Last week's episode of Survivor Philippines featured the merge. And while castaways are all smiles at the idea of making the merge, it was only a matter of time until the strategizing begin and it's every man for himself.
At this point in the game, players are drawing the line in the sand. And with the conclusion of this episode with three castaways getting a vote and one person forced to play the idol, you know it's a crazy windup. And it can only get crazier with every episode.
Let us look back at the best and worst strategic moves for the merge episode and how it can play out the rest of the game.
Best Strategic Move: Malcolm Brings Lisa Into a 3-Person Alliance
I thought Malcolm handled this situation with tremendous finesse. As devastating as it is for someone to unravel your biggest secret in the game (aka hidden immunity idol), he didn't storm off to confront Lisa. Instead, he told her "you remind me of mama" and he used an approach that Lisa would easily respond to. If he would've threatened her or showed any form of aggression regarding the matter, she would have quickly run off to someone and told everyone about the idol on Malcolm's bag.
Instead, he promised her a spot in their super tight alliance with Denise. In a game where numbers is power, he has put himself in a much better position because three is always better than two. Lisa did not completely embrace this offer of an alliance, though, and she is eyes and ears about the matter. Thus, Malcolm isn't the only one who made a good strategic move with this particular scenario playing out here.
Worst Strategic Move: Jeff Votes for Penner to Flush His Idol
Jeff Kent might be safe coming into this new episode, but he might not be for long. I believe that Kent made a bad strategic decision during the last episode by opting to flush Jonathan's idol after he rallied to get him out.
On episode 6, Jeff Kent is torn between the decision to vote out Katie (the easy decision) or to blindside Jonathan (the difficult decision). When he decided to keep Jonathan, I gave him props for his smart decision at that time. Jonathan and his idol can be a powerful tool that Kent can use to his advantage coming into the merge with lesser number of people. His prospects of surviving the merge, and that of his former Kalabaw tribemates, are actually pretty good knowing how broken up Tandang is within their tribe relationships. There's Pete, Artis, and Abi on one side, Mike and RC at the other, then Malcolm and Lisa are right smack in the middle as swing votes. If the Kalabaw four can bring in any of these sub-alliances to work with them, they already have the majority!
But instead of going this route, Jeff opted to go after one of his own. By targeting Jonathan, he went from having a solid four down to three. And as Jonathan was forced to play the idol during the most recent tribal council, he is now without a safety net.
Jeff could have brought two people in, ideally RC and Skupin, so they have the majority six. Even when they bring in former Tandang tribemates into their alliance, they still hold the power within that alliance. But by working with Abi, Pete, and Artis, they are now at the bottom of the totem pole. Even without Jeff's knowledge, Abi still has the idol so that is another factor working to Kent's disadvantage as of this moment.
There are so many ways the game could go in Survivor, but by eliminating any variables out of your control from the equation, you have better chances of moving further into the game. It is interesting how this strategic fault, in my opinion, can affect the rest of Kent's gameplay. There is still a lot of game left to be played but any wrong move can have fatal consequences.
What do you think of Kent's move to try and get rid of Jonathan's idol? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.