Well after the past couple of episodes, we had to have a more “normal” episode. And by normal, I mean that nothing to crazy or unexpected happened, I don’t mean that it was bad and/or boring.
Let’s see in detail.
Debbie Vanner: What is happening there? Debbie has blown a fuse, I don’t see any other explanation. Some people compare her to Coach, sorry but I think she’s more of the Phillip type, the only difference being that she seems able to play the game (well, Phillip could too in Caramoan, when he toned the crazy down a little). And Brad being an alpha male, I’m sure he may have been patronizing and bossy at times. We’re just not seeing it, because Brad definitely has a very positive edit this season. So, he may have pushed some buttons.
Still, even if Brad is not completely innocent in the way he may have treated her, the whole thing is Debbie’s fault. She volunteered to do the balance thing, and she blew it up. Blaming Hali and Brad afterwards was terrible in the first place, but the whole overreaction made it even worse. When she screamed “You broke my heart” and then laughed maniacally, it really made me feel uncomfortable. While I think throwing a challenge is never a good idea, had I been in the Mana tribe, I would have probably been more than tempted to do it, especially seeing the way she kept on going at it during the immunity challenge. She has become a dangerous loose cannon going forward. However, despite her craziness, she’s a loyal person, and in terms of strategy if not personality, the Mana Four are pretty tight at the moment. So you don’t want to throw that away just yet.
Brad Culpepper: He managed the whole Debbie situation like a pro. He never antagonized her, even defused her aggression when he could. Good job Brad. People talk about how much he changed, and he must have, but I keep on wondering how much this is the edit too.
Hali Ford: Not much about her this week. She seems to be in a safer spot in the tribe now, both because she didn’t flip on her tribe during the previous tribal council despite being very tempted too, and because Debbie decided to paint her target on herself.
Sierra Dawn Thomas: Not much about Sierra either, except that we saw that she (as well as everyone else) tried to calm Debbie down. They could as well have just isolated her. Nobody did that, and kudos to Mana about that, you don’t want to turn Debbie into a liability at this point and he would be very tempting and easy to do so.
Tai Trang: Same with Tai in his treatment of Debbie. We saw a little more of him, as he found a clue to another immunity idol. According to the clue and the edit (wondering where it could be, repeating the clue to himself and walking by the well as he does it), we gotta to assume that the immunity is by the well. After all, there aren’t many other wooden board around.
Wow, after the tribe swap, new Nuku looked like it’d be unstoppable. What’s happening to them?
Aubry Bracco: She more or less took Malcolm’s spot as the tribe’s narrator, but that doesn’t mean anything in terms of longevity. The fact that she went with JT and tried to oust Michaela with him (and was blindsided by Jeff and Sandra in the process) shows us that now, she’s definitely on the outs. In his exit interviews, Malcolm talked about how Aubry and Sandra were having a feud that didn’t really make to the air. It’s becoming apparent now, and it would explain a few things from previous episodes, just like how Sandra voted against her for no apparent reason when Tony was voted out. Sandra has a history of throwing away votes this way. The thing is that Aubry is now isolated in the tribe, and would have been the next person out from it if not for the swap that could save her.
James “J.T.” Thomas Jr. voted out: Goodness… How on earth is it possible that he didn’t use his idol? Not even brought it to tribal council? I’ve defended JT for very long. When he got tricked by Russell in Heroes vs Villains, I blamed it solely on Russell’s duplicity and never saw it as a stupid move from JT’s part, just a risky one that backfired. Even last week, I blamed it on Brad for screwing JT over. But this week? No. That’s his entire fault and he deserved to be voted out. When the whole tribe blames you for the mess that happened with Malcolm’s vote, when you have no real ally in the tribe and have been at the bottom since the swap, when you start getting into a feud with another member of the tribe, and when you have an idol, the situation is pretty simple. Regardless of how many votes you think you have, regardless of whatever anyone is telling you, you play your idol. At least you bring it at tribal in case you sense that something is off at some point…
That was a stupid, stupid decision on JT’s part. I’ve said before that he hasn’t had much luck since Tocantins, but I’m really starting to wonder if it’s just bad luck and not the fact that he needs Stephen to play well and that, without him, he doesn’t know the difference between a great move and an idiotic one.
Jeff Varner: He is too under the radar for my taste. In his defense, after the way he played in Cambodia, and the fact that he’s not doing well in challenges (and Probst called him on that again, that’s pretty much every challenge now), under the radar is the best place where he can be. At some point, in a confessional, we hear him saying that he’s the swing vote, but I believe it was a misdirection, and I’m pretty sure he’s actually quite tight with Sandra. After all, she trusts him enough to eat the sugar right in front of him. She wouldn’t have done it if there was the slightest chance he rats her out. I guess it makes sense that he’s tight with Michaela and Sandra. It’s a variation of the infamous (this season) “meat shield strategy” except that his shields are not the physical threats but the loud mouths of the tribe. I’m confident that Varner will finally make the jury and once he’s past that number, he will play a more active game. Hoping he goes far.
Michaela Bradshaw: From what some people said (Malcolm, JT, Aubry, even Varner to a certain extent) she may be a bit difficult to be around at camp. And with her personality, I can imagine that. Still, there was no way she would be voted out over JT. So, Sandra, Varner and Michaela herself did a great job fooling JT and Aubry, and the editors also did a good job letting us believe that was a possibility. The quote that got me was after immunity challenge, when Michaela said that she was voted out after a similar challenge in her season, so there was no way she’d be out again after such a challenge. I saw foreshadowing, it was a red herring.
Sandra Diaz-Twine: If after this episode, some people keep on thinking that she’s not one of the best players out there, they clearly don’t understand anything about Survivor. You may need to refresh my memory, but it may have been her best episode and her best move yet. With JT at the bottom and the obvious next vote, she may have realized that he simply could idol her out (and she may even have realized that this was his plan during the previous tribal council, except with Mana’s idol). She had to divert the target from her back to someone else’s. So, she manufactures tensions between JT and her closest ally out of almost nothing. Because she does this with her closest ally, JT doesn’t suspect a thing (he wouldn’t have bought it if it had been towards Aubry for example). Then she gets everyone on board with that feud, and she even manage to make JT believe that she (and Varner?) will also vote against Michaela. And there we are, four tribals in, Sandra got zero votes against her, and she got four of the biggest threats out (although she didn’t want Malcolm out just yet). And she does it while being as on the radar as possible. Actually that’s one of Sandra’s strengths that people tend to overlook. She has a big mouth. She’s the opposite of under the radar. So, when she does something sneaky, no one thinks about her as the culprit, especially because she never does something that would apparently benefit her (what benefit does she apparently get from throwing away fish, sugar or burning an ass’s hat?).
That’s how she’s a genius at this game.
However, she’s still playing with fire. She keeps on making herself a bigger target every time. Or maybe that’s part of her strategy too, by keeping on being the obvious target, she can keep on telling people that she’s the perfect “goat” to bring to the end? Now sure if it can work until the end.
And they’re still pretty much invisible. Sure, they’re winning challenges all the time, Troyzan is the only one who’s been at tribal council, but the fact that we even barely see camp life is a bit concerning for their impact on the long term… Unless… The fact that all those early eliminations are some of the biggest names of the season is kinda splitting the season into two halves. First half is Tony’s, Malcolm’s, JT’s, Sandra’s (?) stories, and the second half will be Andrea’s, Cirie’s, Ozzy’s, Zeke’s? Maybe.
In the mean time I really have nothing to say about Andrea Boehlke, Cirie Fields, Zeke Smith, or Ozzy Lusth this week.
Sarah Lacina: I’m intrigued by the whole scene with Troyzan. Does she really want to get into an alliance with him? Is she on the outs with the four others? Or is it a misdirection? She talked about lying like a criminal, but the only person we see her talking to is Troyzan. So, is she lying to him? Making him feel comfortable, so that he lets his guard down and reveals whether he has an idol or not? So that the five other members of the tribe trick him into a false sense of security the way Nuku did with JT? No idea. To be continued, I guess.
Troy “Troyzan” Robertson: Let’s say he’s lucky his tribe is on a winning streak right now, that gives him time to create bonds with them. However, despite those bonds, he’s still the obvious target in the tribe and no one will welcome the swap more than him, I believe.
Game changer of the week: Well, it has to be Sandra this week. She could have been idoled out by JT, instead she got him out without even being targeted by anyone. Special mention to JT for not playing his idol
Winner pick: Brad still looks like he’s getting the winner edit. But as crazy as it may seem, I’m warming up to the idea of Sandra doing the impossible. The winner could also be in Tavua and his/her story will only start after next week’s swap or the merge.
Next person voted out: I got JT right last week. First week I do this season I think. With another swap coming, hard to tell who will be voted out. Debbie is definitely on the chopping block sooner or later. Sandra‘s time could be up at any time too. And was the focus on Sarah a sign of her upcoming downfall? No idea, it’s really all up in the air at the moment.
Next time on Survivor: A second swap. That was expected (in two weeks, so it’s one week early). Exile Island for the 15th player (the swap will be back to two seven members tribes). Whatever. I liked exile island when idols were there, now that they’re at camp, it’s a bit pointless.
A former player returning?
Well, that raises a lot of questions. I really really hope that this player won’t join the game at day 15 or so, that’d be cheating. I really hope that’s not something silly like the outcast twist (I assume that twist never returned for a reason). I have bad vibes from the French Survivor (which sucks by the way) where when a player is evacuated, they’re replaced by one of the previous boots, but I can’t imagine Survivor ever doing something so bad.
My guess is that a star of the game will return, probably as a reward, and they will stay with the winning tribe for a few days (maybe help them with the next immunity challenge?), and I assume it will be Boston Rob. First I thought of Richard Hatch, because I still don’t understand why he’s not on this season (maybe he couldn’t), but I don’t imagine him accepting such a stunt. Boston Rob on the other hand, totally would do that for his pal Probst. Especially because next episode, an historic thing will happen; Ozzy will pass Boston Rob as the person who played the most days.
Stay tuned, see you next week.
In the meantime, remember, if you like what you’ve read, the best way to thank me is to share this post on your social medias of choice. Thanks.