Survivor: Game Changers

The Characters and Their Stories: Week 7 — What Happened?

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 7–What Happened?

He dreaded this day.  Even if he had 10 months to prepare for it, he still wasn’t over the emotions he felt on that late June night in Fiji.  Having played the game so often, he had seen himself many times on TV but he never quite felt comfortable with his presentation. Not that he blamed the edit but it was so… superficial was the best word he could find. 

He remembered being invited at the last reunion, promoting this season, how he felt torn inside to see some of these people again, still not knowing exactly what had gone down but putting up a good front, acting as if he owned that stage.  He had laughed when some thought it meant he had finally won.  Well, he didn’t and tonight, he was going to find out what had happened.

So, here he was, sitting in the hotel room that CBS had put at his disposal and planning on watching the show alone, trying to order his thoughts before he’d have to make the interminable rounds tomorrow morning.  At least he had a nicely stocked bar and since CBS was footing the bill, why not indulge?  The commercials were over and Probe was already in his habitual:  “Previously on Survivor…”

At the Mana tribe, Hali and Michaela were left out of the Culpepper alliance while on Nuku, Varner knew that his game was falling apart.

At Tribal Council, Varner made a desperate move…

“At least, I think we handled that situation very well.” 

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Looking at the image of Zeke standing in the ocean, he remembered that the tribe was still on edge.  Sarah said they had left Varner off the hook too easily but Tai thought he was remorseful and wanted to give him a little comfort.

He couldn’t help thinking: “You are certainly right about that.  Man, those internet bullies have really gone over the top…”  He remembered that everyone had been pulled out of the shelter and whisked away to give an interview that morning even before they had a chance to eat.  Which interviews would be aired?

It was Sarah who was heard saying: “I come from a very conservative background.  I didn’t know any transgender people until now.  The fact that I got to know Zeke as a person from day one… I love that guy and it doesn’t change who he is to me… Zeke is Zeke.”

In turn, Zeke said:  “I wanted people to see me as myself.  When I tell people I’m Trans, it’s what they are interested in and everything else about me gets pushed to the wayside.  Survivor makes you tough, it makes you resilient and it makes you adaptable, and I think I had all those qualities before but they certainly have been strengthened and grown.  I am a little bolder to help others and to get over my own fears, complexes and insecurities about being Transgender.  I love these people and it’s odd that in this game, when you are at your lowest moment, the people who are out to get you in some regards do stand in your defense.  I was truly touched but in the meantime there’s still a task at hand, a task I’m rather committed to.  I’m here to win a million dollars; I’m here to play Survivor so let’s just get back to it.”

“Well, there were a lot more interviews and we talked for half the day but I guess that Probe was eager to get back to the game.”

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When they got to the challenge arena, Cirie immediately knew that something was wrong.  “What was on that table, Jeff?”  Sierra told Jeff that she was starving.

He remembered being more interested in seeing what was under the tablecloth.  What a dirty trick!  “I certainly wasn’t going to let them eat at my expense,” he thought.  “Most of the time, they eat my food so why should I give more away?  I know, I know:  It could have helped my social standing within the new tribe but I felt pretty good at the time and I wanted food.  Even if it’s pretty gross when we watch at home and see all those bugs landing on our feast you don’t care.  If I had known that Wanner had a feast at the last tribal swap, I would have volunteered her right out of our feast.  Doing that to Tracy in Micronesia got me in a whole lot of trouble so maybe it was best that what happened on Exile stayed on Exile.  When Brad sat out for Nuku, he put the burden clearly on our shoulders.”

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Zeke had a confessional about Brad’s decision that I found funny:  “Here’s the deal about Brad Culpepper:  I don’t think he liked how he came out in the first Blood versus Water so Brad falls on his sword to be the hero and the great provider.  I think that’s pretty much the Culpepper brand: To sacrifice themselves for others.”

What was funniest about this confessional was that Zeke certainly didn’t volunteer.  Like the rest of us he looked at the little Asian guy thinking he gets a bowl of rice everyday so that’s already a feast for him. When Tai raised his hand, I could hear a collective sigh of relief.  I liked what Andrea said about giving him all the rice he wanted when we get back at camp.  It made us all look good!

He was surprised to see that Cirie gave another confessional: “Brad and Tai got brownie points because you provided for everybody in a sense but that makes me suspicious.  Everything in this game is calculated.”

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He remembered the mad rush when Jeff gave them permission to eat but, at the time, he hadn’t noticed that Zeke totally cut in front of Aubry, Sierra and Troyzan to get there first.  “The inner fat kid is coming back to the surface,” he thought.

It was quite a shock for him to see that the cameras focused a lot on Cirie and Sierra.  Even more shocking was seeing Sierra’s wavy blond hair.  Everyone else’s was dirty and tangled but she looked ready for a photo shoot.  

He found Sierra’s confessional particularly interesting:  “I made the merge. I have food so I feel like a whole new woman.  Now, I’m going to go gun blazing and I’m ready to make some moves.  I also have my legacy advantage but I can only use it when there are thirteen or six people left in the game.  Right now, we’re at thirteen but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep it in my back pocket until the final six.”

Since he knew Cirie a lot better, he was expecting something like this:  “Once the merge happens, everything takes off like a jet plane.  Yeah! We’re all happy when we’re eating and drinking having a last supper together but people are having conversations, people are reuniting.  Everybody is sizing people up and things are going to start flying– people’s heads are going to start rolling so this is where I step my game up.”

He saw that he had talked a bit with Andrea but he couldn’t remember a word they said.    Maybe he should have paid more attention, but he didn’t consider her important. 

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Since Brad and Tai had nothing to do for a couple of hours, they had confessionals.  First came Brad’s:  “In Football, you’re only as good as your next game:  I made the merge?  Awesome!  It’s in my rear-view mirror.  I’m looking straight ahead:  Who is the next person going to be?  It’s not going to be me.  Tai and I connected prior to today on numerous occasions.  I think I have taken over his Caleb role from last season so I think I can trust Tai going forward and, on my own tribe, Michaela and Hali were on the bottom so I want to gun for them first.”

Then it was Tai’s turn: “I love Brad.  He and I have a lot of things in common so I’m thinking:  I have the numbers, I’m comfortable, I’m happy.”

He did remember Wanner making a “Debbie” of herself at the end of the feast.  She started dancing and then she even mooned Tai.   Grossed out, he had to look away.  “She’s such a fool.  Why didn’t we take her out?  Being inept helped her because why waste a vote?   The only problem was we still targeted someone who was just as inept.  Did Wanner just say she didn’t take a drop of alcohol?  Does that means she’s naturally crazy or is she crazy smart?  Who is the fool?”

He had just prepared another drink, still scratching his head over Wanner’s prank when he saw some yellow fishes merging in perfect harmony.  Yes, the tribe would be peaceful for a while longer.  Maybe it was that peaceful atmosphere that lulled him to sleep when he should have been scrambling.   He remembered those few moments when they first got back to the old Nuku beach; he even remembered Wanner giving Culpepper a hug, but he thought that was just to thank him for giving her a chance to have the feast.  He did see the episode where Cochran instructed her to make up with Brad at all cost so only now he realized it was a tactical move.  

“Could Wanner actually be a player?” he asked.  He was shocked to hear her talk with such clarity about a game of deception and intrigue…

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Zeke then told everyone about what Varner had said during the last Tribal Council and the players who were hearing it for the first time were all shocked.

Of everyone who was interviewed, we heard Aubry’s confessional:  “I was so proud of Zeke.  Amazing!  More respect for Zeke for telling his story than I do for a handful of these jokers in knowing them for twenty days.  And Zeke is right:  The experience of going on Survivor makes you tough and nothing is going to be easy about the merge.  There are thirteen people at this camp and now, the game at hand is figuring out where people stand and who is in the loop and who is out of it.”

He always enjoyed the ironic confessionals!  Aubry had been mostly out of the loop since day 1 and now she thought she could simply figure it out.  Well at least he wasn’t only talking about being in the loop; he was going to get in that loop.   Troyzan and Brad were on board:  We were going to do whatever we wanted to do because everyone on his side was cool.  

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Brad immediately had a confessional:  “My number one goal is reconnecting and strengthening the bonds with people that I haven’t been with, people that I had a little rocky time with.  I bonded with Tai.  Debbie?  She’s come back and apologized.  With Sierra, myself and Troyzan, so far so good.  If I’m just thinking about myself and who I can play best with, I don’t feel that good about Michaela.  Her reputation precedes her a little bit and in the long term, I don’t trust her.  So, right now I’m getting everyone together to be on the same page and Michaela would be the first to gobble up after the merge.”

It was a little disappointing to see that Brad didn’t name him.  Since he was targeting people from his own tribe, players who started in the original Mana, it hadn’t set off alarm bells.  If that was cool with Brad, it was cool with him.  Michaela was first on his list also.  Zeke Tai, Sarah, Hali, Cirie and Aubry were all on board with that plan.  So why wasn’t she the first to go?  Where did things go wrong?  He immediately got proof that it wasn’t Sierra who flipped the vote.

Sierra’s confessional:  “Me and Brad, we don’t care to work with Michaela.  I think she’s a little shifty– she’s tough to be around, she’s a loose cannon and she’s a beast in challenges.  There are many threats that Michaela has that keeping her in the game will hurt a lot of us.  Every time I talk to somebody, here comes Michaela, creeping around a bush.  She will not let anybody talk.  She’s driving me bonkers.  She’s also very blunt and doesn’t have a lot of tact.  I’m constantly on edge with Michaela around.  This has to be a blindside: She can’t know that her name is getting tossed around and if one thing sets Michaela off then we’re all going down.”

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He wasn’t in the shelter when Cirie, Zeke and Andrea talked about going to the end with Sarah.  Andrea even said that they had to keep Michaela as one of their numbers and that they had to strike against Brad and Sierra first.  Maybe they should have talked to Sarah first because, just like she was shown on camera, she was still moving from one place to another.   

He was shocked to hear Zeke’s next confessional:  “Michaela could be a potential number for us to work with going forward. So, this vote is a bigger deal than anyone is letting on.  There have been two sort of natural groups fighting to get into a power position moving forward.  It’s Cirie, Sarah, Andrea and myself and then there’s Brad and Sierra’s group and I think everyone is wondering if the other side is going to strike first and I’m going to be caught with my pants down.  We have to strike first.  These are the last moments of people pretending to get along.  It’s the smiles before the blood bath.”

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The next scene was at the start of day 21 and Andrea was climbing a rock in her bikini.  She was looking very good so Troyzan pretended to take pictures of her.

She did look like she was standing on a pedestal but then she slipped…  He got up to serve himself another drink but he heard something that made him stop: Hali was talking about working with Michaela and telling her that her name had come up.  “We are about to find out how the vote changed,” he thought.

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First, they showed Michaela’s confessional:  “You can become a target very quickly here.  I’ve already heard my name and I haven’t done anything and that kind of pissed me off.  I was about to explode.  Being out of the loop at this point in the game is very dangerous.  I’m going to have to find some people that I can trust so that I’m not the one going home.  Maybe that person is Cirie.”

Even before Michaela said her name, the camera had already turned to Cirie who was sitting comfortably on the chair that had just been fixed.  She had a regal air and, even if it was just a f&@# stick, she looked like she had a scepter in hand!  That little camera work could only mean one thing:  Cirie was the one behind it all.  

She must have used the split vote to shift the target away from Michaela.  He should have known because split votes are Cirie’s specialty.  Sierra said that all of them would be going down if Michaela found out and now those words really resonated with him.  He didn’t care about the rest of them but he certainly knew it was about to happen to him.  At that point in the game, he was still carefree but things were already going downhill.

Like all of us, he saw Cirie giving Michaela a lesson not only in Survivor but in life.

Cirie’s confessional: “Michaela wears her heart on her sleeve.  I used to be like that.  When I was Michaela’s age, I was a hothead like Michaela, I thought I knew everything but I learned that, when you put that guard up, you push people away and in a game like Survivor you want to bring as many people in as possible.  You don’t want to be pushing people away by making people feel uncomfortable.”

Michaela’s reactions:  “Cirie and I had a straight up like heart to heart conversation because we do have a lot of similarities.  Cirie has skyrocketed in trust with me and I’m extremely excited to play with her.”

Cirie had another interview:  “Right now, Michaela is public enemy number one but I do like Michaela and, as a human and as an older person to a younger person, you want to save her and if I can do that then that’s one person that I can count on to have my back.”

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While he saw that they were about to show the immunity challenge, he could not stop thinking that he also needed to hear that advice.  He had pushed a lot of people away and had ignored even more.  “Why didn’t Cirie talk to me?” he asked.

He hadn’t enjoyed that challenge.  He was already rehearsing his interviews:  “It was supposed to be fair for everyone but it really felt like my stand was lower than it should be.  At least I didn’t have a walk of shame like Hali, Troyzan and Zeke who fell off before the challenge really started.  When I saw that Michaela was out, that was good enough for me so I decided it was time to take a rest and let these other clowns work a sweat.”

For a moment, he couldn’t really remember who had won that challenge because it didn’t really come into play.  Was it Tai? 

No, and it couldn’t have been Sierra who must have felt so uncomfortable in those jeans so it had to be Andrea. 

“At least she didn’t beg to win it this time,” he thought.

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Andrea’s confessional: “Tonight’s vote seems so simple however this is Survivor: Game Changers.  No vote is easy– everyone has ulterior motives so tonight’s Tribal Council is about who is going to take control of this game.”

When the tribe got back to camp, Sierra had the first confessional:  “As of now, I feel like I’m the person in charge.” (“Foolish girl,” he thought.  “No one is in control when there is a group of ten or more!  I think the music editors agree with me because they’re playing the Kooky musical theme throughout her confessional.”) “I love having control and from what I see, my perspective, there’s the big group and we have our outsiders who are Hali and Michaela.  I think Michaela going home tonight is what’s best, but I’m really worried about an idol being played.  Seeing Hali play this time compared to the time I played with her before, she’s playing completely different and that triggers something:  She might…she might have an idol.  Right now, the numbers are so big; I just want to split them between those two in case there is an idol.”

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Splitting votes always gives someone an opportunity to take over and, just as he had guessed, that person would be Cirie.

Sierra told Cirie that four people were voting against Hali while everybody else was voting for Michaela.  Right before Michaela popped in (the girl is a lot like the pop-ups in web pages!) they agreed they’d tell them to vote for Zeke who would certainly win this game if they let him get to the end.  Hali was going to vote for Zeke even if she didn’t feel comfortable.  When Michaela said she felt her name was going to be written down, she received Cirie’s death stare.  She realized she needed to shut up.

Cirie gave a confessional: “I don’t particularly like the vote for Michaela.  Is that good for my game?  Why would I just go with that plan? Because Sierra says so?  Being that there were two options:  Michaela or Hali; why not Hali?”

He saw that she went to Zeke with her concerns, but he hadn’t been filled in. 

Zeke’s confessional:  “Tonight’s vote is the opening shot in a war between two alliances and I think everyone sees Michaela and Hali as potential soldiers in their army.  So this vote is making sure the other side is one man down.”

Just like Cirie had told him, Sierra tried to convince Zeke that the majority of votes had to go on Michaela.  Cirie was that good, but he knew that first hand…

Cirie’s next confessional:  “Here’s the thing:  You can’t win the war unless you have a sufficient army.  (Well, Vee, Chris, Danni and a few others show that it isn’t the sine qua non, but it’s not totally wrong)  If Michaela goes home, that’s one less person that I can count on.”

When Sierra said she was the new Sheriff in town, she got a laugh from Debbie but Cirie didn’t look impressed.  She told Michaela that they were lying to her about Zeke.  Michaela knew her name was on the chopping block but she wasn’t going to explode.  Instead she was putting her life in Cirie’s hands.

Before Tribal Council, Cirie had the last confessional:  “Everybody is on edge.  Everybody is watching everybody so I need Michaela to vote for Zeke to stick with the plan so nobody knows Cirie is the one that changed the plan.  For me, tonight’s Tribal Council is about saving a person that I can depend on and use for the numbers on our side.  If I can pull this off, the future of my game is looking good.”

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“What will I say about this Tribal Council?”  he thought. He knew he’d be asked questions about it, but he didn’t remember much of it.   Despite all of Probe’s needling, it certainly wasn’t as emotionally charged as the previous one.  For some reason, he remembered that Hali offered to do a strip tease but she never went through with it.  Too bad, it would have spiced up the evening…

Zeke talked about the insanity of watching 13 people, Andrea said that the vote would draw a line in the sand but, in the end, they voted out the weak link.

He couldn’t help but think that they did make a huge mistake just like Probe suggested.    

  • Michaela and Hali voted for Zeke.
  • Cirie, Sarah, Zeke and Andrea voted for Michaela.
  • Sierra, Culpepper, Troyzan, Debbie, Aubry and Tai voted with him against “Hayley”.

It’s funny that the questions he should have been asking himself during the walk back to camp were only surfacing now, during the commercial break.  Weren’t there supposed to be only four votes on Hayley?  Why were there suddenly 6 and why were they practically all from Sierra’s side?  It looked like Cirie saved Michaela by getting most of her army to vote for her while the other side voted for Hayley.  Even after four tries, this game was too confusing for him.  It was being played well over his head but he couldn’t tell anyone that.  At least, if he still couldn’t figure it out, then he couldn’t be blamed for being blindsided.

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After a very short night, the tribe woke up and gathered around the fire on the morning of Day 22.

A very relaxed Michaela had the morning’s first confessional: “Cirie stuck her neck all the way out for me at Tribal Council and I will do the same if I’m put in a position I can.  For somebody of my background, a Black American female, to be able to play with another Black American female, there’s a level of trust that’s there automatically so I’m deferring to her right now because she understands the dynamics of what’s going on more than me and the last thing I want to do is mess up her game when she tried to help mine.”

Cirie’s confessional: “At Tribal, I voted for Michaela and Michaela voted for Zeke to go which was to go along with the plan.  I have my own ideas and my own game that I want to play so this next Tribal Council is going to let the dragon loose.  Everything is going to be out in the open and the war is going to start.  The way I see Sierra and Brad:  Sierra is like the godfather and she is controlling Brad who is controlling Troyzan.  It’s like a chain and if we cut the top link off the chain, it’s going to shatter.  So, I think she could be potentially on the chopping block.  Zeke is willing, Andrea is down, I trust officer Sarah and I know Michaela will go along with it.  We’re ready for war! Ha! Ha! Ha!  We are soldiered up.”

What is this talk about dragons?  He had enough of that playing a whole season with Coach but now Cirie is bringing up dragons?  He thought he was part of her army but he realized that some were much closer to her than he was.  She wasn’t taking a morning stroll in the woods with him, was she?  Cirie even said it:  He was number 7 in her army, thank you very much… “But how did the vote switch from Sierra to me?” he asked himself.  Strangely, just like last week, his name came up after they started mistrusting Zeke!

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Aubry had a confessional: “I feel like right now I am in the middle of a big Italian family brawl.  There are two sides and Cirie is like my black Italian grandma or aunt.  She’s more like an aunt. If I’m going to be on Team-Cirie, that’s fine with me.”

With all this talk about godfathers and Italian family brawls, it seems like Boston Rob’s visit a few weeks back has left its mark!

Andrea’s confessional:  “I’m dying to get out Brad or Sierra.  I’m starting to gather numbers to slowly take over this game which would be ideal.”

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In response, Zeke had an interview:  “Typically, I’m in control but I haven’t seen a clear picture so far because most of my information has been told to me from Cirie and from Andrea.  They’re in control; something is not right.  I’m not in the position I want to be in the game.  The last time I played, I may have shot for the moon too early but if you’re going to live with regret, do you live with the regret of making a move too early or the regret of not making a move at all?  You got to regret making the move… You got to play.”      

As someone who has lived with regrets from four seasons, he would have told Zeke that both are just as bad, but of course, with Probe’s love of big moves the regret of making a move too early will get you a new invitation!  What was his biggest regret? 

“I think having Yul present when Parvati got naked in the bathtub…  Oh, wait!… I should be thinking regrets about the game. So it has to be letting that idiot Billy decide that Yul should go to Exile Island. Without that idol I would have been one-and-done, retiring from the game a millionaire!”

Unaware of Zeke’s itching desire to make a move, Andrea laid the course for him: “We take out Sierra then we take out Debbie” who Andrea felt was playing too hard and was a loose cannon.

Zeke’s confessional continued:  “So, to be honest, Brad and Sierra; they are sort of a threat but they are not really a threat.  So, I look at Cirie and Andrea as much bigger strategic threats than Sierra.  They’re trying to control the game so I can get out Cirie or Andrea in this vote right now.  Why wait?”

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Starting to feel disgusted about the whole thing, he saw Zeke as a cry baby:  Cirie and Andrea weren’t letting him play so he wants to get rid of them.  We were at twelve back then and he even said that they were giving him all the information which is incredibly valuable in this game.  Wasn’t it time to wait for the perfect opportunity?  

The Reward challenge would be his last hoorah in the game.  Once Probe stopped pretending to be a model on “The Price is Right”, we got down to the school yard pick.  Andrea had first pick and, of course, she picked him.  Smart girl, that Andrea.  The Cleveland Browns should hire her.  We also had Tai, Troyzan, Debbie and Zeke.  Sarah was the other captain.  She picked Brad, Aubry, Michaela, Cirie and Sierra.

He felt production hurt his team because their knots were much tighter than Brad’s but he still got to the beach first. 

It all came down to the fish puzzle and there Zeke and Debbie outworked Cirie and Sierra.

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Sarah, the losing captain, had a confessional:  “We lost the Marshalls Spa day and it’s a huge let-down but I find myself in the middle.  I have options and it’s just going to be which group wants to vote out the person that I want to vote out.  That’s where I’m going to go.”

The cameras first went back to Maku Maku where Cirie gave an interview:  “We come back to the camp after we lose the reward challenge.  It was up to Sierra and I to win it and we could just not do it today.  You feel like such a loser like:  Can I, am I going to do anything? Am I going to be successful at anything?  I had kids young so I worked really hard to provide.  I never wanted to be in a position where my kids needed something and I am unable to do it for them, but this game, it takes you to the deepest, most hurtful places that you’ve ever felt especially in a loss like today.  To not be able to get it for them is like not being able to provide for your family.  My family is my motivation and I plan on winning for them.  That’s where it gets emotional for me.”

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He never shopped at Marshalls, but he certainly enjoyed the reward that they sponsored.  Well, except for the part where Tai started streaking of course. At least it wasn’t Debbie!  When Zeke said your mind still had to be in the game, he realized that he had turned the switch to off.  So while Zeke talked to Debbie and Tai about the next move, he simply stayed in one of those comfy chairs and relaxed.  Maybe if he had talked to Debbie… who knows?

Zeke’s confessional:  “I am amassing a team of snipers right now because I know the war is coming.  A lot of people in this game think the war is going to start one way, but I’m going to make sure the war starts my way.”

Debbie’s confessional:  “Zeke is throwing out a story to get me and Tai to vote for Andrea which I immediately was skeptical of.  The first thing you always should ask yourself in Survivor is:  Is this information true?  It’s hard for me to take anything Zeke says at face value because he is trying to form a coalition for himself that I’m not in any frame of mind to be moving into the Zeke camp.  I want to make a big move but I don’t need Zeke to make it.”

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Did he really want to watch that Immunity Challenge again?  The good thing is that they skipped day 23.  He wanted this to end as quickly as possible but that challenge was his and he blew it.  Well it was his challenge until too many Big Macs made it more difficult to hold on…  It took a determined 80-pound Asian guy to beat him so he couldn’t be too hard on himself…

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We heard Brad’s confessional:  “I think sides are starting to be taken and you need to get on one or the other pretty quickly or else you’re going to be on the small side.  It’s going to be a crazy tribal because it could very well dictate the remainder of the season.”

He thought he was on Brad’s side so what went wrong?  Well, maybe he should have talked to Brad and Sierra a little instead of ignoring them for the last few days…

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Back in camp, Zeke had the first confessional:  “I’m happy that Andrea didn’t win individual immunity because I am gearing up for the battle of my season: to get rid of Andrea.”

To get some leverage, Zeke told Sierra that her name was being thrown out there by Cirie, Andrea and Aubry but he wanted to see Andrea going home.  Sierra was surprised because she thought he was very close to them.

Sierra’s confessional:  “Zeke is acting like he wants to switch sides all of a sudden (there’s a joke in there but it would probably be in bad taste…) but whenever I talk to Zeke, I feel like he thinks I’m stupid.  (Hannah felt exactly the same way) and I don’t trust him but if they are saying my name, I’ve just got to figure out ways to get the numbers so I don’t go home.”

Sierra then went directly to Cirie, informing her of Zeke’s revelation.  Cirie was quick to tell him and Andrea about Zeke’s betrayal.

Andrea’s confessional:  “I am furious at Zeke.  I’ve been working with him since day one (well even before would be more accurate). I thought we were not only alliance members, I thought we were friends.”

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He had a confessional (It was about time, wouldn’t you say?):  “Cirie and I, we’re good.  I want her on my side voting with me against other people like Zeke.”

Cirie and Sarah also informed Sarah of Zeke’s betrayal.

Sitting in the hammock, Debbie asked Sierra what she wanted to do. She told her she wanted to go after Zeke, telling him they were voting for Aubry.

He was so furious that he nearly screamed: “It was that damn Wanker who said they should vote me out just to blow people out of the water.  What the hell?  You get mad at Zeke, you vote Ozzy instead?  What a bunch of crap!” 

Sierra was immediately down with it, but she wasn’t sure that those idiots would follow.

Feeling sick, he saw Brad and Troyzan on camera when Sierra mentioned idiots.  “They really were idiots,” he thought.  “Why didn’t they warn me?”

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Debbie and Sierra agreed it was time for the biggest ass move.  Debbie made the rounds and she managed to gather all the cats she needed.

Debbie’s confessional:  “It’s okay if people think I’m quirky and you can underestimate me at your own risk but if everybody listens to me– Brad, Sierra, Sarah, Troyzan, Tai– this will go off and we will be massive game changers tonight, largely thanks to me and I have an extra vote.  I don’t want to use it this early but I don’t know if I had the numbers.”

His only consolation was that she wasted that game advantage. 

After hearing Debbie’s pitch, Sarah gave a confessional:  “At this point, I’m sitting in the middle of two groups that are starting to surface.  The one group:  Brad, Sierra, Troyzan, Tai and Debbie, they want to vote out Ozzy, and then there’s another group of Cirie, Andrea, Michaela, Aubry and Ozzy and they want to see Zeke go.  I’m weighing out all of my options, and to vote Ozzy out, that means taking out a big social and challenge threat right now.  That’s the move to make early on in a merge.  But then, a lot of people want Zeke out because he’s a smart guy and he’s willing to make moves, and when you trust somebody like that, you will end up getting blindsided so it’s a real tough position to be in.  But a line will be drawn in the sand with this vote.”

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He still felt very confident when he entered Tribal Council even if he knew people were playing harder than usual.  Sarah said she was still trying to get a date with someone while Tai was happy to be wearing his immunity necklace. At least Aubry stood by him, saying she appreciated his role as provider.

He should have told Debbie that he would never vote for her in the end.  Maybe that would have made her realize that sending him to the jury wasn’t the best plan ever.

When Jeff tallied the votes, he was very interested to see who had voted against him.

  • First he saw that Cirie voted against Sierra only to spice things up.
  • Zeke was totally out of the loop having voted for Aubry.
  • Andrea, Aubry, and Michaela voted with him for Zeke.
  • The treacherous Sarah, that numbskull Brad, and that old fart Troyzan joined Tai, Sierra, and Wanker in voting against him.

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The Story

Before I go into details, I want to point out that Ozzy‘s thoughts were fictitious.  I read only one of his interviews, so this isn’t meant to reflect his actual thoughts, just what a player might think while watching his final episode.

It was clearly stressed in these episodes that it is important to be in the loop at this point in the game.  You don’t want to be in the smaller group but it’s worse to be alone.  Who was in the loop?

Because of the split vote strategy, it was kind of hard to tell during the Hali vote, but it’s safe to say that it was Cirie’s side who wanted to keep her over Hali.  This would lead us to divide them as follows:

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The Characters

Sitting all alone on Dumbass Island:

Zeke:  It was his own agenda that got him in this mess.  He needed to make a big move in order to show he was playing the game, but it blew up in his face. We had been expecting this since the introduction.  There are still a lot of players so Zeke could slide by but people are already aware that they can’t let him go to the end.

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They were in on the first vote but not the second:

Aubry:  She had some confessionals but they were mostly narration.  She is presented as a soldier in Cirie’s army instead of a real player, so she will need to make a move to earn the jury’s respect.

Michaela: By her own admission, Cirie has a better understanding of the game, so it will be hard for Michaela to get to the end if Cirie is voted out and it will be hard for Michaela to win the game if Cirie isn’t voted out.  She’s facing quite the dilemma.

Andrea: Like the others players said, she rocked that first immunity challenge and then she looked very good standing on a pedestal.  It was interesting to hear them say that Andrea was a dangerous strategist.  We all know that Cirie is great at this game but we had never seen Andrea on the same level, yet that’s where she was in Zeke’s eyes.  Will the battle to get rid of Andrea prove to be the story of the season?  They didn’t get rid of her this time so will they continue to fail?  It certainly looks like she will have a huge impact before the end of the season.

Cirie: The first vote showed Cirie’s skills.  She was pictured sitting like a queen and she quickly turned a split vote strategy to her advantage.  She said that saving Michaela would be good for the future of her game, so we will have to see if she can overcome the latest setback.  Ozzy was only 7th in her army, so she still has good numbers and she only needs to flip one person. The main problem is that the other side has all three idols and the legacy advantage.

Cirie should try to turn Tai to her side, but would he go with Aubry a second time?

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They were tricked during the first vote but took charge of the second:

Tai:  He will be hard to beat in endurance challenges but there usually are many puzzles during the individual portion of the game so he’ll need those idols.  In his first season, he flipped because he didn’t like the bullies in his alliance but he likes Brad and trusts him.  Will he realize he isn’t in the core alliance and will that realization be enough to make him move?

Troyzan:  While he’s had some good episodes, he is now being reduced to Sierra and Brad’s adjunct.  He will need to shake that perception in order to have a chance.

Brad:  Sitting out of the merge feast made him look good in the eyes of his tribemates, but that will be long forgotten if he makes it to the end.  The fact that he is seen as Sierra’s puppet isn’t very promising.  What is good for him is that we hear his confessionals detailing his strategy and his perceptions.

Sierra:  Even if Debbie got most of the credit for switching the vote on Ozzy, we saw that Sierra was part of the conversation that led to this move.  She is portrayed as the person in charge of the main alliance, but her reasoning to target Michaela was accompanied by a syncopated melody and Zeke practically dismissed her as a strategic threat.  Can she be taken seriously?

Debbie:  She arranged the biggest move of the season and she made full use of Cochran’s advice, so there is hope for her.  Making others think you are crazy is a great way to avoid the votes, both those against you and the important one to win the title.

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She was on the right side both times:

Sarah:  Just like we heard in the season’s introduction, Zeke was too eager to make a big move and Sarah was right there to make him pay.  Now, she’s sitting pretty while he’s in a whole lot of trouble.  While we didn’t hear her talking about saving Michaela, she was still on Cirie’s side at that point so she benefitted from the move.  Then she jumped to the other side to get rid of a big threat so her decisions worked to perfection.  Navigating between two alliances isn’t the best way to make friends, but for now, both sides need her.  Can she maintain the momentum?

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