Stephen’s Survivor Strategy Blog: Liz Baited & Ditched!
The sun’s out in Samoa, and so is the strategy. After six days of going stir-crazy in the rain, the Survivors meet the clear skies with big moves: building alliances, electing chiefs, and settling scores. But ultimately it was the puppet master who made the move of the episode. When Russell decides to boot Liz, he keeps her in the dark by engaging her in a fake plot to vote out Jaison. For keeping Liz distracted while he engineers her demise, Russell wins his fourth Fishy.
Lying on Survivor is harder than you’d think. Sure, it’s just a game, and watching at home you can’t believe how attached get. I didn’t set out to make friends, either. But after starving, freezing, and competing together for a few merciless weeks, you develop an intense bond with your tribemates.
But to win the game, you have to lie to them. Everybody deals with it differently. Some do tell the truth. They’re called “the jury.” Other players try to restrict their commitments. They promise a couple an alliance to the merge; others they tell “final five.” But nobody wants to hear “you’re safe… for a while.” When I played, I tried to maintain my own personal system of integrity. You could count on a "swear to God,” but not so much on just a “swear.” And if I simply “promised” you something, I had basically just lied to your face.
Your ability to lie evolves but for the first few weeks, it’s tough -- you’re an amateur. That’s especially clear around tribal council time. Early in the game, it’s easy to tell who’s going home because nobody will meet his or her gaze or talk to him or her. Watch Mick in last week’s episode. When Liz asks him who he’s voting for, he says, “I have no idea,” and looks at the ground and shuffles his feet. Yeah, right.
Russell does things the way they should be done. Rather than freeze Liz out, he reels her in. In a brief moment on the Foa Foa beach, he runs a fake plan by her. “These are the two options -- Natalie or Jaison,” he says, then elaborates that Jaison “gave up” at the challenge and might get nervous if he sees them talking.
The move reminded me of when we booted Debbie in Tocantins. Not only did we convince her we were voting for Coach, we engaged her in an elaborate scheme to fool Coach into voting for Taj. If think they’re scheming with you, they’re not scrambling for their lives. “My survivor stock has gone up,” Liz gloats.
Watching Russell is like taking a master class in how to win allies and back-stab . He’s like a robot programmed to make final-two alliances. As soon as Laura hits the beach, you can see his circuits light up. “If we could get together, you could protect me at the merge, and I could protect you,” he tells her. He offers to find her some crabs -- I almost thought he was going to whip his idol out, too.
The question is, do Russell’s lies cross a line? This week, he plays on Laura’s religion: “I can spot a good Christian any time,” he tells her. Jonathan Penner from the Cook Islands once justified his own deviousness by saying, “There’s no villain in Monopoly.” But in Monopoly, they don’t vote on the winner. Will Russell’s lies catch up to him? -- Stephen Fishbach
Tell us: Does Russell lie too much? What’s going to happen to Foa Foa at the merge? And was it smart for the Galu guys to elect Shambo leader?
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