The Survivor: Tocantins runner-up says ousted contestant Dan Foley "wanted more than anything to be remembered"

By Stephen Fishbach
Updated May 14, 2015 12:45 PM
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov; Monty Brinton/CBS (2)

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.

"I cannot let my guard down. You can’t trust nobody now, nobody. You’re playing for a million dollars. People have murdered for less than a million dollars." –Twila Tanner, Survivor: Vanuatu

On Wednesday’s Survivor, we finally answered a vital question: How long will it take in a puzzle before host Jeff Probst starts telling people the answer?

One hour into the word puzzle, the contestants were exploring options like “wax,” “fishin’ ” and “shaint” when Probst finally cracked and started throwing out softball clues.

It was a comical moment in a crazy episode. Once again, Mike won immunity. And once again the alliance of six had to turn on one of its own. This time, though, the alliance started to show real cracks.

Team Rodney decided to target Carolyn. She has been winning immunity challenges. And when the other options on Goat Island are Dan, Rodney, Will and Sierra, you eliminate the woman who might win a jury vote.

However, Rodney told Carolyn and Mike that Dan was the decoy boot.

At first, Mike tried to woo Dan. “Your alliance is gunning for you. What do you want to do about it?” he said. But Dan shut him down.

Dan had such a chip on his shoulder about Mike – and you could kind of see why. All Dan wanted was to be a memorable character, maybe even more than he wanted to win. And yet here he was, playing against Superman.

It’s like if you were Ron Weasley and showed up for your first year at school with Harry Potter. Yeah, we get it, Harry – you saved the school from Voldemort and uncovered the Chamber of Secrets and slayed the basilisk. Some of us are just proud we got A’s in maths.

But Dan’s total lack of concern gave Mike an epiphany. He raced over to Carolyn and Sierra – jumping out of the jungle into their conversation. “Look who’s in the shelter sleeping,” he said.

Not only was Dan napping – he was napping head-to-head with his alleged antagonist. If Dan was really the target, why was he acting so calm?

At first Carolyn was skeptical – but at Tribal Council, Dan whipped out his advantage. Dan literally could not have played his advantage worse. First, Dan’s advantage was an extra vote. He used it to add another vote to Carolyn – who already was receiving the majority of the votes.

But worst of all, Dan’s use of his advantage startled Carolyn into playing her idol.

Carolyn wins the Fishy this week for reading the room and playing the idol perfectly. How many times have people played their idols at the wrong moment or gone home with idols in their pockets? It is a rare few who saved their hides with a perfect idol play.

Carolyn also deserves credit for building a bond with Mike throughout the episode. She knows that, as soon as Mike loses immunity, he has to go. But while he’s here – why not work with him a little?

Early in the episode, Carolyn told Mike about Dan’s advantage and established a little trust. At the Reward, when Mike proposed a final-three deal, Carolyn immediately agreed. “I think final three with three of us is a strong idea,” she said.

It’s always a good idea to agree with people on Survivor. You keep your options open and can build an exchange of information. Even the enemy can be helpful at the right moment.

Dan might still be in the game if he had followed that philosophy.

Dan wanted more than anything to be remembered. And he will be. Just not in the way he was hoping.

Also, just a quick note: If you haven’t voted yet today, I would love if you would vote for me to return for a second-chance season of Survivor!

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Survivor: Worlds Apart

airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.