Who's the biggest Game Changer of them all?
I wrote that way too lengthy preamble for a few reasons. (1) I am long winded by nature. (2) I am drinking a beer — some hipster brand called “The Crisp” — and I usually write longer, not shorter, when drinking. Sorry about that. And (3) at the end of pretty much every season I write one of two things. It’s either “The right person won!” or “The wrong person won!” To me and my criteria, it is obvious who deserved to win each season, even though others may argue the point. And believe you me, they do argue. I still maintain Russell deserved to win Samoa, Parvati was the best in Heroes vs. Villains, and Aubry was robbed in Kaoh Rong, but there are plenty of Natalie, Sandra, and Michele supporters to tell me how crazy I am. And I love it! That’s because the vote is purely subjective as opposed to objective.
Sometimes that can be super annoying if we, as viewers, feel jurors are suffering from an acute case of BJS (Bitter Juror Syndrome). There’s nothing fun about watching people refuse to give credit because their ego can’t get over the fact that they were bested. But when you have a legitimate divide based not on hurt feelings, but rather differing values of gameplay, then that is a pretty interesting debate worth having. All that said, the right person won. At least in my book. I do value challenge victories because to not do so is to discount performance under pressure, especially if you’re going to be voted out if you don’t win — which Brad clearly did at least once. But you all know I am something of a strategy nerd and am more likely to reward the person who controls the vote, and that person was Sarah. She ran the risk of getting “Coached,” like when Coach got too close to the people he voted out, leaving him short at the end, but Sarah wisely did not lead any prayer circles before knocking people from the game.
Bottom line: I’m glad Sarah won. I think she deserved it. And I think the jury made the right decision. Ideally, a closer vote like the last challenge-versus-strategy debate (with Yul besting Ozzy by a single juror) would have been a bit more exciting, but since the jury sided with me, whom I am to quibble! (Me quibble in a recap? What are the odds?!?) So congratulations, Sarah Lacina. You without a doubt did change your game to win the million dollars. There were a lot of contestants brought back to play whom fans openly questioned. Some of them did not deliver the second time either, but you did in a big way. Well done, copper!
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Okay, there is a lot of other nonsense to get to, including an immunity-stuffed affair as well as a radical change to the final Tribal Council format, and if you think I don’t have hot takes on those then you don’t know me very well. I implore to read on to see my thoughts and then share yours in the message boards, because that’s how we do things around here. It’s our last Survivor recap of the season, so let’s make it count! (Speaking of count, I invited people before the recap posted to guess my final word count, and the winner will receive Sarah’s winning pre-game vote, as seen on my Instagram feed. Look for a chance to win one of the other finalist votes later in the recap.)
We start the episode with a recap of the season so far, which is both great and terrible. Great because it shows us of all the fantastic folks like Tony, Sandra, J.T., and Malcolm, but terrible because it reminds us that most of the dynamic players went out waaaaaaay too early. Look, I do not relish what I am about to write because I like everyone who played this game and I am not trying to be critical. But if you had been told at the start of the year that the final four of a season called Survivor: Game Changers would be Troyzan, Tai, Brad, and Sarah, what would your reaction have been? Exactly.
Again, this is nothing against any of them personally (and I just spent over 1,000 words giving Sarah and Brad a lot of credit) but the honest truth is that this is just not nearly as engaging or exciting a group as one that would have included any number of people who got voted out early. (Cirie was the last of the legends, and she got taken out at six, which we’ll get to in a bit.) So again, seeing all these titans in the recap could not help but be a bit bittersweet.
Then Probst launches into descriptions of the final six. He talks about how Sarah played an aggressive game since the merge, how Culpepper’s social game was dominant early, how Tai was a master idol hunter, and how Troyzan “for weeks has quietly played from the bottom.” Yes, very quietly. So quietly you half wonder if it is Cowboy Rick in disguise. (Wow, two South Pacific references already. I guess it’s only a matter of time before we get to the Cochran rock flip.)
Of course there is also Aubry, who informs us, “I’m in deep doo-doo, but that’s the Aubry way” — making the Aubry way sound less than appetizing — and Cirie, of whom we are informed, “In her four seasons, Cirie has never found an idol or won an individual immunity challenge.” In my infinite wisdom I assumed that to be foreshadowing and that Cirie would indeed finally win a challenge, because why else throw out that random statistic there? (Sadly, I was wrong.)
(Recap continues on page 3)