Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: Natalie Makes an Odd Choice, and What's Up with Jon?
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.
“It’s always that same question: Who can I trust the most?”
– Russell Hantz, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
You guys, help me make up my mind. What do we think of Jon Misch?
Do we like him? With his upbeat temperament, devotion to Jaclyn and truly heartrending story about his father, Jon seems like such a solid guy.
As Natalie points out, he’s also played a decent game. He’s used his canine sense of smell to sniff out two idols. He’s won immunity. And he’s kept himself and Jaclyn at the center of the game’s alliances.
Or do we find Jon irritating? The way he blusters on about wine and coos sweet nothings to Jaclyn. Like Mr. Magoo, Jon has just barely dodged two bullets he didn’t even know were headed his way – last week from Reed and this week from Natalie.
“It does actually seem like I’ve found people who are trustworthy,” Jon says, blissfully naïve as Natalie plots his undoing. That’s an insane thing to say at the final seven, when contestants are counting jury votes and calculating the clearest path to the finals.
But Jon does have an instinctual sense for the game. One thing he understands, that not a lot of players do, is the importance of building a story for himself.
Witness last night, when Jon asked Jaclyn to give him – not Natalie – verbal credit for playing the idol. It may have seemed like a petulant cry for attention, but Jon realizes you have to control your tribe narrative.
A collective sense of who you are can end up defining your game. People will say, “Baylor is the bratty one” or “Jaclyn rode Jon’s coattails.” Even if the story isn’t true, it can determine your fate at the jury.
The Center of the Season
Love him or hate him, Jon has been at the center of everything this season. Much of the drama of this week’s episode came from an argument between Jon and Jaclyn, with the power couple refusing to talk to each other because Jaclyn didn’t like Jon’s tone.
Reed could hardly believe it – that his fate in Survivor might somehow be determined by a lovers’ spat.
(To be fair, the unanimous vote made it clear that the entire tribe wanted to get rid of the “big rabble-rouser.”)
The second half of the episode was about Natalie’s vendetta against Jon for voting out Jeremy. She almost pulls it off, until Jon wins immunity.
Then, in what seems like one of the most pointless blindsides ever, Natalie decides to betray Jon by voting out Alec instead of Keith.
It’s a confusing decision. Natalie wants to control Keith. But what profit is there in gaining Keith, if you lose the world? Does Natalie imagine she’ll ally with Keith and Baylor? Will Baylor really be loyal to her gal pal over her mom?
At least to the outside viewer, Natalie had it in the bag. She’s got a tight alliance with two jury goats, Missy and Baylor. Jon trusts her entirely.
Why mess things up and cast a surprise vote that’s going to piss off both Missy and Jon?
Natalie is fixated on destroying the great white male. It seems like she hates Jon almost as much for what he represents as who he is as a person.
I want to give Natalie the Fishy for all her little moves – literally kissing up to Missy; deepening her bond with Baylor; lulling Jon into a sense of security as she prepares to blindside him.
Natalie is a superb strategist. But her fixation on getting Jon could be a game-losing misstep.
So, no Fishies this week from me.
What did you think of Natalie’s decision? And do you like Jon?