Survivor

Survivor: Why Brandon Made the Dumbest Move In Show History

12/15/2011 at 11:40 AM EST

Survivor: South Pacific Recap
Stephen Fishbach (left) and Brandon Hantz
Monty Brinton/CBS (2)
"When you cannot be deceived by men you will have realized the wisdom of strategy." – Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Erik Reichenbach must want to lick the tears off Brandon's face. At last, he's been replaced as Dumbest Survivor Ever!

Oh I know what you're thinking. Didn't JT win that award at the Heroes vs. Villains finale? But looking back, we all know that JT's move was a bold but flawed risk. Erik giving up the immunity necklace when he could smell the ink on that oversized million-dollar check? Pure idiocy that could never be topped.

Wednesday night on Survivor, it was!



Brandon and Erik were in almost the same situation. Final five. Big jury threats. Surrounded by a devious pack of liars. And both of them, in noble gestures of generosity, give up immunity to protect their allies. And are immediately sent home.

But what makes Brandon's move worse than Erik's is that ... Erik's already happened! It's famous as the worst move in Survivor history. And yet, knowing that, Brandon went ahead and did it anyway!

Poor Brandon. All season long we've watched the guy struggle with his demons. First he had lust-goddess Mikayla seducing him with her boob-rays, then evil Uncle Russell was apparating Harry Potter-style on the beach. But last night he had it all figured out. God was granting him victories, and he was showing his gratitude.

"The most important thing for us to do is give thanks to the person who did this for us," he said. Praise Mark Burnett and all he has wrought!

The problem came when Brandon's errant ally Albert was in danger.

"If I have to, I'll give [Albert] my necklace," Brandon tells Coach. "But I know you'll never vote against me."

Oh poor Brandon. How could he possibly know that Coach would betray him? It's not like there's some kind of recorded evidence of Coach behaving like a giant hypocrite in exactly similar situations on other deserted islands!

Coach's Choice
With Brandon committed to self-destruction, Coach has a problem of his own. How can he possibly convince the TV audience that he's behaving nobly?

"I begged God to speak to me like he's never spoken to me before," Coach says. Wow, it's so awesome of God to tell Coach to do exactly what he wants to do!

Still, this is a strategy blog, not a Sunday school, so I have to give Coach credit. He takes the Survivor opportunities that he sees, and votes out jury threat Brandon – even at the risk of eternal damnation! If that doesn't deserve a Fishy, I don't know what does.

Though honorable mention goes to Probst, who found a teachable moment in Brandon's tales from his gangbanger youth.

Albert's Alliances
Albert gamely plays along with Brandon's delusions. "We feel like our bond is real," he says at Tribal, then shakes his head in mock anger when Brandon is voted out. Wow, there's no way Brandon will ever see through that ruse while he spends the next week fuming over his betrayal.

I have a lot of sympathy for Albert. His situation on day 35 reminds me of my own. For most of the game, you can keep your allies from trading notes. But with just five people left, suddenly your tribemates realize you've been whispering sweet nothings in all their ears.

It's funny that Albert and Sophie have been such tight-knit allies. They're just so perfectly unsuited for each other – like Abbott and Costello, or Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat. Albert scrambles to pull off a big move; Sophie works to make sure no big moves are pulled.

Every episode they come into conflict – but Sophie always comes out on top. Now that they're actively trying to vote each other out, my money's on the med student.

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