Sequester, hosted by former Big Brother contestant Audrey Middleton, is the reality show taking over quarantine, premiering its first all-Survivor cast on May 23rd, 2020. A six-hour game ended with Ghost Island alumni, Kellyn Bechtold, taking the win over two-time player Abi-Maria Gomes in a 6-1 vote.
The game was dominated by big moves, pre-existing relationships, and ultimately a “Witches Coven” coming together for the first all-female final six in Sequester history. Kellyn and Abi-Maria, alongside Karishma Patel, Kelley Wentworth, Lauren Beck, and J’Tia Hart, spent the night wheeling (but not on the wheel of misfortune) and dealing, pushing names, and avoiding the block, and surviving all the way until the end.
Fifteen minutes before the game started, the public was asked to will one player a new secret advantage, The Wheel of Force, which would allow the occupant to force any six people onto a wheel AFTER the elimination votes were revealed. This was privately won by Wentworth, but she did not use it during her time in the game.
The beginning stages of the game focused on pre-game connections and season-defined alliances. The first round twist forced those in their initial starting rooms to turn against each other and nominate one person in their room in Call Your Shot. While other players like Lyrsa Torres and Erik Reichenbach opted to volunteer themselves to be nominated, thinking bigger targets would be nominated, Karishma took the opportunity early to show she was willing to let go of her fellow Island of the Idols alumni, pushing for Dean Kowalski to be nominated, claiming his strong connections would ultimately keep him safe. On the contrary, other players including Pearl Islands alumni Jonny Fairplay saw this as an opportunity to take a shot at the Season 39 alliance, eventually leading to Dean’s demise.
— Janel Hamster (@AdventHamster) May 24, 2020
The next eliminated contestants, Nick Maiorano and Jonny Fairplay were eliminated for opposite reasons. Nick was a victim of the Edge of Extinction alliance, consisting of Wentworth, Rick Devens, and Dan “The Wardog” DaSilva, due to the latter two being targeted heavily by other castmates, and Nick not doing much in terms of early gameplay and entertainment. Fairplay, meanwhile, was eliminated with a Locus of Safety (LOS), which functions as an immunity idol in Sequester, in his pocket. This was due to his aggressive gameplay and many of his pre-game antics, like telling players that fellow castmate Chelsea Walker that she helped handpick the cast to help her.
In true Survivor style, many players like Brice Johnston, J’Tia Hart, and Lauren Beck used empty rooms as a way to talk directly to the viewers, breaking the fourth-wall in real-time. Brice claimed, “Today is Saturday… not Sunday!” after Sunday Burquest left the room, leaving Twitter users in an uproar. This unique opportunity for players to engage with the public is exhilarating to watch as a fan, especially when someone catches them talking privately. This happened several times, particularly when Karishma walked in on Brice telling the viewers he did not trust her.
The following round engaged players in a risk-vs-reward situation where they had to hit either the red or green button—with the threat of the red button ensuring chaos. In a twist, all those who smashed the red button were safe, while those who opted to play it safe felt the pressure of being put up for elimination. In the first huge move of the night, Chelsea successfully played her LOS, negating the votes against her and sending home Peih-Gee Law, a secondary option targeted by the Edge of Extinction alliance.
Sequester is known for changing the format up almost every round, a way to keep things interesting and moving in the game. The next round, Now or Later, forced the players to decide whether they want to bank their vote for the second round or vote in the first round. The round included an unsuccessful LOS play, a tie vote, and the eliminations of Rick Devens and Wardog subsequentially, due to their pre-game connections and previous moves in the game.
Following the double elimination of two Edge of Extinction alum, the group was split into Evens and Odds, in which players who privately chose even numbers could only vote for players who chose odd numbers and vice versa, leaving Carolyn Rivera, Lauren, J’Tia, and Abi-Maria in the minority as odd numbers. Carolyn, who failed to find an early footing in the game amongst the other previously connected, was eliminated.
The following round, Safety Chain, was one of the most exciting of the game, in which a wheel determined who the first player immune was, and that immunity was then passed from player to player until there were only two players without safety, and one is eliminated via the last selection. Winning safety via the wheel, Kellyn started off the chain, giving it to Brice, J’Tia, and then Karishma. Based on a previous deal, Karishma handed safety to Lauren, who attempted to make sure the rest of the “Witches Coven,” now shown to viewers as the alliance of Lauren, Wentworth, Abi-Maria, and Chelsea, also received safety. Lauren, proceeding with the plan, gave her safety to Chelsea. Chelsea chose to save Lyrsa, with a deal that Lyrsa was supposed to then subsequently save Wentworth but she ended up saving Jamal Shipman instead.
— Brian Scally (@Brian_Scally) May 24, 2020
This move had major blowback for both Lyrsa and Chelsea, as it was the beginning of the undoing of the coven alliance, as Wentworth claimed, “Now, the coven may eat one of their own.” Wentworth was eventually chosen (to her surprise) by Sunday Burquest and left Wentworth in what would eventually be a game-changing decision. She chose to give safety to Abi-Maria while in the same room as John Carroll, even though she had promised John safety mere seconds prior. This led to a fight between the two, and John was expected to be eliminated. In a shocking decision, however, Abi-Maria decided to give the last immunity to John, leaving Erik, despite being in a room with Abi-Maria while she was given safety, ultimately eliminated.
While the round prior was exhausting, the subsequent round was a step towards more calm gameplay. Sunday had come up a few times as a target in these rounds, due to her alliance members being eliminated early on (Carolyn among many), and having no one else from her original season (Millennials vs. Gen-X) playing that night. However, in a last-minute attempt to split up the Witches Coven, Jamal, Lyrsa, and Sunday pushed for Abi-Maria to go. Ultimately, due to Brice pushing hard for her to go, Sunday was eliminated from the game.
The last round before jury, a sequester classic, is known as a Drag Round. The person eliminated must drag out one player with them, and they will know who voted for them. This round usually sees a lot of throw-away votes, as many are afraid of being named as a part of the majority and having the target for a drag. Chelsea, Kellyn, Abi-Maria, and Lyrsa, voted for John (who, at one point in the night, danced with a real-life goat), who subsequentially dragged Chelsea, making them the final boots of what the Survivors referred to as the “pre-merge,” but what those in Sequester universe just called “pre-jury.”
Once the jury began, we saw the sides forming of what would be the end-game scenarios for these players. Abi-Maria and Kelley, former tribemates on Cambodia, were a very close pair, along with Brice, Lauren, and J’Tia. Other players like Karishma, Kellyn, Lyrsa, and Jamal were playing very successful games as well but were not seen connected to anyone, which led to Jamal and Lyrsa’s eliminations over the next two rounds.
In a round filled with punishments for the cast. Abi-Maria was forced to spend the round completely silent (which may have been a good thing, since security showed up at her door during the game due to her being too loud). J’Tia was locked in two out of the four rooms, Kellyn was forced to speak in third person (aka the Wardog specialty). Karishma had to sing the Survivor theme song when she wasn’t talking strategy. And Lauren had to say the opposite of what she meant. Brice, the last remaining man, pushed the votes successfully against Karishma. But due to her knowing she was being targeted, Karishma played her Locus of Safety, eliminating Brice from the game and showcasing the final six in the game as all women.
The endgame was focused on jury management and loyalty towards each other. J’Tia and Kellyn were up for elimination at final six due to them losing an immunity challenge, with J’Tia being eliminated due to her potential to win the jury over. Wentworth then won a puzzle immunity at the final five, leaving Karishma, Lauren, Abi-Maria, and Kellyn vulnerable. Karishma pushed hard against Lauren, arguing she had tons of friends on the jury, but Wentworth wanted to keep Lauren around as a shield for the final four. In a 2-2-1 vote, there was a tie between Karishma and Lauren. The tie was broken, and Lauren was eliminated for fifth place.
In the final round, known as Drag to Hell, the players were forced to publicly dispute and vote face-to-face for the person they wanted to give fourth to. That person then gets their own revenge in dragging the final member of the jury out the door with them and determining the final two. Karishma, stating that she was ecstatic to be in final four with “Kelley F***ing Wentworth,” pushed hard for Wentworth to be eliminated, while Abi-Maria and Kellyn mostly stayed quiet. Wentworth exclaimed that “None of you are safe if you vote me out, so be careful what you decide.” The viewers assumed that Abi-Maria would vote with Wentworth causing a tie. But, in a 2-1-1 vote, with Abi-Maria voting Kellyn, Wentworth voting Karishma, and Karishma and Kellyn voting Wentworth, the three-time Survivor player was eliminated in an all-too-familiar fourth place. Karishma’s playstyle and direct targeting of Wentworth led to her being dragged out, leaving Kellyn and Abi-Maria as the final two.
The jury of seven was then brought back to ask the final two questions about their game. The answers were a bit lackluster, due to both of the finalists having a few drinks throughout the game, not to mention it being 9 am where Kellyn was. J’Tia, a scientist, asked Kellyn who her favorite female scientist was, to which she answered, “Amelia Earhart,” one of history’s most famous pilots. Abi-Maria named J’Tia! There was also a hilarious moment when Abi-Maria thought Jamal made the Final 3 when he popped up to ask her his jury question, even though he had been eliminated for 9th place.
Kellyn, who had played the game in Malaga, Spain, in the middle of the night into the early hours of the morning, pitched her free-flow and fun playstyle as the reasons why she should win. Abi-Maria claimed her biggest strength was “social,” and was happy a girl was winning regardless of how the final votes fell. In the end, Kellyn was awarded the win in a 6-1 vote, with Wentworth being the sole vote for her fellow witch, Abi-Maria.
— noah (@NoahVaughann) May 24, 2020
Overall, the Survivor Sequester mini lived up to the hype and then some. The players bought into the concept Audrey had created and brought a night of fun and entertainment during a time where the world is under extreme stress. Karishma said it best in her finale speech: “It’s been a really tough past few months for people out there, and I hope people watching out there saw this as an escape.” For those who watched live, or after, the answer is clear, Sequester succeeds as an opportunity to connect reality tv fans with their favorite stars while also providing a night full of strategy and entertainment.