By Stephen Fishbach
Updated April 07, 2011 10:00 AM
Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov(2)

“The possibility of gaining a later result causes men to take refuge in that expectation, owing to the repugnance in the human mind to making excessive efforts” – Carl von Clausewitz, On War

How many times can Matt get voted off from one season? He’s already tied the current record-holder, Burton, who was booted twice from Pearl Islands. Will Matt return to the game, re-fall in love with Boston Rob, and get blindsided a third time?

This season’s merge had all the makings for a real firestorm. Not only did we have the two rival tribes finally facing off, we had the possibility of a third faction bouncing between the two with Matt and Andrea. Would Matt, Andrea and Phillip join the hapless Zapateras to finally unseat King Rob?

No. No, they would not. As soon as Rob named the merged tribe after Amber’s stuffed animal, you had to know he was safe. Last night really made me miss Russell; maybe he could go toe-to-toe with the Robfather. As it was, we were only left to wonder – why did Rob settle for “Murlonio?” Why not insist that they call the merged tribe “Bostonia” or claim that “You’reAllMorons-o” is Spanish for “teamwork?”

Rob wins this week’s Fishy for deftly removing the one potential wrinkle in his scheme for world domination – Matt. Ometepe has a solid advantage over Zapatera, six to five. But if Matt jumps ship and brings Andrea or Phillip with him, he could spoil everything. By axing Matt, Rob ensures his tribe will stick together and destroy Zapatera, one by one. Oh, yeah, and he also flushes out the Zapatera idol.

Of course, Rob has a lot of help from Matt himself. Matt comes to Rob and tells him he’s been thinking of turning on the Ometepes. But Rob should feel better because, you know what, he’s decided against it! “Thanks, man, that means a lot,” Rob says, scarcely believing his ears.

Big, TV-friendly blunders like JT’s note end up getting called the “dumbest moves ever.” But in a game where trust is the most precious commodity, there’s basically nothing worse than telling someone you were thinking about voting them off.

Maybe Matt’s game has been hurt by his long stay at Redemption Island. While the rest of the contestants have been backstabbing and blindsiding, Matt’s been playing Scrabble and Go Fish. He’s stuck at the same stage of Survivor infancy where he left off. “Now I don’t have to worry about anything,” he blithely tells Rob. He sounds exactly like he did the first time he was voted off.

Marine Mike

Give Marine Mike some love, too – and not just for having his “balls glued to his disk.” Often when minority tribes try to poach outsiders, they don’t offer a much better deal: “Uh, you can be sixth in our alliance instead of sixth in theirs.”

But Mike approaches Matt with a genuinely good offer – go to the final four with him, Ralph and Andrea. How could you not trust that square jaw? He even slips a note to Matt right before tribal council.

Note writing has had some bad press on Survivor (see above), but Mike makes it work. Had he taken Matt aside for a private conversation, eyebrows would be raised. By deftly slipping him a letter, Mike keeps the correspondence confidential.

He even momentarily convinces Matt. “This game respects big moves,” Matt says to Andrea, flushed with possibility. He lays out a plan to ping-pong between the tribes. But blindsiding is scary, and aren’t Rob’s dimples adorable? Matt chickens out and attributes his cowardice to God’s will.

There’s something quite prideful about the way he assumes God’s desires align with his own. And, anyway, while Rob may not care that much about religion, the Almighty loves Boston Rob.