The final 6 days mean there is nowhere left for these players to hide and no more excuses. This is where the game is won and lost. Since this week was a condensed episode with 2 immunity challenges and 2 Tribal Councils, I’ll split the recap portion into two parts. Then we’ll head into the Dock of Shame, By The Numbers, and Survivor Podium sections.
You’d think the alliance of Andrea, Aubry, Cirie, Michaela, and Sarah would return from Tribal Council happy with Sierra leaving and the remnants of her alliance desperate. But instead, Andrea and Cirie are now wary of Sarah after seeing her reaction to Sierra’s vote off. Andrea in particular felt that Sarah was trying to appeal to the jury. Sarah is also uneasy about Andrea. All the while Brad is hoping and praying for a crack in the alliance or another immunity challenge win. Little does he know that one of those wishes is in the process of being granted.
The immunity challenge required the contestants to stack a house of cards on a wobbly beam. The first person to reach 10 feet wins immunity. Jeff Probst mentions that John Cochran won the challenge in Caramoan and did so in a record time, to whom Aubry jokingly refers to as “her boyfriend”. A bit of foreshadowing there as Aubry ends up winning her first career individual immunity. That was one of the few things missing from Aubry’s impressive Survivor resume, the only thing left being winning the game after coming so close to doing so in Kaoh Rong.
This vote has 4 moving parts essentially.
1.Will Andrea and Sarah resist the temptation to target each other?
2.Can Cirie and Aubry keep their alliance as united as possible?
3.Who will the men on the bottom of this tribe vote out?
4.Will Tai and/or Troyzan play an idol tonight?
The answer to three of those questions were no, while Brad was as sure about voting out Andrea again as he is sure he’s getting voted out tonight. Michaela tells Brad that he could potentially stay in the game if he goes fishing, but Brad rejected her blackmail offer. Cirie is not only a fan of a good blindside but she is one of the most accurate executors of the blindside. Only Andrea and Aubry voted for Brad as the rest of the group blindsided Andrea. Like her downfall in Caramoan, she accepted defeat gracefully and left Tribal Council. Now the alliance is back in the dilemma they were before with their numbers advantage being reduced to 1. And unbeknownst to them, the minority alliance has 3 idols.
Aubry couldn’t believe that for the umpteeth time as a Survivor player, her close ally was unexpectedly (in her perspective) taken away from her. The unlikeliest of players to come to her rescue and comfort her was her friend turned rival from Kaoh Rong in Tai. These little moments are easily harvested into seeds of doubt by the likes of Sarah and Cirie. You can begin to see the demise of what was once a mighty alliance. Perhaps too much bloodlust, a blindside too far. A lot of doubt as to whether or not they can stay focused and eliminate one of their enemies. Like Brad, for example, the only one of the minority alliance without an idol.
However, in an immunity challenge that involved bailing water and puzzle solving, Brad won another timely immunity challenge. It’s his 2 in 3 challenges, perhaps he could equal the Survivor record of 5 immunity wins in a reason? One step at a time.
Sarah and Cirie are on different pages as to the target tonight. The target shifts between Aubry and Tai, but in an effort to keep Cirie trusting her, Sarah lets her hold on to her vote steal advantage. Cirie wants to use that advantage to steal Sarah’s vote and use it to make Cirie’s plan to vote out Tai happen. She also tries to convince Tai not to use his idol (which she assumes, but doesn’t know for sure, that Tai has).
Even for someone as smart as Cirie, there wasn’t a good chance of success with this move. That chance went to 0% when Cirie tried to use the advantage, and Sarah and Probst confirmed that the advantage was non transferable. Sarah then asked for her advantage back and used it. Before Sarah could decide on a target, everyone gets up and tries to tell Sarah what she should do with the advantage. Cirie desperately tries to do damage control. It seems to work as Sarah decides to steal Tai’s vote. Ultimately, all Cirie did was save herself by the skin of her team. Cirie’s mistake of “not reading the fine print” proved costly, as her number 1 ally Michaela was voted out.
Dock of Shame: Andrea Boehlke and Michaela Bradshaw
Andrea Boehlke could only do so much to change her game this time around. The biggest thing Andrea needed to improve on was building personal relationships and letting her allies make some strategic decisions. Survivor is a balancing act among other things. Unfortunately, Andrea winning 2 of the first 4 immunity challenges made her a big target. She did her best to minimize the target but in doing so she only made herself more vulnerable until ultimately she was voted out. However, she has now played 103 days and has made the merge every time she played. Andrea may not have a win to her name and this season might have been her lowest placing, but she solidified that she is a strong Survivor player.
Michaela Bradshaw also greatly improved her Survivor reputation this season. It was a rocky start after a pre merge exit in Millennials vs Gen X, putting herself in danger in the first vote when she reacted negatively to being the decoy vote when Ciera was the main target. However, after that she became included in more alliances. Michaela did have to enter the merge without top allies Varner and Sandra, but she found a great ally in Cirie. It was incredible to watch two great African American women join forces on Survivor and attempt to make history by going to the end together. It didn’t quite pan out that way, but Michaela still did pretty well and she could be a good candidate to appear on her third season someday.
By the Numbers
3: The number of players that have not received a vote against them yet this season. Can Cirie, Sarah, or Troyzan go 4 more days with that statistic remaining true?
5: 5 players have won 5 individual immunity challenges in one season, all of them men: Colby Donaldson, Tom Westman, Terry Deitz, Ozzy Lusth, and Mike Holloway. Brad Culpepper could join this group if he wins all 3 final immunity challenges.
7: Out of the final 6, Tai has received the most votes against him this game with 7. The next highest is Aubry with 4.
10: The number of Tribal Councils Aubry and Tai have attended and survived without immunity this season, leading the final 6 in that stat. Sarah has survived 9, Troyzan, 8, and Brad and Cirie have survived 7 without immunity.
14: Season 14 Survivor Fiji is the only season where all 3 finalists were African American. Had Cirie and Michaela sealed the deal this season, it would have only been the third time two or more African American players reached the end of the season, following Fiji (Earl Cole, Cassandra Franklin, and Dre “Dreamz” Herd in Fiji, and Jeremy Collins and Tasha Fox in Cambodia).
33: Andrea has been voted out at Day 33 twice. Both times she went into Tribal Council in the majority alliance and contemplated voting out an ally. The only difference was that although Andrea did betray Brenda in Caramoan, she did stick to the original plan in Game Changers.
Survivor Olympic Podium
Gold: Brad, Sandra, Sarah, Zeke (2), Andrea, Tai (1)
Silver: Cirie, Debbie, Jeff, Sarah (2), Andrea, Brad, Michaela, Ozzy, Sierra, Tai (1)
Bronze: Hali (2), Sarah(2), Andrea, Aubry, Brad, Cirie, Malcolm, Troyzan (1)
Current Leader: Sarah (2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze)
Bronze: Tai Trang
Was this a great episode for Tai? On the surface, no. But he is in the finale with two idols. On paper, with an idol play in 6 and 5 as well as final 4 immunity challenges tending to be within Tai’s skillset, Tai has a great chance of making it to the end. I’ll still be very surprised if Tai wins this season, but he should have a massive impact on these final days.
Silver: Brad Culpepper
Brad Culpepper entered Day 33 in a must win scenario and looked like going home in 8th place. But he is the biggest beneficiary of the demise of Andrea’s alliance. His success was a mix of his own doing and good fortune, but now he is very close to the end of the game. He could win the remaining immunity challenges, or his allies Tai and Troyzan could overwhelm the opposition with hidden immunity idols. Should Brad get to the end with the right players, he could win this game.
Gold: Sarah Lacina
Not only does she have the legacy advantage which means she’s going to the final 5. Aside from immunity, every other player’s path to the final 3 and potential victory is through Sarah. Cirie and Aubry will surely need Sarah to get to the end, while the alliance of Brad, Tai, and Troyzan could certainly use Sarah to help with their end game as well. On one hand, Sarah has played a great game and has a good case to present to the jury if she gets to the end. On the other hand, will the jury feel any anger towards her?
Bonus: Survivor Finale Checklist
While watching the finale, look for the following phrases to be said or events to occur (like a mini game of bingo):
-Someone plays an idol on someone else
-Brad to mention Monica
-Brad to say an immunity Challenge win is crucial
-Aubry to make an obscure reference or pun
-Sarah to mention she is a cop
-one or more idols/advantages have no effect on the outcome of a vote
-Probst to mention the jury in every Tribal
-Tai to have multiple confessionals about his idol
-Tai to be paranoid and then receive 0 votes as a Tribal Council
-Probst to say “dig deep”
-Cirie to mention reaching (getting voted out) around this point before
-Troyzan to get less than 5 confessionals
-Aubry to vote out yet another person who doesn't go home that Tribal.
-Zeke to give an unnecessarily long jury speech
-Ozzy to talk about who is most deserving
-Debbie to mention one of her professions in her jury speech
-Probst to say this has been one of the best seasons ever even though he says that all the time now.
Next Time On Survivor:
One of Aubry, Brad, Cirie, Sarah, Tai, or Troyzan will win the title of Sole Survivor and $1,000,000. This is what we’ve been waiting for. Big stakes, must watch!