Sandra Diaz-Twine has brought so much to the world of Survivor. From her loud mouth, to dealing with a “stupid-ass,” she has never had her torch snuffed. It was a moment in history for this show when Sandra’s flame went out because it has never gone out previously.
I told myself before the season started that Sandra’s legacy really couldn’t be tarnished. Even if she was the first person voted out, I would still see it as other players taking out the largest threat the game has ever known. But she made it passed her first tribal council. And her second. And third. We’ve all gotten to watch The Queen take down the other winners with ease, even adding some flair along the way. It’s been a glorious 5 weeks of Sandra Diaz-Twine on my TV screen and I have much more respect for her based on this game she played.
But enough about her, she’s getting her own entry in What Went Wrong. Let’s recap this bitch.
We start off the episode at the Mana camp with Aubry still piecing together what happened to her ally, JT. Sandra gives it to her straight, “He had to pay for his crimes.” And that’s just what Aubry needed to hear. She vows to start taking a page out of the Queen’s book.
Tai, with the clue from the last episode, searches and scours for the idol. And he finds it! We all knew this would happen, and good on Tai, but I’m not happy about him having another idol.
We head to what seems to be a reward challenge… or immunity challenge. Oh, it’s actually neither and we’re doing a TRIBE SWAP! Probst sure does know how to surprise these guys. Everyone picks their buffs and we’re back into two tribes.
Except Debbie. Debbie didn’t pick a buff. Debbie looks like she’s going to murder Probst. Debbie is absolutely terrifying because she’s going to exile. Alone. You know, I’m glad it was Debbie that drew the ‘exile’ bag because she needs some time to cool off and be alone. Maybe this’ll be good for her?
Our New Tribes
We head to the new tribes and get a feel for the breakdown. Brad knows that, while he still has Sierra with him, he’s not in the best place he could be. He talks to Troyzan about linking up (because apparently Troyzan and Sierra are friends??) and it looks to be set. The longer Troyzan gets to sit on the idol, the further in the game he’s going to go. I really see him doing well from here on out. I would say the same for Brad, but this episode gave him a bit of a fumble.
We also didn’t get to hear from Cirie, which is a huge mistake. THE WOMAN HAS NEVER BEEN TO TRIBAL COUNCIL THIS SEASON. I’m sure she’s cracking jokes and being hilarious. Put her on my TV screen.
The Nuku tribe is a bit similar in breakdown. Sandra and Varner are on the bottom, and it’s really apparent. I mean, they have Ozzy, Andrea, Zeke, and Sarah who have been together this entire time. That’s a locked four you’re going against. Plus there’s Tai who we all know is of no help to anybody’s game. Seems like an easy picking of our two hilarious narrators.
Tai, however, has some insider knowledge about idols since he’s found two in his old camp. So he takes a leisurely stroll to the water well where the other idol was hidden and… TA-DA! Tai finds yet another idol. This is his third idol this season and his second that he’s holding concurrently. I’m not a huge Tai fan, but holy shit the guy knows how to find those idols. He’s great at that.
Time to check in on Debbie’s exile experience. Let’s remember Julia’s exile experience from the tribe swap where she was left alone with nothing and was basically dead for the episode:
Debbie though? No, Debbie hit the jackpot. This season’s exile is on a huge ship and has everything you could ever need. Food. Water. Lounging materials. Even a guest appearance from former winner, John Cochran. AND AND AND, an advantage choice. There’s a lot here so let’s do a quick Recap Breakdown.
EXILE: I loved the idea of changing exile up. Take the person who is thought to be alone with nothing and having a miserable time, and feed them! It’s a really nice twist to the storyline. Plus it’s hilarious that it’s Debbie because you know she’s going to be such an ass when she comes back.
GUEST APPEARANCE: I did not love this. I think it was kind of cool that Debbie had a third party to bounce her ideas off, but it added a weird layer to the mix. Cochran at one point said, “It’s nice to have an unbiased third party to help…” and that’s not at all what Cochran is. He’s played with Ozzy and Andrea and knows their games pretty well. What’s stopping him from just tanking the two of their games?
I also just found it odd that they brought a guest back anyway. This is the type of shit that Big Brother does and it works because the show has lost all credibility. But Survivor isn’t at that point yet, so it makes the show feel too cheesy. And of all people, I don’t think I would be excited about Cochran. This is Game Changers! Give me Richard Hatch or Kim Spradlin or Parvati Shallow! It was like a B-lister showing up because the A-listers were out of commission.
ADVANTAGE CHOICE: On its own, I love the idea. As part of this exile experience, it was way too much for one person. Not only is Debbie getting herself well fed and rested, getting to skip the next tribal council, getting time with a previous winner… but now she ALSO gets an advantage OF HER CHOOSING?! I mean, what did she do to earn any of this in the first place? She chose an empty bag. That’s it. It’s too much.
The advantage choice on it’s own was awesome. Fake Idol Kit would have been amazing to watch unfold (and probably something Tony would’ve used… RIP). The Extra Vote is great for exactly the reason Debbie said, “It’s a guaranteed number on your side.” Tribal Challenge Advantage is an interesting one because it could technically get you to the merge (if it’s a 13-person merge). Plus you earn good will from those people you’re with because you got ALL of them to the merge with your selflessness. But it’s a double-edged sword as we’ve seen in the past, because people think there was something else to it that you’re not telling them. Debbie made a wise choice.
OVERALL: I love the change in Exile. I hated the guest appearance and hope they never do it again. I love the Advantage Option, but not as part of this experience. I’d like a clue to find the Advantage Options that are buried at camp somewhere. Wouldn’t it be cool to find the clue, go dig up the advantage options, to then find that one has already been taken?!?! This is TV gold. This is what I want.
The immunity challenge was pretty boring. Go across this thing, get puzzle pieces, drag a boat, put the puzzle together. A bit standard and clearly too easy, because Mana 3.0 finished the puzzle in record time. They literally threw the pieces down in one spot and it worked. Someone either studied that same puzzle previously or they got super lucky.
So, it’s off to Tribal Council for the Nuku 3.0 tribe. Varner and Zeke have bonded, but everyone knows that Sandra needs to go. The only two-time winner ever and she’s on their tribe. So Zeke comes up with a plan to tell Varner and Sandra that it’s going to be Tai that gets voted out. Tai is sneaky and dangerous, plus has a nose for finding idols, so get rid of him.
Varner takes the bait as easy as JT did the episode previously. Sandra on the other hand, knows something smells fishy. And as we head into the tribal arena, Sandra knows she needs to make a ploy one way or another.
Tribal begins and Sandra says she knows she’s going home. Nobody has talked to her about the vote, so it’s obvious that it’s her. Tai, on the other hand, feels like it could be him since he saw conversations happening around him. Tai fumbles all over his words because he doesn’t want to point out the obvious (that Sandra is the target), but also doesn’t want to push her away. Sandra basically tells him she’ll vote however he votes, as long as it ain’t her. And Tai just continues to blow up his game. He takes it and whispers to Sandra who he’d like to vote out.
Then the madness begins. Tai then gets up and tells Varner who he’d like to vote out. As he’s telling Varner, Sandra tells the rest of the tribe that Tai is targeting Ozzy, which isn’t good for Ozzy. Everyone now is starting to whisper about changing their vote to Tai, and rightfully so. Tai, in the midst of the confusion decides to just say out loud who he is targeting…. Ozzy. And it’s at this point you have to wonder, how in the hell has Tai made it so far? He’s terrible at Survivor.
Zeke questions his loyalty. Andrea seems to want to vote out Tai. Sandra and Varner smile because they know Tai’s fate is sealed. But when the votes are read, it’s clear that plan A was still very much intact. Sandra is voted out 5-2. The Queen has been snuffed.
And just as a fun little point, as she walks to get her torched snuffed for the first time ever, Jeff gives her a proper send-off. “For the first time in 94 days of playing Survivor, Sandra… the tribe has spoken.” Sandra even throws in a “Don’t do it Jeff” and makes Probst pause for a second, before eventually putting out her flame.
Alright that’s it for this week’s recap. Like what you saw? Hated the Debbie experience? Are all these tribe swaps even doing anything? Let me know down below! And make sure to check out all the content coming to you this week. It’s going to be a fun one.