'Survivor: Game Changers' recap: Nuku tribe ousts Sandra Diaz-Twine after tribal swap, John Cochran returns
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/06/2017
Survivor: Game Changers featured another tribal swap and then the new Nuku tribe voted off two-time Survivor winner Sandra Diaz-Twine during Season 34's fifth episode Wednesday night on CBS.
After losing the season's sixth Immunity Challenge in which the two new tribes had to cross monkey bars, pull a heavy sled and solve a barrel puzzle, the Nuku tribe voted off Sandra, a 41-year-old from Fayetteville, NC, through a 5-2 vote at Tribal Council on Night 16. She was the sixth person voted out of the game.
"[Survivor host Jeff Probst] finally got to snuff my torch, but I think I did good for 16 days because I'm a two-time winner," said Sandra, who previously won Survivor: Pearl Islands as well asSurvivor: Heroes vs. Villains.
"I owe a lot to Survivorand I love Survivor and it's in my heart. I don't want to get teary but I know why I live the life that I live, and it's because of Survivor. There will never be another two-time winner except for the queen."
Going into Tribal Council, Sandra had a feeling she was the target although the majority alliance insisted to her and Jeff Varner -- who was also on the outs of the new tribe after the swap -- that they were all voting for Tai Trang because he tends to be an unpredictable flipper, not to mention he's great at finding hidden Immunity Idols. In this episode alone, within a matter of three days in the game, Tai found two idols.
Aubry was especially impressed by Sandra, who orchestrated J.T.'s vote-off as revenge for the Malcolm Freberg vote-off. Aubry acknowledged Sandra was the best player in the game and she could learn a thing or two about Survivor from her. Knowing all this, Aubry felt like she was the next target.
Wearing blue buffs, the following players made up the new Nuku tribe: Tai, Varner, Sandra, Zeke Smith, Sarah Lacina, Andrea Boehlke, and Ozzy Lusth. Sandra and Varner were in the minority since Andrea, Zeke, Sarah and Ozzy were all on Tavua together, and Tai had been on old Nuku with them. However, Sandra and Varner tried to remain optimistic.
Debbie Wanner was noticeably left without a tribe, and Jeff immediately sent her to Exile Island. But much to Debbie's surprise, "exile" turned out to be like a spa day. She got to live on a yacht and gorge on meat, soft drinks, alcohol, dessert, salads, snacks, and wine -- a game changer in her favor.
Debbie was told she could return to the game at the next Tribal Council, where she'll join the tribe who loses a member. Debbie could not be voted out at that Tribal, but she also had no opportunity to bond with her new tribemates.
Debbie later got to meet with former Survivor winner John Cochran, who gave her some great advice in addition to an "Advantage Option." Debbie was allowed to choose between a kit to construct a perfect-looking fake hidden Immunity Idol, an extra vote at Tribal Council, or a tribe-challenge advantage at the next Immunity Challenge. She chose the extra vote because it was the only option with certainty.
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At Mana's camp after the swap, Troyzan was glad to no longer be in a tribe 5-1 on the outs. Brad was only tight with Sierra, but Troyzan played with his wife Monica Culpepper before, so he hoped they'd connect over that. The two guys formed an alliance and Troy hoped to not be "bamboozled again by women."
At Nuku's camp, Zeke and Ozzy discussed taking out Sandra before the merge. They said they couldn't wait any longer because she was so dangerous and strategic. The guys therefore talked about blindsiding her in case there was an idol. The guys then brought Andrea, Sarah and Tai in on the plan.
Andrea said Tai would make for a good decoy since he's known for flipping; however, there was a possibility Tai could become too paranoid and then the plan would blow up in their faces. At this point in the game, Tai found two idols and said he has "tremendous power" because of his options.
On Day 16, Zeke had become friends with Varner and admitted he could be someone to trust and potentially work with going forward. Zeke told Varner to vote for Tai, and Varner sort of bought it, while Sandra did not.
After Mana won the Immunity Challenge, Sandra warned the Nuku tribe about the Survivor: Kaoh Rong three of Debbie, Aubry and Tai, who would be a major threat at the merge. Sandra told her tribe she could protect them as a shield and serve as their eyes and ears. Because she was so convincing and made a great point, Ozzy and Andrea realized it was all the more reason to get rid of her now.
Tai felt he wasn't included in most of the conversations and grew worried. He then spilled the beans to Varner that the tribe was supposedly voting for Sandra. Sandra planned to set Tai up as Public Enemy No. 1 at Tribal Council in order to save herself.
At Tribal Council, Sarah announced that a few names were being tossed around for the vote, which Tai took personally. Tai then whispered to Sandra that she and Varner should vote for Ozzy, but they needed one more person.
Tai announced such a plan to the entire tribe upon Sarah's request, saying he couldn't beat Ozzy in challenges and he's the biggest male threat left in the game. Sandra told Andrea that she and Varner would vote with her, and then Varner said to vote for Tai.
Ozzy and Zeke whispered about changing the vote, and then Varner told Ozzy and Zeke to vote for Tai. Zeke put Tai on the spot, asking whom he really trusted in this game. Zeke said in order to trust Tai, he must trust them in return. With that said, things seemed to shift.
Although Tai had two idols, he decided not to play one at this Tribal Council. In the end, both Sandra and Varner voted for Tai against the majority alliance.
Once Sandra was voted out, she told her tribemates, "I wish you guys luck. It's okay. You guys knock it out."
Jeff told Sandra that he finally got to snuff her torch for the firs time in 94 days. Debbie then joined the Nuku tribe.