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AttenHUT: Sarge's Fateful Alliance

This analysis of "Survivor: Vanuatu"'s latest episode is by columnist Greg Feltes of CBS station WBBM in Chicago, who offers weekly commentary on the popular reality TV show.
Why Lisa Keiffer is gone:

She didn't choose her words carefully enough.
In this game, you have to be like a presidential candidate when it comes to word selection. Even one verbal slip-up can do you in, as Lisa learned the hard way here. Ami being the only one to know how to do something was not a good situation. However, there were many better ways to handle that problem.

First of all, she shouldn't have waited until the immunity challenge loss to bring it up. That move just fed Ami's paranoia and made her defensive and reactionary. Lisa could have also talked to other members of the tribe, so they could all take up the issue with Ami instead of Lisa going out on a limb by herself.

She's didn't read the mood of her tribe correctly.
After four challenge losses in a row, it was clear Yasur was beginning to panic. In times of panic, alliances tend to fall apart, especially in a situation like this. Yasur cannot afford to lose another challenge, so it was highly unlikely that they would make the decision to vote out physically strong Rory.

If Lisa had read the situation correctly, she would have shifted her strategy to attempting to oust one of her fellow females. It's not like there weren't plenty of targets. Eliza and Leann were particularly vulnerable, given their challenge performances this week. Instead, she stayed loyal to an alliance that was clearly dissolving.

She tangled with Ami last week for no reason.
We did see Lisa spar with Ami regarding the coconut fiasco last week. Although I still agree with Lisa that withholding that information from the men was stupid, she probably would have been better off remaining silent and maintaining team harmony. Unfortunately, she made an enemy at that moment without even realizing it.

Scout set up Yasur to fail.
When Scout was picking tribes, she had to have seen how unbalanced they were. She also probably knew that Sarge would take the male-dominated tribe, which would allow her to stay with her female friends. Well, that sounds good in theory, but it was clear that Yasur would be an underdog in nearly all of the challenges. This made keeping at least one man around a necessity, which ultimately cost Lisa a shot at a million dollars.

Tribe Analysis --- Lopevi:

Age: 40

Sarge's recruitment of Twila to be the fourth and final member of his alliance was a smart play for many reasons.

In the immediate future, that prevents a Twila/Julie/John alliance from forcing a tie at their next journey to tribal council. If Twila doesn't disclose this new alliance to Julie, Julie and John will base their strategies on a false assumption and be unable to develop a counterattack. This will allow the youngsters to be picked off easily and ensure that Sarge's alliance of four makes the merge intact.

This alliance is even better news for Sarge's long-term prospects. Assuming that the merge occurs when there are 10 people left (a big assumption I grant you,) Sarge's worst-case scenario is that there is a tie situation.

If Lopevi were to lose the next two immunities, they would boot John K. and Julie. This would leave an alliance of Twila/Sarge/Chad/Chris who have a pretty good chance at recruiting Rory to rejoin them.

John K.:
Age: 22

It looks like John made the incorrect assumption that the other guys would automatically take him into their alliance after the loss of Travis and Rory. Well, apparently he was wrong.

John either should have gone out of his way to pledge loyalty to Sarge/Chris/Chad or gotten to Twila first to create a Twila/Julie/John alliance to force a tie. It is likely neither occurred and now he is a sitting duck without even knowing it.

Now, it comes down to trying to outlast Julie in the hopes he can make the merge and regroup with a new alliance. It's a very similar situation to him having to outmaneuver Brady to last until a twist. He did that very well, but the fact is, Julie is trustworthy and…well…hotter than John.

Age: 35

Again, it was another quiet week for Chad. He has to be careful to not be blinded by Julie's "charms." Julie is more likely to reteam with Yasur if she lasts until the merge than John is to betray Lopevi at the merge. If they lose the next challenge, he should push to oust Julie and allow John to think he is a part of the alliance of four.

Age: 33


Age: 41

Showing Sarge her work ethic and honesty paid off big time, as she was welcomed into a strong alliance that should succeed if they only lose one immunity challenge before the merge.

There was no future in aligning with Julie and John because they would throw her under the bus in a second if something better came along. The older men are much more stable, loyal and willing to accept her social awkwardness.
She should push for John to go if they lose the next challenge because there is always a chance the males could wise up and work together - especially if there are six males left when the merge occurs at 10. Plus, Julie is a good ally to have because she is desperate and dependent on Twila for her survival.

Age: 23

If you got it, flaunt it. Julie's immediate goal is to be pleasant company for the men, so they boot John at the next tribal council. Flashing skin is a good start, but she also needs to demonstrate some semblance of work ethic.

If she makes the merge, Julie should be plotting to rejoin the rest of the women because there is no chance that she can crack the final four.

Tribe Analysis --- Yasur:

Age: 59

Scout's loyalty to her fellow females might be her downfall. Voting for Rory when it was clear that everyone else wasn't only served to show isolation from the rest of the tribe and unwillingness to make compromises for the good of the tribe.

Not that she is in much danger for the immediate future. Her work ethic and leadership are crucial to keeping the tribe together and everyone realizes that.

Still, if you watched the Survivor Insider clip titled "Say a Little Prayer," Scout actually reveals that signs from God and astrological signs are factors in her decisions. If others catch wind of those criteria, they might question whether she is the best leader.

Her physical weakness is also proving to be a liability.

Age: 21

Eliza needs to shut up, especially in crucial situations. After being completely responsible for Yasur's immunity loss, she went on to make excuses and blame the popular Scout in front of other tribe members. This only serves to reinforce the notion that she is an annoying liability who can't contribute in challenges that require someone to get dirty and fight for survival.

She is lucky that Lisa opened her mouth and offended Ami.

Age : 31

Ami expertly used a minor, careless comment by Lisa to push her own agenda forward. She, more than any member of her tribe, realizes the increasing importance of winning challenges and knew Rory had to be kept around. By blowing the situation out of proportion, she was able to frame the debate on whom should be voted out.

It also looks like Ami might be working with Eliza. If this is true, she did an excellent job of protecting a resource without revealing the partnership.

Age: 35

Leann did a good job of bouncing back after causing the immunity loss. She didn't wallow too long or make excuses as so many challenge goats have done in past editions of Survivor. Leann cried just along enough to get some sympathy and comfort before moving on, putting on her game face and focusing attention on someone else.

Age: 35

I can't believe Rory pulled this off. Obviously, some of Yasur's fissures were caused by infighting, but Rory did a good job of stoking the flames and making an argument for his continued presence.

His corny speech planted seeds of doubt in their minds, which made the girls look at each other more critically. The immunity loss actually improved Rory's chances of staying with Yasur long term because if they win next week, he'll be a hero and if they don't, his presence will become even more necessary.

Predictions for next week: I'm a firm believer that things have a way of balancing out in this game. There is a good chance that the next immunity challenge will be mental, which gives Yasur a fighting chance. I think it is unlikely that Lopevi can sustain dominance this long, so I have to believe that they are headed to tribal council.

If that does occur, it's obviously a choice between John and Julie. The distrust of John and Julie's pleasant demeanor will probably lead to his dismissal because it's clear that alliances based on sex are no longer the deciding factor in this game.

If Yasur loses, I see Eliza going before Rory because they will become even more desperate if they lose another immunity.

Power trends:

Increased their chances this week: Sarge, Twila, Chris, Chad, Julie, Rory and Ami.
Hurt their chances this week: Scout, Eliza, Leann and John.

My current ultimate Survivor pick: Sarge. He is now guaranteed to make the merge with a solid alliance of four intact. His recruitment of Twila gives him an ally if it comes down to Twila/Sarge/Chad/Chris, which is necessary because it looks like Chad and Chris are close. The only way Sarge's long-term prospects turn ugly is if Lopevi loses the next two challenges and Rory refuses to team up with him after the merge.


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