Stephen's Survivor Strategy Blog: And the First Fishy Goes to...

Survivor: Redemption Island Premiere - Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz
Russell Hantz, left, and "Boston" Rob Mariano
CBS/Landov(2)

02/17/2011 AT 08:00 AM EST

"Everything takes a different shape when we pass from abstractions to reality."
– Carl von Clauswitz, On War

Amazing. It's episode one of Survivor and already Boston Rob is facing off against his greatest enemy – the split vote. The tribe's divided, six to three. You're in the majority, but the opposition has an immunity idol. What do you do? "I got so screwed last season because one person didn't understand," Rob moans.

But this season, there's nobody smart enough on Rob's team to self-destruct like Tyson did. And he's not facing off against Russell yet, even though Kristina is crazy about idols. For eliminating Francesca and cementing his dominant position on his tribe, Rob wins his first Fishy Award.

Rob's Tribe

Rob's problem in Heroes vs. Villains was that Tyson over thought his way off the island. But you have to think before you can over think. So to avoid any repeats, Rob has set himself up as leader of the Groupie Alliance.

It's like the "Dumbass Girl Alliance" 2.0 – only dumber and slightly less blonde. "[Rob]'s amazing," Natalie swoons. "I'm just having so much fun with him." And he's sooo dreamy. "It's just such a blessing to have Rob here," says Matt. When the tribe loses the immunity challenge, Ashley is more upset that "we let Rob down" than she is that they have to go to tribal council. While Rob's targeting his enemies, they're flipping their hair and making googly eyes. Older and savvier people need not apply.



Take Francesca, for example: "She knows my game," Rob says. And Kristina – well, she might actually have a mind of her own. "She knows strategy. She knows to get out there and work for it," he says. Rob immediately targets and isolates anybody who might be a threat.

Halfway through the episode, I actually thought Kristina was a shoe-in for the Fishy. She had found the idol without a clue and made a solid alliance with Francesca.

But Kristina is as fixated on eliminating Rob as the Groupie Alliance is on dating him. "Voting Natalie is better for the tribe, but voting Rob is better for me," she says. "I would just love to vote Rob off. I would just love to."

Maybe Kristina's problem is she's watched too much Russell on TV. She's so focused on making big moves that she's not thinking about building alliances or sticking around until the end. "We don't need the votes! We got em right here!" she raves, waving around her immunity idol. But what happens next week, when you've played your idol and the other five people decide to take revenge.

"Former Federal Agent?"

Oh – and Kristina's other problem is that she's let a lunatic into her alliance. Is "Former Federal Agent?" the new "Dragonslayer"? I'm honestly more excited about Phillip than I am about Redemption Island – everything from his "hyper state of arousal" to his dry mouth, which he is getting treatment for. Please, let him at least make the jury so he can align with Coach on the next All Stars.

But it was already too late for "Franquesca" when Phillip spilled the beans on the immunity idol. If anything, Phillip's vocal decision to vote "Franquesca" out gave Kristina the opportunity to not play her idol – a majorly gutsy move.

Kristina now has a little bit of leverage. She'll need it.

Russell's Tribe

The Zapatera tribe is drawing its own battle lines, and you're either with Russell or you're against him.

Sinister little Stephanie wants to make an alliance, but the men are on their guard. Marine Mike says knocking out Russell is the top priority.

But knowing you need to vote out Russell and doing it are two very different things, as many people on many tribes have learned.

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