Archive | May, 2017

“Are You Blackmailing Me?” Survivor: Game Changers May 17, 2017 Recap

21 May

We are down to eight people left in the game. At the end of the prior episode, we saw Sarah putting on a “shocked and confused” face as Sierra left the game, all to make sure Sierra didn’t suspect Sarah voted against her so she would bequeath the Legacy Advantage to Sarah. But at the time we saw Andrea observing Sarah’s expression and looking a bit confused herself. At the start of this episode, Andrea discusses this with Aubry, who saw Sarah’s face too. Was Sarah pandering to the jury, or what?

Cirie tells us that she would like to go to the end with Sarah, since the policewoman had a hand in voting out most of the people who are on the jury. Sarah meanwhile wants Andrea gone: “I cannot stand the girl.”

There is no reward challenge this episode, instead we go straight to an immunity challenge: build a house of (wooden) cards with one hand while holding a balancing board with the other hand. Jeff Probst tells us this was last won by John Cochran, so it presumably took place in the Fans vs. Favorites II season. Aubry emerges as the winner and gives Probst a big hug.

Andrea tells us that Brad and Troy have both voted for her twice. Still, she thinks this might be the time to take out Sarah. In other words, she has the opposite opinion from Cirie regarding Sarah’s chances with the jury.

Aubry, meanwhile, is more in favor of voting out Brad. Michaela wants Brad gone too, and since she doesn’t know where he is, she suspects he’s off looking for a hidden immunity idol. She wants to go find him and suggest he go fishing, after all he’s not going to find an idol out on the water. But the way she puts it to Brad comes off as bullying, or a threat. “Are you blackmailing me?” Brad asks her. And he tells us “I’m not going to sit here and kowtow to some diva’s demands.”

Andrea wants to push her Sarah plan but Aubry is not up for it, and neither is Cirie. In fact, Cirie promptly goes to Sarah and says they need to take out Andrea, because she and Aubry are trying to “do something slick.”

Tribal council, is fairly uneventful, and alas it ends with “my girlfriend” Andrea being voted out, though she looks darn good doing it. Andrea makes sure to pass by Cirie on her way and give her a playful poke, having figured out that Cirie must have orchestrated her demise. There were just two votes for Brad: Andrea and Aubry.

We’re just halfway through the show at this point, so it looks like two votes will be happening in the space of one hour. I assume the fact that this season had no medical evacuations and nobody quitting left the producers with one too many people.

So now we’re down to the final seven, and right away Cirie tells us she’s after Aubry, who puts on a brave face but tears up when she’s alone talking to the camera. Tai consoles Aubry, which makes Cirie wonder where Tai’s loyalties lie.

And as I’ve been saying for about four weeks now: why is not one player pointing at Cirie as the number one threat? It’s crazy.

We’re soon at another immunity challenge, and like so many of them this one ends with a puzzle. Michaela thinks she has solved it, but Probst yells “not right!” and a few seconds later he adds that Michaela “kicks the puzzle, which always helps.” Typical Michaela.

Brad wins the challenge and celebrates quite hard, so much so that Troyzan says “whoa.” Troy is the last one who should be shocked; I seem to remember that on Survivor One World he did the same thing at least once, loudly proclaiming “This is my island,” etc. At any rate, Troy reminds us viewers that he has an idol, and with Brad being immune from being voted out, Troy might need to use it.

Tai and Aubry confer: both of them are lacking a big move on their respective resumes. But they agree on what a great move would be now: voting out Sarah. However, after the conversation Aubry decides that an even better move would be … voting out Tai! So Aubry tells Cirie that Tai is gunning for Sarah, hoping to get more votes against Tai.

Cirie alerts Sarah of the Tai threat, bit Sarah tells Cirie she shouldn’t believe Aubry. Sarah trusts Tai much more than Aubry. In fact, Sarah is so confident she won’t be voted out that she will give Cirie the vote-steal advantage (which she told her about last episode) for safekeeping. Cirie swears she is just the trustee and will give it back after the vote.

Here’s what I think Cirie thinks will happen: Aubry and Tai will get Troy and Brad to vote along with them against Sarah, and 4 votes would be enough against Sarah, Cirie, and Michaela.  So Cirie thinks she needs to actually use the vote-stealer she is supposedly just holding onto, to get that fourth vote against Tai. And she thinks she needs to do this to save Sarah, but in doing so she risks making Sarah mad!

And there’s another problem with the plan: the vote stealer has to be played right before it’s time to vote. In other words, an immunity idol can still be played after the votes are read. So Cirie needs to find a way to convince Tai not to use his idol. Summoning up fake tears, she tells Tai that she is going to use the vote steal advantage at Tribal Council … to save him. Tai freaks out. He certainly considers the possibility Cirie might be lying, but can’t figure out why she would make up such a crazy story.

At Tribal Council everyone seems to agree that there are several lies being told, by someone. Finally Probst says it’s time to vote. Cirie speaks up and says she is holding a vote-steal advantage and that she is going to use it … to steal Sarah’s vote! She assures Sarah this is for her own good.

Sarah replies: actually that’s my advantage. Read the text, it says it is non-transferable and cannot be stolen.

The jury is going nuts over all of this. Cirie reads out the text and sure enough the part Sarah mentions is in there. Probst says the key word is non-transferable, and that Cirie can’t use the advantage. Sarah says “can I have that?” and takes the advantage back. Then she goes over to whisper something to Tai.

This kicks off a whole round of whispering like the one we had an an earlier tribal council this season. Various people whisper things to various other people. At one point Troyzan decides to stick his head into a huddle among Michaela, Cirie, and Sarah, and Michaela tries to push him out.

When all of that has subsided, Sarah says “you know what Jeff, I’m gonna use my advantage,” and the vote she wants to steal is Tai’s. Surely there can be no clearer signal to Tai that he needs to play one of his idols. But when Jeff Probst asks if anyone wants to play an idol, Tai  shockingly does nothing!

The votes are read, and the person voted out is…. Michaela! She grumbles something at Sarah and wishes everyone but Sarah luck as she troops out. There were also two votes for Tai and one for Aubry. Brad gets Tai’s attention and points twice, saying “She and she voted for you!” Presumably he was pointing at Aubry and Cirie.

When we see the votes after the credits, we see Brad was wrong: one Tai vote came from Aubry, but the other was from the departed Michaela. The Aubry vote came from Cirie. And the Michaela votes were from Brad, Troyzan, and two from Sarah. In other words, if Sarah had put her two votes against Tai or Aubry, it would have been enough to send either of them home. So now let’s revisit Sarah’s vow that  she would be the first player ever to use the vote-steal advantage correctly. Sorry Sarah. Your own vote already made it three against Michaela, which by itself would have been enough to vote her out, since Tai obviously wouldn’t vote against himself.

Two things about this episode remain mysteries:

  • Why did Cirie want to use the vote stealer to steal Sarah’s vote? Why not try to steal the vote of Aubry, Tai, Troy, or Brad who were all presumably voting against Sarah and Cirie?
  • Why did Brad, Troy, and Sarah vote against Michaela, who had no chance to win the game, instead of Cirie?

Cirie’s attempted “big move” was really a major misstep. Instead of a potential final three of her, Michaela and Sarah, which would have meant a blowout win if not a shutout win, Michaela is gone and Sarah is now her enemy.

After much deliberation I am bumping Cirie down to #2 in my contender rankings. She finally has people who want her out of the game in Sarah and also Aubry (whom Cirie voted for). I think Brad wins if he makes the finals, though he will probably have to win 1 or 2 immunity challenges to do that. I think Sarah might well run afoul of a bitter jury even if she makes it to the end. Aubry and Troy need to hope for a final three of the two of them plus Tai.

contenders: 1. Brad, 2. Cirie, 3. Sarah, 4. Aubry, 5. Troyzan

no chance: Tai

jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Hali (no idea), Ozzy (Cirie), Debbie (Troyzan), Zeke (Brad), Sierra (Brad), Andrea (Cirie), Michaela (Cirie)


“You’re my ‘it girl’ out there.” Survivor Game Changers May 10 2017 recap

13 May
In last episode’s tribal council, Brad, Sierra, and Troy voted for their ally Tai, no doubt having been given that name by Andrea & Co. as a fake-out. So now Brad wonders if he has lost Tai. Meanwhile Cirie wants to target Brad or Sierra.
Sierra tells Sarah that she’s going to “throw up a Hail Mary.” She proceeds to tell Sarah that she has the Legacy Advantage, which as you’ll recall can only be used one more time in this game, at final six. Sierra says that if the two of them make it to the round of six, she will use it to help the two of them. If not and she is voted out before then, she’ll bequeath it to Sarah. Sarah tells us that this makes her feel good about aligning with Sierra, and it’s good to have someone who gives her information.
Regular readers of this blog know that I am no fan of the annual “loved ones” episode, and this one seems to be drawn-out more than most. We do, however, learn that Andrea endured the death of a sister some years ago. And I’m surprised how happy I am to see Brad’s wife Monica Culpepper again!
The reward challenge has three teams of three competing. The one that wins is Aubry, Andrea, and Brad. Inevitably, Jeff Probst says they can pick another player and his or her loved one to go on the reward, and everyone begs to be chosen. Andrea picks Cirie and her son. Then Probst says they have to make a second and final pick, and Aubry says it’s Sarah and her boyfriend/husband. It isn’t clear if these were consensus picks of the three or if Brad has no say in the matter.
On the reward, Brad talks to Monica, who is a great advisor to have since she made it all the way to the final three of a season. Monica points out that Michaela was obviously angry she wasn’t chosen and is therefore a threat to flip.
The only ones back at camp and not on the reward are Sierra, Troy, Tai, and Michaela. The latter two talk seriously about an alliance. Then all four discuss Andrea: none of them could win against her at the finals, therefore they need to target her.
The immunity challenge is, I believe, a brand-new one. The contestants have to hold up a buoy using two short poles that can easily slip out of their sockets … and do. It comes down to Michaela, Brad, and Tai. Brad wins. Surprisingly for the former pro athlete, it’s his first-ever individual immunity win per Jeff Probst.
The situation we’re left with is that Tai and Michaela are the swing votes. They can join with Sierra, Brad, and Troy to vote out Andrea, or join with Andrea, Cirie, and Aubry to vote out Sierra.
As noted earlier, Sarah appeared to be ready to vote with Sierra as well. But now, having pondered the legacy advantage Sierra told her about, Sarah comes up with an absolutely diabolical plan. She wants to vote Sierra out, but while pretending to be on her side, so an unwitting Sierra still gives Sarah the Legacy Advantage as promised! Wow!
Of course, there are two huge possible pitfalls. The first is that Sierra could realize Sarah has turned on her and will the Legacy Advantage to someone else (as we know from last season, this bequeathal is made after the player’s torch has been snuffed and he or she has left Tribal Council). The second pitfall is that not enough votes come together to vote Sierra out, in which case Sierra would obviously become a bitter enemy.
Sarah addresses the first issue immediately in her next conversation with Sierra. The cop tells the rodeo rider “I love you. You’re, like, my ‘it girl’ out there. Like, on a real level.” The feeling seems to be mutual. Then Sierra reveals to Sarah that Tai and Michaela are going to vote against Andrea. So soon, Sarah looks up Michaela and tells her about the Legacy Advantage, and in no time Michaela and Tai have decided to switch their votes to Sierra … or so it seems at least. Wow, Sarah is so impressive here. Combined with her recent hiding the idol in the shoe maneuver, she has made two of the slickest moves this season.
A note on Sarah: I was going to say earlier that Sarah lied to Sierra “with a straight face,” but Sarah pretty much has the same pained expression no matter what she’s saying. That probably helps her pull these things off.
By the way, as with every prior episode, nobody is targeting Cirie. How is that possible?
At Tribal Council, nothing happens other than everyone stating the obvious. When the votes come, there are three for Andrea and the rest are for Sierra!
By the way, Sarah makes sure to play her role to the very end, putting on an extremely shocked expression as Sierra grabs her torch and exits the game. After the credits we find out Sierra does indeed will the advantage to Sarah, making this incredible maneuver complete.
It will be interesting to see next week whether Michaela and Tai make the connection that Sarah must now have the advantage. Of course, Sarah also still has her vote-steal advantage which neither of them knows about.
Let me update my look at the six players I think are contenders.
#1 Cirie: When are the others going to wake up and see that she’s an even bigger threat than Andrea, since she has more connections in the game than Andrea does?
#2 Brad: Even though this was his first immunity win, he’s certainly a threat to win more of them, and he already has a couple of fans on the jury.
#3 Sarah: She moved way up in my rankings. She has some amazing moves on her resume now, however she has had a hand in the ouster of most of the people on the jury, so would they be too bitter to give her a vote?
#4 Aubry: Nobody seems to be gunning for her, but perhaps the others all think that if Michelle could beat her in the Kaoh Rong finals, they can beat her as well?
#5 Andrea: Has played a very good game, unfortunately she seems to be at the very top of everyone’s list of threats, and unlike some of the others, she doesn’t have an advantage or idol. Winning a couple of key immunity challenges seems to be her only shot to get to the finals.
#6 Troyzan: If Brad wins the next immunity, Troy had best get ready to play his idol. Barring that, he can likely stay under the radar a while longer, but he’s running out of time to make any kind of resume-building move.
contenders: 1. Cirie, 2. Brad, 3. Sarah, 4. Aubry, 5. Andrea, 6. Troyzan
no chance: Tai, Michaela
jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Hali (no idea), Ozzy (Andrea), Debbie (Sierra), Zeke (Brad), Sierra (Brad)

“We gotta approach it real, real easy.” Survivor Game Changers May 3, 2017 recap

3 May
After Tribal Council everyone is so quiet that Sarah finally just says “Are people confused on who flipped?” She explains that it was her.
The reward challenge ends with an anagrammed phrase to decipher. Both tribes ponder it for over 50 minutes when suddenly Andrea realizes the 11-letter word could be “reinventing.” Winning a spa day are Andrea, Aubry, Sarah, Zeke, and Brad.
At the reward, Brad and Zeke bond over football, with Mr. Culpepper asking the Oklahoman if he saw the championship game of the 2008 season, which was played January 2009 and won by Florida. Andrea is annoyed that Zeke is palling around with Brad at all: “It’s super-lame.”
Back at camp, Troyzan and Tai talk about the possibility of an idol being played, and it’s amusing to see both keep their poker faces. After all, Troy secretly has an idol, and Tai secretly has two!
When the people who were on the reward return, we find out that Aubry is also concerned about Zeke bonding with Brad. And Andrea suggests to Cirie that they blindside Zeke. Cirie wonders, though, if “Officer Sarah” would be on board with that. Sarah tells Cirie “I already know how I want to handle Zeke,” alluding to “backup.” Then she explains to Cirie what she means by backup: the vote-stealer advantage. Sarah tells us viewers that she wants to let both sides’ plans develop and just pick a side at the very end.
Sarah talks to Zeke; they want to oust Sierra, Andrea, and Tai in that order. It certainly sounds like Sarah considers Zeke her #1 ally. Meanwhile, Zeke offers Brad and Troy a final five deal (with the others being himself, Sarah, and Michaela). I have to say none of this is doing anything to move Zeke up my rankings, as he’s really just positioning himself as a threat, as he did last season.
The immunity challenge is one we’ve seen before: arrange a long row of blocks so they’ll fall domino-style, but as you set them up you have to keep high-stepping through a metal grid. If you graze it, the blocks will fall over. Andrea gets to the end of her row but finds she has run out of blocks, i.e. she set up her blocks too close to one another. So others race to catch her as she tries to re-set her blocks further apart. Finally she decides she’s ready, and the blocks all fall as planned, and she wins immunity. I’m so proud of my girlfriend! Oops, sorry, she’s not really my girlfriend.
Sierra is worried about being on the chopping block, and she is certainly getting a lot of camera time this episode.
Now we come to a wonderful sequence. Andrea and Cirie go chat by the well. Andrea wants to go after Zeke, and she tells Cirie so. But Cirie wonders if Sierra would join them to vote Brad. Just at that moment Sierra comes by and says she’ll do anything to make sure it’s not her. Andrea and Cirie say they were just discussing that, could Sierra come back shortly? Cirie tells Andrea they would have to get Sarah on board for the move, and just then they see Sarah coming. “Be easy though, we gotta approach it real, real easy,” mutters Cirie, who has really been masterful lately.
As we viewers know to expect, Sarah doesn’t care for the Zeke plan. But she says, “I really need to keep my mouth shut because if I start scramblin’ around to try to save Zeke, I’m gonna get in hot water.” Yes! She has figured this out, it’s amazing how many Survivor players don’t.
Michaela and Sarah talk, they both think one of the four (Brad, Sierra, Tai or Troy) needs to go home. Otherwise a 6-4 edge only becomes 5-4, and if one person flips they would be right back on the bottom.
Tribal Council is very boring as Jeff Probst just belabors the obvious. So let’s fast-forward to the vote. We see Sierra’s vote, it’s for Tai (?).  Probst reads the votes and after the first five it is three votes Tai, two votes Sierra. And then he reads the other five votes … all for Zeke, who is voted out. Michaela is sobbing!
My first reaction is that this is a good move for Andrea (whom Zeke was about to come after, by his own admission in the credits scene). But is it a good move for the others, Aubry, Cirie, Sarah, and Michaela (yes, she did vote for Zeke, the sobs notwithstanding)?
In my rankings, Cirie moves past Brad into my #1 spot. Let me take a brief look at the seven players I think are contenders.
Cirie thoughts: Her social and strategic game have been amazing the past few weeks, and with Zeke out nobody seems to be gunning for her.
Brad thoughts: With his new improved social game and his athletic skills, he could certainly win it all.
Sierra thoughts: She’s athletic and fairly wily, but what is her resume exactly?
Aubry thoughts: Being under the radar and smart maneuvering could get her to the end. But the fact that she couldn’t beat out Michele in the Kaoh Rong final makes me wonder if she can convince a jury this time.
Andrea thoughts: Several people seem to think of her as the #1 threat in the game, and winning the last immunity reinforces that. She will probably have to win at least one key immunity to make the finals.
Sarah thoughts: Will she win the game or go out in the very next vote? I tend to think she is just too honest to do the former.
Troyzan thoughts: Right now his resume is zero, but he also doesn’t have anyone mad at him, plus he has his athletic skills and an idol.
contenders: 1. Cirie, 2. Brad, 3. Sierra, 4. Aubry, 5. Andrea, 6. Sarah, 7. Troyzan
no chance: Tai, Michaela
jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Hali (no idea), Ozzy (Andrea), Debbie (Sierra), Zeke (Brad)