QUICK NOTE: XFINITY.com is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. During the season we’ll have insightful weekly Power Rankings, exit interviews, and full episode recaps. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.
The Rules: Each week our two combatants will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the players will earn. For example, if Sierra is voted out this episode, Adam will receive one points and Gordon will receive seven points. At the end of the season, the person with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Game Changers” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.
Last Week: Adam Klein had Jeff in spot fourteen. I had him in spot thirteen. The current score is now Team Adam 64, Team Gordon 64.
Quick Note: Rankings are not based on who the player thinks is most likely to win. The smart strategy is to rank the contestants based on who is the most likely to be voted out in the next episode.
Adam’s Score = 64
Any questions for Adam? Drop him a line on Twitter: @AdamScottKlein
Gordon’s Score = 64
Any questions for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes
|1. Sierra: Whew. What a week. There is so much about real life to unpack from the last episode that is almost seems frivolous to do this ranking this week. At the same time, this is how this crazy game goes. Zeke doesn’t get to pause the game despite being outed in front of millions. There is no time to decompress, no loved ones to call home to. And so, we carry on.
Sierra has the option to play the legacy advantage this week if she feels any danger. She has been playing a rock solid game so far and if the preview is any indication, she seems to be involved in almost every conversation on the beach.
(This is too much info for most but for those who don’t freeze frame every shot of the preview and are curious, the groups shown are: 1. Sierra + Sarah + Andrea, 2. Brad + Troyzan + Ozzy – more on this later, 3. All women minus Sarah, Andrea, and Aubry, and 4. Sierra and Debbie).
|1. Troyzan: I always try to figure out who the big players are going to be as we hit the merge. They tend to be the first targets. Brad’s got his people, Ozzy has his people, Sarah wants to make a move, Debbie has a bridge to mend. People like Troyzan have time to float. And float they should. As I always say, you can’t win the game early, but you can sure lose it. Add an idol to that and you have the safest person in the game.|
|2. Troyzan: So let’s try to figure out how this all plays out. Since the merge is 9 original Nuku and only 4 original Mana, the Nuku split is likely to happen almost immediately after the merge, and the Manas are likely to be used as numbers for the time being. I see two main sides forming. Since I believe the edit has been underplaying both of their impacts in their respective alliances, let’s call one side Team Sierra and one side Team Andrea.
Team Sierra: Sierra, Brad, Troyzan, Aubry, Tai
Team Andrea: Andrea, Ozzy, Zeke, Sarah, Debbie
Swings: Hali, Cirie, Michaela
When I get to each of the swings I will discuss where they are most likely to fall. For now, Troyzan gets the 2nd spot as he not only has an idol, but at least Zeke, according to his secret scene, thinks that he can swing him to his side. We know from the edit how unlikely that is, but Zeke and Co. do not. It’s always good if people think they can work with you down the line.
|2. Tai: The man with two idols should sooper safe, but as Tai himself said, he’s bad at Tribal. Ozzy knows you’re gunning for him. And he knows that you possibly could have been swayed if Varner didn’t set the world on fire last week. I’m thinking this drives you back into the welcoming arms of Camp Culpepper.|
|3. Tai: If there was ever the time to play an idol with any hint of danger, it’s at the merge. Tai should find himself courted by both sides, as his old Mana 2.0 crew of Brad and Sierra will want him back, and his current tribe has signaled that they trusted him at least more than Varner. Based on the fact that he clearly doesn’t trust Ozzy, he played an idol for Sierra, and he is tight with Brad, I see Tai flipping back to Team Sierra.||3. Hali: Miss Merican! Lost in all of the terribleness of last week’s episode was Hali’s performance (and salute) in the immunity challenge. Adorable. Most of the original Mana tribe is gone, so I doubt the Nuku-strong vibe will last long.|
|4. Sarah: I’m so confused by Sarah’s edit! I thought Sarah was supposed to be the villain of the season? But she’s the hero!! The way she stood by Zeke and called out her own ‘metamorphoses’ was moving and inspirational. She’s been shown talking like someone who would shake up the game with quotes like “silent assassin,” “playing this game like a criminal,” “I know how to lie to these people,” and now “I’m ready to prove why I’m a game changer.” But in reality, we have seen Sarah support her tribe mates and stick to her original alliance. I’m putting Sarah up this high because we still haven’t seen the Big Move™ that has been teased for 7 episodes now. If this is the night it happens, it would make sense that it would be to turn on Ozzy, as she suggested doing in the last episode.||4. Michaela: Varner’s gone, Sandra’s gone, and Aubry is too smart to hold a grudge, that makes Michaela a free agent. There’s plenty of time for her to figure out which way the wind is blowing and decide which way to play it.|
|5. Andrea: I think Andrea is one of the least likely targets on her side, although idol fears could always screw that up. Ozzy is a much bigger physical threat and Zeke is now likely considered an end-game threat. One scene from the preview that has me puzzled is: why are Sierra, Andrea, and Sarah talking? If even Andrea is willing to flip on Ozzy than we may have a merge vote with an overwhelming majority like the first few boots of the season, but I don’t see how that would benefit her. In a secret scene, Andrea talked about how her group could pull in Cirie and Brad at the merge. Cirie I could see, but if she plans on trying to flip Brad, she’ll be ignoring others that are far more likely to join her side.||5. Aubry: “Survivor’s” unluckiest player has made the merge! And, she finally seems to have a foothold in an alliance. Surely that means Brad will be med-evaced this week.|
|6. Cirie: My next three are my three swing votes so I think these are the most important. I think Cirie will have options. In a secret scene, she talked about the Nukus on the other tribe as “my Nuku people,” and “my Nuku family.” But she also said, “reconnecting with Brad has turned out to be good,” and importantly, her renewed relationship was highlighted on the show. Equally as important is remembering her early content, which was all focused on her tenuous-at-best relationship with Ozzy. That storyline took a back-seat when they were separated at the 2nd swap, but it would make sense for it to come back now. Another editorial sign pointing to an Ozzy vote.||6. Andrea: Kudos to Andrea last week. While Sarah looked ready to tear the game apart, Andrea was the one who kept a cool head. That should serve her well once the merge feast leftovers are gone.|
|7. Hali: I’m not sure why anyone would target Hali right now except to avoid an idol play. I have no idea who she will go with. Logically, it would make sense that if she is on the bottom of the Sierra group, that she would attempt to find a new home with Andrea’s group. I think that makes the most sense for her. But she also doesn’t know them at all, and may decide that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Regardless, she should be safe.||7. Sierra: Your comment about being the new sheriff in town has me nervous for two reasons. One, “Survivor” loves to strike down people who make big claims. And two, are you referring to Sarah? Both of you should be hanging back and letting the targets have at it.|
|8. Michaela: Michaela, like Hali, is a woman without a home. She was once in a strong position on the Mana tribe surrounded by allies, but now pretty much all of those allies have been voted out, and we have no sense from the show, nor from secret scenes, of what she plans to do next or who she is looking to align with. The only hint, and it is minor, is the disinterest she was shown to have when Brad and others were connecting over their shared experience of returning home from Survivor. To be fair, Michaela has only been home from Survivor for 2 weeks, and has not yet seen herself on TV, so the disconnect is not all that surprising, but it could also be a subtle editorial hint that she will side with the Andrea group and turn on Brad.||8. Cirie: Oh good, Cirie finally gets to see what the Tribal Council set looks like. It’s cool. Take a minute to go to the top of the lighthouse and check out the view. I for one am psyched that Cirie made the merge. This is where she shines. If she can play the big dogs against each other, she can take this thing. But, she has to be careful not to show too much of the magic that makes people fear her.|
|9. Debbie: I’m guessing based on her blowup with Brad and the way she was welcomed into her new tribe that Debbie will stick with Team Andrea. Her problem is that she doesn’t seem to be in the core of either of the two groups, but there is good news. At least one person, Sarah, wants to take her to the end, according to Sarah’s secret scene this week, and I doubt she is the only one. If Team Andrea wins out, and frankly, even if they don’t, I can easily imagine Debbie in the final 3.||9. Brad: So, right now it looks like Brad has Troyzan, Sierra, Hali, Cirie, and Aubry on his side. Aaand…he has the potential to pull Tai and Debbie back into the fold. Aaand…it seems like he and Ozzy were close at the original Nuku. He has a lot of options. But, that power will also make him an early target.|
|10. Aubry: Aubry is in an interesting spot. She also doesn’t seem to have a real home, but at the same time, the edit highlighted her relationship with Brad, and in her secret scene she talked about being a better position on new Mana because she was “forming new bonds” and “mending old ones.” To me, that signals that she will stay with Team Sierra, but it would not be totally surprising for her to flip either. She is lucky that a couple of the people that were after her, Varner and Sandra, are now gone, and so I think the only person left that she probably doesn’t have the best strategic relationship with is Michaela. She will have to work quickly to establish lasting bonds, though, or she will quickly find herself alone and unprotected. Debbie said in a secret scene that she “wants to extend an olive branch to Aubry if the chance arises,” so there is a glimmer of hope.||10. Debbie: Was Cochran’s Mr. Miyagi speech too little, too late to help Debbie-San? Probably not. But, she is on thin ice if she wants to get back on the Culpepper train. If I were her, I’d make peace with him quickly, but then keep my eyes and ears open for other opportunities.|
|11. Brad: Brad has to be target #1 for Team Andrea. Or that’s at least what looks obvious to the viewers. The problem for Team Andrea is they don’t seem to realize that Brad isn’t on their side, and how well connected he really is. People that talked about working with Brad in secret scenes this week include Andrea, Cirie, and Aubry. On the show, you can add in Troyzan, Sierra, and Tai. That’s a lot of people that want to work with Brad. Brad also discussed in his secret scene about having an alliance early on with Ozzy, so presumably Ozzy might trust him as well. However, if he loses Michaela and Hali, which is very possible, and Andrea and Ozzy realize that he is not with them, Brad could be our surprise merge boot for this season.||11. Zeke: I can see the fallout from last episode’s disaster going one of two ways. Either the tribemates who rushed to his aid will feel closer to him and more likely to trust him. Or…they realize that going to the end with Zeke is a ticket to a second-place finish. I’m betting on the latter.
Also, guess which dummy thought it would be a good idea to break the ice with Varner during his exit interview by leading off with, “In the first Tribal, why did you target Ciera?” This guy. It did not go over well.
|12. Zeke: Zeke had one of the most incredibly powerful moments ever seen on reality television, and he will rightfully be celebrated by many, both on his season and at home. The problem for Zeke, in the context of the game, is that he just had what I like to call a “Dave moment.” What I am referencing is the scene in my season at a reward challenge where Dave offered to sit out, and had a beautiful moment about what his Survivor experience meant to him. It was truly touching and brought many of us to tears, but it was also the moment I decided that there was no way I could go to the end with Dave. In addition to outing Zeke to the public and changing his personal life forever, Varner dealt a potentially fatal blow to Zeke’s game. I cannot imagine this group letting Zeke get anywhere close to the final 3, and the reason for that is truly heartbreaking.||12. Sarah: If I were a mad “Survivor” scientist and I tried to make the perfect person to win this game, my creation would come out a lot like Sarah. But…apparently during the process I may have accidentally knocked over a beaker of “Feels the Need to Make Big Moves at Times When They Are Unnecessary” into the mix. If she’d just relax, she’d be in a great spot to pick and choose her allies. Instead, I’m worried she’s gonna do something risky just to fulfill her “Play like a criminal” philosophy.|
|13. Ozzy: Ozzy is a master at getting to the merge (4 for 4!), but the modern post-merge game is simply too long for someone like Ozzy to stand a real chance of getting to the end unless they are someone that everyone knows they can win a jury vote against. Ozzy is not that guy. And all signs point to this being his swan song. Tai has targeted him, Cirie has voiced concern over his presence in the game, Sarah considered turning on him already, Zeke talked about only needing Ozzy for “a couple votes” in a secret scene, and most clearly of all, in another secret scene, Brad, a former ally, explicitly states all of the following: “Ozzy’s too good.” “No way I’m getting back with Ozzy.” “He’s going to be target #1.” “I’m not connected to him. I’m all for getting him out early.” In the preview, he is shown talking to Brad and Troyzan, two people he likely thinks he will be able to trust, but that he most certainly should not. If Ozzy is able to turn this around and win this game, it will be one of, if not the most incredible win of all time.||13. Ozzy: Welp…it’s merge time. Which means there’s never a bad time to send Ozzy packing. Fortunately for him, a lot of the big challenge threats are long gone. Unfortunately for him, the individual challenges rarely reward speed and strength. Add to that the fact that he has to survive two episodes this week, and I just don’t see it happening.|
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes