Stephen’s Survivor Strategy Blog: Big Move or Big Mistake?
Sometimes even the best competitors can slip up. Last night, when JT gave the idol to Russell, he made a blunder. But – sorry Erik – it was not at all the dumbest move in the show's history. I'll let the rest of the Internet dog-pile on JT about how he made a mistake. I want to argue that it was a strong, aggressive move that went awry.
As I wrote last week, it's not a bad guess that Parvati has created a new black widow alliance that is devouring the men folk. The Villains have yet to vote out a girl, even though a couple of them are ... how do I put this politely ... challenge impaired. The problem comes when JT acts on this assumption, even though he has never spoken a word to Russell in his life. He gives the most powerful item in the game to its biggest unknown.
That said, what if JT had been right and there were an all-girls alliance? The Heroes think a merge is coming soon: “I bet my life in this game on it, that we're gonna merge,” says JT. He has to know that Candice is a major flight risk. She's been on the outs with the tribe since day three, and seems to have a personal vendetta against him. (“JT's the slimiest guy out here,” she says.) Living with her 24 hours a day for 24 days, there's no way that a player as savvy as JT would miss that.
With that in mind, not giving Russell the idol might actually be a bigger risk than giving it to him. If JT's right about the women's alliance and sits back and lets Russell get voted out, then the tribes are merging 5-5. When Candice flips, there'll be a 6-4 Villains majority. JT may not have the luxury of sitting back and waiting.
Jeff Probst always talks about how you need to make “big moves” to win Survivor. JT tries to uses the idol to change the entire dynamics of the game, rather than just hold on to it to save himself for another 3 days. He's wrong, and he ends up giving the most powerful item in the game to its most nefarious villain. But at least he's playing hard.
Amanda's absolutely right when she says, “We don't know what's going on over at the Villains camp. He could be in with the girls for all we know.” But why doesn't she say something to JT, rather than just to the cameras? What made JT and me so effective in Tocantins was that we were a team. You get crazy ideas on Survivor. You have nothing to do but scheme and worry. One week when I came back from Exile Island, I was certain that the entire world was plotting against me and I had to use our idol that night. JT talked me down and convinced me I was safe. He needed somebody to do that here.
I'm giving a co-Fishy this week to Parvati and Russell. You need a lot of luck to win Survivor – and you need to make your luck work for you. When Russell learns that the Heroes think there's a women's alliance, he plays into their mistake perfectly, making puppy dog eyes at JT and pleading for help. As for Parvati, when she stumbles onto a clue to an idol of her own, she shoves it away inside her bikini. Then she shares that information with Danielle so that Danielle will “feel tighter with me than with anybody else ... so that, at the end of the game, she'll ... protect me.” The way she uses the clue to snooker Russell and set up her endgame strategy proves that she's a lot more than just his consort.
A skinny, sassy girl like Courtney is typically the first person voted off their tribe. But like she did in China, Courtney was able to become a vital link in a dominant alliance. She was BFF with Boston Rob, tight with Tyson, and the beans to Sandra's rice. I was sad to see her get voted out. But now, at least, we get to watch her and Coach make sweet music at Ponderosa. Check out the videos here. –Stephen Fishbach
Tell us: What did you think of JT's move? Sad to see Courtney go? Who's going to win it all?