Survivor: Game Changers

Survivor Pop Culture Recap: War Games

Each week, Scott Gallagher breaks down the show minute by minute in Survivor Pop Culture Recap. It’s live blogging complete with commercial breaks.

Survivor Pop Culture Recap: War Games

Welcome back. It’s that time again for probably another crazy episode of Survivor. Last week we lost my pick to win it all this season in JT. JT going home with an idol in his pocket….not a great look. We lost a big time player and we lost the potential for a great moment if JT would have had the sense to play the idol. Okay, maybe I’m overstating that JT was a “big-time” player this season, as he looked like a bloated actor stepping into a role he once played thirty years earlier.

Regardless of your personal opinion of JT, the point is that nobody is taking the easy way out this season. For the most part, it’s one big target being taken out after the other. It leads me to start thinking whether we are going to get a random ass winner this season…like IF we had a nuclear war and the only countries left standing were Switzerland and Canada somehow, followed by Probst telling us that “the only winning move, it seems is not to play the game”.

With all that said, let’s see where everybody stands heading into tonight.

Pre-Show Status

Aubry: Another week of Aubry being hardly seen during the show. Aubry might be exactly who I’m talking about as far as someone is going to win this game by staying completely out of the war this season. Aubry could fit that profile exactly. She is smart enough to read most of the dynamics and I could see her play possum for the next seven weeks. Aubry is someone to keep a good eye on.

Caleb: R.I.P.

Malcolm: R.I.P.

Ciera: R.I.P.

Hali: Yeah, I admit it, I’ve been hard on Hali, but in my defense she perpetually looks like a Starbucks barista gave her the wrong coffee and she can’t let it go. Maybe Hali, like Aubry, will be someone that everybody else forgets about and before you know it, there she is at the end of this game. I think she is safe tonight.

Michaela: Michela is perfect for this season–not as someone that has a real chance to win the game– I mean god no, she doesn’t have the social game to pull that off, but she is a perfect War Machine. Someone that the Survivor Gods dipped in the waters Styx. Whatever team she is on, they just unleash her into the competition.

I’m a Michaela fan, so it’s not like I wouldn’t be happy if she won. I just think it’s apparent that she is going to implode/self-destruct at some point before we get to the end. Like I said last week, we don’t know when the Michaela implosion will happen… it could be tonight or it could be five weeks from now….Winter is coming.

Jeff: Tough to completely call Jeff out for siding with Sandra over JT last week, but you would like to see Jeff make a move here sometime soon to separate himself in some way instead of just being the swing vote every week. Or maybe, Jeff is playing it smart, laying low, and letting other players make mistakes. I think Jeff is safe tonight, so in the grand scheme of things, maybe Jeff knows what he’s doing?

Sandra: Sandra has been the alpha player all season long. The question is how long her style can last this season. I mean, let’s just for back-to-back weeks, use another Goodfellas reference for Sandra; she’s playing reckless and flagrantly asking for trouble. She’s like Joe Pesci’s character. Just look at her wrong and she’s:

Sandra dares everybody else to call her bluff to step to her. So far nobody has called that bluff. Who will eventually be responsible for Sandra’s downfall? Every week she survives, the stronger she seems to get. It will be interesting to see what tonight brings for her because somebody at some point is going to have to try to get her out of here. Otherwise, if they wait too long, it will be adios for everybody else.

Troyzan: Troyzan isn’t going to be standing on the frontlines of any Survivor war– let’s just be honest here. Not that he should, but he’s not in a position to control anything. He always seems like he is perpetually looking for a Survivor home to call his own. He’s always on the end of things and this season is no different. Troyzan does have an idol, but can we depend on Troyzan to use that idol with maximum force? I don’t have faith in that. I think Troyzan is safe tonight, but long-term I’m not liking his prospects.

Tony: R.I.P.

Andrea: Andrea has been pretty quiet for the most part this season, not even being able to be described as a “supporting actor” here so far– more like little cameos here and there so far. I feel like at some point she will be itchy to make some move and that will be the time she forces something she shouldn’t force, which will lead to her downfall. I don’t think that will be tonight, though.

Brad: Kudos to Brad for maintain calm in the face of a certified psychopath having a destructive mental breakdown on him in Debbie. Brad showed great restraint and won some points from me throughout that ordeal that we all went through last week. Brad is going to be targeted, maybe through no fault of his own, but yes he will be targeted. He is going to have some trumped up charge levied at him and he will be gone….OR Brad will implode by trying to do some ridiculous big move where the timing is completely wrong and it will backfire and lead to his exit in the game. It might happen tonight even….

Cirie: Like I said last week, watch out, Cirie has settled into this game and now it seems like she is completely off everybody’s radar. Cirie is for sure someone that could slither her way to the end without anybody seeing it happen. I think she either goes in the next three episodes or she will be one of the final three players left in this game. She is that dangerous.

Debbie: Wow….Where do we even begin to evaluate last week for Debbie. I mean, screw it. I used it last week, but I’m using it again. This is what I expect the very first season tonight of Debbie to be:

Between her misplaced anger at Brad, to her rewriting history about her balancing abilities or lack thereof, Debbie was really the star last week. Lord only knows what we are in store for tonight? The scary part, though, is if we get the merge, Debbie can cause real damage by whatever crazy rational she uses to pick a block of people to vote with. Debbie’s mental health last week was scary and so let’s all buckle up and await that crazy voice again to rise up:


Ozzy: Slow week last week for Ozzy, but doesn’t Ozzy have a look of like a deer that you just know at any time is going to be hunted and traumatically killed (and then probably bleed out, be carved up and eaten by Sandra)? I don’t think I will say confidentially that Ozzy will be safe tonight because it just seems like he will be the big target everybody wants out next…Maybe I’m wrong, but I just have that feeling. It seems like there is something missing this season for Oz.

Sarah: Sarah is undercover, but she’s undercover as a non-impressive Survivor player. Let’s just say that it fits her well. Sarah would be best served doing nothing drastic, letting the game come to her…I think that will be the struggle for her long term, but tonight I think she will be safe.

Sierra: Sierra is caught in between a player that is too bright a target and someone that can just hide behind the crowd. Meaning, it will be tough for her to win the game even though I think she is an impressive player. I don’t think she will be the target tonight, but I do think her time is coming to an end soon.

Tai: No chance to win the game. I feel very confident typing that sentence…Please somebody challenge me on this? Tai is going to do something that will piss us all off– like I could see everybody plotting Sandra’s death this week and then Tai going up to Sandra and asking her what her plans will be tomorrow after she is voted out. I think Tai is too much of a wildcard that nobody trusts. In a merge situation it could be curtains for Tai…although the chances of him or anybody for that matter finding an idol when they need it, apparently is almost a certainty these days.

Zeke: Honest question for the second week in a row: Was Zeke in the last episode at all??? Zeke has been quiet this season, which could mean he is going to sit back and wait to pounce, but if he was going to win this season, I feel like we would have been getting more camera time for Zeke. I could be wrong and I’ve never studied the camera time for winners of Survivor, so who knows, but I just got the feeling that Zeke had his starring role last season and now for this sequel is only doing a cameo.


So there’s the (most likely a majority of inaccurate) thoughts from how I see things heading into this episode. Looks like tonight we are getting Exile Island and maybe more player swaps or merges or whatever the hell they’re doing this season. Since Ciera was the first to go, we haven’t had another woman get voted out. Will that trend continue tonight? Feels like the women are in power this season across the board. We will see, though. Let’s get to the action.

It’s 8 pm Portland, Oregon time.

8 pm

Previously on Survivor:

We get a quick look at Tai finding an idol and then quickly transition into Debbie being crazy, capped off with Sandra getting her way with JT getting 86’d….(One of my worst picks ever…)


Post-vote we join the Blue team with Aubry as she shares that she is at the bottom of this food chain. She also shares what we all know, which is Sandra is Queen Bee here.


Next, we join Tai and his team at camp. Tai wakes up in the wee hours to go idol hunting. Once again, in a matter of twenty seconds, Tai finds the idol. Tai tells us that this idol hopefully won’t burn a hole in his pocket and that he plans to save this one for a real moment.


Wow. We are rolling here as we head to the Reward Challenge. Everybody gets a look at the team minus JT. Nobody puts in any real good acting performances here. I think we get one person who half-heartily snaps their fingers and mutters: “Oh shucks”.

Jeff announces that we are swapping teams again. Everyone tosses in their buffs and draws a new one.

Everybody has a new team, except for Debbie who doesn’t draw a buff….

Debbie learns that she is going to Exile Island. Well, this should be interesting– sending someone who is actively psychotic to be alone for twenty-four hours….So, once again for good measure:

Jeff asks Debbie what she is thinking. This leads to Debbie sharing that she was once on her own with a pony…Okay…Jeff can we please get a follow up question here: Why was Debbie alone with a pony? Where did the pony come from? Could other people see the pony or was it “invisible”?  Was that pony ever seen again? These are all questions I feel like we needed answered…Is Probst mailing it in here or what?

Both teams leave, so I guess this wasn’t the Reward Challenge, my bad.

Commercial Break

Okay honest question. Did one of the most iconic, famous movies in American Cinema History contain the first ever date rape scene that everybody has just pretended never happened?

I mean, in hindsight this pretty creepy, right? And trust me there isn’t a bigger Rocky fan in this world than me. I would beat anybody in a Rocky trivia game…but still, we all pretty much celebrated a date rape looking back….


We join the new Mana Team of Brad, Hali, Troyzan, Brad, Aubry, Cirie, Siera and Michaela.

Brad points out astutely that he and Troyzan are the only males on this team and they need to stick together.


The new Nuku team of Tai, Zeke, Jeff, Ozzy, Sandra, Sara and Andrea.

Sandra tells us that give her a little bit of time and she will be running the show here.


Ozzy and Zeke talk about blindsiding Sandra. They concoct a plan to tell a story to them to make them feel safe.

They share the plan with Andrea and Sarah. Andrea, like I predicted she would, is itching to deviate from this plan, to potential itch for a move to get Tai out….Yikes, Andrea, I mean why would you not want to get out the one player who has never been voted out just so you could vote out a guy who will implode probably seven more times?


Tai gets told the plan, but he’s not feeling safe, so he wants to go find another idol….and fifteen seconds later he finds another idol…..Maybe it’s time to make idols a tad bit harder to find in the next season? It’s harder to avoid the bitchy Luxury Tax spot between Boardwalk and Park Place in Monopoly than to find an idol these days.


We join Debbie as she gets exiled. Apparently the exile is getting exiled to a nice boat with food…$100 bucks the producers changed the original plan to make it hell when they found out it was Debbie and didn’t want to deal with Debbie going to a darker, more disturbing place mentally.


Oh hold the phone, as Debbie gets comfortable on a hammock, who pulls up on a speed boat? None other than Survivor “legend” Cochran….This is going to be quite the interaction.

Commercial Break

Okay, so my weekly tradition of asking what happened to a one-time big actor from childhood this week will focus on Billy Crystal….What happened? The last good Billy Crystal movie we will say…I’m literally thinking in my head and the only movie that is coming up is City Slickers…which was 1991…Yeesh!

Maybe I’m mistaken, but nothing else is coming up in my head…City Slickers is still pretty good and holds up well for a movie that twenty-six years old.


We join Debbie and Cochran as he awkwardly hops on the boat and then ten times more awkwardly pulls a chair out for Debbie to sit in.

Cochran tries to give Debbie help…..but Debbie tells him that she doesn’t have any fears…Cochran is trying to spell out that the show brought him here to help her problem solve….Debbie isn’t catching on and is acting borderline delusional about her status in the game…Wow.


Cochran then presents Debbie with a game advantage, which leads to Debbie to cry hysterically on Cochran’s shoulder with Cochran completely overwhelmed with Debbie and literally mouthing “Help” to the crew off-camera.

Debbie chooses the extra vote advantage.

As they say goodbye to one another, I think Cochran has a can of mace in one hand ready to strike if Deb gets anymore crazy.

Commercial Break

Anybody else have this weird thing where you could watch the same documentary over and over again? Well, I personally have continued to watch the History of The Eagles documentary almost biweekly for the last four months on Netflix. There is something about aged rock stars acting very self-important that just gripes me. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it yet.


Back from break, we join Zeke and Jeff as they have a heart to heart. Zeke decides that he will work with Jeff as soon as they get Sandra out.

Jeff is buying hook, line and sinker what Zeke is selling.


Next, we get Jeff and Sandra talking about what Zeke said. Sandra isn’t buying it.


Time for the Immunity Challenge. Not much to describe here– basically a little bit of physical action until we get to a puzzle to end it.


Getting down to the nitty-gritty and both teams are essentially tied.


Wow. Right when both teams get to the puzzle, the Mana team somehow solves the puzzle in ten seconds and they win the comp.

Nuku is going to Tribal and will this be the night that Sandra goes?

Commercial Break

Being single at thirty-six, almost thirty-seven, I feel like I’m in that in-between age, where people are definitely going to be thinking there is something really flawed with me, parlayed with that fact that very soon dating a women in their twenties will give me a nice slew of passive-aggressive looks from people. I feel like if I can hold out until my 40’s and start making some real money, I could possibly settle down into a poor-man’s George Clooney thing….That’s the hope at least.


Okay, here we are…the final segment of this episode as we join the quiet Nuku team back at camp.

Zeke spells out again the reasons Sandra needs to go.


Sandra still has a bad feeling about things and knows that she needs to work a little. Sandra makes her pitch to everybody. So far people are staying strong.

Ozzy is starting to buckle with Sandra’s pitch about Tai, Debbie, and Aubry joining forces when the merge happens. You’ve got to be kidding me.


Next, we join Tai who is feeling out of the loop.

Wow…With Ozzy and Jeff on cue, Tai spills the beans about Sandra being the target. Even Ozzy who is awful in his own right with Survivor social instincts is horrified with Tai….


Sandra gets wind of her name being thrown out there and now her game plan is to try and mental mind f**k Tai at Tribal so he will implode.


Here we go. We head to Tribal. Looks like the Queen is in peril.


Sandra is playing possum, telling Probst that she knows she is going home.

Tai basically confirms that “Yes…That is accurate”.


And here we go again….After Sarah shares that maybe not everyone’s mind is made up, Tai gets paranoid, which makes Sandra pounce telling Tai that she will vote with him and to just whisper a name to her….Tai then whispers a name to her…Wow.


Everybody else looks on confused and do not understand why Tai is not catching on with everybody playing stupid on voting out Sandra.

Next, Tai, needing another vote, just tells everybody that he wants to vote out Ozzy….

Which leads to everybody now deciding to vote out Tai???


Dear lord here we go again. We are headed to the votes. Did Tai really implode this hard?

No idol is played…Wow….







The sixth person voted out….Sandra!

Wow…The Queen is dead.



So, everybody decided not to vote out Tai. Was that an act? Or were they just like: “This guy is so stupid we don’t even need to worry about him”? I just don’t understand. What just happened? What makes this even better is that Tai has two idols. Is there any chance that he goes home with two idols in his pockets? Is there any chance he doesn’t tell anybody about his idols and somehow blow it by doing so?

Sandra is a hall-of-famer. The tribe swap again probably screwed her over, just like it did JT and Malcolm. I go back to what I said at the beginning of this: This season is set up for someone nondescript to win. This is a nuclear war, where big player after big player is going home. Nobody is safe.

I don’t know who the favorite is to win this game…I really don’t have a single clue. What do you guys think? Nuclear Survivor War is brutal…. but it’s way better than a game of chess…..

Thanks for reading. See you next week.


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