Next Time is back! This is a blog all about decoding previews, commercials, and previous episodes in order to predict what’s coming next on Survivor.
As always, this blog is 100% spoiler free speculation, and I look forward to reading your predictions as well. Comment below or tweet at me @JacobDerwin!
Part One: Previously On… Survivor
Let’s see how I did!
The tribe switch will result in two tribes of seven.
Grade: A+! Glad I didn’t get this one wrong. I can math!
The odd player out will be Brad, and he will be sent to Exile Island.
Grade: I was right about the process in which someone would be exiled, but wrong about who. This prediction and next one came from an idea in which both needed to be correct in order for either of them to be. For guessing the exiling process correctly, but not the who, nor the exile yacht twist, I’ll give myself a D.
At Exile Island, Brad will be visited by his wife and former player, Monica.
Grade: See #2. F.
Sarah will end up on a team with a majority of players who she hasn’t played with yet and will be voted out.
Grade: If you’ve been reading this blog for a few seasons, you know how easily I get hung up on a player (e.g. Joe during Second Chance who I made my weekly boot prediction for like a month straight). Instead of viewing Sarah’s sudden relevance to the narration of the show as a build up to her subsequent elimination, I’m going to take it as her actually becoming relevant to the narration of the season as a whole. F.
Part Two: This game is hard
There are three prominent aspects to the previews for the coming episode: Mana is emotionally drained, a faction of Nuku is thinking of targeting Ozzy, and pizza if f**cking delicious.
I want to start with Mana reaching their “breaking point” as it’s said in the previews. First, with all the metaphors, hyperbole and attempted catchphrases tossed around the island at all times, it’s lines like the one we get from Aubry in the commercial and “next time” teaser that really stick and feel the most poignant: “This game is hard.”
Survivor is a tough game. But I couldn’t tell you what it is that causes Aubry, Brad, and Cirie to start crying in unison. At first, I thought they might have won a letters from home reward, but the sneak preview for this week’s episode on YouTube reveals that reward is, as mentioned earlier, a whole lot of pizza. And frankly, as great as pizza is, I don’t think Mana is crying over losing the reward challenge.
Actually, on second thought, I would definitely cry over lost pizza. Heck, I do that in the comfort of my own home when the delivery guy doesn’t show up.
I’m not a hundred percent sure what’s bringing the whole tribe down. They won their first immunity challenge together, no one on the tribe is particularly temperamental or upsetting (maybe excluding Michaela when she gets pissed off), and original tribal lines are nearly split down the middle (4 original Mana, 3 original Nuku). On paper, this couldn’t be a more levelheaded, steady-as-she-goes tribe.
So, without any reason to believe that the waterworks are a direct result of something game-based, I’ve come to the assumption that the “Mana reaches its breaking point” is just a combination of a few players having regular emotional moments within a similar timeframe. For example, Aubry was in a lot of trouble before the switch, having just been on the wrong side of the JT vote. I think this moment for her could simply be a mix of relief from getting out of Nuku alive, but also the stress of knowing she’ll probably have to continue dodging bullets like that. She certainly appeared introspective, laying on the beach away from her tribemates after the tribal council when the tribe returned to camp.
As for Brad and Cirie, it appears that they’re sitting at the campfire together when they start to cry, so perhaps they were just opening up to one another about family life back home. Seems like a completely reasonable and human thing to do in such a scenario. I don’t believe these “breakdowns” will affect the game in any noticeable way.
But another Nuku 2 castaway just might.
Part Three: The great provider
A big part of the teaser for this week’s episode was Sarah and Andrea having a conversation about how someone else on the tribe had greatly irritated them previously, followed by Varner telling Sarah about his interest in eliminating Ozzy at Nuku’s next tribal council.
Now, I’ve come to believe that these two aspects of the previews, though similar in tone and edited to appear as one continuous anti-Ozzy scheme, are actually about two different people. Yes, clearly we get a Varner/Sarah conversation and a Sarah confessional talking about it possibly being time to “cut Ozzy’s throat,” but the dialogue we get between her and Andrea before that doesn’t remind me of Ozzy.
Sarah: “I’m irate right now.”
Andrea: “It made me mad too!”
I believe this conversation comes the morning after our last tribal council and revolves around Tai and his absolute meltdown before the Sandra vote in the previous episode. After all, Tai’s sudden call for action against Ozzy, and his clumsy backtracking resulted in neither he nor Ozzy’s elimination like the edit implied all the way up the vote reveal. It must have been shown to us for some reason, no?
Here’s the idea: I think Sarah and Andrea are willing to hear out an argument against Ozzy. I think they definitely want him gone, and support from Varner certainly helps their cause. On top of that, you have Zeke who I have no doubt would be down with the idea and Debbie who needs to start making nice with whatever majority exists on the beach. All that said, I think all of these players who just saw Tai implode throughout the last day are too afraid to keep working with him.
But of course, the guy’s got two idols, and the moment he feels genuinely threatened, I have to assume he’ll play one of them.
Here’s the scenario I see playing out: Nuku loses immunity and looks at their options. Realizing Tai is just too frightening to align with, the tribal majority decides to vote for him, but with two players (let’s say, Andrea and Sarah, because why not) throwing votes at another player in case of an idol. Those two players put votes on Debbie because of uncertainty about what she may have found at Exile Island. (The title of the next episode, “What Happened on Exile, Stays on Exile” implies some pretty stern secret-keeping, which her tribe won’t find comforting.) Tai will play one of his idols, and regardless of who he votes for, Debbie will go home right after her Cochran pep talk.
Or, this show is just screwing with me as per usual, and the tribe will vote out Varner because it’s easy and I wouldn’t entirely blame them.
Part Four: Who’s gonna win, gonna win, gonna win?
I was re-reading last week’s blog, and I gotta say, this bit I wrote about Sandra right before her elimination really bums me out.
“On top of that, I’m still in utter disbelief that Sandra is still doing as well as she is. If she pulls this off… haha, oh man. Frankly, if Hali is voted out while Sandra is still in the game, I will make Sandra my new winner pick.”
I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS!
Hali was nowhere to be found last week. I’m not reading the edits like an Edgic maestro or anything, but it’s certainly noticeable when players take a dip in prominence in the aftermath of a tribe swap; it’s such a tense part of the game. I’m not going to abandon her as my winner pick, only elimination will do that for me as a rule, but I’m certainly less bullish on her potential victory than I was a few weeks ago.
If I had to make another selection on the fly, I’d make Brad my choice for every reason you can think of. With the exception of Debbie’s blow-up at him, he’s been nothing but a strong social and physical player with plenty of character-building moments sprinkled throughout the season thus far.
Part Five: Wrap-up!
Break it on down, man.
Mana loses reward and from a lack of pizza (or food in general) comes a generally emotional scene about missing family and home.
Nuku loses immunity.
A split vote between Tai and Debbie results in Debbie’s elimination after a Tai idol play.
Hali will win Survivor: Game Changers.