Stephen's Survivor Strategy Blog: How to Split a Vote

Survivor Recap: Sash Lenahan and Brenda Lowe Split the Vote at Tribal Council
Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov(2)

10/21/2010 AT 11:30 AM EDT

"Use the . . . legwork of other people to further your own cause." – Law 7: Get Others To Do the Work For You

Splitting the vote is harder than it looks. Watching from home, it seems easy: just move your chess pieces across the board. But out in the jungle, your chess pieces are tired and hungry. Maybe they hate you. And sometimes, like this week at La Flor, one of your pawns has a man-crush on the opposing king.

That's why Sash and Brenda share this week's Fishy for successfully marshalling free spirit Fabio and the rest of the La Flor forces for a split vote. While Marty digs his own grave at tribal council, Black Widow Brenda eats her own and ousts Kelly B. NaOnka will be thrilled.

The episode starts in Espada, where Dan is on his last legs. "Dan's knees are about to crack," says NaOnka. "Sooner or later he's about to be walking on nubs." Is this a setup? Is the joke too obvious here?



Espada has segued from being the Older Tribe into the Boring Tribe. Did anybody think for a second that Dan was going home? Clearly Yve, who is fighting tooth and nail to stay in the game, was the bigger threat than Dan, who is daydreaming about his villa on Lake Cuomo.

Let this be a lesson to all future Survivor contestants. If you want the full 39-day experience but don't care that much about winning, play possum. If the power players think you're dead, they won't come after you.

If Dan is a possum, Marty is a hedgehog – or at least he's starting to look like one. Marty's hair actually may be one of the breakout stars of the season. It's certainly had a lot more camera time (and blogosphere love) than poor Purple Kelly.

Lying About Chess

Like the hedgehog, Marty knows one thing very well: how to recruit soldiers into his evil alliance. "I am a grandmaster in chess," he lies to Fabio. In almost any other circumstance, pretending to be a chess master would be a huge mistake. It would paint a giant target on your back as a strategic mastermind not to be trusted.

But Marty already has that exact target. So he gambles that if he seems supremely strategic, he can wave his hands and trick sweet, guileless Fabio into believing that he'll work unholy chess master voodoo to get the two of them, along with right hand ginger Jill, into the final 3.

What's amazing is that the Marty's gambit would have worked, if it weren't for those meddling kids. Brenda and Sash are after Marty, and they've mastered a vital Survivor skill: involve everybody in plans. Specifically, involve your boot target in decoy plans. In addition to marshalling their core alliance, Brenda and Sash (or BS, for short) tell Marty and Kelly B. to target Jane.

By letting Kelly and Marty in on fake plans, BS stops the two targets from conspiring together. A Kelly-Marty-Jill-Jane alliance might be unlikely, but it would make good strategic sense. Even Jane, who thinks she is BFF with the young'uns, would be better served third place with Marty and Jill than she is at the bottom of the La Flor pecking order. But because they all think they're safe, nobody is scrambling.

When the votes come in at Tribal Council, Kelly B. and Marty are shocked, and Kelly B. goes home. And we're left with just one question:

Why didn't La Flor vote out Marty on the revote and permanently eliminate the idol?

Tell us: Seriously, though. Why didn't they vote out Marty?

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