By Jeff Probst
Updated December 09, 2010 at 12:00 PM EST



Like a small town thief running from the local sheriff, this episode started with Sash on the run. Until last week, he had a great game going, but losing Brenda, Purple Kelly and Naonka put him in a deep, deep, deep hole.

I would have never believed that Sash would be able to get himself out of this mess and get back in the game, but he did. I continue to have to eat the words that I said to Sash at the beginning of the game, “Sash, you’ll be the first person voted out.”

Sash is not the most likable guy on the show and I’m not sure exactly why that is, but he is certainly one of the best strategists. More on that later…


Chase continues to be a threat to win his way to the end. It doesn’t mean he’ll win the game, but with Benry gone, his odds of immunity challenges and making it to the end just got a whole lot better.

He absolutely dominated the reward challenge. I said it during the challenge, “It’s like he’d done the challenge before.” It was crazy to watch. It was almost a perfect performance.



Chase may have made one mistake at the reward challenge and it may be a costly one. In choosing Jane and Holly to accompany him on the reward he really drew a line in the sand. He pissed off Sash, who thought he would be going on reward, and he left the four other guys behind to wallow in their unhappiness and possibly come together to form an alliance against Chase. Which it appears they did.

I’ve said this many times in these blogs, but winning a reward is sometimes a double-edged sword. On the one hand you usually get to eat some food and that’s very important on day 30 of Survivor. But the downside is you often have to choose someone to go with you and that means leaving others behind.

The distinction with Chase is that he didn’t seem to realize he was making a bad decision until hours later. It’s another reason why Chase needs to win challenges to get to the end because I’m not sure he’s got enough Survivor smarts to get there otherwise.


Yet another reason I love this show. The humanity! Jane was so honestly upset at the loss of the chicken that she had a funeral service for the little fella. We all have such different triggers. Some of you probably laughed at Jane for crying over the dead chicken while others probably cried along with her. It doesn’t matter to me who cries so long as somebody is crying.

We’ve been giving chickens as rewards for years and it almost always yields a similar result. A few people want to kill the chicken while at least one person thinks they should keep it as a pet. Either way it prompts discussion and creates conflict. Two good elements for Survivor.

The chicken scene is also an example of the kinds of things that take place on the beach that I am not aware of while we’re shooting. I was actually surprised when I saw this moment. I figured Jane was the type of woman who killed chickens on a daily basis.


From here to the end the paranoia level will be 100%. Nobody left in the game can trust anybody else left in the game. There is just no way to anticipate who is going to stay true because everybody appears ready to turn on a dime.

Sash took advantage of this paranoia by trying to corner Chase…


He cornered Chase and made him promise on his mom. He even went so far as to try to get Chase to promise on his deceased father. Again, there will be many different feelings about this strategic approach. Some of you will feel it was a slick and worthy move, while others may think it was taking advantage of a very sensitive topic for Chase. Either way, Sash got a result. Chase swore on his mom and now the question is will he keep his word? If I had to guess, I’d say yes. Despite his wishy-washy ways, I’d be wiling to wager that Chase keeps his word on this one.


That was one of the toughest puzzles we’ve ever done. It was extremely difficult to figure out how the stacks of coins fit together.


I’ll give you an example of how difficult it was. My dad was visiting location when we were testing this challenge and so we had him do it to see how long it would take him. It took him 23 minutes and this from a guy who had a full belly of food, a good nights sleep and an 40-year engineering background. While I don’t remember the exact time it took the Survivors, it was a lot longer than 23 minutes. In fact, I was worried that they may never finish…and then out of nowhere Sash figured it out.


The comeback is complete. Sash earned the gold star of the week. It was a masterful display of Survivor prowess. After going to tribal council with immunity around his neck, the hidden immunity idol in his pocket and being the swing vote, he was once again in control of the game.

He may be slightly socially uncomfortable at times but Sash knows his way around Survivor strategy. I think Sash is doing one thing very well and it’s a key to his success: Sash is doing a good job of consistently making his best move based on the assumption that everybody else is going to make their best move. It’s a simple concept but a very good way to play Survivor.

It doesn’t always work. Many times players are too stupid to make their best move, so instead they just…oh, quit for example or make an otherwise ridiculous move. When they do that it screws up the game for somebody who is playing with a decent strategy. But it’s still the best way to play the game. In fact, it’s the only way to play the game. You have to assume that everybody is going to make their best move and then you have to make your move based on that assumed move. Did I just repeat myself? Then it must be important.

My biggest surprise at this point in the game is that nobody is trying to flush the idol from Sash. It’s such a powerful weapon and he’s had it for so long. Then again, even with all this going for him, Sash will have a hard time winning the game because at the end of the day it’s about likability and as discussed earlier, I’m not yet convinced Sash has earned enough good will to pull it out.


Taking Benry over Fabio was a big vote. I think Sash made a good move to back the guys.

Jane is now in trouble.

Holly is in trouble.

Fabio is in big trouble.

See ya next week!

To see an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, as well as Dalton Ross’ pre-game interview with Benry, click on the video player below, and check out the TV Insiders podcast below that.

GOT A CASE OF COMMUTING BLUES? LET OUR ‘TV INSIDERS’ PODCAST SPICE UP YOUR JOURNEY! Yes, folks, this week Dalton Ross, Annie Barrett, and Michael Slezak dish another crazy week on Survivor: Nicaragua, welcome EW zombie correspondent Clark Collis to talk about AMC’s The Walking Dead finale, and get the scoop on 16 Christmas-themed movies from Dan Snierson, who watched ’em all! Plus, Dalton has a truly insane interview with Survivor castoff NaOnka Mixon. To join in all the fun, just click on the audio player below. And in the best news of all, we’re now on iTunes! You can subscribe for free right here and take the TV Insiders with you on the go. And to send a question to the TV Insiders, follow us on Twitter @TVInsiders. Enjoy!