After a big two hour episode last week we assumed that the strong six would stay together and that would lead to a boring couple of episodes. Luckily, I was wrong and we got a much more interesting episode this week! There are a lot of interesting implications for the end game that have arisen this week and now its time to break it all down.
We start at the Maku Maku camp right after the vote out of Ozzy. Debbie says she feels really good in her six (for you edit readers we know this is the kiss of death). We then cut to Andrea who is shocked by the outcome and wants to confront Zeke for his betrayal. She tells him that everyone knows he’s shady now and that nobody will work with him. She is right and Zeke really has backed himself into a corner. He knows that and mentions in a confessional that he has not choice now but to hitch his wagon to the majority alliance.
The next day Sarah comforts Zeke and says that she still wants to work with him. She says to stick with her and that they can do well. She drops a great line saying that “the tides come up pretty quickly to wash away lines in the sand”. This is just the beginning for Sarah in her biggest episode yet.
After the commercial break we go right into the reward challenge. This is the infamous challenge where Will Sims flopped down the slide like a dead fish. In teams of 5, one at a time castaways will swim to a large slide, climb up it, slide down and swim to a net balanced in the water. Once they are over the net they have to get across a balance beam. From there, once all five people are across one person must dive down to retrieve a grappling hook and then use the hook to get 5 hoops. Once they get all five hoops they win. The team that wins gets to go on a plane to a new island and have a picnic. Since there are 11 players one player will not participate. After the schoolyard pick Michaela is the one left out and she is pissed.
The teams break down such that Brad, Debbie, Sierra, Andrea and Aubry are on the blue team while Cirie, Zeke, Tai, Sarah, and Troy on the red team. At the beginning blue gets a lead when Tai has trouble with the balance beam. Troy makes some time up for red and Sarah eventually ties it up by catching up with Aubry. Zeke loses all the ground Red has made up and Andrea ends up lapping him for blue. So blue has a huge lead and Cirie is completely wiped out. She is really struggling because she is tired and Sarah dives in to go help her so she will also have to redo the same obstacles as Cirie. While all this is happening blue ends up winning, but Probst asks Cirie if she wants to conquer the challenge. All of the contestants cheer her on and she does it. Probst calls it one of the most inspirational moments in Survivor history and I have to disagree. Listen, I thought it was a nice moment while watching it, but the more I think about it the more cringey it becomes. If just seemed like such a forced moment and Probst’s hyperbolic statements at the end just make it worse.
Another thing to note from this challenge is that on the bench where Michaela was watching the challenge there was a note that said secret advantage tied to one of the bench legs. Michaela does not notice it at all, but as the red team is getting on the boat to go back to their beach, Sarah notices it and swims over to get it. At first I thought it was crazy that no one saw her do this, but I read from Dalton Ross over at EW that the boats they get transported on have a below deck that is blacked out. So as long as Sarah was the last one on the boat she easily could have gotten it without her tribe members noticing.
Back at camp Cirie apologizes, but Tai and Sarah comfort her telling her that it is ok. All that matters to them is that she finished it and was a good example for her kids. Afterwards Sarah walks off to read her advantage and finds out that it is a vote steal. She says that she wants to be the first to play it correctly.
At the reward everyone is feasting away. Aubry throws in a nice callback to her season, by excitedly asking if there is coleslaw. Brad talks about how he purposely picked his team in a way that his alliance was split up. He says its Survivor 101 to not bring your whole alliance on reward so that the others can keep an eye on what is happening at camp. Sierra says that she is sitting pretty at this point, but as Sandra would say “I don’t know about that!”
Unfortunately for Brad, even though he had the right thinking on the reward thing, he left the wrong people back at camp. Sarah, who he counted on to stay with them, is talking to Cirie about her position in the game. Cirie says Brad and Sierra are running the show and that if she makes it to the end with them then they will say that they carried her. They talk about creating a new alliance of six including Sarah, Cirie, Zeke, Michaela, Andrea and Aubry to take down the power six. Sarah is considering it and wants to make a big move, but is not sure if she is ready or if it is the right time.
After the commercial break we head right into the immunity challenge. This is the challenge many of you will remember because in Koah Rong Joe del Campo could not spell immunity correctly. In the challenge you have to untie a bag containing blocks that spell immunity and then run down to balance a table. They must use a rope to balance that table as they move back and forth collect blocks and spell immunity without dropping it. Its a very close challenge as many of the had 4 or 5 block stacked, but then Sarah drops her table and Aubry does as well. Troyzan and Andrea were in the lead with Brad not too far behind, but Brad and Andrea drop almost simultaneously. At this point its Troy’s to lose. He has such a big lead and pulls it out for the win.
Once we get back to camp the power six start talking about who they want to vote out. Debbie really wants to get Michaela out because she is really annoyed by her, but Brad says it is a lot smarter to take out Andrea because she is a strategic and challenge threat. The power six all say that is the plan, but Sarah is annoyed she did not get asked what she wanted to do and says maybe its time to make her move. Zeke and Sarah agree its time to make a move, but realize they have to bring in Andrea so Zeke is going to have to mend fences if only for a little bit. Sarah ends up doing most of the work though and the plan is in motion.
That all changes rather quickly when Sarah has a talk with Sierra on the beach. Sierra says she wants to do final three with Debbie and her. This confuses Sarah because she thought she was on the bottom of the alliance, but now it looks like that is not the case. She does not want to make a move if her position is better than she thought. This changes again though when Debbie talks to Aubry about the power six’s decoy Michaela plan. Debbie tells Aubry to vote Michaela and is really forceful about it. She also lies and says that Sarah is looking to cut her at some point. Aubry goes and talks to Sarah about this and Sarah is pissed that Debbie is spreading lies about her. Just minutes ago she wanted her in her final three, but if Debbie is spreading misinformation about her then that does not look like it will be the case. Sarah know she is the swing vote and says she is going to decide at tribal.
At tribal council Probst starts right off with the Cirie moment, but then moves past it rather quickly. Andrea is worried because she does not have immunity and she knows that she is on the bottom because she is out of the loop. Zeke then goes right on to name the majority alliance and they do not deny it. Debbie acts all smug about her alliance and says they all have a say and no one is at the top. Andrea then calls out the Michaela decoy plan that was going around as being just that. There is also some debate about what do you do if you are in the power six and at the bottom. Troy says that the deck always reshuffles so if you have a free ride to six why not take it? Michaela on the other hand says that if you know who is in power than do something about it. We then go in to vote and see Debbie put down Andrea’s name and Andrea put down Debbie’s name. In the end it is Debbie who goes home after Sarah flips. Michaela also continues her prop comedy by eating coconut as Debbie is voted out. Brad and Sierra are shocked and confused about what happened.
The big strategic thing to talk about here surrounds Sarah. Obviously this was a great move for Zeke, Andrea, Aubry, Cirie and Michaela because it puts them theoretically in power. Also I do not think I have to extol to you how the cockiness of the power six really led to their downfall. You should always be paranoid on Survivor and never think you have anything on lock. The big thing here is whether this was a good move for Sarah. I have thought about it a lot and I think it was. I feel like she has a lot better relationships on the Cirie side of the coin, plus she added some chaos to the game when she was on the bottom of an alliance. I do not see this as switching from the bottom of one alliance to the bottom of another. Zeke and even Michaela are more clearly on the bottom of that alliance and Sarah now has a lot more options for herself. She also may have just shaken up the entire alliance structure and allowed for a huge deck reshuffle to allow her to get a better position. Also everyone seems to love Sarah and want to work with her, so I think she is in a great position.
Overall this was a great episode that made sure the rest of this season would not be boring. I am very interested to see how it shakes out from here. Next time we have tides turning, lines in sand being washed away and new alliances forming. It should be interesting to see who goes out next! Until next time!