Sandra got credit for Tony’s blindside from the previous episode. Shortly after, we move into a tribe swap that expands the two starting tribes into three. The new makeups are as follows:
Mana: Brad, Sierra, Debbie, Tai, Caleb, Hali
Nuku: JT, Sandra, Malcolm, Varner, Michaela, Aubry
Tavua(The new green tribe): Ozzy, Cirie, Andrea, Zeke, Sarah, Troyzan
As you can see, JT, Caleb, Hali, and Troyzan are all pretty screwed, and the tribes are all relatively lopsided to drastically favor one original tribe over the other. On the new Nuku beach, Malcolm comments on how nice their new beach is, and JT acknowledges that he is outnumbered 5 to 1, and needs his hands the the idol as soon as possible. His plan is to take the whole tribe out fishing, and find an excuse to ditch them at sea while he looks for the idol on the beach. JT goes through with his plan, and everyone on the raft catches on to what he is trying to do.
Back on Mana beach, we find out that Brad was the one decorating the old Nuku beach, and begins decorating Mana beach almost as soon as he walks in. The Mana tribe has their boot option narrowed down between Hali and Caleb. Tai, having a previous friendship with Caleb outside of the game, wants to keep him around as long as he can. Brad is worried that 3 Koah Rong players (Tai, Caleb, Debbie) could easily buddy up and take him out.
On the Tavua beach, Troyzan is singled out for being the only one from the original Mana tribe. Ozzy wants to be the leader around camp and get their camp back up to par from the Nuku beach. Ozzy and Cirie decide to let their previous tension sit on the back burner, as they need eachother to stay in power on this new tribe. Troyzan is currently on the top of everyone’s list to go home, and Troyzan is very well aware of it himself. While everyone is making sure he doesn’t find an idol, he ends up finding a clue to an idol that will be hidden at the next immunity challenge.
Back on Nuku, the tribe debates on catching and killing a baby and mother goat. Sandra is the only one who is very openly for killing the animals, and the rest of the tribe is super hesitant. Ultimately, the tribe chooses to not kill the goats.
Mana ends up losing the challenge. While everyone was hanging around just after the challenge was over, Troyzan slickly picked up his idol.
On Mana beach, it comes down to either Caleb or Hali going home. Caleb might stay because it is important to keep the tribe strong, while Hali might stay because she isn’t a threat moving forward. Tai is very confused on what to do, as he is friends with Caleb but also sees why Caleb might be a threat. Brad knows that he needs Tai to feel like hes the one making the decision on who goes home, and masterfully convinces Tai to come up with the idea of voting out Caleb. During Tribal Council, Hali goes out of her way to throw Caleb under the bus, stating that he has pre-existing relationships in the game, while she doesn’t have any and can commit to the new tribe. After the vote, Caleb ends up going home.
Brad’s edit continues to look great. We got to see a softer side of Brad with his love of decorating, and he mentioned Monica again which bodes well for him making the family visit at the very least. Strategically, he looked amazing when he makes Tai come up with the idea of voting out Caleb. In his confessionals, we get to see Brad lay out his strategy and how he wants to go about executing it, and in game we get to see Brad follow up with making moves. In terms of who has the best mix of strategic and personal content, Brad is our guy. The biggest thing I am worrying about is the constant mention of Monica. Is Monica going to be similar to Jeremy’s Val, or are these call outs to Monica supposed to reference her second-place performance in Blood vs. Water? Time will tell, but until someone else’s edit picks up, Brad has the best shot of winning.
We got to hear that she doesn’t have a connection with Hali, and we got to hear some strategy. Nothing particularly exciting, and no personal content. Sierra’s edit this week wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either.
I think Debbie’s edit, when compared to any normal person who has played Survivor, is pretty middle-of-the-road. She has mostly strategy talk with small splashes of her personality. However, comparing Debbie’s current edit to her edit from Koah Rong is like night and day; the story wants us to take Debbie more seriously. We also see from her confessionals that she has a great read on people, and a lot of her kookiness is mitigated and not hyper-focused like it was on her last season. Debbie, at the very least, will be going far as a more serious player.
Even though this was Caleb’s boot episode, the story this episode was about Tai’s morality and its conflict with the game. We have seen this story told before in Koah Rong, but it was manifesting itself far deeper into the season than this go around. Unless Tai gets a big redemption arc, he isn’t winning anything. I imagine we will continue to get more of Tai being wishy-washy and indecisive, and ultimately will flip on more people down the road. It is still early the for course of his story to change, but right now its about his morality and backstabbing people in your alliance.
We didn’t get a whole lot from Hali beyond her being in trouble, and her not having a relationship with Sierra. Hali’s best moment was in tribal council where she absolutely buried Caleb with her lawyer skills. Hali’s still one to keep an eye on, and I imagine she will continue to prove herself worthy of being on this season. There has been a lot of shark imagery that shows itself around Hali, it is likely that it might be foreshadowing for a big move that she will make in the future. Sadly, no personal content and relatively too under the radar for someone who has been to tribal every time so far, but she is still in the running.
JT was able to get away with his idol antics relatively unscathed of any crushing commentary, and despite his awful position, is being portrayed rather positively. JT’s edit this episode has been generally positive. He looked good being able to physically chase the goats while having the moral standpoint of not wanting to kill them. JT’s rough start in the premiere is still an issue, but if we get more classic Golden Boy JT moving forward, JT might have a shot at going deep into the merge, or even winning. As a counterpoint, this spike in content could be pointing to a boot coming sooner rather than later, especially since he is outnumbered 5-1.
Sandra is now getting a full-on villain edit. In Sandra’s previous seasons, her edit has always been abrasive and snarky, but it is usually balanced by her being in the right. Showing Sandra being the only person in a group of 6 to want to kill a mother goat and a baby goat is intended to make the audience root against Sandra. Sandra is working out to be a strong pre-merge villain, and could be in trouble should her tribe start losing.
Malcolm continues to get really good narration content, but not much else. While we got a little more insight as to who Malcolm is during the goat scene, his commentary was mostly just narration of the events from his perspective. Malcolm could be our narrator for the season but I don’t see him as a winner. Then again, I thought the same about Adam from MvGX and we all know how that turned out.
Varner has been maintaining his new gameplay that is more relaxed and patient than his Cambodia gameplay, which bodes well for his chances. We got to see him comment about the goats and JTs idol search, but not much else. Not too worried about Varner’s chances to go far, if his edit remains as consistent as its been.
Not much from Michaela this week. We got to hear her comment about the goats, but not much else. Based on the premiere, her story is about losing and the consequences of her emotions when she loses. Her tribe didn’t lose, so we didn’t have anything from Michaela. If her tribe loses next week, and odds are they will with the upcoming twist, she will probably be upset and we will be the ones to hear first.
Last time I said that Aubry could be getting such a quiet edit because she was Tony’s ally and they wanted to hide her from any controversy. Based on Caleb being the next to go, that could have made sense if her edit perked back up this episode that she goes deep, or even wins. But Aubry was almost silent, borderline invisible. My guess is she gets idoled or rocked out, but maybe her storyline hasn’t started yet, and we will need to wait until the merge or another swap to start getting content from her.
Ozzy’s content was, once again, in relation to Cirie. Ozzy did have a good confessional about having to step up and get the new tribe up to speed with building a camp. Ozzy’s content has been good but has felt shallow to be thus far, and it doesn’t help that Ozzy’s edit is so closely tied to Cirie’s.
Cirie’s content was, once again, in relation to Ozzy. Cirie had some commentary about the new tribe and wanting to put aside differences with Ozzy. Cirie’s content has been good but has felt shallow to be thus far, and it doesn’t help that Cirie’s edit is so closely tied to Ozzy’s.
I didn’t think Andrea’s chances of winning could get worse after being a non-entity in the premiere, but here we are. Troyzan gave a confessional saying that Andrea is not as smart as she thinks she is and that he was able to perceive through the tribes charade of keeping him comfortable. Andrea was specifically targeted in this confessional, and no one else on her tribe looked nearly as foolish. If we are now meant to root for Troyzan, we are now supposed to root against Andrea.
I honestly kept forgetting 2 people who ended up on this tribe and Zeke was one of them, so yikes. Zeke did mention the situation of the tribe, that Troyzan is on the bottom, but it was a generic confessional anyone could have given. Zeke seems to have dialed back on his superfandom and playing with legends, so he might just be the generic strategy guy for right now.
The other person I forgot was on Tavua, Sarah, had an almost invisible week. She was seen talking and expressing that Troyzan finding the idol would be bad. And Troyzan did find the idol! Sarah’s good premiere is extending her chances at winning, as this episode was pretty awful for her. Female winners tend to have more understated edits,
Saving the best for last, Troyzan had the most improved edit out of anyone this episode. I suspected Troyzan was being shielded from his involvement in the Tony boot due to his correlation with Sandra, and now that Sandra is looking more to be our villain and Troy is on a new tribe, it makes sense that his edit is starting to improve drastically. Troyzan quickly acknowledged he was screwed and that everyone was feeding him lies to keep him comfortable, and found himself an idol clue while everyone was looking out to make sure that he wouldn’t. Finding the clue was very emotional, with really exciting, upbeat, heroic music. Not quite as heroic as Mike’s idol find that was set to fireworks and America the Beautiful, but still deliberately portrayed in a positive, emotional light, similar to Jeremy’s. We have set to see any other idol finds this season to compare it to, but if Troyzan’s remains to most emotional then he has an excellent shot, historically, of winning. Troyzan grabbing the idol during the challenge was a cool moment, and was set up to be tense and satisfying when he succeeded. The edit wants us to like Troyzan, and spent a good part of the episode selling us on the guy, hoping that we will be satisfied with him if he gets to the end.
My biggest takeaway so far is that the edit is going to focus on the big characters, or “legends”, from previous seasons, regardless of how well they are going to do. Sandra, JT, Ozzy, Cirie, and Malcolm are likely all going to get a lot of screentime until they end up going home, or maybe even winning. Their edits are going to be the hardest to read as they are going to remain static if they won or if they are out second (lol Tony). Likewise, we should pay attention to smaller characters who are now starting to get larger edits and more screentime. The edit could easily ignore these players in favor of the proven favorites, but they are going out of their way for us to get to know them. If I had to bet money, it would be on these types of players to be the ones in the finale.