Survivor: Game Changers Recap
Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
By David Mumpower
May 24, 2017

Wait, how did Michaela make it this far in the first place?

Previously on Survivor, Sarah informed Cirie of her competitive advantage in the game. Cirie promptly swore that they were friends to the end. Since this is Survivor, one of them will be feasting on the other's entrails by the end of the season.

An odd symmetry happened when Sierra told Sarah that she had a Legacy Advantage. Sarah did to Sierra what Cirie will presumably due to her soon. Sierra got voted out of the game, taking the best player this season off the board. It was a rare misstep for Sierra and worked as further proof that Sarah's a quietly devious player.

The brutal part of the betrayal is that Sierra willed her Legacy Advantage to Sarah. People rarely give parting gifts for treachery. The entire series of events makes us wonder if we've possibly overestimated Sierra while underestimating Sarah. The final answer on that depends on whether Sarah reaches the end of the game or not. She certainly has the odds stacking up in her favor right now.

Tonight's episode begins on night 32 at Maku Maku. Brad and Troyzan, the impotent dudes outnumbered by the women, grumble about Michaela. They're not alone. Andrea and Aubry are trying to suss out what happened. They settle on the fact that Sarah's not trustworthy.

Right on cue, Sarah gloats about manipulating Sierra into giving her the Legacy Advantage. She can also steal a vote, giving her a lot of power in the game. Sarah notes that her primary target is Andrea for a basic reason. Sarah doesn't like Andrea. Okay, we're still on her sucking at gameplay, even if she's great at manipulation. Petty people rarely win on Survivor. Err, they don't win when they're being petty. Most Survivor winners are garbage humans.

Probst sighting!

Hmm, the six-minute mark of the episode is an Immunity Challenge. This must be a double elimination episode. The challenge is a balancing system where a person balances a plate with one hand while building a stack of Survivor pieces with the other.

The worst part of the challenge happens when Aubry refers to Cochran as her boyfriend. The fact that somebody could have a crush on him is alarming. We're fine with the union as long as they promise never to appear on television again, though.

Probst informs everyone that the record for the challenge is 17 minutes. They almost show the season 29 version in real time. Aubry defeats the challenge in six minutes, absolutely shattering the record and thereby winning her first challenge. She immediately lists Brad Culpepper as her target for the vote.

Cut to Michaela. She's hungry and expects the menfolk to hunt for food. Specifically, she wants Brad Culpepper to go fish. She isn't subtle about it, either. She hunts him down in the woods. Then, she tells him to go fish. He's shocked by her temerity. He views what she's doing as a demand from someone in a power position to a person with lesser status within the tribe.

Historically, these situations never turn out well. This one's even worse since Brad is diligently foraging for the tribe when she arrives. Even though he doesn't have a lot of hope for winning Survivor, he's still taking care of the needs of his tribemates. Despite this, one of them is telling him that he should do this something. Basically, Culpepper has found fruit and vegetables, but Michaela wants to order something from off the menu. She's a pretty awful person. As mentioned, that makes her a fitting Survivor winner.

The other women plot strategy. Aubry and Andrea discuss the elimination of Sarah, but Aubry says she is “not acting on that gut feeling with Sarah.” Meanwhile, Cirie and Sarah are talking about Andrea, who probably is the smartest player remaining in the game (not counting Cirie herself).

Tribal Council features a lot of confused players. All of them wonder why there wasn't more scrambling in the lead-up to the night's vote. Brad Culpepper says that he's talked to everyone except for Andrea, whom he's voted for twice. He indicates that he could finally get his way with this vote, which seems like a strong indicator that Andrea will get at least a few of the votes. He then goes into a rant about gameplay that we're sure makes sense to him.

“Here's an argument against waiting until the end to get rid of your big weed. When you guys are final five, somebody's gonna get got, okay? And you're gonna wish when I was at seven, I could have got who got me at five.” He then holds out his hands for maximum effect. Alternately, he found caffeine on the island. We're sure the discussion makes sense to him.

Anyway, Andrea receives every vote but two. She's going home. Since Culpepper has absolutely no power, this is the right play. Andrea quickly credits Cirie for it, which should speak volumes to the other players. Several jury members have the (correct) perception that Cirie's the power player this season. As such, she should be the target every vote until she's gone. Otherwise, she'll win Game Changers.

The second half of the episode begins with Culpepper gloating to Aubry, which is stupid on several levels. He has no female allies in this game, and he's picking at someone who just saw her best hope of winning fly out the window. This is exactly the moment when he should work with Aubry to build an alliance rather than taunt her.
Cirie reinforces this notion. She points out that Aubry needs to go. She also dislikes that Tai hugs Aubry “like Aubry's husband.” So, Cirie wants Aubry gone, and she wants Tai gone. It's like that bit from The Simpsons where Homer tells every kid that they're cut. Cirie hates Survivor because of all the people.

Probst Sighting 2!

The second immunity challenge involves a bucket and a pole. Players stand on the pole and use the bucket to get water. They pour the water down a chute that raises their poles (don't make it dirty). Once it reaches the appropriate height, the players receive keys that they use to solve a block puzzle.

Out of the seven players, Michael is first to retrieve a key. Then, Troyzan follows soon afterward followed by Aubry and Culpepper. Cirie is absolutely horrible at this. She gets her bucket stuff and falls so far behind that we're embarrassed for her. Her million dollars should make for a wonderful consolation, though.

The puzzle solution takes a while. It's a strange design that would cause difficulty for anybody. For someone who has spent 35 days on Survivor, it's a nightmare. Michaela thinks she's won the challenge and tries to sell Probst on the solution. Deep down, she knows it's wrong, though. Even though it's almost right in appearance, we think she has as many as six pieces wrong. It's that hard and confusing. Seconds after her failure, Culpepper tells her to go fish by solving the puzzle. His celebration rubs Aubry the wrong way, too. He's just not a people person.

After Tribal Council, the debate is who will go home. Culpepper would have made for an easy compromise choice, but we doubt the players would have gone that way. He's someone to carry to the end due to his lack of personal relationships with any of the women.

Now is the moment when Cirie loses Survivor Game Changers.

Sarah and Cirie have a discussion about gameplay. Sarah asks Cirie to hold her Legacy Advantage, the one that Sierra left behind for the woman who betrayed her. Cirie's going to use the advantage. She doesn't trust Tai and believes in using advantages whenever there's risk. She also thinks Tai has an idol. Cirie sits down and tells Tai that she will use her advantage to save him. Tai doesn't think he's in any danger, arguing that Aubry is in danger, not him.

This play doesn't seem to help Cirie in any way. So, we see no reason to do it.

But wait! It gets worse!

At Tribal Council, Cirie informs Probst and the other players that she'll be taking away someone else's vote and use it for herself. The person whose vote she steals is…Sarah's. At this point, Sarah firmly states that it's her advantage that Cirie is trying to steal. Probst chimes in, asking Cirie to read the clue. One of the words is more important than the others. It's “non-transferrable.” Cirie doesn't have the ability to use the Legacy Advantage. On top of that, she's just alienated an ally in order to protect Tai from a threat, when Tai could have just used an idol if needed.
Day 35 is when Cirie's brain broke.

Cirie tries to explain the situation to Sarah, who is understandably livid. Cirie's actually telling the truth, at least she is if we assume that everything we've seen onscreen tells the whole story. If it does, Cirie was trying to save her alliance from losing this vote. Instead, she's burned bridges, salted earths, and set up a Fake Celebrity Deathmatch with Sarah, her former ally.

Sarah, Cirie, and Michaela try to avert disaster by huddling in the middle of Tribal Council. Troyzan hilariously walks over and listens in, causing Michaela to shout, “Back up!” Since there's no rule about this on Survivor, he has no reason to comply. He eventually does, but we're amused by his behavior here.

Ultimately, none of the nonsense matters for this night's vote. Sure, Sarah will never trust Cirie again, and they might be enemies moving forward. Until then, all that matters is that Michaela gets voted out of Survivor. The always-brash woman states, “I don't see how that makes sense, Sarah but…do you?”

The voting totals on this one are interesting. Michaela lost by a 4-3 vote. Tai didn't get to vote since Sarah chose his as the one to steal. Michaela and Cirie panicked. One voted for Aubry while the other voted for Tai. Troyzan and Brad were the only people who showed any groupthink with their actions. They both targeted Michaela. Aubry also targeted Tai, who probably was in some danger. The decision came down to Sarah's double-vote, and she picked Michaela. That's the way a seemingly three-person alliance collapsed.

The next episode should involve all-out war between Cirie and Sarah. We're looking forward to it.