‘Survivor: Game Changers’ cast: How should Sarah Lacina handle playing with former ally Tony Vlachos?

CBS’s “Survivor: Game Changers” is set to premiere on March 8 featuring a cast entirely composed of all-stars. One of those players is Sarah Lacina, back for her second chance following her first appearance on “Survivor: Cagayan” (Season 28). The first alliance Sarah made last time was with eventual winner Tony Vlachos, also back for “Game Changers,” but it was short-lived. Will Sarah reignite her “Cops-R-Us” bond with Tony or will the two go head-to-head once again? Read my analysis of how her past performance may impact her game and then make your own “Survivor” predictions ahead of the first episode.

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It’s intriguing that Sarah’s first return to “Survivor” coincides with that of Tony because in many ways her destiny in that game was closely linked to his — a destiny that saw her out first at the merge and him as the winner. Sarah and Tony’s bond was based on their careers as cops, though when Sarah called Tony out on it he initially lied. Despite the lie, Sarah agreed to work with him and they dubbed their two-person alliance “Cops-R-Us.”

The alliance was short-lived though after they were each swapped to new tribes before their original tribe ever saw tribal council. And though both Sarah and Tony made it to the merge, each had solidified new bonds with their new tribes and neither was willing to ditch that new alliance to rejoin the other on theirs. Instead it was Sarah’s new tribe mate, Kass McQuillen, that jumped ship and voted with Tony’s group to oust Sarah.

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While I don’t think there’s any ill-will between Sarah and Tony — she did vote for him to win “Cagayan,” after all — the sting of her underperformance compared to his win may still be felt heading in to “Game Changers.” To me, that makes how she handles the Tony situation her biggest challenge this time around. If Tony is as big of a threat to the other players as I think he will be, they’ll be looking to Sarah for an understanding of how to outwit him. The test will be whether she maintains a sense of loyalty to him or if she feels emboldened enough to openly oppose him.

One of Sarah’s best qualities is her sense of duty and honesty, largely informed by her career as a cop. However, in the game of “Survivor” these characteristics don’t always work. To win, Sarah needs to allow herself room to both deceive and to not play as physical of a game as she may be compelled to. It might also be in her best interest to sacrifice Tony so that she can play her own game outside of the shadow of his win over her.

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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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Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the season of “Survivor” in our reality TV forum.

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