The Golden Ticket - Ben Martell's recaps

Survivor Game No-Changers


Hi everyone!


Well, what did you think of that two-hour opener?  I felt like it was a very satisfying two-hour opener, even if it fills me with a whole lot of dread about my hopes for the season.  But more on that later.  It gave us some great time with some absolute favourites, a couple of fantastic challenges to watch


One thing I felt like I missed was half an hour of content – there’s something to be said for the 1.5 hour first episode, where you have an extra 20 minutes to really establish how various people are fitting in to their tribe.  It would have been nice to see Tony bond with Caleb (instead of others just talk about it), or see what people are making of Debbie generally, or see Andrea (was she out there?).  Where in most seasons you can get a decent sense of where alliances are forming, in this opener it felt like that was given much less weight, and we marched headlong into two votes where we didn’t really get a sense of what the stakes were for those left in the game.


Having said that, we’re shifting it up next week.... so maybe that’s why.


So, here’s what’s on the ticket this week:

  • Survivor Game No-Changers?
  • Survivor Game Changers
  • Ciera’s fall
  • Tony’s implosion
  • Raw meat shields
  • The Queen stays Queen
  • Tai votes go to rocks?
  • Player updates
  • Quick takes


Survivor Game No-Changers (and the power of perception)

Tony and Ciera


As I watched Ciera and Tony go out back to back, the first thing that occurred to me is that they both were perceived to be exactly the same player in the game that they were perceived to be one week before, in the preseason.


Ciera came into the game seen as someone who always wants to make a move.  Her willingness to throw Caleb’s name into the mix immediately reinforced this sentiment.  Tony came into the came perceived as a paranoid guy who’d find idols and be up to tricks.  He reinforced this with his spy bunker and questioning Sandra and Troyzan at 4 in the morning.


There are a lot of players coming in to this game with big targets on their back, and everyone is watching for them to play right into those targets.  Malcolm said Ciera was disturbing the zen.  Hali was worried about Tony racking up the idols.  These were isolated quotes, but they showed the mindset of unanimous tribal voting decisions.  Two heads above the parapet, cut off one after the other.


This suggests a very clear strategy for threats to survive in the season – change your game up to defy perceptions and expectations, or else.  The game no-changers are going home.


Aubry virtually said as much at the first Tribal Council.  Jeff asked her how big a part she thought past impressions would play a part in the game.  Aubry’s response was “I think we’re all looking at each other saying, ok, this is the person I saw on TV, and trying to figure out if that’s exactly what we thought they were, or if they might be a little different.” Ciera and Tony were, in their estimation, exactly who they expected them to be.


Tony wanted to play up that he was playing a different game – an honest game, one where he has lied to no-one – and in his own mind I’m sure that was true.  In fact, people believed it was true that he wasn’t lying (and Tony raised the question of perception loud and clear). But in the perception of others, they saw the same paranoid, crazy Tony they had always seen, and it cost him.


So, watch out Malcolm the challenge beast.  Watch out Tai the chicken man.  Watch out Ozzy the fish.  Watch out Cirie the schmoozer.  Watch out Aubry the calculator.  The game may be coming for you.


Survivor Game Changers (who is defying perceptions so far)

Sandra and Varner


So, who might be showing signs of bucking the perceptions of them?


Jeff is one I saw coming a mile off.  Everyone was coming in to the season worried about Jeff playing the game hard, wanting to make alliances here and there and everywhere and talking to everybody.  But Jeff has kept a calm head so far.  It’s notable that when Caleb and Michaela were talking of the possibility of booting a poor challenge performer, they talked about it in front of Jeff.  Jeff had a look of concern on his face, and I’m sure he knew there was no way he could vote for Sandra after that exchange, but he kept his cool. If you were really looking at booting someone for challenge performance, you might think Jeff would have been the first one they’d be looking at.  Instead, Jeff seems to be positioning himself as reliable and solid alliance partner.


Debbie is still as nuts as she always was.  But, so far, we haven’t been given any evidence of her playing that side to her tribe.  Instead, we are seeing a Debbie with full bomb doors open.  If she can get others to see her rational side more than her kooky side, she may be able to come across as reliable as well.  Of course, it would probably help if she learns how to say Cirie.


Interlude from my mother: “Debbie doesn’t get paid in dollars.  What a surprise!”


Sandra is a trickier proposition.   Malcolm, for instance, said she won the game twice by ‘mobilizing an army and having them at her beck and call’.  That’s not the way I remember it!  But, is Malcolm on his own in that perception, or does he speak for others?  To me, Sandra taking out Tony is not at odds with how she has actually played in the past (see the Trish and Burton boots in Pearl Islands, for example), but it’s completely at odds with her ‘anybody but me’ strategy that is what people tend to expect of her, and I think this leaves her in a decent spot for now.  What people most want to know from Sandra is where she stands, and right now they do.  She’s putting together some handy allies in Troy and Hali (and Jeff?)


Sarah is one who talked directly to making an effort to change – she said she was going to play like a criminal instead of a cop this time.  We haven’t seen much about how that could play out yet, but it’s interesting that this was on there, and I think this could point directly to this idea of needing to change your personal game being a key theme throughout the season.


There are others who might be heading a similar way, but it’s too early to tell.  JT isn’t standing out yet as a major social threat.  Brad talked in a secret scene about his game being different without Monica around.  Michaela isn’t yet a dominant physical threat (through no fault of her own??). Troy seems relaxed and isn’t trying to take on leadership.  I’m looking forward to seeing the direction each of these people ultimately take.


Ciera’s fall (she was voted out by a mom)

Ciera's fall


My pre-season Ciera prediction - “It’s hard for me to see why her tribe wouldn’t boot her the first time they go to tribal council.” 


Oh, I was doing so well... until I went and said “I was very tempted to pick her as the first boot of the season.  That’s what my gut says to do. But my head looks at the eight people who were announced to return at the end of season 33, and Jeff’s Jaws analogy, and that makes me think Ciera has a longer run in her. Since that deters me from predicting she’s first out, I’m going for the opposite – she makes it to final tribal council... and loses there.”  I guess I should have gone with my gut.


Ciera even said it in her post-game interview with Gordon Holmes.  These were not her people.  I’m not at all surprised to see Ciera go our first here, because I felt like this was a group where she wasn’t going to fit from the outset.


However, Ciera’s fall seems to be centred mostly around one man – Malcolm Freberg.  Malcolm seems to have been credited by the edit into swaying people to see Ciera as someone who was causing waves in the tribe and throwing names out – despite the fact it really didn’t seem that way to me. She threw one name out – Caleb – but it just happened to be someone we saw that Malcolm was trying to work with.


People were expecting Ciera to come out and try to make hits, so when it’s pointed out she’s throwing out names, it sticks.  But someone, probably Malcolm, threw out Ciera’s name, and we saw no evidence it stuck to them.


In the end, plenty of people are done in by tribe draw.  I’m not sure Ciera could have done a lot differently.  But next time she comes back (and given Probst has picked her as his winner pick twice now... she is coming back), she has to learn a lesson from Sandra.  When Sandra walked up to the water well, she threw no names out – just asked for the names on the table and said she’d give her opinions on them.  Given the baggage Ciera is coming into Survivor with at this point in her career, that’s what she needs to do to if she wants to beat the perceptions of her game.


I don’t really see going out first as a blot on Ciera’s resumé. But it did highlight a big weakness in Ciera’s game.  She is too brazen about her lack of fear, and a player without a fear filter could do anything tomorrow.  That’s not someone you need in your alliance.


Tony’s implosion (we were deprived of clones!)

Tony's implosion


Tony, Tony, Tony.  What were you doing!


My pre-season Tony prediction – “I don’t think he is deeply at threat before the swap even if he doesn’t find himself in the majority.  He’s going to be a big asset in the challenges and that’s not something that anyone would give up lightly, let alone a Mana tribe that is really going to be reliant on their challenge studs for success.”  Wrong again.


When I wrote my pre-season predictions, I didn’t have the benefit of seeing the pre-season press yet.  I expected Tony to recognise that he couldn’t play the same way again, that coming in with his antics was guaranteed to get him booted early and that he would need to play a calm and reassuring game to get people to trust him.


There was the odd moment where Tony tried to be calm and reassuring, and at times there were signs that it was working.  But mostly, he was the manic Tony we all remember from Cagayan – running off for idols, digging spy bunkers, and paranoid at the drop of a hat.


Interlude from my mother: “I wonder if all U.S. cops are just big kids playing silly games.  The guys anyway.”


Tony just couldn’t do it.  A few days of trying to be calm, and he had bottled up energy that he had to get out.  He thought that running off saying “I’m looking for an idol” would endear him to the tribe, and while it actually was endearing, he had to be aware of how that was going to come across in a tribe who is already going to be on edge about his antics.  His best move would have been to return immediately after no-one followed him and say it was a joke, but his idea that people would follow him would have even lost him that advantage (people would have assumed he just said it was a joke because he was followed).


Things never got better.  A spy bunker was always going to be obvious, his first approach after getting paranoid was to attack rather than to take a step back, and then his approach to remedying the situation was to target the best player on the beach rather than reconcile.


I’ve always felt like Tony’s win was a freak of nature.  Most people confronted with a player so erratic would get him out early.  But even Tony 1.0 wasn’t quite this erratic this early.  Ultimately, Tony’s biggest mistake happened before he even got to Fiji.  His only way of surviving in this game was to play slow and reliable (or, possibly, to bring literal clones with him as a voting bloc), and he needed to realise that and prepare for it mentally before he even hit the beach.


Raw meat shields (can’t someone stop the bleeding?)

Meat shields?


Jeremy Collins was not the first person to play with the ‘meat shield’ strategy, but he was the first to articulate it that way.  Coming in with a deliberate strategy of losing weight to look less threatening, avoiding the hero role in challenges, and aligning with people who would be voted out before he would, he managed to play the strategy all the way to a win.


Looking at this season’s cast on paper, it was clear that the biggest names were going to need to use a meat shield strategy if they had any hope of winning.  This cast can be split into two tiers – people who would be at home on a Legends season, and people who are coming in with very little attention at all, and there’s not a lot of middle ground.  Sarah, Sierra, Brad, Troyzan, Caleb, Debbie, Hali, Tai, Michaela, Zeke... that’s a full half of the cast who walked into this game without a major reputation as a big time player of the game of Survivor to be overcome.  If they get together, they can easily pick of the legends of the game one by one.


This is why the real legends needed to come in with a plan to hang together.  Tony, Sandra, Malcolm, Aubry, Ciera and Jeff on one tribe;  Ozzy, JT, Cirie and Andrea on the other.  This is not what has happened.


For the briefest of moments, I had hope that the Mana tribe would get this together.  Tony, Sandra, Aubry, Malcolm and Caleb looked like they might have control – that was my pre-season predicted alliance (along with Michaela) and this might have meant someone like a Hali or a Troy was going to go out (probably Hali).  Tony and Sandra acknowledged their path to winning was to hang together.  Malcolm talked about needing meat shields. I thought that I was seeing the birth of the group that I could see come together.


And then it vanished in a blink.  The meat shields were raw, with no time to form bonds before new wounds were cut open.  The great players were already coming in with wounds – Sandra has memories of Russell, Ozzy and JT remain wary of Cirie, and despite talking meat shields Malcolm was happy to mistrust a player like Ciera.  They couldn’t overcome these wounds.  Now the legends are down in the numbers, they’ve got a problem.  I had hoped they’d all recognise this coming in, but it looks like they are hoping some of the lesser-renowned players will hang in with them. I’m worried they’ve misjudged it badly.


This gives me a sense of impending doom for the season.  There are surely deserving winners within the group of ten that came in without a big reputation.  But an endgame full of them while most of our legends don’t even make the jury?  That’s not what I was hoping I was signing up for.


There’s still time to turn this around – with swap tribes coming up, the best players might be able to turn majorities in their swap tribes into a chance to remove some of the players without a reputation.  But if they can’t stem the flow within the next couple of weeks, this season might end up standing as a warning and a reminder – the big threats need to hang together if they want to have any chance of winning.


Let’s all keep our fingers crossed!


The Queen stays Queen (adios)

The queen stays queen


Man, I love Sandra.  This episode showed why she was one of the greats of the game.


Now, don’t get me wrong – she’s not winning.  I’m not sure even she truly believes she can win this season.  It feels to me like she’s come into the season to portray “the Queen of Survivor”, and she will run with that for as long as she can survive, and enjoy every moment.  And I’m ok with that.  I can already see that she will annoy some people this season if she keeps acting like she’s the best, but I think she’s earned the right.


Putting aside her lip, though, this week she proved she is indeed still the Queen.  When Sandra was putting together her team, she was walking around like a mafia don, literally putting out a hit on Tony. It was a piece of glorious beauty.  She tried to work with him, but she was just as happy to bail when he started going after her.  She managed to pull the whole tribe together against him despite how poorly they did in the challenge. 


Not only that, but Sandra didn’t even end up taking Tony’s vote – he knew he didn’t have the votes to get her out and so he went with his best option, hoping that the target was Aubry. Then she voted for Aubry as a second layer of protection against an idol. In a war between the two people who could easily be seen as the titans of the season, Sandra came out on top and it wasn’t even close.


It shouldn’t be overlooked, either, that while Aubry, Malcolm and Caleb went along with it, Sandra created a majority, and I think she put herself in a position to stay safe for a while if no swap had come along.  Given the threat level she came in with, that’s grade A stuff.


Sandra is also, once again, reading the game correctly on every level.  When she says of Tony “Jeff, he hopes he’s not the square peg”, she’s not only talking on behalf of Tony, but herself as well and anyone who feels anxious that they could be going home.  It’s things like this that endear people to Sandra because they identify with it right away.


The premiere could easily be seen as an ode to Sandra.  It’s like having a Meryl Streep cameo in your movie.  No matter what happens from here (and I don’t hold out great hope), Sandra will still be the Queen, and this episode showed why.

All I want is for Sandra to make the merge.  We need the Queen’s final tribal question.  Is that too much to ask for, universe?


Tai votes go to rocks? (a strategic dud)



So far this season, we’ve got three twists: The Legacy Advantage; every idol looking different and hidden differently; and the no revote rule.


I like the Legacy Advantage, but I fear that it will be short lived because of the hands it ends up in.  Last season, Ken had it, and now Sierra Dawn Thomas has it.  Both of these people seem like the least likely people on their seasons to need it (and, also, the least likely people to bargain with it), meaning that it can’t reach its full potential.


This is a shame, because I think it has a ton of potential.  It’s basically a hidden immunity idol that survives being voted out of the game, but can only be used at specific times.  I like the shift to making it useable at either 13 or 6, that’s a good shift.  But, realistically, is Sierra ever going to need it at 13?  It seems unlikely.


Its best use is almost certainly as a bargaining chip.  I hope we see it return in seasons 35 and 36, because we might finally see it used to its potential.  In the mean time, who knows – maybe Sierra will get voted out and gift it to someone like Zeke.  One can hope.


Every idol looking different and hidden differently should be the new Survivor standard.  It gives so much room for the game to breathe.  It should allow fake idols to become much more convincing, and should also (in the long run) increase the amount of tension and paranoia about exactly what ‘looking for an idol’ looks like.  I can’t wait to see if this gives us any moments this season.


The biggest shift, though, is removing the revote.  At first, I loved this idea – on the surface it appears to create a whole world of new strategic possibilities, such as minority alliances creating ties for the specific purpose of forcing a rock draw amongst the majority alliance.  It sounds fun in principle.


But then I thought through it a bit further.  The rule is likely to have the effect of eliminating split voting (or at least severely reducing its frequency).  I think it’s likely to actually make strategy more simple long term – split votes will end up being too risky, and all in votes will be far more common.  We might see more successful idol plays, but in some ways it feels a bit empty. 


Jeff Probst said that the reason he went for the rule was that he realised that vote-splitting provided a free peek into the future without an invoice.  But I think he is wrong.  There is an invoice, and it’s been proven many times.


I think immediately of Tyson inadvertently voting himself out in Heroes vs. Villains when he switched his vote to Parvati.  I think of Natalie Anderson removing Alec when her alliance wanted Keith out, and feigning that it was an accident afterwards.  I think of JT’s flip on Cirie that saw her get voted out in Heroes vs. Villains.  I think of the way Fishbach was eliminated in Cambodia.


Splitting the vote is not free.  It already had an invoice.  But now the invoice is too steep, and I think we are going to see a reversion to more simplistic gameplay.  I don’t think that’s a good thing.


What’s worse is that if I’m wrong, and we actually see strategy emerge around the creation of ties, that means more rock draws.  Rock draws are fun as an occasional event, but if they start regularly taking out big time players, this isn’t going to make for great TV.  One of the most fundamental thing that makes Survivor meaningful is the very human reasons why individual people go home.  Rock draws take that away.


So please, Survivor – go back to the old tie rules next season.  It was a great idea to consider it, but it should have died on the drawing board.


Player updates (how are the survivors performing)

I’ll do this in a bit more depth later in the season (and when there’s less than two hours to talk about!)  But for now, a brief view on how each of the players are performing so far.






Malcolm’s in trouble already.


His social game is going great, and his move against Ciera was executed to perfection against someone that was a threat to him long term.


But his timing is all off.  He needs to recognise that people like Hali are the bigger threat to his game.


In addition, he’s giving himself the ‘challenge beast’ marker again – and he’s not even getting immunities for it for his troubles.  Malcolm can’t back it up with individual immunities, so if he makes the merge he could be in trouble if he continues at that level.  He made a big error of judgment in keeping Michaela out of the ring part of the challenge too.



Sandra is probably in about the best shape one could expect in the short term, but it’s not good in the long term (meaning, potentially, even as soon as the swap).


She just executed a move that wasn’t just good, it was great.  A legendary assassination, in my mind. But it was far too early (not that I think she had much choice).  Tony’s boot leaves Sandra exposed, in and in an alliance where she is head and shoulders above the rest as the biggest target.  Her best hope is swapping into a tribe that avoids tribal for a while.



It feels like Aubry hasn’t made real connections, and she seems a bit aloof at the moment.  Aubry said she wanted to make fewer deep connections, and more game-level connections, but at the moment she doesn’t seem to be at all.  Somehow the game flipped from Caleb being close to Tony, to Aubry being close to Tony.  It’s good on Caleb that he extracted himself from that perception, but it’s bad for Aubry – she now appears clearly on the bottom. That doesn’t bode well for her status in the tribe, but if she recognises it, it might be a sign she’ll flip come swap time.



Jeff looks to be sitting pretty.  I think it speaks volumes that everyone seems comfortable speaking out their strategies in front of him, and yet he doesn’t seem to have the same reputation for gaming yet, despite the fact people were looking for it.  He has come in with a much better understanding of the need for good timing after his flame-out in Cambodia.  A swap could turn this game on Jeff, but if he stays as calm as he is right now, he might be around for a while.



Troy is well situated in an alliance with Sandra.  I think he has plenty of options, but I like the fact that he doesn’t find Sandra threatening right now (as seen in his secret scene).  I think this is smart, because Sandra is loyal to people who are loyal to her.  Troy hasn’t come in hard, in fact he’s quite mellow.  After the pre-season, and even before the premiere, I came out with the sense that I might have underestimated Troy, and the premiere gives me that feeling as well.  He’s one to watch.



It’s hard to tell, but Michaela may have avoided the early target and might be ok for a while now.  She had the same difficulty bonding in the first few days in Millennials vs Gen X that she had here, but as she got to know people her bonds grew deep.  She was completely sidelined on that last challenge (what were they thinking?  Swap Michaela for Varner, and maybe they win!) but that might have the advantage that she isn’t seen as threatening just yet.


But she was also carrying herself like Cookie from Empire.  There’s some big risk to coming in as an unknown and acting like you run the joint, and at times (just briefly) that’s exactly how she came across.  Aubry said she had a ‘hot streak’, and that’s not a reputation she wants early (it could serve her well post-merge, though).


Overall, I think Michaela’s in an ok spot.  She got herself into an apparent swing vote position, and a swap leaves her open to prove her physical worth all over again.



Hali seems to be drifting by for now.  She seems to be in good with Sandra, which is a good spot to be.  It will be interesting to see her fortunes in a swap.



In my view, Ciera was the only one who came up with a good target choice for the first boot with Caleb, but it got her booted.  That suggests Caleb has his defenders (particularly Malcolm).  Caleb might be safe if he can swap to a tribe with Malc, but he could be in trouble if he swaps to a tribe with Tai.






Oh dear, Cirie is in bad trouble.  Counting secret scenes, we saw her approach Ozzy, JT, Tai, Sarah and Debbie and have every one of them fail.  It’s hard to tell how her approach to Zeke went either, but he seemed to express the feeling that Cirie was on the bottom and no worth aligning with.  Essentially, what we saw was that Cirie was going home if Nuku went to tribal (as we probably all expected).


Having said that, it’s notable that we got to see Cirie approach six different players, while much of her tribe we barely saw at all.  It might point to her being around a while... or it might point to her being out next week. Or it might just be that while we have legends around, they’re going to show us as much of them as possible (and if that’s the answer, I’m all for it).



Tai is also in trouble.  He’s already being boxed in as the guy who is looking after the chickens and taking food away from the tribe, and besides that his responses to Cirie about Ozzy were remarkably non-committal.  Even while he’s genuinely trying to work with Cirie and protect her, he comes across really badly.


It feels like Tai is already overthinking things, a problem he didn’t really come across until half way through the game last time.  One of Tai’s greatest strengths was supposed to be that he can make strong bonds quickly, but he hasn’t done it this time around.  The best thing that could possibly happen to Tai is that he gets swapped away from his chickens.



We didn’t see much of Debbie, but Cherie tried to sell her a bill of goods and she wasn’t buying.  Debbie’s head is in the game and she (correctly, in my view) is identifying the people she doesn’t need to work with.  That’s a pretty good start.



Ozzy needed to do just two things.  The first was let people believe in his weight gain (fat Ozzy).  The second was rebuild his connection with Cirie.  He fell flat on both.


The marooning was basically built for Ozzy to be hero, but he ran into it headlong. He also had a golden opportunity to work with Cirie and she was all for it, but he burned that bridge. I think it’s going to burn him in the long run.



A little invisible on the show, I thought, but his secret scene shows that he doesn’t trust Cirie, despite the fact that he’s another one that really needs meat shields.  Perhaps we didn’t see much because his bonds from this period don’t have any role in defining his game, but if not he better find the bonds soon after the swap.



He’s not hiding his threat level well.  Given I think he’s already likely to be coming in with a Hantz-level target, that’s not great.  He’s also ready to ‘lather himself in the blood of his enemies’, which sounds a little unsanitary to me.  His best chance might be getting in the middle of existing Mana tribe cracks.


Interlude from my mother: “Syndrome is a bit hyper.”



Was she even in the episode at all?  Barely.  This doesn’t bode well for her long term chances of winning, but gives me no context at all for how she does in the game.  She did have a first little slightly awkward interaction with Zeke where they pretended not to know each other – that’s the space I’m most interested to see develop.  (For those not in the know, Zeke competed with Andrea on a mock Survivor game called “Survivor Brooklyn” before Zeke got on the show for real.  Andrea also talked to Gordon Holmes about having a pre-season alliance that was ‘pretty big’ but she didn’t say what.  I’m pretty sure she was referring to Zeke.)



Brad was doing exactly what I expected him to do – chilling out and bonding with Ozzy.  He was in a great spot on the Nuku tribe, but he could still be in trouble if the tribe swap doesn’t go his way.



Well, she picked up the legacy advantage and they hardly made a deal out of it at all.  They basically only showed her boots for you to know who it was, at first, and it seemed to be her only function in the episode.



She had a couple of quotes here and there, but she wasn’t in the action much.  Not much to give a read on yet.


Quick takes

Opening confessionals

*Often, the first few minutes can provide an insight into how the season might play out.  In Cambodia, for instance, 11 of the 13 people who got opening confessionals ended up making the merge.  Last season, from very early on it felt to me like there was a very deliberate plan to hide the winner in the edit, and Adam’s absence from the opening confessionals began to hold significance to me.  This season, I’m not sure there is much to take away.  There are only 6 – the first four are from true legends of the game (Tony, Malcolm, Sandra, Cirie) and the other two were from Debbie and Brad, who don’t seem very likely as winners (and Brad had a generic ‘Big moves’ quote that fit the theme).  It didn’t feel like an attempt to begin to create any kind of narrative for the show, and it could be more of an effort to give their big names screen time while they’ve got them.


*At least we know how tenacious a giant squid is now, though, right?


* If ever I rock up to Survivor and I see Malcolm, I want him on the other tribe.  Matsing, Mana... he’s like some kind of curse (admittedly his tribes did well in Caramoan).


*Nothing says ‘deserted island’ like taking the stairs down to your beach.  I kind of liked that they showed it, but I miss the good old days of the trek using a map to find your beach.


*What would Monica do? #WWMD.  I thought that this season’s drinking game would be Jeff saying ‘the game has changed’ – but Brad mentioning Monica might be a good substitute.


*Cambodia and MvGX both had tribe switches from two to three tribes, and yet after that point someone from the majority has gone home in every vote.  I’m wondering if this streak might end next week as Mana is full of threats and will be coming in as the minority somewhere.


*What a phenomenal Tribal Council set.  Perhaps my favourite since Australia!


*I had fears about the casting of this season, and I’m worried they are coming true after the first two boots.  I was soooo hoping to be sitting here talking about the boot of two (or at least one) lesser known players.  If this season ends up with all the legends going out early and an endgame dominated by the lesser known players, it’s because they cast too many of them.  Apparently they had names like Sophie Clarke, Mike Holloway and Jonathan Penner on the list – just a little bit more protection for the big names on the cast might have made all the difference.  If they end up with only one or two big names left in the final seven, they need to learn their lesson.  On the other hand, I’m still hoping that there can be a Kelley Wentworth in this cast – someone who breaks out as having been truly overlooked for how good they actually are.  Fingers crossed.


*Looks like JT’s going to be in the minority after a swap if he needs the idol so bad, but this could make for some great TV.  Also, whose hands are those on the green idol clue? Looks like a man, and we can rule out JT, Jeff and Malcolm.  Any guesses?


Right, that’s all I’ve got.  Please comment and let me know your thoughts on the episode, and tweet at me as well if you’d like.  I’ll definitely reply and I’m interested in your thoughts.




Ben Martell - The Golden TicketBy day, Ben Martell is a public commercial lawyer from New Zealand.

By night, he moonlights as a self-described Survivor 'expert'.

By day or night, find him on twitter at: @golden8284