Swaney Strategy Blog – Kaôh Rōng Episode 9

In the numerous jury speeches given at Final Tribal Councils, few ring as effective than Erik Cardona’s drunken, pro-Natalie speech delivered in Survivor: Samoa. With the editing and season skewed heavily towards Russell Hantz and his return for Heroes vs. Villains, eventual winner Natalie White’s subtle run to the million was massively overlooked. For that matter, there were a lot of overlooked gems in Samoa:

1) Shambo loving the chickens far, far more than Tai will ever love Mark the chicken.

"Play or Go Home" -- Aubry Bracco and Tai Trang during the sixth episode of SURVIVOR KAOH: RONG -- Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty. The show airs, Wednesday, March 23 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Robert Voets /CBS Entertainment �©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights. Reserved.

“Play or Go Home” — Aubry Bracco and Tai Trang during the sixth episode of SURVIVOR KAOH: RONG — Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty.

2) “There’s fish in the ocean!”


Credit to Funny115 for the gif.

3) Erik getting clotheslined…by the clothesline!


Credit to Funny115 for the gif.

4) Mike Borassi or Dave Ball one-liners.

5) CGI Brett almost winning.

6) All of the others I’m inevitably forgetting because it’s Samoa.

Anyway, back to business. Among all the things that propelled Natalie to the win, Erik’s jury speech might have been the final nail in the coffin of Russell and feckless Mick. In his speech, Erik was quick to proclaim that “perception is not reality.” While I was ready to eat up every word Erik was saying in Natalie’s favor, the idea that perception is not reality in Survivor presents an interesting duality. On one hand, reality is reality (the Erik version), and we should judge castaways as they are and interpret things in a very literal sense. On the other hand, perception is indeed reality and how you believe something is your truth.

Personally, I am a firm believer, in the game of Survivor, that perception is indeed reality when it comes to executing and understanding strategic maneuvering. This idea rings especially true in light of the “do you think there’s a women’s alliance” conversation between Nick and Jason that eventually materialized into a female alliance that is now in a majority situation.

To illustrate this point, I’d like to bring up a case that is remarkably similar to the events taking place on Kaôh Rōng – the Three Amigos in Survivor: Caramoan. Despite Caramoan being painfully obvious from an editing standpoint, I don’t regard the season as a complete dud like the rest of the Survivor fanbase. This iteration of the Three Amigos alliance consisted of Malcolm, Eddie, and Reynold along with both the original Gota and Bikal idols. After the merge dust had settled and the writing was on the wall, the Three Amigos were on the wrong side of a 7-3 breakdown. Without fully recapping the events of Caramoan, Eddie Fox was the final remaining amigo and was voted out in fourth place.

If indeed perception is reality on Survivor, let’s take a look at the current iteration of the three amigos (and one chicken).

Scot – Scot is perceived to be a physical threat that is incredibly blunt. A bit abrasive, Scot has shown to use his bluntness to “lay out” the game to win others to his side.

Jason – Jason is perceived to be a strong physical player, but a lazy person around camp. Additionally, his interactions with those not in his alliance have not been regarded as positive, often coming off as a bully.

Tai – Tai is perceived to be a happy-go-lucky person who often cares more for his chicken than the game of Survivor. Even after winning an individual immunity, Tai isn’t viewed as a physical threat.

Mark – Keep doing you bro.

In looking at these perceptions, I don’t see how any of these three can revert into being an Eddie – someone seen as inconsequential and stands no chance of rocking the boat – THIS is why I think handing the idol to Tai is a brilliant move by Scot and Jason. In doing so, Tai moves from someone that could skate by to public enemy number one, as he has a super idol that needs flushing. This move allows them to shift the focus on Tai while benefiting from the chaos that ensued at tribal. If anything, the super idol doesn’t have to be formed, and the three can play another round of Russian roulette at tribal.


Tai – With the second idol in hand, Tai can now successfully activate the powers of the super idol. I think it would be best for Tai to let Jason and Scot be voted off (jury votes) and then use his super idol to gain a place at the FTC. The rub for Tai is preserving his relationships with Jason and Scot before they get voted out (if it happens).

Scot – People seem to be buying what you’re selling, so keep it up. Work to ensure that Julia is firmly in your camp, while also working on highlighting how Joe cannot trust Aubry after the Debbie vote.

Jason – People don’t seem entirely receptive to Jason. While that’s not the greatest thing for his game, his firm stance could be attractive to someone looking to flip possibly. If things go awry, demand your idol back from Tai and then push any and all blame on him.

Cydney – Now that Cydney is a realized character, her game needs to match that personality. Flipping again isn’t likely in her best interest unless it guarantees her a place in the FTC. Work on shoring up the girls plus Joe alliance and make sure that nobody wavers.

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Michele – Michele seems firmly planted with the girls, but her relationship with Julia is very interesting. I don’t see those two split up for very long, so I envision Michele working very hard this week to bring Julia back over or leading the charge to vote her out if she doesn’t comply.

Julia – Julia is playing both sides successfully, but only because she won the most recent immunity challenge. She voted with the girls to get rid of Debbie, but I’m not sure how much longer she can flip between sides. Having a definitive stance in the game, especially when it’s with the guys (the girls won’t take her to FTC, but will respect her flip), could make her a FTC threat.

Aubry – Another Brains member bites the dust, but Aubry is now on the deciding end of it. Her definitive status of “I have Joe” not being so final worries me about where her game can take her. With Joe likely to flip on anything, Aubry’s best course of action might be to move in a linear fashion, shore up her current allies, and not waver at all.

Joe – Joe makes the relevancy list this week! After not being receptive to a Debbie boot, Joe’s closest ally got voted out and leaves him without a solid piece of footing. Joe will never win the game with the current status quo (which he might not realize; will likely be okay with), so his best course of action is to flip with the guys and prove some strategic prowess.


Shawn is 24 years old and lives in Virginia. After catching the first season by accident, Survivor has become his passion. A graduate of Washington and Lee University, Shawn has worked in many different jobs, including college volleyball coach, bakery assistant, organic farmer, bartender, and non-profit assistant. Above all, he is eagerly waiting for the day he can play the game he has loved since he was 8 years old.

  • Chad

    If Joe flips to the guys alliance, then hell has definitely frozen over. Joe is loyal to a fault and has been the whole game. Can anyone recall an instance where he has flipped this whole season? or even changed his mind about a vote?