‘Survivor: Game Changers’ Finale Recap: Pepper vs. Copper


“Survivor: Game Changers” (CBS)

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Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Game Changers”

Last Week: The Boehl tolled for Andrea, the cop knew the letter of the law, and Michaela was found guilty by association.

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

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribe as it currently stands…

The Maku Maku Tribe (wearing yellow)
Aubry, 30
Brad, 47
Cirie, 45
Sarah, 32
Tai, 52
Troyzan, 54

Let’s do this!

We kick things off after last week’s doozy of a Tribal Council and Sarah wants to know who the rat is and Cirie wants to know why Michaela was targeted. Sarah really lays into Cirie for making her burn her vote-steal advantage.

When pushed, Cirie says that she was worried that Tai was targeting Sarah. Tai, of course, denies this…for about two minutes. This does not go well for Tai.

He tells us that because it’s Game Changers, he wants to play a little bit. That’s exactly how I’d describe Tai’s game.

Sarah also lets us know that she targeted Michaela as a way to get back at Cirie. Wow…very shrewd.

Later on, Tai tries to bring Brad on board by telling him about both of his idols. Oh Tai, telling Brad about one idol would have sufficed.

Brad hasn’t truly trusted Tai since the Sierra vote, but he could use him as a number.

Quick Aside: Is it time to add Brad Culpepper to the much-better-the-second-time-around list with John Cochran and Parvati Shallow?

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will race through a maze while collecting puzzle pieces. The first person to finish their puzzle wins immunity and an Italian dinner.

Another Quick Aside: Garlic bread?! I’d turn on any alliance for garlic bread.

Yet Another Quick Aside: This maze is epic.

The Survivors are ready…and they go. There isn’t much to describe except for wanderin’ and retrievin’. Actually, that a lie. There are some good wipe-outs.

Brad and Aubry are the first ones to the end with their bags, but nobody is really that far behind.

It comes down to Brad and Sarah…with Culpepper claiming the win.

Brad is allowed to share his meal with two people and he chooses Troyzan and Sarah.

During the meal, Sarah tells us that she doesn’t trust Cirie and Tai anymore and that she needs to consider working with Brad and Troyzan. During a strategy discussion, they decide to target Aubry.

Later, Brad approaches Tai with a plan. They’re going to vote for Aubry. He wants Tai to play his idol for himself and then let Brad hold onto the other one. Huh…

This bums Tai out because he feels like he’s not in control of his destiny. Brad gets really intense with Tai, which is what got Debbie in trouble in Kaoh Rong.

Afterwards, Brad tells Troyzan that he’ll vote out Tai next and keep the idol for himself. Ooo…

Tai shares Brad’s plan with Aubry, but he makes a point of not telling Cirie. Cirie pitches her, Aubry, and Tai targeting Sarah or Troyzan.

All of this is too much for poor Tai. He breaks down in tears.

Before we head to Tribal, Troyzan tells Sarah about Tai’s idols.

So…we could conceivably see four idols played at one Tribal. Yikes.

That night, Tai is annoyed that he got heat for lying when everyone has been lying.

Sarah thinks it’s because he doesn’t own up to the lies. She also thinks that nobody is on the same page with Tai.

Troyzan doesn’t believe Tai can recover from what happened.

Cirie has seen people crawl out of worse holes than Tai.

Tai isn’t sure his number is up because people were still willing to work with him. And, the only thing he knows for sure is his own vote.

Voting Time: No votes are shown.

JPro tallies and returns. He asks if anyone wants to play an idol and…Tai does…for himself.

Oh…and he plays the other one for Aubry.

Oh! And Sarah chooses to play the legacy advantage for herself!

OH!!! And Troyzan plays his idol for himself!

Oh no…Cirie…

Oh wait! Probst tells us that none of the votes are for Cirie! So…it’s a zero-vote tie and we go to rocks…right?


Nope…it doesn’t matter because everyone else has immunity.

The fifteenth person eliminated from “Survivor: Game Changers” and the eighth member of the jury is…Cirie.


And…it looks like Sarah would have gone home if no idols were played. She got votes from Tai, Aubry, and Cirie.

So…now I have to wonder what would have happened if Tai hadn’t played that second idol. If he holds back, does Troyzan wait to use his idol?

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will use paddles to maneuver a ball through a series of obstacles. The first person to transfer three balls to the end will win immunity.

The Survivors are ready and they go.

Ugh…that Cirie thing really took the wind out of my sails. What a terrible way to go.

Anywho…Culpepper smokes everyone, claiming his fourth immunity.

As Brad is accepting the necklace, he informs us that it was for Monica. Well…she already won a few of her own, so…

Back at camp, Brad tells Troyzan and Sarah that voting out Aubry is the easiest vote ever.

C’mon Brad, you don’t think you can take Sarah to the end, right?

Aubry, however, pitches getting rid of Troyzan to Sarah and Tai because he’s so close with Brad and Brad’s on an immunity run.

Sarah’s interested, but she’s worried about trusting Tai. Seriously? He’s only turned on like every alliance he’s ever had.

They sit down to work things out and Sarah claims that Tai is the one person she cared about the most. Tai tells her that he wants to get rid of Aubry.


Later on, Brad tries to pressure Tai again, telling him that he needs to vote with him. Once again, Tai isn’t loving Brad’s aggressive approach.

That night at Tribal, Troyzan is a little bummed because he used to be a challenge beast. This used to be my island…this used to be my pride and joy…

Aubry knows she’s on the chopping block. She also says that Brad and Troyzan will be in the final three if one of them wins immunity.

Tai’s taking Aubry’s argument into consideration.

Troyzan doesn’t think he’s as close with Brad as everyone seems to think.

Brad wonders if he has to win immunity to get to the final three.

Probst asks everyone if they think they can beat everyone at final three. Troyzan is the only one who thinks he can beat everyone.

Oh Troyzan… You’re so pretty.

Voting Time: Aubry votes for Troyzan, Troyzan votes for Aubry, and the rest are lost to the magic of editing.

Probst tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Aubry, one vote for Troyzan, one vote for Aubry, and the sixteenth person voted out of the game and the ninth member of the jury is…Aubry.

Immunity Challenge Time: Players will race through an obstacle course while gathering puzzle pieces. They’ll slide down a water slide (Awesome!) then complete a puzzle. First person to complete the puzzle gets an automatic spot in the final three.

The Survivors are ready…and they go.

Sarah is the first one to retrieve a bag, but the others aren’t far behind her.

Culpepper manages to take the lead and is the first person to start the puzzle. Tai makes it close…but not close enough. Brad wins his record-tying fifth individual immunity.

As we head to commercial, Brad tells us how he can beat anyone, but he wants to get rid of Tai because he betrayed him.

This is a mistake. It does not matter who betrayed you at this point. And, Sarah can totally beat you.

ALSO! Why vote someone out for spite who is going to the jury? Vote out Sarah and tell her it’s because you don’t think you can beat her.

Brad seems to think his immunity wins will help with the jury. In a season of Game Changers?! They’re going to respect big moves!

Quick Aside: In case you can’t tell, I’m not loving Brad’s line of thinking.

Sigh…anywho…Tai tells Sarah that he wants to vote for Troyzan and force Troyzan to do the fire-making tie-breaker.

That night at Tribal, Sarah admits that she feels like she’s on the outs.

Tai agrees, but if they work together they can force a tie. Or a Tai.

Troyzan is not a fan of this idea.

Voting Time: Troyzan votes for Tai, Tai votes for Troyzan, and the rest of the votes are a mystery.

Probsty tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Tai, one vote for Troyzan, one vote for Tai, and the seventeenth person eliminated from “Survivor: Game Changers” and the tenth and final member of the jury is…Tai.

Welp…enjoy that million, Sarah.

Also, do you think Woo has a support group that Brad can join?

Back at camp, Troyzan tells us how being the sole Survivor has been a sixteen-year dream. Yeah…it’s going to be a bit longer than that, buddy.

Sarah says that she worked her butt off and made moves that other people were afraid to make. And, she says she going to be honest with the jury.

Finally, Brad tells us that he brought the people he wanted to bring to the end and he’s going to use his lawyer skills to win over the jury. Cause people love lawyers…

That night at Tribal, Probst breaks down some impressive stats about the season including Ozzy being the new total-days leader.

Before the jury is allowed to talk, Probst tells them that they will break down the conversation into sections; outwit, outplay, and outlast.


Outwit – The Social Game

Zeke kicks off this section. He points out that Sarah continues to wear the jacket he gave her even after she voted him out. He thinks that’s a bad-ass move. He tells her that he’s going to be her advocate.

Andrea is torn because Sarah made brilliant game moves, but she feels gross because she stabbed people in the back after making personal relationships.

Sarah says her personal relationships were 100% real. This causes several members of the jury to laugh.

Ozzy thinks you can play the game without going as low as Sarah went.

Sarah counters by saying she was willing to do whatever it took.

Ozzy respects Brad for winning out. Ozzy then says he’ll be Brad’s champion. Or his…Brad-vocate?

Cirie wasn’t impressed with Brad’s strategy and voted Sierra out because she was the brains of Brad’s alliance.

Brad claims that he worked with a lot of people. And he thinks the Game Changing move of the season was when he got JT to tell him who he was voting for during the double-tribe Tribal.

Michaela wants to know how much Brad knows about her. Brad rattles off a couple of facts.

Tai thought his relationship with Sarah was real.

Sarah tells them that she played the way she really is last time and lost.

Aubry doesn’t think she can just say “This is real Sarah,” and “This is game Sarah.”

Sarah compares it to her undercover work.

Debbie has zero respect for Sarah because she’ll win at all costs. She then says that she’ll be a Brad advocate too.

Michaela does not understand why people are upset with Sarah. She doesn’t think any of the game is personal. That’s a very “Millennials vs. Gen-X” attitude. They didn’t take anything personally.

Michaela then asks Troyzan what he did in the game.

Oh yeah…Troyzan.

He says he had personal relationships with everyone.

Ozzy thinks Troyzan was a passenger instead of a driver. Solid burn.

Andrea liked Brad’s social game. But, he never tried to work with people on the bottom. He admits that he and Michaela never clicked. He then owns up to trying to make Tai uncomfortable so he’d give him an idol or play both of them.

Zeke thinks Sarah was driving the ship and always led the votes.

Hali is also there.

Outplay – The Surviving and Challenge Game

Ozzy points out that Brad never stopped working and would have been voted out if he lost immunity.

Debbie thinks “Survivor” is “Lord of the Flies” and the other players wouldn’t be in the final three without Brad.

Sarah points out that Brad is a professional athlete. Brad counters that he’s in his forties and had to complete puzzles.

Sarah then calls out the move where she was able to vote Sierra out and claim the legacy advantage. She then tells everyone about Michaela missing the hidden advantage.

Michaela thinks Sarah finding the advantage and using it against her was bad-ass. Agreed.

Quick Aside: This is much better than the classic, everyone-asks-one-question format.

Outlast – Jury Management

Each player is given a chance to sway the jury…

Culpepper doesn’t think you have to deceive and lie to everyone to win.

Sarah thinks you have to strike first to win. Everyone she voted out, she voted out because she thought that person could beat her. She also points out that she was involved in every vote.

Troyzan has a good idea where he stands with the jury. He just thanks everyone for playing the game with him. He even finishes by saying, “I’m out.”

Voting Time: Michaela votes for Sarah, Ozzy votes for Brad, Zeke votes for Sarah, Debbie votes for Brad, and the rest of the votes will have to wait until Probst gets to Los Angeles.

Alright, here we go. We’ve got one vote for Sarah, one vote for Brad, one vote for Sarah, two votes for Brad, three votes for Sarah, and the winner of “Survivor: Game Changers” is…Sarah.

Verdict: Well, I think the right person won. Sarah was in charge for the second half of this season and did it in a fashion that Brad didn’t find threatening.

And, this season had everything you’d want; big moves, blindsides, drama, comedy, the whole she-bang.

But, for some reason it never clicked for me. I don’t know if it was the Varner moment or the way Malcolm was bounced, but I never fully got caught up in all of it.

Here’s looking forward to a season of all-new players.

Power Rankings Results: Adam Klein had Tai in fourth place, Troyzan in third place, Brad in second place and Sarah as the winner which is more than enough to give him the win. Congratulations, Adam on being the “Survivor: Game Changers” Power Rankings Champion!

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

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