Archive for April, 2017

‘Survivor’ Castaway Debbie: “I Said to Brad, ‘When Somebody Flips, It’s Going to Be Sarah’”

April 27, 2017

“Survivor: Game Changers” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

Gordon Holmes: So, last night as you were carrying your torch over to Probst, who did you think had flipped from your six-person alliance?
Debbie Wanner: I had a strong suspicion, but I wasn’t 100% sure. The first time you see your name come up, as soon as I saw Debbie I knew it, I was 80% sure I knew who it was.
Holmes: What about Sarah made you think she was the most likely to flip?
Wanner: So, I have a great relationship with Gordon and we have a conversation and I know that I’ve been a little untruthful with Gordon and I have to wonder how much he’s lied to me. Now Gordon goes and talks to Sarah and I’m watching. So now I have to wonder how much truth is going on there. Gordon talks to Nemo and somebody talks to somebody, you have all of these conversations. There’s something about looking somebody in the eye and I know Sarah is a cop and she’s used to be duplicitous. But, she was off talking to too many people, too much of the time and I got a bad vibe. And you have to trust your gut. I said to Brad, “When somebody flips, it’s going to be Sarah.” It just turns out we didn’t move fast enough…at least I didn’t move fast enough.

Holmes: The perception seems to be that Brad and Sierra are running the show. So, why do you think you were the first target?
Wanner: That’s a good question. The reason it was me was probably in case Brad or Sierra had an idol. Remember earlier in the season Tai had popped up with an idol and had come to Brad and Sierra’s defense. Quite frankly, I don’t know. I certainly wasn’t a challenge beast. Perhaps Sarah thought Sierra and I were too close and it was easier to take me out. I’m only speculating.

Holmes: The balance beam challenge…why do you think you reacted so strongly afterwards?
Wanner: I was always in an alliance with Brad and I never wanted anyone to know that we were so close. The reason Ozzy was voted out was because Ozzy was targeting Brad. Ozzy and I went for a walk and he said, “I want out Brad and then I want out Sierra.” So, of course I went back and told Brad. It was a mutual decision. So, I never wanted anyone to know that we were as close as we were. I adore his wife. I have the utmost respect for her gameplay. And I thought he got a bad rap when he played. I didn’t know him outside of the game. I thought he was a cool guy. Hali came across to me as somewhat of a prima donna. I should have let things go and let her have her way. She’s a great girl, I adore her. Beautiful young lady. But “Survivor” is a game where you’re poked and prodded. I just over did it. And a lot of it was acting. I didn’t want people to know that we were that close so they’d let me know if they were targeting him. However, I know that the edit was taken out of a chronological sequence. There was a lot of acting and unfortunately someone should have just given me a Snickers bar at that point.

Holmes: What was your plan for the rest of the game if Andrea had gone home last night?
Wanner: Brad, Sierra Dawn, and myself.
Holmes: How would you have bested them in front of a jury?
Wanner: As cool as Brad is, and as much as I admire him, a lot of people were uneasy around him and found him to be cocky. He’s a very successful person. An NFL player, a successful attorney. Some people, instead of admiring that, actually resent it. He’s probably already a millionaire and some people are jealous of it. That would have been an easy card to play. Sierra Dawn…she may have beat me. And if she did, maybe I would have been OK with it because she’s a great human being, all the way around. But, I would’ve tried to say something like…”We made joint decisions, let the chips fall where they may.”

Holmes: Word association time. Let’s start with Ozzy.
Wanner: Jungle man.
Holmes: Andrea?
Wanner: Beautiful.
Holmes: Cirie?
Wanner: An amazing human being.
Holmes: Sierra Dawn?
Wanner: Cowgirl
Holmes: Brad?
Wanner: A man’s man.
Holmes: JT?
Wanner: The life of the party.
Holmes: Caleb?
Wanner: Barely knew him.
Holmes: Sandra?
Wanner: (Laughs) Goat eater.
Holmes: (Laughs) Varner?
Wanner: Give him some peace.
Holmes: Agreed. Troyzan?
Wanner: Very cool…turtle man.
Holmes: Hali?
Wanner: Southern belle.
Holmes: Aubry?
Wanner: (Laughs) My quirky little nemesis. She’s awesome.
Holmes: Zeke?
Wanner: Colorful character.
Holmes: Tai?
Wanner: My turtle blood brother.
Holmes: Sarah?
Wanner: Disingenuous.
Holmes: Michaela?
Wanner: Great athlete, comic relief.

Holmes: Michaela’s name is on the chopping block all the time. Since the early episodes. It seems like she wasn’t very popular out there, but we haven’t seen exactly why people have been targeting her. What’s going on there?
Wanner: I found Michaela to be a bright, friendly person. She was quite lovable. A lot of it is in the eye of the beholder. To other people she could have been standoffish. She certainly isn’t the most weepy person. Perhaps people perceive her to be a tough young lady and sometimes strong women turn people off. If a man acts one way, he’s awesome, he’s a man’s man. And if a woman acts that way she’s a cold-blooded bitch. Perhaps Michaela was treated differently because she’s a woman. Was she supposed to act more dainty? More empathetic? More sympathetic? I just thought she was being a strong, tough lady.

Holmes: So far you’ve been the only visitor to the S.S. Exile.
Wanner: (Laughs) Lucky me!
Holmes: Did anyone ever find out the truth about that? And if not, what was the reaction when it aired?
Wanner: Gordon, on that my lips were sealed. I told no one. It was so beautiful, people kept asking, “Did you have flint? Did you have rice?” And actually, I didn’t. There was no duplicitousness. And no one has given me a hard time. They loved it. There was one moment where I climbed to the top of the boat like in “Titanic.” I said, “I’m king of the world!” and jumped off!

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Episode 8 Recap: Rogue Cop?

April 26, 2017

“Survivor: Game Changers” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

Last Week: Tai’s victory brought him elation, Zeke and Andrea ended their relation, and “Ozzy Slayer” became Debbie’s latest occupation.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog…

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Maku Maku Tribe (wearing yellow)

Andrea, 27
Aubry, 30
Brad, 47
Cirie, 45
Debbie, 51
Michaela, 25
Sarah, 32
Sierra, 29
Tai, 52
Troyzan, 54
Zeke, 28

Things kick off after last week’s  Tribal where Debbie is claiming that her six-person alliance is a “line drawn in concrete.” Yeah, but you’ve got an odd-numbered Tribal coming up. Someone’s got to be on the bottom of that six.

If you’re not careful it’s going to be a line drawn in soup.

Quick Aside: Not only do they have the numbers, but they have THREE idols! They don’t all know that, but it’s true.

Later on, Andrea calls out Zeke for turning on her. He claims that Andrea and Cirie had no intention to take him deep into the game. Based on…? Zeke turned on them because he wasn’t driving the ship…the second-place ship at that point.

Sarah tells Zeke to relax because he’s on the outskirts of Sheriff Sierra’s Six. (I’m not in love with that name, but I do like alliteration.)

Sarah then lets us know that lines drawn in the sand disappear after the tide.

Reward Challenge Time: The tribe will be split into two teams of five by a schoolyard pick. One-by-one each team will have a player swim through an obstacle course. Once they’ve reached the end, they’ll dive down to retrieve a grappling hook. The first tribe to use the hook to claim five rings will win a trip to a picnic.

Note: The person who isn’t picked won’t get to go on the reward. Booooo! Let them bet on the winner, Jeff!

Alright, we’ve got Culpepper, Debbie, Andrea, Aubry, and Sierra on one side and Cirie, Sarah, Zeke, Troyzan, and Tai on the other.

Before we start off, Michaela calls everyone “some bitches.” Can’t disagree there. If you want to win a challenge, Michaela can go.

As Probst is asking if the Survivors are ready, the camera pans down to show some kind of “Secret Advantage” at Michaela’s feet.

We start off and there isn’t much to describe except for swimmin’ and obstaclin’. At one point, Troyzan loses his shorts. Fortunately, the censors block the exact thing Hali and Malcolm described in their exit interviews.

Andrea manages to get a small measure of revenge on Zeke by passing him as he’s having serious problems on a balance beam.

Eventually, all of Team Culpepper makes it to the end. Meanwhile, Cirie is having difficulties getting up onto a platform.

As Brad’s team retrieves their rings, Sarah actually heads back to help Cirie even though that means Sarah will have to complete the course twice. Cirie tries to make it through the balance beam portion, but keeps falling into the water.

As this is going on, Brad’s team wins reward. But, the celebration is short-lived as everyone turns around to cheer Cirie on as she is determined to make it across the balance beam.

Both teams swim out to lend their support. Troyzan even gives her a heartwarming pep talk. And…she…does it!

Also, it’s dusty in a living room in eastern Pennsylvania.

As the players head out, Sarah notices the advantage that Michaela didn’t discover. Sarah swims over and manages to snag it without anyone noticing.

When we get back to camp, we learn that Sarah’s advantage is to steal a vote. That always works out well.

On the flight to the reward, Debbie brags because she’s in airplanes more frequently than the rest of the cast. She knows how they got to Fiji, right?

Later, Brad tells us that he intentionally left members of his alliance off of his challenge team. That’s smart. We see people make that mistake all the time.

Meanwhile, Sierra is psyched because it’s obvious that the people on the outside of her alliance are at each other’s throats. She tells us that she’s in the driver’s seat.

CUT TO: Cirie convincing Sarah that she’s on the bottom of her alliance.

Cirie also tells Sarah that Sierra will beat her at final three because people will think Sierra carried her.

They crunch the numbers and come up with an alliance that features Sarah, Cirie, Zeke, Michaela, Aubry, and possibly Andrea.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will use blocks to spell the word “Immunity” on a board that they are holding steady with a rope. Only one block can be carried to the board at a time. The first person to complete the word will win immunity.

They should have to build the word “Metamorphosis.”

Anywho, not much to describe here except for slow walkin’ and block stackin’. It comes down to Troyzan and Andrea with Andrea being unable to keep her stack standin’. Troyzan wins immunity. And he kept his shorts on. Double win!

Politicking back at camp starts with Sheriff Sierra’s Six debating between Michaela and Andrea. After a discussion, it’s decided that Andrea’s better at challenges and should go home first.

However, this decision was pretty much made before anyone consulted Sarah.

Sarah takes this the way you’d imagine and approaches Zeke with the idea of turning on the six. He’s all for it, but he’s worried about working with Andrea. Sarah and Andrea have a discussion and it seems like everything is somewhat smoothed over.

Later on, Sierra tells Sarah that she’s hoping to go to the final three with her and Debbie. This makes Sarah reconsider her place in Sierra’s plan. She’s not on the bottom.

Buuuut…that means that Sierra thinks she can beat you, Sarah.

In other news, Debbie tells Aubry that Sarah doesn’t trust her and that she’s hoping they can work together.

CUT TO: Aubry telling Sarah what Debbie said.

That night at Tribal, Andrea admits that she’s on the bottom and she desperately needed to win immunity.

Zeke then calls out the six-person alliance by name.

Debbie is happy to be in the six and says that they have respect for each other and everyone gets a voice.

Andrea says that the word on the street (beach?) is that Michaela’s number is up. But, it’d make sense for them to leak false information. Also, she heard people cheer when her blocks fell at the immunity challenge.

Debbie thinks everyone in the alliance has an accurate view of their place in the alliance and that’s how it works. Probst points out that it’s impossible for everyone to be on top.

Zeke is hoping the deck will reshuffle after every Tribal and he’ll get another shot.

Sarah calls it “wishful thinking” that the deck is going to reshuffle.

Michaela didn’t get any marching orders, so she’s going to march out swinging.

Voting Time: Debbie votes for Andrea while saying that nobody in the alliance gives order or takes orders. Andrea votes for Debbie and blows her a kiss. And, the rest of the votes are lost to the magic of editing.

Probst tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Andrea, one vote for Debbie, one vote for Andrea, one vote for Debbie, one vote for Andrea, one vote for Debbie, one vote for Andrea, one vote for Debbie, one vote for Andrea, one vote for Debbie, and the tenth person voted out of “Survivor: Game Changers” and the third member of the jury is…Debbie.

Verdict: Always nice to see a dominant alliance get cut off before they can bore us with a complete Pagonging.

And, I think this was a good move for Sarah. I don’t know which combo of the six she could’ve beaten without a stronger resume.

Power Rankings Results: Adam Klein had Debbie in spot three, I had her in spot four. The current score is Team Adam 87, Team Gordon 84.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Power Rankings Round 7: Whose-Line-Is-It-Anyway? Edition

April 25, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

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 five point and Gordon will receive six 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 Hali in spot seven, Gordon had her in spot three. They both had Ozzy in spot thirteen. The current score is Team Adam 84, Team Gordon 80.

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.

Donate to the #LiveLikeSusie Memorial Fund for Lung Cancer Research

Adam’s Score = 84

Any questions for Adam? Drop him a line on Twitter: @AdamScottKlein

Gordon’s Score = 80

Any questions for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

1. Troyzan: Presumably, this week should be the easiest for power rankings of the season so far. There are 11 people left, and 6 of them voted together in the last episode. The episode title is literally “A Line Drawn in Concrete.” Importantly, according to secret scenes, the six mostly seem to think they each have a path to the end. For example, Zeke says, “Nobody knows that they are on the bottom of the alliance.” They need to get out at least two out of the five of Zeke, Cirie, Michaela, Andrea, and Aubry before they can pick off one of their own without losing their majority.

Troyzan is the safest of the bunch as he not only still has an idol, but he is laying super low, and intentionally so, according to a secret scene. He knows that becoming too likable, or telling a moving story, or beasting the challenges is going to prevent you from reaching day 39. So whoever has the inspiring moment at the challenge as teased in the commercial, I’ll put $10 on it not being Troyzan.
1. Troyzan: Nothing to see here, folks. Just an innocent bikini photographer, enjoying nature, not bothering anyone. Right now he’s got to be crunching the numbers, trying to figure out how he can use his idol to get to the end with the two least liked players on the island. Maybe…Michaela and Debbie? Either way, he’s not going to be a target as long as Sierra, Debbie, and Brad are around.
2. Sarah: Sarah has connections to just about everyone on the tribe. Theoretically, people could be pissed that Sarah ‘turned’ on the Andrea/Cirie side in the last vote, but in practice, that side still needs Sarah. Zeke, as well, claims to have “an indestructably tight bond with Sarah,” and that “Sarah and I have absolute trust with each other. I believe that Sarah will be loyal to me to the end.” So my take on the scene shown in the preview with Sarah and Zeke in the hammock is that Sarah is pulling Zeke into the next vote with her side, not that she is going to flip on her alliance. 2. Tai: When it comes to standing still in an immunity challenge, Tai is a champ. Unfortunately for him, it looks like this week’s event has some movement involved. But, there are bigger fish to fry at this point and Tai still has his double-idol security blanket.
3. Debbie: Debbie is actually in a fantastic spot right now. She was shown to lead the charge against Ozzy, has solidified a solid alliance that could take her to the finale, and then from there I think a lot of people might want to sit next to Debbie at the end. And even then, if she continues leading the charge, she could have an argument at FTC. 3. Sarah: Oh, Sarah…you are dying to make that big move. And, we all know that it’s best to make your big move during odd-numbered votes. So, do you do it now or wait two weeks? Without a solid resume, you’d be hard pressed to beat higher-profile players like Sierra. But, if you make the move now you’ll have to work with people the jury might like. Tough call.
4. Brad: Brad went from looking like he was in charge throughout the premerge to all of a sudden being talked about in the edit as if he is dumb and just going along with Sierra. It’s an abrupt shift in tone to be sure, but I know what it’s like for the edit to trash you at the merge, and this wasn’t all that bad. Even so, if there is some perception that Brad isn’t calling the shots right now, that’s a perfect position for Brad to be in. If he can sit tight with this group, he could be sitting at the end with people he can beat. 4. Debbie: Extra votes are so tricky. You played yours last week and can probably claim credit for kicking a Hall of Famer out of the game. Buuuuut…by playing that vote the Hall of Famer knows exactly who to blame.
5. Sierra: I called her side Team Sierra in last week’s power ranking, and sure enough, that is how the show began to present it as well. As the figurehead for her side, Sierra is going to be reaping the credit for the next few boots if they stay solid, but that will also continue to heighten her threat level within her group. Immunity with the Legacy Advantage at final six may just be perfect timing for Sierra. 5. Brad: Back when the season started, if I had told you that a cunning Sierra and a charming Brad would be running the show, would you have believed me? Game changer!
6. Tai: HOT TAKE ALERT: Despite what I think is a very unfair edit, I think you can make the argument that Tai is playing the best game of the season so far. It came out in Ozzy’s exit interviews that the whole deal with Tai trying to vote out Ozzy when Sandra went home was staged in advance, and Tai pulled it off so well that it convinced the viewers at home! Zeke recognizes this in a secret scene, saying, “Tai is a linchpin in the Nuku alliance to make everyone feel like they are not on the bottom.” Tai has played an idol successfully, beat out Ozzy for individual immunity, been on the right side of every vote, is in a strong majority alliance, and still has two idols!

Even so, I think he is the most likely of ‘The Six’ to be targeted. After very impressively winning the last immunity challenge and having already successfully played an idol, his threat level is rising. Once he plays two more, it will shoot through the roof. Tai needs to lay low, allow others to underestimate him, and then strike quickly and forcefully right near the end to snag the win and prove all the haters wrong.
6. Sierra: Sheriff Sierra has clearly learned from her past mistakes and seems to be in a great position this week. The only downside to the game she’s playing is if Sarah decides it’s time to make her Big Move(TM), Sierra is an obvious target.
7. Zeke: Despite becoming wholly untrustworthy to his (former) alliance with Andrea and Cirie, Zeke did still manage to vote with the majority, in the sense that he did what they asked him to do in voting for Aubry. As a result of that, I think he is the closest to the periphery of The Six, and likely to be brought in for a vote or two, especially by Sarah. Even if that happens, Zeke doesn’t seem to have a path to the end. Almost no one seems to want to work with him, despite his best efforts to make a big move happen. Zeke’s best bet is to sit quiet and let Sarah take him farther, but it’s really not in Zeke’s nature to do that. 7. Aubry: For being so unlucky, Aubry doesn’t find herself in a terrible position this week. Of all the people on the outside of majority alliance, she’s the one that seems the least threatening. If she can hang on until final seven, she might have a lot of options.
8. Michaela: Despite being a major challenge champion in the tribal portion of the game, Michaela has not stuck out so far as an individual immunity threat. I’m not sure this group knows how physically strong Michaela is as much as we recognized it on “Millennials vs. Gen X.” This is GREAT news for Michaela, because her side is lining up for the firing squad, and any reason that you might be a threat is going to get you shot down. Honestly, at this point, I would recommend that Michaela look as weak as possible and even throw immunity challenges. But… it’s really not in Michaela’s nature to do that. 8. Zeke: Oh, Zeke. Zeke, Zeke, Zeke, Zeke, Zeke. Ya gotta read the room, dude. This isn’t “Millennials vs. Gen-X” where everyone was best buddies and will overlook an attempted blindside. Andrea is a third-time player who is not yet on that Ozzy/Cirie/Boston Rob level that is probably going to get a fourth. If she can survive this week, she’s going to come for you.
9. Aubry: Aubry truly cannot catch any breaks on this season. She was on the outs on original Mana. She was on the outs on Nuku. She was on the outs again back at Mana, but gradually built up a relationship with Brad. Now, Brad is on the other side of the ‘Concrete Line’ staring down the barrel of a gun pointed in her direction. Ironically, her greatest strength in the game now is her lack of connections. When considering who on the other side is the biggest threat, is it really going to be the girl with literally no one left from her original tribe that she has ever worked with?  9. Michaela: So, everyone hates Michaela except for Cirie. (But, we haven’t been shown Michaela doing anything particularly annoying.) So, how long until that hatred makes Michaela a good person to consider taking to the end? I’ll put her in the same boat as Aubry as someone who has a real shot if she can survive the next few votes.
10. Cirie: Cirie has been shown to be connected to Brad, which may be the lifeline that she needs to stay alive another vote. She still is a massive threat in the game, and her chances of reaching the end have all but evaporated with Ozzy out of the game. If Cirie is seen as leading the resistance, she could easily be the next to go. 10. Andrea: I’m thinking this week’s vote will come down to Andrea’s A- strategy and A challenge prowess vs. Cirie’s A+ strategy and C- challenge prowess. Fortunately for Andrea, I don’t think they’ll take a straight average. I think with Ozzy gone, Cirie is the scariest player left in the game.
11. Andrea: First, I will let Andrea speak for herself: “By winning this immunity, it actually kind of maybe dooms me for the rest of the game. People won’t forget that I won the first individual immunity challenge.”

To back her up, enter Sarah: “When you win individual immunity and beat out 12 other people, it puts a huge target on your back that hey, boom, Andrea is an immunity threat.”
If you’re still not sure, enter Sierra: “Her being the first to win it absolutely puts a target on her back.”

Now, let’s consider that Sarah approaches Zeke in the preview and says: “We can make a move.” Zeke then excitedly announces to the camera: “Hell yeah I want to make a move!” Who would Zeke be excited about making a move on? Probably the person raking him over the coals back at camp after the last tribal council, who happens to be the same person he talks about in a secret scene, saying: “Andrea will turn on me in a heartbeat.” Andrea has fallen on the wrong side of the numbers, is a strategic threat, a challenge threat, and a social threat. And there’s still that random scene about Troyzan not trusting Andrea. If I had to bet on Andrea going vs. The Field, I would bet on Andrea.
11. Cirie: I loved watching Cirie mentoring Michaela last week. Talk about someone I’d place on the top of the list to teach a master class in “Survivor.” It hurts my heart to type this, but I think Cirie’s time has finally come. However, I will take solace in the fact that this season has really shown a new generation of fans why Cirie and Sandra are so special.

Any Questions?
Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor’ Castaway Ozzy: “Debbie Is Like a Crazy Cat Lady Without the Cats”

April 20, 2017

“Survivor: Game Changers” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

Gordon Holmes: You are just a victim of your own success, man.
Ozzy Lusth: (Laughs)
Holmes: You are never ever going to be safe after a merge.
Lusth: Of course not.
Holmes: In some way you’ve got to take it as a compliment.
Lusth: Yeah, there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ve got to go out and enjoy every moment you can on “Survivor” because sooner or later it’s going to be your last and you’re going to be blindsided. You just have to hope that you played as well as you possibly could have.

Holmes: Had you heard your name tossed around before Tribal or was that a complete blindside?
Lusth: I didn’t hear my name. They did a good job blindsiding me. They were able to pull off what is potentially one of the biggest moves in the game thus far.
Holmes: We learned that Debbie was the driving force behind the move. Did you have any idea that she was gunning for you?
Lusth: I had no idea. It’s a surprise, frankly. Debbie and I had a good relationship up until that point. It kind of came out of the blue.
Holmes: Did Debbie’s use of the extra vote tip you off that she was a part of it?
Lusth: Yeah. That was really stupid of her. Then I knew who was behind it.

Holmes: At the merge there was this large alliance that seems like it’s made up of Ozzy’s people and Brad and Sierra’s people. What was the dynamic like when you’d get together to discuss things?
Lusth: Brad, Sierra, and I were on the same tribe from the very beginning. We always had an alliance together. The whole game up to that point was about getting back on the same tribe together. I thought I could trust Brad and Sierra to keep me in the game. Obviously they thought it was an opportune moment to get rid of me.
Holmes: So, the goal in all of this was to reunite the original Nuku tribe.
Lusth: Exactly.

Holmes: This is a crazy season. Seems like Probst is throwing a new twist at you guys every five minutes. As an older school guy, were you into it or was it frustrating?
Lusth: I thought it was fun to have these twists. But, I didn’t benefit from any of it this time. I got the short end of the stick all around. I wish I could’ve gotten a little luck. I could’ve grabbed the right pouch. I wish something would have gone my way. I didn’t find an idol, I just got kind of shafted all around.

Holmes: You and Tai had an interesting relationship. You’re working together and yet he throws your name out at Tribal.
Lusth: I wish Tai would have been more loyal. It would have helped his game out a lot. He flips at the first sign of an opportunity. It was frustrating, but I really do like Tai. He’s one of the people, like Brad, who really enjoys the experience. He enjoys being out there and fishing and helping around camp.

Holmes: We didn’t get to see what happened the night after Varner’s elimination with his ill-advised reveal. What was the mood like at camp afterwards?
Lusth: I think there was a big sense of relief that we made it though such a crazy Tribal. There was also a sense of shock because we all knew the ramifications that were going to come to light months down the road when the show airs. We were all there to support Zeke and give him our love and support.
Holmes: It was rough to watch, but my takeaway was that Zeke handled it as well as a person could and the tribe’s reaction and support was very heartwarming.
Lusth: I think you can only hope that there’s a silver lining to any dark cloud. And hopefully the people who are driven by fear and are seeing somebody who’s a trans person coming out on national television can see that there’s a real human being behind them. Hopefully our politicians, our president, will see that we’re real people. Everybody deserves the same rights. There’s no difference and we can’t live this life of fear anymore. We all need to stand up for each other and say that people like Zeke and people that are discriminated against deserve the exact same treatment that everybody else gets.

Holmes: Cirie is someone you seemed to have an on-again, off-again relationship with. She was so impressive last night.
Lusth: My opinion of Cirie has grown tenfold. I’ve always respected her and she’s always been a great person to play with. She’s so much fun. She has so many stories. She’s a great friend. I respect her more than almost everyone else I’ve played with. She has the ability to use her personality and sense of being to get further in the game when she doesn’t necessarily have athletic skills or surviving skills. But, she’s a hard worker and she has a great personality. You want to be around her. I wish I had been more open to working with her from the very beginning. That’s one of the regrets I have. I’m rooting for her 100%.

Holmes: Alright, word association time. Let’s start with JT.
Lusth: He’s a good old boy.
Holmes: Sierra?
Lusth: Bronco.
Holmes: Brad?
Lusth: Killer.
Holmes: Tai?
Lusth: Spider monkey.
Holmes: Sarah?
Lusth: Robber.
Holmes: Zeke?
Lusth: Sunshine.
Holmes: Cirie?
Lusth: Joker.
Holmes: Andrea?
Lusth: Unicorn.
Holmes: Debbie?
Lusth: Snake.
Holmes: Sandra?
Lusth: The queen.
Holmes: Varner?
Lusth: Dark horse.
Holmes: Aubry?
Lusth: Woody Allen.
Holmes: Michaela?
Lusth: Bad ass.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Troyzan.
Lusth: Monkey man.

Holmes: You called Debbie a snake, and last night we saw her fake drunk act. Hali didn’t buy it, did you?
Lusth: Not really. She’s a kook. She needs attention. She really loves the spotlight. Television is perfect for her. The problem with Debbie is she has so many stories about everything. She’s pretty much done everything you can possibly imagine from being a waitress to being a chemist, to jumping out of planes. She’s done it all. She’s kind of a know-it-all. Debbie is like a crazy cat lady without the cats.

Holmes: We need to start brainstorming for your fifth time.
Lusth: Yes!
Holmes: Right before the merge, there needs to be some kind of faked injury. Fall out of a tree…wink, wink…then a makeshift sling or something.
Lusth: That’s a good call. I’m going to take that under consideration. When I’m 40 years old and “Survivor” is on its last season, that’s what I’ll do.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor’ Castaway Hali: ‘I Think Sierra Legitimately Thinks That I Was a Nothing Player’

April 20, 2017

“Survivor: Game Changers” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

Gordon Holmes: It seemed odd to me to target people on the outs, why didn’t they try to bring you in?
Hali Ford: I don’t know! (Laughs) My assessment then was that they were trying to buy time. Nuku’s plan for the merge started at that original tribe separation. I think they planned to be Nuku strong until the end.

Holmes: Before the game, I interviewed both you and tall Sierra. And you both said you weren’t working together. And I nodded and smiled but I was thinking (expletive deleted).
Ford: (Laughs)
Holmes: And then you get out there and that was totally the case. What was your relationship like?
Ford: I think the potential chance was destroyed at the Malcolm vote when I showed that I was more willing to work with the Mana tribe than to stick with Brad and Sierra.
Holmes: What was your best outcome during that Tribal?
Ford: I was trying to throw Brad under the bus, but it didn’t work out that way. I think that broke any feeble rapport we had built. I tried to bring it back, but it felt fake out there. It was somewhat real. On the last day, Sierra told me that my name was on the chopping block and that it was me or Michaela. So maybe she was trying to extend the olive branch. She could’ve made a move. She could have easily brought me and Michaela in. I spent the day telling them how stupid it was to not start taking out actual threats.

Holmes: Not now, but at the time your torch was snuffed, who did you hold responsible?
Ford: At that time…I was seeing it as a group thing. I wasn’t mad at one person.
Holmes: Now that you’ve seen the episode and you’ve seen how the politicking went down, did that change your opinion at all?
Ford: Yeah. I really thought Sierra was more on my side. I didn’t have any grudges or hard feelings about Sierra at the time I was voted out. But now after seeing the episode, I’m frustrated with Sierra. I think we could have done something.

Holmes: At the merge we have this mega alliance that is made up of Ozzy’s faction and Brad and Sierra’s faction, is any one person standing out as the person that’s running the show?
Ford: I saw people coming to Ozzy a lot. Looking at the episode it seems like Zeke was more of the orchestrator. But, on the beach I saw people coming up to Ozzy. I saw people counting numbers on their fingers with Ozzy. When Ozzy got voted out, I was praising him as a strategic player. That was my understanding at the time was that he was the puppeteer. But now that I’ve seen it seems like Zeke and Sierra were running things.

Holmes: Sierra said she had reason to believe that you had an idol.
Ford: That was ridiculous.
Holmes: Do you think she believed that or was she using it as a reason to target you?
Ford: I think Sierra legitimately thinks that I was a nothing player. There was no way that I could be playing the game, there must be some other reason that I’m confident.
Holmes: You did have a very different swagger this season. That was noticeable when you volunteered to do the solo swimming leg of the first challenge.
Ford: I applied myself this game…with no better results. (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs)
Ford: I’m happier with what I did. The first season when I was going in I was in an entirely different headspace. I thought it was entirely random that I was going on “Survivor” and some big things had just happened back home to distract me from the game. It was not my number one priority. But, going into this game, I had a vendetta, something to prove. I really poured myself into this game.
Holmes: Is there any concern that this rift with Sierra could tear the Dirty 30 apart?
Ford: No. I love Mike. I’ve been hanging out with Jenn and Mike and Tyler. I’d love to hang out with Sierra again. I don’t have any bitterness against Sierra outside of the game. She’s this sweet, incredibly impressive rodeo queen. I have nothing but respect for that girl.

Holmes: Alright, it’s time for the longest word association ever. Let’s start with Malcolm.
Ford: Nerdy, brilliant stud.
Holmes: Sandra?
Ford: Hilarious, cream of the crop, everlasting queen.
Holmes: Varner?
Ford: Misunderstood, judged, abused.
Holmes: Tall Sierra?
Ford: Sweet, caring, why?
Holmes: Medium Ciera?
Ford: Smart, out-of-the-loop, bad luck.
Holmes: Michaela?
Ford: One-of-a-kind, senior citizen in a millennial’s body.
Holmes: Tai?
Ford: Salt of the Earth, plant master.
Holmes: Caleb?
Ford: Hulk.
Holmes: Troyzan?
Ford: He’ll appreciate this; green monster. We’ll just leave it at that.
Holmes: Please. Tony?
Ford: Are you on meth?
Holmes: Debbie?
Ford: Gosh…delightfully delusional.
Holmes: Brad?
Ford: Soft-hearted macho man.
Holmes: Ozzy?
Ford: “Survivor” super hero.
Holmes: Zeke?
Ford: Strong, impressive human being.
Holmes: Andrea?
Ford: My pick for the win.
Holmes: Cirie?
Ford: “Survivor” master.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Sarah.
Ford: Silent assassin.

Holmes: You were a central part of Debbie’s weird meltdown after the balance beam challenge. It was so odd and big that I almost wondered if it was faked to throw people off the scent that her and Brad were working together. What was your take on that?
Ford: At the time she was freaking out I thought it was entirely real. If that was acting, she deserves an Oscar. She was hysterically laughing and screaming. She was down the beach just screaming by herself at one point. I think that when she was acting drunk, I knew that that was fake. She wasn’t drunk. Debbie is an actress. I think a lot of what she did with Brad was rooted in something real, but most of it was a show, actually.

Holmes: Has this experience changed your love for nature, or is that still going strong?
Ford: (Laughs) I think it put a damper on my love for nature. Before “Survivor” I loved camping, now I’m good to just sleep in my car.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Episode 7 Recap: Fields’ Mettle

April 19, 2017

“Survivor: Game Changers” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

Last Week: Jeff’s poor choice of words helped him avoid jury duty.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog…

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Mana Tribe (wearing orangey-red)
Aubry, 30
Brad, 47
Cirie, 45
Hali, 26
Michaela, 25
Sierra, 29
Troyzan, 54

The Nuku Tribe (wearing blue)
Andrea, 27
Debbie, 51
Ozzy, 34
Sarah, 32
Tai, 52
Zeke, 28

We start things off the morning after the outtening (that’s a word, right?) where Sarah is still furious over Varner’s mistake. She once again tells us that meeting Zeke as a person has opened her eyes to the transgender community. Here’s hoping there are a lot of Sarahs watching.

Everyone is ready to move past the Tribal, Zeke hopes it has made them stronger as a unit.

Zeke says there’s still a game to play, so “Let’s just get back to it.” Couldn’t agree more, buddy.

Next up, both tribes are walking towards Probst and what seems to be a merge feast. He informs them that the only way they’ll enjoy the feast is if one person from each tribe agrees to not eat.


Both sides weight the options with both Culpepper and Tai agreeing to sit out. Well, how much was Tai going to eat anyways?

The remaining eleven dive into the meal while Brad and Tai are sent to sit on a log. Brad is psyched to have a chance to chat with Tai because he wants to fill Tai’s Caleb role. Considering Caleb’s most memorable role was on his back on a stretcher…that might not be such a good thing.

Brad also tells us that he doesn’t trust Michaela and Hali and would like for one of them to go home next.

Sierra reminds us that the next Tribal is one of the two times she can use her legacy advantange. Oh yeah, that thing.

Meanwhile, Debbie is grinding on Cirie. Yes, for real. Apparently, Debbie had a little too much to drink. Hali refers to this as Debbie using the alcohol as an excuse to “Go Debbie.”

“Go Debbie”?! I’m stealing that.

Then, Debbie moons Tai. Well, probably a good thing Tai wasn’t eating.

Later, Debbie claims that she didn’t have a drop of alcohol and it was all an act to make people feel comfortable with her. Interesting.

Back at camp, Debbie immediately makes peace with Brad. He forgives her.

When things calm down, Zeke tells everyone what happened with Varner. Everyone seems to support Zeke.

After that, politicking explodes. We’ve got Ozzy, Troyzan, and Brad, Ozzy and Zeke, Troyzan and Tai, Ozzy and Sarah, Tai and Hali, Sierra and Brad, Sierra, Cirie, and Aubry, and they’re all saying one name…Michaela.

So…she’s going to win immunity, right?

Anywho, we later learn that Cirie, Andrea, Sarah, and Zeke might want to keep Michaela around as a number.

The tribe comes up with the name Maku Maku which makes me wonder whose mother is named Ukam Ukam.

The next morning, there’s a hilarious moment where Troyzan pretends to take photos of bathing beauty Andrea. She promptly wipes out on the rocks.

Michaela eventually gets wind that her name is being tossed around and touches base with Cirie. Cirie gives her some pointers. You probably can’t have a better mentor than Cirie. She’s like an in-game Cochran.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will stand on a beam and use their heads to press a block against a second beam. The last person with their block in place will win immunity.

As usual, not much to describe except for standin’ and sweatin’. Hali is out quickly, she’s joined by Troyzan and Zeke. Probst says it took about three seconds.

Cirie is out next. We then lose Debbie and Michaela.

Heh…when Michaela goes out, they cut to Andrea giggling about it.

From there we lose Ozzy, Aubry, and Brad. We’re down to Sarah, Andrea, Tai, and Sierra.

After 25 minutes, Sarah is finally out. Sierra too.

Andrea and Tai battle it out with Andrea finally claiming immunuity.

The post-challenge debate starts off with Sierra wanting to pick off the outsiders; Hali or Michaela. However, she’s worried that Hali has an idol. She pitches splitting the vote with most of the votes going to Michaela.

Wait, why not split so if Hali doesn’t play the idol, she goes home?

Zeke’s name is floated to Michaela and Hali with Debbie even saying, “He has the absolute best story.”

Cirie doesn’t love the idea of getting rid of Michaela, she’d much rather see Hali go. She shares this concern with Zeke.

Zeke asks Sierra why they’re targeting Michaela over Hali with the same reasoning I used above. Sierra says it’s because Michaela will have a fit if she realizes she was a target.

Sierra and Debbie wonder why Zeke cares so much. They decide it’s because he wants to be in charge.

Finally, Cirie approaches Michaela and tells her to vote for Zeke. Her hope is that she’ll manage to save Michaela and not tip people off that they’re working together.

That night, Probst welcomes Cirie to her first Tribal of the season. She even gets the full spiel about fire equaling her life.

Andrea thinks the merge is where lines are drawn and the first couple of votes are huge.

Debbie is very confident with tonight’s vote.

Hali claims to be in the dark on the vote. Michaela agrees. She doesn’t understand why her name is on the chopping block.

Ozzy wants to vote out someone who is risky and to be careful around someone who might have an idol.

Hali offers to strip down to prove that she doesn’t have an idol. I…uh…I’m gonna leave that alone.

Nobody takes her up on this offer.

Voting Time: Michaela votes for Zeke, Hali votes for Zeke, Cirie votes for Michaela and says she’s doing it to save both of their lives, Sierra votes for Hali, and the rest of the votes are secret.

Probst tallies and returns. We’ve got two votes for Zeke, one vote for Michaela, one vote for Hali, one vote for Michaela, one vote for Hali, one vote for Michaela, one vote for Hali, one vote for Michaela, two votes for Hali, and the eighth person voted out of “Survivor: Game Changers” and the first member of the jury is…Hali.

So…I guess Zeke and Cirie were able to convince the others that Hali should go first? And now nobody knows that Michaela and Cirie are in cahoots.

The next morning, Michaela vows to do whatever she can to help Cirie out. Cirie once again reiterates that she doesn’t want people to know that they’re working together.

Later on, the sentiment around camp seems to be that it’s time for Sierra or Brad to go home. Zeke has separate meetings about this with Cirie and Andrea. Andrea thinks they shouldn’t let Tai or Debbie know. Well, you shouldn’t let Tai know anything ever.

Meanwhile, Zeke seems annoyed that Andrea and Cirie are getting more information than he is. Too soon, dude.

Sure enough, Zeke is considering sending one of them home in order to get on top of his alliance. Too soon, buddy.

He even knows he made a move too early last time. TOO SOON!

Immunity Challenge Time: The tribe will be split into two teams of six. Two members from each tribe will swim out to retrieve a net full of fish puzzle pieces. Then two other members will untie the fish and carry them to the finish line on a pole. The final two members will complete the puzzle. The first tribe to finish the puzzle will win a spa day courtesy of Marshalls.

Marshalls: Never Pay Full Price for Fabulous!

Our teams are Sarah, Brad, Aubry, Michaela, Sierra, and Cirie vs. Andrea, Tai, Ozzy, Troyzan, Debbie, and Zeke.

The Survivors are ready…and they go. Troyzan and Ozzy manage to get their net to the shore before Sarah and Brad. But it was close.

In the second part, Tai and Andrea make a big mistake by leaving a fish behind. They have to go back. This allows Aubry and Michaela to pass them.

Cirie and Sierra have a big head start over Zeke and Debbie but they aren’t able to maintain it. Zeke and Debbie win.

Back at camp, Cirie is super bummed for letting her teammates down. Aww…it’s just a Marshalls spa day.

We meet up with the winners and they’re having a good ol’ time. So good in fact, that Tai decides to go streaking…for some reason. There’s a lot of nudity this episode.

Andrea thinks Troyzan should go streaking next. Anyone who read my Malcolm exit interview knows he’d probably trip.

The best part of the Marshalls Lounge spa day? They didn’t have to watch “Jack and Jill.”

Once the silliness dies down, Zeke pitches getting rid of Andrea and Cirie to Tai and Debbie. They listen, but Debbie does not trust Zeke.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will climb a pole. Last person on that pole wins immunity.

Fun Fact: Ozzy is undefeated in this challenge, having won twice.

Not much to describe here except for grippin’ and slippin’. Yee haw!

It eventually comes down to Andrea, Ozzy and Tai. After forty minutes, Andrea takes a nasty spill. Fortunately, she’s OK.

The remaining two battle it out for another fifty five minutes before Ozzy finally falls. Tai wins immunity.

Post-challenge politicking kicks off with Zeke going to Sierra and telling her that Andrea is gunning for her.

CUT TO: Sierra tells Cirie what Zeke said.

CUT TO: Cirie tells Andrea what Sierra said that Zeke said.

As you’d imagine, Andrea is not thrilled with this info.

Meanwhile, Debbie sees this as an opportunity to blindside Ozzy. Sierra, Tai, Sarah, and Troyzan seem into it.

That night at Tribal, Ozzy thinks the stakes are higher this season and that everyone thinks they’re a secret agent.

Sarah compares the tribe to a bunch of single people who are just looking to hookup.

Ozzy makes sure everyone knows that his ability to get food is important around camp. Yeah, but people don’t think that way anymore. They’ll put alliances over camp usefulness every time.

Zeke is looking for people that think they can beat him. Tai is very impressed with how Zeke sees things.

Cirie wants to work with people who have displayed trust.

So…are we going to talk about who’s being targeted?

Apparently not.

Voting Time: Sierra votes for Ozzy, Andrea votes for Zeke and rips into him, Cirie casts a vote to “spice things up a little bit,” and the rest are lost to the magic of editing.

Before Probst can tally the votes, Debbie asks to play her extra vote.

Voting Time Continued: Debbie’s second vote isn’t shown.

Probst tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Ozzy, one vote for Zeke, one vote for Sierra, one vote for Aubry, one vote for Zeke, one vote for Ozzy, one vote for Zeke, one vote for Ozzy, one vote for Zeke, two votes for Ozzy, and the ninth person voted out of “Survivor: Game Changers” and the second member of the jury is…Ozzy.

Verdict: So nice to get back to “Survivor” as usual after last week’s heartbreaker.

Power Rankings Results: Adam Klein had Hali in spot seven, I had her in spot three. We both had Ozzy in spot thirteen. The current score is Team Adam 84, Team Gordon 80.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Power Rankings Round 6: Merge Edition

April 18, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

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.

Donate to the #LiveLikeSusie Memorial Fund for Lung Cancer Research

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

‘Survivor’ Castaway Jeff: ‘I Assaulted Zeke That Night, Outting Someone Is Assault’

April 13, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

Gordon Holmes: There are two stories that are going to come out of last night. Zeke has been outted as transgender and now he has to go about his life with that information known to the public. I feel like that story is being told. Zeke himself penned a piece for The Hollywood Reporter. The other is about a guy who supports the LGBT community who made a mistake that could harm the LGBT community. What’s it been like to live with what happened for so long?
Jeff Varner: It’s been ten months of hell. I have dug through all kinds of stuff. A couple of different therapists. Been involved with many different LGBT groups. I’m heading in a direction that I can’t wait to tell you about as we go forward, but this morning is not about me. This morning is about Zeke and transgender people and what I have done. And I am profoundly and profusely sorry. I have no excuses. I can’t sit here and make one. I made a massive mistake. I own it 1000%. I know that I hurt Zeke. I know that I hurt those who love him. I know that when we’re in pain and we’re in fear, we’re dangerous and we do the wrong things and we say the wrong things.

Holmes: Have you spoken with Zeke since that night?
Varner: We’ve spoken several times over the last few months. He continues to forgive me. He just an amazing human. I’m amazed at that forgiveness. But, I also know that watching that had to have been doubly traumatic as it was for me. And it’s put him in a different place. I think he’s calling me a bigot today. He’s calling me full of hate today. That is the opposite of who I am. I respect him. I deserve it. If he wants to take swings at me, I’m the one to hand him the bat. I give him every inch of every room to react how he needs to react. I respect him for that. I deserve it. And I’m sure that it’s frustrating for the transgender community that I’m the one out here talking about this today. We need trans voices. I hate that we don’t have more trans voices out here talking about this situation. We’ve got to stop separating and dividing. Trans people are humans and we need to elevate their dignity and their voices and lift them up. We shouldn’t reduce them to things that objectify them and dehumanize them. They are not deceitful people, they’re just trying to live their truth…safely…

Note: At this point, Jeff starts to get very emotional.

Varner: I’m sorry.
Holmes: It’s OK.
Varner: They’re just trying to thrive, you know? And I’m just sick of the fact that I am part of what some people will use as a tool to further do this to them. It’s horrible. I assaulted Zeke that night, outting someone is assault. It robs them of so much. It stigmatizes them and it shames them. It forces them back in and that’s the opposite of what needs to happen. I’m devastated. I will forever be sorry and do…I’ll talk to you in the future about what I’m doing and where I’m headed…but today I just want to make sure that this is all about Zeke.

Holmes: I had some advance notice of what was going to happen last night. And I felt sick watching the lead up. But in the end, it felt like it was headed in a positive direction. Zeke said that his “Survivor” experience has made him strong enough to deal with this. The tribe supported him. He forgave you. Do you know why Zeke is feeling differently today?
Varner: This was us then and we’ve grown and moved past it. I’m not sure what caused him to shift his gear, but it’s OK. I support him. I don’t know that Zeke and I will ever be friends, but it’s important for me to have him know how much I care about him and people like him. I’ll spend the rest of my life doing whatever I can to make this right, because it’s wrong. It’s not in my character. It’s a game and nobody can truly understand what we’re going through. What that “Survivor” brain does to us. At the risk of sounding like I’m making excuses, because I’m not. There are no excuses. I don’t know where he is today or where his head is, I can only read what he’s writing. He’s wrong on a bunch of levels about who I am as a person. I knew Zeke for five days. We spoke probably an hour and a half total. He doesn’t know me. I hope that he one day will. I’ve heard from so many transgender people today who understand and are inviting me to be a part of their effort. I’m so grateful for that. I just love Zeke, I’m so profoundly sorry.

Holmes: It seems like all parties involved are dedicated to turning this into a vehicle for good. For bringing transgender issues to the forefront. And I know you don’t want to talk about you, but you’re a human being. The “Survivor” community reaches out to me. And yeah, there’s a lot of “(expletive deleted) Jeff Varner.” But, there’s also a lot of “How is Jeff today. I hope he’s alright.” You’ve been living with this for months. Now that it’s finally out there, does that help you move on now that you can more openly support these issues?
Varner: Yeah…I’m not ashamed to tell you that coming out of this I had thoughts of suicide. What I’d done is horrible. But when Zeke reached out to me and we were able to talk, that’s when I felt like the healing began. We both feel like we’re both victims on some level for many different reasons. Not being able to talk about it has been tough. Last night was an end in a lot of ways and a beginning in a lot of ways. There is a relief that it’s out there and I can start making amends publicly and start trying to help people. I forgot what you asked me. I’m a wreck. (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs) You got there.

Holmes: There was some confusion about how you knew Zeke was transgender. When we spoke in the pre-game interview, you said that you had noticed things about his physique that had led you to believe that he was transgender. Was there ever a point where Zeke opened up to you or was this based on your pre-game observations?
Varner: Not directly. He talked about all kinds of things that led me indirectly, not only that he was OK and out, I believed he was out. I had no idea that Zeke had not come out. Everything led to that. I don’t want to talk about how I knew, because in respect to Zeke, I don’t think that’s the right direction to go. When I said that out loud at Tribal, I was not 100% certain.

Holmes: Sarah is an example of someone who didn’t have much experience with the transgender community. She met a guy she liked and when she found out his story, it opened her eyes. Hopefully there are a lot of Sarahs in the audience.
Varner: I want to thank Sarah for that. That went a long way. Out of everyone who was at Tribal, she’s the one I’ve heard from the most. She’s been so supportive. She explained to me how this moment and preparing her family to watch it has changed their perception. She went out of her way to make me understand that no matter what Zeke and I are going through, this has been a positive thing for her family, it has to be for others. Ultimately, that is where this will go, but right now what’s important to me is that Zeke is safe and healthy and that he hears me when I say I am profoundly sorry. I didn’t come after him with malice. It wasn’t intended to be a commentary. I hate that the deception theme was there because it’s such a massive stigma that trans people deal with. People think they’re deceiving and dangerous and they’re not. These people are strong and courageous. All of these bathroom bills are horrible. They’re not about whether trans people can use the bathroom. They’re about whether trans people have the right to exist in public. There are so many people, especially here in North Carolina, our hateful General Assembly is trying to erase trans people from our society. I really want to do everything I can to stop that crap. I hope that this opens up the door for Zeke and I to do some great stuff.

Holmes: I know you don’t have to do exit press. I’d imagine this is the second worst day of your life. But I think you’re doing the right thing by using this platform to further transgender awareness.
Varner: I hope that any press that anybody puts out there is pro-trans and anti-outting. We’re both trying to make this a positive thing.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Episode 6 Recap: Zeke the Guy Who Plays ‘Survivor’

April 12, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

Last Week: Debbie won a date with a sitcom writer, Tai’s idol bag got a lot tighter, and the Queen went out while proving she’s a fighter.

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog…

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Mana Tribe (wearing orangey-red)
Aubry, 30
Brad, 47
Cirie, 45
Hali, 26
Michaela, 25
Sierra, 29
Troyzan, 54

The Nuku Tribe (wearing blue)
Andrea, 27
Debbie, 51
Jeff, 50
Ozzy, 34
Sarah, 32
Tai, 52
Zeke, 28

We kick things off after Tribal where Debbie is telling everyone how terrible Exile was. C’mon, Cochran’s a good guy.

Ozzy admits that Tai scared the crap out of him. Tai still thinks it was a solid move to target Ozzy, but he confesses that he’s “terrible at Tribal.” I love you, Tai. But you’ll get no arguments from me on that one.

Meanwhile Varner wants to punch everyone in the “throat bone.” I haven’t seen a “Survivor” rulebook lately, but I’d imagine there’s a passage that forbids that sort of activity. Zeke apologizes for deceiving Jeff. He understands, but says he would have voted for Sandra if they had wanted him to.

After they make peace, Zeke tells Varner that he wants to take him to the end. They hug it out.

Immunity Challenge Time: Teams will retrieve a key from a pole that is wound up in some ropes. They’ll then create a ladder and use the key to unlock a bag of balls. They’ll then carry the balls through a cargo net. Finally, they’ll have to teeter-totter the balls into five different targets. The first tribe to get all five of the balls into the correct bins will win ten pizzas and various fixings.

Nuku jumps out to a pretty sizable lead during the ropes portion. In fact, Mana never really makes it competitive.

Ozzy works his teeter-totter magic to bring home the win for Nuku.

Back at Mana Beach, Hali does the math and points out that ten pizzas are more than a pizza a person. She’s not wrong.

Sierra, Aubry, and Cirie start to commiserate about how stressful and emotionally taxing the game is. This strikes a chord with Brad who didn’t appreciate how hard it was for Monica to make it as far as she did in “Blood vs. Water.” He breaks down in tears.

Is it dusty in here?

Both Aubry and Cirie approach Brad at different times to thank him for being so open with them. Aubry even calls him the most genuine person she’s met out there. Wait, she met me out there!

So, it looks like Brad finally has his numbers advantage with that duo, Sierra, and Troyzan.

Over at the Nuku Pizzaria, everyone dives into the reward.

Later on, Jeff starts making moves to get rid of Ozzy. He approaches Sarah with a plan to get rid of the alpha males in the game. She doesn’t commit either way.

Immunity Challenge Time: Four members of each tribe will swim to a raft and then pull it to a series of stations. At each station, they’ll have to dive down and release buoys with letters on them. Once all of the letters have been retrieved, the other three members of the tribe will have to spell out a word. The first tribe to figure out the 13-letter word will win immunity.

The Survivor are ready…and they go. Nuku again jumps out to a lead thanks to Ozzy’s diving prowess. Culpepper, in particular, has trouble releasing the buoys.

Nuku is the first tribe to the puzzle portion and they have a huuuge head start. Mana eventually catches up and both teams are struggling to figure out the word.

Eventually, Hali comes up with “Metamorphosis” to win it for Mana.

Quick Aside: I wonder how long that puzzle took, because it looks like everyone’s hair is dry.

Varner knows he’s in trouble, but he’s going to do everything he can to keep from going home.

Back at camp, Jeff tells everyone that he knows he’s on the chopping block. He just asks for one-on-one time with everyone to plead his case. That’s unique.

While Jeff and Ozzy head off, Sarah makes the case that they should probably get rid of Ozzy soon. Zeke says he likes Varner a lot, but their best bet is to keep Ozzy around for a while.

Zeke admits to us that he wants to use Ozzy as a shield.

Varner pitches getting rid of Ozzy to Zeke and he shuts that train of thought down quickly. Varner takes this to mean that Zeke has plans for Ozzy.

Varner takes this information to Andrea and Sarah and Sarah seems pretty ticked off about it.

Then, Varner hints that there’s something about Zeke that nobody knows. He also promises to raise “mortal hell” if he has to.

That night at Tribal Council, Varner says that he did his best to not be the next to go home, but all of his conversations have led him to believe that his time is up.

This makes Debbie nervous because she’s not used to people being certain at Tribal Council.

Varner then claims that they aren’t six strong because some people have agreed to vote for Ozzy if he could get more numbers. Varner then outs an alliance between Ozzy and Zeke. He proposes for the others to target Ozzy. Debbie seems into it.

Jeff then claims that there is another level to the deception around camp. When Probst asks him to enlighten them, Varner asks Zeke why he hasn’t told anyone that he’s transgender.

This is followed by a long pause and then an explosion.

Zeke looks like he’s been punched in the stomach. Tai, Debbie, and Andrea all yell at Varner that it’s not his place to out Zeke.

Varner claims that it was to show that Zeke is being deceptive.

Tai is yelling…Andrea is crying…hell, I’m crying…and Zeke just looks like his world is never going to be the same.

Varner, who is an advocate for transgender rights, claims that he would never say or do anything to hurt anyone, but he’s fighting for his life.

Tai argues that outing someone who hasn’t outted themselves is hurtful. Andrea and Debbie agree.

Zeke finally speaks and says the he hasn’t shared that secret with anyone during his two seasons on the show.

Varner tries to explain that his intention was to prove that Zeke has the ability to deceive. Probst calls that a leap of logic.

Varner, realizing that this strategy has backfired spectacularly, apologizes to Zeke.

Ozzy thinks Varner should be ashamed of what he’s willing to do to get ahead. A defeated Varner admits that he is ashamed of himself.

Probst asks if there is a line Varner won’t cross to get ahead. Varner says he now knows that he has made the wrong choice and he feels horrible.

Varner goes on to say that he thought Zeke was out and loud about it, which Sarah immediately disagrees with because nobody on the tribe knew.

Then Probst points out that you can’t say that Zeke is deceptive and then say that he was out and proud.

Ugh…all of this is making my stomach hurt. Will someone please give Zeke a million hugs for me?

Tai eventually comes around and thinks that Varner sincerely feels bad about it. Andrea agrees.

Varner assumed that everyone in Zeke’s life knew and he was only keeping it from the members of the tribe.

Zeke’s family and friends do know that he’s transgender, but he doesn’t tell everyone in his life. And, he didn’t want to be Zeke the transgender “Survivor” player, he just wanted to be Zeke the “Survivor” player. He’s not happy with how he was outted, but he is prepared to talk about it.

Zeke then points out that “Survivor” has made him a stronger person and that strength will help him deal with whatever’s next.

Varner seems mortified about what he’s done, but Sarah isn’t ready to move on yet. She feels like it was a malicious attack. She then goes on to say that she doesn’t have many LGBT people in her life and that Zeke simply kicks ass. She wants to come away with the million dollars, but it’s worth more to her that she got to know Zeke.

Zeke laughs and says he shouldn’t be a role model, but he hopes that people seeing him play the game will help them.

Finally, Probst asks if there’s any doubt of who’s going home. Everyone agrees that it’s Varner. They don’t even bother voting.

Varner says that he’s ready to go. He and Zeke hug, then Probst snuffs his torch.

The seventh person eliminated from “Survivor: Game Changers” is…Varner.

Verdict: We don’t all watch “Survivor” the same way. I thought Jonny Fairplay lying about his grandmother’s death was brilliant. You might have thought it was horrible. I thought Dreamz accepting Yau-Man’s car reward and then going back on the deal was reprehensible. You might have thought it was a clever move.

We all have our idea of what this show is supposed to be. But at the end of the day, they throw these people out there, give them rules and twists, and say “Reward the person you think deserves to win.”

With all societies, there’s a line of what’s acceptable and what isn’t. What’s gameplay and what isn’t. What’s entertaining and what isn’t. And we all probably draw that line in different places.

I think it’s safe to say that Jeff Varner crossed everyone’s line tonight.

By outing Zeke as transgender, he has put his real-life happiness and safety at risk.

But, I’m sure Jeff Varner knows this. I’m not close friends with Jeff, but knowing what I know about him, he was probably caught up in the intensity of a game and simply didn’t think things through. I think it is reasonable for him to think that Zeke was open during “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X” (which hadn’t aired yet).

I’d imagine Jeff feels horrible. I’m sure he’s been beating himself up over this and dreading this day since that Tribal Council was filmed.

But, if Zeke can find it in himself to forgive Jeff, then the “Survivor” community should too.

This is a low point in “Survivor” history. There’s no debating that. But when I look back at it, I’ll choose to remember Zeke’s inspiring strength, his tribe’s unconditional support, and Jeff’s maturity in owning his mistake.

Now go be nice to everyone.

Power Rankings Results: Adam Klein had Jeff in spot fourteen. I had him in spot thirteen. The current score is now Team Adam 64, Team Gordon 64.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Power Rankings Round 5: Long-Live-the-Queen Edition

April 11, 2017

‘Survivor: Game Changers’ (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: 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.

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

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 Michaela is voted out this episode, Adam will receive eleven points and Gordon will receive eight 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 Sandra in spot twelve. I had her in spot fifteen. The current score is now Team Adam 50, Team Gordon 51.

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.

Donate to the #LiveLikeSusie Memorial Fund for Lung Cancer Research

Adam’s Score = 50

Any questions for Adam? Drop him a line on Twitter: @AdamScottKlein

Gordon’s Score = 51

Any questions for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

1. Troyzan: As the merge nears, I am going to not only evaluate who is likely to go home in this episode, but also what the edit is telling us about who are key players to watch out for post-merge.

Troyzan’s idol keeps him on the top of my list, but more important is what happened in the last episode. While we had a great ‘swan song’ exit episode for Queen Sandra over on Nuku, literally the only piece of content we got from Mana was the budding alliance of Troyzan and Brad. According to the producers and editors, that is the only storyline that was important enough to follow on that tribe. Also, in the preview and in the commercial, all of the strategic content is focused on Mana. No one has been named as a potential target on Nuku, so my bet is on all of Nuku remaining safe into the merge.

1. Troyzan: Ah…Tavua…we hardly knew ya. (Sorry about that.) And thumbs up to Troyzan for managing to weather that storm with his idol in his pocket. Add that to the fact that he won’t be the main target if New-New-Mana goes to Tribal and you have any easy pick for the top of this list.
2. Brad: The Troyzan/Brad scene was seriously hitting us over the head with the fact that they want to work with each other. They both had multiple confessionals about it. Why? This is a pair that matters. With original Nuku in the vast majority, Brad seems like he’s in a great position to slaughter Sandra’s army and run all the way to the finish line. 2. Zeke: Queenslayer! I am bummed that Tony, Malcolm, and Sandra are gone. But, kudos to Zeke for getting rid of one of the most dangerous players in the history of the game. That being said, I’m not sure if he can continue to play the happy-go-lucky super fan card anymore.
3. Sierra: It’s clear that Sierra is in just as good with Troy and Brad as either of them are with each other, but this story isn’t been told from her perspective, as the Troy/Brad scene indicates. With only 4 confessionals so far in 6 episodes (despite having the legacy advantage and getting an idol played on her), Sierra is a supporting character for Brad as far as the edit is concerned. 3. Brad: Bro, you want to be my bro, bro?  Fist bump.
4. Andrea: Andrea jumps up massively in my rankings after the last episode. The only hint at her exit was from Troyzan, and now that they are separated, my fears of Troyzan idoling her out have been (at least for the moment) put on hold. She also finds herself solidly in the majority on Nuku and no one has any reason to come after her. However, like Sierra, Andrea has had only 4 confessionals, less than anyone else, and doesn’t appear to be a key character in the story of the season. 4. Sierra: Looks like we’re in for another round of the Sierra and Brad Show. My question is; who would you rather sit next to at the end? The loud guy who has a history of rubbing people the wrong way or the subtle woman who has the doesn’t-actually-do-anything reputation?
5. Sarah: “Silent assassin.” “Playing this game like a criminal.” “I know how to lie to these people.” Now she’s “irate.” So far, Sarah has been allowed by the edit to talk a big game, without us actually having the chance to see it. They have been teasing us for weeks that Sarah’s big move is coming – could this finally be the week? Possibly. But until we see something big from Sarah, she should be safe. 5. Andrea: Tai bringing up Ozzy’s name at Tribal is not something Ozzy is going to forget anytime soon. That’s good for you. If your alliance does split, you’ll get to decide which way to go.
6. Debbie: Debbie lucked into an advantage, safety from Tribal Council, a chance to work through her game with a former winner, a feast, a break from the stress of the game, and finally a tribe filled with her former tribe mates with bigger fish to fry. Debbie is supposed to be great at balance, but it sure seems like she’s either the ultimate champion or the ultimate victim. This week, the scales tip in her favor. 6. Sarah: I feel like you are just itching to do something right now and there is no need. You’ve got a case of Tony-itis. You have a super-clear path to the merge. Just keep your social game up and wait for your chance to make the move that gets you to the end with the people you want.
7. Zeke: Zeke was given editorial credit for playing Sandra and Varner and taking out the best player in the history of the game. That’s no small feat. This was exactly the kind of episode that Zeke needed in order to have a shot at the title, but it also puts his neck out as a bigger target moving forward. If Varner is going to blame anyone for Sandra’s exit, it’s probably Zeke. Still, it seems that Ozzy is a bigger alternative target according to the preview, so he should be able to make the merge. 7. Debbie: An all-expenses-paid dinner date with Cochran? Instead of “Exile” they should have just called it “Heaven.” Seriously though, John is right. (I’ve known him long enough to call him “John.”) You need to mend that fence with Culpepper ASAP. That whole affair was ugly and may have soured that entire tribe against you.
8. Tai: I have seen so much hate on Tai’s gameplay this season, but the results speak for themselves. The man has survived three Tribal Councils, found three idols, played one successfully, and solidified a solid alliance with Brad, Sierra, and Debbie. He got heat for his actions at the last tribal, but he had good reasons to be worried, and correctly felt like his former tribe mates were throwing his name around. At home most of us were thinking Tai needed to play an idol, but he knew better. His tribe does seem to suspect that he has an idol, so they will be hesitant to go after him until they can split the votes. Long term, I am worried about the perception of Tai from both the players and the audience. I know what that’s like. But my game (and my edit) showed that a player like Tai, who looks paranoid on the edit but is actually playing a solid game, can benefit from low expectations. 8. Michaela: I just have a hunch that the Old-Nuku, New-One-Worlds-Apart alliance is going to pick Michaela over Aubry or Cirie.
9. Cirie: Cirie is a huge question mark moving forward for me. She hasn’t had to go to Tribal Council yet, so it would be helpful to know what she’s thinking, but we didn’t get her take on her new tribe. Not a great sign. While she hasn’t received enough focus to make a Cirie win a real possibility, I think her potential swing position on this tribe will allow her to at least make the jury. But with fewer and fewer original Mana left in the game, Cirie will be forced back into a dynamic of mostly original Nuku, which left her feeling on the outs early on.  9. Hali: I do not care how much you deny it; I think you and Sierra are still a thing. Fortunately for you, the people she’s currently working with need numbers.
10. Hali: According to secret scenes, Hali did a decent job of at least giving her previous Mana tribe some indication that she might stick with them, although the relationship is tenuous at best. Brad described it as “cat and mouse” and although he didn’t love that this was the case, he called Hali his “number 2” when first looking at the new Mana. Hali herself says she’s in good with both her original Mana members as well as Brad and Sierra, so she should be able to play both sides long enough to last until the merge. 10. Tai: People with thirty idols should be on the top of this list, Tai! I’m sorry, but you’re game is too erratic. I wouldn’t be surprised if you traded those idols for a handful of magic beans.
11. Michaela: We have no idea who would have been on the chopping block from the edit had Mana lost, but my guess is that it may have been Michaela, in order to weaken Sandra. Now that Sandra is out, Michaela’s threat level diminishes somewhat. At the same time, there seem to be fewer and fewer people around that are connected to Michaela, so she is going to need to move quickly to create new and strong relationships when the merge hits. 11. Ozzy: Aligning with Tai is like carrying a coffee cup that is filled to the brim. You know it’s a bad idea, but you convince yourself that if you’re slow and steady enough you can make it work. At this point, Ozzy should be scared to death of how close he came to getting burned last week.
12. Aubry: Poor Aubry just cannot seem to find her footing in these tribes. She could not keep the peace between Tony and Sandra at original Mana, was kept in the dark by her original tribe mates when they voted out JT, and now seems to be on a tribe where no one needs her vote. I’m sure she would be happy to flip on Mana, but Brad and Sierra seem to be more likely to use the votes of others, like Troyzan, Hali, and/or Cirie. If Mana does go to tribal council, I don’t see anyone going to bat to save Aubry just before the merge. 12. Aubry: Aubry needed that tribe swap the most. There was no way Michaela, Varner, and Sandra were going to turn on each other at that point. But now, you’ve got Brad and Troyzan as an alliance with Sierra…and possibly Hali. It seems like a mess. Maybe there will be a third swap…
13. Ozzy: There are a couple ways Ozzy could end up going home. One way is that Varner could join the others in targeting Tai, and Tai could idol out Ozzy, but that seems unlikely because they seem to suspect that Tai has an idol and would be very wary of targeting him. The other possibility is that Sarah could flip to Varner with Tai and someone else (Zeke has expressed interest in working with Varner and Sarah can be seen talking to Andrea in the preview), finally making the Big Move(™) that has been teased for weeks. The previews could also just be a red herring, as Ozzy seems pretty well insulated on Nuku, but regardless, there is no question that the target on his back is getting bigger and bigger as the merge approaches. 13. Varner: Whatever went down at last week’s Tribal was bad news for Varner. Tai was comfortable enough to not play one of his thirty idols. Which means, Varner is the low man on the totem pole. His best bet is to encourage another Debbie meltdown.
14. Varner: This game has been all about numbers: original Mana vs. original Nuku, and I don’t see that changing right before the merge. No one on original Nuku seems to want to strike first blood, so they just continue to cripple original Mana. Varner’s only real hope is that others want to take out Ozzy before he reaches the merge and can start taking down individual immunities. 14. Cirie: Has Cirie had a solid alliance yet? It’s hard to know seeing as she’s never been to Tribal Council. She was safe at Tavua because Ozzy needed her. But, I don’t think anyone needs her right now. She’s better hope for more challenge puzzle miracles.

Any Questions?
Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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