Oh boy, now is when we really start getting into some good stuff. Let’s go.
During the recap, Brad got credit for the Caleb vote out. The Mana gang talks about it, and Hali makes a point that she is more of an asset to her tribe than a liability the way Caleb might have been further down the road. Debbie, however, still wants Hali out.
During the reward challenge, each tribes has two people competing instead of the entire tribe. The pairs are: JT/Malcolm, Ozzy/Troyzan, Tai/Brad. Notably, Ozzy gets a huge lead in the first half of the challenge that Troyzan really drops the ball on. Additionally, Tai has a bad start and Brad makes a huge comeback into second place. More on that when we get to Brad’s analysis, cause there is a ton to unpack.
Tavua loses, thanks to Troyzan, and they are all pretty salty about it. Cirie even states in a confessional that if Troyzan wasn’t in trouble before, hes definitely in trouble now having lost the tribe that challenge. Ozzy isn’t too upset, as without food rewards his tribe will rely on him for food. We get a nice little swimming and fishing montage that culminates in Ozzy catching a stingray.
On Nuku, they enjoy their reward. JT states he wants to work with Malcolm (lol) and wants to get rid of Sandra.
At the immunity challenge, things appear to be normal except that both tribes go to tribal instead of only one, meaning only the tribe who places first will avoid voting anyone out. Notably, Troyzan is volunteered by Ozzy to sit out of the challnege, and Varner blows a huge lead that costs his tribe the win. Tavua avoids tribal, while Jeff explains that the other two tribes will go to tribal council together and collectively vote out one person total.
At the Nuku beach, Malcolm wants to get rid of either Sandra or a Mana person, and JT wants to work with his new tribe and get out Tai. JT thinks they will target Sandra based on his previous relationship with Brad and guessing how he would think through the vote. The tribe is mostly excited that they have the numbers, and that it should be pretty straightforward, as long as JT doesn’t do anything stupid (lol).
Back on Mana, we see Brad wanting to vote for Sandra, just like JT figured he would. Hali isn’t sure if she should vote with her current tribe or her previous one. Meanwhile, Tai finds an idol that he shares with the tribe.
Annnndddd then Tribal Council happens. Jesus.
The whole thing explodes into a mish-mash of people getting up and talking to eachother, even going as far to have huddles. JT goes to Brad and says their target is Sierra, and things just devolve from there. Hali tries to redirect the vote to Brad, and tries to signal that the real Mana target is Malcolm, but sadly the votes go through, and Sierra idols out Malcolm. (Well, was it really Sierra? Tai played it on her, but Brad told him to? It will be interesting to see who gets credit for the play next week.)
Brad’s edit is almost TOO good. He got credit for last week’s vote, he got subtitled lines during the reward challenge saying he would get them back in the game, and he succeeded. We got subtitled lines from his tribe saying how awesome he is. The edit wants us to love Brad Culpepper. Does that mean he wins? Maybe. I would at least say that they are trying to justify Brad’s inclusion in the season and that hes a legitimate gamer. Brad is in full control of his tribe, which seems to go against his strategy of laying low. Then again, he is the definitive alpha male on his tribe and doesn’t have anyone to hide behind like he might have on the old Nuku tribe. We finally got some negative content for Brad from Hali who was giving him some digs during tribal council. I’m not sure if its anything to be worried about, but we will see next week. Mike had some negative content as well at around the same part of his season, so if Brad does win it’s possible, and even likely, he would get a Mike-like edit.
A solid episode for Sierra, she got some strategic content and had an idol played on her. Still no personal content, but we know who Sierra is working with and we know she is in the game, and she hasn’t gotten anything negative yet. Sierra will be around for a while, but we will need to see a non-strategic side to her if she is going to be our winner.
Debbie’s edit has been fairly consistently true to her character, but she is not being taken as a joke this time. (Or at least not as much of a joke.) She sort of reminds me of Coach’s edit from South Pacific, for what its worth. If I hadn’t seen the preview for the next episode, I would say that Debbie is still in the running to win, but she had an incredibly negative and angry outburst in the next episode. Whether this is taken out of context or not will be important to keep an eye on. The fact that her edit has changed for the better from her first time out is really good, and is a common thread with other people I expect to be late gamers.
He found an idol! Yay! And he correctly played it on someone in his alliance! Tai’s edit had a rough start but now it seems as though he is playing a little better than Koah Rong. If this trajectory continues, I will have to go back on saying Tai can’t win. However, Tai is in a comfortable spot in an alliance and has no reason to flip on anyone, so maybe Tai’s morality subplot will come into play after a potential second swap or merge, or even another weird tribal council twist. Tai’s edit was noticeably more positive since he has been on his new tribe, so maybe his negative premiere might not seal his fate.
I think it is so funny that out of all the lawyers who have been on Survivor, Hali has been the most “lawyery” of them all. She has been shown to be having a good pulse on her position in the game, but has also shown to be kinda… spacey? Maybe that is just how Hali is, and it isn’t any manipulation of the edit. Hali is another person who has had a much better edit than their first go around, and she sounds more strategic and involved in the game than in World’s Apart. Again, it feels as though the edit is trying to justify why she is here, and that might imply that she is here to stay for a while, or that she might make some big moves. Shark imagery has been used around her before, and it could foreshadow a big move.
Yeah, so if JT’s tribe loses again, I’m not sure how he doesn’t go home, especially since they just lost Malcolm. While I feel bad that JT’s plan blew up in his face, he didn’t even get time to say anything after tribal before we hear Michaela saying JT set them up. Unless we get some sort of redemption plan from JT next episode, he is done. Hopefully he finds that idol he was looking for, cause he will need it.
Sandra’s negativity dropped off after last week, which helps her chances somewhat. She is very obviously in control of her tribe, and has had people specifically state they want to target her. Of all the people playing, Sandra is the only one who doesn’t need to change her game; she won twice doing the same thing both times. The fact she is kingpin of her tribe right now and very openly in charge is the antithesis of classic Sandra gameplay. Maybe this is what she needs to win for a third time, but I doubt it. She has way too many people openly wanting to get rid of her at the best opportunity available. Sandra is just way too visible, from both and edit and gameplay perspective.
Hey! She got a confessional this week! But it was a fairly meaningless one about basic strategy regarding the tribal council twist that anyone could have said. I am not up on Aubry’s chances at all. I don’t think shes going any time soon, as all of the boots have been fairly visible in the episodes preceding their vote out, but if she is winning she needs to start being way more visible. The editors wanted us to see Aubry over anyone else saying her confessional, which is better than nothing, but given her lack of content throughout the first 4(3?) episodes, she isn’t going to be a big player.
Another quietish week for Michaela. We see her throw JT under the bus right at the end of the episode. Otherwise, not super exciting. I think next week we will see a more heated Michaela handle the aftermath of the voteout.
Mr. Consistency strikes again. A very standard edit that matches his more passive gameplay. We did see Varner crying after losing the immunity challenge for his tribe, which is as much personal content we have seen thus far. Like Michaela, I think we will see more at the beginning of our next episode to see how he handles JT’s blunder.
She won the immunity challenge for her tribe and got a confessional about Ozzy’s fishing abilities. Again, shes just visible enough that we know she exists, at least more than before, but not visible enough that we care about her (yet?). She is going to stick around and probably continue to get small soundbites here and there that will keep reminding us that Andrea is still here.
I genuinely recall nothing Zeke did in the last episode. I have nothing about him in my notes. If Andrea or Aubry are quiet edits that the editors still want us to remember, Zeke is almost intentionally forgettable. Perhaps he gets idoled or twisted out? Good riddance.
Cirie got to dump on Troyzan this episode but not much else. Notable, her edit had nothing to do with Ozzy, which is a good sign that Cirie could be a more independent figure in the future. Since this tribe didn’t go to tribal, we weren’t going to get much from Cirie.
Sarah also did nothing this episode. Her premiere was great but needs a breakout episode soon or she is done.
After a great episode last week, Troyzan got absolutely dumped on. He was shown screwing up the challenge and upsetting his tribe. Cirie restated how screwed he is on his tribe, and Ozzy went out of his way to show his tribe that they don’t need Troy. So far, it looks like Troyzan’s story only peaked up when he found his idol. It is worth noting that the music that played in Troyzan’s idol find versus Tai’s was far more heroic and impressive sounding. Maybe it had to do with Troyzan finding the idol at a challenge? Maybe it means something more significant down the road. Troyzan’s short term game is locked in; he isn’t going anywhere. That being said, his long term chances seem to be tied to that idol. If he plays it I wouldn’t be surprised if he is voted out shortly after.
We got some vintage Ozzy and he gets my award of most improved edit this week. Ozzy’s edit had nothing to do with Cirie. He laid out his strategy and we got some content from Ozzy, fishing, that wasn’t related to gameplay. Ozzy didn’t even go to tribal so this inclusion was a nice treat and bodes well for his edit. Unfortunately, Ozzy hasn’t seemed to be bonding well, and is using providing as a substitute. Ozzy’s game needs to change and he needs to be able to hold on to an alliance that will keep him around once he loses immunity. Maybe in a swap scenario we will see Ozzy be tested to actually get out of water, put the fish down, and make some friends. Please Ozzy. Do it for me.
The edit seems very polarized into people we get too much of and will likely go soon, people who will go later that we are occasionally reminded of, and people the edit want us to forget. The players to watch are those that are being sold to us, and those who have gotten personal content. So far, really only Brad and Ozzy have had content that goes outside of the game, and even then it only seems that Brad has any real concrete edit. As always, another week of Survivor will provide more context, and things could change for anyone at anytime.