Each week, friend and Survivor expert Scoofy will guest post his player recaps. In these recaps, Scoof will take a look at what we learned from the episode about each player through two different lenses: their gameplay and their narrative. Gameplay will focus specifically on moves they make (or didn’t make) while narrative will revolve around their place in the season’s story.

Here’s Episode 1.

ANDREA
Gameplay: N/A

Narrative: She had two moments in the premiere. She had a confessional after the marooning where she says “the stakes have been raised.. game on!” and she was also asked about the implications of the new voting rules. Outside of that, invisible episode for Andrea.


BRAD
Gameplay: He told Sierra that she is the type of person he wants to play with and they created an alliance. He also suggested Sierra talk to Ozzy, implying an alliance between the three of them.

Narrative: Brad’s story in the first episode is basically #WWMD (What Would Monica Do) where he says Monica would slowplay the game, recognizing that this is a 39-day marathon instead of a sprint. He also had an intro confessional where he said “go big or go home!”


CIRIE
Gameplay: Cirie’s game so far through one episode has revolved around Ozzy being there. She tried to talk to him and got a lukewarm, unenthusiastic response back from Ozzy. Afterwards, Ozzy talked to Tai about how Cirie is a threat that isn’t good in the physical game. Later, Cirie was talking to Tai, trying to get info out of him. Tai was awkward and his nonanswer about whether Cirie should be concerned or not caused Cirie to become concerned. In a panic, Tai mentioned that if she and Ozzy fix their relationship, they will be ok, signalling to Cirie that things are still not ok with Ozzy.

Narrative: Cirie’s story in this episode is her rivalry versus Ozzy that dates back 8 years ago in Fans vs. Favorites when Cirie, along with the rest of the Black Widow Brigade, brutally blindsided Ozzy. Ozzy came into this game with concerns about Cirie, sharing these concerns with Sierra and then JT/Tai. Cirie shared similar concerns about being on the same tribe as Ozzy, feeling as though Ozzy should’ve gotten over something that happened 8 years ago.


DEBBIE
Gameplay: N/A

Narrative: Debbie had a pretty quiet episode here. Her only airtime this episode was before the intro. They showed the big players of the games, titans in Survivor history – Tony, then Malcolm, then Sandra, then Cirie, then…. Debbie. And in her confessional, while the others were shown to be strong players making big moves, Debbie was shown talking about how she is “tenacious” and shows her working out. This could probably refer to that, while most people recognize strength in Survivor as strong strategically, strong in challenges, strong socially, Debbie mostly focuses on physical strength.


JT
Gameplay: N/A

Narrative: Pretty quiet episode from JT in episode 1. He did make the proclamation that Sandra wouldn’t be the only two time winner. We also saw him encouraging Ozzy to get the tool kit and being excited about the prospects of having tools to build a shelter. That was really it for JT. This is interesting because, while Ozzy and Cirie have a rivalry from 8 years ago for Cirie blindsiding Ozzy, there was no mention of any bad blood between JT and Cirie after JT was the swing vote that betrayed and blindsided Cirie in Heroes vs. Villains.


OZZY
Gameplay: Ozzy was shown talking game with Sierra where he expressed concern about Cirie. He also later talked to JT and Tai about the same concerns, mentioning how he wants to keep physically strong players around and noting that Cirie is not a physically strong player.

Narrative: Ozzy’s story so far is his rivalry with Cirie. Despite being blindsided 8 years ago, Ozzy seems to still be holding a little bit of a grudge against Cirie. Also Ozzy is still being shown to be the same challenge dominator he was in the past, having swam out to retrieve the tool kit and doing the individual swimming portions of the challenges.


SARAH
Gameplay: N/A

Narrative: Sarah had a pretty invisible first episode. She had one confessional back at camp where she brought up her faults in Cagayan and mentioned that in a season full of Game Changers, people will play themselves and she will need to be there like a silent assassin, taking advantage of those errors.


SIERRA
Gameplay: Sierra found the legacy advantage during the marooning. She also made an alliance with Brad and also talked game with Ozzy where she expressed similar concerns about Cirie.

Narrative: Sierra’s story so far is pretty short: she fount the legacy advantage and mentioned it is perfect for her plan to play a bigger game this time around. She went back to the beach and started forming some alliances.


TAI
Gameplay: Tai got caught in a predicament when he relayed to Cirie that there was still friction between her and Ozzy. His skittishness and nonanswers probably made him seem sketchy to Cirie which is not a good thing for Tai.

Narrative: Tai’s story so far is about his getting caught in the middle of the Cirie/Ozzy drama. He also had a moment where Brad mentioned they would need to kill Tai before they would be able to kill the goats, or Tai would protect them.


ZEKE
Gameplay: N/A

Narrative: So far, Zeke has been shown as the fanboy who is starstruck among these Survivor legends and other players. His confessional so far has shown that he’s a fan that is eager to show these other contestants that he belongs here, and that he wants to lather himself up in the blood of his enemies. As an unknown to the other players, giving the impression that he is looking to make big moves is probably not ideal for Zeke.


AUBRY
Gameplay: So far, Aubry found herself in the thick of things in most strategic conversations. She was involved in the original conversation where Ciera wanted to split between Tony and Caleb. She was involved when Malcolm brought up that maybe they should consider targeting Ciera instead. She was involved in the larger conversation at the well where they solidified the plan to target Ciera. She was also shown as trying to calm Michaela down once she got herself worked up.

Narrative: There isn’t much to Aubry’s story outside of the gameplay so far, and that is that she has been in the middle of everything so far. Aubry also had a confessional where she commented that Michaela has a bit of a hot streak, and that’s all we heard from Aubry.


CALEB
Gameplay: After having his name brought up by Ciera as a possible target, Caleb found himself in the middle of most strategic conversations at the well, particularly the one where they solidified that Ciera was going to go home. Ciera mentioned that Caleb and Tony are close.

Narrative: Caleb’s story doesn’t really extend out too much from just being there and being an early target for being close to Tony. He had a confessional where he mentioned how he liked Tony and Tony’s “high spirits”.


CIERA
Gameplay: Ciera came out of the gate playing a little too hard relative to everyone else. She was at the well and suggested splitting the votes between Tony and his right hand man, Caleb. While this ordinarily wouldn’t have been a big deal, being domineering about the strategy for the first vote is a surefire way to have it bounce around at you, especially if there isn’t any sort of alliance.

Narrative: Ciera’s story was pretty short since she was the boot. She came into the game as champion of the big moves. While she was planning on playing an “anyone but me” style of game, she gave names that the others didn’t want to vote out and that made her a very easy target.


HALI
Gameplay: Hali was involved in Ciera’s original discussion to split between Caleb and Tony but none of the ones to boot Ciera. Her interactions with the tribe were shown as Malcolm telling her about what Troyzan had told him about Tony digging up around treemail. She was also filled in on the plan by Sandra that the rest of the tribe had decided on that Ciera would go home. Regardless, she was included in the unanimous vote and voted with the majority.

Narrative: Hali had a pretty understated first episode in terms of story. She had a confessional where she compared everyone to a snake in the grass while she is a cobra that strikes when you least suspect it.


JEFF
Gameplay: Jeff was in on all of the plans for this tribe, from Ciera’s initial plan to the discussion to maybe target Ciera instead to the discussion to solidify targeting Ciera. He was the one who put the kibosh on targeting Caleb because he was too strong. He also was the one who dropped the plan to tell Ciera to vote out Michaela.

Narrative: In addition to being in the thick of things on the gameplay front, Jeff also had a moment where he was undoing the locks and having issues. After Probst called him out on panicking, Varner told him he wasn’t nervous. This might reference back to Varner’s time in Cambodia where he was all over the place, thinking and moving a mile a minute.


MALCOLM
Gameplay: Malcolm was another one who was in on all of the plans for the tribe. Malcolm was the first person Troyzan told about Tony’s shenanigans which resulted in Malcolm telling Hali and Hali telling the rest of the tribe. Malcolm was at the well when Ciera suggested a Caleb and Tony votesplit. He was the one who was most annoyed by Ciera’s plan and was the one to redirect the target onto Ciera. He was also at the well to solidify voting out Ciera.

Narrative: Malcolm had a confessional where he stated that in a game called Game Changers, he needs to settle into alliances. He also mentioned that he was right where he wanted to be, in the middle of the tribe with everyone coming to him. This proved to be accurate as it seemed Malcolm was talking to everyone and was in on all versions of the plan. He was also able to make the decision to get rid of Ciera without the flak of being the one to make the decision to get rid of Ciera.


MICHAELA
Gameplay: Michaela was present for the conversation where Ciera tossed out Tony and Caleb as possible boots but not the one where the plan flipped. She, along with Hali and Troyzan, was let in on the plan to target Ciera by Sandra after the fact. However, once Michaela learned that she was the person that Ciera was led to believe the tribe was voting for, Michaela blew up. Many people were concerned about her having a “hot streak” or being afraid of Michaela exploding.

Narrative: Michaela had a confessional earlier in the episode where she said she has to do a good job of kissing up to people and do a better job of lying and not letting her reactions say what she’s thinking. Soon after, Michaela learned she was the decoy boot and wasn’t happy with that and had a little freakout that the entire tribe noticed. As an unknown, the other players don’t know what Michaela’s deal is and seeing that she had an episode due to being the decoy boot put her into some hot water that she didn’t need to be in.


SANDRA
Gameplay: Sandra’s MO is that she is always willing to boot anyone out but herself. After not being present for Ciera’s original plan to boot one of Caleb or Tony, Sandra was there for the plan to turn it around on Ciera. Sandra then went out and told Hali, Michaela and Troyzan the plan. She was also put off by Michaela’s quick-temper after Michaela learned she was the decoy boot. Sandra was also tasked with making sure Tony was not pulling any shenanigans after he ran away from camp.

Narrative: Sandra is a two-time winner and is the queen of Survivor. Aside from being reminded of that fact, Sandra had a pretty uneventful first episode. She followed Tony into the jungle and then agreed to voting Ciera out and that was pretty much it for episode 1 for Sandra.


TONY
Gameplay: Tony was up to his old tricks as he burst out into the jungle saying he was going to be looking for the idol, intentionally catching everyone’s attention and paranoia. Later, he was trying to build a spy bunker and was caught by Troyzan. After Troyzan told everyone, Ciera tried to develop a plan to get rid of him. Shortly after, it was brought to Tony’s attention that Ciera was trying to get him out and that the target had shifted to Ciera and Tony was obviously on board.

Narrative: Tony is known for his shenanigans and he knows he is known for his shenanigans. He started the game out by immediately running out to the jungle trying to joke around but, when no one followed him, he was able to actually look for the idol. In addition, he tried to build a spy bunker by the water well in the middle of the day and got caught by Troyzan, just Tony being Tony. After some hot water from Ciera, Tony was able to settle in on a unanimous boot.


TROYZAN
Gameplay: Troyzan wasn’t really in on the planning at all this episode. After catching Tony trying to build his spy bunker, Troyzan was kind of MIA strategically. The only interaction he was involved in was when Sandra told him, Hali and Michaela that Ciera was the boot.

Narrative: Troyzan’s story so far was pretty much centered around being the one to find Tony digging around in the spy bunker and letting the others know about it. Not much for Troyzan in this episode.

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