Stephen Fishbach admires the veteran for securing loyalties and busting alliances

By Stephen Fishbach
Updated February 24, 2011 09:45 AM
Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov(2)

“We are [more] inclined and induced to estimate the power of our opponents too high than too low.” – Carl von Clauswitz, On War

Who am I to question Boston Rob? On any other season, I would be wagging my finger. Haven’t we seen this same mistake, time and again? Timbira, Galu, the Heroes. As soon as an alliance turns on itself, it’s impossible to restore trust; the alliance eats itself from within.

But this is a double All-Star competing against junior varsity Survivors. Even the opposition is petitioning for a chance in Rob’s rotation. “Every day Rob impresses me,” says Matt. “You own my vote,” Phillip tells him. “We love, you, Boston Rob!” clamors the rest of the Groupie Alliance.

So Rob wins his second Fishy for squashing the Andrea-Matt faction and securing the loyalty of lunatic Phillip. He sends Matt to Redemption Island, secures a final two goat in Natalie, and flushes the idol out from Kristina. Well played.

In some ways, things may just be too easy for Boston Rob. I’ve written before that Survivor strategists often realize that they’re the only ones playing the game. How much more so must that be true for Grampa Mariano, with his decades of wisdom. “It feels so good to play with you amateurs,” he said last week.

So maybe Rob’s not afraid to make big moves because to him they seem small. As flies to wanton boys is Ometepe to Rob; he kills them for his sport.

And what’s wrong with a little early alliance-pruning? As often as we’ve seen tribes self-destruct, we’ve also seen tight-knit groups of four shoulder their way to the finale. Maybe now that he’s undone the blond insurrection, Rob will lead his tribe to victory.

That’s assuming that the rest of Ometepe doesn’t get nervous. If shaking hands is a capital offense, is anybody safe?

Former Federal Slayer

Phillip’s secured his place as Coach 2.0. People forget that it was eight full episodes of Tocantins before the Dragonslayer was born. Here we are on episode two, and Phillip is already the lion and the gorilla.

Sometimes Phillip sounds like he’s channeling Coach directly, like when he says he accepts being voted out, “Because I’m a strong man. And if it’s to be redemption, I kind of like that name.”

Also like Coach, Phillip just wants to be hugged. His confrontation with Francesca left his honor as a federal agent besmirched, and he’s struggling to pick up the pieces. “I still love Phillip Shephard,” he says, aping SNL‘s Stewart Smalley. “He’s a good guy and that’s okay.” “I think he’s a good-hearted guy,” Rob muses. “He just might not all be there.” That’s exactly the person you want to keep with you to the end: the one guy who’s crazy enough never to lie to you. I’m hoping Phillip has a long journey of animal combat ahead of him.

Simple as Wiping Your Hiney

I’m still in awe that Ralph found the idol while gathering rocks. It seems like there should be a metaphor there. A rolling stone gathers no moss? An idol in the hand is worth two large stones?

Give Ralph credit. There’s a lot of luck on Survivor, and you have to make the most of it. Ralph has the good sense not to flash his idol around.

Russell, meanwhile, is scrambling up and down the beach. You can tell he’s getting frustrated; finding idols just isn’t as easy as it used to be. “That’s how I play this game, “Russell insists. He may need to look for a new strategy – fast.

For more from our Survivor strategy blogger, follow him @stephenfishbach

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