Hello and welcome to the final Next Time on… Survivor of the season!
This week’s blog is going to be a little different than the previous ones. After we grade my predictions from last week, I’ll show you what my original pre-game bootlist predictions looked like, then give you my predictions for how each of our final six will place in this week’s finale. Let’s see how I did!
Part One: Previously On… Survivor
This one was a doozy.
Brad will win the first immunity challenge and… let’s say Andrea wins the second.
Grade: Brad did win an immunity challenge, just not the one I thought he would win. Up to this point, I thought Andrea’s fate would be sealed during the coming “advantagegeddon,” not now. Andrea was a pretty major player during this season, so the fact that she was the first boot of a double tribal episode was something I wouldn’t have called. I’ll give myself a D+ for guessing that Brad would win immunity, but that’s all.
Troyzan will play his idol at the first tribal council and Aubry will be voted out because of it.
Grade: Not even close. F.
Brad will manage to find the newly planted idol after Troyzan plays his.
Grade: I really should have just tied this and #2 together. F.
For fear of Brad and Troyzan controlling the vote (or causing a rock draw), Michaela will be voted out by Cirie, Sarah, Andrea, and Tai.
Grade: Okay, to be fair, my scenario in which Michaela was voted out was only slightly less manic than the one that actually went down at last week’s second tribal. I’m going to give myself a B+ for guessing the boot correctly, but getting the circumstances completely wrong.
Part Two: Pre-game Bootlist
Ahead of the season, I put together a custom bootlist where I attempted to predict where each player would place based on previous games and pre-game interviews. Where I got plenty of things wrong, I also got a few things very wrong. (I got a few right too, but nothing to praise.) So, for kicks, here was my pre-game bootlist in order of their predicted elimination:
Sarah Lacina (Whelp, got this one very wrong. Come at me, Sarah truthers.)
JT Thomas (Close!)
Cirie Fields (Very happy to be wrong on this one.)
Ozzy Lusth (Took nine tribals, but I got one right.)
Zeke Smith (Got it!)
Andrea Boehlke (Got it!)
Michaela Bradshaw (Got it!)
Tony Vlachos (If only.)
Tai Trang (Still possible!)
Aubry Bracco (Also still possible!)
Malcolm Freberg (Still bitter.)
Part Three: Finale
All right, with that silliness out of the way… here’s how I think the final six will place in this Game Changing finale.
Sixth: Cirie Fields
A Cirie win has been long awaited and deserved, but unfortunately, I believe Cirie will continue to be one of the best to never win. For one, Sarah is not happy with Cirie after the vote stealer debacle last week. I doubt she, or anyone else on the beach for that matter, wants to give Cirie anymore leeway. It doesn’t help that Cirie is basically a legend who the jury is probably quietly rooting for. On top of all this, if Tai gives Brad one of his idols, the only two non-immune people at the next tribal would be Cirie and Aubry, and Aubry is the more likely of the two to win immunity. And once again, after last week’s madness, Cirie is probably more at risk in general.
All that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cirie and my fifth place prediction, Aubry, ended up in each other’s places instead if Aubry doesn’t win immunity simply because Aubry is more likely to win a challenge than Cirie.
The validity of the whole “game changer” theme has been debated since before the season started. People questioned whether much of the cast deserved such a title. Cirie is one of the few whom inarguably represent this season’s theme. Anyone who says that her fine print blunder at the last tribal puts the rest of her Survivor career in the shadows overlooks a history of incredible social and strategic play that has helped to define the modern game itself.
According to Michaela’s post-elimination interviews, last week’s vote was originally meant to target Aubry. But because of all the mayhem that went down, plans changed somewhat wildly. After Cirie is out of the way, I assume Aubry would naturally be the next target. The poor thing has been on the wrong side of so many votes and lost so many allies; I doubt she has any legitimate final three plans with the remaining players.
But as I said above, Aubry could be immediately targeted instead of Cirie simply because she’s on the outs and a better challenge competitor. Regardless, I believe both Cirie and Aubry will be voted out in the first two tribal councils of the finale.
It’s kind of a shame that we didn’t get to see more Aubry throughout the season. I seriously recommend hunting down her full interviews/confessionals from throughout the season. She may have been on the wrong side of quite a few votes, but she still has some fantastic insight into the game and her tribe. At the very least, we had a few sweet, funny moments with her at food rewards (#Coleslaw), as well as one of the most incredible immunity wins I’ve ever seen during last week’s episode. Holy moly, that woman knows how to build a house of cards. I just hope she isn’t too bummed out about her edit because Aubry is undoubtedly a cherished member of the Survivor fan community.
Don’t shoot! Let me explain!
Up to this point, Sarah has managed to live up to her “silent assassin” strategy. Personally, I didn’t think she stood a chance, but I have been proven very, very wrong. The problem is, everyone knows just how dangerous she is now. If Troyzan, Brad, and Tai have been paying attention, they should know just how many strong connections Sarah has forged with people on the jury, and how likely it is for her to win the million if she makes it to the end.
Think of it like David from last season. David was an extremely prominent player and narrator through MvGX. But by the final four, everyone knew that he was the guy to beat, so they took him out. I wouldn’t say Sarah and David have played similar games by any means, but I think Sarah will have a similar downfall to David’s for the simple reason of her likeliness to win.
This season was Sarah’s opportunity to prove herself a top-tier Survivor player, and she did just that. If I’m wrong and she does win, it will have been a deserved victory. She played a Tony-esque game like she intended to, but with a subtlety that allowed her to fly under the radar. She may not have been a game changer at the beginning of this season, but I’m comfortable calling her one at the end of it.
Oh, Tai. The guy has had so much power all game – he’s had three idols total and is still in possession of two! But for whatever reason, Tai hasn’t been willing to make the moves necessary to position himself as the guy to beat this season. I don’t think he’s played a bad game by any means, but he’s been unable to put himself in the foreground. Despite the inevitable coming idol plays, I believe Tai has missed out on his opportunity to show the jury any evidence of his gameplay, especially compared to many of his fellow final six, which makes him a great person to go up against in the final tribal council.
Tai has had a pretty similar second go-around to his first time playing. He’s cemented his status as one of the best idol hunters in the history of the game. Even more impressive than that has been his restraint regarding the idols. There were more than a few votes where Tai kept his idols to himself when everyone sitting at home was screaming at their televisions to play one. Perhaps he’s better at reading the room than we give him credit for… or he’s just one lucky SOB.
He’s lovable, he’s a unique character, and he’s got a damn good nose for idols, but I think Tai is bound to receive no more than a vote or two at final tribal council.
I’m fairly certain this game belongs to either Brad or Sarah. If I’m wrong about Sarah coming in fourth place, it will be because Brad was voted out in fourth instead, and Sarah will win the whole thing. That said, I think Brad has a great shot at winning the million. It really comes down to whether he’s immune at the final four vote, or whether Troyzan and Tai would rather go against him or Sarah. I just have a feeling that in that final four scenario, Sarah will appear way too threatening.
Between his physical merit and his relationships with Troyzan, Tai and even Aubry, I think Brad has enough going for him to maneuver himself to the final three. And once there, I think Brad has a lot of friends on the jury. I totally believe that Debbie, Sierra, Zeke, Ozzy, Aubry and Sarah will all vote for him, at the very least.
I was, and still am somewhat hesitant to call Brad a game changer, but I am more than happy to call him a solid, strong Survivor player. He’s played a pretty old-school game despite being surrounded by new-school strategy and twists. He’s relied on the trust he has built up with other players as well as his abilities as a physical competitor. Brad has continually fought to stay in the game, despite losing most of his allies in the early merge. It has set him up for a kind of underdog story that the jury will inevitably eat up at the final tribal council. He’s come a long way from being cussed out at Redemption Arena.
All this said, this has been a continuously unpredictable season. Hell, part of me, in my heart of hearts, still thinks Cirie has a chance to make that final tribal council. Maybe she will! And the limited previews for the finale have primarily shown Tai doing something with his idols with Troyzan and Brad, which could absolutely backfire at final six. We’ll just have to wait and see!
Let me know what your final six placement predictions are in the comments below or on Twitter! You can tweet me @JacobDerwin.
Part Four: Thank you!!
Thank you all for reading Next Time this season! Whether you’re a regular reader or just occasionally stopping by, your time is greatly appreciated! I continue to write this blog because of you!
Let’s get pumped up for the finale, and excited for the next two seasons of Survivor!