This week’s Survivor was very controversial, and has spawned a lot of conversation on social media. This will be a Tribal Council that Survivor fans will remember for a long, long time, and it’s not for the right reasons. I’m continuing on with my Power Rankings, but in the latter half of this blog I’m going to address my personal opinions on what happened and the conversations it’s spawned. It was a very different ending to an episode, so forgive me for changing my format just a little bit this time. Here are my power rankings for Episode 6:
- Debbie Wanner (+1)
– While I do believe having an extra vote could be a worthwhile thing on Survivor, it’s shown to be more of a problem than a help in the past. I believe in the wrong hands, an extra vote could backfire, and I imagine that will be the case for Debbie. I just don’t think she has to skill to make her game stick in the long run.
- Tai Trang (0)
– Tai has two idols so I imagine he’ll stick around for a little while, but I’m not super certain where he’s going to go when the alliances line start to get drawn. Does he go with Brad and Sierra or does he go with Ozzy and Zeke? I kind of wonder if they might blindside Tai if he stays in the middle of alliances, because he definitely wouldn’t see that coming at all. Sometimes the best vote is the swing vote, so let’s hope Tai picks a side.
- Michaela Bradshaw (0)
– Michaela’s alliance is basically completely gone, so I don’t know how she’s going to fare going forward. I imagine she’s not going to be targeted, but her abrasiveness will get on someone’s nerves eventually I imagine. I think Michaela has a real uphill battle if she wants to gain some traction or control over her destiny.
- Andrea Boehlke (0)
– Andrea is in a fantastic spot to survive, but I still can’t see her winning. Her majority alliance appears to be the strongest on paper, unless things change drastically once they merge, so we should hopefully be seeing more of Andrea on the screen for weeks to come.
- Troyzan Robertson (0)
– Troy is one of the people I’m most excited to watch going forward because I genuinely think he’s a dark horse in this group. His moves, and the way he uses his idol could have a serious impact on the vote-out order from the Merge on. I wonder if the relationships he’s built thus far will be able to pay off at Final Tribal council, but I do believe he can at least get there if he plays his cards right.
- Aubry Bracco (-1)
– Aubry is in a very similar spot going into the Merge as she was in during the Kaoh Rong season, and that gives me a lot of hope for her game. She knows how to work from the bottom, and she almost pulled it off t the tune of a million dollars before. I don’t think she’s a favorite right now, but Aubry cannot be counted out!
- Hali Ford (+1)
– Hali’s fine right now. She’s just waiting to see where the numbers go, pulling a Sandra letting everyone know she’s down to write down anyone but herself. The reason why I like Hali to win still is her arguing skills, I think she can play a game like Sandra and out-argue the others in the end to sway an opinion or two. I think if Hali plays like Sandra would, she can fulfill my lofty expectations for her!
- Zeke Smith (-1)
– It’s going to be tough for Zeke now after that shocking moment at Tribal Council. Like it or not, his entire alliance knows, in the back of their heads, that they don’t want t sit next to him at Final Tribal Council. I give Zeke a 1% chance of making the Final 3, but 100% chance of winning if he can make it all the way there.
- Ozzy Lusth (+1)
– I think Ozzy is really going to benefit from the alliance he’s in right now. I think he’s with a group of people who are playing hard or playing strategic, and those people may just be able to sway some of the attention off him, maybe enough so that Ozzy could end up deep in the game. I’m not sure about this though, I think he could easily be voted out next, but my gut tells me Ozzy is playing a great game right now.
- Cirie Fields (-1)
– I find it interesting that Cirie has been able to spend a good amount of time away from her old Tavua tribe. I think the luck of the draw has given Cirie some options to work through as the game progresses, and she may very well be in the best spot to control the game from where she’s at right now.
- Sarah Lacina (+1)
– Sarah is getting a great edit right now, and reading that for what it’s worth gives me high hopes that she’ll be in the mix to win. I loved her honest reaction at Tribal Council when all of the drama was going down; it shows that her heart and head are in the right place both in and out of the game. I think Sarah is in a great spot.
- Brad Culpepper (0)
– I think Brad can wrangle up the numbers to survive the first vote. It may very well be a 7-6 vote, but I have a feeling that he will be in the right spot when the chips fall in place. That’s just what my gut tells me.
- Sierra Dawn Thomas (0)
– Final 13 is the moment where Sierra either makes or breaks this game. At least I think so, given her legacy advantage. Nothing really changed in the game for her tribe this week, so she stays up top of my rankings this week. These rankings are of course subject to some extreme changes next week if things go wrong, but I’ll go with my gut and keep her up top.
Thoughts After the Episode:
- Let’s skip the superlatives and get right to the main talking point, shall we? I don’t think I’ve ever been so frightened for any contestants’ safety in a single moment than I was when I heard Jeff out Zeke as transgender during that heated Tribal Council scene. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more surprised by something that’s come out of anyone’s mouth more than that moment in all my years of watching the show. And that shock is coming from somebody who actually already knew that secret about Zeke already (it was known on Survivor-related social media for a while now), so I can only imagine the pure shock and emotion from average Survivor fans around the country! In that one moment, Jeff Varner made a colossal error that put Zeke in a terrible spot, considering the questions and unwarranted attention he’s now going to receive from this airing, and also put himself in a horrible spot because of the vitriol that he would definitely receive from the airing of this scene. I didn’t have the slightest clue that this was how that Tribal Council was going to unfurl, but I was so appalled by Varner’s decision in that moment, and the thought processes that went into. He’s been one of my Survivor favorites for a while now, and I know enough of the guy to understand that he isn’t a bigot, and he’s not likely a malicious guy, but it’s so mind-boggling trying to figure out why he thought he could make an argument against Zeke’s character by revealing that kind of personal information. It’s as if Varner, in a moment of game-related insanity, thought that his tribe might think less of Zeke because of this deep secret, and that’s honestly the worst part of the whole situation. I must say though, I’m very proud of the rest of the tribe for their grace and reaction to the comments, backing Zeke and coming down harshly on Varner’s tactics in that moment. The whole scene was so emotional and so bizarre, but I think Zeke managed to handle it with an unbelievable amount of grace and courtesy, even choosing to be gracious towards Varner after he realized the gravity of his decisions. Zeke truly ended up making the most of what could have been a devastating personal moment, discussing how his outing could maybe create a dialogue that helps young viewers feel comfortable talking about LGBTQ rights and coming to terms with similar issues. I’ll add this too, and it’s not as an excuse for his behavior, but I feel bad for Jeff Varner too. He’s facing an incredible amount of negative publicity and vitriol for a terrible decision he made in a game of starvation and desperation. He’s going to relive this for the rest of his life, and that’s going to be such a burden for him to bear, even if he did it to himself. I would have strongly preferred that CBS edit around that situation if possible to avoid the repercussions that their television show would have on peoples’ real day-to-day lives, but it’s within their rights given the contracts the contestants sign to show anything and everything, and portray people and situations as they please. I think the show at least did a good job editing the reactions and Tribal discussions, and I also thought Jeff Probst did a remarkable job moderating that conversation in a professional manner. It was just a sad situation, and I feel terrible for all that were involved. I think it’s also worth listening to the reactions of Zeke and Varner after the airing to get the full perspective of what happened and how they will move forward, and you can hear those below: