Forget any jaw-dropping Tribal Council you may have seen in the past on Survivor. (Poof! Gone! They’re just eliminations now.) There is a new champion that has taken over the title of “Most Shocking”. You may think I’m being facetious, but I’m not. I couldn’t believe what just happened this week. In the third episode alone, Survivor: Game Changers has accomplished what its name has touted – it has shaken the game up with something we haven’t seen yet: two tribes at one Tribal Council voting out one person together. Let the drama begin.
Sure, we’ve seen some Top 10 list-worthy vote-offs that will always go down in Survivor history. Jessica getting knocked out by rocks in Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, Erik giving away the immunity idol on Survivor: Micronesia, and J.T.’s blindside on Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains are just a few that come to mind. These were determined by effective manipulation, relationships and luck. I’m not saying this week’s episode stemmed from the same factors. In fact, if it weren’t for Tai’s hidden immunity idol, the elimination could’ve gone a completely different way and Sierra would’ve been the one to go. This is one of the most shocking because of the series of events that happened between both tribes that led to Malcolm getting blindsided.
Before we get into Tribal Council, let’s talk about this week’s challenges. Instead of the combined reward/immunity challenge, there were two separate games for the castaways to compete in. My preference goes to the reward challenge (balance ball on a stick/throwing bags) over the immunity challenge (obstacle course/ball puzzle). Having the reward challenge be limited to two competitors raised the stakes immensely. The chance of winning rested on two castaways and they needed to work together. If they failed the blame could’ve been placed on them. I like these variants when they’re applied to certain challenges.
Why did none of the women compete? It looked a bit odd that six men were chosen to do the challenge (two from each tribe). Having one man and one woman from each tribe be forced to compete would’ve made the game more unexpected than simply having all the strong men. Though, it was impressive seeing Brad turn things around for his tribe for a comeback victory. There’s no doubt this win will curry him some good relationship bonding for the time being – his tribe needs him for the physical competitions. However, he looks like a MAJOR threat now. Even Hali recognizes his threat status by offering to flip the vote to get Brad out.
Speaking of Hali, her chances don’t look great. The Caleb vote did nothing to help her out for the time being. She’s stuck in a bad situation on her tribe and regardless of what she does next, she’s still the lowest person on the totem pole. Hali would be better off going against Debbie than throwing Tai under the bus. Sierra looks to be a closer friend to her, Brad is the tribe’s strongest competitor and Tai is the next lowest at the bottom. She needs to reassess her possibilities or else she’ll be next. Though, I have to give her credit for trying.
Sandra is another person who should be watching her back. As much as I love Sandra and call her a queen, the ego thing is rubbing people the wrong way. If it had not been for the special Tribal Council twist, she could’ve been voted off if her tribe had lost the challenge. Still, I’m pretty surprised with J.T. He’s the only other winner left in the game and he was going to work with Malcolm to vote out Sandra. One of his best chances to win the game is to be sitting at the end with another winner, especially someone who’s won twice like Sandra. She’s this season’s goat for a reason – NO ONE is going to want to give her a third million dollars. J.T. needs the extra push over someone else to get him the prize.
When it came time for Tribal Council, my reaction could be best described as the shocked/petrified emoji. The night seemed easy enough and looked to be expected: six castaways on one tribe vs. five on the other. Even the whispering was expected. The second J.T. got out of his chair and walked over to Brad, spilling who the tribe was voting out (Sierra), that’s when everything went off the rails.
Firstly, J.T. should NEVER have gotten out of his chair and told Brad. There’s no way of knowing if next week will be a tribe swap or a merge; he still needs to rely on his current tribe to try and keep him around. By getting up and spilling the truth, he’s ruined the trust of five people and he’s put himself in a worse situation back at camp. Unless a miracle happens, he’s the next one to go. And even if he did survive and make it farther in the season, this is something that will be held against him. Poor decision making by a past winner.
Hali going back and forth between both tribes isn’t as shocking. She was stuck in the middle and since it was J.T. who struck first, she took the opportunity to explore her options. However, if the Nuku tribe had listened to her and agreed to switch, Tai’s idol wouldn’t have worked and Brad would be the one voted off. The season could’ve gone in a completely different direction if they had listened. But that’s all speculative.
We’ve seen castaways whispering to each other at Tribal Council in the past; it’s nothing new. Sometimes the vote has gone down to the conversations going right up until the vote. This may be the first time that every castaway has left their seat to openly whisper to each other. I loved the look on Jeff Probst’s face. He was just as shocked as the rest of us, and feasting on the drama show in front of him. J.T. caused a chain reaction and sent everyone spinning. Kudos to Jeff for simply sitting back, not saying anything and letting the castaways create the tension. The scene worked perfectly because it was natural and felt real.
All I can say is poor Malcolm! He didn’t expect it at all. Being a competition threat is obviously the reason he got the boot, but he looked devastated. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on another season in the future. But still, this episode has shaken the game up and given us a new first after 34 seasons! I can’t believe it as well…