What were the most memorable moments from Survivor: Game Changers?
Survivor: Game Changers was the 34th season of the show and aired in the spring of 2017. It was the fourth time we had an entire cast of returning players and that’s where we’ll get started as far as memorable moments are concerned.
Cast did not live up to the mantra
The season was dubbed Game Changers and the cast was – Well, not that. On the one hand, we did have legends such as Cirie, J.T., Malcolm, Ozzy, Sandra, and Tony, who we all know by first name only.
On the other hand, we had Brad Culpepper, Caleb Reynolds, Hali Ford, Sierra Dawn-Thomas, and Troyzan Robertson, none of whom really were considered to be “game-changers” in their respective seasons.
There was certainly a fair share of great names in this season, but unfortunately, the less memorable names ended up taking over the season. That brings me to the next memorable moment.
Pre-merge boot list
Something that really brought Game Changers down was the fact that five of the first six boots were some of the show’s best players of all-time. The first six boots were (in this order): Ciera, Tony, Caleb, Malcolm, J.T., and Sandra. Caleb wasn’t a big loss by any means, but the other five were players that fans were really looking forward to watching.
These big names going out in the pre-merge portion of the game definitely hurt the season. Fortunately, Cirie and Ozzy — two of the other big names coming into the season — were able to make it to the merge, but it was definitely disappointing seeing some of the season’s most promising players get ousted so quickly.
Joint tribal council
Game Changers was all about coming up with new twists and new ways to shock the players and the viewers. The big pre-merge twist was a joint tribal council where the two tribes who lost the immunity challenge would attend tribal council together and would all vote ONE person off.
This, of course, led to a lot of politicking, and for the first time ever, we had whispering at tribal council, something that has remained a big part of the show ever since (fun fact – J.T. was the first one to ever get up and whisper something to someone at tribal council). After all of the dust settled, Malcolm was booted due to Tai playing an idol on Sierra (who had the other chunk of votes).
Malcolm going out so early was bad enough, but then to throw in that he was screwed over by a stupid twist made it even worse. Fans were hoping this twist would be one-and-done, but unfortunately, it reappeared four seasons later in Edge of Extinction.
Varner outs Zeke
Game Changers is looked at as one of the darkest seasons in Survivor history and the reason for that is because of the moment when Varner decided to out Zeke as transgender at tribal council. The backstory to this is that Varner was trying to convince the rest of his tribe that Zeke was being deceitful and went on to out him.
As expected, this blew up in Varner’s face, as the rest of his tribe was absolutely disgusted with him. Everyone came together to defend and support Zeke while making sure Varner paid the price. He was booted unanimously without a proper vote even taking place.
This is definitely a tough moment to watch, but it’s an important one for sure. Sarah’s reaction to Zeke being outed is something that really makes this moment better, as she admits she’s from a conservative background and doesn’t know any transgender people, but that she’s learned to love Zeke for who he is. It’s a really good teaching moment and it comes from an ugly act by Varner, who deserved to get booted as a result of what he did.
At the final six, it’s down to Aubry, Brad, Cirie, Sarah, Tai, and Troyzan with the majority of the votes heading Sarah’s way. However, Tai played his idols on both him and Aubry (who each received votes, for what it’s worth), Sarah played her Legacy Advantage on herself, Troyzan played his hidden immunity idol, and Brad had the immunity necklace.
This left Cirie as the only unprotected player and as a result, she was sent packing. It’s another low point for Game Changers, as Cirie didn’t receive a single vote at that tribal council and was sent home because production had come up with way too many advantages without expiration dates.
They’ve somewhat learned their lesson, enforcing deadlines on the advantages in the hopes of this never happening again. Still, the fact that this happened to Cirie is just another sign that maybe she’s never meant to win Survivor and that’s a shame because she’s one of the all-time greats.
Coming into Game Changers, Sarah Lacina wasn’t a popular name. She got a big head on Cagayan when she was the swing vote at the merge and that backfired on her, as Tony’s alliance turned on her and got her booted instead. It was surprising to see her listed as a “game-changer”, but she made the most of her second chance for sure.
Sarah mentioned from the very beginning that she was playing like a criminal her second time around, and it worked in her favor. She was able to do some crafty things, like track down the secret advantage at a reward challenge when Michaela didn’t see it laying at her feet during the entire challenge.
Sarah also made deals with pretty much everyone and that propelled her to the top. Her best move was when Sierra revealed she had the Legacy Advantage and Sarah immediately knew she had to get Sierra out but had to play it like she had no idea. When Sierra was booted, Sarah pretended to be surprised and it worked, as Sierra willed her the Legacy Advantage, which Sarah used at the final six to save herself.
We saw how good of a player Sarah was on both Game Changers and Winners at War and she’s definitely one of the show’s all-time greats.
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What were your favorite moments from Survivor: Game Changers?