Piranha Report (Day 24)
Do You Believe?

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

This week, Deena and Rob continued to hold the power in Jacare, Matthew continued to sharpen his machete, and Dave fought to stay alive.

Dude, I Think There is Something Wrong With Our Alliance

The faces at the last tribal council said it all. Dave and Butch learned that yes indeed, it all was too good to be true. Not only were the ladies out to get them, but half of the remaining men were in on it.

Dave, in a confessional, said that in Survivor, you never can be sure where you stand in the game. I’ve heard that one a lot in past whenever seemingly unexpected turns occur, but this could hardly have been unexpected had Roger, Dave, and Butch spent some time playing the game. I am not convinced it would have changed the outcome, but Dave would have been in better position to try to exploit his situation.

I expected Butch to just curl up into his “we believe” banner, and attempt to fly even further under the radar. He did just that this week, making absolutely no discernable effort to extract himself from certain elimination. I just don’t understand that. Perhaps all Butch has wanted to do was to make the jury. If so, congratulations, but unless we see some effort here, he is relying on events out of his control to save him. Perhaps that will happen, but right now, only Matthew looks to be in as much danger as Butch.

All of this left Dave completely isolated. Roger was gone, Butch was hiding, and as he admitted in his post eviction chat, Dave clearly underestimated just how badly Rob wanted him gone.

So what, if anything, could Dave have done at this point to survive? He had a couple of openings. First, he seems to have made some kind of connection with Heidi, at least after the lights went out. Secondly, he had an opportunity, by winning the reward challenge, to try to make inroads to the Jabaru alliance.

Heidi was receptive to keeping Dave around longer, and even Deena said that she would talk to the group about keeping him a few days longer. In the end though, Dave went 7-1, with even Butch turning on him.

In the end, Dave was too nice to play the game. He went around, speaking to tribe mates one at a time, looking to gain votes to save himself. That made things far too easy for guys like Alex, to simply say “Bro, you are so awesome I have to vote for you”. Well, that’s in effect what Alex said.

Instead, Dave should have been probing to find out what the core group behind the alliance was, and start stirring the pot asking those on the outside of that core group, like Matthew and Christy, if they like their current position on the pecking order. Maybe they don’t even realize what their position in that order is.

I think that the final straw for Dave though was winning the reward challenge. It only served to remind everyone that he was a threat, and took him out of the tribe for most of a day, preventing him from trying to build a voting bloc. I would have thrown the challenge myself. However, if Dave had performed some of the investigating necessary to learn about the alliance against him, he could have brought along someone besides one of the key players working against him.

Completely outside of Dave’s control, but also damaging, was the immunity challenge itself. While designed to bring alliances out in the open, and usually very successful, in this case, the votes against Dave were well known by all, and this challenge only served to eliminate any possibility he had of earning immunity.

Rob’s World

I think I will throw something at my TV if Rob wins the game. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Rob has been trying to outwit and outlast since minute one on the boat ride up the Amazon to camp. I just think the poor guy would throw away the money for a shot at cuddling with Heidi one night.

So far Rob has been relatively open about his attitude and strategy. I think that the only reason he is still around is that none of the guys took him to be a serious threat. Dave and Roger have learned differently, and sometime soon Matthew will as well. I think it is possible though that Rob’s luck will run out after that, as Deena is not underestimating him, and as long as the guys keep turning on each other, the ladies will end up with a voting advantage.

I am Deena, Hear Me Roar

Deena continues on in a strong position. Jenna seems loyal, which keeps Heidi in line, and she is using Rob and Alex to her advantage. She needs to formulate a strategy for the end game now, and be aware of the inevitable Rob backstab attempt.

The dangers for Deena involve Jenna and Heidi. She joined with them in their eyes, and now she is actively advocating a final three that includes Rob and Jenna. What about Heidi then? Unless Jenna has already agreed to sell out her bath-mate, then Deena is treading on dangerous ground. It could just as easily turn into Heidi. Jenna, and Rob snuffing Deena’s torch. She has played a strong game though, so I suspect she is at least aware of the danger.

Jenna, Is There More Than Meets the Eye?

Jenna appeared to be eye candy for much of the show. Contributing to that image herself by noting that a male versus female spilt was very bad news for her strategy. Yet here she is, on the inside with Deena (seemingly to the detriment of Heidi), clearly in good graces with Rob, no surprise there, and still a strong bond with Heidi. However she has done it, Jenna has actually put herself in one of the strongest positions in the game. I’ll even say THE strongest. She has multiple avenues to victory still open to her, and I can’t envision a scenario at this point that results in her elimination any time soon.

Now, it is an open question as to if this is a case of skillfully balancing an under-the-radar strategy with making good alliance choices, or if she is just falling into good luck. The reason being that MB is not showing much of Jenna’s game play, though she enjoys no shortage of camera time for other reasons.

Clueless on the Amazon

Alex agreed to vote with the Jaburu group prior to the merge. I am still wondering why. Sure, it was a good way to eliminate a strong competitor in Dave, but Butch and Roger were not threats to win. In fact, of the remaining folks, Matthew and Alex are the biggest physical threats. Alex doesn’t seem to have a strategy beyond the final five. Perhaps he thinks that once Matt is gone, he can go on to win several immunity challenges. Regardless, by the time Alex realizes that he is isolated, it will be too late to do anything as all of his potential allies will be sitting on the jury. Alex, it is time to play buddy, get to work!

Christy would likely have been eliminated had Jaburu gone to one more tribal council prior to the switch. Now she has become a swing voter with ties to the strongest alliance in the game. She could well reach the final four, and from there anything is possible. Despite all of that good fortune, there is little evidence that Christy is scheming. Once Butch’s name rises to the top of the hit list, it will be interesting to see how Christy handles it. She felt quite a bond with Butch, but I wonder if she noticed that Mr Top Five Moment voted against her the night Roger left.

Heidi is mostly worried about the fat content of her tribe mates. She started the series playing the game quite well, but has really slipped as of late. She doesn’t seem to be a participant in the discussions involving Rob, Deena, and Jenna, and is simply following the pecking order defined by them. This is all well and good if you just want to go a ways in the game, but if Heidi wants to win, she needs to be laying the groundwork for that now.

She may have committed a huge mistake at the last tribal council by blurting out that the guys were taking each other out of the game, ignoring the fact that they had given up their advantage, and really weren’t finished yet, as no woman’s name is on the block. Deena had to be squirming during those comments.

The Hot Seat

Matthew has been on the hot seat for weeks now. This week there was a lot of comment about how he is “losing it”. In yet another case where life imitates Paulie’s Precap, Matthew does indeed look stranger in each episode. That’s fine though, as I think Heidi looks stranger in each episode as well, but it is Matthew always near the chopping block, why is that?

I think he is in danger because he is not playing the game at all. What’s worse, he thinks he is, because he is blindly following Rob’s instructions. Here’s a clue Matt, why would Rob tell you to not discuss the alliance you supposedly have with Rob and Alex, with Alex? In between sharpening times for your trusty machete, I think I would have noticed that I had never discussed strategy with one-third of my alliance… hmmm….

No matter, as really it is impressive that Matthew is still around, and at this point, he would have little chance of winning a jury vote, so his fate is sealed one way or the other.

So What Happens Now?

Matthew and Butch are clearly the favorites to join the jury next week, but MB has really emphasized that in the past two episodes. I wonder if we still have a twist left in this game. Perhaps it could be related to Heidi’s comments at tribal council, or maybe some of the outsiders in the Jabaru alliance will do some basic math. We shall see.

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