This blog post contains Survivor spoilers.
In the previous episode of Survivor, JT was voted off, giving the Heroes only four people, namely Amanda, Colby, Rupert, and Candice. On the other hand, the Villains have five people: Russell, Parvati, Danielle, Jerri, and Sandra. The upper hand seems to be with the Villains in terms of numbers. However, Sandra is on the outs with the Villains. If voting goes as normal and the Heroes are voted off one by one then Sandra will only be guaranteed in the top five as the Villains will vote her out as soon as all the Heroes are voted out. Sandra can get be better deal by aligning herself with the Heroes, voting off a Villain, and then switching to vote for a Villains and then continuing to alternate until the final three during which she brings the three most hated players along to the final tribal council. In this episode, it seems like Sandra was indeed trying to flip. She wanted to flip to the heroes and vote out either Russell or Parvati. If Sandra flips, it's five vs four.
When Amanda, Danielle, and Colby went to the reward challenge, Danielle found a clue to a hidden immunity idol (HII). Amanda saw Danielle finding it and the two of them got into a fight. Colby did not involve himself in the fight. Amanda then gave the HII back to Danielle. This incident I thought was interesting because I don't know what the rules are with regards to HII clues. I think with HIIs ownership of the idol goes to the person who finds it. However, with HII clues, what is the rule? I assume there are no rules, and if this is true then Amanda and Colby could possibly have wrestled Danielle and forced her to reveal the clue. However, there is a rule of Survivor that says you cannot hit someone. I don't like it when there is uncertainty over rules. In my opinion, the current system of dropping HIIs into food and napkins should be replaced by a system whereby HII clues are earned by winning a reward challenge.
Danielle shared the clue with her Villains and she and Russell went out to find it. Russell found it but, angry that Danielle and Parvati found an idol and didn't tell him about it, Russell decided to keep the idol for himself and not tell Danielle or Parvati. Instead, Russell told Candice about the idol. What this did was bring Candice over to the Villains' side. Candice is like the Heroes' Sandra. She is on the bottom for her own alliance, and so it would make sense for her to switch as well, but in my opinion Candice needs to realize that the next person to go should be a Villain to even the numbers out. You you engage in a divide and conquer strategy, you want to be able to conquer, and voting out another Hero only skews the numbers in favor of the Villains even more, giving Russel, Parvati, Danielle, and Jerri even more power. Candice told Russell everything Sandra was going to do and because of this Sandra decided to switch her vote and vote with the Villains. In the end, Amanda was voted off because Candice and Sandra voted for her.
Candice has a history of being disloyal. In Cook Islands, she flipped on her own tribe, but this turned out to be a losing move because she flipped into a tribe that had a member who also flipped. I can't really blame Candice for flipping because if she stayed with the Heroes plus Sandra and voted off the Villains one by one then she would be guaranteed either top five or top four since Amanda, Colby, and Rupert are probably strong, although it could be argued that Colby is not really that solid in this alliance. The old core Heroes alliance seems to be dead ever since JT was voted off. When Russell guaranteed Candice top three, it sounds better than top five or four, so she defected and is now with the Heroes. However, Candice is putting a lot of trust in Russell who has already screwed over the Heroes, so it should be evident to Candice that Russell is not trustworthy. Another reason why I think Candice voted with the Villains is because of fear. Russell has the HII and can give it to anyone. He could give it to Parvati or Danielle (Jerri had immunity from the challenge). The Heroes plus Sandra need to choose someone who won't play the HII. There is a 33 per cent probability that the Heroes plus Sandra vote for someone who plays the HII and then Amanda would have gone anyway and then Candice's vote against the Villains would show Russell and she was not loyal to him and therefore her chances of top three are gone. This was a similar tactice Yul in Cook Islands used to get Jonathan on his side. However, in Cook Island, Yul brought Jonathan over and then slit his throat. I think Russell will do the same with Candice. I therefore cannot really blame Candice for doing what she did, but in my opinion a better move for Candice would be to join Sandra, vote off a Villain, then a Hero, and then alternate. If Russell was voted off then it would be three vs three (Amanda, Colby, and Rupert vs Parvati, Danielle, and Jerri) with Sandra and Candice as the swing votes. This is in my opinion the optimal strategy as it gives the swing voters a lot of power. If the numbers are even among Heroes and Villains, swing voters are very important and everyone will do anything for their vote. But if Villains have more power than Heroes then swing voters are not necessary. However, since there is a 33 per cent chance that their vote would be blocked by a HII, Candice decided to put her trust in Russell instead.
The danger with this alternating strategy is if the Heroes and Villains all gang up and vote out the swing voter, e.g. Amanda, Colby, and Rupert allign themselves with Russell, Parv, and Danielle to vote out Sandra and Candice. But in my opinion this would be unlikely. This alternating strategy works because the two groups are divided. The Heroes and the Villains are divided and cannot trust each other. If Russell walks up to Amanda and tells her that they should all vote out the swing voter, Russell could be trying to get Amanda to waste a vote so that he and the Villains can vote out another Hero. Furthermore, even if the Heroes and Villains all align and vote off the swing voters, the result would be a three vs three tie after the swing voters are gone, which results in a massive risks of a tie vote, which means stones will be drawn, which means a 25 per cent probability of going home.
Many people are criticizing the many HIIs used in this show. In my opinion, a HII is great to add action to the same, especially when a member of a weaker alliance gets a hold of it. It equalizes the playing field. However, even though the Villains have numbers over the Heroes, the Villains are so fractured that it is fun to watch Villains flipping over to the Heroes. In this situation, a HII is not necessary to increase entertainment value. If anything, it reduces it because there is a probability that the Villains will find it and it strengthens their power even more, giving them more power and making the game more one-sided. In order to make Survivor most entertaining, game designers need to act as if they were in antitrust. They need to make sure there is competitition and that there is not too much consolidation of power. Consolidation of power leads to order and predictability, which makes the show boring.