Survivor Survival Guide: “Running the Camp”

“I personally don’t think he can beat me physically, much less mentally. So I’m still playing my game the way I’ve been playing it.”


“It’s just frustrating to play a game with people that are so stupid.”


Back when the original La Flor and Espada tribes shuffled members, I wrote that the contrivance only moved up the season’s defining battle between Marty and Brenda, which I figured had to take place before the merge.

Well, I was wrong on multiple fronts.*

*Yeah, I’m used to it by now.

Brenda and Marty had their moments—such as the back-and-forth about Jane at Tribal a few episodes back—but it never boiled down to a me-against-you tête-à-tête the way it had between Boston Rob and Russell, the way I hoped it would here. In its place, though, we got as personal a feud as I can remember on Survivor, between the technological executive Marty and the down-home dog trainer Jane (bless her soul).

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It had been building for a few weeks, ever since the tribe swap. Jane, upset at how Marty and Jill had taken her for granted at Espada, teamed up with the younger remaining members of La Flor, undercutting any chance her old tribemates had at maintaining some control of the game. When Brenda told Jane that Marty tried to off her in “Turf Wars,” it only heightened her distaste for him. Since then, Jane has not only voted for Marty at all four Tribal Councils, but she has actively tried to persuade others to get him off and even called him a “jackass” on multiple occasions last night—which wouldn’t even be the meanest thing she’d say about him. Marty fought back last week by elucidating just how big a threat Jane is because she would almost certainly win in the Final Three. While accurate, Marty’s lecture also took some low blows at Jane’s less-than-wealthy background.

That set the stage for “Running the Camp,” which opened by setting up a Jane v. Marty showdown with our epigraph quotes. Marty began scheming with Dan, Benry, and JudFabio—the latter two being on the outskirts of the Brenda/Sash BS Alliance. Marty’s plan was two-pronged and ostensibly sensible: They would say they’re voting our NaOnka to flush her Hidden Immunity Idol, and then blindside Jane. It did have a few flaws, though: First, would NaOnka buy that she’s in trouble, three days after surviving the food theft incident? Especially when everyone knows about the tension between Marty and Jane? Second, could Marty secure the two other votes he’d need to take down his nemesis?

Jane was more succinct with her plan: “I’d like to take him to the woodshed and whip his ass.”*

*I’m not sure if she said “whip” or “whup.” I wrote “whip,” but Jane (bless her soul) strikes me as someone who would say “whup.”

The first Reward Challenge since the merge broke Libertad into two random teams that would compete in an obstacle course. Amazingly, the teams split along exact gender lines, with five men going against five women. Chase was not selected, meaning he had to sit out. He did have the chance to pick which team to support—receiving the reward if it had won—and unconscionably decided to back the female team. We will discuss that play later.

This, by the way, would have been a great time for Survivor to reveal how the teams are chosen. By my primitive calculations,* there was, at most, a 1.3 percent chance of the teams being split by gender. It would have been interesting to see the teams react as the draft went along.

*I did two calculations with basic probability, assuming teams were chosen by picking colored rocks out of a bag. So the highest probability in this instance would be if the first five people to select rocks were all men, and they all picked the same colored rock. The math for this is just (6/11)*(5/10)*(4/9)*(3/8)*(2/7) = 1.3%. The low end, meanwhile, would occur if the “draft” went down to the last selection, where you have to factor in the probability that A. All the men would select the same colored rock AND B. All the women would select the other colored rock. The math here is (6/11)*(5/10)*(5/9)*(4/8)*(4/7)*(3/6)*(3/5)*(2/4)*(2/3)*(1/2) = 0.22%. The probability that I did this incorrectly, meanwhile, is almost certainly 1/1.

With Dan and Jane slowing their respective teams down, it was close for awhile, but busting through bamboo and then a brick wall proved too difficult for the women. The men (sans Chase) won reward, which included a zipline tour of the Nicaraguan jungle and a Survivor barbecue.* The zipline tour looked fun if unenlightening; from the cool camera angles they showed, you still couldn’t see much into the jungle. And Dan looked uncomfortable the entire time. Over the barbecue, Marty reiterated his plan, this time with Sash present. Sash at the very least feigned being onboard with it, admitting that it did make sense. Sash is not as tight with NaOnka as Brenda seems to be, and although he likely wants to take her to the Final Three (we know Brenda does, and she made sure we knew at Tribal last night), it’s probably better for him if he has the only hidden idol.

*In the same vein as “What precisely makes it ‘Astro’” lemonade? I’ll ask, “What precisely makes it a “Survivor” barbecue?

This is where it would have behooved Chase to have chosen to back the men. Putting aside the clear physical advantage the men had going into the challenge, it’s important to be present for the key strategizing that would be going on by the people who are on the fringe of alliances. More specifically, while the women would no doubt talk strategy at camp as well, they wouldn’t be trying to come up with any major moves. They don’t need to. Marty, on the other hand, is clearly the guy who would try to shake things up, so it’d help Chase if he were there—either to know Marty’s plan or to prevent him from sharing it openly (he may have kept the “And then blindside Jane” part of it quiet knowing how tight she is with Chase). Finally, Chase’s closest ally is Jane, and she could have filled him in on what went down at camp while he was gone. Even Brenda called it a poor decision: “He went with his little emotions…. Chase doesn’t make smart moves.”

Chase’s apparent reasoning for sticking with the girls, though, is a distancing between him and Brenda. Once two of the closest allies on La Flor, Chase admitted, “We don’t talk” while growing increasingly paranoid about the next move in the game—and in the process getting on Brenda’s nerves. The best part of this sequence was Na properly using the word “irk” in back-to-back sentences. It’s kind of ironic she’s the one who whipped it out.

The Immunity Challenge—back down to one necklace this time around, thankfully—consisted of memorizing a sequence of pictures and replicating it step-by-step with a six-sided block. It was another fun one, especially since you could play along at home.* Jane and NaOnka couldn’t remember the second picture in the sequence, Dan went out on the third, and Holly, Purple Kelly, and Sash were gone after five.** JudFabio, Chase, and Benry went out early in the second round (the first sequence was six pictures in all, the second seven), leaving Marty and Brenda to duel it out. Marty forgot the 12th picture (Musket, Marty! Not ship’s wheel!), giving immunity to Brenda.

*Hint: I would not have been knocked out before the contest was over. Although I imagine I did not have to remember the sequence as long as the castaways did.

**What does it say about Purple Kelly that I’m surprised she lasted even that long?

After immunity, it was clear it was going to come down to Marty and Jane. Marty’s newfound alliance with Dan, Benry, and JudFabio—who delivered another insightful quote by saying, “I hate playing stupid so much, but it’s the smart thing to do…. That’s a big part of the game: just laying low. I call it ‘being cool.’ Not tick anybody off. It’s a good strategy”—would vote for Jane while Jane’s strong clique with Holly and Chase would vote for Marty. That left, oddly enough, the two supposedly strongest players in the game in Brenda and Sash as swing votes. This was seemingly inconceivable last episode; Brenda and Sash have been setting the agenda for weeks. But it speaks to the singlemindedness with which Jane and Marty want each other out. Jane wants Marty out so badly that her friends will vote him out, meaning that even if Brenda and Sash ruled from on high to vote someone else out—like Alina last time—it wouldn’t work.

One sidenote before we get to Tribal: Chase figured out that Marty’s plan was to go after Jane and not NaOnka as he’d been saying. But he said it so nonchalantly, and this “revelation” was dealt with so minimally on the show, that I’m guessing everyone kind of knew this—either because Marty had told too many people (at least six of the 11 knew) or because it didn’t make a lot of sense when you sat down and thought about it.

At Tribal, Marty and NaOnka went after each other, with Marty trying to drudge up the stealing of the food (after Probst opened that line of questioning). Na went off—as is her wont—which got JudFabio shaking his head at her, which prompted Na to go off on him, too. It was entertaining. I really enjoy JudFabio’s “What are you doing???” facial expressions at Tribal, since way back when they voted off Shannon.

It was an entertaining Tribal as a whole. Alina looked good in the jury, Purple Kelly struggled to open the marker (come on girl, you’ve done this five times now), and Jane and Marty took parting shots at each other. Jane delivered as vindictive a judgment as seen on the show since Sue Hawk, saying (to the camera and by extension Marty), “You are a disgrace to every man who calls himself a father. If I had a child or a grandchild, there’s no way in heck I’d allow my child or grandchild to come play with your children after the way you went after me last week. That was an attack against women, plain and simple. And you’re a disgraceful father.” Does Marty have kids? Do we know this? Marty, meanwhile, after writing Jane’s name down, said, “Y’all’s catfishin’ trip has been terminated because y’all messed with the wrong gator, missy. This is for me and Jill” and then strutted back to the bench in a “pride before the fall” moment. NaOnka didn’t play the idol, seeing through the plan just as Chase did. Four of the first five votes read by Probst were for Jane, and the smile couldn’t have been any wider on Marty’s face. But it got smaller and smaller as each successive vote was cast for Marty, and he became the second member of the jury.

Brenda and Sash went with the Jane Clique, leaving Benry,* Dan, and JudFabio on an island. At the same time, they know that Jane remains a threat down the line—Brenda mentioned it’d be dumb to take her to the finals instead of someone like NaOnka—and she could be next on the chopping block.

*Since when did Benry have a cardigan at camp? Weird, right?

Give me Libertad, or give me a Hierarchy!*

*John S is so much better at these in his RW/RR posts.


SECOND ESTATE: Holly, Chase, Dan, JudFabio, Purple Kelly



FINAL THREE: Brenda, NaOnka, Purple Kelly

Crazy, right? Here’s my thinking: Jane might be gone next week, as Brenda and Sash try to reestablish their control of the game. What should happen then is that the have-nots (by this time, Benry, JudFabio, Holly, Chase, and Purple Kelly) should band together and try to vote out Brenda while flushing an idol from Sash or NaOnka. What will happen, more likely, is that Purple Kelly at least sticks with Brenda, Sash, and Na, and they vote off Chase (the biggest physical threat). Why do I think this is likelier? Because who’s leading the have-nots? Who comes up with the plan to knock off the other alliance and who unites everyone? Is it sad that JudFabio seems like the best candidate? Could he and Purple Kelly unite in the most improbable power duo in series history (maybe behind Kenny and Crystal from Gabon)? Sure, it’s possible. It just seems unlikely.*

*Exact quote: “I realized how Survivor-retarded I am.”

After eliminating Chase, with numbers and idols, the BS Alliance could take down the other have-nots. Down to a final four of Brenda, Sash, Na, and PK, Brenda is the likeliest to win immunity, and it makes eminent sense for her to take Na and PK to the Final Three, where she could possibly win unanimously (I don’t think she would, but she’d be a pretty big favorite in that scenario).

I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping JudFabio comes through next week.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John S on November 11, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    So, another question based on my Survivor ignorance: In this week’s immunity challenge, aren’t the only ones with incentives to win Marty, Jane, and possibly NaOnka? I mean, they were the only ones with any kind of target on their back, and winning Immunity Challenges can really only make you seen as a threat. Losing early makes people view you as valuable votes to be kept around for a few more Tribals. As for Brenda, who won, couldn’t she have passed the necklace to someone else as a way to curry favor with someone potentially on the fence. I mean, I know viewers have the virtue of editing and such, but there wasn’t any realistic chance that Brenda was getting voted out last night, so what’s the sense in keeping the necklace? Why not give it to Jane, for example? Brenda and Sash clearly didn’t intend to vote for her anyway, so it’s just a meaningless gesture but it could serve to A) make a move against Jane next week harder to see coming, and B) make NaOnka think that maybe the heat around her wasn’t just talk, forcing her to play her hidden Idol. Am I missing something about this?

    As for your question about “who is leading the have-nots?” well, it seems like up until now it’s been Jane’s passionate hatred of Marty leading the charge, so it’ll be interesting to see how things operate without that guiding force. I, too, am hoping JudFabio, who actually seems to be much smarter than his first impressions indicated, realizes how best to play it and goes after the BS alliance. (Although the possibility of Marty and Jane having to interact in JuryLand would be a funny concept.)

    Finally, I don’t think Marty’s strut was a “pride before the fall” moment–he was actually just mocking NaOnka’s strut, which he had laughed at when she cast her vote. The insult was obvious enough that NaOnka felt the need to flip Marty off…


    • Posted by Tim on November 11, 2010 at 7:55 PM

      Here’s why: If Brenda gives her immunity necklace to Jane, everyone who would have voted for Jane then switches to Brenda. And one of the tiebreakers down the line is votes against you, so you want to avoid them as much as possible.

      I think it’s also very easy to know who’s targeted from the outside. For instance, last night was the first time in a while that Marty felt comfortable at Tribal, and he went home. How bad would he have felt if he gave up in the Immunity Challenge right away because he thought he was safe?

      And good catch on Marty’s strut. Did not notice that.


  2. Posted by Josh on November 12, 2010 at 12:28 AM

    Just watched it: I say Naonka’s out next time after doing some else atrocious: JudFabio leads the way.

    And, I’m still maintaining my Purple Kelly in the final three. How bad did you feel for her after her emotional outburst after losing the reward challenge?


  3. […] his indefensible decision to back the women in the obstacle course prevented Chase from winning every post-merge […]


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