QUICK NOTE: XFINITY.com is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. During the season we’ll have insightful weekly Power Rankings, exit interviews, and full episode recaps. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.
The Rules: Each week our two combatants will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the players will earn. For example, if Michaela is voted out this episode, Adam will receive eleven points and Gordon will receive eight points. At the end of the season, the person with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Game Changers” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.
Last Week: Adam Klein had Sandra in spot twelve. I had her in spot fifteen. The current score is now Team Adam 50, Team Gordon 51.
Quick Note: Rankings are not based on who the player thinks is most likely to win. The smart strategy is to rank the contestants based on who is the most likely to be voted out in the next episode.
Adam’s Score = 50
Any questions for Adam? Drop him a line on Twitter: @AdamScottKlein
Gordon’s Score = 51
Any questions for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes
|1. Troyzan: As the merge nears, I am going to not only evaluate who is likely to go home in this episode, but also what the edit is telling us about who are key players to watch out for post-merge.
Troyzan's idol keeps him on the top of my list, but more important is what happened in the last episode. While we had a great 'swan song' exit episode for Queen Sandra over on Nuku, literally the only piece of content we got from Mana was the budding alliance of Troyzan and Brad. According to the producers and editors, that is the only storyline that was important enough to follow on that tribe. Also, in the preview and in the commercial, all of the strategic content is focused on Mana. No one has been named as a potential target on Nuku, so my bet is on all of Nuku remaining safe into the merge.
|1. Troyzan: Ah…Tavua…we hardly knew ya. (Sorry about that.) And thumbs up to Troyzan for managing to weather that storm with his idol in his pocket. Add that to the fact that he won’t be the main target if New-New-Mana goes to Tribal and you have any easy pick for the top of this list.|
|2. Brad: The Troyzan/Brad scene was seriously hitting us over the head with the fact that they want to work with each other. They both had multiple confessionals about it. Why? This is a pair that matters. With original Nuku in the vast majority, Brad seems like he’s in a great position to slaughter Sandra’s army and run all the way to the finish line.||2. Zeke: Queenslayer! I am bummed that Tony, Malcolm, and Sandra are gone. But, kudos to Zeke for getting rid of one of the most dangerous players in the history of the game. That being said, I’m not sure if he can continue to play the happy-go-lucky super fan card anymore.|
|3. Sierra: It’s clear that Sierra is in just as good with Troy and Brad as either of them are with each other, but this story isn’t been told from her perspective, as the Troy/Brad scene indicates. With only 4 confessionals so far in 6 episodes (despite having the legacy advantage and getting an idol played on her), Sierra is a supporting character for Brad as far as the edit is concerned.||3. Brad: Bro, you want to be my bro, bro? Fist bump.|
|4. Andrea: Andrea jumps up massively in my rankings after the last episode. The only hint at her exit was from Troyzan, and now that they are separated, my fears of Troyzan idoling her out have been (at least for the moment) put on hold. She also finds herself solidly in the majority on Nuku and no one has any reason to come after her. However, like Sierra, Andrea has had only 4 confessionals, less than anyone else, and doesn’t appear to be a key character in the story of the season.||4. Sierra: Looks like we’re in for another round of the Sierra and Brad Show. My question is; who would you rather sit next to at the end? The loud guy who has a history of rubbing people the wrong way or the subtle woman who has the doesn’t-actually-do-anything reputation?|
|5. Sarah: “Silent assassin.” “Playing this game like a criminal.” “I know how to lie to these people.” Now she’s “irate.” So far, Sarah has been allowed by the edit to talk a big game, without us actually having the chance to see it. They have been teasing us for weeks that Sarah’s big move is coming – could this finally be the week? Possibly. But until we see something big from Sarah, she should be safe.||5. Andrea: Tai bringing up Ozzy’s name at Tribal is not something Ozzy is going to forget anytime soon. That’s good for you. If your alliance does split, you’ll get to decide which way to go.|
|6. Debbie: Debbie lucked into an advantage, safety from Tribal Council, a chance to work through her game with a former winner, a feast, a break from the stress of the game, and finally a tribe filled with her former tribe mates with bigger fish to fry. Debbie is supposed to be great at balance, but it sure seems like she’s either the ultimate champion or the ultimate victim. This week, the scales tip in her favor.||6. Sarah: I feel like you are just itching to do something right now and there is no need. You’ve got a case of Tony-itis. You have a super-clear path to the merge. Just keep your social game up and wait for your chance to make the move that gets you to the end with the people you want.|
|7. Zeke: Zeke was given editorial credit for playing Sandra and Varner and taking out the best player in the history of the game. That’s no small feat. This was exactly the kind of episode that Zeke needed in order to have a shot at the title, but it also puts his neck out as a bigger target moving forward. If Varner is going to blame anyone for Sandra’s exit, it’s probably Zeke. Still, it seems that Ozzy is a bigger alternative target according to the preview, so he should be able to make the merge.||7. Debbie: An all-expenses-paid dinner date with Cochran? Instead of “Exile” they should have just called it “Heaven.” Seriously though, John is right. (I’ve known him long enough to call him “John.”) You need to mend that fence with Culpepper ASAP. That whole affair was ugly and may have soured that entire tribe against you.|
|8. Tai: I have seen so much hate on Tai’s gameplay this season, but the results speak for themselves. The man has survived three Tribal Councils, found three idols, played one successfully, and solidified a solid alliance with Brad, Sierra, and Debbie. He got heat for his actions at the last tribal, but he had good reasons to be worried, and correctly felt like his former tribe mates were throwing his name around. At home most of us were thinking Tai needed to play an idol, but he knew better. His tribe does seem to suspect that he has an idol, so they will be hesitant to go after him until they can split the votes. Long term, I am worried about the perception of Tai from both the players and the audience. I know what that’s like. But my game (and my edit) showed that a player like Tai, who looks paranoid on the edit but is actually playing a solid game, can benefit from low expectations.||8. Michaela: I just have a hunch that the Old-Nuku, New-One-Worlds-Apart alliance is going to pick Michaela over Aubry or Cirie.|
|9. Cirie: Cirie is a huge question mark moving forward for me. She hasn’t had to go to Tribal Council yet, so it would be helpful to know what she’s thinking, but we didn’t get her take on her new tribe. Not a great sign. While she hasn’t received enough focus to make a Cirie win a real possibility, I think her potential swing position on this tribe will allow her to at least make the jury. But with fewer and fewer original Mana left in the game, Cirie will be forced back into a dynamic of mostly original Nuku, which left her feeling on the outs early on.||9. Hali: I do not care how much you deny it; I think you and Sierra are still a thing. Fortunately for you, the people she’s currently working with need numbers.|
|10. Hali: According to secret scenes, Hali did a decent job of at least giving her previous Mana tribe some indication that she might stick with them, although the relationship is tenuous at best. Brad described it as “cat and mouse” and although he didn’t love that this was the case, he called Hali his “number 2” when first looking at the new Mana. Hali herself says she’s in good with both her original Mana members as well as Brad and Sierra, so she should be able to play both sides long enough to last until the merge.||10. Tai: People with thirty idols should be on the top of this list, Tai! I’m sorry, but you’re game is too erratic. I wouldn’t be surprised if you traded those idols for a handful of magic beans.|
|11. Michaela: We have no idea who would have been on the chopping block from the edit had Mana lost, but my guess is that it may have been Michaela, in order to weaken Sandra. Now that Sandra is out, Michaela’s threat level diminishes somewhat. At the same time, there seem to be fewer and fewer people around that are connected to Michaela, so she is going to need to move quickly to create new and strong relationships when the merge hits.||11. Ozzy: Aligning with Tai is like carrying a coffee cup that is filled to the brim. You know it’s a bad idea, but you convince yourself that if you’re slow and steady enough you can make it work. At this point, Ozzy should be scared to death of how close he came to getting burned last week.|
|12. Aubry: Poor Aubry just cannot seem to find her footing in these tribes. She could not keep the peace between Tony and Sandra at original Mana, was kept in the dark by her original tribe mates when they voted out JT, and now seems to be on a tribe where no one needs her vote. I’m sure she would be happy to flip on Mana, but Brad and Sierra seem to be more likely to use the votes of others, like Troyzan, Hali, and/or Cirie. If Mana does go to tribal council, I don’t see anyone going to bat to save Aubry just before the merge.||12. Aubry: Aubry needed that tribe swap the most. There was no way Michaela, Varner, and Sandra were going to turn on each other at that point. But now, you’ve got Brad and Troyzan as an alliance with Sierra…and possibly Hali. It seems like a mess. Maybe there will be a third swap…|
|13. Ozzy: There are a couple ways Ozzy could end up going home. One way is that Varner could join the others in targeting Tai, and Tai could idol out Ozzy, but that seems unlikely because they seem to suspect that Tai has an idol and would be very wary of targeting him. The other possibility is that Sarah could flip to Varner with Tai and someone else (Zeke has expressed interest in working with Varner and Sarah can be seen talking to Andrea in the preview), finally making the Big Move(™) that has been teased for weeks. The previews could also just be a red herring, as Ozzy seems pretty well insulated on Nuku, but regardless, there is no question that the target on his back is getting bigger and bigger as the merge approaches.||13. Varner: Whatever went down at last week’s Tribal was bad news for Varner. Tai was comfortable enough to not play one of his thirty idols. Which means, Varner is the low man on the totem pole. His best bet is to encourage another Debbie meltdown.|
|14. Varner: This game has been all about numbers: original Mana vs. original Nuku, and I don’t see that changing right before the merge. No one on original Nuku seems to want to strike first blood, so they just continue to cripple original Mana. Varner’s only real hope is that others want to take out Ozzy before he reaches the merge and can start taking down individual immunities.||14. Cirie: Has Cirie had a solid alliance yet? It’s hard to know seeing as she’s never been to Tribal Council. She was safe at Tavua because Ozzy needed her. But, I don’t think anyone needs her right now. She’s better hope for more challenge puzzle miracles.|
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes