Fishbach calls him the season's "schemiest schemer," but will Marty become a target?

By Stephen Fishbach
September 30, 2010 08:00 AM
Monty Brinton/CBS(2)

“The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice.” – Law 31: Control the Options

Call him Marty. Since day one, Marty’s been on a monomaniacal quest to kill the great white NFL coach, an allegorical force of goodness that possesses unnatural powers of motivation. For eliminating Jimmy Johnson and cementing his role as the season’s schemiest schemer, Marty wins this week’s Fishy award. Now he just needs to keep the Espada ship from sinking.

Marty’s right in thinking taking JJ to the merge “would be a disaster.” Younger players would rally to the celebrity, not caring that he’s weak. Marty finally has a chance to eliminate the threat and assume tribal dominance, and he takes it.

He really earns this week’s Fishy, however, with the way he exerts his influence. Rather than dictate his orders like other strategists (cough, Russell, cough), Marty builds consensus. “Can you imagine what your friends are going to say when you’ve blindsided Jimmy Johnson?” he says to flatter Dan. When Jill defers to him, he urges her to speak up: “You’re pivotal to this thing, I want you on board.” The consummate executive, Marty wants everyone’s opinion heard – and one person’s opinion enacted.

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Where Marty goes wrong is in his desire to “wake up” the rest of the tribe, a theme he returns to again and again. “I’m anxious to get the game a little more accelerated,” he says at Tribal Council. “If I didn’t think people were thinking about that, the last thing I would do is remind them,” Jeff responds.

It’s a sad fact that every season of Survivor only has a couple strategic thinkers. How else can they make room for all the crazy? So Marty – I can commiserate with what might be a feeling of disappointment that you’re playing the greatest game in the world against people who are swooning over celebrity (or out chasing dragons). But ultimately you’re playing to win. So, in the poker idiom, why tap the glass and disturb the fish? Marty was in a perfect position. The tribe’s leader was the biggest target, while he held power behind the throne.

That role now belongs to Jill, who is more of a bug in Marty’s ear than he probably realizes. Convincing Marty to show the tribe the idol is great for her but fairly bad for him. Jill still has influence over how the idol is played, but the importance of Marty’s possession is minimized and he suddenly becomes a big target. Why did he think his tribe mates would figure out he had it?

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People are giving Jill grief for agreeing to whatever Marty says, but I think it’s a smart play. What does she care if it’s Dan or Jimmy or Holly who goes? Marty has a vendetta against JJ, and if she starts asking questions, it might raise his ire. The only thing she cares about is keeping things quiet. “What we can’t do is get everyone stirred up,” she says, presaging Jeff’s advice. Jill guides Marty’s opinion when it counts but otherwise gives him a loose leash. “You’re the puppet master,” she assures him.

Jill is playing a roughly parallel role to La Flor’s Brenda, who is BFF with everybody. This week, Brenda cozies up to NaOnka for her idol clue. “She . . . has the power right now, and I’m just keeping as tight with her as possible,” Brenda says.

I actually don’t hate NaOnka for going full-tilt at Kelly B. Keeping the clue out of Kelly’s hands might make the difference in one of her allies getting blindsided. Probst couldn’t have been more excited about Danielle and Amanda’s wrestling scene last season. Why is this any different?

Tell us: What did you think of Marty and NaOnka?