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.
Narrative: In an episode flush with stories on the Mana and Nuku tribes, Tavua was largely ignored causing an invisible episode for Andrea. Andrea still has not gone to tribal council.
Narrative: In an episode flush with stories on the Mana and Nuku tribes, Tavua was largely ignored causing an invisible episode for Cirie. Cirie still has not gone to tribal council.
Narrative: In an episode flush with stories on the Mana and Nuku tribes, Tavua was largely ignored causing an invisible episode for Ozzy. Ozzy still has not gone to tribal council.
Gameplay: Sarah had a scene in this episode where she mentions how she doesn’t want to just play according to tribal lines and wants to give herself options. She approaches Troyzan and offers to work with him.
Narrative: In an episode short of Tavua, Sarah was the main player of the sole Tavua scene. She mentioned in confessional how dominant the Tavua tribe has been and she also mentioned how she thinks sticking to set tribal lines is boring. Similar to prior confessionals this season, Sarah gives another confessional about how she wants to play more like a criminal this season, mentioning that she knows how criminals talk to her and that she will talk to the other players like criminals talk to her. In this scene, she approaches Troyzan to work together where she learns that she is the only one that has approached Troyzan to work together and the two agree to work together and shake on it – something the Sarah from Cagayan would take very seriously but also something the Sarah from Game Changers has said she does not take seriously any longer.
Narrative: In an episode flush with stories on the Mana and Nuku tribes, Tavua was largely ignored causing an invisible episode for Zeke. Zeke still has not gone to tribal council.
Gameplay: After being on the outs during his entire tenure on Tavua, Troyzan is offered a lifeline from Sarah when she offers to work with him. This provided Troyzan with a potential ally and a potential path to surviving on Tavua while being able to save his idol for future use.
Narrative: Although Tavau had limited airtime, Troyzan has a quick scene in this episode where Sarah offers to work with him, despite him being on the outs of the majority Tavua alliance. Troyzan mentions to Sarah that she is the only one he trusts and that no one else has tried to talk game with him. He tells us in confessional that if, through working with Sarah, he is able make it through Tavau and keep his idol, that would be golden. Sarah and Troyzan agree to work together and shake on it. However, this handshake comes on the heels of Sarah giving a confessional that Sarah is going to play this game like a criminal so there may be more to this handshake than originally thought.
Gameplay: After his actions led to Malcolm being idoled out in the previous tribal council, JT was met with much suspicion from the rest of the tribe when they returned to camp. JT remained firm that he only told Brad that he was safe and that he did not tell him their plan to vote out Sierra. After having his best ally on the tribe taken out and coming back to camp to interrogations from suspicious minds, JT knew he was a dead man walking. As a result, he went out to find the idol and was able to find it. Later in the episode, when Michaela wanted coffee and sugar, JT thought she wanted too much and her behavior was pushing JT’s last nerve. Knowing how easily agitated JT was about the sugar and coffee supply, Sandra ate all of the sugar. Because no one beside JT and Michaela had any of those treats, and because JT knew he didn’t finish the sugar, he was left to believe that Michaela had eaten the rest of the sugar supply which pushed him beyond his tolerance for her. After the tribe lost the challenge, JT pushed hard for the tribe to boot Michaela, swearing his allegiance to the tribe. He was so laser-focused on getting rid of Michaela and so certain that it was the correct move, and so convinced that the rest of the tribe were in on the plan, he left his idol back at camp. However, Sandra got Varner and Michaela to vote for JT and he was blindsided and voted out of the game.
Narrative: JT’s story in this episode and really the season as a whole revolves around him finally getting some hope and then having the carpet pulled from under him. He was situated well in the original Nuku tribe and then he was swapped into the new Nuku tribe at a 5-1 disadvantage. He finally made a solid ally in Malcolm and then Malcolm got idoled out of the game. He finally found the idol and then he got blinsided while leaving the idol back at camp. Granted, the latter of these two are JT’s fault. In this episode, JT caused his own demise. In the previous episode, his antics at tribal council caused a lot of suspicion within his tribe. When he got back to camp, he had to lie and keep his story straight though Sandra didn’t really believe him and felt personally betrayed. Then, JT found the idol. However, JT was getting so fed up with Micheala’s behavior, especially after Sandra set him up by eating all of the sugar and letting him blame it on Michaela, that he became too narrow-minded and too bull-headed about getting her out. He was so convinced that it was the correct move for everyone to get rid of her, and he was convinced that everyone was on board with the plan. He was so convinced that he left his idol back at camp and was blindsided from the game.
Gameplay: In this episode, Aubry was shown to be on the outside of the Sandra/Michaela/Varner trio that formed. Aubry was left out of the plan to switch the plan from voting out Michaela to voting out JT and was blindsided that the plan had changed without her.
Narrative: Aubry’s story in this episode is how she was once again on the outside of Sandra’s alliance. Back in the first few rounds, Aubry one of the main members of Tony’s threats alliance that consisted of Tony, Malcolm, Caleb, Aubry and Sandra. Since then, all three men have been voted out and only Aubry and Sandra remain. Sandra was the one who broke off from that alliance, leaving Aubry as the last existing member of the alliance. When the tribes were swapped, Aubry and Malcolm from that alliance joined Jeff, Sandra and Michaela from the opposite alliance and, with Malcolm in the game, they were a cohesive group of five joining the Nuku tribe. Without Malcolm, it seems as though Aubry has once again been pushed to the outside of the group. However, luckily for Aubry, the tribe decided to get rid of JT instead, so she was just blindsided by the vote and was not the one being sent home.
Gameplay: In the episode, there was drama where Sandra ate the sugar with the intention to have JT blame it on Michaela to cause a fight between the two of them. Sandra did this in front of Jeff, which proves she trusts him enough to do something so sneaky and manipulative in front of him with faith that he wouldn’t tell anyone. Later in the episode, it seemed as though the tribe had settled on targeting Michaela until Sandra decided to switch it up to get rid of JT instead. To do so, she took the planned boot, Michaela, as well as Jeff as the needed majority to send JT home. Jeff was put in a swing position where he was able to decide who between JT or Michaela went home. Jeff, along with Sandra and Michaela, continued to play their roles to convince JT that Michaela was going home which set up JT to be blindsided with an idol in his pocket.
Narrative: Jeff in this episode was shown as being an accomplice to Sandra’s antics to set up a fight between Michaela and JT and then laughing about it confessional. Later in the episode, it seemed as though the tribe had agreed to move forward in the game with JT and get rid of Michaela. Instead, Sandra decided to seek payback for JT messing things up for them in the last round and causing Malcolm to go home. To get revenge, Sandra convinced Jeff to vote JT out instead of Michaela. In confessional, Jeff told us that he is in the perfect spot on his tribe because he was in the swing position, able to vote with Michaela and Sandra to get rid of JT or vote with Aubry and JT to get rid of Michaela. He also told us that it was a decision between getting rid of an attitude problem or getting rid of a big threat in the game; he chose to get rid of the big threat along with Michaela and Sandra.
Gameplay: Michaela asked Aubry to get her seven drips of coffee with some sugar, which JT thought was too much. JT was annoyed with Michaela and made it known around camp. Sandra took advantage of this by eating all the sugar. Since only Michaela and JT ate the sugar, JT blamed Michaela for eating the sugar and became passive aggressive with her, and the two of them began a little feud. After the tribe lost the challenge, JT pushed hard for Michaela to go home and the tribe seemed to agree. But then Sandra decided it was a great opportunity to take JT out. Sandra brought in Michaela and Jeff Varner and the three of them agreed to vote out JT but kept up the act to fool JT. They blindsided JT and set him home with an idol.
Narrative: Michaela’s story in this episode was being Sandra’s lightning rod to strike JT with. Sandra wanted revenge on JT for his actions that sent Malcolm home at the previous tribal council. After Michaela annoyed JT by asking for more coffee and sugar than JT thought she should have, Sandra ate all of the sugar knowing that JT would blame Michaela for it. JT became so annoyed with Michaela that he was laser-focused in getting her out. After they lost the challenge, the tribe agreed that Michaela was going to be the one voted out. But then Sandra decided she wanted to get revenge on JT and reeled in Michaela and Varner. While things went Michaela’s way, the fact that so many people were ready to vote her out and complained about her behavior should have raised a red flag for Michaela to try to calm it down a little. Instead, Michaela arrogantly – or confidently, depending on your perspective – served herself a drink from her water bottle during the votes to silently gloat that she was not going anywhere.
Gameplay: This episode began with Sandra being annoyed that Malcolm had gone home and especially annoyed with JT, blaming him for Malcolm going home. Later n the episode, JT was annoyed with Michaela asking for too much sugar and coffee. Knowing it would spark controversy among the tribe, Sandra ate all of the sugar. As Sandra planned, JT blamed the sugar-napping on Michaela, pushing JT over the edge of being able to tolerate Michaela any longer. With JT being passive aggressive to and about Michaela, Michaela got very annoyed with JT and the two formed a sort of rivalry within the tribe meaning that Sandra’s plan worked to perfection. With JT mad at Michaela, he was laser-focused to get rid of her and the tribe agreed to vote out Michaela with him. With Michaela mad at JT and with JT targeting Michaela, it was easy to convince Michaela to vote for JT. All Sandra had to do to enact her revenge was get Jeff to flip with her; he did. The three of them continued to act as though the plan was to boot Michaela which fooled JT so much he left his idol back at camp. Sandra was able to play JT and Michaela against each other to such a degree that made her plan to get payback on JT despite him having an idol look easy.
Narrative: While Sandra was impressive in episode 2 rallying the tribe to get rid of Tony, this episode here was classic Sandra being Sandra. Annoyed that her ally Malcolm went home, Sandra wanted revenge on the person who she thought caused it: JT. Sandra told us in confessional that it was JT’s dirty deed that sent Malcolm home and she was going to send his ass packing right behind him. After JT complained about Michaela wanting too much coffee and sugar, Sandra saw the perfect opportunity to set up some drama between them and took it; she ate all of the sugar. Because Sandra hadn’t been drinking the coffee or eating the sugar, she was able to skirt any blame. Instead, JT blamed Michaela and was passive aggressive to her and about her. As a result, Michaela got mad at JT. Sandra set the two of them against each other flawlessly. After they lost the challenge, JT was pushing very hard that Michaela should go home and the tribe (minus Michaela) seemed to agree with him. That is, until Sandra later decided that she could take this opportunity to take JT out. Sandra easily reeled Michaela in to her plan and then later convinced Jeff to not only flip but to continue to keep up the act to blindside JT. They did and JT home with an idol in his pocket. Sandra being Sandra.
Gameplay: Brad in this episode was the target of Debbie’s fury. Despite Debbie blowing up at him, Brad was able to keep a cool head and apologize to Debbie if he had done something to offend her. Later, after Debbie was being obnoxious during the immunity challenge, gloating to Brad that she was the first one finished in individual stages of the challenge, Brad told Debbie that he loves her and doesn’t understand why she’s doing this. Brad’s cool head and attempts to diffuse the ticking time bomb named Debbie made himself look much better in comparison to the rest of his tribe.
Narrative: Brad’s story in this episode was being the person that Debbie decided to blame after the tribe lost the challenge. Debbie claimed that Brad had no respect for Debbie despite her varying life accomplishments and calling him a dictator. While Tai did tell Debbie that he knows Brad doesn’t treat her with much respect, it was to Debbie so it is unclear whether Tai actually feels this way or if he was just telling Debbie what she wanted to hear to calm her down. On the other hand, Hali in confessional said that Brad is a great leader, refuting Debbie’s accusations. During the reward challenge, after Debbie struggled with the balance, Despite being in the cross hairs of Debbie’s outrage, Brad remained calm and apologized to Debbie. Though in confessionals Brad told us that the only predictable thing about Debbie is that she is unpredictable.
Gameplay: Coming out of an episode where the core Mana members (Sierra, Brad, Tai, Debbie) vowed to stick together, it seemed as though Debbie’s main goal in this round was to plummet her stock in the game and become the next one to go. Before the reward challenge, the episode showed the tribes discussing strategy for the upcoming competition. Debbie told the tribe she was good at balance and then proceeded to do poorly on the second balance beam. Afterwards, Debbie had an outburst at her tribe where she blamed Brad’s dictatorship and Hali’s pace on the first balance beam. During her outburst, she told Hali and Sierra that “Princess Hali” gets whatever she wants while Debbie and her life accomplishments go ignored. Later in her rant, she made Tai scared by yelling about how Brad didn’t respect her, and then accused Brad of being oblivious of his disrespect. During the immunity challenge, Debbie gave 110% to ensure she was the first one to complete each individual obstacle and then proceeded to gloat to Brad that she was the first one finished.
Narrative: The edit changed up their style to show how kooky and delusional Debbie is. First, they showed the tribe discussing challenge strategy which is something the show rarely does. They did this to show Debbie telling the tribe that she was good at balance and Brad saying she should do the balance beam. Debbie struggled during the balance beam and as a result, her tribe came in last and did not get any peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After the challenge, Debbie was furious that Brad dictated assignments but the edit showed a flashback, something it never does, to show that Debbie was the one to request being put on the balance due to her allegedly being a gymnast previously in her life. Back at camp, Debbie had a blowup where she verbally attacked Brad, saying he is disrespectful to her. She also annoyed Hali, calling her “Princess Hali” and saying Brad has his head up her butt. She yelled about it to Tai and caused Tai to become scared. Debbie was pissed and her public outbursts really caused the others to become very annoyed with her.
Narrative: Sierra had a pretty quiet episode. Aside from being present in the background for much of Debbie’s blowup, Sierra didn’t really play a role in the scenes from Mana this episode. Sierra had a moment where, after Debbie originally blew up at the tribe while they were sitting around camp, Sierra and Hali went to console her but then realized Debbie was being a bit unreasonable. Sierra also had two instances where Brad turned to Sierra to ask her something about Debbie: once during the challenge while Debbie was struggling on the balance beam and Brad asked Sierra “didn’t Debbie say she was good at balance?” and once after Debbie’s blow up at camp when Brad asked Sierra if Debbie was acting.
Gameplay: After using his idol in the previous episode for the tribe and after some building tension on the Mana tribe, Tai set out to find another idol and ended up finding a clue with instructions on where to find the idol.
Narrative: Tai plays a part in both of the Mana scenes in this episode. In the first scene, where Debbie blows up, Tai mentions that he thinks that Debbie is really upset after Debbie blows up at the tribe while they are all gathered around at the fire. Later, Tai tries to console Debbie by telling her he knows that Brad doesn’t show her much respect but then tells us in confessional that Debbie is a crazy lady. Tai says that Debbie’s blowup was scaring him and also that Hali is much better than Debbie at agility in challenges – contrary to Debbie’s claims during her blowup. In the second scene, Tai mentions that he can sense the tension on the Mana tribe and, after using his idol to help his tribe in the previous episode, he feels vulnerable. Tai was able to find a clue to another idol but decided that he would look for the idol further later since he had been looking for a while and didn’t want to be suspicious.
Gameplay: Quiet episode in terms of gameplay for Hali in this episode. After Debbie had her blowup, Hali and Sierra went to comfort her but realized that Debbie was being unreasonable and shied away. Hali’s gameplay in this episode is mostly composed of laying low and allowing Debbie to replace her at the bottom of the pecking order on the Mana tribe.
Narrative: After a very hectic tribal council in the prior episode where Hali crossed enemy lines to talk to Sandra despite Brad’s proclamation that Hali would be public enemy number one if she did anything shady, Hali seemed to be in a good spot in the Mana tribe. During Debbie’s blowup, we learned that Debbie believes that Brad favors Hali and that whatever “Princess Hali” wants, “Princess Hali” gets. She tells us in confessionals that she thinks that Brad is great in challenges and is a great leader – contrary opinions to those held by Debbie.