Survivor Game Changers Episode 3 Recap, Edgic and Analysis

Wow! Survivor Game Changers is absolutely on fire at the moment. This episode saw one of the best tribal councils in the history of the show and a shocking elimination reminiscent of something that you usually only see on Big Brother; a player getting screwed over by a twist implemented by production. Let’s jump right into the amazing episode titled “The Tables Have Turned”.

Hali Has No Options, But JT Might Have A Few

“The Tables Have Turned” began with a reminder of how the vote went down the night before, with Caleb being the victim over at the new Mana and how it left Hali firmly at the bottom. We were then given a glimpse into the unstable mind of Debbie Wanner as she let us know that Hali had “no options”, despite telling the Worlds Apart contestant to her face, that she was safe and that Tai would be the next to go. Judging by Hali’s later confessionals, you could tell that she was not at all comfortable with her position on Mana and had plans of her own to return to her friends over at Nuku the moment she could. But before she was able to do that, JT and Malcolm were building a bond.

JT and Malcolm’s bond seemed to begin over a common enemy, one Sandra-Diaz Twine. The two declared to each other that they were going to be loyal to each other until the end, which is quite sad given how things turned out. However, the two agreed that should they lose the challenge, Sandra should be the one to go because of how dangerous she was in the game.

Speaking of bonds, four-time castaway Ozzy Lusth has a pretty unique way of making them.

Ozzy The Stingray-Catching Provider 

While all this was going on, we also received a call-back to the early days of the game with a scene solely centered around a quest for food. There was no contestant better to bring us this sort of scene than Ozzy Lusth, who not for the first time, was quite elegant in describing how he loves providing for his tribe. As he brought in a ginormous, majestic looking stingray, the four-time player spoke about how fishing was a way for him to just kick back and relax and forget about the pressures of the game. That being said, in his mind, Ozzy’s constant fishing is also strategic for him. In a way, his knack for fishing and providing is his social game. The 34-year old Californian has the mentality that the more he provides, the less likely he is to be voted out. Whether that is actually true remains to be seen, but this scene was implemented for a reason and that reason wasn’t just a to make us reminisce of what some might consider “the good old days” of Survivor. Perhaps, this was the first sign of a potential Ozzy winner’s edit.

A Survivor First 

In addition to a reward challenge, the few things mentioned above were virtually the only scenes we were shown before the immunity challenge, as the editors left plenty of room for an explosive tribal council (and commercials).

At the challenge, Ozzy Lusth led Tavua to another victory, sending both Mana and Nuku to tribal council. For the first time ever, two tribes were to vote out one single person, making this an incredibly exciting final thirty minutes to the episode.

In the buildup to the vote, both tribes were all over the place. Starting with Nuku, when they first arrived back at camp, JT was the first to bring up the fact that they had the majority over Mana; a 6-5 numbers advantage. Sandra then proposed the idea of voting off Sierra, while JT cringed and claimed Tai should be the one to go. Minutes later, JT and Malcolm have a second conversation about targeting Sandra, this time in front of Jeff Varrner, where they point out to each other that the two-time winner is Mana’s most likely target. JT then ends it all by telling us “You know if I wanted to, I could change the course of this game”. Well mission accomplished JT.

Over at Mana, Brad Culpepper had everyone completely under his thumb and although Hali was felling on the outs, the tribe seemed to be a whole lot more united than Nuku. While they discussed who to vote for, Brad made sure that Hali felt comfortable as a member of new Mana, telling her just how much they needed her vote. Sierra then goes on to say that Malcolm should be the one to go home with Sandra’s name also being brought up several times. But before the vote, something very interesting happened. Tai Trang, feeling in danger for whatever reason, decided to go off and look for the idol! Seemingly without much difficulty at all, the Kaoh Rong zero-vote finalist ended up claiming the idol as his own for the second season in a row and just like his first-go around, had no difficulty at all disclosing to his allies that he had found the game changing tool. This immediately prompted a feel good factor over at Mana, with them now knowing that as long as they could discern who Nuku was voting for, they could use the idol to get out a massive threat.

Two Tribes, Two Team Huddles, One Tribal Council

Despite two tribes being in attendance, episode 3’s tribal council started off just like any other with nothing totally out of ordinary in occurrence. Sandra was being her normal self, Brad was being his normal self and everything seemed totally normal, until Hali got the ball rolling. With a careful choice of words, Hali basically said that her vote was up for grabs, prompting scared looks and plenty of “we need you’s” from her Mana tribe members. Then Sandra started to whisper in everyone’s ear to vote for Brad Culpepper, clearly trying to deliberately throw Mana off. This led to more whispering, Debbie asking Brad if they should switch the vote and Brad remaining adamant that they should keep things to the original plan. But then out of nowhere, for the first time in Survivor history, JT stood up, wandered all the way across to the other side of tribal council and began to whisper in Brad’s ear. Foolishly, JT then whispered “I love you but tonight they are sending Sierra home”. This then sparked Hali to leave her position to talk to the Nuku members while everyone else in her tribe huddled together like it was a football game!

This tribal council was just absolutely crazy and it left Hali still uncertain all the way up until she left to vote. Given that Hali ended up voting with Mana, you have to say that this was a major missed opportunity for new Nuku. It would have been irrelevant given Tai’s idol play, but still how they managed to alienate Hali so badly was actually quite stupid.

After all the votes had been cast, Jeff gave his normal spiel and without hesitation, Tai stood up to play his idol. He then looked in behind where he was sitting over towards Brad for guidance, the attorney pointed at Sierra and that was all she wrote, Sierra was now immune from the vote. All six votes from Nuku came the way of Sierra, making this Tai’s best move ever on Survivor and also ensuring that Nuku didn’t have a single vote that counted. Instead of Sandra as JT advised, Brad and his crew stuck with Sierra’s initial target and Malcolm was sent home by a vote of 5-0. This tribal council was just amazing and although it caused us to lose a great character and an even better player in Malcolm Freberg, it was still absolutely incredible to watch.

Although Nuku came out of this tribe looking like fools, particularly JT, the fact that they ended up voting for the person that Sandra wanted to go home again, this time in Sierra, speaks volumes. It’s beginning to become a theme this season where every single time the two-time winner appears to be in danger, she escapes and instead comes out on top! The vote might not have worked out in her favour this time around but it’s absolutely amazing what she has managed to accomplish so far this season given her enormous past reputation and it is absolutely amazing that everyone continues to go along with whatever she wants.

Why Malcolm Was Sent Home 

Before anything else, it has to be said that Malcolm would have never gone home without this sudden twist by production. Although it created one of the greatest tribal councils in the history of Survivor, it also screwed us of a good player playing a really good, hard-fought game. I imagine the Survivor producers themselves were happy with how the tribal council turned out but not the end result of the vote. So although it created amazing drama and will be talked about for years, I don’t know how excited they’ll be to do it again anytime soon. It’s pretty safe to say that this was not what they planned for at all when they implemented this idea. Even if Nuku were to lose that immunity challenge and go to tribal council by themselves, Malcolm would have never gone home. Out of all six Nuku members, he was probably the safest. Therefore it has to be concluded that the twist implemented by production played a massive role in sending the three-time contestant home. But it was by no means the sole factor in his demise, and there were a few more other crucial factors. Most notably, the accidental and foolish role that James ‘JT’ Thomas played in the matter.

Nuku had a 6-5 advantage over Mana. The only way that Mana was going to infiltrate Nuku with or without Tai’s idol, was if they knew who they were voting for. Foolishly, JT handed that information to them on a silver platter. You can sort of empathize with JT in this situation. He himself was screwed over by the tribe swap and was desperate to reconvene with his old pals, particularly Brad whom he proclaimed to be his closest ally. JT clearly wanted Brad to relax. Why? We can only speculate. Maybe he thought that just in case Brad had an idol that he could now feel safe enough to keep it in his pocket. Or maybe he was trying to ensure that who he wanted to go home, Sandra, would be the one sent home, using Sierra’s name as a way of trying to gain the NFL’ers trust. Whatever JT’s reasoning, it screwed over the only person over on Nuku that was seemingly willing to work with him. Above all else, including the twist from production, JT’s foolishness in disclosing to Brad who they were voting for was the biggest factor in sending Malcolm home.Read more -> Why Malcolm Freberg Was Voted Out 

Confessional Count


Player # of Confessionals

Running Total


James ‘JT’ Thomas 3 10
2nd Tai Trang    3



Sandra Diaz-Twine 2 13


Brad Culpepper 2 7
5th Debbie Wanner 2


6th Hali Ford 2


7th Malcolm Freberg 1



Jeff Varner 1 9


Cirie Fields 1 6


Ozzy Lusth 1 4
11th Aubry Bracco 1


12th Andrea Boehlke 1


13th Sierra Dawn-Thomas 1


14th Michaela Bradshaw 0



Troy ‘Troyzan’ Robertson 0 4


Zeke Smith 0


17th Sarah Lacina 0


James JT Thomas sits atop the confessional chart for this episode after again being one of the leading story-drivers for the second week in a row. With his hidden immunity idol find, Tai Trang also tied JT for most confessionals this week with 3, while Sandra, Brad, Debbie and Hali were slightly behind with 2. Despite being eliminated from the game this episode and always being featured heavily, Malcolm only received one confessional, while Cirie also went a bit anonymous this episode, also picking up just one confessional. In continuation, despite being a prominent feature of the season so far, Ozzy Lusth still sits at just 4 confessionals! He did however receive the longest confessional of the season thus far when he was talking about how much he loves fishing and providing for his tribe. Michaela, Troyzan, Zeke and Sarah were the four characters to receive 0 confessionals this week, Sarah the first of S34 to come up with 0 two weeks in a row. Troyzan’s confessional-less episode also comes as a bit of a surprise given how heavily he was featured in the episode before.

In the running total column, the queen stays queen as Sandra continues to sit on top of the throne with 13 confessionals in 3 episodes! Malcolm will end his run this season with an incredible tally of 12 confessionals during his short stay while Tony Vlachos rounds out the top three despite going home on premiere night.


* What is edgic? Check out the Edgic section of our Game Changers Premiere Recap for all the information!

It’s Edgic time! To be perfectly honest, there wasn’t a whole lot of highly edited footage tonight that Edgic would be concerned about. Challenges, commercials, and that amazing tribal council took up more than 2/3 of the show tonight so there wasn’t a whole lot of gameplay or strongly edited material. Either way, these are The Mastermind‘s Edgic scores for Episode 3 of Survivor Game Changers.


Edgic Visibility


Tai Trang  



James ‘JT’ Thomas   

CP 5

Brad Culpepper

CP 5 Positive

Sandra Diaz-Twine

OTT 4  Negative

Debbie Wanner

CP 4
Hali Ford CP 4


Malcolm Freberg CP 4


Jeff Varner MOR 3

Ozzy Lusth

CP 3

Sierra Dawn-Thomas


Aubry Bracco


Andrea Boehlke

 UTR  2
Cirie Fields UTR 2

Michaela Bradshaw UTR 2

Troy ‘Troyzan’ Robertson UTR 2

Zeke Smith INV

Sarah Lacina


For the second week in a row, there were far more players who either went CP or Under The Radar than any other Edgic category. Our only MOR contestant this week was Jeff Varner and even that’s a stretch given that he was only given one confessional. Goat loving Sandra went Over-The-Top for the second week in a row after her crazy antics at tribal council in addition to being talked about in a pretty negative light by JT and Malcolm. Zeke Smith and Sarah Lacina were the only two to go invisible. In Sarah’s case this is definitely not a good thing as it was her second invisible week in a row. The Cagayan contestant came out of the gates with a strong showing on night one but since then has just ghosted her way through the game while others have scrambled all around her.

Tai Trang, JT and Brad Culppeper were this week’s most prominent figures, each playing a massive role in the sad elimination of Malcolm. All three also were presented to us as Complex Players. Tai was primarily shown as complex when he gave his thoughts during that very fun idol-hunt scene, JT was presented to us as complex with his desire to get Sandra voted out while Brad Culpepper again ran the show over at Mana. Debbie was also presented as complex although bordering on middle of the road when she she talked about how Hali had no options in the game while Malcolm Freberg was also shown to be a complex player, particularly with his answers to tribal council questions. Lastly, Ozzy Lusth was given the sort of edit we have come to expect from him and as previously mentioned outlined to us why he thought fishing was such a good strategy for his game.

All other contestants went under the radar, Andrea and Sierra for the third week in a row, Aubry and Michaela for the second week in a row. So all and all, Edgic was a bit up and down this week and with Malcolm now voted out, the question now becomes about who is going to take over in his place as the potential winner of the season and what does Edgic have to say about it.

The Winner’s Edit 

I guess I spoke far too soon when I said I wasn’t going to get Mary Takahashi’d this season. The Survivor editors have done us again, throwing us in for a loop, as Malcolm Freberg was sent home from the game. All along Malcolm had the winner’s edit. He was saying the right things, he was doing the right things, he was only being shown in a positive light and every single thing they were showing of him seemed so incredibly wise and down to earth. It was Malcolm all along. But now it can’t be because he was voted out! So that begs the question now, who on earth has the winner’s edit? Is it Sandra, who continues to get her way? Is it Ozzy the fisherman who received a bit of a heroes’ edit tonight? The Survivor producers really have figured out this winner’s edit stuff since Michele’s blatantly obvious win and it’s almost as if they are having fun with us now. But still at this moment time, there is nothing else I can do apart from pick the player that is the front-runner in the game, which is the one and only, Brad Culpepper. That’s right, Brad Culpepper has the winner’s edit! Everything the former NFL player touches in the game at the moment seems to turn to gold. He’s been shown as the driving force behind all of new Mana’s success in the post-swap portion of the game. For example, five people voted against Caleb Reynolds last vote but who was the only one to be given credit for it in the ‘Previously on Survivor’ section? Brad! The attorney has just been sublime this season, almost effortlessly navigating his way through the game with every single player trusting him with their life. Like we often said about Malcolm, every time we were given an opportunity tonight to be shown Brad, he was the person we were shown above anyone else. That has to mean something. I doubt you ever thought you’d hear this but right now more than anyone else, Brad Culpepper, who is silently becoming one of The Mastermind‘s favourite castaways, has the coveted winner’s edit!

Quote of the Week 

“It’s very simple on paper, but on paper is the only place it’s simple” – Malcolm Freberg moments before everything became so much more complicated at the tribal council.

Player of the Week

He’s the man with the winner’s edit right now and he’s also our undeniable Player of the Week! Brad Culpepper is starting off this season in fantastic form and is turning out to be one of the most improved second-timers in Survivor history. Although Tai Trang deserves a whole lot of recognition for his desire and determination to find that idol, the moment he found the tool it might as well have been Brad’s idol because of how brilliantly the NFL player played the whole thing off. We’ve already spoken in great detail about the unfortunate, accidental role that JT played in Malcolm’s demise, but Brad Culpepper deserves almost as much credit for Malcom’s elimination as the Tocantins winner. Brad has just completely swooped Tai Trang under his wing, and it really paid off for him this episode. Tai, the man who sent Scott Pollard home by not playing his idol for the NBA star, had no hesitation at all in this episode at playing his idol for Sierra, which was thanks to the hard work done by Brad. The moment Tai found the idol, Brad claimed “If one of us four is going to go, we need to play it”. So Tai, almost against character, had absolutely no apprehension about playing it for Sierra. Brad also deserves an immense amount of credit in this episode for his fantastic ability to make JT continue to trust him even though they find themselves on opposite beaches. We didn’t see any of it in the first two episodes, but clearly JT and Brad have a powerful bond and the Tocantins winner clearly felt as though he could trust him with his life in the game. Finally, Brad ensured Malcolm’s demise by making sure Tai was going to play the idol and pointing at Sierra so that the Califronia native knew exactly who to play it on. This was just brilliant from Brad Culpepper all around and although JT’s stupidity is what costs Malcolm the most tonight, Brad deserves almost an equal amount of credit for his demise. I think it’s time I say what we’re all thinking, Brad Culpepper is suddenly a serious contender to win Survivor Game Changers and I for one am so pleased that he’s been cast on this season.

Next Time On Survivor

Next time on Survivor JT’s in the hot seat and Debbie releases the demons in side of her head. The fallout from Malcolm’s elimination from the game looks set to be detrimental to the rest of JT’s game as Nuku looks ready to tear him a new one next episode. Meanwhile, Debbie finally looks ready to crack as we were shown her yelling “I was loyal to you and you crushed my heart” in the face of Brad Culpepper while Tai Trang runs away, scared for his life. Will Debbie be the one to go home next episode or will JT’s mistake prove to costly for Nuku to want to keep him around? Find out next week on The Mastermind!


Survivor is amazing. Isn’t it? Every season it continues to amaze, year after year after year. Even after thirty-four seasons we still get Survivor firsts like the first time two tribes combined to vote off one person, the first time two separate group huddles occurred at a tribal council and the first time contestants actually left their seats to run over to other castaways sitting on the opposite end of the bench. This was just an incredible episode with an incredible tribal council that will forever go down as a great and historic Survivor moment. The Mastermind has no idea how next episode is going to play out but we cannot wait to find out. See you next time and make sure to check out more of our awesome articles right here!


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