Survivor seasons: How Micronesia changed the game of Survivor


The first season to bring back one tribe of favorites and one tribe of first-time players turned out to be a successful mix creating several legendary Survivor moments.

Nowadays, a large group of fans usually dread when production decides to mix newbies with returnees. It confuses the edit and doesn’t always make for a balanced playing field. However, that wasn’t the case in Survivor: Micronesia.

The theme of this season was to see how a tribe of fans would hold up against a group of viewers’ favorites. The outcome was lopsided, but that didn’t prevent this season from delivering some of the most iconic scenes in Survivor history. Here are three ways Micronesia changed the game.

1) The power of a women’s alliance

Micronesia isn’t the first season to have a powerful all-women’s alliance. Back in Vanuatu, the girls took control of the game, voting off the guys one by one. The only problem is that they collapsed at the end and couldn’t work together with their strong personalities.

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The women in Fans vs. Favorites took this idea and perfected it. Parvati Shallow, Amanda Kimmel, Cirie Fields, Natalie Bolton and Alexis Jones, aligned following the merge to form the infamous Black Widow Brigade. Together they pulled off blindside after blindside.

It was awesome seeing them get together and plot out their next move, considering who would be their next victim. Using their charm and wits, the women blindsided Jason Sisca and Ozzy Lusth, both with an idol in their pockets. They made Jason step down in an Immunity Challenge and who can forget what they conned poor Erik into doing!

This season showed the power an alliance has when a few all-time greats are on the same page. With their minds on the same goal, the women dominated, making every other castaway since panic each time murmurs of an all-girls alliance surface.

2) Making a fake Hidden Immunity Idol

Fake idols have become so common in modern-day Survivor that we can almost expect at least one every season. Although China saw the first person play a fake idol, that was simply because it was an item that looked exactly like the real thing, it wasn’t someone’s creation.

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Ozzy Lusth took the fake idol idea to another level! On Exile Island, Ozzy was able to decipher the series of clues and find the Hidden Immunity Idol fairly quickly. But instead of stopping there, Ozzy wanted to replace the package he found with something else.

He grabbed a bare looking stick, made a small carving in it and put it exactly where he found the real one. Jason fell for the trap hard, claiming to Eliza that he has the idol, leading to the infamous “it’s a f***ing stick” line. It may have been a pathetic fake, but it led to more convincing ones in Gabon and in seasons to come.

3) The balance between social and strategic gameplay is key

Looking back at some of the cast of Micronesia, there were some solid players who got taken out just prior to the merge. Ami Cusack, who I think is one of the most underrated social players, began building genuine bonds with the cast. What was the problem? She lacked the strategic forethought, allowing Cirie to swoop in, gain the numbers and vote her out.

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Joel Anderson was one of the most strategic players on the Fans tribe. He even got the chance to pull off a sweet blindside and had walked the walk to back up his aggressive play. However, he lacked a solid social game. When the swap hit, the Favorites were able to infiltrate the new tribe and take out Joe before he got too dangerous.

Amanda, Cirie, and Parvati held the perfect balance between a strong social and strategic game. Their, kind, outgoing attitudes enabled them to build tight relationships, but at the same time, they could always put the game over friendship.

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That gave this crew the killer instinct to pull off a blindside when they needed to. Winners like Nick Wilson, Wendell Holland and Jeremy Collins who are able to get close to replicating that same balance received praise from the jury for their gameplay.