Survivor Game Changers Episode 4: Why JT Was Voted Out

“If I wanted to, I could change the course of this game” – The words of JT right before he accidentally eliminated his only option on Nuku, Malcolm Freberg.

After finding himself on the wrong side of the numbers at the tribe swap, surviving until day 15 was always going to mean that JT’s tribe, Nuku, were winning challenges. Unfortunately for them, challenge wins were hard to come by and after accidentally eliminating Malcolm last episode, JT was always the likely target to be sent home in episode 4 of Survivor Game Changers.

Let’s break it all down to determine how exactly James ‘JT’ Thomas was eliminated from the 34th installment of Survivor.

Screwed By The Swap 

‘JT’ was sitting pretty on the original Nuku, but came up massively on the wrong side of the numbers at the tribe swap on day 7 when he became the only Nuku member to stay on Nuku beach. In addition to that, he was swapped over with Sandra, Malcolm, Aubry, Michaela and Jeff Varner; five very cut-throat players who were always likely to see ‘JT’ as surplus to requirements in the game. A five to one numbers disadvantage is detrimental for anyone to overcome and in fact only two people in the history of the game have made it to the end after suffering similar circumstances – Danni Boatwright and Chris Daugherty. Once put in that position, his life in the game suffered collateral damage and although he did a decent job at kissing up to his new tribe members in the first few days, after one crucially fatal mistake it was all but over for the Tocantins winner.

His Fatal Mistake 

JT’s fatal mistake was not this week in keeping his idol in his pocket, or rather oddly enough leaving it back at camp, but it was instead last week when he put far too much trust into Brad Culpepper and ended up accidentally eliminating his best bud on Nuku, Malcolm Freberg. Malcolm’s elimination acts as the key event in JT’s subsequent demise. Not because Malcolm would have voted with him to take out Sandra nor Michaela, as reports indicate he was agreeing to JT without any actual meaning behind his words, but because Malcolm could have easily been of great benefit to them in this challenge. If JT doesn’t tell Brad who they’re voting for, Sierra goes home, Malcolm stays and the both of them can make it to day 15 together where the next swap in the game is about to occur.

Past Reputation 

Although the most microscopic of the reasons JT was voted out of the fourth episode of Game Changers, his past reputation does play a tiny role in his demise. Jeff Varner was the swing vote in this episode and although he was probably aware of the fact that the next swap could be on its way, he made the decision to go with loyalty in the form of Michaela rather than the danger that he saw was JT. Even despite JT’s blunder in Heroes vs. Villains, he still came into this season with sizable reputation for being a dangerous player and both Sandra and Jeff Varner recognized that when taking him out. Sure, the swap and his over-exuberance in trusting Brad played the more significant roles in his destruction, but his past reputation does play a minuscule role in it, particularly in Jeff Varner’s decision to take him out.


Shot In The Dark Prediction: Winner.
“JT won the game in such incredible fashion the first time and then in his second time he played a very good game right up until the point when he made that infamous bonehead of a move to give Russell his idol. I have a feeling he will be able to play exactly the same way that he did in Tocantins this time around and I don’t see him ever being targeted early on. If he is going to win it all comes down to whether or not he can go on an immunity run. Even if it is just winning the last two challenges, he has to do it to get to the end and win. I honestly think he can do it. Although I personally would have preferred Earl or Mike to get a second chance before JT was given his third, I am actually very excited about his return and have high hopes for him going into this season”

Read more -> Game Changers Cast Assessment

So I guess this is where I hang my head in shame. I was very bullish on JT going into the season and I do think he would have made it significantly farther if it hadn’t been for the swap but I also don’t think he did enough to really warrant a description that could be classified as good game-play. This winner prediction was made on June 2nd, after the initial outrage that I could not pick my personal queen of Survivor, Natalie Anderson. After the pre-game videos emerged I just had a sense that JT was by no means going to have what it was going to take to come out on top this season and I instead wanted to switch to Malcolm. Either way I was wrong, but the point is, my initial thoughts on JT changed drastically from the time of writing this to the time the cast was officially announced on CBS. So let’s see what I had to say about JT just a month before the season was about to begin on February 9th in The Favourites To Win Survivor Game Changers,

“I spoke about how Ozzy might be able to fly under the radar a little bit more than others this season and JT might be able to do so to an even greater extent. People still perceive JT as a really likable guy who won’t stab them in the back even though in reality, he lied and backstabbed as much as anyone in both of his two seasons (minus Russell in Heroes vs. Villains of course). JT is also very fortunate that the extremely inglorious circumstance that he went out the last time in Heroes vs. Villains has led people to forget about how incredible of a game he played in Survivor Tocantins. JT might be able to fly under the radar and even though the last time he played was fourteen seasons ago, he probably will still have the strategic chops to make it all the way to the end”

I think ‘JT’ actually showed quite a bit of the aforementioned “strategic chops to make it all the way to the end”. When fighting for his life at the bottom of Nuku, JT was at first a really likable guy. He was just providing for the tribe, doing what they wanted to do, trying to pull in Malcolm and Aubry and trying not to make any waves. He was even kind of hilariously smart in leaving his entire tribe on a boat in the Pacific Ocean while he looked for the hidden immunity idol. But that all went to hell when he tried to eliminate Sandra from the game and ended up eliminating Malcolm instead. With two big blunders in his two seasons since playing one of the greatest games of all-time in Survivor Tocantins, some people might begin to argue that JT isn’t as great of a player as we all believe him to be.


This vote wasn’t all about payback and vengeance on JT for what happened to Malcolm but that seemed to play a massive role in Sandra’s mind. Or as she put it “I need to get vengeance on JT”. Sandra really is an incredible player and how anyone can say at this point in time that she was lucky in winning twice is beyond me. She’s such an amazing player and single-handedly executed and masterminded this vote to perfection. After recognizing Aubry’s desire to keep JT in the game, Sandra just completely ignores her from their plan and rallies both Michaela and Jeff Varner to take the Tocantins winner down. Then she made JT feel so comfortable that he didn’t feel the need to even bring his idol to tribal council before pulling off an Oscar worthy acting job at tribal council in making it seem like everyone was voting for Michaela. Sandra Diaz-Twine was amazing in this episode and is certainly the architect to JT’s demise in the game.


Although he wasn’t able to make it to the merge, JT certainly left his mark on this season. The scene with him leaving his entire tribe trapped on a boat was pretty hilarious while he also had several other fun scenes and memorable moments; most notably the whole ordeal with Brad and Malcolm. He was also a prominent figure from an editing standpoint. The editors have been very kind this season to players going home early and perhaps most kind to JT, who had 14 confessionals before he was eliminated, a hefty amount for someone around for just four episodes. Although this season will certainly be one to forget for JT and his big blunder at the Malcolm vote might go down as one of the worst moves in history, but that still cannot tarnish the wonderful reputation that JT has for his stellar game in Survivor Tocantins; to which I describe the best social game performance of all time.

So there it is! Every reason as to why James ‘JT’ Thomas was voted out of Survivor Game Changers. Be sure to check out our full episode recap, and more in the Why _ Was Voted Out series. See you next time! 🙂

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