Now that we have gotten deeper into the merge, the end is more clearly in sight. Presumably eight more players are to be voted out before Final Tribal Council, so who will get one step closer?
Final 11 (Maku Maku; Merged Tribe)
Andrea made it really clear to Zeke why she voted for him and doesn’t trust him. All that does is make Zeke want to support the majority alliance, which now includes Sarah. Sarah tells Zeke that she would be happy to continue playing with him, while the rest of the group who voted for Ozzy (Debbie, Sierra, Brad, Tai, and Troyzan) feel very secure.
I am still scratching my head at Zeke for his decision to go after Andrea last Tribal Council. It just completely collapsed on him. It was never a feasible strategy for him especially as an outsider of Sierra’s alliance, and he didn’t even end up voting for Andrea anyway. The only way that vote could’ve gone worse for Zeke is if he was voted out. But he remains in the game and the window of opportunity to correct his mistakes remains just about open.
Day 25 Reward Challenge
Two teams of five would navigate a series of obstacles in the water. Once all five members make it across, they must use a grappling hook to retrieve five rings to win a reward of a helicopter ride to the Yasawa Islands to enjoy a picnic.
A school yard pick determined the teams. Brad picked Aubry, Sierra, Debbie, and Andrea, while Cirie picked Zeke, Troyzan, Sarah, and Tai. It was a bit one sided as Tai and Zeke struggled, giving Brad’s team the decisive lead. Cirie struggled the most though, not even believing she could finish the obstacle course. Sarah swam out to help her. Suddenly, with the encouragement of the other players and Jeff Probst. Cirie renews a self belief in her abilities as Sarah and Troyzan continue to urge her to complete the challenge. When Cirie finishes it, she explains how she wants to set the best example for her kids and she never wants them to quit. As long as you try your best, that’s what matters. Cirie is more than just an incredible Survivor player, she is an incredible person as well and it’s difficult to find reasons not to root for her.
This whole time, Michaela was forced to sit out of the challenge and was pissed off about how no one wanted her on her team even though she’s very athletic. I can understand being upset, but Michaela has reverted back to her old ways in wearing her emotions on her sleeves and it’s difficult to play Survivor like that. Not to mention Michaela ignored the advantage, which Sarah swooped from the floating perch Michaela was standing on. In this instance, emotions did cloud judgment.
Day 25 Reward
Brad Culpepper reveals his strategy in that he chose a mix of his allies (Debbie and Sierra) and outsiders (Andrea and Aubry) in order to ensure no plans brew against them back at camp as some of his allies (Sarah, Tai, and Troyzan) are back there being his eyes and ears. It’s an amazing reward and the islands of Fiji definitely look beautiful from above. Of course Debbie happens to have air force experience (she probably has the Guinness World Record for longest resume). Andrea and Brad talk about the Zeke conflict, and it could potentially buy Andrea some time.
However, back at camp Cirie has a better idea. Cirie and Sarah talk about the benefits of taking out one of the five players in Sarah’s new majority alliance. As we’ve seen already, Sarah is not shy about making big moves. Not only is Cirie a smart player in coming up with good plans, she is a smart person in picking out the players to make those plans with and appealing to their interests.
Day 26 Immunity Challenge
Finally we have a challenge where the players are more mobile. While holding onto a rope with one hand and balancing a table, they must use blocks to spell the word “Immunity” one block at a time. If the stack falls or table drops, they must start over.
In a back and forth affair that saw several players lead (though Tai struggled throughout), it came down to Brad, Andrea, and Troyzan. Brad and Andrea’s stacks fell near the end, while Troyzan finished strong to win immunity. Troyzan has now one an individual immunity in each of his seasons and found a hidden immunity idol in each of his seasons.
Day 26 Camp Life
Brad, Debbie, Sierra, Tai, Sarah, and Troyzan discuss who to target from the other five players. None of them have gotten along with Michaela so she would be the tempting easy option, but instead they decide that Andrea is the biggest threat. Personally, Andrea is a good player, but Cirie and Aubry have gotten closer to winning a season than Andrea has. But anyway, Sarah felt that she did not have as much of a voice in that group. So Sarah helps Andrea and Zeke patch up their differences and gets the group of six to vote out either Debbie or Sierra. Sierra then offers Sarah a final 3 deal that would see Sierra, Sarah, and Debbie at the end together. Debbie tries to pull in Aubry to vote with the alliance, feeling that Debbie could use the Kaoh Rong connection later on. However, Debbie spoke to Aubry as if she was the player in control and in a condescending tone, which did not sit well with Aubry and earned Debbie an eye roll and a couple of middle fingers after Debbie left and the conversation ended. Aubry then tells her alliance what Debbie said, which included Debbie saying not to trust Sarah, so now Sarah is in a tough position as a swing vote. She tells us she won’t make up her mind until Tribal Council
Day 26 Tribal Council
This Tribal Council was essentially more fighting for Sarah’s swing vote. The most vocal from each contingent were Debbie and Michaela. Debbie tried to force the narrative of how strong this alliance of six is. Michaela was as blunt as ever, pretty much saying that you have to make a move now if you feel you are at the bottom of an alliance. 5 votes came in for Debbie and well as Andrea. The final vote went to Debbie, confirming Sarah’s flip and sending Debbie to the jury.
Dock of Shame: Debbie Wanner
Debbie is a very polarizing and difficult to analyze player and person. Much like Coach from Tocantins, Heroes vs Villains, and South Pacific, who knows if half the stuff about her personal life and job background is accurate. But entertainment wise, someone like Debbie is going to deliver. Most of the time. Other times, she just makes you uncomfortable. Like when she ranted about Hali and Brad for literally no good reason. It seemed like a therapy session with John Cochran on Exile Island did her some favors, but only temporarily. Once she got Ozzy voted out, she got a good case of bloodlust and needed to push the agenda. The result: elimination on Day 26. That’s only 2/3 of the season, you can’t peak too soon, and unfortunately for her, that’s what Debbie has done twice in her Survivor career.
By the Numbers
3: The number of instances someone was voted out this season by the same person that voted him or her out in a previous season as well. As well as in Game Changers, Sandra voted out JT in Heroes vs Villains, Sierra voted out Hali in Worlds Apart, and Aubry voted out Debbie in Kaoh Rong (Tai was present at both Tribal Councils Debbie was voted out of, but didn’t vote her out in either case).
4: The number of days left for Andrea to reach the 100 day milestone. Due to a 2 day cycle rather than a 3 day cycle this episode, this probably means Andrea will have to survive 2 more episodes to reach this milestone. Considering she barely survived this last vote, it’s safe to say she’s not out of the woods yet.
6: The number of votes a male/female pattern has remained intact. JT was 5th voted out, followed by Sandra, Jeff, Hali, Ozzy, and Debbie in that order.
8: The number of advantages and idols that have been obtained this season: Sierra’s legacy advantage, Debbie’s extra vote, Sarah’s vote steal, 3 idols found by Tai, 1 idol found by JT, and 1 idol found by Troyzan.
Survivor: Olympic Podium
Gold: Brad, Sandra, Zeke (2), Tai
Silver: Debbie, Jeff, Sarah (2), Andrea, Brad, Debbie, Ozzy, Sierra, Tai (1)
Bronze: Hali (2), Brad, Cirie, Malcolm, Sarah, Troyzan (1)
Current Leader: Brad Culpepper: 2 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze
Bronze: Aubry Bracco
This medal has been a long time coming for one of the best new players in recent seasons. Despite a slow start and losing a lot of potential allies early on, Aubry still managed to find a way to make the merge and find her first solid and successful alliance. Whether she knew it at the time or not, she relayed important information concerning Debbie that made Sarah distrust Debbie enough to vote her out. Aubry handled this situation much like when playing with another overconfident player in Kaoh Rong, and like Debbie was blindsided this episode, the same happened to Nick Maiorano in Aubry’s first season as well. The best part is, Aubry has gotten rid of the one person this season who had bad blood with her from Kaoh Rong.
Silver: Cirie Fields
I don’t know how she’s done it, but she found a meat shield. Cirie is such a big threat and legendary player, you’d think she would be the one shielding other players. But apparently Andrea is considering a bigger threat now by Brad’s alliance as well as Zeke. Cirie must be doing something right, as that sort of thing does not happen by accident. Cirie is most dangerous when she gains momentum. She may not have voted out Ozzy last episode, but she has a good relationship with both warring alliances and no one wants her gone. It would be tempting for most players in Cirie’s position to just sit back and not make waves, but Cirie knows she can do better than sit back. She was a vital piece in this Debbie blindside, and now she’s in business to wreck more havoc.
Gold: Sarah Lacina
This is a big milestone for Sarah since the final 11 was the vote that did her in in Cagayan. It was a similar situation to Cagayan as well, where Sarah was the swing vote between two alliance of five. She played the swing vote role very poorly that time, forcing both alliances to show their hands and make the move Sarah wanted. That ultimately backfired and Sarah was voted out instead. This time, she left the alliances come to her with offers. Instead of Sarah strong arming them into doing what she wanted, they both tried repeatedly to get her on board with the best offers they could give. Ultimately, this could pay off for Sarah. Not only is she currently in a good spot in her new alliance, she can possibly count on some players from her old alliance for a future vote. A lot of it depends on damage control and social game in the next 3-6 days, but Sarah’s game has evolved and she is surely one of the contenders to win this season.
Next Time On Survivor....
Whenever a line is drawn in Survivor, all it takes is one moment to bring out the magic eraser and reopen the game. Could one of these final 10 players be in for a brutal blindside?