Playing the middle has its advantages. In fact, it just cashed out a million dollar cheque to one lucky castaway. The finale of Survivor: Game Changers is here and after a season of blindsides, twists, and Survivor firsts, one person has walked away with the big prize. It’s been an interesting season, to say the least. Many of these castaways (all veterans) had something to prove; they didn’t simply play the game, they changed the norm. While that’s all well and good, it sometimes helped or hurt their chances. But this time around, the person who made the most personal cuts and connections took the title of Sole Survivor.
Sarah, the undercover cop from Survivor: Cagayan, edged out Brad Culpepper and Troyzan in a (somewhat) close final vote. She made the most personal relationships, jumped back and forth between alliances, cut her friendships, discovered twists and enacted them. After all that, it’s not surprising to see Sarah be voted as the winner. In fact, she was one of my top choices to win. As compared to her first season where she played too much in the middle, Sarah perfected her mistakes (mostly) to have a season winning strategy.
It’s hard to fault her game at this point – she was the winner, after all. Though, things could’ve taken a turn for the worst in two ways: (1) if Brad didn’t overestimate the bitterness from the jury towards Sarah and (2) if Sarah pushed the jury members a little too far. Near the end of the season, Sarah’s fuse started getting shorter and shorter; this is quite evident during Cirie’s Tribal Council. She went for the kill towards Tai and if things had gone ugly, she could’ve lost a few jury votes in the process. Nobody likes a bully and it’s one of the reasons Brad didn’t get the win.
Speaking of Brad, I was so disappointed in him. He started the season strong and tried to have a redemption story that would impress his wife Monica. However, that whole situation with Tai was ugly and hypocritical. He bullied Tai and that should never be condoned!
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Survivor is an intense game and it brings out the worst in people. People make mistakes, they get desperate and they do anything to try and stick around…and then there are players like Brad. Brad is a bully and tried to enforce his will over Tai. No one in their right mind would’ve given up a second idol to him, regardless of how pushy he was to Tai. And that the fact he was still going to vote Tai out the next round, even if Tai gave up the second idol, shows how devious Brad is as a player. He is a villain. (Rant over.)
The Survivor: Game Changers finale surprisingly had more sad moments than happy moments. It became perfectly clear that Brad was going to have a clean sweep of the final immunity challenge – it was basically watching who would be voted out next. Tai was bullied, Aubry accepted her fate, Troyzan had no chance at the end, and Cirie got shafted! This was a rough few eliminations.
Cirie’s entire elimination brings up the question about twists and secret powers. When is enough “enough”? She didn’t get voted out – she was forced out of the island based solely on luck and the power of secret immunities. While I do like Cirie, I stand by that elimination because it’s the way fate played out. Tai, Sarah and Troyzan held onto their powers and decided to play it at this round. It wasn’t premeditated; it simply turned out this way. However, is it time to get rid of the Legacy Advantage? It made sense back in Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, and it was used effectively here in Game Changers, but people now expect something like this to happen. It takes the thrill out of the reveal.
The additional powers and twists come into question too. There were A LOT of them this season! We had a couple tribe swaps/merges, stealing votes, double votes, multiple hidden idols, meeting people and so on. This season is Game Changers, but it seemed like the game was its own separate player. It bestowed powers on people at will and changed the course of events every so often. I love a good twist and how it changes the game; though, with the wrong twists introduced and the number of them, it could take things off the rails. I would hate for Survivor to become a game of powers and not strategy.
The remaining challenges were fun to watch. I enjoy when the final challenge of the season isn’t simply a standalone endurance competition – we had those for many years in the past and it’s nice to shake things up. My favorite of the night might be the balancing of the balls. The mechanism that moved the ball around looked fun, and having to move the tiny balls around the obstacles while balancing on platforms looked like a difficult activity for any player. Once you figure out a rhythm, it could be easy to get the hang of it.
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers is the next announced season for the 35th edition. I am on the fence about this concept because we’ve seen it many times already, especially with Survivor: Beauty vs. Brawn vs. Brains. The name is a bit ridiculous, and unless the new castaways bring some fun strategy to the table, it could prove to be a cheesy season that constantly pushes a message based on job types. Let’s hope the Heroes tribe isn’t stacked with all the athletes and the Hustlers aren’t all the devious strategists. A mix of different player types would be fun to watch.
Survivor: Game Changers set out to create a game changing season. They brought back people who “changed the game” in their previous series to see how they could handle it all again. There were twists, alliances, powers and backstabs – all essentials and requirements in a Survivor season. I feel like Survivor: Game Changers delivered on their promise. We had many firsts in Survivor history, even right down to the finale with Cirie’s elimination. The problem, however, is that in their pursuit of this goal, they may have thrown everything at the wall to achieve it, even at the expense of gameplay and story. It was hard to truly root and connect with people as everyone kept switching sides and reacting to the powers. This could simply be the tone of the season, and while I did have some favorites, I was expecting to get the same excitement when we reached the end. I was left waiting.
Though, this was an enjoyable Survivor finale and the right person did win it at the end. Bullies never prosper. And you don’t need to be a competition beast to claim the title. Even the best social game, and sneaky strategist, can pull out ahead.