he would owe her. He should have talked about how he could keep her safe until the end of the game.

People don’t want to hear about debts from their past. They want to hear promises of their future.

Still, I don’t think there was much Josh could do here. Baylor was looking for excuses to justify doing what she (and her mom) actually wanted to do anyway.

Josh’s real mistake was wasting time trying to convince Baylor, and not paying exclusive attention to the real swing vote – Jaclyn.

Fishy Award

So I guess I’ll give the Fishy to Jaclyn, who made the game-changing decision. Jaclyn’s flip wasn’t just about the bros and their belching. “In our immunity challenges, the biggest threats are those guys,” she tells Jon.

You want to be in a group that respects you. Even more important – joining an alliance with Missy and Baylor is better than joining one with physical beasts like Reed, Wes and Alec.

Jaclyn also acknowledges the danger of their situation. “There’s going to be a good portion of people mad at us no matter which way we go,” says Jaclyn.

Playing the middle can be dangerous. Let’s see how long she and Jon can manage it.

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