'Survivor: Game Changers' recap: Ciera Eastin and Tony Vlachos voted off "Mana" tribe in epic premiere
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/09/2017
Survivor: Game Changers premiered with two vote offs -- Ciera Eastin and Tony Vlachos -- at two separate Tribal Council sessions during Wednesday night's special two-hour episode on CBS.
After losing Season 34's first Immunity Challenge, the "Mana" tribe voted off Ciera, a 27-year-old from Salem, OR, at the first Tribal Council via a unanimous 9-1 vote. Ciera, who previously played on Survivor: Blood vs. Water and Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, had voted for Michaela Bradshaw to go.
Ciera was blindsided in a vote spearheaded by Malcolm Freberg, who thought the female player spoke strategy too early and was therefore too "gamey" and ruining the tribe's "zen mode" at camp.
Ciera was also talking about immediately voting off either Tony or Caleb Reynolds, whom Malcolm wasn't ready to get rid of just yet.
Ciera was also responsible for solving the puzzle at the Immunity Challenge along with Sandra Diaz-Twine, and the girls couldn't do it fast enough so the tribe lost. Ciera had worked on this puzzle before when she competed on Blood vs. Water with her mother, so everyone was surprised -- including herself -- that she failed.
Jeff Varner told the cameras that Ciera was "slick" and dangerous because in the past, she had flipped flopped, voted her own mother out of the game and forced tie votes.
Going into Tribal Council on Night 3, Ciera assumed everyone was voting for Michaela because she had a "hot streak," according to Aubry Bracco, and Tony called her serious and often angry game approach "scary."
In the second half of the episode, "Mana" also lost the second Immunity Challenge and had to return to Tribal Council, where the tribe voted out Tony, a 43-year-old police officer from Jersey City, NJ.
"I knew coming into the game that I was going to have a target on my back. I was the most viscous player out here and I tried my best to see if I could overcome the reputation that I had in this game, but apparently it got the best of me," Tony said following his ouster.
Tony, who was crowned the champion of Survivor Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty, was sent packing on Night 6 after receiving all votes but two, which belonged to Aubry.
Both Sandra and Tony voted for Aubry, and in Sandra's case, she was just trying to make sure Tony or his loyal ally would go home if one of them had found a hidden Immunity Idol.
Tony and Sandra, a two-time winner, went head to head in attempt to get each other out because they were both huge threats and lost trust in one another. They both wanted to prove themselves as the better player.
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"As of now, Sandra is the queen," Tony continued in his final words.
"She manipulated everybody to believe that I was scheming or scamming or whatever the case may be. She knows what she's doing. She's out here doing it again. I couldn't pull it off. They got me tonight."
Tony entered the game with a big ego and guns blazing. He immediately ran off to look for a hidden Immunity Idol and, similar to his first game, began building a "spy bunker" so he could listen to his tribemates' conversations from in the ground.
Tony played the exact opposite of an under-the-radar game, and once he rubbed Sandra the wrong way, she was convincing enough to rally the troops and get him out early.
Tony's elimination came as a bit of a surprise since the Mana tribe was very focused on maintaining its strength and keeping physically-capable players around to win future challenges after back-to-back losses.
On his way out of the game, Tony and Sandra exchanged some choice phrases.
"Sheep being led to the slaughter," Tony yelled out before Survivor host Jeff Probst snuffed his torch.
"That's what you get for plotting against me," Sandra noted.
"You guys are suckers if you allow that to happen," Tony said to the tribe as a whole.
"That's what you get," Sandra punched back. "Take your ass home. Bye, Tony. Say hi to Ciera for me!"