The Characters and Their Stories is a blog in which Michel Trudeau uses the edit to determine the themes of the season to try to find its long-term players. Each week, he will explores the overt signs as well as the more nuanced nods.
The Characters and Their Stories: Week 10 — Lady Sierra Died
The public has no compassion. Already the intense discussions and analysis aroused by the murder of Lady Sierra is a thing of the past and nearly forgotten. The questions surrounding next time on Survivor have already taken its place.
My friend, Hercule Poirot, has long been retired but he still helps the authorities with their more troubling cases. I have been very fascinated with the murder mysteries provided by Survivor and, as surprising as it sounds, I have been able to turn Poirot into a fan himself. (Don’t tell anyone but Miss Marples is a fan of Big Brother) Poirot has never been mentioned in the credits of the show but he has solved every single case. I can no longer follow him on location but, in accordance with my wishes, he comes over so that we can watch the cases together. As always, I am in awe with the genius that enables him to discover the truth of the affairs. But for Hercule Poirot I doubt if any of these criminals would ever have been brought to face Justice.
I feel therefore that the time has come for me to set down all I know of the latest affair. I know the ins and outs of the case thoroughly and I may also mention that I shall be revealing very disturbing information in doing so.
I clearly remember Poirot, sitting on a chair in my living room, giving me his masterly and astounding resume of the case while we watched the recorded events. I am going to begin my narrative where he did on that occasion, when we watched as the 9 castaways returned to camp after burying Lord Zeke of Transylvania.
“You remember, mon ami,” he started, “Countess Andrea de Boehlke was quite the center of attention in Fiji; she had won some competitions and was considered by many the darling of the islands. Lord Zeke had been her closest friend and the two had been inseparable since they had been shipwrecked together. Some say they even knew each other very well and were actually engaged before embarking on this expedition. Unfortunately, Lord Zeke betrayed Andrea who found out about his indiscretions and immediately broke off their engagement. Shortly afterwards, Zeke was found dead. The rumours quickly floated around camp: It was said that Andrea got her way and had Zeke killed, derailing the life of everyone around her. It was I, Hercule Poirot, who discovered the truth: Devastated (and ruined because, despite his title, he had no fortune of his own and was counting on winning the million dollars), Zeke ended his own life.”
“Yes, you were brilliant as always, Poirot. I don’t know how anyone could blame Andrea after what Zeke did to her.”
“You’ve always liked Andrea, mon ami, haven’t you? Don’t deny it; I see you blushing just at the mention of her name. I assure you that she is even nicer in person. But let me continue my story: When I first got to the island, I knew better than to ask Andrea about the evening’s ceremony right away. She needed her space so I interviewed Culpepper instead. He said: “I thought myself, Sierra, Troyzan and Tai were on the bottom and thought one of us was going home but come to find that there was a whole diabolical plan to get rid of Zeke but unfortunately, we all put Tai down. So I don’t know that I have Tai anymore.”
Next, I talked to one of Zeke’s friend, Michaela: “The ceremony was a heartbreaker. We decided to acquiesce to Andrea. The majority turning on each other after one vote just means that there is nothing solid in a big group.”
Returning to the shelter, I heard Cirie say that the three had voted for Tai so that he could be someone to get on their side and that they needed to break up the pair of Brad and Sierra. Cirie admitted: “If the pair of Sierra and Brad stay together long enough and they can convince enough people to come back to that side, we’re back in trouble. So we got to split that up.”
The next morning, Sierra was feeling depressed so I gave her a shoulder to lean on: “It’s a weird feeling losing control of this game and being on the bottom because you have nothing to lose. Sarah has been my closest friend, not alliance, friend while being out here and I feel like I really got burned by her but she could be a key person to get me further in this game. I need to leave that behind us and somehow try to continue to work together.”
When we approached Sarah, she had fire burning in her eyes. It was just the reflection of the camp fire in her glasses but it gave her a fiercely determined look. At that point, I didn’t know what tragedy was about to hit Sierra but looking back, even I asked myself if it was that fire that burned Sierra.
Sierra told Sarah about finding the legacy advantage on day one, that it was an immunity idol that she could use when only six castaways remained but that she would have to will it to someone else if she was eliminated.
I then had a talk with Sarah: “Brad and Sierra need to be split up and when Sierra told me about this advantage, it actually makes me want to keep her now because she is giving me information and she wants to work with me. So, the door is opening for her to stay in this game and Brad’s game is over.”
“That is a death threat, Poirot! You should have had her arrested immediately.”
“Sarah was dangerous indeed but it was still only part of the game. If we arrested everyone who put a target on someone, there wouldn’t be anyone left in Fiji.”
By that afternoon, we received the visitors.
“Yes, I was asked to fly over for you, my friend but I simply had to decline. I wish I could have been there with you.”
“I felt your presence, mon ami. We’ve spent so many adventures together that I always imagine you by my side. Anyway, everyone had tears in their eyes and, as always, we got some funny moments; just look at Tai after Sierra told Sarah that her husband was sexy!”
“That Tai! I’m guessing he was thinking of a way to have a bromance with Wyatt, wasn’t he?! That was a touching moment when Andrea said she was on Survivor because of her dead sister. Not surprisingly, they showed Sarah when Sierra’s dad said that there was always someone ready to take you down. Did Tai say he wanted to see Mark the chicken? Oh, no of course, he meant Mark his boyfriend. Monica looks just as beautiful as ever.”
“I heard Brad and Cirie had an agreement not to target each other before the family visit so that they could both enjoy it.”
“Those types of deals don’t surprise me. Cirie’s kid looks like quite the athlete. If he has his mom’s wits, he’d be quite the player. I bet we’ll see him in a season soon. But you know that I’m more interested in what happened in that competition.”
“They were playing in teams of three. Andrea and Aubry were still focused on the game: They managed to separate Brad and Sierra by picking Brad as their third player. Considering the challenge ended with throwing sandbags at wooden blocks, they certainly made the best choice possible. Cirie was with Troyzan and Sierra while Sarah, Tai and Michaela formed the third trio. All three teams reached the beach at about the same time but then Andrea, Aubry and Brad took a lead at the last obstacle when both Tai and Sierra got stuck in the sand. Monica’s husband hit all the targets before any other team had a chance to throw any of their sandbags.”
“Michaela was so upset her mom had to calm her down!”
“She wasn’t going to be happier with what happened next.”
“Speaking for her team, Andrea picked Cirie to join them. Asked to pick another, Aubry called for Sarah. I asked Andrea to explain.”
Andrea said: “That was a very, very difficult decision. Michaela was completely defeated but Michaela is very smart and she knows that this is a game so we’ll give Michaela a day and she will get over it and we will be back on track.”
“I think Andrea is overestimating Michaela’s reasonableness.”
“You will soon be proven right, mon ami. I couldn’t follow the winners to the Bar-B-Q but I interviewed them just before they got back to camp. First though, I observed what was going on in camp. Michaela was telling Tai that she was really disappointed not to have been picked so I asked her for her thoughts.
Michaela: “I was really pissed off…because they didn’t care about me and my mother so I saw a huge opportunity to move myself forward in the game. Tai is awesome to work with because he has no one.”
Sierra and Troyzan had been making calculations back at camp, figuring that they needed Michaela.
I laughed: “They were just a bit slower than Tai. Imagine that!”
“Yes, that will come into play later so remember this,” said Poirot who went on with his narration: “I then asked Sierra for her thoughts: “I don’t want to turn my back on Brad and Troyzan so I’m hoping we can pull Tai back into our mix and maybe have an in with Michaela who I never worked with. It’s a great opportunity because she’s the type of person to get upset, feel disrespected and flip.”
Sitting in the ocean, the four not only agreed to work together, they decided that Andrea had to be the next one to go because, as Sierra put it: “She would beat them all in the end.”
“Oh, no! Not the sweet Andrea.”
“Don’t get so agitated, mon cher, it isn’t good for you. Let me continue: With this new development, I interviewed Michaela once more. She said: “I put Tai and me in a wonderful position! The stars aligned for us. We got options: Be with the group that votes Andrea or be with the group that votes Brad and we’ll come to that decision whenever it’s time to come to that decision. At the end of the day, this is about Michaela and what Michaela is trying to do in this game.”
“I can never get used to people talking about themselves in the third person.”
“Neither can I,” said Poirot, “I’d never put myself anywhere but first!”
“These are the interviews I conducted after the players returned from the reward. First, I talked with Cirie who said: “Jarred is like his mom; he’s not an island boy. He’s a city kid. He’s never been anywhere. It’s huge to see him open to different things. The only thing that would be better than that is for me to make it to the end and win for him.”
“Do you remember back in the day when such a quote used to mean something? Now, everyone gives us million dollar quotes…”
“You are right, and considering how little Cirie impacted this case, I think we can say that the family visit played too much on her mind but we have to watch what happened next. I talked to Brad and this is what he had to say: “I’m very fortunate that my loved one is a former stud Survivor player. She’s a huge resource for me. As Monica pointed out, Michaela was angry after she was not selected, so hopefully, Troyzan and Sierra are back at camp convincing Michaela to flip and get in an alignment with us. Otherwise, I have to win immunity for me to make it another day.”
“I wonder if Monica’s advice helps Brad more than Cochran’s advice helped Debbie! Who did you talk to next?”
“No one else on that Bar-B-Q had anything interesting to say. Anyway, it was time for your favorite part of the episode and the one I find the most tedious: The immunity challenge.”
“Yes, I want to see that. I’m hoping Andrea will win a third necklace.”
Well, this challenge involved endurance, balance and upper body muscle stamina and while he had some trouble with his balance, Brad had the advantage in that one.
“Did you notice Sierra’s smile when Andrea dropped her ball? I’m sorry about what happened to her, but she did have an evil side.”
“It is this game that is evil, my friend, but did you hear what Sierra said when she dropped her own ball? “It snuck up on me,” she said, but something much worse was about to sneak up on her.”
“Whom did you talk to after the challenge?”
“I thought I’d change things up a bit and went right back to Michaela who said: “Brad saved himself so because of the whole idea of splitting up Brad and Sierra, I think Sierra is in trouble, Andrea is in trouble and it’s funny because everybody’s thinking that I’m voting with them so a couple of people are going to be blindsided tonight.”
“I still don’t understand why Michaela turned her back on Cirie. The woman had given her solid advice, saved her a couple of times and how does Michaela repay her? She’s making alliances against Cirie’s own allies.”
“Don’t forget that Cirie herself had an understanding with Brad that she didn’t tell anyone. There’s much more going on than I can recount. Now comes the interesting part of the episode: The plotting before the execution. I asked Andrea for her thoughts.”
Andrea’s comments: “Before the challenge, we were planning on taking out Brad and Brad ends up winning immunity so it does kind of limit our choices.”
With Aubry, she went to Tai saying it had to be Sierra. Tai agreed that she and Brad had to be broken up but he had other ideas.
Tai’s revelation: “The group of five want to vote Sierra out tonight but Sierra, Brad and Troyzan want to vote Andrea so I’m weighing my options. Right now, I’m closest to Michaela and strategically, both groups want us. They both need our numbers.”
Tai and Michaela agreed that it had to be Andrea.
Michaela added: “They all try to outsmart us but when we work together we’re smart enough to win.”
“I’m reminded of Rob’s famous quote: “Two girls. One brain. Divide by two. Only one half-wit left.” Two half-wits don’t add up to one smart Survivor player!”
Poirot pointed out: “Unfortunately, when the plotting started against her, Andrea was fast asleep in the hammock. I don’t think she is working as hard as she should to survive until the end.”
“But she’s so cute…”
Poirot didn’t care for my sentiments as he simply returned to the story: “Michaela informed Sierra that Andrea was gunning for her.”
I went to Sierra for her reaction: “Michaela and Tai told me that my name is getting thrown around and I’m absolutely terrified but people have given me their name and it’s myself, Brad, Troyzan, Michaela and Tai who are going to vote for Andrea. So I’m hoping that people are looking at the big picture right now and I’m not the biggest threat; It’s Andrea.”
I noticed something interesting and pointed it out to Poirot: “Did you notice that she wasn’t even counting on Sarah at this point?!”
“Yes, Sierra certainly had a blind spot because, at that very moment, Sarah was plotting with Aubry to get Sierra out of the game.
I immediately went to Sarah to ask her a few questions. Sarah admitted: “So, originally, I didn’t want to vote Sierra out but Brad won immunity and if Sierra goes, it is not all bad because Sierra has told me about this Legacy Advantage and that she would will it to me if she leaves. Now, the only trick is that I need to confirm that Sierra thinks I’m good with her to make sure that she gives it to me. I don’t want to vote her out but this isn’t about making friends, this is about winning a million dollars. So now, according to Sierra, Tai and Michaela might be voting out Andrea which is news to me. I need them to help me vote Sierra out because I need that advantage.”
“Ha! Ha! Poirot! You are such a genius! You get a confession on tape even before the crime is committed! Sarah just gave you the motive and she certainly had the opportunity. This won’t be a tough case at all!”
I remember Poirot’s ominous reply: “Do not mistake intention with commission, mon ami. There was much more going on underneath the surface.”
As the images rolled along, Poirot continued: “Sarah, despite promising Sierra that she would keep quiet about the legacy idol, went directly to Michaela telling her that Sierra had to be voted out because of that advantage. I soon found out that Michaela is easily manipulated: “Initially, it was just get Andrea because she might win everything but the fact that Sierra has an advantage further convolutes what’s the best move to make right now. Tai and I need to decide which way to go tonight. Sierra is a good person to get rid of but we would like Andrea gone sooner than later. The question is: Is now the right time? It’s a great thing when the decision is in your hand as long as you make the right one because, if you make the wrong one, you end up on the jury looking stupid.”
For Sarah, there was no such hesitation; it had to be Sierra no matter what.
I interjected: “This execution was mostly the right decision for Sarah but not for Michaela so we can expect that she will soon be on the jury looking stupid.”
“Very probable, mon cher, but, at this time, the sun was setting and the guys were walking into Tribal Council.
Jeff greeted them and the members of the jury then he asked Andrea about the Loved Ones reward and the decision that had to be made.
Andrea said that it was hard to make and that they were wondering about the consequences.
Talking about those consequences, Sierra said the four had the chance to talk about going further in the game together.
Aubry said that every little thing could add up in this game.
Jeff turned to Culpepper, mentioning that he enjoyed his first big win during the immunity challenge.
That got a chuckle from Ozzy who must have been thinking of all his personal victories.
Brad said the necklace was a big help for him but not for the four on the bottom.
Sierra said she wasn’t concerned about who was going to win immunity; she was only concerned about being in trouble but that Andrea was a bigger threat than her.
Andrea said that the people on the bottom were big underdogs so they would become big threats if they were left in the game.
Aubry said that they each had to determine who their biggest threat was.
Sarah said they didn’t always know what was going on but they had a solid group and they should stick together.
Michaela said that the “we” is relative because the W can easily flip into an M, turning the We into a Me.
Jeff liked that. In 34 seasons, he had never thought of that line but now he was going to use it as if it was his own.
Andrea said she was hearing some red flags but that she had to trust the conversations she had.
Sierra said she also believed the people who talked to her.
Andrea pointed out she talked to the same people as Sierra so one of them was being served lies.
It was time to vote.
When Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol, no one budged so he read the votes: Andrea received three votes while Sierra got all the others even if only five were shown.
Despite being lied to by Sarah, Sierra willed her advantage to her.
I immediately objected: “Well, Sierra couldn’t have known that Sarah had lied to her; one vote was left in the urn and Sarah did a good acting job, looking completely baffled by the result.”
Poirot was adamant: “I do not believe it for a minute. Except for the first couple of seasons, Probst always reveals all the meaningful votes and do you think for a moment he would have missed the opportunity to have a 4-4 tie with only one vote left in the urn? OF COURSE NOT! Sierra is a returning player so she absolutely had to know that the hidden parchment had her name on it and that it had to come from Sarah. As for the acting job, most of it came after Sierra had walked off the set and it was not convincing at all. If Sarah had been smart, she would have voted against Sierra herself. Then she would have deserved to inherit.”
“But I’m sure Sarah was NOT sure that Michaela and especially that Tai would vote for Sierra so she had to be afraid Andrea might get voted out 5-4 instead of Sierra if she voted for Andrea and either Tai or Michaela did not vote for Sierra.
“Well, if they had both voted against Andrea, then Sarah’s own vote wouldn’t have mattered, would it? Voting against Sierra in that case would have meant that all hopes of getting the advantage the next time were gone because Tai and Michaela would have been quick to inform Sierra of their votes. And Sarah could have easily risked seeing only one of them voting against Andrea and having her own vote being the one sending Andrea to the jury. After all, the legacy advantage is only good at 6 so there was still time to get it or insure that Sierra would have used it for her if needed as she promised she would.”
“So Poirot,” I said, “This is a lot like the Murder on the Orient Express: Either by omission or commission, they were all guilty of Sierra’s execution!”
That’s when Poirot slowly rose to his feet and, with his mustaches twitching in excitement, he pronounced: “NON, mon ami, J’ACCUSE Jeff Probst for this abominable crime. He never liked Sierra and, after failing to get her out when Zeke ended his own life, he made sure he’d get her this time. Sierra could have told Sarah about the advantage without revealing the legacy clause so Probst and his henchmen forced her into revealing everything. Then, even if Sierra knew Sarah had voted against her and wanted to will the advantage to Brad, Probst forced her to go along with what would make a better story.”
Epilogue: The Characters
Michaela: To think she was voted out by the Millennials because she was too smart for them! This half-wit had to know that Andrea and Aubry couldn’t pick all three of their allies to go on reward. It was already good that they got two while Brad couldn’t invite any of his. She based her whole strategy on her frustrations and then she reversed course just on Sarah’s mention of Sierra’s legacy advantage. She wasn’t on the jury when that advantage first came into play so she probably didn’t know how it works but shouldn’t she have asked Sarah for more information? At the very least, she should have remembered that most game advantages don’t turn out to be advantages at all! She should have sought Cirie’s counsel, but she’s still acting a lot like a teenager so she probably didn’t want to follow advice from her “mom” anymore.
Tai: We never saw Tai as a strategic player but I think he overreacted after receiving three votes from his allies. It certainly hurt but what choice did they have? Going to Michaela wasn’t a good alternative. With two idols, he could have saved Sierra a second time, completely flipped the game around and gotten back in that alliance. Now he’ll probably waste these idols or get voted out after they run their course.
Troyzan: Like Tai, he could have saved Sierra with his idol but after being outwitted so badly in One World it’s hard to blame him for sitting on it. Has an idol ever received as little attention as Troy’s? Maybe he lost it! Either way, it’s not hard to see that Troy has no impact on the story.
Aubry: We see her in action a little more than Troyzan but she’s mostly an adjunct to Andrea and her other allies. I don’t know what is in store for Aubry but even if she makes it to the Finale she hasn’t impressed anyone on the jury.
Brad: It would be funny to see Monica’s advice turning out being more useful than Cochran’s who was specially selected by production to help a player. Brad has one quality that should help him moving forward: his loyalty. In a season of players that want to live up to the moniker of “Game Changer,” a truly loyal person is very precious. Cirie already worked with him to get to the Family Visit so maybe they’ll team up for a bigger reward.
Cirie: It’s hard to figure out how this tremendous social player could have her allies acting behind her back without her knowledge. It’s especially disturbing seeing that she lost contact with Michaela so much that she was left unaware of all her pupil’s wandering. At least she clearly heard Sierra saying that she felt confident during Tribal Council so that should alert Cirie that some of her allies are liars. Talking to Brad and Troy would confirm that they had solid commitments from Tai and Michaela. Will Cirie be able to flip the game back against these untrustworthy players? It would be quite satisfying to see her doing so.
Andrea: With 4 idols and a vote steal all in play during the next 4 Tribal Councils, the deck is stacked against the player perceived as the biggest threat in the game. It’s a weird story line considering Sierra is much more athletic, Brad is a former NFL player and while Andrea has won individual immunity 4 times or so in her Survivor career, she did participate in more than two dozen challenges in all, so it’s not like she’s unbeatable or anything. It sounds more like an excuse to explain her elimination.
Sarah: With an idol, a vote steal and production doing back-flips in her favor, there is very little doubt that Sarah will have a huge impact on the conclusion of this story. The way she got her secret advantage under everyone’s nose was questionable but the way she got the Legacy advantage was simply unrealistic. Viewers will applaud her acting skills but Sierra had to know that Sarah voted against her. The desire to create a real “game changer” makes the whole show lose credibility.