Piranha Report (Day 15)
Shuffle the Deck

The Piranha Report is a weekly look at the political intrigue and alliance related trends occurring in the Jaburu and Tambaqui tribes during their stay in the Amazon. Who is wheeling? Who is dealing? And of course, who is reeling?

Week five was a remarkable achievement for Mark Burnett and friends. Just when we thought we had seen most all of the twists possible following Thailand’s fake merger, they uncork another one with this well played tribal shuffle.

Many players went from positions of power to being in trouble right from the start. Will they adapt to their new teams, or will they stick to old allegiances? There is risk in either strategy, and one player this week already cast her lot with the new tribe.

The Tribes

New Tambaqui (in order of selection) – Dave, Heidi, Butch, Christy, Roger, and Jeanne

New Jaburu – Jenna, Alex, Deena, Rob, Shawna, and Matthew

What Can We Learn?

We know that Dave defeated Jenna in the battle of gathering information without giving much up. Jenna made a very poor strategic decision when she began describing in detail the inner workings and relationships of Jaburu.

Jenna made it easy for Dave to choose Heidi first, breaking up an alliance. But that wasn’t all, as Dave took advantage of the knowledge that Jeanne was a good woman to target next, and he knew that Heidi was adrift without an alliance partner. Therefore she was the correct person to approach with the goal of breaking up the three ladies and gaining numerical advantage.

Dave didn’t have to work too hard to gather his information, but I give him great credit for using it to full advantage.

Alex was Jenna’s first pick, so now I will have to wait to find out if my theory of a Dave/Alex alliance holds any water. Looking at the picks themselves, we can learn more interesting things:

Dave: Heidi – We can guess he picked her based upon Jenna’s statements as discussed above.

Jenna: Alex – Probably assumed he was a strong player, and he is, so this was a good pick.

Dave: Butch – Trusted player taken over the more athletic Matthew and Rob.

Jenna: Deena – Remaining alliance partner, a good pick for her, though she has effectively hung Heidi out to dry.

Dave: Christy – Interesting pick. He could have chosen Shawna, the number one hottie gal in the guy’s informal poll. I assume that Jenna’s comments indicating that she was sick influenced his choice.

Jenna: Rob – I would have taken Matthew, but she didn’t choose Roger here, so her pick is fine.

Dave: Roger – Trusted player. Once again, ignoring more physical survivors.

Jenna: Shawna – Chooses her former hot chicks alliance mate over the vulnerable Jeanne. I would probably make the same choice.

Dave: Jeanne – No choice but to take her.

Jenna: Matthew – Last man standing. She was probably happy to see him still “on the board” though.

What is interesting is that Jenna chose a stronger team from a challenge winning standpoint. However, Dave’s picks were stronger from a game play perspective. It will be interesting to watch which strategy works better.

Jenna’s selections of Alex, Matthew, Shawna (post miracle healing), and Denna gave her several strong players, and Rob would probably appear to be so as well. Certainly Rob is someone she probably feels she can manipulate, and for all of Rob’s bravado, I don’t doubt that Jenna will have him in her pocket before long, while Alex and Matthew fight for Shawna scraps.

Therefore, my gut feeling at the time was that Jenna’s strategy would work better in the long run assuming her team wins challenges. However, what if New Tambaqui keeps losing, and therefore booting women? At a merge, the guys will have the advantage.

Dave takes a lot of ribbing on the boards for his less than demonstrated rocket science abilities, but to me, his efforts in episode five were some of the best strategic game play I have seen since Rich Hatch roamed the beach sans clothing.

Broken Alliances and New Opportunities

Deena made a strategic decision last week to cast her lot with the Hot Chicks Alliance. That decision seemed to blow up in her face this week. Ah, such is the game of Survivor. At first I would suspect she is at risk, but I have a lot of respect for her skills here, and she may well find a way to play the Alex/Shawna/Matt love triangle into her advantage.

Heidi was equally torpedoed in her efforts. She made a strategic decision, with long lasting impact, when she chose to break ranks with Jeanne and Christy and give the guys the numbers advantage. Now, there are good reasons to make that decision, as we don’t know what the tie breaker is this year, and the purple rock of fate can strike anyone in the tribe. The chance to ensure your survival, and therefore likely make it to the merge, while scoring points with the men, is a tempting option. Post merge she will still have Jenna and Deena willing to work with her, and she probably felt it was her best chance to stay in the game. However, the negatives will be the hit to her trustworthiness reputation if Christy is not eliminated before the merge. I suspect that this decision cost her a chance at winning the game, but I can put myself in her shoes and understand why she did it.

What of Dave? Classic MB foreshadowing says that he will have a conflict with Roger and Butch over whom to boot next. Does that mean that Tambaqui loses the IC next week as well? Dave promised Heidi that she was third on the list of ladies, so will Mr. Integrity keep his word? Or, is it all a big MB bluff? I am betting on the latter. Dave got to choose which guys to keep and pointedly chose Butch as his guy, so I would be surprised to see Butch work against him.

Shawna seems to get her fill of attention in the coming week, but her sudden “recovery” could well work against her. I have to believe that Jenna and Deena will resent her, and for different reasons. Deena will be incensed that Shawna was obviously slacking off during her “illness”, and Jenna will likely be jealous of the attention she is commanding.

That can lead to an interesting set of alliances. Will Alex and Matthew join forces with the object of their attention? Or, will they perhaps work against each other?

I think that if they work against each other, then they both lose. Deena will keep Jenna in line, and in turn I suspect Jenna will find a way to get Rob’s vote. Those three votes can then be used to influence Matthew or Alex to join in and eliminate the competition. Alex is a pretty smart player, so I assume he will avoid the trap.

Regardless, this switch should ensure that we have some entertaining interaction between now and the merge.

I Guess That Didn’t Work

Jeanne took a stroll down the walk of shame this week. Ryan has got to be bumming out at Loser Lodge with each passing eviction. “Where are the hot babes?”

The timing of the tribal switch could not have come at a better time for Jeanne. She was isolated, and in the sights of her fellow tribe mates, back at old Jaburu. Yet then came the switch and her opportunity for new life. Sadly, for Jeanne fans, her fate was sealed that night Dave and Jenna shared a meal, and it seemed clear that Dave’s plan was to target her all along.

Your comments are welcome. Email bill@fansofrealitytv.com