updated 03/21/2013 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 03/21/2013 AT 7:20 AM ET
Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach.
“I listened and I observed.”
– Denise Stapley, winner, Survivor: Philippines
Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome, but I really believe there’s an undercurrent of good strategy this season on Survivor. It’s been drowned out by larger-than-life characters like Shamar, Brandon and Phillip bellowing their cris-de-coeur up and down the Philippine jungle.
Underneath that clamor, though, smart people are making good decisions. We finally saw a glimmer of it on Wednesday’s episode, when Corinne gave us a peek of what’s going on behind the scenes.
“Everyone thinks [Phillip’s] the ringleader because he does outrageous things and we all just keep quiet,” she says. It’s easy to see the big characters and psychotic meltdowns. It’s harder to gain an appreciation for the strategy of just shutting up.
Corinne, Cochran, Dawn and Malcolm have been overshadowed by their more vocal tribemates. On Wednesday, as the swap shuffled the players into new tribes, we got to see the subtle ways that good strategy can play out.