More Half-Measures: Targeting the Second Banana on Survivor

Last week on Survivor we saw perennial puppy dog Woo get blindsided once again. However, for the first time, he was blindsided by being voted out.


Also blindsided was his buddy Savage, who would have probably been the logical target if it weren’t for one thing.


Since the decision to target Woo instead of Savage has been sufficiently covered, let’s instead take a look at other times the second banana Survivor got the boot instead of the obstinate leader of an alliance.

Tyson Apostol – Heroes Vs. Villains

This vote is often talked about in the Survivor community for featuring one of the dumbest mistakes of the series. And it does! Less talked about is why Tyson was the target of Parvati and Russell.

Yes, yes, Danielle. I'm sure you helped too.
Apologies, Danielle. I’m sure you helped too.

It’s probably not discussed because it’s a simple explanation. That sure makes my job easier! Anyway, this was during a double elimination and Boston Rob won individual immunity. Boston Rob was clearly the head of the opposing alliance, and Tyson was his number two. Tyson also had the added benefit of linking Coach (and therefore Jerri) to Rob’s alliance.

lol ew remember when that was a thing?
lol ew remember when that was a thing?

Even though Tyson was more of a backup plan, voting him out probably ended up working out better for Russell, Parvati, and Danielle than voting out Boston Rob would have. He was the glue of that group. If Rob goes home, the remaining players may have just stuck together and voted them out next.

How'd that work out for you, Burton?
I didn’t say it worked perfectly!

Kelly Remington – Worlds Apart

At the time, fans wondered if the Nagarote crew should have targeted Mike. In retrospect, they almost certainly should have voted for Mike (the only hesitance being that Mike eventually sides with Jenn and Shirin). So why did the Nagarote alliance vote for Kelly? It’s personal.

No, really. At least according to her own exit interviews, Blue Kelly stated that Jenn, Hali, and Shirin were upset that she so quickly left them to rejoin the blue collar crew. While this is generally regarded as a poor reason to vote someone out, it was not necessarily the worst plan. Kelly turned out to be the link between Mike and Rodney and could have potentially kept that alliance stronger together. Had Mike not won ALL THE IMMUNITIES, then Rodney would have actually managed to vote him out and who knows? Maybe Jenn and Shirin wiggle their way in there.

Whether it was a game-losing mistake or managed to improve their chances, at least Jenn’s idol play gave us one of the few joyous moments in Worlds Apart.

Remember this? This was fun.
Remember this? This was fun.

Leann Slaby – Vanuatu

Ah yes, the turning point in Chris Daughetry’s game that had to be explained to him three times. With one man left, it should have been an easy vote for the remaining women. But Leann made two mistakes: 1. She promised Julie a spot in the final four when she already had a final four deal between her, Ami, Scout, and Twila. 2. She (and Julie) decided that Eliza “didn’t deserve to be there” (never base your decision in the post merge game on this) and convinced Ami should vote Eliza out instead of Chris.

How'd that work out, Ami? Well?
How’d that work out, Ami? Well?

Also the leader of her alliance, Ami, had immunity. Note to seconds-in-command: don’t let your leader win immunity ever.

Danielle DiLorenzo – Heroes Vs. Villains

“But wasn’t she voted off by Russell, her own ally?” you may be thinking. In fact, it’s also what I thought when this entry was pitched to me. And yes, that’s technically true. However, the reason Russell decided to target Danielle is because he didn’t like that Parvati was more loyal to Danielle than him. Parvati was supposed to work for him, not alongside him.

Aww, did widdle Russell get his feelings hurt?
Aww, did widdle Russell get his feelings hurt?

So why did Russell target Danielle instead of Parvati, who is easily the stronger player? Well, despite not being her number one ally, he was certainly closer with her than Danielle. Though voting for Danielle was a big part of Russell’s many leveled downfall, it’s easy to imagine Danielle turning on Russell with Parvati gone.

Kelly Sharbaugh – Samoa

Will you look at that? Not only is it our second Kelly on this list, it’s our third contestant who was idoled out (including the other Kelly!), and the fourth who was targeted due to the leader of their alliance having immunity.

Okay, maybe Shambo was nominally the Galu leader after Russell Swan’s evacuation. But come on. Really?

Not exactly the leadership Galu had in mind.
Not exactly the leadership Galu had in mind.

As anyone with a passing familiarity with Survivor: Samoa knows, Shambo hated Laura. Since the Foa Foas desperately needed Shambo’s vote, that’s who they planned to target. But then Laura won immunity again, so Shambo suggested Laura’s right-hand woman, Russell played his idol, and away yet another anonymous Kelly went.

So when is it a good idea to target the lieutenant instead of the captain? Basically just when the captain is unavailable to vote out. Or you know, if you need a crazy person on your side and they like the leader while having a grudge on the second-in-command.

Yes, yes. That’s been established.