Survivor gameplay: Power alliances implode too early

Photo: Screen GrabCBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen GrabCBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers provided a key example of how players can overthink their situation and unnecessarily blow up a power alliance too early in the game.

One item of gameplay that can be frustrating sometimes when watching Survivor is when a strong alliance has the game firmly in control, and they blow it up for whatever reason too early.

Players start worrying more about their resumes or allow insidious ideas, usually planted by someone outside the alliance and on their way out, unduly influence their gameplay decisions.

In season 35, Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, Ben Devon, Lauren, and Ashley had a strong alliance going and had Joe and Mike ready to vote their way. They could have used Joe and Mike to take out Chrissy and Ryan, both of whom eventually made it to the final three, or they could have taken out Joe or Mike and still have the numbers.

Watch Survivor on fuboTV: Watch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels (including CBS) with a 7-day FREE trial!

They smartly chose to send Joe home. This was the right decision at that moment because he could not be trusted within the confines of the game, he had a knack for getting into people’s heads and he was pro-active in searching for idols. Even though they eventually voted out Joe, Ashley had already mentioned to Devon they should consider blindsiding Ben.

At this point in the game, Ben, Devon, Lauren, and Ashley all had strong games going. If the game had ended right there, each could have made a case for themselves in front of the jury, although Ashley probably had the least influence overall on the game.

Must Read: Season 35 Final 5 Talk Twists

The smart thing to do in this situation is to vote out the three players that weren’t in the alliance. If you can get your full alliance into the Final Four, let the chips fall where they may.

Of course, this is always easier to see from one’s recliner than on the island while suffering through the depravity and paranoia that is Survivor.

Instead, Lauren, Devon, and Ashley began discussing ways to take out Ben at the well. They weren’t very circumspect, and Ben overheard them and when he made his presence known, the three conspirators clammed up awkwardly, making it obvious they were talking about him. The rest became history!

This feels like it happens way too often on Survivor; a set of players are in control and they just blow it for whatever reason.

In this case, resumes didn’t really need to be built up, especially at that point in the season. Maybe Ashley needed a bit of help, but no one else. There was still time if they had stayed strong together to improve their cases to the jury. Both Ashley and Lauren were stalwarts in challenges and maybe could have padded their resumes even more.

Survivor is unpredictable at best, so maybe things would not have worked out smoothly if they had stayed strong together. Idols may have been played, and maybe Chrissy dominates challenges anyway, even with Lauren and Ashley around longer. Maybe they don’t, and this alliance makes it to the Final Four, and it is a true battle for the title of Sole Survivor.

More from Surviving Tribal

Instead, Lauren, Devon, and Ashley ended up on the jury and Ben, their target, was the winner. Stronger resumes do jury members no good (unless their goal was to be invited back for a later season).

For all of his faults, super-villain Russell Hantz used strong alliances to make it to two Final Tribal Councils. Russell formed a strong key alliance of four or five players each time (sure, they were players he could control and manipulate), but he kept them strong.

Russell would add others to his inner circle as needed and would discard them as he deemed necessary, but his main alliances stayed with him to the end, and he got to plead his case to the jury. That is all a player can ask.

Mistrust and paranoia can blow up any alliance, but it seems if players could get past those things just a little, it may help them get to the Final Four easier. If you make it that far, all bets are off as players, even those close to each other, will do what’s best for themselves to get to the Final Tribal. However, they got to earn their seat first.

Next: Ranking the All-Time Winners

Easy, right? Of course not. Everyone is just one blindside away from being on the jury. Still, when players find themselves in a power alliance and in control of the game, they should evaluate the overall advantages of staying strong for as long as possible.