35 days of hard work, solid gameplay, and perhaps a few strokes of luck have given us a final 6 consisting of Aubry Bracco, Brad Culpepper, Cirie Fields, Sarah Lacina, Tai Trang, and Troyzan Robertson. Here is what led to the coronation of the winner of Survivor: Game Changers.
Sarah and Cirie argue over Cirie attempting to steal Sarah’s vote steal advantage, but Cirie manages to get Tai to admit that he was trying to take out Sarah. Sarah apologizes to Cirie and then all eyes shift toward Tai. It would appear that Tai is the next target, but Tai is still locked and loaded with two idols. Perhaps he could use them to regain an ally or two?
Tai tries to do damage control with Brad, revealing he has two idols. Brad plans to use this to his advantage, possible to take Tai out. Brad doesn’t trust Tai after Tai voted against Sierra a few votes ago. Today’s immunity challenge was navigating through a maze to collect pieces and ultimately finish the puzzle using said pieces. Brad ended up winning immunity as well as the final food reward. He initially instantly brought Troyzan on reward along with him. Given one last choice, he brings Sarah. Brad, Troyzan, and Sarah discuss voting out Aubry and flushing out a Tai idol if possible. Tai, Cirie, and Aubry considering teaming up against Sarah or Troyzan since Brad is immune. The problem is, no one trusts anyone after Sarah, Cirie, and Tai’s involvement in the turmoil from last Tribal Council. Brad gives Tai an ultimatum: he wants Tai to give him one of his idols to hold and play his other idol tonight to ensure no “funny business” happens, and in exchange he would take Tai to the final 3. However, Brad would not give back Tai’s idol if he received it. After a Tribal Council that involved many players roasting Tai for his deceit, Tai plays both of his idols on himself and Aubry. Sarah plays her legacy advantage, giving her immunity as well. Troyzan then plays his idol, which means Cirie is the only player that can be voted out. Everyone is stunned, and Cirie didn’t even receive a vote. In a record breaking night, Cirie’s 4th season of Survivor came to a heartbreaking but also incredible end fitting of a Survivor legend.
“A Survivor legend goes out in legendary style. You made it to the final 5 but this game is, clearly, far from over”
Finale Retrospective: Cirie Fields
If you told me at the beginning of the season Cirie would even be in the finale, I would have laughed at your face. I am as big of a Cirie fan as everyone else is, but like Tony and Sandra, I figured her reputation would weigh her down and she would be taken out before the merge, if not immediately. She had a slow start and perhaps was a bit fortunate not to visit Tribal Council pre merge. However, Cirie earned her luck by some good puzzle performances and she used that time to build strong relationships that helped her control several votes in the merge. Unfortunately, she could not get an idol or advantage and that is what cost her. Cirie has so much grace even in defeat, but I think the way in which she went out will raise some questions about the legacy advantage. Yes there were three idols, but one idol for each tribe is standard and props to Tai and Troyzan for hanging on to them for so long. The legacy advantage is very luck based and situational, and I think it’s reaching jumping the shark territory.
Brad surely has to win immunity otherwise he goes home, but in a challenge that involves balance and dexterity, surely the former football player has met his match? Wrong. Nobody came close, and Brad wins his 4th immunity of the season. Assuming Brad, Troyzan, and Sarah stay together, it’s looking like Aubry is the possible target. However, Aubry pitches to Sarah and Tai that if Brad and Troyzan are both in the final 4 together, either Sarah or Tai will be voted out at 4. In order to increase their odds, Aubry suggests they vote out Troyzan. Tai is wishy washy over which way to vote and that annoys Sarah. At Tribal Council, the final 5 discuss positioning for the final 3. Interestingly enough, everyone is worried they can’t beat certain players at the jury vote except for Troyzan. Despite Aubry’s efforts to save herself, they were in vain as the other 4 voted her out.
Finale Retrospective: Aubry Bracco
She played such a strong game in Kaoh Rong, one that some felt should’ve earned her the win over eventual winner Michele Fitzgerald, so it was only a matter of time before Aubry would be asked back. This season highlighted her strengths and weaknesses as a Survivor player. She lost a lot of allies in her road to the final 5, and most of them was bad luck (such as Malcolm’s blindside) but at some point you have to wonder if Aubry might be part of the problem? Aubry is a good strategic player, but perhaps her social game let her down once again. Perhaps not to the extent as players like Sandra and Cirie, Aubry seemed like someone who would be an easy target early in the game. Yet, she managed to get this far. It was a scrappy game, but Aubry managed to make some good moves like taking down her adversary Debbie and played another solid season.
We are taken directly to the final immunity challenge of the season: an obstacle course full of bags of puzzle pieces, where the first one to complete the puzzle wins immunity and is guaranteed a spot at the final 3. It was a close battle to the very end, but Brad pulled ahead and ultimately won his 5th immunity challenge. Brad ties the record for most immunity wins in a season along with Colby Donaldson(Australia), Tom Westman(Palau), Terry Deitz(Panama), Ozzy Lusth(Cook Islands), and Mike Holloway(Worlds Apart). There’s still work for Brad to do, and it looks like he’s finally getting his chance to target Tai. Tai and Sarah are worried that their fate is in Brad and Troyzan’s hands (hmm if only a certain Aubry warned them about this...oh wait, she did). Tai and Sarah brace for a fire making tiebreaker. However, at Tribal Council, Sarah decided to take out Tai and after 77 days of Survivor in 2 seasons, Tai is voted out.
Finale Retrospective: Tai Trang
Tai is the jack of all trades, master of none except for idol finding. Nobody knows how Tai does it, but he has found three hidden immunity idols in 4 seasons. Ultimately, each of those idols had a hand in ousting two Survivor All Stars in Malcolm Freberg and Cirie Fields. Tai played a passive game in Kaoh Rong and left a wake of betrayed people as well as those who couldn’t see any gameplay worthy of a win. So his 39 day adventure in Cambodia ended with 0 jury votes. This time, Tai actually played more cut throat but in a way that didn’t hinder his gameplay up until being exposed as “the snake” by Cirie at final 7. Despite that, Tai was threatening enough for Brad to want him out at final 4. Based on what I’ve seen from jury exit interviews and my personal vibe from Tai, he could have had a strong case to win had Tai made it to the end. Either way, Tai played a strong game and deserved to make it as far as he did.
17 players have tried and failed, but Brad, Sarah, and Troyzan found themselves at the final 3. At Final Tribal Council, each of them had their games questioned by the jury. Sarah had some fans in Zeke and Michaela, whereas Brad had his supporters in Ozzy and Debbie. Sarah was blasted for her deceitful gameplay, Brad for his lack of a social game, and Troyzan for being more of a passenger than a driver in this game. Brad stumbled a bit in explaining how he treated players like Michaela and Tai, whereas Sarah did a good job explaining that she had to play this way in order to succeed and that her background as a police officer helped her play different roles in this game. By a vote of 7-3-0, Sarah Lacina became the Sole Survivor of Survivor: Game Changers.
Survivor Olympic Podium
Time to give out the final 3 awards.
Bronze: Troyzan Robertson
Unfortunately for Troyzan, the Survivor editors didn’t do him enough justice with the amount of screentime he received. I think he played a good game despite not receiving 0 votes. That being said, he deserved third place because Brad and Sarah did more to stand out. Had Brad lost a challenge and Troyzan took Brad out, perhaps he would have a case. I was not expecting Troyzan to be on this season because he did not have an impressive showing in One World. But he was a pleasant surprise this season and I’m glad he had a better experience in his second season, as he is a long time fan of Survivor.
Silver: Brad Culpepper
He showed he can play this game and make big moves, but ultimately his true colors showed enough that repelled some jurors from voting from him. Part of it could be that he does have a lot of money from his football playing career, but also his strong arm tactics on Tai was probably the kiss of death for his jury vote chances. When you bully someone the jury likes, that makes it hard to vote for you. Interestingly, Brad and his wife Monica Culpepper both finished 2nd place in their 2nd seasons of Survivor. I’m glad Brad added his name to the immunity challenge record, I’ll give him that. He’s great at challenges, but Survivor rewards the player who played the best all around game.
Gold: Sarah Lacina
The best all around player this season was Sarah. From brilliant strategic game play, to solid challenge performances (despite 0 individual immunity wins), building social connections, and also making bold moves, she is a deserving winner. She received jury votes from Andrea, Aubry, Cirie, Hali, Michaela, Tai, and Zeke. She was the player to beat going into this finale, and nobody was able to beat her. She needed the legacy advantage to survive day 36, but the fact that she got it from Sierra after voting her out was a bit ruthless but mostly very impressive. Few players can play from the middle and win after taking out so many players, but Sarah had a great Final Tribal Council performance to justify her game. Congratulations Sarah.
Final Medal Count
Gold: Sarah (4), Brad, Sandra, Zeke (2), Andrea, Tai (1)
Silver: Brad (3), Cirie, Debbie, Jeff, Sarah (2), Andrea, Michaela, Ozzy, Sierra, Tai (1)
Bronze: Hali (2), Sarah(2), Andrea, Aubry, Brad, Cirie, Malcolm, Tai, Troyzan (1)
Sarah amassed 4 gold medals, 2 silver medals, and 2 bronze medals. She got medals 8 out of 12 weeks in my blog, so you can tell I was very impressed with her gameplay this season.
That will do it for this season of Survivor. Thank you for reading.