Previously on Survivor, Hali and Michaela were on the bottom of their tribe, Varner made a desperate move, and made a bad decision that affected Zeke’s real life — and he was voted out.
There were essentially two episodes in one here, so first let’s think about that first hour. The reward challenge was fun because it gave a chance to see Brad the Martyr and Tai the Selfless alongside Cirie the Suspicious. It’s the sort of archetype confusion that will lead to how we look at their game play going forward. This also led to Debbie “acting” drunk (likely half true), and a series of interesting “let’s vote out Michaela” whisper game, going like Ozzie -> Sara, Tai -> Hali, Brad -> Sierra -> Cirie/Aubry.
Zeke and Cirie were the high performance players the first hour, with Cirie taking Micheala under her wing with some excellent advice about life and the game. She pushed the votes towards the non-entity Hali (no offense, but she always struggled strategically), and maintained plausible deniability. So why did Hali lose?
Really, because she couldn’t take advantage of Michaela’s targeting. Michaela was angry, but instead of pushing on that, Hali seemed to just let it simmer. She offered a few little jabs at moves, but there were two alliances, and an easy target of her. Unfortunately, she was already at the bottom and seemed never to connect with anyone significantly. She was already losing, and never was able to play up the “nobody will vote for me” strategy effectively enough.
Offering to strip (like the old Survivor Amazon season) was barely a strategy at all. So Hali lost because she wasn’t able to get a foothold. And she lost that exciting “hold on to the pole” immunity challenge, but she was never winning that anyway.
On to the second hour, we saw intermixing and alliances shifting, as Zeke was trying for a big move. It wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, but he clearly couldn’t sell it effectively. We saw a lot of interesting confessionals from Aubry and Sierra, one of whom is the “I’m learning from the best” while the other is “I’m going 400 miles an hour.” I don’t know which strategy will end up working in the end.
The truth is, both are sort of complementary strategies, they could wind up together at the end. Tai is the classic goat and already has two idols with a strong challenge game, Brad has been playing well in general, Zeke and Cirie may be too good strategically to last, Sarah is all in her head, Troy is trying his best, and Andrea may let her emotions get the best of her.
Now what about Debbie? She got Ozzie voted out, with precisely the right moves. Just simply spreading the message that Ozzie was the target was enough to make him the target. He was already too good physically, and that threat made it an easy choice. Why did Ozzie lose?
Because he didn’t keep himself aware of his alliance’s moves. And he was just too much of a threat otherwise. Zeke was also out in the cold, getting cut by his former Andrea/Debbie allies and without seemingly anyone else. Except perhaps Tai or Sarah. Zeke pushing against Andrea was dangerous, and backfired because she found out. The worst enemies are the former friends.
But what about Debbie’s extra vote? Well, it wasn’t a bad move, and she didn’t vote herself out using it, but it was ultimately unnecessary. She’s playing decently while still being a nut. If she can hold that Cochran ideal in her head longer, maybe she’ll last long enough.
Next time, the gloves are off, an alliance is seemingly strong, but nothing is set in stone.