The 34th season of Survivor began last night with a two-hour premiere. Nobody was surprised when the castaways hit the ground sprinting to get things started the moment they left the boat. This season is known as “Survivor: Game Changers” and features a cast full of players who are known for moves that have changed the game of Survivor forever.
The two tribes of game changers are as follows (along with their past season(s)):
Ciera Eastin (Blood vs. Water/Cambodia)
Tony Vlachos (Cagayan)
Aubry Bracco (Kaoh Rong)
Michaela Bradshaw (Millennials vs. Gen X)
Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands/Heroes vs. Villains)
Hali Ford (Worlds Apart)
Malcolm Freberg (Philippines/Caramoan)
Caleb Reynolds (Kaoh Rong)
Troy “Troyzan” Robertson (One World)
Jeff Varner (The Australian Outback/Cambodia)
Andrea Boehlke (Redemption Island/Caramoan)
Brad Culpepper (Blood vs. Water)
Cirie Fields (Panama/Micronesia/Heroes vs. Villains)
Sarah Lacina (Cagayan)
Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth (Cook Islands/Micronesia/South Pacific)
Zeke Smith (Millennials vs. Gen X)
Sierra Dawn Thomas (Worlds Apart)
James “J.T” Thomas Jr. (Tocantis/Heroes vs. Villains)
Tai Trang (Kaoh Rong)
Debbie Wanner (Kaoh Rong)
After gathering whatever they could from the boat, the castaways took a raft to their camps where the gameplay began the second they made landfall. Castaways immediately started strategizing and felling out who they may align themselves with, while Tony took it upon himself to openly announce that he was looking for a hidden immunity idol.
A lot went down in the two-hour premiere. Ciera’s strategizing caught the attention of her tribemates and made her a target right away. After Mana’s loss in the immunity challenge, all eyes were on her. Despite her best efforts, she was the first castaway voted out in a nearly unanimous 9–1 vote.
In the second hour, Mana looked to rebound in the immunity challenge. Tony’s frantic, sometimes paranoid, strategy ultimately proved to be his downfall as he was unable to convince the tribe to vote out two-time winner Sandra, and was voted out himself.
Mana Tribe: Sandra
The two other times Sandra was on Survivor, she won both of those seasons. It didn’t happen by accident, that’s for sure. She has established herself as one of the top players, and her fellow castaways are well aware of who she is and that she’s won twice.
Sandra wound up in a feud with Tony, who felt betrayed after hearing Sandra talking with Troyzan about Tony. However, Sandra was able to convince the tribe that Tony’s frantic game play is a bigger issue than her lack of ability in physical challenges. For whatever reason, anything that she says, people listen to.
Nuku Tribe: Ozzy
From the get-go, it was no secret how strong of a player Ozzy is. He is a physical threat in challenges (and arguably the best swimmer out of any castaway). In addition that, he was also known in past seasons for his survival skills in the wilderness and this season is no different.
However, one thing that Ozzy will have to contend with is Cirie, as there still appears to be hard feelings between the two after Cirie blindsided Ozzy in Survivor: Micronesia. While we are still early into the season, it’s only a matter of time before we see what he is fully capable of.
Soon to be Snuffed:
Jeff Varner is a fan-favorite of sorts and a good guy. However, he has proven to not be as effective in physical challenges as the other castaways. During the second immunity challenge, Varner hung on the cage and yelled out where the giant snake full of puzzle pieces is. While it may not seem like terrible strategy, he basically admitted to not being very useful in that challenge. Hopefully he has a good enough game aside from physical challenges, because that’s what will ultimately keep him in the game.
During Survivor Kaoh Rong, Tai was known for two things. Flipping his alliances at the toss of a dime, and his obsession with the chickens that his tribe had from the beginning. As fate would have it, his tribe wound up with the Chickens from the plethora of supplies on the boat at the very beginning. Tai needs to change his strategy of constantly flipping, and he also needs to focus on the game more than the chickens.
While his tribe mates on Kaoh Rong may have had enough patience to let him do that, it doesn’t look like his tribe mates this season will have the time, or patience, to put the chickens ahead of game play. Tai needs to remember this if he wants to get far in this game.
Next week, the Mana tribe will look to bounce back from two straight tribal councils and avoid a third one. The cut throat, anything goes game play is already at an intense level. In true Survivor fashion, it is bound to intensify next week.