The game is changing before our very eyes, but what the heck is going on out there? New strategies and bold moves have dominated this Second Chance season, but on Wednesday night’s episode of “Survivor: Cambodia,” a new phrase was introduced into the vernacular of Survivor players and fans alike: The Voting Bloc. Alliances? Please, those were so Season 30. The voting bloc has changed the game this season, but let’s break-down what it is, and how this new way of thinking might impact the rest of this season.
Don’t read this if you haven’t yet seen the most recent episode, as spoilers are to follow. Get caught up on Episode 9 here.
When Richard Hatch introduced the idea of an “alliance” way back in Season 1, it was a ground-breaking concept. It seems silly now, but at the time this was a game where there was only one winner…how could their possibly be players working together when only one person will walk away with the prize in the end? Of course, this simple concept quickly became the standard, and although alliances and their origins of formation may have changed (starting sooner, lasting longer, etc.), the basic principle has always stayed the same: A group of players need to stick together and stay loyal to one another until the very end. Now there are an unlimited number of factors that go into this concept that we won’t discuss now (how the alliance should be built, how many people a core alliance should consist of, the types of people that should make up an alliance, etc.). But the “alliance” as we know it may be a thing of the Survivor past.
What the “voting bloc” is basically changing, is the idea that one must ride out a “long-term alliance” to the very end of the game. It can be argued – as Tasha did at Tribal Council tonight – that loyal, long-term alliances are still crucial to winning the game and making it to the end, and this season is far from over so this new approach may end up being a disaster for those involved in this way of thinking. So for example, Fishbach and Jeremy remain locked in and loyal to one another in a clear two-person “alliance,” despite the fact that they voted as a bloc, with people not necessarily in their alliance.
Think of a “voting bloc” as a short-term alliance, forming as frequently as every three days, where people join together with common interests to take out a person perceived as an immediate big threat…a mutual enemy. After the threat has been removed, things can shift back and forth, new voting blocs can be formed and old voting blocs can be dissolved. The old way of thinking was to “pick each person off” from the minority alliance, where the new school of thought says “destroy the present threat.” Old school will tell you that there is a “bottom and a top” to a tribe. New school doesn’t decipher up or down, left or right…only here and now.
The consequences of the voting bloc remain to be seen, but if you think about it, this style of voting has really been going on all of this season, from the early days of Abi switching her loyalties all over the place. What was looked at at the time as chaotic game-play, can be looked at in retrospect as solid “voting bloc” game-play…can’t it?
It seems that for the voting bloc evolution to exist, all participants have to be willing participants. You have to have a short memory, and can’t get too emotionally tied-up to blindsides that don’t involve you going home. Some votes, you may be in the know…other votes, the majority bloc may not have needed to cue you in. But keep your cool, your vote may be an important one at the next Tribal Council. If you get all bent out of shape that someone destroyed your trust? You may just become the next common target for the newest voting bloc.
This style of play lends itself to exciting television, but I’m hesitant to call it the new game of Survivor…we still need to see how this season plays out. If Fishbach, Spencer and Jeremy switch their votes around each week, but they all make it to the end, it will be hard to decipher whether they were able to make it that far because of their voting blocs, or because of the fact that they were in an old-school alliance. A better argument could be made if three random players make it to the end, who didn’t have strong ties from the get-go.
A quick thought or two on the game itself: Man has Jeremy put himself in a great position. Two Idols? You’ve got to be kidding me. For the rest of them, I wouldn’t let those “witches” stick around for too much longer. Joe winning Immunity again is quite impressive…I either want him to win every single challenge all the way to the end and become the most dominant winner in the history of Survivor, or I want him to lose quickly so that he can get voted out and the challenges can become fun again. And poor Wiglesworth…she was in a pretty solid position, but just never was able to really shed her old school tendencies.
Next week it will be interesting to see how Tasha, Kimmi, Keith and Joe react to Jeremy, Spencer and Fishbach’s surprise vote…and to see what new voting blocs are formed down the stretch.
Please check back (or subscribe at the top of this article), because you will not want to miss my exclusive one-on-one exit interview with Kelly Wiglesworth tomorrow (up by Thursday afternoon). So join me tomorrow and be back next week for another Episode Preview on Wednesday morning followed by another full Episode Recap and Analysis Wednesday night!
Be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites as well, SurvivorFever.net.