“Survivor: Game Changers” this season has seen twists, blindsides as well as epic moments, and there are still 15 players on the island competing for the $1 million and title of “sole survivor.” In such a crazy season, who has seen the biggest change in their game? Below, we detail the top 4 players who have had their games changed, for better or for worse. And above, watch fellow editor Marcus James Dixon and I dish the biggest moments of the season.
4. J.T. Thomas: From flawless winner to bungling loser
Trying to recover from a disastrous tribal council the week before, where his loose lips sunk the game of his friend Malcolm Freberg, J.T. Thomas found an idol that would save his place in the game. But even that J.T. was able to bungle as he left it back at camp and got blindsided out of the game.
This was so different to his first game, where I point out that “he played so flawlessly in Tocantines. He was in control of every single vote, and gave one of the great final tribals — throwing his buddy Stephen under the bus. I was excited for him to redeem himself from misplaying an idol in Heroes vs. Villains. But there is no doubt that this season J.T. was a disaster.”
Marcus thinks, “Even though they all said they were voting out Michaela, I can’t get over the fact he didn’t bring the idol.” I agree, saying, “The more comfortable J.T. was made to feel the more he should have been questioning if that was all part of a plan to blindside him.”
3. Malcolm Freberg: From unleashing tribal chaos to being unravelled by tribal choas
The week before J.T.’s ouster, Malcolm was sent home in an unprecedented tribal council, where two tribes came together to vote someone out. J.T. told Brad Culpepper they were voting for Sierra Thomas, allowing Tai Trang to give her the idol which sent Malcolm home. Marcus says, “That was heartbreaking for Malcolm, you could tell he really wanted to win.”
I agree, admitting “to see someone go out in such brutal and unfair fashion was like watching the ‘Game of Thrones’ infamous red wedding again. And for J.T. to not only sink Malcolm’s game, but not recover his own was such a disaster.”
Malcolm has now been a big part of two historically memorable tribal councils. But last time, in Caramoan, it was Malcolm unleashing the chaos. He shocked everyone there with two hidden immunity idols to protected everyone in his alliance. This led to Phillip shockingly being sent home. For Malcolm it was truly a case of “live by the tribal chaos, die by the tribal chaos.”
2. Brad Culpepper: From lightning rod to alliance tentpole
In the latest episode we saw Brad keep his cool with Debbie Wanner going off at him. We have also seen him build up trust with Tai by making sure he was comfortable with voting out Caleb Reynolds. He’s been a calm and steady leader that has united a group around himself. And he’s even been able to do some interior decorating!
I say that he’s “the most improved from the last time he played. He’s really established himself well.” And Marcus agrees, pointing out that “Brad, Tai and Sierra are a really tight group of three that could make it all the way.”
In the “Blood vs. Water” season of the show Brad was a huge source of conflict. Voting out John led his girlfriend Candice to memorably shout out “F*** you, Brad Culpeeper” on redemption island.
1. Sandra Diaz-Twine: From under the radar to launching missiles
I point out that Sandra “has taken out the other two winners this season. Setting up J.T. as the mark this week was done beautifully. Also, rallying an alliance of five against the great winner Tony was spectacular.” Marcus adds that “she has been at four of the five tribal councils with the biggest target on her back in the history of ‘Survivor,’ the only two time winner. I thought she’d be out each week. But she’s still there, and she hasn’t even received a single vote.”
Sandra is arguably the greatest player of all time. However, in the past she has been happy to go with the flow using the mantra of “as long as it isn’t me.” This season she has taken the reigns of the game, shot down big targets and is calling the plays.
I say, “She’s always been blunt with people but she’s really taking on the ‘Queen’ title. She’s playing the most dominant game we’ve ever seen her play. As a two-time winner is she trying to fix a clock that wasn’t broken? Or did she know she couldn’t pretend not be a threat, and try to own it instead? I’m just worried she’s peaking too early and now has an even bigger target on her back.”
Comment below with who you think the biggest ‘Game Changer’ is this season. Can Sandra or Brad win this game? Get a closer look at the Season 34 contestants by clicking through our cast photo gallery. In our “Survivor” predictions center, you get to answer the following questions before each episode airs on CBS every Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET.:
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