30 from 30: #25 – The Black Widow Brigade Claims its First Victim

The Moment:

Cirie orchestrates a blindside against Ozzy, leading to the formation of the first significant women’s alliance on Survivor.

We’re counting down the 30 Moments That Shaped Survivor, events that happened on the show that helped create and evolve the game and the series that we know and love. Go here to view the criteria we are using to determine what qualifies for the list. And since these posts are covering the first thirty seasons of Survivor, there will be spoilers for various Survivor seasons.

Why It Matters:

Gather round children, because I’m about to take you on a journey of the most dominant female alliance OF ALL TIME. So take a seat, read closely, and most importantly…

Queen Bey

Survivor: Micronesia started with what seemed like an alliance of couples, featuring Cirie as a delightful 5th wheel. The group of Ozzy, Amanda, James, Parvati, and Cirie were able to oust Yau-Man, but the overall dominance of the Favorites tribe until the swap meant that the couples didn’t have to do too much work after that.

After the swap, Amanda, Ozzy, and Cirie were able to maintain control within the new Malakal tribe. James and Parvati, however, were separated from their alliance. But since their new Airai tribe only lost people due to medical evacuation or quit/mental health evacuation, they were never really in danger. Parvati still used that time productively, bonding and making an alliance with Fans Alexis Jones and Natalie Bolton.

At the merge, she’s reunited with bestie Amanda and brings her up to speed.

So... I kind of put you in an alliance without asking. That's cool, right?
So… I kind of put you in an alliance without asking. That’s cool, right?

For now that works just fine, as everyone just goes against outsiders Jason and Eliza.

I'm sure you remember how that played out.
I’m sure you remember how that played out.

Here’s where things get interesting:

After Eliza goes home, Cirie points out that if Eliza really did have the idol, Ozzy would have been gone…and that might not have been such a bad thing. Later, on Exile Island, she again mentions that Ozzy is a tough competitor and the idol makes him even more of a target. “Maybe I’ll have to just get out Ozzy and that idol.”

Now of course, Ozzy is part of her alliance, so she’ll have to find some people to turn on him with her. But everyone loves Ozzy! He’s the underdog who climbed all the trees of Cook Islands! Who would turn on him?

Oh, right.
Oh, right.

Not helping matters, Ozzy goes on and on about the great reward he just went on with Amanda, Jason, and Erik after the others tried to downplay it. He irritates the whole tribe, and Parvati calls him a brat when talking to Natalie and Alexis.

When bae wishes you'd shut your mouth.
When bae wishes you’d shut your mouth.

Perhaps annoyed by seeing her bestie tell other girls that her boyfriend is a brat, Amanda turns to James to discuss their concerns about how close Parvati has become to Alexis and Natalie. More importantly to Amanda, she and Parvati haven’t been as close since the merge. More importantly to James, Parvati aligning with Alexis and Natalie is a development that would keep James fully out of the loop.

Damn straight she is.
Damn straight she is.

The immunity challenge is an endurance competition, something that doesn’t bode well for everyone who’s determined to get rid of Jason (read: everyone). After all, Ozzy isn’t the only god-like competitor to play this game. Combine that with the fact that he knows he needs immunity, it seems like a sure-bet that Jason will win his second individual immunity.

After some hilarity

Aw, bitch!
Aw, bitch!

it gets down to the final two: Parvati and Jason. Jeff has been tempting people down with food, and this time he’s got a platter full of treats for the whole group. Starting with Natalie, everyone else tells Jason that they guarantee they will not vote for him tonight if he steps down.

They don't mean it. Yet.
They don’t mean it. Yet.

He does so, and Parvati wins immunity. Ozzy gives a confessional about how foolish this was of Jason, because everyone is planning to vote him out anyway.

Here, children, is an example of what we call "dramatic irony."
Here, children, is an example of what we call “dramatic irony.”

Cirie knows that the fake guarantee now makes this a great time to blindside Ozzy. She brings this up to Parvati, Alexis, and Natalie. While Natalie and Alexis are instantly on board, Parvati has a few misgivings. She knows that Ozzy has a great chance to win, and she didn’t come back here to not win. But she also knows that Ozzy saved her early on in the game, and she’d be betraying her best friend Amanda and her guy James.

Ultimately, she’s in. Natalie and Alexis tell Jason that Ozzy still wants to vote him out, but that they have the numbers to vote out Ozzy.

At this point you may be wondering how the Black Widow Brigade can be formed on a vote that excluded one of their members, Amanda. But hey, they knew their girl was with a guy that was no good for her. And she wasn’t about to listen to them, because she was in loooooove.


So they cut him first and bring her in later.

Ozzy does start to feel a little uneasy. James tells him he has a bad feeling and reiterates that Parvati is rooting for girl power. Ozzy says he’s thinking about playing his idol.

At Tribal, Ozzy points out that this would be a good time to flush the idol. Cirie and Parvati are careful to talk about how crazy Jason was to make that deal. Since everyone already knows Ozzy has the idol, Jeff asks if Ozzy is more comfortable because he has the idol. Ozzy says he has a little big of comfort, but that he has to read the room. So Ozzy’s game now depends on his ability to read people. Hmmm. I wonder how that’ll work out.

Not great, Jeff.
Not great, Jeff.

Ultimately, Ozzy chooses not to play his idol. After some deliciously tricky vote reading by Jeff (it goes from four votes Jason to one vote Ozzy to four more Ozzy votes in a row), Ozzy is voted out. AND THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT REACTIONS, YOU GUYS.

Bitter devastation
Short-lived glee
Loss of innocence
Deja vu
Proud amusement

With Amanda now unattached, the Black Widow Brigade is free to wreak havoc on Micronesia.

After the Ozzy vote, Parvati admits to James that she wants to take girls to the end. It’s a bit awkward, and it appears the showmance is dead. Parvati and Cirie work on Amanda as well. Amanda is just as mad as James, but plays it better. Parvati and Cirie console a skeptical Amanda and confirm that they still want to be the final three, and Amanda is back in the loop.

Amanda's new form
Amanda’s new form

Yadda yadda yadda, there’s an auction and Natalie makes the mistake of sending Jason to Exile, where it’s very likely that he’ll find a new hidden immunity idol. But that turns out to work in the women’s favor, as Natalie is able to make Jason think she sent him there on purpose to help him out. Jason, being an idiot and desperate for friends, eats this right up. Keep in mind that he also thinks Natalie et al. only voted out Ozzy because they were keeping their word to him for stepping down at the challenge. Meanwhile, the women know that – much like with Ozzy – this is probably their only chance to blindside Jason. If they can’t, they’ll vote out James. Because as Natalie says, as evil as women can be, they still want Erik to have a nice birthday.

They'll make up for it soon enough.
They’ll make up for it soon enough.

Conveniently, Erik wins immunity, giving him a nice birthday and freeing up Jason and James as targets for the women. It’s after the immunity challenge that Parvati gives the Black Widow Brigade their name.

It’s like the Black Widow Brigade. Like, all the girls are coming together and we’re spinning the guys around as much as we can. Just spinning them and spinning them until they don’t know which way is up. And then we’re devouring them one at a time.

Bow down, bitches.
Bow down, bitches.

Natalie does some more work on Jason, who fully trusts her because she “kept her word” last time by voting out Ozzy. Amanda maintains a relationship with James, but not to the point that she’s willing to write down Parvati’s name with him. She believes Jason won’t play his idol, and she’s in the Brigade now.

Amanda is correct; Jason does not play his idol, and he becomes the second of three men to be eliminated while in possession of some form of immunity.

Soon after, James is medically evacuated. But let’s be honest, he would have been next anyway. There’s not much evidence to suggest that he would have won immunity (obligatory reminder that Courtney Yates has won more individual immunities than James.) The only way this changed the game is that it became a final two instead of a final three. Sorry, Cirie.

When Erik wins immunity, the women are not happy to have to vote out their own. However, Cirie sees an opportunity to get rid of a big jury threat in Amanda (They, uh…they haven’t seen the end of Survivor: China at this point). Parvati won’t write Amanda’s name down, but Natalie, Alexis, and Erik are on board. But surprise! Amanda found a hidden immunity idol off-camera, and least interesting Brigadette Alexis goes home.

When Erik wins immunity again, things get really interesting. The surviving members of the Black Widow Brigade are devastated that they have to vote out one of their own again. But then Cirie proposes something crazy…what if they didn’t?

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 10.18.29 PM

See, even before Erik had won immunity, the women had begun to manipulate him. As the only other “fan” left in the game, Erik had started confiding in Natalie and asked her to send him to Exile if she wins reward. He promises to bring her on reward if he wins. Then Amanda starts guilt tripping Erik for trying to vote her out the night before. She says he doesn’t trust him anymore and she needs to regain his trust if they’re still going to be friends. He winds up promising to take her on reward.

Sure enough, Erik wins the Survivor nerd challenge, being one of the actual fans cast, and gets to bring someone with him. He picks Amanda, and Natalie is less than pleased.

When they get back, Erik turns to Cirie for advice, because Natalie won’t even look at him. Oh poor, sweet Erik. Cirie may look sweet, but haven’t you heard? She’s a gangster in an Oprah suit.

The groundwork laid, Cirie, Amanda, and Parvati convince Natalie to try to get Erik to give her his immunity necklace. She’s not sure why he would (and neither are we), but Amanda says to just keep saying how nobody trusts him and the jury is mad at him and this is his chance to redeem himself. Natalie still thinks no one would be that gullible when Parvati chimes in:

Ozzy, Jason, and Erik. Erik belongs in that threesome.

In Erik’s defense, he’s not into the idea at first. But it doesn’t take nearly as long to convince him as it should, since the idea is nonsense.

Poor fluffy-haired fool.
Poor fluffy-haired fool.

Predictably, Erik is promptly voted out and all the members of the Black Widow Brigade who matter make it to the final four.

The Impact:

Oh, you want to know the impact? How a team of bad ass women (plus Jason) worked together to blindside one of the most alpha of Survivor alpha males impacts Survivor? And how those women brought in their friend and then proceeded to make all the men (including Jason) look like idiots?

It’s an unfortunate truth that women often have to play the game differently than men. At the time that Micronesia aired, there had been six female winners in fifteen seasons. Most of those female winners were under-the-radar players, or were just not crazy.

Please don't kill me.
Please don’t kill me.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with an under the radar game. But up to this point, it looked like that was the only way for a woman to win the game. And we can’t have that, right? Parvati figured out that the way to win a dominant game was to bring her fellow women to the end, so that’s what she and Cirie did.

Is that really the lesson here? Let’s prove it. Who is the most dominant female winner ever?

You're goddamn right.
You’re goddamn right.

And how did she get there?

With ladiesssss.
With ladiesssss.

Now, Kim did have the advantage of a gender-split season, but it was the third battle of the sexes and the first Survivor season ever with an all female final five.

Natalie Anderson, another strong female winner, did have a man in the final four, but was able to sit in the final three with all women. Like Parvati, she even voted out a girl’s boyfriend and still got that woman to take her to final tribal council.

While the Black Widow Brigade empowering women to play strong games is awesome, another one of their lasting impacts was striking fear into the hearts of men. Suddenly, the men of Survivor are terrified of becoming the next victim of a women’s alliance. Most notoriously, Parvati’s reputation worked to her advantage in Heroes Vs. Villians. 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In Survivor: Cagayan, despite his otherwise huge numbers advantage, Tony became paranoid of a women’s alliance when he saw Tasha talking with Trish, Jefra, and Kass. In fact, he became so paranoid about the thought of a women’s alliance that he decided to flip on Jefra instead of taking his opportunity to vote out Spencer.

The Black Widow Brigade taught women that they can play a dominant game, taught men to fear women working together, and most importantly, taught us all to

I'm not even sorry.
I’m not even sorry.

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