The finale is approaching fast. 9 players and 9 days remain in what has been a difficult season physically, mentally, and emotionally. With a big reward on the line, who will rise to the occasion?
Night 29 Tribal Council Aftermath
When Debbie was voted out, things went bad for Brad, Sierra, Tai, and Troyzan. Although they were all spared last night due to Zeke’s blindside, things went from bad to worse for Brad, Sierra, and Troyzan. By voting against Tai out of desperation, they isolated Tai and possibly shifted Tai’s allegiance to the majority alliance. The underdogs are not about to give up though.
Day 30 Reward Challenge
One of the best reward challenges of any season is the loved ones visit. We take our families for granted so often in our lives, it’s easy to shrug this reward off as a viewer. But to go a month without having contact with anyone other than a group of people trying to manipulate you and win $1,000,000, this means everything for them. The contestants were paid a visit by Sarah’s husband, Troyzan’s brother, Aubry’s sister, Andrea’s mother, Michaela’s mother, Sierra’s dad (who made an appearance in the loved ones reward challenge in Survivor: Worlds Apart), Brad’s wife (Monica Culpepper, who played in Survivor: One World and Blood vs Water), Tai’s boyfriend Mark (Tai named a chicken in Survivor: Kaoh Rong after him), and Cirie’s son, who graduated high school while Cirie was playing the game.
The players were divided into three teams of three. In a teamwork challenge that involved maneuvering water, sand, and knots while bound together as trios, Brad, Andrea, and Aubry won the reward. The others were visibly upset, but none more so than Michaela, who kicked one of the challenge props. Her mom told her to knock it off. There’s still a fair bit of game left to play, but if your own mother is telling you to stop, that pretty much confirms you’re destined to not win this game. Who wouldn’t want to face Michaela at Final Tribal Council?
It gets worse as Brad, Andrea, and Aubry are given two choices to bring players along in the reward: a picnic and the afternoon with loved ones. They select Cirie and Sarah, leaving Michaela, Sierra, Tai, and Troyzan out of the fun. Emotions running high for both the haves and the have nots, could this be a catalyst for change?
Most of the time is spent catching up with loved ones and just taking a break from the game. Brad opts to talk strategy with former player Monica. Monica tells Brad to try to swing Michaela over to her side, thinking that she could be frustrated enough with her old alliance to flip. Andrea seems comfortable with her alliance, thinking that Michaela will be rational and understand that not everyone could be chosen for the reward. Considering Andrea and Michaela are allies, Andrea doesn’t seem to have the best read on Michaela.
Camp Life (while the others are away)
It’s open season on Michaela. With the rest of her alliance off on reward without her, this is the opportunity Sierra needed to change her fate in this game. Sierra tries to rally Michaela, Tai, and Troyzan against Andrea because she is the perceived biggest threat of the game. That logic appears to be contingent on her immunity challenge wins and maybe the fact that Zeke was desperate to target Andrea. Either way, Michaela is entertaining the option. When Sarah and the others return, Sierra tells Sarah about her legacy advantage in another attempt to save herself. Desperation can lead to sloppy game play, but it gets worse. Sierra tells Sarah exactly how the advantage works, and if she is voted out, she would give it to Sarah. Sarah has just been handed Eden’s apple. She can roll with Sierra and use her as an ally, or she could bite the apple and get herself another advantage (since Sarah already has the vote steal).
Day 32 Immunity Challenge
Simple in concept but difficult in practice, as most endurance challenges are. The contestants must balance on a platform while also balancing a buoy with two sticks. Last one standing wins immunity. Michaela, Tai, and Brad go deep in the challenge. Michaela falls out and it becomes a showdown between potentially former allies Tai and Brad. Brad edges through and wins a crucial immunity. Sarah’s alliance was set on Brad since Sarah wanted to keep Sierra due to the information that has been given to her. Sierra could be in trouble now, but so could Andrea with Michaela on the fence between the alliances.
Day 32 Tribal Council
Camp life was pretty much what we’ve seen already, both alliances vying for Sarah and Michaela’s votes. Sarah solidified her alliance with Michaela by telling her about Sierra’s legacy advantage, only she did so more intelligently than how Sierra told Sarah. Sarah told Michaela that the advantage was like a Hidden Immunity Idol that could only be used at final 6, so in Michaela’s mind, it would be like flushing an idol to vote Sierra out. Sarah left the will out of it, and rightfully so. Andrea and Sierra spent all of Tribal Council throwing each other under the bus. The blonde that came out on top was Andrea. Tai joined the majority alliance of 5 in voting out Sierra, with Brad and Troyzan the only ones who voted with Sierra. However, Sierra felt Sarah didn’t vote her and gave Sarah the legacy advantage.
Dock of Shame: Sierra Thomas
One mistake. One conversation. That is how quickly you can cost your game. It wasn’t as black and white as that, especially since Sierra’s odds were not helped by Brad winning immunity. But still, Sierra gave Sarah all the incentive to vote her out by saying that she would will the legacy advantage to Sarah. Not only did she get voted out, she still willed the advantage to Sarah. Perhaps Sierra had a good reason other than blind loyalty. Some will say that Sierra played the same game she did in Worlds Apart. I think Sierra did improve, but at the end of the day she plays the loyalty card too much and it backfires. She has a one dimensional approach to this game. Yes, she was the creator of a strong alliance this season. But she got too comfortable. She spent the first 6 days in the merged tribe on a hammock waiting for players to approach her. That’s not a good signal to end. Sierra’s game has flaws that doomed her, but she did actually play the game this time so props to her for that.
By the Numbers
4: The number of players yet to receive a vote cast against them this season. Brad, Cirie, Sarah, and Troyzan have gone 32 days without their name being written down. That’s very difficult to do. I wonder if any of them can go the whole 39 days with this record in tact.
5: The number of players that could be immune at Final 6. This would require Sarah using her legacy advantage, Troyzan playing her idol, Tai playing one of his idols on himself and another on player D, and player E winning individual immunity. What would happen? I think that would mean player F would be eliminated by default. But we still have a few votes to go, and Sarah, Troyzan, or Tai could still be voted out or use their idol earlier than 6.
6: The number of players that reached the finale in 2 of the past 3 seasons. With only 2 episodes left, that looks like it’ll be the case again.
8: The number of votes Andrea has received so far this season. That number could potentially reach double digits soon with the huge target that’s on her back.
13: The number of days since the last unanimous vote, and that was under unique circumstances. Ever since Varner’s elimination, the tribes have been split between two alliances.
17: Sierra would’ve finish this season in 17th place on Day 11, had it not been for Tai’s immunity idol. Sierra might not have won, but I bet she would rather have 9th place than 17th.
100: Mission Accomplished. Andrea Boehlke is the 7th player in Survivor to reach 100 days. A club that includes Amanda Kimmel, Parvati Shallow, Rupert Boneham, Boston Rob Mariano, Ozzy Lusth, and Cirie Fields. It’s safe to say Andrea is the odd one out in this group. Part of it is she is the first player to debut post season 20 (Heroes vs Villains) to achieve this milestone. But it’s a badge of honor she gets to wear proudly nonetheless.
Survivor Olympic Podium
Gold: Brad, Sandra, Zeke (2), Andrea, Sarah, Tai
Silver: Cirie, Debbie, Jeff, Sarah (2), Andrea, Brad, Ozzy, Sierra, Tai (1)
Bronze: Hali (2), Sarah(2), Aubry, Brad, Cirie, Malcolm, Troyzan (1)
Current Leader: Brad (2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze)
Bronze: Andrea Boehlke
I struggled to decide on a bronze medal recipient since no one other than the top 2 did anything really noteworthy strategically. But once again, congratulations to Andrea for reaching 100 days. Her days could be numbered if she can’t find a way to minimize her target, but that’s easier said than done. No matter what happens, Andrea has been a great player this season.
Silver: Michaela Bradshaw
Why would I give Michaela any medal after the start of the episode she had? Although it was a bad move at the time, she did inadvertidely become someone people wanted to align with. Michaela did get lucky, but she used that opportunity to solidify her connections in this game. She’s no longer in the bottom of the majority alliance when she has bonds with Cirie, Sarah, and Tai to utilize. She can be emotionally volcanic, but she is a smart woman and she will have a lot to say as to how the end game goes.
Gold: Sarah Lacina
Who else but Sarah? Some might say her move was ruthless, but I say it was brilliant. That is how you play Survivor. Nobody owe you anything, you don’t owe anyone anything. If someone is offering you an advantage, you have to go for it. And Sarah played it perfectly. She was a bit fortuitous in the way that votes fell, 6 to 3. That was enough for Sierra to consider that Sarah might’ve voted with her. Sarah is probably the most dangerous player in the game right now. She has a vote steal, she has the legacy advantage, and she’s not only in a strong alliance of six but nobody is viewing her as a threat. Sarah is the player to beat right now.
Next Time on Survivor
Nothing ever stays the same in a returning player season. The question is whether or not time is running out for Andrea’s alliance, and possibly Andrea as well.