Timothy Kuratek/CBS
Dalton Ross
March 08, 2017 AT 10:00 PM EST

“We’re playing with fire,” Varner tells Caleb about targeting Sandra, to which Beast Mode Cowboy replies, “If you don’t ever play with it, you’ll never know you can get burned.” I mean, I guess that’s technically true, but in the context of what BMC is trying to sell it does not even come close to making a lick of sense. You need to get burned to learn you can get burned? What does that even mean? The whole point of this game is to not get burned. Presumably you already know this. If you are still — in your third season on a CBS reality show — trying to confirm that playing with fire can indeed get you burned, then you have yet to fully grasp the way this game works. Just gonna put that out there.

So we go to Tribal Council with seemingly only two terrible options in front of us: either Tony or Sandra going home. And even if something super wacky happens we’ll still probably lose another great one with Aubry, whose absence would mean there would be nobody left to end every confessional interview with, “At the end of the day…” I had hoped for a second that there was a hidden immunity idol that Tony could pull out of Sandra’s hair, but it turns out just to be a giant flying insect instead. Sure enough, the votes come back, and Tony is crushingly eliminated from the game. And then the real fireworks begin.

“Sheep being led to the slaughter,” says Tony as he stands up.

“That’s what you get for plotting against me,” responds Sandra, never one to take any lip. “That’s what you get and the queen stays queen.”

“You guys are suckers if you allow that to happen,” says Tony to the other players.

“That’s what you get,” mocks Sandra. “Take your ass home.” Then, as Tony walks off into the cold blue light of death, “Byeeeee, Tony. Say hi to Ciera for me.”

Oh. My. God. It’s all so good. I never want it to end. Why does it have to end? I take back everything I ever said about integrity of the game. Just put Vlachos back on that beach, dammit! But they won’t. Because we’re now down to 18 players, and that means our first tribe reshuffling as we go to three tribes of six each. (The preview already pretty clearly shows that JT, Aubry, Sandra, Varner, Michaela, and Malcolm will all be on a tribe together, putting JT in an instant minority alliance of one if they stick to original tribe lines — and might explain why he abandons everyone out in the water to go idol hunting.

So, it’s time to reveal my episode 1 pick to win it all (although you savvy Survivor fans may have noticed I already revealed it when I made Probst give me his pick on day one (which ended up being even more hilariously terrible than mine usually are). I made mine before the game even began and the pick, ladies and gentlemen is… Malcolm. And here’s why. The guy is solid in all three phrases of the game, yet is surrounded by people who will seem to be bigger threats in all three phases. While people focus on social, strategic, and physical threats like Sandra, J.T., Aubry, and Caleb, Malcolm should be able to skate by relatively unnoticed — yet he is at the same time a player the others respect, so if he can make it to the end, he should be able to garner some votes. So Malcolm is my official pick to win. I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Mr. Freberg for the automatic jinx. Sorry, you earned it buddy!

Okay, just a few odds and ends before we wrap up. Don’t forget to find the secret buried question in this week’s recap and email survivor@ew.com with your answer for a chance to win one of the original pre-game votes written by Tony and Ciera. Also take a gander at our weekly Q&A with the Hostmaster General himself, Jeff Probst. You can see our exclusive Tribal Council Probst video earlier in this here recap, as well as our exclusive deleted scene below. And keep an ear and eye out for our exit interviews with Ciera and Tony, which will be on EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM, channel 105) Thursday morning and then up on EW.com shortly after that. Follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss for links to all this stuff and more.

I think that’s about it. Seeing as how we have topped the 6,000-word mark, it’s time to turn it over to you all. What did you think about the first week of Survivor: Game Changers? Whom are you loving and loathing so far? Are you as bummed to see Tony go as I am? And how do you feel about the tribes being mixed up (and most likely expanded to three) for next week? Weigh in on the message boards below, and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!

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