Survival Tactics – Trish’s calm, Tony’s chaos, and Spencer’s Idol Play

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A lot of things happened last episode, and I want to talk about three particular topics this time around, the first of which is what Trish did to salvage her alliance after LJ was blindsided.

Strategy isn’t always about making moves in Survivor – sometimes, it’s also about preventing other players from making their own moves. It’s hard to keep an alliance strong once someone betrays the group, but Trish was brilliant in this regard. She pulled Jefra (LJ’s closest ally) aside, listened to her concerns about Tony and acknowledged them. Rather than telling Jefra to simply trust Tony again, Trish appealed to the inner player in Jefra and said that Woo and Tony are the best candidates to bring to the end because of their chances of winning. She then goes the extra mile by calling Tony out in the group’s presence, putting him in his place and appeasing Jefra’s sense of justice.

It was a smart move – at first glance. There’s a flaw with what Trish did – Woo and Tony are the best people to bring to the end, right? If there’s a final three, that only leaves room for one other person. Who’s that going to be? Jefra? Kass? Trish herself? It worked for one vote – how long will it take for Kass or Jefra to realize that only one person can make it to the end with Woo and Tony?

s28 e9 - tony and trishUnless someoneĀ flips, Tony and Trish have a clear path to the finals.

 

I’d say Trish’s move was lacking. Why not set up a final three deal between herself, Jefra, and Kass? That would make them less paranoid about what’s going to happen once they’re down to five players. Credit where credit is due, Trish was on the right track and had the skills to make it happen, but I can see how it’s only good enough for the short term.

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It’s surprising to see someone continue to innovate Survivor gameplay after 28 seasons, and Tony’s done that this season several times. When Spencer stood up to play his idol, Tony fumbled with his “bag of tricks” and faked making an idol play.

I gave Spencer a lot of credit for directing the votes to Tony last time, and I’m giving Tony a lot of credit for this seemingly irrelevant move. Just put yourselves in Spencer’s shoes for a moment – you know either you or Jeremiah is going out, and you need to play your idol. Are you playing it for yourself and risk the idol whiffing out in case your opponents vote out Jeremiah? Or are you playing it for Jeremiah and risk getting voted out yourself? This was a critical moment for Spencer and Jeff Probst was waiting for him to make his move. Tony’s actions clearly distracted Spencer to some level.

Am I saying that Spencer ultimately played his idol on himself because of Tony’s actions? No. But anything you can do to rattle your opponent at this stage in the game is gold. And no one has even attempted to do anything similar to what Tony did last episode. Tony’s been pulling moves out of thin air when no other player has done so in the past 27 seasons – I’m impressed. And I’m learning a lot from him.

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People have debated Spencer’s idol play online, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that he played it for himself. But was it poor hidden immunity idol play? Let’s break it down.

First, Spencer has to decide whether he’ll play his idol or not. His minority alliance wasn’t able to get anyone to flip (thank you Jefra for letting them know that you’re not voting with them). Tasha has the immunity idol necklace and won’t be voted out. So if you’re Spencer, you know that either you or Jeremiah will be voted out tonight. Not playing your idol will definitely result in one of you being voted out, and a fifty percent chance of you yourself getting voted out. Do you risk not playing it and have the benefit of having it on the next vote when you’ll be down 5-2? I’m leaning towards no, you shouldn’t take that risk. A fifty percent chance of going out is too high for me to take a gamble.

Now, Spencer has to decide whether he’ll use the idol himself or protect Jeremiah. If he gives the idol to Jeremiah, there’s a fifty percent chance of Spencer going home. If Spencer plays the idol himself, he’s guaranteed to stay. Based on what was shown in the episode, Spencer had no idea who the majority was going to vote out.

s28 e9 - tasha and spencerUnless they can get the majority alliance to break, either Tasha or Spencer will be voted out next.

It’s true that he himself made the play of voting out the player who probably won’t get the idol (Jefra). He’s also seen his opponents do the same thing when they voted out Morgan. But in my eyes, that’s not enough to make me feel secure – you still have a fifty percent chance of going out of the game if you made yourself vulnerable to the vote. And Tony has been nothing but been unpredictable throughout the season. So, I agree with Spencer’s decision to play the idol himself, guarantee another three days in the game, and still have that fifty percent chance of taking Woo out.

Jeremiah got voted out anyway, but Spencer’s still in the game. It would have been a facepalm moment if Spencer gave the idol to Jeremiah and was voted out of the game himself.

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I hope the appearance of the “Too Powerful” idol won’t ruin what has been an excellent Survivor season so far, with a lot of great gameplay from several players. It’s been so good, I got prompted to start writing about it! Next episode features the final seven – a point renowned for being one of the better opportunities for changing the game. Can’t wait to find out what moves I’ll want to talk about next!

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