If Sash is Survivor Nicaragua’s greatest strategist, Survivor Nicaragua has a problem

Watching Survivor Nicaragua tonight, I tried to figure out Sash, aka Matthew Lenahan, who I just don’t understand as a player. He’s cocky, arrogant, annoying, and thinks he’s a genius who’s completely in control. Those attributes prompted me to think about Richard Hatch, since I watched clips of the first winner earlier today as I finished writing my first 12 Days of Reality TV entry about Hatch. But the two men are nothing alike.

My guess is that Sash imagines himself to be Richard Hatch but is actually Russell Hantz, someone whose lack of a social game will blindside him and make him bitter when he gets voted out or gets no votes at the finale. Sash’s social game seems to consist of getting his feelings hurt and wanting to hurt other people as a result, like when he whined and moped about Chase choosing Holly and Jane to go with him on the reward after the recycled (sigh) reward challenge. He acts so cocky (saying openly at Tribal how pretty he sits) and entitled (“I really need a reward right now” because “I’ve gone the longest without a food reward,” he said), and it’s almost laughable.

Immediately after they got back to camp after the reward challenge, Sash basically started threatening them, which even Dan recognized, calling out Sash: “You might side with them.” Sash replied, and I quote: “I… I… I… I… I…” He told us that Chase’s decision was “a rissy moo” that was “increly stuid” so he was going to “possily manure myself with the other alliance.” Sash never makes much sense to me, but he’s kind of the last strategist we have, and that’s sad.

Some of this might be the editing. Most of the episode focused on a burned Sash saying he’d align with the other alliance, Fabio, Benry, and Dan, not with the people who took showers. Considering everyone knows they’d lose against Holly and Jane, that might not be a bad move, but no, Sash stuck with the freshly showered. The other alliance was so blindsided that Fabio voted for Holly and the two men voted for Fabio–which I suppose is impressive on the dominant alliance’s part, getting them all to vote that way.

Jeff Probst said some bullshit at the end about not trusting your alliance, but the vote wasn’t about that: it was about Chase, Holly, Jane, and Sash voting off their biggest perceived threat and last remaining boxer brief-filling male. (Behind-the-scenes detail: When Jeff goes to tally votes, he takes them and confers with the producers in the makeshift control room, where they’ve watched the voting confessional footage. They decide which votes they’ll show, and thus which votes they’ll have Jeff read first, and also plan his little end speech. That’s a lot of advance planning in a short amount of time. While I like Jeff encapsulating what happens, I think it’s often a stretch to make some kind of this-or-that point out of the vote, and I wish they’d just do that sparingly.)

Besides Benry giving a muddy Chase a slap on the ass after they both made it through to the final round of the reward challenge, and Probst further shaming NaOnka and Kelly S. by introducing them as “our two quitters … who quit at the last Tribal Council,” the moment of the night had to be Jane reappearing at camp (what is with the editing skipping reward challenge winners actually returning to camp?) and making a cross for the chicken the others ate while she was getting a massage. “I did love my chicken. They didn’t have to eat her,” she told us.

Jane may be kooky, but she’s surprisingly astute and has some power, calling her alliance with Holly and Chase “spokes on a wheel turning a clock.” That clock has just three hours left, and the way this season’s been going, I’m afraid we’re going to hear every. second. tick. by. Unless Probst really does execute losers next week.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.