Previously on Survivor, tribes switched up, JT was outnumbered, Troyzan was the same but found an idol, and Brad manipulated his way to get Caleb out of the game.
There is literally one reason Malcolm can be blamed for his own loss: trusting JT that he wasn’t telling Brad Culpepper the truth about targeting Sierra. Otherwise, he really made no mistakes.
Which really is a bit tragic.
The episode was exciting and bizarre, with a few great new twists and perhaps a bit too much leeway from Jeff Probst. So let me think about how things went. Each challenge worked well in terms of excitement and tension, although there was no good ending in terms of what I wanted, because I knew that no matter what, I would have a chance to lose someone I was rooting for.
On Mana, Brad Culpepper performed exceptionally well in his challenge and managed to get JT to betray his Malcolm alliance without giving up anything in return (like that they were really voting for Malcolm). That’s pretty good playing from him. Sierra I don’t know, she seemed more along for the ride, and Hali was all over the place. I don’t know that anything she did was specifically good, but she was certainly saved by the immunity challenge twist.
Tai may have found an idol, but he also told everyone (except Hali). That said, he did play it correctly based on JT’s “alliance” with them, so he did okay despite again, not doing anything particularly well himself other than the actual idol search. And as for Debbie, despite her saying that she was telling Hali what she wanted to hear, we all know that the crazy is just churning below the surface. Not really looking forward to that.
Jumping over to Tavua, everything was pretty calm. The only stuff we saw was Ozzie showing off, with Andrea in particular happy about it, but otherwise the tribe wasn’t really a part of this episode. Ozzie is still great at deep sea fishing, and those underwater shots are still epic.
Finally at Nuku, I feel like Sandra made the biggest mistake by assuming that there was no idol. But that said, someone else might’ve realized it was found. JT was playing hard, but he screwed himself over; clearly he was connecting with Malcolm, and he felt almost as bad as we did that Malcolm was voted out. Those tears weren’t fake. Varner is still great, even if he isn’t really doing much in particular, and Aubry is barely there (but we know what she’s capable of).
Michaela was smart enough to think of the idol, but she was overwhelmed by Sandra’s force of personality (one of the few that could do that to her). All those whispers were amusing to see, as was Probst’s “oh my gosh” reaction, but let’s be honest here. He was letting them go wild because it was great television.
That said, perhaps the tricky thing was Hali’s little comment; targeting strong players. That got Sandra out of the interest, which is perhaps what led to the final Malcolm decision. And Sandra did say only at the Council that no one had an idol, yet she brought it up before. It’s tricky.
I don’t think we’ll know the whole story until someone from Mana is out of the game, but the only thing I see here is that JT may have ended his own game. I like the guy, so that’s not really a happy thing for me, but really, I like most of these players. And some are beginning to grow on me.
Next time, JT gets blamed and Debbie is angry and crazed. Sigh.