Well that sure was a stuffed two hours. As expected there were a lot of moving pieces and shifting alliances. So much so that it was almost confusing to keep track of. In the end though we had a Survivor legend and a Survivor non-entity (sorry that was harsh) go out. Let’s break it all down.
We start out at Nuku beach on the day after the events of last week’s tribal. Sarah and Tai are talking and Sarah is kind of mad the others forgave Varner. She says she has not and probably will not. The tribe has a cathartic moment together and decide its time to get back to the game. Zeke tells us in confessional that he’s ready to get back to what he came there to do and that’s win the game.
We then cut to both tribes arriving at a location where they notice the merge feast all set up, but people like Cirie and Ozzy notice the covered table near Probst and know something is up. Probst reveals that in order to have the merge feast one person from each tribe must volunteer to sit it out. If not then every player gets a single cracker with a slice of cheese on it and a swig of iced tea and that’s it. Brad almost immediately volunteers to sit out for Mana, saying it is what Monica would do. After a tense moment of looking around at each Tai raises his hand to sit out for Nuku. The other players are happy that they go their feast, but as Cirie notes, they all know Brad and Tai won brownie points with everyone for doing this.
Sierra is pumped about the merge and says that she is ready to make a move. She reminds the audience that she still has the legacy advantage and that it can only be played at 13 or 6 people left in the game. She says she hopes to hold onto it until the 6 and hopes she does not have to play it at the first tribal. Cirie, who still has not gone to tribal at this point, is ready for her game to start up and so am I. Brad says he is looking ahead and not just at that this first vote. He wants either Michaela or Hali out first because he feels he cannot work with either of them. Tai is loving his time hanging out with Brad and is happy to be in good with him. Brad immediately brings him back into the alliance and Tai is happy to be in the numbers. During the feast Debbie is acting all crazy, but she tells us she was just acting drunk and that she did not have one sip. Its an interesting strategy and I don’t really know what benefit it provided other than an opportunity for her to moon Tai.
Next we cut back to the old Mana beach where both tribes are now living. Brad and Debbie make up from their earlier fight and Brad says he is one her side. The third version of Mana people want to hear the stories of how Sandra and Varner got voted out. Zeke decides to share the story and everyone really respects him. We next see Ozzy talking to Brad and Troyzan. Brad floats his Hali and Michaela targets and Ozzy agrees. They decide on Michaela as the target and then we get a great sequence as we see the game of telephone that takes place so that all 12 people not named Michaela get told she is the target. Sierra is on edge about Michaela because she is worried that if she finds out she is the target then she will blow up. Meanwhile, Zeke, Andrea and Cirie talk about what happens next if Michaela is the first to leave. They know they have Sarah, but are not sure on other numbers and know Michaela could be a number for them. They do not want to be caught off guard by the Brad and Sierra alliance and wonder whether they should strike first.
Later on we check in with Hali who wants to work with Michaela and put a strategic fire under her butt. Hali had found out the target from Tai in the earlier montage and she tells Michaela that her name has come up. Michaela then pulls Cirie aside and has a heart to heart with her. Cirie tells her that she needs to control her emotions and is essentially mentoring Michaela. Cirie really like Michaela and would like to save her so she is going to do all that she can.
Next is the immunity challenge where each of the contestants must stand on a beam and balance a block on their head against a frame. If your drop blocks you are out. Its a simple sounding challenge, but really hard. Hali, Troy, Zeke and Cirie all drop out really quickly. Coming into the challenge I thought Michaela was going to win immunity because of the huge focus on her pre challenge. You can imagine my surprise when she goes out in 8th place. Eventually 25 minutes in we are down to just Sarah, Sierra, Tai and Andrea. Sarah drops out first and Sierra right behind her. Down to just Tai and Andrea, Tai all of the sudden drops out of nowhere and Andrea has won the first individual immunity of the season.
Back at camp Sierra feels that she is in charge, but is worried that Hali has an idol because she is acting so confident. She wants to split the vote so that the majority go on Michaela, but some go on Hali to flush the idol. She also comes up with the plan to make Zeke the decoy boot based on his story. Of all the things I did not expect to see this season, smug Sierra was one of them and I am not sure I am liking it. She is coming off as incredibly cocky and its not a good look. The group tells Hali the decoy Zeke plan and she buys into it, but is not comfortable. Cirie tells Zeke that she is worried that if they vote off Michaela then Brad’s side will use their leverage to make Hali their number. Zeke then says they should shift the majority of votes to Hali. He confronts Sierra with this plan saying that if they really want to flush the idol the majority of the votes should be on Hali. If she has one and gets the minority of votes its super easy for her to hold the idol because there is no risk of her going home. Sierra says that’s fine, but privately says that Zeke is annoying her with his need to be in control. Again this turns me off of her because he is right even if he is just trying to flip the vote in his favor. Her plan made absolutely no sense if she was actually trying to flush an idol. Cirie then tells Michaela that she is on the block, but needs to stick to the decoy plan so that their secret alliance does not get exposed. Cirie tells her to trust her and she should be safe.
At tribal everyone comments on how a lot is happening and Andrea points out that this is the point in the game where lines are drawn. Debbie says she thinks she is not going to be shocked by the vote and Hali says that she is in the dark. Michaela agrees and says she has no idea what’s going on. Ozzy says that risk is the criteria for this vote and Debbie says its a good time to flush an idol. Hali figures out that they must be talking about her and volunteers for a strip search to show that she does not have one. She also makes the argument that they should use her as a free agent to take out a target instead of targeting her. Unfortunately her pleas fall on deaf ears and she is voted out 7-4-2. Cirie’s plan to save Michaela worked. It is actually super impressive, but more on that later.
The next day Michaela is super grateful and wants to return the favor to Cirie. When they talk though, Cirie tells Michaela to make sure nobody knows it was her who did all of that. Cirie is happy to be in power now and while walking with Aubry and Zeke says she wants to target Brad or Sierra. She believes Sierra controls Brad and that Brad controls Troy. Aubry just sits by listening in and tells us she is down to work with Cirie if that is necessary for her to go further. Later on Andrea and Zeke are talking and Andrea says that they should go for Brad or Sierra, but not to tell Debbie or Tai because that could ruin the plan. Zeke is getting nervous because it seems like he is being fed information instead of actually knowing it. He thinks that Cirie and Andrea might have too much power and that it might be time to go for them.
Next is the reward challenge in which they will be divided up into two teams of six. The first pair of teammates will dive into the water and untie a net containing wooden fish. From there they must drag it to shore where the next pair of teammates will untie the fish and hang them on a pole and carry it up to the puzzle makers. The puzzle makers will use the fish to solve a puzzle. The winning team gets to go to the Marshall’s hang out area where they can shower and gorge on burgers.
For the red team Sarah and Brad are going to swim against Ozzy and Troy for the blue team. Surprisingly Brad and Sarah untie their net first, but leave a fish behind so Sarah has to double back and get it leaving Brad to drag the heavy net to shore himself. This allows the blue team to get the lead and seem to be running away with it when Tai and Andrea start running up the beach with their pole, but they forget a fish as well. This opens the door for Aubry and Michaela to take the lead for the red team. The challenge comes down to the puzzle though and this is where Debbie and Zeke win it for the blue team over Cirie and Sierra. It probably helps that Debbie has done this puzzle before in Koah Rong and that probably gave them an advantage.
Back at camp Cirie starts breaking down because she feels like she has let people down, but the others comfort her and say that is not the case. At the reward everyone is enjoying themselves and getting clean. Tai even streaks around the area yelling something about the 80’s. Later on Zeke does find some time to talk strategy with Debbie and Tai. He tries to convince them that Andrea should be the next to go and Debbie agrees with him to his face. To us Debbie says she does not buy his story and though she wants to make a big move, she doesn’t want to do it with Zeke.
We then head to the immunity challenge which is a Survivor classic. The contestants will be up on a tall pole and must hold on for as long as possible with tiny footholds. Ozzy has won this challenge twice before and as the challenge starts seems like he is well on his way to doing so again. Cirie drops out pretty quickly followed by Brad and Aubry. Debbie, Zeke, Sierra, Troy and Sarah all drop out before the 20 minute mark. Michaela just gives up at one point because to her there is no way she is beating Ozzy. 40 minutes in Andrea finally drops in a bone crunching fall. I am very surprised that she did not hurt herself because that was a big fall. That just leaves Tai and Ozzy battling it out and they do so for 1 hour and 35 minutes before Tai dethrones king. Its funny when Tai is so happy about wining that he accidentally calls Ozzy the queen instead of the king. One interesting thing about the challenge is at one point Ozzy mentions that if he wins then he can go fishing, but if not they will go hungry. Seemed like an odd time for him to flaunt the provider card and try to leverage that for something.
At camp Brad says sides are being taken and that it could decide the game. Zeke really wants Andrea gone so he decides to try and bring in Sierra. He tells her that her name is on the block, unfortunately for him, she does not believe his story and tells Cirie that he told her. Cirie, Ozzy and Andrea are super mad and quickly decide to switch their plan to Zeke. Debbie, sitting with Sierra in the hammock, is mulling over the new developments and throws out the idea that they should vote for Ozzy. Sierra agrees and one by one Debbie tells Troy, Tai, and Brad the plan. She also tells Sarah so that they could possibly lock her in as part of their alliance. Meanwhile Cirie, Andrea, Aubry, Ozzy and Michaela are the opposition voting for Zeke.
At tribal Sarah says that nobody knows that the other players want. Ozzy says he is feeling the pressure and Aubry says that it is much harder this time. Ozzy then once again plays the provider card in order to sway people to not vote for him. Cirie then says that the vote comes down to who has displayed the most trust. Everyone votes and we see a few votes and hear Cirie say she is voting the way she is to spice things up, but we don’t see it. Before Probst can tally up the votes Debbie stands up and says she wants to play her extra vote advantage. In the end she didn’t really need to as Ozzy is voted out 7-4-1-1.
Alright so let’s clean up a few things here. I think Cirie’s move in first hour might be her most impressive of all time. With 13 pieces on the board she managed to flip the vote such that the person she wanted to stay did end up doing so while keeping that alliance a secret and keeping her honesty levels up by still voting for Michaela. That is incredible game play and why I love having Cirie on my television. There is an argument to be made thought that it was almost too impressive and that is what lead Zeke to implode everything in the second hour.
As for Zeke, he is his own worst enemy. I think his problem is that strategy wise he is almost too good at this game. He sees the numbers so clearly and theoretically is making all of the right moves. The problem is, despite his eloquence, he does not have the social game down to a t. He comes off of as overly schemey and like he is constantly playing, which he is. Sierra should have jumped on Zeke’s plan to save her, but for some reason she didn’t even though Zeke was telling the truth. Same with Debbie. Generally speaking the move to split up Cirie and Andrea is a good one in theory, but in this situation he should have waited. Once again he made his move way too early and its costing him. It most likely will cost Andrea and Cirie their games too.
One person who I came away from this episode super impressed with was Debbie. She remained calm through all two hours and pulled off a monumental move to oust Ozzy at just the right time. She rallied the troops correctly and pulled of something few have. She is looking good right now, but I fully expect her personality to get the best of her moving forward.
Finally, I just want to finish with a few words on Ozzy. He turned into his old self a little bit at the end here, but in general I liked this version of Ozzy. He seemed more into the strategy of it all and was not making huge waves. He was doing very well and was actually in a really good position before Zeke imploded the alliance for no reason. No matter your feelings on Ozzy you have to admit he is a legend. He holds all kinds of Survivor records and will there really will never be another person like him on the show. I was not looking forward to version four of Ozzy, but I quite enjoyed it and was pleasantly surprised. So kudos to Ozzy.
Alright so next week we got the gloves coming off as the Zeke and Andrea feud continues. The new alliance of six seems to solidify as well. Should be interesting to see if they stick together or splinter like all alliances have this season. Until next time!