We have a winner.
I’m not too sure how I feel that this Survivor Game Changers season that just ended.
Many people online didn’t like it. I wouldn’t go that far, but the fact is that once most of the “legends” didn’t make the merge, my interest kinda went down a little bit. I still followed religiously, even watched live when I could, but I didn’t really have anyone to root for, except Cirie, but even if we saw more of her after the merge, her edit was clearly telling us that she wouldn’t win.
Apart from that I guess the season had a lot of ups and down. Pre-merge was great, but unfortunately, it was great for the wrong reasons (all the “legends” getting voted out one by one), and there were too many twists, advantages and whatnot. I like a good twist from time to time, but what makes them great is that they’re rare and unexpected. When they happen every week, it’s more disruptive than anything else.
We also had a very ugly moment, I will not talk about it again.
Post-merge was still very enjoyable, but something was really missing from it and by something, I mean Tony, Malcolm, JT, Sandra, and even Ciera to a certain extent.
Before talking about players individually, a few words on the new format of the final tribal council.
I really liked it actually. Some people complained that it was hard to follow who thought what at times, but I don’t think it’s an issue. What we got was interesting discussions about what the jury base their vote on, it also helped defusing the “bitter jury syndrome” when jury members make tirades and don’t always vote with their brain, but rather with their resentment. That also spared us from stupid questions we sometimes get from some jury members who want to draw the spotlight on them one last time instead of, you know, asking something to the finalists that’s relevant.
So, overall, I can say that it was one of my favorite final tribal councils, and I really hope the next ones will follow that format.
My only concern is that Jeff Probst may use this format for more spotlight on himself, and he may even try to influence the jury. We’ll see in the future.
Talking about Probst, I’m pretty surprised that he revealed what the tie breaker is after insisting on keeping it a secret all these years.
First, some bragging: that’s indeed my guess of what it was.
Second: the only reason I can imagine for him to reveal it like this is because it will happen next season (it finished shooting a few weeks ago), and he wants the audience to understand then what’s about to happen.
Another word about the editing. Both kuddos to the editors and some rumblings about them at the same time.
Kuddos, because in recent years, some “winner edits” were too obvious and killing the suspense. They played with us this year, with an obvious winner edit for Brad early in the season (but also a somewhat obvious winner edit for Sarah during the second half of the season). I also liked how they focused on certain players at certain points in the season (I guess they did that because most of the “big names” were getting voted out early in the season. Still, some people got very weak edits, especially Aubry and Troyzan.
Also, there were some episodes when blindsiding the audience came at the price of making the reasons why certain contestants got voted out very obscure. Sometimes, I don’t mind having an obvious vote if it comes as the conclusion of great strategy at camp.
OK, now a few words about some contestants:
Sarah Lacina Winner of Survivor 34 – Game Changers: I’m torn about her. First, don’t get me wrong, she played an amazing game and totally deserved to win. She made the right moves at the right time and was behind most if not all votes post-merge. Her win is more than deserved. Yet, she’s not the most articulate person in the world, and her confessionals are not always that interesting. And while that doesn’t take anything away from her game, it makes her a not-so-interesting character and contestant to root for in my opinion. Still, congratulations to Sarah, it was a great win.
Brad Culpepper: He also played a great game pre-merge, not so interesting post-merge (I’m the kind of person who finds winning immunities impressive in terms of prowess, but I can’t really call that game play), I was very disappointed in him when he acted as a bully towards Tai. All in all, I loved to hate him as an over-the-top villain in Blood Vs Water, but I had a hard time to really care for him either way this time around. I remember something interesting he said in the first episode; that he’d play following the “What Would Monica Do?” strategy… And he did. They both lasted 14 days during their first season, and went and lost in the final tribal during their second season.
Troy “Troyzan” Robertson: I like Troyzan. I’m sure he’s a cool guy to be around, and I’m sad he never got a great edit. In One World, we saw a lot of his bad side, as he was the only one trying to stand up to Kim, and he was surrounded by too many idiots to get anything going, and that must have been very frustrating. This time, he played an under-the-radar game, which was a sound strategy for him, but as a result he got an invisible edit. I really think that in the future, editors should try to edit the three players going to the end as equally as possible, so that the suspense can remain as long as possible.
Also, kuddos to him for his final speech. He was aware that he was not going to get any vote and instead of trying to sound like he could win and be ridiculous doing it, he made a very beautiful and sincere speech about the opportunities he got playing this game. I doubt we’ll see him again play, and somehow that’s a shame, I think he could be a great and memorable player.
Tai Trang: I’m sure I’ve said it before, but Tai has a too beautiful heart to play this game. Yet, he doesn’t need much to become an amazing player, just being able to control his emotions, really. Still, I’m glad he resisted Brad’s bullying (I get he got some experience in his first season with Jason and Scot), and he really had a chance to win this season. Had he made it to the end, more people would have respected his way of playing.
Aubry Bracco: It’s a shame she was so under-edited, she’s an amazing player and a great character. I hope we see her again, I believe we will in a few years.
Cirie Fields: I’m not gonna lie, I did tear up when she was voted out. She’s one of my favorite players, she’s one of the best players to ever play this game, and she got either robbed or screwed each one of the seasons she played. This time was probably the worst. Nobody should be voted out with zero votes against them (except in a rock situation of course), and this situation shows you that there were just too many idols and advantages at play. I’m not sure we’ll see her play again, so thank you Cirie for everything, you’re a wonderful lady.
Michaela Bradshaw: I understand how she can rub some people the wrong way, but I really love her in many ways, maybe because I had a personality that’s not too different from hers when I was her age, not sure. I always say that if I ever played with her, either she’d be my partner in crime or we’d come at each other in a big showdown.
Andrea Boehlke: She’s grown so much since her first season and now she truly is a veteran and a real threat in this game. And yet, at times, she still plays like a newbie, when she gets emotional, and wants to vote Zeke out for no obvious reason for example. Still, she’s the kind of player who would win against pretty much anybody if she made it to the end.
Sierra Dawn Thomas: I don’t know why, but I just don’t like her. Maybe it’s the Worlds Apart stigma (I really hate that season), I’m not sure, but I just can’t find myself to like her. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate her either, I just feel nothing for her, neither in terms in character or game play or anything else. She’s just great eye candy and that’s pretty much it.
Zeke Smith: I really like Zeke, he could have done great, but it’s true that sometimes he tends to overplay a little bit and make big moves for the sake of making big moves, even when there’s no reason to shake the boat. Now the thing is that after the Varner incident, his game was basically thrown out the window, his changes to make it to the end had become slim to none, and he probably no other option than going out with a bang.
Debbie Vanner: Oh Debbie… Had she listened to Cochran’s advice… Who am I fooling? She’s not able to do that, listening to somebody else’s advice.
Ozzy Lusth: I never cared for Ozzy, but for once I’m gonna say something positive about him. I’m surprised how articulate he was both at the final tribal council and at the reunion show. Still, we’ll never see eye to eye on this show, as he still thinks that playing well means providing for the camp and winning immunities. Oh well.
Hali Ford: I kinda wish we saw more of her, as she seems to have the potential to be interesting, but it just never happened on Survivor.
OK, that’s a wrap for this season, sorry for not being able to blog much (it’s becoming a habit almost every season now, I really need to find a new format that will allow me to write every week, but truth is that Wednesday night is not a good time for me to be able to blog in a timely manner)
We’ll see next season.