In one fell swoop last night, one of greatest players in the history of Survivor destroyed her game. When Cirie Fields stood up to use the vote steal advantage that had been lended to her by Sarah Lacina, only to find out it was a non-transferrable advantage, it was essentially game over for her. Cirie was not voted out (at least not yet), but with such a flashy move blowing up in her face, it seems like her boot will be just around the corner.
Despite a disjointed editing job for this week’s episode, Cirie’s blunder represents the only real recurring theme from this week which was the need for attention to detail. The most obvious of which was Cirie’s vote steal backfire, which was the most Amazing Race-like Survivor has ever gotten. Had Cirie read the advantage with a fine tooth comb, she would have known that she was not able to use it for her personal gain and simply gone with Sarah’s original plan.
That said, there were a few other moments within the episode where characters demonstrated attention to detail in an attempt to further their games. Once the tribe has gotten back to their camp after the Sierra boot, Aubry is quick to point out to Andrea that Sarah was making shocked faces at Sierra in an attempt to curry favor with her as she left. Now Aubry is unaware of the legacy advantage, which was the reason Sarah wanted to look confused at Sierra’s departure, but nonetheless she accurately picks up that Sarah is trying to work the jury.
Up until this episode, very few, if any, have picked up how much of a threat Sarah is to win the whole game. At home, we can put two and two together. Much of the story is being told through Sarah’s eyes, she has been extremely visible all season, even when her tribe was on a winning streak and she is getting a lot of confessionals to talk about her game. On the island, it’s an entirely different thing and for Aubry to pick up what Sarah has been doing with the jury was impressive. That small detail that Aubry picked up was enough for her and Andrea to realize they needed to make a move on Sarah before it was too late. Unfortunately for Andrea, she would find out it was already too late in only a couple of days.
When it comes to the vote steal giveaway itself, Sarah deserves props as much as Cirie deserves some rarely needed admonishing. Remember a few weeks ago when Sarah gave us the confessional about noticing small details like when a car’s registration was expired? Well it came into play here. Knowing she was safe from the vote due to having numbers, Sarah felt comfortable giving Cirie her advantage. She even tells her that in case Sarah is voted out, at least Cirie will still have the vote steal the next morning. This is a devious move from Sarah because she had already read her advantage and she knew that there was no way Cirie could turn around and use it on her. Telling her that it would be good if Cirie had it the next day only made it more tempting for Cirie to use it which may have been exactly what Sarah intended. If this was a test of loyalty from officer Sarah to Cirie, it worked brilliantly as a litmus test to let Sarah know Cirie isn’t trustworthy.
Historically, this is unprecedented for Cirie Fields. She is an all-time great. She is the one who noticed how messy Casaya was and knew to lay low to keep surviving. She is the player who managed to conjure up the plan to get Erik to give away his immunity so they could vote him out, simply because she knew that Erik felt badly for having tried to dupe Amanda and Natalie the previous round. Cirie Fields is the queen of noticing small details. How could she simply have failed to read an advantage that was given to her and been so quick to make such a colossal mistake late in the game? If the move goes through and Sarah is saved by Cirie stealing her own vote to do so, that is a game clinching move for Cirie. That said, what were truly the odds that the entire move would work? There were so many factors going into play, all needing to fall into place for Cirie’s plan to ultimately work that it seems very unlike her to even try something like this in the first place. I suppose we will need to wait for post-game press for us to get some answers from Cirie on these questions.
After that vote has been read and Michaela goes home, Brad Culpepper deserves some props for his own sharp eyes. Tai Trang has received two votes in the Michaela boot, one from Aubry Bracco and the other from Michaela herself. Brad quickly notices who the votes came from and makes sure to let Tai know. This is important because up until last week, Tai and Brad had been thick as thieves. In an attempt for self-preservation, Brad voted for Tai to be kicked off and this made Tai breakaway from the alliance. Since he had prior working experiences with Aubry, Tai turned to her as a new ally and hoped to ride it out with her to the end. For her part, Aubry did not really want to sit next to Tai in the final three which is why she tipped off to Cirie that Tai was gunning for Sarah. By pointing out to Tai that Aubry voted for him, Brad may very well have managed to rope his former ally back in the fray.
Down to six people, that could be a huge move. Brad is already allied with Troyzan Robertson who has an idol. If Tai swings back around, that gives the trio a total of three idols to use over the next two rounds. Brad is also by far the biggest immunity threat left on the island. On the other side Sarah probably no longer trusts Cirie and Cirie just voted for Aubry in her own attempt for self-preservation. It does not make sense for any of these women to work together as far as trusting each other is concerned. The power may have suddenly shifted back in favor of the men thanks simply to Brad’s keen sense of observation.