Survivor: Nicaragua - Alliance schmiance (spoiler alert)
"It's crazy what a couple of hours can do around camp," Benry said during Wednesday's episode of Survivor: Nicaragua.
True, and sometimes it's what they can't do.
Benry did his best to save himself this episode, tossing out his alliance with Dan and Fabio, stabbing Fabio in the back and throwing in his lot with Chase, Holly, Jane and Sash.
The way he saw it, the original plan to pick off Chase, Jane and Holly with the help of Sash was doomed. Sash couldn't be trusted and seemed to be closer to Chase and the women anyhow, so Benry might as well get himself a new alliance.
He eagerly agreed to Chase's and Holly's suggestion to vote out Fabio.
"I let 'em know as long as I'm not going home I really don't have a problem voting Fabio out."
But unfortunately for Benry, everybody except him and Dan did have a problem with it.
Soft-hearted country boy Chase proved he's got game, not only blindsiding Benry but convincing free agent Sash to join his alliance despite what could have been a disastrous mistake at the reward challenge.
Chase had made a deal with Sash to take him on the next reward should Chase win it. They shook on it.
And then Chase won the reward of a night at a private resort and got to choose two people to share it. Holly was his first pick, which both Sash and Chase agreed was only fair since she gave up food the challenge before so the rest of the tribe could have rice and a tarp.
Chase's second pick should have been a no-brainer, given his deal with Sash, but he reneged and chose Jane instead.
"Chase actually said to me, next reward, if he wins it he's gonna take me on it. For him to make that risky of a move when he already probably has Jane's vote locked up is incredibly stupid," Sash said.
Well, yeah, and Chase realized his mistake, pulling Holly aside for a chat while Jane enjoyed the outdoor shower.
"I really screwed up today picking Jane," Chase told Holly. "The problem is now they're gonna be gunning for us."
Which they were. Calling Chase's decision probably "one of the dumbest moves in the game so far," Sash was chatting up Benry, Dan and Fabio back at camp. But the conversation didn't go as smoothly as Sash might have hoped and it was kind of fun to watch him tripping over his tongue.
The four men had agreed in principle to vote off the other three players, guaranteeing themselves final four.
"But only three or two make it the final tribal so I just want to hear your game plan and your strategy," Sash told the fellows.
"So in other words what you're saying is you might side with them (Holly, Jane and Chase)," said Dan.
"Huh? I ... I .... I," responded Sash.
"You might side with them," repeated Dan.
Sash, finding his tongue, said, "Honestly, none of you have come really forward and told me your game plan yet."
"It changes every day," said Dan.
"From here now I want you to feel free to tell me whatever you want instead of, you know, us saying one thing and going back on another. I trust everyone here," Sash continued gamely.
"And we're gonna trust you to not go back on your word," grumbled Benry.
"Of course," stuttered Sash.
And by rights, that should have been that. Spurned by Chase on the reward, Sash should have done his part to break up Chase's alliance. But Chase managed to swing Sash back to his side by promising to take Sash to the final tribal council (of course, Chase also promised to take Sash on his reward and look how that turned out). His ace in the hole was convincing Sash that he'd never take Jane to final tribal because it would be like handing her $1 million.
Strangely, Sash went for it, even when Chase refused to swear on his mother and his dead father to seal the deal.
By the time Benry came along, Chase had already told Sash and Holly he wanted Benry out next because of his ability to win immunity challenges.
Benry still had a chance to save his neck, though, at the next immunity challenge, which required the players, tethered to a hitching rail, to untangle enough of the rope to reach a bag of fake gold coins. The first three to reach the coins moved on to a puzzle that involved placing 13 stacks of coins so they formed a rectangle inside a wooden box.
"Some people excel at puzzles like this. Others, like me, do not," said host Jeff Probst.
Benry fell into the latter category, staring at the stacks and declaring, "I have no friggin' clue" as Fabio and Sash raced neck and neck, with Sash just edging out Fabio.
Suddenly, the old cocky Sash was back. "Right now I'm a triple threat: individual immunity, the hidden immunity idol and I'm in the majority alliance, so at this point I'm in complete control. I cannot wait for the final tribal council to win my million."
Well, maybe not complete control, given that Chase seems to be calling the shots within his alliance and has a hidden immunity idol of his own.
Meanwhile, Fabio was feeling nervous, with good reason since both Benry and Dan had already agreed to throw him overboard. But he was reassured after Benry told him he'd talked to Sash and everybody was voting for Holly.
Fabio carried that confidence into tribal council, as did Benry.
Despite telling Jeff that he'd noticed people talking to Sash all day, Fabio said he wasn't worried. He figured being friendly and honest, and trusting his alliance, would get him through.
But Holly put him in his place.
"I feel sorry for him," she told Jeff. "I mean you have to talk to people to find out what's going on. If you just kind of sit back and watch you might not be furthering yourself in the game, so communication is huge."
In the end, the only two people who voted to oust Fabio were in his so-called alliance: Benry and Dan. Fabio voted for Holly and everybody else voted for Benry.
"Unbelievable," muttered Benry as he made his way through the graveyard after his torch was snuffed.
"Coming into tribal council, everybody trusted their alliance; leaving tribal council not so much," said Jeff. "And therein lies the tricky part of alliances: realizing when you can no longer trust them."
As if to prove Jeff's point, Benry said in his post-snuff confessional, "I'm extremely surprised. I just got straight blindsided, not what I was expecting coming into this tribal council. I'm definitely gonna have to assess who masterminded this idea of sending Benry home.
"I guess the other six remaining members see me as a threat and, you know, I guess I gotta take that somewhat as a compliment." Gotta take something I guess, since he's not getting the million.
There are only two episodes left in the season, next Wednesday's and the finale on Dec. 19.
The promo for next week didn't look all that scintillating. It showed Jeff telling the final six that the losers of the next immunity challenge "will be taken and executed." But since I'm pretty sure Survivor hasn't turned into a snuff reality show, that will no doubt mean something that's not half as interesting as it sounds.
Nonetheless, I'll be watching next Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Global TV and recapping the show here. Don't forget, you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/realityeo
(The photo of Benry is by Monty Brinton for CBS.)