Survivor Game Changers continues another day and the season continues to look like it is on the upswing as we near closer to the finish line. It’s still not my favourite, but there are plenty of fun characters and strategies to go around. There is so much to talk about this episode, including if there really is a line drawn in the sand/concrete or not and who is going to be the winner of this season. So let’s get right into our latest episode recap, edgic and analysis of the 34th installment of Survivor, Survivor Game Changers.
The Line In The Concrete
Last week with the elimination of Ozzy a line seemingly was drawn in the sand. That line seemed to include Sarah as part of Brad and Sierra’s six-person alliance as Zeke, Andrea, Cirie, Michaela and Aubry were suddenly put at a disadvantage. This started to make Debbie feel incredibly confident about her position in the game. Or as she put it,
“We have complete control over this game. There’s not just a line in the sand, there’s a line drawn in concrete”. Wow Debbie thank you for that analogy that makes no sense at all.
But Debbie’s quirkiness in saying something strange about concrete was quickly and beautifully juxtaposed with Sarah Lacina saying “Eventually the tide comes up and the line gets washed away”. Essentially Sarah was saying that it wasn’t as simple to think that there were two distinct groups, especially given the fact that she was still yet to pick which side she wanted to stick with for the rest of the game.
In other words, there definitely are two different sides on that island. You have Brad and Sierra’s group on one side and you have Cirie and Andrea’s group on the other side. But, who comprises those two sides is not set in stone. This is by in large a product of Sarah’s doing as the police officer sees a path to the end with both directions. Although she could see the numbers heading in Brad’s direction, she still felt a closer bond to Andrea, Cirie and most importantly of all, Zeke. So this made for a very interesting scenario later on.
The Reward Challenge & A Secret Advantage
Although Cirie’s struggle at the challenge was interesting enough and I’m sure very relatable for many Survivor viewers, the cold-blooded part of my veins didn’t really find it all that compelling. It was nice to see a tribe come together to help Cirie out and for her to finish the challenge even though it had long been over, but what I was most intrigued by at the reward challenge was a secret advantage that was right underneath the nose of Michaela, one that she was completely unaware of.
When the teams picked players for the challenge, Michaela’s poor social relationships caught up with her as she wasn’t picked to participate despite being easily one of the strongest team challengers out there. So she was required to sit on the bench and wait for the challenge to be over. She wasn’t even given the chance at participating in the after-party by picking which tribe she thought would win like Joe Del Campo was able to do back in Kaoh Rong. She was just left there to angrily watch on. But below her feet, practically nibbling on her feet as she sat on the bench, was a secret advantage in the game. Somehow, she didn’t see it the entire time. It wasn’t the easiest thing to see once already sitting down, but surely walking up to the bench in the first place she should have been able to spot it.
So once the challenge ended, the secret advantage was still up for grabs and Sarah Lacina with her heightened senses thanks to being a cop, spotted the reward from afar and was able to stealthily claim it as her own without anyone noticing. It was then later revealed that the advantage was a vote steal, in which she can take away someone else’s vote, potentially giving her two votes in the process. This is the exact same advantage that Stephen Fishbach had in Survivor Cambodia when he used it incorrectly and was sent home on the same day. But Sarah seems to be determined to play it correctly and said just as much, declaring “I will be the first one to play this correctly”. Thing is, I actually believe her. I think Sarah is more than a capable player and every bad thing I may or may not have said about her game pre-season has completely been washed away just like the line in the sand was this episode. I believe that Sarah Lacina will be the first person to correctly play the advantage and I cannot wait to see her do so.
Is Andrea Really A Threat?
After Troyzan won immunity, Andrea (and everyone else) was left in danger of going home. Andrea was left particularly vulnerable because she was seen as being a strategic and immunity challenge threat in the minds of Brad and his alliance. This was even proclaimed by Debbie, who practically called the People Now co-host a Playboy bunny before the season began. Brad was the one who was particularly outspoken in sending Andrea home, as he abolished anyone else’s belief that Michaela should be the one to go, saying that although she was annoying that she wasn’t a threat. Andrea on the other hand was a massive threat in his eyes and needed to go as soon as possible.
Let’s get one thing straight, in any given season, Andrea absolutely is a threat to win this game but being afraid of her as some sort of strategic mastermind is a little bit of an overstatement. Highly likable with a natural ability to make connections, she is a very good social player of this game. On top of that, she’s even a jack-of-all-trades in the challenges! But where she’s always seemed to lack is not necessarily in the strategic department but in many important aspects of the strategic game. Specially, knowing when to strike others before they strike her. This is probably one of the most important aspects of any strategy one could have in Survivor. It’s something that all of the greatest strategic players of this game have mastered. But it is also something that Andrea doesn’t seem to have in her locker and that could prove to be her downfall in the game again this season.
So to answer the question above, yes Andrea is a threat in this game. Not necessarily one that needs to be taken out at the final eleven, but one that the other players should tiptoe around with caution as she is very, very charming.
Sarah Successfully Plays The Middle
Luckily for Andrea, the reason that she didn’t end up going home tonight was because of Sarah Lacina, the cop from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sarah did an amazing job at playing the middle tonight and in the end made a decision that I think she will be able to use to take her game to the next level.
After realizing that a plan had made without her even being consulted, the Cagayan contestant began to question her importance to Brad and Sierra’s faction. Debbie would later say that the decision to send Andrea home was made “democratically” but this clearly wasn’t the case as Sarah, a supposed member of their alliance, was informed about it as if it was something that couldn’t be changed. So the Cedar Rapids cop instantly went to her best ally in the game, Zeke Smith, who was also considering flipping to Brad’s group, and together the two of them made a decision that they needed to keep Andrea in the game.
Shortly after that however, without even really knowing that she needed to fight for Sarah’s vote, Sierra started to do exactly that. The Worlds Apart 5th place finisher declared that she wanted to take Sarah all the way to the final three, along with Debbie Wanner. If this wasn’t enough to make the sound of a cash register ring in her head, I don’t know what would have. Sierra seemed absolutely genuine when she said this and the cherry on top for Sarah is that just a few days earlier in a secret scene, Brad made a similar final three proposal to the cop. So she now had two people willing to go with her to the final three and in at least one of those cases (against Sierra and Debbie), the implication looks like she would have been able to come out on top.
Nonetheless, Sarah still felt the most amount of trust with Cirie, Andrea and Zeke. This coupled with the fact that Debbie started to spread lies about how the police offer wanted to cut Aubry’s throat, completely set Sarah off and in the end she stuck with her original alliance to take Debbie out of the game.
Sarah was just amazing in playing the middle tonight. Whether or not it was the right move to take out Debbie is still to be decided but for the time being this was a job well done from the Iowa native, especially given the fact that she was so unsuccessful when trying to play the middle at the merge in Survivor Cagayan.
Why Debbie Was Voted Out
Debbie’s elimination from the game is incredibly similar to her first time out in Survivor Kaoh Rong. She got overconfident, started to say the wrong things to the wrong person (which just so happened to be Aubry yet again) and was quite easily dispatched once everyone agreed to be on board. But Debbie’s elimination from the game goes beyond her overconfidence. Sierra was also quite over-confident with her position but she still remains in the game, so why Debbie?
Let’s be truthful, Debbie would be horrible to live with on an island for 39 days. She just has that Abi-Maria Gomes factor about her where sure you want to take her to the end of the game because you think you can beat her but but then she ends up annoying the heck out of you until you finally crack and take her out. She just looks so tough to be around and needs constant attention or as Sarah would say “grooming”. This is just like Abi, who in both of her seasons was taken out halfway through the merge simply because no one could stand her anymore. (She was also on the wrong side of the numbers both times). To continue the trend of being truthful, the comparison is actually pretty unkind to Abi, as Debbie for my mind is way worse. Just look at the way she acted a few episodes back in her explosion at Brad Culpepper. I’d take Abi any day of the week over Debbie but the reason for eliminating the both of them is pretty much the same.
One of the main reasons for Abi-Maria’s elimination from the game in 7th in Survivor Cambodia was that she was taking up a spot in the final three. You kind of get the feeling that this might have been the case for Debbie as well as it seems both Brad and Sierra had plans of taking her all the way to the final three. In Sierra revealing this to Sarah, the police officer must have been thinking somewhere along the lines of “Really? Sierra is going to turn on Brad for me?”. So in eliminating Debbie, that is one more spot in the final three that is up for grabs, even if Debbie was someone that was never ever going to win the game.
Read more -> Why Debbie Wanner Was Voted Out
|Player||# of Confessionals||Running Total|
|9th||Troy ‘Troyzan’ Robertson||1||
Sarah Lacina had 10 confessionals tonight! 10! She was absolutely everywhere and managed to take a modest tally of 12 confessionals in the previous nine episodes all the way up to 22 this episode. Most of her airtime revolved around her being in the middle between the two groups and needing to do decide which group to go with. Debbie Wanner also emerged as the new confessional leader for the season this episode now that she has 25, but she is likely to be surpassed by Cirie soon who stands at 24. If the trend of the contestants to receive the most confessionals going home one after the other continues, Sarah, Cirie and Zeke could all be in danger next episode.
Sierra Dawn-Thomas’ post-merge resurgence continued as she received 3 opportunities to divulge her thoughts. Her confessionals largely centered around how confident she was feeling with her group and how she was in control and going to take it to the end. Andrea also received 3 this episode as she mostly spoke about trying her best to avoid being voted out.
Brad stays modest with 2 confessionals this week, both of which were about very general game strategies that can apply to any season. Aubry meanwhile was finally given the opportunity to speak something but unfortunately it was only about the kookiness and cockiness of another character, Debbie Wanner.
Tai Trang had another disappointing week, receiving 0 confessionals this episode, but he still has more than double that of Troyzan for the season. It’s incredibly interesting that Troyzan has been so anonymous since finding that hidden immunity idol on Tavua. He was awesome in that episode and since then he’s completely disappeared off the show despite being in the majority alliance and a key member of Brad’s plans. His only confessional tonight was about how he won immunity, suggesting that if he hadn’t won, he would have gone another week without a single confessional.
Interestingly, Michaela also wasn’t given a confessional this episode. Her edit really just has taken a turn for the worst since the merge. It hasn’t been great all season but she wasn’t shown talking to the cameras about not being able to participate in the challenge, her thoughts on the vote or anything at all! 13 confessionals through 10 episodes is still not a bad tally but the way she’s going at the moment, she might not reappear until her boot episode.
So let’s use this chart to help us discern who falls under which Edgic category for this latest episode. See below!
What is Edgic? Go here to find out more -> Premiere Recap.
I know you love Edgic. Aubry and Andrea do too! Just look at those smiles! So let’s get right into discussing who falls under what category for the latest episode.
|Troy ‘Troyzan’ Robertson||UTR||
Edgic was pretty basic this week with no real problem areas. Sarah Lacina was undoubtedly CP throughout all ten of her fantastic confessionals, always talking about where she wanted to be in the game and what her plans were for both the present and the long-term. Cirie was also CP this week, often talking about the need to get the numbers for the vote as well as why her struggles at the reward were such a big deal to her. Zeke was also CP despite making less of an impact this week. He talked about his desire to stay with the majority, knowing where he stands with the majority but still wanting to work with the minority. So that is certainly quite complex and confusing!
Finally in the Complex Player category this week is Brad Culpepper. Brad’s confessionals, like why Andrea being gone would be the best thing to do, were pretty close and on the verge of being MOR but they still revolved around his own complex strategies and thoughts rather than just what was going on in the present moment. His quote about “Never take your whole contingency on a reward and here’s why..” highlights why he has been given this category this week.
Debbie Wanner and Sierra Dawn Thomas are this week’s Over-The-Top characters and for the both of them it’s for the same reason. They were both shown as being far too overconfident in the numbers. Sierra was also caught bashing Michaela and rolling her eyes at her quite a few times. This is instead of talking about the game by saying something like “here is my current strategy and why”. This again points to why Sierra is unlikely to win the game; she is being portrayed as an overconfident character that not too many people really seem to like. From the way her edit has emerged since the merge, I actually see her going home pretty soon and not making it anywhere near that final three. Debbie on the other hand could be OTT just about every episode, but this one in particular. Her conversation with Aubry was edited and made to feel like it was completely invalid, especially when Aubry told her closest allies afterward how annoyed she was by everything she was saying. Being talked about in an unflattering way is also why Debbie earns herself a negative tone this week.
Andrea and Zeke both went MOR this week. Andrea despite being in danger of going home was still used more as a narrator for the games of other people. She spoke about the importance of winning Sarah back on to her side, her fear of going home and a very general statement about the way the previous night’s tribal council went.
Aubry and Troyzan went Under-The-Radar again. Each only had 1 confessional. Aubry’s was about how bad of a player Debbie is, Troyzan’s was about how awesome it was to win immunity, especially when his side were already in control. Michaela also went Under-The-Radar despite being invisible from a confessional standpoint. This is because she was still given quite bit of time to speak about her dismay at not being able to participate in the challenge. Tai Trang was the only character to go invisible this week.
The Winner’s Edit
As much as the boot order has been disappointing, the thing that still intrigues me the most about this season is who is going to come out on top and win the million. I still think it is down to just two contenders, Sarah Lacina and Brad Culpepper. Sarah had a tremendously strong episode but Brad kind of quietly did so as well.
My big worry for Brad is that he is making his relationship with Sierra too widely known. As highlighted by several instances in Worlds Apart as well as many other seasons, when two people become such an obvious pairing in the game, one of them is always likely to go home because of the amount of fear it plants in everyone else’s minds. Look at for example Joaquin and Rodney, Max and Shirin, even Tyler and Carolyn. It happened all the time in that season and if Brad and Sierra can’t hang on to those close allies of theirs, it will happen to one of them very soon.
However, having said that, all indications point toward Sierra being the primary target if things were to go array for the two of them, while Brad’s relationships with Tai and Troyzan seem too strong to break up any time soon. Brad is very well insulated in this game and if someone like Zeke were to change sides again, it wouldn’t be too hard for him to regain power. I absolutely still see a path to the end for the ex-NFLer to take and so although he momentarily lost power this week and Sarah Lacina emerged as the possible favourite, I still have to stick by Brad Culpepper being the winner of this season.
His confessionals continue to just be about general game stuff, rather than the more petty personal desires of someone like Sierra or Debbie for example. My favourite quote from Brad tonight was “Don’t ever take your whole contingency on a reward”. This was something that the Blood vs. Water man has unquestionably taken away from previous players as both Tyson Apostol and Jeremy Collins (both Survivor winners), have both talked about this in the past. By having Troyzan and Tai back at camp, Brad in theory could spy on what was going on behind their backs as they enjoyed the reward (even though no spying seemed to be going on at all). This to me, is the type of confessional that a winner gives. In this instance it is very basic, but it shows his general strategic aptitude and that he is thinking about the game in a positive manner without getting too caught up in overly complex strategies. To bring up the great Tyson and Jeremy again, both winners have always been proponents of making subtle moves rather than big moves. Brad has clearly learned this from his first time out and is doing an excellent job at just making subtle moves along the way as he looks to position himself perfectly for that final tribal council.
He also had a pretty great Boston Rob-esque quote today talking about “As long as someone in my alliance wins immunity we’re good”. You don’t get that kind of confessional if you’re not being presented as a sane leader of a majority alliance that could have a shot at winning the game in the end. Even if someone like Troyzan or Hali or Tai had said that kind of confessional, the edit wouldn’t show it. Beyond that, his edit in previous episodes, particularly last, continue to point in the direction of him being the winner of the season for me. From his good rapport with Aubry and Cirie to his subtly smart confessionals, I think we have seen enough hints along the way to suggest that Brad is to be the worthy winner of this season.
So what does that mean for Sarah? – Well she absolutely could still end up winning this season and if for whatever reason I was horribly wrong and Brad went out soon, Sarah would certainly emerge as the favourite. Right now, I either see her getting the Kelley Wentworth edit, meaning she’s going out in 4th place, or I see her getting the Aubry Bracco edit meaning she is a worthy finalist who ends up losing in the end. Sarah has played a stellar game up until this point and had her best episode of the season tonight. Having said that, she is still for my mind second favourite to Brad and I even think that if the two of them were to end up in the final tribal council together that the retired football player would just edge the vote because of the countless hints that we have been given in previous episodes.
Player of the Week
Unquestionably, this week’s Player of the Week has to be Sarah Lacina! Sarah was amazing this episode in transforming her role of criminal to double agent, bouncing back and forth between the two sides and gaining information. In the end, Sarah decided to go with the group she trusted more and decided to take out Debbie over Andrea. Although this might not have been the best move for her game given that both Brad and Sierra had plans of taking her to the final three, it was still commendable how she managed to be in good with both groups and not get caught before being the deciding vote to take Debbie out of the game. Besides, maybe unbeknownst to us, there is a clear path for her to the end of the game with that group too! Her social game has just been that good this season where she has been able to gain the trust of everyone involved while always keeping herself out of danger and in good with everyone else. Finally, it cannot be forgotten that the Cagayan 11th place finisher also picked up a secret advantage this week which wasn’t just by luck of the draw and was down to her own perceptive eyes. For her role in successfully playing the middle and taking out The Mastermind‘s least favourite contestant, as well as finding what could be a crucial advantage, Sarah Lacina is this week’s Player of the Week!
Next Time On Survivor
Next time on Survivor, “the tide has turned” but “the line in the sand is washed away”. The women are seen talking to each other as Andrea and Cirie ask Sierra if she’d be willing to vote for “whomever”, before Zeke is shown telling Troyzan and Brad that a big move has to be made this vote. So what would a big move be? Zeke? Cirie? Sarah? Brad? We will have to see next week when Survivor returns!
I feel as though every time I write about this season, I almost trick myself into thinking that it has been a fun and enjoyable season. In truth, it hasn’t been that bad and it makes me excited for the future of Survivor in thinking that two people that I had no real burning desire to see back – Brad and Sarah, are actually my two favourite contestants this season. That makes it all the more interesting in watching these final few weeks as the two of them look to be the two favourites to win. This episode in truth was also pretty good but I think that the horrible boot order will forever remain my biggest qualm with the way this season has played out.
On the other hand, next week some absolute craziness seems to be about to go down so I will continue to be hopeful that this season gets better. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the episode and our recap and I cannot wait to see you back here in one week’s time.
P.S. make sure to check out Why Debbie Was Voted Out, and more of other articles! See you soon!