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.
This week will be a bit different as we head into the merge. We’ll be taking a look back at what has happened so far and where it will potentially take our Game Changers cast.
NUKU: Andrea was totally invisible for the first episode(s) of the season where she was on the original Nuku tribe. She didn’t appear to be in any danger of going home so it could be assumed that she was well-positioned within the majority alliance at that time, but it wasn’t shown so we can’t be sure.
TAVUA: Andrea was swapped to the Tavua tribe along with Cirie, Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke from her original Nuku tribe and Troyzan from the original Mana tribe. It seemed as though this group became a pretty cohesive unit while on the Tavua tribe, winning immunity after immunity while having Troyzan as the de facto boot should they have lost. It may be worth stating that Andrea was the one that Troyzan was most keyed into on the tribe and the one he may have targeted if he had the chance to use his idol to send someone home, calling her “a little devil” and saying that Andrea “thinks she is more clever than she really is”. Andrea and the rest of the Nuku members on Tavua did not attend a single tribal council up until the point they left the Tavua tribe.
NUKU: Andrea was swapped to the Nuku tribe along with Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke from her original Nuku tribe and swapped Tavua tribe, Tai from her original Nuku tribe and Jeff and Sandra from the original Mana tribe, and later Debbie from her original Nuku tribe. While on this Nuku tribe, the alliance of Andrea, Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke seemed to remain cohesive, using both rounds to eliminate Sandra and Jeff, the two members on the outs. During the last tribal council on Nuku, Varner’s words created an intensely emotional tribal council which I believe bonded the tribe closer together.
LOOKING FORWARD: Andrea has been on a tribe with Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke throughout the entire game so far and have shown an ability and willingness to work well together. Going into the merge, the four of them are likely to remain aligned. Other possible allies for Andrea include Tai, who was on latest Nuku tribe with Andrea, and Cirie, who she was aligned with on the Tavua tribe. People possibly targeting Andrea at this stage of the game seems to just be Troyzan, who seemed to have his eye on her and may have her in his cross-hairs.
MANA: Aubry was usually in the thick of things on the original Mana tribe. She was present and involved in the booting of Ciera. She was also recruited by Tony to help him form the all-threats alliance that consisted of herself, Tony, Malcolm, Caleb and Sandra. She was shown as being particularly close with Malcolm. That alliance broke up soon after it started and Tony went home. It is interesting to note that Aubry is the only member of that threats alliance and one of only four members of this original Mana tribe still in the game.
NUKU: Aubry was swapped to the Nuku tribe along with Jeff, Malcolm, Michaela and Sandra from her original Nuku tribe and JT from the original Mana tribe. Aubry and the Nuku tribe remained strong and loyal to each other during the joint tribal council, but JT’s loose lips caused Malcolm to get idoled out of the game, losing Aubry her closest ally in the game. In the following round, Aubry was left out of the plan to boot JT by Sandra, Jeff and Michaela and was clearly on the bottom if they were to lose again. It was at this time that we learned that Aubry was not close with Sandra, Jeff or Michaela and that Malcolm was likely the glue keeping her in that alliance.
MANA: Aubry was swapped to Mana tribe along with Michaela who has been with her the whole game so far, Hali and Troyzan from original Mana and Brad, Sierra and Ciera from the original Nuku tribe. While this Mana tribe never lost immunity and never needed to be tested, Aubry was shown to have grown an appreciation for Brad after he showed how genuine he was during episode 7, becoming a number for Brad’s alliance up until that point consisted of only Brad, Troyzan and Sierra.
LOOKING FORWARD: Aubry’s MO so far in this season is that she aligns with an alpha male type player who ends up going home soon after: Tony, Malcolm and JT. In the latest Mana tribe, Aubry tried form a relationship with Brad which would follow her strategy of attaching herself to a strong guy. Possible allies at the merge for Aubry seem to be Brad and the rest of Brad’s alliance: Troyzan and Sierra. People possibly targeting Aubry at the merge seems to just be Michaela who was in the opposing alliance of Aubry on both the original Mana tribe and the swapped Nuku tribe, and Aubry voiced some concerns about Michaela and voted for Michaela during the JT boot tribal council. Also worth noting is that Tai and Debbie are both still in the game, two people who played with Aubry in Kaoh Rong. Sandra made a pitch against the Kaoh Rong three to Andrea, Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke before she was voted out and the foursome seemed to be cognizant of the threat the Kaoh Rong trio may pose. While Tai was a strong ally for Aubry throughout the Kaoh Rong post-merge and may be a potential ally for Aubry at the merge, Debbie may be looking to target Aubry in revenge for Aubry voting her out in Kaoh Rong and also to minimize her own threat level.
NUKU: Brad seemed to be in a good position on the original Nuku tribe, quickly forming an alliance with Sierra and likely Ozzy and JT.
MANA: Brad was swapped to the Mana tribe along with Sierra, Tai and Debbie from his original Nuku tribe as well as Caleb and Hali from the original Mana tribe. The Nuku foursome seemed to be pretty tight in this original vote. Brad was able to convince Tai to vote out Caleb in their first tribal council together. In the following round, during the joint tribal council, Brad was able to glean information from JT, his old buddy from the original Nuku tribe, and used this information to save Sierra and vote out Malcolm. While Hali voted with this alliance, she attempted to have the Nuku tribe vote Brad out during that vote. In the round after that, Debbie had a bit of a meltdown against Brad, saying that Brad had no respect for her and that Brad was a dictator; meanwhile the rest of the tribe seemed to be supportive of Brad.
MANA: Brad remained on the Mana tribe through the next swap along with Sierra and Hali, joining Troyzan, Aubry and Michaela from the original Mana tribe and Cirie who was on the original Nuku tribe with Brad. Soon after the swap, Brad formed an alliance with Troyzan where they bonded over being the only two men on this Mana tribe as well as over the fact that Troyzan played in One World with Brad’s wife, Monica. In the next episode, Brad let his guard down and had a moment where he cried about being able to relate to the tough experience Monica had during Blood vs. Water. This genuine display of emotion caused both Aubry and Cirie to feel closer to Brad and want to align with him, putting him and his alliance into a prime position should they have lost an immunity challenge during that time.
LOOKING FORWARD: Brad and Sierra have been on the same tribe throughout the entire game and seem to be very close allies. Brad was also closely aligned with Tai while they were together on the first swapped Mana tribe and with Troyzan on the latest swapped Mana tribe. He also has Aubry and Cirie who during episode 7 wanted to work with Brad after his display of genuine emotion. On the other hand, Brad has Debbie who had a blowup at Brad while they were together on Mana 2.0 where Debbie vowed to target Brad. Hali, meanwhile, seems to be someone who is eager to target Brad but is patient enough to wait for the opportunity to pounce. In what may amount to a battle between Brad’s new alliance and the Nuku 3.0 alliance, Brad is likely to be seen as the figure-head alpha male of his group. That, in addition to being good at challenges may cause Brad to be targeted sooner rather than later.
NUKU: Cirie had a difficult time on the original Nuku tribe. She had a bit of a tiff with Ozzy where they kinda settled their Micronesia beef but not really. Ozzy went around rallying votes to boot Cirie if they were to lose. Cirie approached Zeke and Sarah to form something with them and while they gave her affirmative responses, they also mentioned in confessional they weren’t willing to throw their game away to try to save her. Meanwhile Debbie shot her down entirely. Cirie was very much on the bottom of this original Nuku tribe and would have gone home if they had lost.
TAVUA: Cirie swapped to the Tavua tribe along with Andrea, Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke from her original Nuku tribe as well as Troyzan from the original Mana tribe. Cirie and Ozzy seemed to settle their differences and recognized that they will likely need each other in order to survive this tribe. Zeke and Sarah were able to work with Cirie without fear of risking their game to do so. The Nukus on Tavua seemed close and resigned to the fact that Troyzan would go home if they were to lose immunity, without even a plan to split votes in case of an idol. They never lost so they never needed to find that Troyzan had an idol. Cirie and the rest of the Nuku members on Tavua did not attend a single tribal council up until the point they left the Tavua tribe.
MANA: Cirie swapped to the Mana tribe from the Tavua tribe along with Troyzan, joining Brad and Sierra from her original Nuku tribe and Hali and Michaela from the original Mana tribe. While this tribe never went to tribal council, Cirie was able to make some inroads with Brad to the degree that Brad viewed her as part of his alliance had the Mana tribe gone to tribal council. Because the Mana tribe won both of the challenges at this stage of the game, Cirie never went to tribal council in the entire pre-merge.
LOOKING FORWARD: Despite being very much on the outs in the original Nuku tribe, Cirie seems to have used her time without going to tribal council to good use. She seemed to formed a solid relationship over the three rounds she was on the Tavua tribe with allies Andrea, Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke. Then on the Mana tribe, she was able to form something with Brad and by proxy, Sierra, Troyzan and potentially Aubry. Cirie has a lot of options here at the merge and isn’t likely to win immunity challenges so getting rid of Cirie isn’t urgent. The biggest obstacle in Cire’s way is her reputation of being a big player in a season where the trend is voting out all of the biggest players.
NUKU: Debbie had a pretty uneventful stay on the original Nuku tribe. Her one moment came when Cirie approached her to form an alliance and Debbie says in confessionals that she doesn’t believe Cirie but rather thinks Cirie is feeding her counterintelligence. Debbie also says that Debbie is on the outs on the Nuku tribe which probably suggests that Debbie was in the know enough to not be in urgent danger on the original Nuku tribe.
MANA: Debbie was swapped onto the Mana tribe along with Brad, Sierra and Tai from the original Nuku tribe along with Caleb and Hali from the original Mana tribe. Debbie was originally stubbornly loyal to the Nuku foursome, readily evicting Caleb from the tribe. In the next round, during the joint tribal council, Debbie and the rest of the Mana tribe stuck together and voted for Malcolm. Then, Debbie had a tantrum after a reward challenge where she felt she was not being respected enough by Brad. Amidst her blow up, Debbie strained some of the relationships she had formed and strengthened on this Mana tribe, most significantly of which was with Brad who she went from being closely aligned with to putting him as her next target.
EXILE ISLAND: Debbie was the odd woman out during the final tribal swap. As a result, Debbie was sent off to Exile Island which turned out to be a luxurious stay on the ship the contestants were marooned off of. On this boat, Debbie got a strategy session from Cochran as well as the option to choose between three rewards: a fake hidden immunity idol, an advantage in the next tribal immunity challenge, or an extra vote. Debbie chose the extra vote. Debbie was to join the tribe that lost the first post-swap challenge.
NUKU: After the Nuku tribe lost the immunity challenge, Debbie joined their tribal council as a spectator and would later replace Sandra on the tribe after Sandra was voted out. On this tribe, Debbie was included in the strategy discussion on whether they should vote out the easy boot, Varner, or take their shot at Ozzy. While the tribe entertained the idea of maybe getting rid of Ozzy, Varner’s words against Zeke made the decision easy. The rest of the tribe stood behind Zeke during this powerful moment which I believe will cause the members of this tribe to be a stronger, more tight-knit group than they were before they entered that tribal council.
LOOKING FORWARD: While Debbie was a member of Brad’s alliance and was close to the members of Mana 2.0, Debbie may have burned those bridges with her tantrum in episode 5. While the arguments seemed heated, they were mostly one-sided with Debbie wanting to target Brad, but it does not seem as though Brad or his alliance reciprocated those feelings. After getting the opportunity to relax and recuperate, to take a step back and review her game so far with Cochran, Debbie joined the Nuku tribe replenished and with a clear mind. During this time, it seems as though she was able to gel into the alliance of Andrea, Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke despite only just joining the tribe after having not been on a tribe with them since the days of original Nuku. As well, Debbie was very vocally supportive of Zeke during the last tribal council at Nuku which should have solidified her as a valued member of this alliance. Also, Debbie is reuniting with her former Kaoh Rong friend, Aubry, for the first time on Game Changers and for the first time since Aubry and her alliance blindsided Debbie in Kaoh Rong, so Debbie may have two people in her cross hairs. Debbie is hitting the merge equipped with the extra vote she was given during her trip to Exile Island.
MANA: In the original Mana tribe, Hali was on the outside of the alliance that Tony formed. However, soon after its creation, Hali was part of the counter alliance that Sandra formed to take out Tony. Hali was seen as being close with Troyzan during this time. Hali is one of four members of this original Mana tribe still in the game.
MANA: Hali remained on the Mana tribe through the swap with Caleb from the Mana tribe and Brad, Debbie, Sierra, and Tai from the original Nuku tribe. At such a numbers disadvantage, Hali helped encourage the Nuku alliance to boot out Caleb instead of her. Then, despite being on the outs, the Nuku alliance were expecting Hali to remain strong with them during the joint tribal council. Instead, Hali crossed over to enemy lines to encourage Sandra and the Nuku tribe to vote out Brad and to focus on eliminating physical threats. It is unclear whether Hali was instrumental in the decision for the Mana tribe to target Malcolm, a physical threat. The Mana tribe voted for Malcolm and, when Tai used his idol on Sierra, Malcolm was voted out. In the next round, Debbie had her an episode where she felt disrespected by Brad and wanted to target Brad, which may have given Hali reprieve from being the next boot of the Mana tribe had they lost.
MANA: Hali once again remained on the Mana tribe through swap. She was joined by Brad and Sierra who were with her on Mana 2.0 as well as Aubry, Troyzan, and Michaela from her original Mana tribe as well as Cirie from the original Nuku tribe. Episode 6 and 7 showed that Brad felt he needed numbers in addition to Sierra, Troyzan and himself which suggests that Hali was not close with Brad or Sierra and that Hali may have been sent home should Mana have lost.
LOOKING FORWARD: After finally being able to change the color of her buff for the first time this season, it seems as though Hali will be eager to get away from Brad and Sierra after being in the minority to their majority for several rounds. Despite having played with Sierra during Worlds Apart, there does not seem to be any sort of relationship between the two. While they never seemed to be on the same page, it does not seem as though Brad’s alliance is actively targeting Hali. Because all but four of the original Mana tribe has been voted out, there is not a lot of previous relationships for Hali to lean on at the merge, so she will be hitting the merge choosing sides between the devil she knows and the devil she doesn’t, if the merge turns out to be an alliance battle between Brad’s alliance and Ozzy’s alliance.
MANA: In the first round of the game, the Mana tribe used Michaela as the decoy boot to Ciera and Michaela did not react very well to that. In the next round, Michaela was included as part of Sandra’s rally against Tony. However, Michaela stressed how badly she wanted to win and was seen as a potential swing vote since the stronger players were in Tony’s proposed alliance. Michaela and the rest of the Mana tribe voted out Tony. Michaela is one of only four remaining original Mana members.
NUKU: Michaela was swapped to the Nuku tribe along with Malcolm, Sandra, Jeff and Aubry from the original Mana tribe and JT from the original Nuku tribe. Michaela stayed low and in the background for the storylines early on in this Nuku tribe, including the situation contemplating killing the goats and the joint tribal council with the Mana 2.0. Michaela and the rest of the Nuku tribe remained solid and voted for Sierra but Malcolm ended up being idoled out. Michaela was instantly suspicious of JT following the results of that tribal council, which now seems like just a footnote among the Michaela versus JT drama. In the next round, Michaela wanted some coffee and sugar which annoyed JT. Sandra ate all the sugar, causing JT to blame Michaela and caused the tension between Michaela and JT to start to implode. Both sides took part in their fair share of passive aggressive remarks. JT was convinced that Michaela should go home for her lack of work around camp. Sandra, Jeff and Michaela left Aubry out of the vote and blinsided JT without her, leaving Aubry to make remarks about Michaela at tribal council thinking Michaela was going home. Sandra, Jeff and Michaela left that tribal council as a tight trio.
MANA: Michaela was swapped to the Mana tribe along with Aubry, joining Troyzan and Hali from her original Mana tribe and Cirie, Brad and Sierra from the original Nuku tribe. Michaela was mostly left out of the story of the Mana 3.0 tribe, taking the back seat to Brad and his pursuit of a majority. In episode 7, Brad was able to reel in Aubry and Cirie after sharing a story about Monica and showing some genuine emotion, giving himself a 5-person majority, leaving Michaela and Hali on the outs. During that story, Michaela was shown as being totally disinterested.
LOOKING FORWARD: Michaela is heading into the merge as a free agent as her two closest allies, Sandra and Jeff, were voted out back to back after being separated from her. Michaela may have a potential enemy in Aubry after Michaela, Jeff and Sandra left Aubry out of the loop on the JT boot and being in the majority on tribes where Aubry was often in the minority and left out of plans. Michaela will also be reuniting with Zeke for the first time since the early days of their original season, MvGX. Michaela also has the threat of being good challenges hanging over her head. Since Michaela was unable to make the merge in MvGX, we will finally be able to see how Michaela will perform in individual immunity challenges. While she is not an obvious physical threat like Ozzy or Brad, Michaela can certainly hold her own.
NUKU: While the original Nuku tribe didn’t lose a tribal council, Ozzy was set in a good position. He had a close alliance with JT and was also aligned with Sierra and Brad. Also during this stage of the game, Cirie attempted to hash things out with Ozzy and, while things appeared to have been settled, Ozzy set out to have his alliance send Cirie out home, forcing Cirie’s head firmly on the chopping block with a death note, had they lost a challenge.
TAVUA: Ozzy was swapped to the Tavua tribe along with Andrea, Cirie, Sarah and Zeke from the original Nuku tribe and Troyzan from the Mana tribe. Upon hitting the beach, Cirie and Ozzy both realized they should work together rather than against each other if they want to survive this stage of the game. The former Nukus seemed very tight during their time on Tavua, leaving Troyzan on the outside waiting to be sent home if they had ever lost a challenge. They didn’t, so they never needed to be tested. Ozzy and the rest of the Nuku members on Tavua did not attend a single tribal council up until the point they left the Tavua tribe.
NUKU: Ozzy was then swapped back to the Nuku tribe along with Andrea, Sarah and Zeke who he had been with on the Tavua tribe, Tai from his original Nuku tribe, Jeff and Sandra from the original Mana tribe, and later Debbie from the original Nuku tribe. While the Tavua alliance seemed to be a tight-knit alliance, Ozzy received a bit of heat in both rounds at Nuku 3.0. In the first round, Tai was feeling paranoid and suggested to Sandra at tribal council that they vote out Ozzy, though nothing resulted of this. In the following round, Jeff made a push to take out Ozzy, citing secret alliances between Ozzy and Zeke and Ozzy’s strength in individual immunity challenges. Sarah voiced some concerns about Ozzy as well, though Jeff took all of the heat on himself during that tribal council. Jeff’s words at tribal council caused an intense and emotional reaction from the Nuku tribe which I think will cause that tribe to bond closer together than they had been prior to that tribal council.
LOOKING FORWARD: Ozzy has been with his allies Andrea, Sarah and Zeke throughout the entire game. While he was receiving some heat throughout his time on the the Nuku tribe, he made it through the premerge totally unscathed. Ozzy is hitting the merge for the fourth time in his Survivor career. Ozzy has shown himself to still be extremely capable at challenges and should be the favorite to win most individual immunity challenges that he competes in, which is also why Ozzy has such a large target on his back. Ozzy has his alliance with Andrea, Sarah and Zeke, as well as what appeared to be a working relationship with Brad and Sierra from their time on the original Nuku tribe, and an agreement to work together with Cirie during their time on Tavua. While Ozzy seems flush with allies, the threat of him winning individual immunities will probably have him targeted sooner rather than later, particularly since Tai and Sarah both showed their desire to get him out.
NUKU: Sarah had a pretty understated tenure on the original Nuku tribe. She had one moment where Cirie approached her to work together, which Sarah agreed with but then said in confessional that she was not willing to ruin her game for Cirie. During this time, she mentioned that she wants to play more like a criminal this time around and is perfectly ok with going back on her word.
TAVUA: Sarah was swapped onto the Tavua tribe along with Cirie, Ozzy, Andrea and Zeke from her original Nuku tribe as well as Troyzan from the original Mana tribe. The Nukus seemed to be a pretty tight group during their time on Tavua, leaving Troyzan firmly on the outs as the next boot if they were to ever lose a challenge; they didn’t. During the final round of Tavua, Sarah mentioned in confessional that she thinks sticking with tribal lines is boring, and approached Troyzan. She made an agreement with Troyzan to work together and the two shook on it. Sarah and the rest of the Nuku members on Tavua did not attend a single tribal council up until the point they left the Tavua tribe.
NUKU: Sarah swapped back to the Nuku tribe along with her allies from Tavua – Andrea, Ozzy and Zeke – as well as Tai from her original Nuku tribe, Jeff and Sandra from the original Mana tribe, and later Debbie from the original Nuku tribe. The alliance from Tavua had the majority and seemed to be a tight-knit group and got rid of Sandra. However during the following round, Jeff made a pitch to target Ozzy which Sarah seemed open to. This, in addition to Sarah’s words about thinking sticking to tribal lines is boring, suggests that maybe this Nuku-Tavua alliance is not as tight as it seemed. However, shortly before the second tribal council, Jeff alerted Sarah and Andrea that Zeke was throwing them under the bus, which Sarah in particular was not pleased with. That being said, however, at the tribal council for this round Jeff choked on his own foot and caused a very passionate, intense and emotional reaction from Zeke’s Nuku tribemates which I believe will cause the members of that tribe to grow closer together than any other game move would have.
LOOKING FORWARD: Sarah has her allies from the Nuku-Tavua alliance in Andrea, Ozzy and Zeke. She has Cirie and Troyzan from Tavua. She may have Tai and Debbie from Nuku 3.0. Sarah is going into the merge with a bunch of allies and it does not seem as though she is on anyone’s radar. She has said she is willing to make moves and act like a criminal without having made any dirty moves in the game which may suggest we will see something of that effect in the future from Sarah. It is worth noting that Sarah was the first boot at the merge during Cagayan where she felt as though she was a swing vote and was promptly voted out. It can probably be assumed that Sarah will not make that same mistake again and should be able to survive at least a few rounds here at the merge before she receives any heat.
NUKU: Sierra began this season by finding the legacy advantage during the marooning. Then, she quickly formed an alliance with Brad and was shown strategizing with Ozzy. After that, Sierra was invisible on the original Nuku tribe.
MANA: Sierra was swapped onto the Mana tribe with Brad, Tai and Debbie, as well as Hali and Caleb from the original Mana tribe. Caleb was voted out for being on the outs during the first round at Mana 2.0. In the following round, Sierra was the target from the Nuku tribe in the joint tribal council. In that episode, Sierra had a moment in which Tai began talking and Debbie spoke over Tai, but Sierra asked Debbie to hold her thought and asked Tai to continue speaking, and that is when Tai shared that he had the idol. The Nuku-Mana alliance of Sierra, Brad, Tai and Debbie agreed that they would use the idol if one of the four of them was the target; Sierra was. Tai used the idol on Sierra and Malcolm went home. In the following round, Debbie had a meltdown about feeling that Brad was disrespecting her. While Sierra went to console Debbie, she was also the shoulder for Brad to complain and express his confusion with. It seems as though Sierra was the glue on the Mana tribe keeping things running while simultaneously being Brad’s right hand woman.
MANA: Sierra remained on the Mana tribe with Brad and Hali. Joining them were Cirie from the original Nuku tribe and Aubry, Hali and Michaela from the original Mana tribe. Sierra was only spoken about through the two episodes of Mana 3.0 through Brad’s perspective. Brad formed an alliance with Troyzan where Sierra was included and, in the following episode, was just lumped in as being a member of Brad’s alliance.
LOOKING FORWARD: Sierra is entering with a legacy advantage which she can use during the first round of the merge or at the final 6. She has Brad, who has been on a tribe with and has been Sierra’s closest ally throughout the entire pre-merge. As a result, Sierra is a valued member of Brad’s alliance, which now includes Troyzan and tentatively Aubry and Cirie from Mana 3.0. Sierra was also shown to have a good relationship with Tai while they were together on Mana 2.0, where Sierra had moments where she would hush other people in order to give Tai more time to speak. Additionally, Tai used his idol to save Sierra at the joint tribal council. As well, although Debbie had a blowup at Brad, Debbie seemed to always want to be loyal with Sierra (and Tai) while on Mana 2.0. While Sierra and Hali do not seem to have any relationship despite having been on Worlds Apart together, Sierra does not seem to have anybody gunning for her.
NUKU: Like most of the original Nuku tribe outside of Cirie and Ozzy, Tai had a pretty quiet premiere. Tai did find himself caught in the middle of some Cirie/Ozzy drama where Cirie tried to bury the hatchet with Ozzy, but then Ozzy talked with Tai and others about targeting Cirie. When Cirie asked Tai if she was in a good spot in the tribe, Tai told Cirie that she should clear the friction with Ozzy, alerting to Cirie that her previous talks with Ozzy had not worked. Also, during this conversation, Tai came off as skittish and sketchy to Cirie.
MANA: Tai was swapped onto the Mana tribe along with Brad, Debbie and Sierra from his original Nuku tribe along with Caleb and Hali from the original Mana tribe. Immediately upon switching, the focus was on Tai and Caleb, as they were very close allies during the short stint of Kaoh Rong where they were together. While Tai originally pushed hard to keep Caleb around, Brad was able to convince Tai that it was a better idea for Tai long-term to vote Caleb out and remove the target of being a pair with Caleb off of his back. In the following round, Tai was able to find an idol shortly before the joint tribal council with the Nuku tribe. During the joint tribal council, the Mana tribe stayed strong and voted together. With JT’s intel, Brad signaled to Tai to play the idol on Sierra, saving Sierra and sending Malcolm home. In the next round, Debbie had her episode against Brad which caused her to have a blow up at camp, where Tai mentioned that Debbie scared him when she got so angry. Because of the growing tension within the tribe, Tai felt nervous and set out to find a second idol. He was able to find it soon before the next tribe swap.
NUKU: Tai was swapped back onto the Nuku tribe, joining former tribemates Andrea, Sarah, Ozzy and Zeke from the original Nuku tribe, and Sandra and Jeff from the original Mana tribe. The Tavua foursome came to an agreement that they would target Sandra but planned Tai as their decoy boot to lie to Jeff and Sandra with. Because Tai was feeling paranoid, he set out to find another idol using the instructions from the idol he had just found on the Mana tribe. He was able to find another idol. Before tribal council, Tai felt that he was the one on the outs and was going to go home and let it slip to Jeff that the Tavua+Tai alliance was voting out Sandra, alerting Jeff and Sandra that the Tavua alliance was lying to them. At tribal council, Tai remained nervous and, after Sandra told him she and Jeff would vote with him, suggested that the tribe vote out Ozzy. After this, Sandra and Jeff tried to turn it around on Tai but they were the only two to vote for him and Sandra went home. In the following round, Jeff revealed personal information about Zeke which caused Tai and the other Nuku members to have an intense and emotional reaction in support of Zeke, which I think bonded those at that tribal council much closer as a result.
LOOKING FORWARD: Tai has made the merge with two idols in his possession. He spent several days with both “sides” entering the merge: Brad’s alliance and the Tavua alliance. Tai spent time in Mana 2.0 as a loyal ally with Brad’s alliance, willing to send Caleb home and use his idol to save Sierra to prove his loyalty to this group, so he should have a good relationship with Brad, Sierra and Debbie going into the merge. However, despite being a decoy boot and feeling paranoid, Tai was included in with the Tavua tribe to vote out both Sandra and Jeff, and was a part of the emotional tribal council that caused Tai to have a very intense reaction to Jeff’s words and was very supportive of Zeke. I don’t believe that Tai would turn on Zeke after learning such personal and emotional information about Zeke. Also, Tai is reuniting with Debbie and Aubry, the trio from Kaoh Rong that caused some concern among the other Survivors. Tai also may need to worry about Ozzy after he openly targeted Ozzy during episode 6. Otherwise, with two idols and lots of allies, Tai should be in good shape entering this merge.
MANA: Troyzan was a background character throughout the original Mana tribe, while the story focused mostly on Tony and his alliance of threats. However, it was Troyzan’s late night conversation with Sandra that Tony interrupted that ignited the falling out of Tony’s alliance. As a result, Tony and Sandra split up and Sandra formed a counter alliance with the remaining people outside of the alliance: Troyzan, Hali, Michaela and Jeff. Sandra’s counter alliance was a success and Tony was voted out.
TAVUA: Troyzan was swapped onto the Tavua tribe along with Andrea, Cirie, Ozzy, Sarah and Zeke from the original Nuku tribe. Troyzan was very much on the outs throughout his entire stay on the Tavua tribe. After realizing he was firmly on the outs, Troyzan went out searching for an idol and found one pretty easily. Around that same time, Troyzan approached Andrea, who gave him a transparent vote of confidence. Troyzan saw through Andrea’s attempts to placate him, calling her a “little devil” and saying she “thinks she is more clever than she actually is”, presumably putting her in Troyzan’s crosshairs should he have needed a target if Tavua lost, which they never did. Troyzan also had a scene where he and Sarah agreed to work together and even shook on it to confirm their deal.
MANA: Troyzan was swapped back to the Mana tribe, joining Hali, Michaela and Aubry from his original Mana tribe and Brad, Sierra and Cirie from the original Nuku tribe. Soon after hitting the beach, Brad and Troyzan formed an alliance based on being the only two men in a tribe full of women, a serious concern for Troyzan after his experience being outplayed by several women in Survivor: One World. Also, Brad and Troyzan share a connection because Troyzan played with Brad’s wife in Survivor: One World. Troyzan was brought into Brad’s alliance that at that point only included Brad and Sierra. Though in episode 7, Brad seemed to think that his alliance had grown to include Aubry and Cirie, though we didn’t get to see much of that.
LOOKING FORWARD: Troyzan is entering the merge with an idol in his pocket. After being on the outs for the entire tenure on Tavua, Troyzan quickly became allies with Brad and joined his alliance, giving Troyzan at least Brad and Sierra as allies. Troyzan also formed an alliance with Sarah on the Tavua tribe. Unfortunately for Troyzan, the women have an 8-5 majority at the merge, so his Survivor experience will continue to include being around several savvy women. While Troyzan did not impress in challenges like Brad or Ozzy, he is still likely to be seen as one of the alpha men on the tribe and may be targeted for that early on in the merge.
NUKU: Zeke had a quiet premiere episode on the Nuku tribe. He had a scene where Cirie approached him to be in an alliance and he agreed, but told us in confessional that he wasn’t willing to risk his game to work with her while everyone else is targeting her. Zeke was otherwise invisible in his tenure on this Nuku tribe.
TAVUA: Zeke was swapped onto the Tavua tribe along with Andrea, Cirie, Ozzy and Sarah from his original Nuku tribe and Troyzan from the Tavua tribe. While Zeke didn’t get much airtime during this stage of the game, he was able to work with Cirie on the Tavua tribe without risking his game for her, a contrast to his statement made in confessional while on the original Nuku tribe. Zeke and the rest of the Nuku members on Tavua did not attend a single tribal council up until the point they left the Tavua tribe.
NUKU: Zeke was swapped on to the Nuku tribe along with allies Andrea, Ozzy and Sarah from his Nuku tribe who he had been with on the Tavua tribe, Tai who was on his original Nuku tribe, and Jeff and Sandra from the original Mana tribe. Upon hitting the beach on this newly swapped tribe, Zeke seemed to take the leadership position for the Tavua alliance on this Nuku tribe. The alliance immediately decided to target Sandra and came up with a decoy boot to tell Jeff and Sandra to target Tai. Zeke had a moment where he and Jeff bonded on the beach where Zeke told Jeff the plan to boot Tai. However, later in the episode Tai told Jeff and revealed that Zeke and the Tavua tribe was actually targeting Sandra and were lying to them. During that tribal council, Zeke questioned Tai’s loyalties after Tai publicly targeted Ozzy. In the following episode, Zeke was put into a position of needing to choose between Ozzy, a big threat and ally he had been with through this entire game, or Jeff, a new friend he recently made. Zeke determined he was not ready to lose Ozzy at this stage of the game and let Jeff know it was his time to go. Before tribal council, Jeff caused some drama and told Andrea and Sarah that Zeke was throwing them under the bus, which the two ladies did not appreciate. However, at tribal council, Jeff revealed some personal information about Zeke which caused the rest of the Nuku tribe to rally around and vehemently support Zeke and condemn Jeff for his words and actions at that tribal council. I am of the opinion that an intensely emotional and passionate tribal council like the one mentioned makes a tribe become much closer together than any ordinary tribal council.
LOOKING FORWARD: Zeke is entering the merge for the second time in his two consecutive seasons playing. He is joined by his Tavua-Nuku allies in Andrea, Sarah and Ozzy, as well as Tai and Debbie who stood up for him and defended him during that intense and emotional tribal council. Zeke also has Cirie who Zeke seemed to be very excited to be able to play with in the early stages of the game. Zeke is reuniting with Michaela for the first time since the early days of their original season, MvGX. While Jeff threw Zeke under the bus prior to tribal council and caused Zeke’s alliance to question him a little bit, Jeff’s actions at tribal council seemed to erase any of these concerns and, I’d argue, Jeff’s words made the people attending that tribal council much closer as a result. It does not appear that anyone is coming for Zeke any time soon, so he should be in a good position here in the merged tribe.