As predicted, I have had next to zero time to pump out this week's blog
entry. That's not going to stop me from trying, though! Not with the
crazy strategic (or unstrategic) moves that went down in Episode 4. I'm
just gonna cut right to the chase...
Obviously the big deal this week were the immunity idols that were
revealed. Ironically, instead of coming out in secret like they usually
do, both teams discovered their existence as a group, setting off a
frenzy to find them. Well, in the case of the Villains it was more like
a frenzy by Russell to find them. When the Villians discovered the
clue to the idol's location, Boston Rob semi-intelligently put a curse
on anyone who tried to look for it, stating that the group would
automatically vote you out. This brings up two very interesting
strategic points that I'd like to dissect...
#1 - Russell is crazy. He couldn't have been more obvious that he
was leaving camp to go look for the idol. By going after the idol, the
only thing he accomplished was to put a huge target on his back. The
Survivor Manifesto states that if everyone knows that you have the
immunity idol, then you must play it at the next Tribal Council
in which you don't hold immunity. If Russell was going to be that
obvious about it, strategically, the best the idol could do is get him
through the next immunity. After all he's pretty much obligated to play
it right away, especially considering the tribe's commitment to voting
out whoever has it. The thing is, Russell's chances of going home at
the next tribal council were pretty small. So essentially, he went
looking for an idol that he would be forced to play, instead of just
standing pat and advancing through the next elimination anyway. The
idol isn't getting him any further in the game, but it is building up a
lot of ill-will towards him.
The worst part is, he may not have even found the idol! If that's
the case, he may have sealed his fate by making himself a target without
any means to defend himself. This pretty much cemented my previous
opinion of Russell. He's a great player when he's surrounded by a bunch
of nitwits, but simply plays the game too hard to succeed in an
#2 - Why keep the idol hidden? I get where Boston Rob would
view the idol as a threat. Not only is he a prime candidate to get
blind sided by it, but he's also from an era before hidden immunity
idols existed. He's a legendary player in the old rules, but throwing
idols into the mix changes the game considerably. The chances of it
benefiting him are slim to none. On the flip side, a truly good player
would still try to turn the idol to his advantage. Why not claim
"tribal" possession of the idol? Have every look for it as a group.
When you find it, create a rotation among the Survivors as to who holds
it each day. Make them hand it off in plain view of everyone each
morning. That way you always know who has it, and if it suddenly goes
"missing", you know who to blame. You can leave it out in the open
before tribal council and have everyone walk away from it, so you know
it's not in play. When you really get down to it, the idol is most
powerful when you don't know who has it. Using a group possession
technique, the idol is practically neutralized until the merge, and then
once you merge, your alliance still has a weapon. Is it complicated?
Yes. Is it a bit outside the box? Absolutely. But you're an idiot if
you just leave it in the sand for somebody to steal while you're not
Now let's break down the Heroes, who lost immunity, and thus
Tom found the idol, and made a play to save himself and
Colby. He offered to make an alliance with JT and Amanda, with the
promise that the idol would be used to further them as a group. Let's
focus on the pro's and con's for JT and Amanda here...
On the pro side, you're now in an alliance with the idol. Its' a
powerful weapon and you're playing with powerful players. It's a recipe
to go far in the game.
On the con side, Tom and Colby would be
nearly unbeatable. Maybe JT has a shot. Amanda has no shot.
You play Survivor to win, not to finish third. With that in mind,
this is a dumb, dumb move for JT and Amanda. What was even dumber
though, was when Tom offered to give JT and Amanda the idol - AND THEY
DIDN'T TAKE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's right, it's Survivor Manifesto
Rule #8 - If somebody offers you immunity, take it.
JT and Amanda taken that idol, they would've had several options. They
could go into the alliance with Tom and Colby, except with control of
the idol, or they could simply keep it an screw Tom over. This early in
the game, you could make a serious case for screwing over Tom and Colby
and eliminating them before they ever got near the jury. Is it a
low-ball move? Absolutely. But it's a move your teammates will love,
and your teammates will hopefully be the ones sitting on the jury. It's
a proven fact that you can get away with murder in this game and still
win if A. You simply own up to the fact in the end that you made it this
far by being a sneaky jerk and B. You aren't "hurtful" to the jury
members in the way you do it. Stealing an idol may be a black mark on
your resume, but there's always the very valid excuse of "Hey, what did
you expect me to do? The idiot handed it to me!"
Regardless of which option you chose - going with Tom, but keeping
the idol, or taking the idol and stabbing him in the back - either one
would be better than what really happened. JT got the bright idea to
align with Tom without Amanda and blindside Cirie. Yes, he was
completely right in viewing Cirie as a major threat, but the price he
paid to eliminate her was far too high.
#1 - He's now in an alliance with Colby and Tom, except he doesn't
have the idol, since it was used to knock off Cirie! So basically,
he's aligned with people he's going to have a very tough time beating,
they're three gigantic targets that everyone will be looking to pick
off, and they have no idol.
#2- He's now officially betrayed every single person in his tribe,
labeling him a as a giant heel, and practically destroying his image as a
With one fell swoop, he went from, perhaps
being the favorite in the game, to being some one who I now view as
having next to no chance of winning. Just an awful move.
So where does this leave Amanda? Well, let's just say
she's not in a good spot. Candice appears to be flipping, making it
James, Rupert, and Amanda vs. JT, Tom, Colby, and Candice. She's just
lost the numbers. Even if she flips with Candice, she's still stuck in
an alliance with people she can't beat. At the moment, it appears that
Amanda has two hopes...
#1 - That JT flips back. It's the ultimate stupid move and
completely destroys what's left of his rep. On the flip side, maybe JT
is better off taking his chances with an alliance where he can actually
beat who he's aligned with. Either way, he's dug him and Amanda a
pretty large hole with his stupid play to take out Cirie.
#2 - That she can make it to the merge and then scramble into a good
situation. Amanda is the ultimate player. She's very good
strategically, she's good at challenges, and she's easy on the eyes.
She's never viewed as a major threat and she's able to get herself in
with the game's major players and slide through as they all get picked
off. She's the perfect combination of "Flying Under the Radar" and
being "Self-sufficient". People never go after her, and at the end,
she's played well enough to validate the fact that she should be in the
final. If she can just get to the merge - especially if Parvati's still
around - I still like her chances. The merge is going to be nuts -
you just know it!
So that's my take on Episode 4. Soooooooooo much strategy this
week, but so little time!