1. Stupid Dirty Ogre. I have an extreme amount of dislike for Dirty Ogre. If he were gunning for my pick and threatening to end my 14-season streak of making it to the merge, it would be one thing. It's the fact that he's gunning for my pick and jeopardizing my streak for completely illogical and self-defeating reasons that has got me irked. If Dirty Ogre had just let Mikey B do his thing, there's a decent chance that people would have eventually realized they needed to think for themselves and taken him out down the road. However, by overtly attacking Mikey B, Dirty Ogre has taken that "leader" target and placed it directly on himself. Add to it the fact that he's generally a unnice and, from what I can only assume, smelly individual, his fellow castaways won't hesitate to take a shot at his bullseye. In some ways, Dirty Ogre may have actually done Mikey B a favor. As I alluded to before, he was coming off as "too" smart and a tad controlling - a perfect recipe for an eventual blindside. If Mikey B does end up winning the million, it could very well be that Dirty Ogre knocking him off the alpha dog pedastal was what kept him in the game. Yet at the same time, these two are apparently on a collision course for a "him or me" tribal council face-off next episode if the previews were at all accurate. The thought of potentially losing my pick four episodes into the season is not something I'm looking forward to. If Mikey B is smart, he'll tone his strategizing - a.k.a. make suggestions, not orders - and appeal to the fact that he's a nice guy and Dirty Ogre has the personality of, well, a PMS-ing wolverine.
2. Sneaky or Slutty? That was the decision Cirie was faced with after The Favorites lost the immunity challenge. She could either stay in an alliance with Jonathan, Yau Man, Eliza, and Ami, who are all extremely crafty and self-serving, or she could become the fifth wheel in the Parvati/James/Amanda/Ozzy love-fest. Last week I felt that this was a no-brainer. She was set up to be the "odd woman out" in either alliance, but I felt she had a better chance of working her way in with Jonathan, Eliza, and Ami since Yau Man was such a threat to win if he made it to the finale. However, that theory went completely out the window after Cirie took a rafting trip with Hoochie A and Hoochie B...
I have to hand it to Amanda. I was completely and utterly disappointed with her face-sucking performance last episode. After playing a near-flawless game in China, I couldn't believe that she was setting herself up as such an obvious target this time around. Had she not been able to pull off the ensuing flop by Cirie, it would have been a horrendous move. However, knowing what we know now, her little rendition of the horizontal mambo has put her in an extremely powerful position. Amanda and Parvati were able to reel in Cirie by assuring her that she would not be setting herself up for a 5th place finish by alligning with them. They openly admitted that they had zero chance of beating either James or Ozzy in the final and were going to ditch them down the stretch, opening a spot for Cirie in the final tribal council. Normally in a situation like this, Cirie would seriously have to consider whether she was being lied to. However, it's blatantly obvious that Amanda and Parvati truly don't have ANY chance of beating those two boys. As long as they realize this, which they obviously do, there's no way they can screw over Cirie. They aren't going to stab her in the back to take along somebody they know they'll lose to.
It's actually the perfect situation for Cirie. She's the third most popular person in a five-person alliance. After the top two get knocked off, she's left as the most-popular person heading into the final and walks away with a million. By the same token, Parvati and Amanda's stock has taken a plunge as they're the fourth and fifth most popular people in the five-person alliance. Since three people have to go to the final, they're going to be hard-pressed to win the votes. To bring up a topic I've beaten to death, this is exactly why I hate the three-person final. The "good guys" have a much better shot at winning with the new format. If people don't like you, you're basically done. No longer can you find that one pathetic tag-along and hope to pull out the vote based on merit. The past three seasons we've seen Yul, Earl, and Todd take home the money. All were clearly the "popular" guy, and likely not a single one of the would've made it to the end in a two-person final. In the older seasons there was a delicate balance of being likeable but not too likeable and strong but not too-strong. Now unless you're a supreme underdog like Yau Man or a hulking behemoth like James, you can just be Mr. Nice Guy and not give it a second thought. Amanda and Parvati's game-plan is extremely sneaky, manipulative, calculated, and potentially worthy of a million dollars. With the old rules in place they'd be the heavy favorites at the point. Now their best bet is to hope that enough Favorites make the jury with a bitter taste left in their mouths from Cirie's flop, and throw the votes their way. Do you see the deterioration of the game here? The masterminds are the ones in the hole and the likeable tag-along, who didn't think up any of this, is looking like a million bucks.
Before I move on to the final observation, let's check out the Amanda and Parvati Hoochi-meter.
The Amanda and Parvati Hoochi-meter
With no make-out sessions or wardrobe malfunctions to report this episode, I'm calling it an even tie. In order to keep track of things, I"ll be giving out 10 points each week with each girl receiving a proportionate amount of those points based on their Hoochie-meter resutls. As Amanda was at 80% last week and Parvatie was at 20%, they'll receive 8 and 2 points respectively, bringing the grand total to... Amanda: 13 Parvati: 7
3. Not so fast... Obviously Cirie's flop will mean next to nothing if The Fans head into the merge with numbers and pick off The Favorites one-by-one. However, if The Favorites have numbers, it's easy to assume that the couples would be in the driver's seat and cruise to the million. Everything I've written thus far has been under the assumption that things would play out just that way - with the couples in control. Yet after thinking two or three extra steps down the road, I've come to the conclusion that there's almost zero chance of that scenario actually happening. Here's why...
The Favorites team is clearly a tribe divided, so once the merge hits, there's nothing stopping Jonathan, Eliza, and Ami from alligning themselves with The Fans. Had the couples been a little less obvious about their alliances and not fractured the tribe, the remaining three outsiders may have been duped into sticking with them in the name of "The Favorites". Now, there's absolutely no motivation for Jonathan, Eliza, and Ami to vote with the couples after the merge as they would just be guaranteeing themselves 6th, 7th, and 8th place. Mark my words, those three will flop over to The Fans and make a concerted effort to take down Team Tonsil Hockey.
I'm about to drop some serious Survivor knowledge, so if you're ever planning on going on the show, write this down. When playing a 16 person game of Survivor, your magic number is 6. What I this means is that if you can get numbers going into the merge, you need an alliance of six strong to guarantee your way to the end. This isn't rocket science, but very few people play the game this way. Normally tribes merge with 10 or 11 people left in the game when there's 16 contestants. If you have less than six people in your alliance, you could potentially be upset. If you've only got five and the remaining members of your tribe flop, then you no longer have the numbers. You'll either be tied 5-5 if you merge at ten, or be down 5-6 if you merge at eleven. In an 18 or 20 person game such as this season, the magic number becomes 7. You'll likely merge with 12 or 13 people left in the game. If you only have six people in your alliance and your remaining tribesmen flop, you'll either be tied 6-6 ifi you merge at 12, or down 6-7 if you merge at 13.
In terms of this season, the couples alliance sold themselves two short. Had Amanda and Parvati reached out an tried to pull in Ami and Eliza into an all-women's alliance (you know Ami would've gone for that!) then they would've been set. It could have easily been done appealing to the same logic they used with Cirie of their inability to beat the boys at the end. They could ride James and Ozzy into the merge, seven strong, and then pick them off when they lost immunity. In this scenario, the only person left to flop is Jonathan. He wouldn't likely be around anyway unless they ran the immunity table, and even if he was, Jonathan flopping wouldn't affect the numbers as they'd still be up either 7-5 or 7-6. This is exactly why you need seven people in a game of twenty.
Of course this is easier said than done, but if you build your alliance carefully, you can nearly guarantee yourself a spot in the end as long your tribe isn't down in numbers at the merge. You find yourself one person to go with to the end. You then target a third and promise them the final three. You then get a fourth and promise them final four. (This sounds really obvious, but it's extremely important.) The key to it all is to not let the fourth person know you've got the final three promised, and the third person know that you've got that other person who is your go-to-guy. If they find out, it's over. Finally, the four of you find 2-3 other people depending on if you're playing with 16, 18, or 20. Again, the key is to not let on that you're a foursome.
Let's say that you're playing a 16 person game. You've got your buddy, your #3, your #4, and your two tag-alongs. If your six stay strong and pick your outnumbered opponents one by one, you're good. If the last person to be picked off wins immunity, no big deal. You just pick off one of your two tag-alongs. If you're at the final five and your tag-along wins immunity, your #4 person goes. If you're at the final four and your #4 wins, then you and your buddy team up and take out #3. The real key is having that one person you're really tight with. It's mutually in your best interests to stay together, because by doing so, you can always have somebody else to pick off if things don't go as planned. If you don't have a buddy and that #4 person wins the last challenge, you've got a 1 in 3 shot of going home. That is of course unless those other two people are buddies, in which case you're nearly guaranteed to go home.
The outline I just gave is by far the easiest way to win the game of Survivor. In fact, it's the exact strategy used by Todd and Amanda last season in China. They were the buddies, Courtney was the #3 (it's always good if this person has no chance of getting votes), and Denise was #4. Their initial tag-alongs were James and Frosti, but they ditched them in favor of Peih-Gee and Erik. (That's the nice thing about tag-alongs - they're essentially exchangeable down the stretch if they're a threat) Amanda tried to replicate this strategy with Parvati as her buddy, Cirie as the #3, and Ozzy and James as #4 and the first tag-along. The problem is that they failed to secure the second and third tag-alongs by alienating Jonathan, Ami, and Eliza. This puts them in a very dangerous position. They've now made themselves targets by appearing to be powerful, when in reality they have absolutely no way to defend themselves against the inevitable attack.
I can promise you that this will come back to bite them in the end.
Survivor Power Poll:
||He's got to go next, right?
||Still border-line crazy.
||Annoying, weak, and outnumbered.
||His justifiable outrage at the Cirie flop could lead to an earlier-than-planned exit.
|If it really is Dirty Ogre vs. Mikey B next week, I'm going with MIkey B.
|Still on the outs with her tribe, but working her way back in.
||He's a huge target as usual and his alliance already has plans to knock him off down the stretch.
||Considering that he may hav a 50/50 chance of going home next week, this may be extremely generous. However, if he survives the showdown with Big Ogre, he's got to be the favorite.
||Could very well run the immunity table down the stretch to the million..
||I know this is a dumb reason, but she just doesn't look like a Survivor winner.
||She may be out numbered, but she should never be counted out.
||Still don't know much about him.
||Or him either.
||I know I've given a lot of reasons why her and Amanda won't win with the way they're playing, but these girls are resourceful...
||...they're still a move or two away from being in complete control, and who's to say they won't do some flopping of their own while everybody's gunning for James and Ozzy post-merge?
||She's in the best position in the strongest alliance.
||At the moment, this is just a hunch.