Survivor: Is Boston Rob Making a Strategic Error by Hiding His Immunity Idol?

Boston Rob has what appears to be an unbreakable hold over the Ometepe tribe on the current season of Survivor: Redemption Island. In fact, the only scenario he can’t seem to manipulate is getting Phillip to put on some damn pants and cover up his appalling pink undies.

Still, I started getting nervous last week when the veteran player uncovered the hidden immunity idol and decided against sharing it with the core members of his alliance (Grant, Natalie, and Ashley).

On Wednesday night’s episode, Rob upped the treachery some more: After Ometepe took home a coffee-and-pastries reward for winning the immunity challenge, Rob and Grant spotted the Clue No. 2 to the (already discovered) idol’s whereabouts in their pot of French roast. Instead of coming clean, or pretending he hadn’t seen it and then observing how Grant proceeded with “his” information, Rob went a more nefarious route. He merely pretended to be in cahoots with Grant, had his buddy “distract” their fellow Ometepians, then absconded with the new clue, buried it in the woods, and returned to his buddy with the vaguely worded Clue No. 1 that he had discovered the week prior in Phillip’s chair. Rob’s reasoning for the extra layer of drama? “I mean, this was really all for nothing because I already have the immunity idol, y’know,” he chuckled. “But it’s fun for me. I have to entertain myself out here somehow!”

Look, I respect that Rob has managed to present himself as a Survivor mastermind without turning his neophyte tribemates into paranoid, mutinous enemies (see Hantz, Russell), but it looks like he might be courting trouble for the sole purpose of creating entertaining TV. As a viewer, I can’t be mad at that, but as a strategy, I think it’s potentially a million-dollar mistake.

What do you think? If you were in Rob’s shoes, would you share with your alliance buddies that you’d found the idol? (Rob could always lie and say he spotted it in a tree while gathering food or firewood…no need to reveal he actively sought it out!) Or is the ability to keep a secret weapon in his pocket more important than additional bonding with his Ometepe buddies? Take the poll below, then explain your vote in the comments. And also share your thoughts on last night’s ouster. I understood Krista trying to drive wedges into the six-person Zapater alliance before her torch got snuffed — what other options did she have at that point? — but I’m not sure Ralph, David, Mike, Steve, Julie, and Sarita gave much importance to the little layabout’s rant. How about you? Also, what about Matt’s winning streak in Redemption Arena. Whoa!

Slezak on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sally says:

    He had more than just entertainment reasons to switch the clues. Clue #1 was incredibly vague that Grant pretty much can’t do anything with it. Not that he could in the first place, but the clue does make it harder for him.

    And no, I don’t think it’s a strategy error. If he told his tribe he has the idol, THAT would be an error. The target would be on his back immediately. Right now, he’s in a good position. Phillip keeps everyone distracted from himself and his gameplay. His idol will save him if they ever try to vote him out.

    • the real wendy says:

      My husband came in the room as I was watching the show and said “its ridiculous that they keep putting Boston Rob back on this show.” and after watching for about ten minutes he said “wow. that Boston Rob is SO entertaining!”

  2. Sabrina says:

    It is NEVER a good plan to expose your immunity idol just for the heck of it. He is making the best strategic move you can with an idol. Sharing it simply makes those around him paranoid and feel the need to “flush it out”. By hiding it, he appears to have an ace in the hole if they go to a merge without the numbers. What I have heard is that it is very, very hard to truly blindside a player of his caliber, he will know if he needs to play the idol at tribal. And if no one knows he has it, then they can’t accidentally tip off the opposition. At that point Rob is in control of who goes home.

    Matt is amazing on Redemption, after reading comments from the producers it is clear RI was how they convinced Rob & Russell to play again, they promised them a fair way to stay in the game if they were voted out early. After seeing the first 3 of the RI challenges it seems they were custom made for Rob, all of them are Survivor classics (build the stick, use dominoes, cube puzzle). And they did not show the entire conversation between Rob & Matt, that you can trust. I would expect Rob to convince Matt he sent him to RI to eliminate the opposition and give them a player returning to the game for the merge (clearly when that person will re-enter the game). And Matt seems gullible to buy it!!

    The problem with the alliance of six is that they are failing to see the big picture of the game. They think they can simply win when they want to and enter the merge 6-5 or even 6-6. The problem is that very, very rarely does this strategy work. As soon as the merge the low end of the alliance, which is always clear, will jump ship and join with people in the other tribe. It happens time after time, if you have Rob start chatting with the right person about how they are 5 or 6 of the alliance but with him they can be assured a higher spot, they will jump at it. Plus, they are forgetting that it will be individual immunity challenges and Gary and Rob will be very strong at those, not to mention the young chickies on Rob’s team could be dark horses in endurance challenges.

    This has been an awesome season, Rob is in control and having the idol and not telling anyone is how he will maintain that control. Once they merge, watch out he will be ready to run the challenges and stay to the end.

  3. Nancy says:

    I totally agree with Sally’s comments. Rob is smart to keep it a hidden immunity idol. He has an invisible target on his back inevitably anyway. Gotta do what you gotta do! He’s no dummy! Live watching how his mind works. Hoping he makes it far!

  4. Joe says:

    I honestly think it’s too early to tell the tribe about it. I don’t think Rob even knows who his real core alliance is. I think that is evolving. His strategy is always weaken the tribe and make them depend on him aka The Godfather. I think if he’s thinking about winning the million, he has to be thinking about bringing Phillip with him to the end. No one will give Phillip the million. I would not be surprised to see him turn on Grant in the coming weeks. Grant’s a strong player and likable. I think that’s why he didn’t tell him about the idol since he’s not sure he can afford to keep him around. Also, when you tell the tribe you have an idol, then the people who don’t have the idol get the idea to try to flush it out. It’s why Ralph now has a target on his back in his tribe.
    Rob is playing it very smart. If he is really smart the next member they vote off is the blonde girl who likes Matt. That way if either of them get back into the game off redemption, they won’t have the other to allign with.
    If he’s playing smart, and I think he is, he’s going to take Phillip with him deep into the game and just not tell Phillip any information unless he needs to know it.
    As for the other tribe, the lines were drawn last night. It’s that Sarita chick vs. the defense attorney who wanted to do the puzzle.
    If the other girl who was Russell’s buddy who is left stands a chance, she has to push that wedge apart next week and offer one side numbers to keep her in the game.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I say, for now, it’s smart to keep the HII hidden..but if Rob decides to tell someone he has it, then he can be in trouble.

    Also, over on Jeff’s Blog he mentioned that the RI duel ran on for a while, Ch(K?)ristina almost fainted, and Matt actually spent a long time grilling/talking with Rob. I actually think Matt is the dark horse of this competition, first off that promo that went all “matt is in trouble” basically translates to he’ll win (is it me, or is the editing getting kind of lazy on the show?) so I definitely see Matt coming back at some point. And I see him being smart enough to not trust Rob. Perhaps it’ll be beneficial to play along with Rob, but I honestly think that Matt will be intelligent to look out for himself and I don’t think he bought what Rob fed it- at least that is what I gathered from Jeff’s blog.

    I can’t believe I’m rooting for the guy who was voted off second! Haha.

  6. John Berggren says:

    I think Rob knows what he’s doing. He’s already squared with his tribe on the whole being voted off because he’s played before problem – introducing that he has the idol may cause more tension than it’s worth – people will want to force him to use his idol or get it from him.
    Holding the idol is a good plan because he can use it if his tribe turns on him.

  7. Tahoe Mike says:

    Rob is a master of this game. Most of the idiots who find the idols can’t help running around singing “I’ve got a secret, I’ve got a secret!” Only the real masters of the game like Parvati, Sandra, and Rob have ever managed to keep their mouths shut; till they dropped the bomb.

    If you are playing poker, and you have ace’s in the hole; do you tell everyone, or do you play weak and build the opponent’s confidence till you can check-raise them into giving you all their chips?

    Sooner or later the students will try to outsmart the teacher. Then, and only then will Rob lower the boom and let them know “You aint playing with the kids at the park here.” He may teach them all they know about the game, but not all he knows.

  8. Sean says:

    My Random Thoughts
    – Philip gave me the laugh of the night: “These girls remind me of crabs.” There are so many jokes swimming around my head I find it difficult to pick one, but it made me think back to Dalton’s comment about Parvati in Heroes vs. Villains. Priceless.
    – Stephanie and Krista were screwed the moment that Russell was voted out. But I like Stephanie’s spunk: she’s excited and aggressive, while Krista seemed to just sit off to the side and go “Yeah…what she said.” The Stephanie-Krista dynamic reminded me of Russell and Natalie in Samoa.
    After you’re done here at TV Line, I hope you’ll check out the rest of my recap at

    • sashay says:

      My laugh of the night was watching all the crabs disappear into their holes whenever Phillip was walking by, as if he has the reputation of their species biggest enemy! Thanks, editors. I think the crew are having a great time this season. I noticed that Rob talks to them: he’ said, ‘come on, we have to hurry, I said I’d get them water,’ and I think they’re giving him lots of materials, funny things he’s said and done, just a fraction of what we’ve seen on TV. I think Rob has two agendas here: to win the million and to win over the hearts of the audience. More TV time, more future career possibilities. And I don’t mind a bit, because to me he is the primary entertainer of this show.
      We also have a hero in Matt, and a court jester in Phillip. I definitely think the editors are having a great time with so much footage to include. More than makes up for the early exit of that predictable troll.

      • sashay says:

        Whoops, have to edit that. I meant to say, “…I think he’s giving them lots of material, funny things he’s said and done…” and not to imply that they are feeding him ideas and amusing comments. I think I can safely say that we are seeing much of his real personality, a fun-loving smart-ass with a healthy ego, a sharp wit and a calculating mind. (Wish there was an edit button in here).

    • shaunna says:

      I was thinking about Philip in his pink briefs chasing crabs all day, and how he said the girls are just like the crabs- they runs away and hide when they see him. I was thinking of the girls holding their heads as his bitt goes in their faces and could not stop smiling–i hope he stays on show for long time- he makes me laugh!!!

      there is something about him that makes me like the guy.

      read your blog-t is good

  9. Mikos says:

    Whoah, everyone’s got longer comments than usual here.

    To be notsobrief, while buying loyalty with the HII is one of it’s best uses it’s not the THE best use. Saving an alliance member who’s in trouble is usually the best play.

    But he’s better off keeping it to himself for the simple reason that he’s got a bigger target on his back than anyone else in the game. Not only is he the leader of his group, he’s fairly dangerous in challenges but he’s Boston freaking Rob. He knows no matter how loyal or trustworthy his allies feel he is he will always have a big glowing “CAN’T BEAT HIM IN THE FINALS” sign over his head.
    And Rob can still use it to save another tribemember if he feels it’s necessary.

  10. Michael says:

    He’d be STUPID to reveal his idol – someone like B-Rob is gonna have a hard time getting to the final three, and if/when the time comes for his alliance to say “Thanks for the help, now bye bye!”, he’d still have his one ace up his sleeve. Think back to Micronesia with Amanda’s idol play – it changed the entire game and ensured that the top three would be all favourite. B-Rob could have similar power with his idol. Also, him having it keeps it away from other more scheming tribemates that there could be, both pre-merge and post-merge.

  11. Jamie says:

    i have never understood why people share with their tribe mates that they have the idol. Keep it to yourself otherwise it just gets flushed out. In the end, it is an individual game

  12. Andrew says:

    In addition to what everyone else has said – if he eventually does have to come clean about the idol, it’s not like he has to tell his allies when he found it.

  13. cheryl says:

    It would definitely put a target on his back as we’ve seen. He is smart to keep it because eventually his name is going to be tossed around for elimination and he will be able to use it for what it was intended for-and we will be able to see another epic Boston Rob manouevre!

  14. Magically Suspicious says:

    Another added bonus to keeping the HII secret…..he has the ability to cast doubt on another player to manipulate a vote. If he hits a snag and wants someone voted out and his ‘alliance’ aren’t on board, he now has the option of convincing them that that person potentially has the idol and they should cast votes to flush it out. I can’t think of a reason that revealing the idol is ever really a great idea. Boston Rob has learned the #1 lesson of Survivor and that is never to completely trust anyone. I suspect his ‘alliance’ will learn that lesson at his hands and I can’t wait to watch it happen. I’d be happy if he were on the show every season. He never gets old for me.

  15. Elvira P. says:

    As a formerly loyal “Survivor” viewer, I am SOOO glad that Russell K. is GONE. I stopped watching in the middle of Russell’s first season because I couldn’t stand him, skipped the next one (“Villains”) entirely and only started watching “RI” when a teaser showed him out. Boston Rob (of course, I am also from Boston originally) is a different animal–he seems to laugh at himself. (Russell seemed just vicious.) I can’t see why anyone would reveal he has the HII, except maybe to pass it to a valuable ally one senses is voted out.

  16. shaunna says:

    the ability to keep a secret weapon in his pocket ismore important than additional bonding with his Ometepe buddies. this is best year ever and best show ever. rob is funnier than ever. they should have him on at least every other season.

    thye should not vote phlip off. they should vote matt’s girlfriend off that way only one will stay on RI and one will be sent home- so no alliance for them. I hope Phlip stays-I cannot get him out of my mind- chasing crbas- he seems like a nice person- and he makes me laugh!!!
    I really want robto win, and if not, then philip

  17. D. Gator says:

    There was a time on Survivor when people didn’t run around shouting to everyone that’s willing to listen that they have found an idol.

    Why would it be a mistake not telling?
    The only reason to tell that you have found an idol without being a mistake is if you’re in trouble and it can save your ass (either directly or by savind a crucial member of your alliance.

  18. Wendy's Dog says:

    Yeah actually you did say that… and also you stepped on my paw and then laughed. Why are you such an A-hole?

  19. Leah says:

    I think Boston Rob is doing the right thing by keeping his immunity idol hidden. At the end of the day lets face facts…. sooner or later his tribe are going to turn on him and try to get rid of him. None of them will wanna take him to the final three. Rob is not stupid and knows this. Keep it hidden as long as you can Rob… I’m a hoping you make it to the final three. I mean apart from Matt and Grant (won a challenge or two) the rest have just ridden along on your coat tail. Go Boston Rob!
    PS: Lets hope this year when the last vote is taken people don’t get all personal and hold onto grudges. If they can’t handle this type of game they shouldn’t be in it in the first place as far as I’m concerned. After over 20 seasons they know exactly what they are signing up for when applying. If someone happens to outwit, outsmart and outplay them I say just cop it on the chin and be thankful you got a chance to play.