Taking advantage of her “lower threat level”, Sophie Clarke orchestrated the demise of the Survivor: Winners at War merge boot, which benefited her place in the game the most.
In a standard one-hour merge episode that had to squeeze in an Edge of Extinction challenge along with the first Individual Immunity, the dynamics that drove the vote felt a little lost in the haze. While the edit focused on fooling the viewers by following Jeremy around, making it seem like he was in control, there was one person, in particular, that was responsible for the final verdict. It was Sophie Clarke who casually steered the vote to her liking in the Survivor: Winners at War merge episode.
Sophie entered the merge in a good spot with the potential of setting herself up for a long run. Her original Dakal tribe is in the majority, she has an idol in her back pocket and she’s the only one who knows that Kim has one too. Sophie’s perceptive social skills continued to shine as she was aware of the various gameplans floating around amongst the twelve merged winners.
Right off the bat Tyson, Ben, Tony, and Jeremy discussed the idea of aligning the big targets together. Several of the “lower-profile players” picked up on that fact, but Sophie went a step further. She understood that Jeremy posed the biggest threat with his connections to Denise, Michele, and Wendell among others. The other three don’t have as much power at the moment.
Similar to how Michele and Jeremy weakened Boston Rob’s hold on the game by blindsiding Ethan, Sophie wanted to do the same by getting out Wendell. Jeremy’s confessionals made it clear that he wanted to be Wendell’s number one, and somehow Sophie was able to pick up on that bond. When a bunch of the castaways were talking about the vote being either Wendell or Nick, Sophie wasn’t afraid to explain why she wanted Wendell gone.
This entire season, Sophie has been exceptional at telling people who she wants to go and why without appearing too forthcoming or power-hungry. She made the group understand why Wendell was more dangerous while concealing the fact that her game might benefit the most from this decision. Sophie reasoned how having Wendell out of the picture weakens Jeremy’s hold over the game. That makes for one more target that the “big threat alliance” can’t use as a number.
We also see from this decision that Sophie is thinking beyond the thrill of taking out the flashy names. Her mindset wasn’t: “let’s get Wendell out since he’s the bigger target.” Instead, Sophie said in a confessional that she rather vote for Wendell because she’s more likely to work with Nick in the future. She understands that in addition to taking out the threats, it’s just as important to keep players around that are more likely to be her allies.
Even though the edit didn’t fully flush out Sophie’s gameplay during the merge episode, we saw enough to notice her influence. She got rid of a threat that probably wouldn’t have worked with her in the first place, she weakened Jeremy’s position in the game and put herself in a strong spot moving forward with allies and idols at her side.