Stephen Fishbach's 'Survivor' Blog: A Treacherous Alliance and a White Collar Crime

The Survivor: Tocantins runner-up on three news tribes and a fumbled deception

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

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.

“This game is about who you are. Your character is your strategy.” –Rafe Judkins, Survivor: Guatemala

Survivor is back for another season of terrible liars, over-attached creeps, self-aggrandizing loudmouths – and a couple of smart gamers.

The big twist this season is that contestants are divided into three tribes: White Collar, Blue Collar, and No Collar. White Collars make the rules; Blue Collars follow the rules; and No Collars break the rules and give uncomfortably long hugs.

It’s not really clear why a barrel racer is Blue Collar and a nonprofit lawyer is No Collar, but don’t ask too many questions. And don’t worry if the concept is confusing. If you miss it the first time, Jeff will beat the theme into the ground before the 90 minutes is over.

At the start of the game, a pair of team leaders are asked to make a classic Survivor choice: Honesty or Deception. They can either choose an idol clue for themselves or a giant bag of beans for their tribe. Like Blue Collar and No Collar, I’d hew to the path of righteousness. You have to lie on Survivor – but it’s important not to get caught when you do it.

This lie comes with too many risks. One of the other tribes could rat you out at a challenge. And that tiny bag of “Deceive” beans demands an explanation.

Of course, that’s exactly the problem that White Collar encounters. Disney villain Joaquin – who looks like the love child of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and Scar from The Lion King – sweet-talks So into a treacherous alliance. They opt for power instead of protein.

But when So tries to cover their tracks, she ends up digging a hole. She claims that there were three boxes: Honesty, Deceit and Neutral. “If we picked honest or deceive, they said there was going to be some sort of, like, caveat with it,” she explains.

The rest of the tribe immediately blows the whistle on this White Collar crime. The worst part for the Neutral Duo is that they don’t even find the idol. Crafty Carolyn sees them snooping and finds the idol for herself.

When White Collar loses the immunity challenge, it’s time for a corporate restructuring – and the Shirin department looks like an easy cut. But So tries to flip the game around to eliminate Carolyn. She ends up eliminating herself.

Carolyn is a superb reader of people – and Joaquin and So are terrible, terrible liars. When Carolyn asks whom they’re voting for, Joaquin shuffles his feet and replies, “I have one person set in mind. I already made my decision. I’m very cut and dry.”

What on earth does that even mean? Carolyn sniffs a betrayal and builds a counter-alliance with Tyler.

At Tribal Council, in a shocking twist, everybody decides to tell the truth. Carolyn outs her alliance with Max and Shirin. So admits she’s voting for Carolyn. Max says he wants to lie better. It’s hard to believe this is a game based on deception.

Only Tyler seems to be picking his words carefully. He praises So’s challenge skills and reminds everybody that the real enemies are the ones with different colored collars. I was worried with Tyler’s pre-game interviews that he’d try hard to be a villain. But he seems content to fade into the background and build alliances in secret.

Carolyn wins the Fishy this week for her reads, for finding the idol and for avoiding becoming an early target. I doubt I’d have her discipline in not playing the idol if the tribe were telling me I was a target.

But it’s Tyler who really shined as a long-term strategic threat in this season.

Survivor: Worlds Apart airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.

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