In a season called Game Changers, this week’s installment of Survivor may be the game changiest of all…so far. TWO tribes go to Tribal Council and vote off just one player? Wait…what? Whosever heard of such madness?
”My God…How Did We Get Here?!”
Since we were teased coming into this episode that two of the three tribes would be going to Tribal Council, I thought it would be a fun twist if they both went at the same time and got to listen into each other’s deliberations. Forcing them to act as two separate bodies to vote out one, singular castaway, given all the new rules on tiebreakers turned it into a near-chaotic, completely unpredictable vote.
Culpepper’s Master Stroke
The fact that Tai found an Immunity Idol just ahead of this first-of-its-kind Tribal added a wrinkle that ultimately blew up someone’s game in the most dramatic fashion possible. That “someone” turned out to be Malcolm. Once again, a potentially great player gets sent packing. For my money, this was Brad Culpepper’s master stroke. He was controlling his own tribe fairly handily. Now, his influence took out whom he considered one of his fiercest challengers.
Do I agree with Culpepper? Time will tell. But looking at the Survivor world through his eyes, it makes sense. He himself is an athletic, competitive and dominant player. He wants to be the alpha male and regards any other athletic, competitive, dominant men to be threats that must be neutralized. What remains to be seen is if Culpepper can recognize the more subtle threats.
He already knows Sandra is a force to be reckoned with, despite being somewhat enigmatic as a competitor. She’s not the greatest in challenges, so she relies on guile and smart alliances to advance her game. Sandra’s also taking a more aggressive approach to pushing around her alliance, asserting herself as the leader of her tribe. Give Sandra credit. Where most people want to avoid being a target, she stands up and embraces it.
Sandra vs. Culpepper?
Right now, these two are lining up as a pair of field generals, ready to go head-to-head in battle. It’s Rocky vs. Creed, Patton vs. Rommel and Brady vs. Manning…or something like that. The key question is can they survive their own tribemates to make it to the individual game.
I seriously wonder when Sandra’s Nuku tribemates will realize they are letting her run the game and need to take her out. I suppose everyone is thinking their best option is to be sitting next to her (and J.T.) in the end because she’s a past winner. I don’t buy that strategy. Not at all. I think these players this season will think nothing of awarding a past champion the crown again if that person outwit, outplayed and outlasted.
If I Were on That Island…
With that in mind, I’d take her out right now. If I’m on Survivor, my strategy is simple: take out the most immediate threat right away. Don’t wait. Don’t dawdle. You see a threat. You kill the threat. Period. Sure, keeping Sandra around is great for television drama. But with every passing day she wakes up on the island, that’s one more shovel of dirt on your own grave.
What was Tai Thinking?!?!
Tai found the Immunity Idol. That nearly earned him Employee of the Week honors. But then he turned around and played it with very little strategic upside. This was a vote where you weren’t even in the mix, Tai! You were safe! Who cares if Sierra goes home??? Keep that idol until the merge, man! By playing his idol for Sierra during that crazy Tribal Council, he helped his Mana tribe win a battle. But it may have cost him the war.
In the Driver’s Seat
Same as last week, Culpepper and Sandra. There is no one else on their respective tribes prepared to unseat them. Of course, that could all change once they reach the merge. What about Tavua? Hard to say, since we saw very little of camp life this week. Ozzy is always a dominant player, but often forgets the strategic side of the game. I’d say Troyzan is in the driver’s seat, by virtue of holding an Immunity Idol.
The Walking Dead
J.T. may have earned his way to TWD status. He was the first to shake up Tribal Council by approaching Culpepper to openly talk strategy. He went all-in and it backfired on him. He may be able to play his way out of this pickle, but it’s going to take immunity, I think.
Survivor Employee of the Week
Culpepper. He read the tea leaves better than anyone else during Tribal Council. He also backed it up by being a fierce competitor in the reward challenge. Perhaps he backed his way into it, but convincing Tai to give his idol to Sierra took guts. That was a bold move that paid off.
Move of the Week
Tai giving his Immunity Idol to Sierra. It worked, I must admit. But I do think Tai will live to regret it.
Prediction for Next Week
Sandra breaks J.T.’s glasses, Lord of the Flies style, then orders a Code Red on him in his sleep. Watch your six, J.T.!