Oh, my heck! We’re already on episode 3 of Game Changers. And this week Survivor Marquesas runner-up, Neleh Nielson, will give us her thoughts on the episode and I’m once again joined by my Brissy friend, Julian Groneberg!
We wake up to the castaways turning up at Challenge beach and everyone’s shocked at Tony being booted. And just like that, it’s time to #DropYourBuffs!
I heart you, Zeke ❤
Everyone draws random buffs and the tribes are split into three: Mana, Nuku and Tavua, who have to move to a new beach and set up camp from scratch. What a bitch!!
Mana: Debbie, Sierra, Hali, Tai, Brad, Caleb.
Nuku: Michaela, Malcolm, JT, Sandra, Aubry, Varner.
Tavua: Troyzan, Cirie, Andrea, Sarah, Zeke, Ozzy.
Firstly, the love between Tai and Caleb is STRONG. The little Asian guy just wants to mack on him! Talk about a power couple on a different level.
Taileb game is strong.
The swap really helps, in particular, Sandra who has most of her old Mana members on new Nuku, but I really hope she can gain JT’s trust moving forward too. Cirie also has a leg up with Troyzan being the only non-original Nuku castaway on Tavua, though she better watch her back with Ozzy around. As for Mana, the UTR chick Sierra is looking really good, and having a refined Brad on her side doesn’t hurt.
Nuku Tribe. JT shows the others around and Malcolm is speechless at the decor of the camp. As Varner said “there’s balls on the trees!!”. Little did we know, Culpepper was behind it all.
JT decides to take the whole tribe out fishing and Malcolm bends the spear… ya bastard! JT goes back to camp to ‘fetch the plier’, meaning it’s his time to find a hidden idol! I just love how the rest of the tribe are out on the water, stranded, speculating about JT finding an idol. Even Varner is impressed with JT’s move!
Mana tribe. Brad is ready to decorate the Mana camp! Who knew he was an interior designer?! And why did we not see this side of him in Blood v Water? It’s actually adorable, and I’m totally grossed out that I like him this episode. He tries to figure out who will go home next out of the outsiders Caleb or Hali. Brad approaches Tai and of course the little guy wants his man around. Brad wants to break the Koah Rong bond of Caleb, Tai and Debbie which makes complete sense. Tai tells Caleb that he spoke to Brad and they are targeting Hali. On the flip side, Tai doesn’t want to piss off Brad so he’s in a real pickle! Two alpha males fighting for his attention; what a dream for Tai!
Tavua Tribe. Ozzy gets to work on building the shelter, and building trust again with Cirie. Well, hello!! On the otherside of the island, Andrea turns into a 16 year old girl and tries to buddy up with Troyzan. He sees right through her.
Andrea puts on her best bimbo charm for Troyzan.
Troyzan goes off idol-searching while the others are back at camp talking about how they have their eye on him… umm sure. He just found an idol clue in a bottle! And it tells us that the idol is hidden at the next challenge, in the rear corner of the puzzle table. SHIT. The only way he can grab it is pretty much after the challenge is over while everyone is celebrating… if they win! Goodluck, buddy!
Damn, this guy is lucky!!
Nuku Tribe. Sandra spots goats!! JT wants to impress Sandra by catching one… And he does with a baby goat. NOOOOO! D:
Sandra tells the guys not got get too attached to the baby because it’s dinner. I laugh and cry at the same time. They also end up catching the mama goat and as much as I do love meat, you can’t kill them! It’s only been about 7 days in, surely they are not that desperate for food! And they have plenty of Tai’s beloved chickens they could eat anyway. After a tribe deliberation, they decide to let the goats go, and eat one chicken.
Chicken? Goat? Sandra ain’t fussed!
Reward is a tarp for the first winning tribe, second gets to choose out of the remaining rewards in comfort or condiments. A bit of salt and soy sauce would go well with that chicken, Sandra!
All eyes are on Troyzan and whether he can grab the idol! Lucky for him, Cirie and Zeke are two of the best puzzle solvers in the game!
Nuku end up winning immunity and reward first, with Tavua coming in a close second. Then it happens. Troyzan puts on a Emmy Award nominated performance at the puzzle table, bends down and after a few seconds of fondling the table legs, finds and shoves the idol down his pants! Great work, Troyzan!
Making Wentworth proud.
Mana tribe. Hali is worried that she’s going home tonight and knows it’s between her and Caleb. And that he is more of a physical asset than she is. Side note, Hali is my winners pick so I’m freaking out right now.
Fan Favourite Sierra Dawn tells us that she hasn’t even spoken to Hali since Worlds Apart and have no connection whatsoever, but is afraid of the Tai and Caleb relationship. Tai pushes for the others to vote out Hali, while Brad has other plans. He really wants to break this Kaoh Rong bond. Tai rocks up with his Survivor exfoliate; no wonder he is always glowing!
Pre-tribal council ritual.
Caleb tells the tribe how valuable he is for the tribe and to keep them strong he needs to stick around. Hali is very well-spoken and flips everything Caleb said on it’s head saying that what he said makes him a huge threat. This girl is smart and uses her words wisely. I mean, she even had a ‘closing argument’! What’s not to love?! Caleb has no hope now… In the end, I really do think Brad had a lot of pull over this vote, along with Sierra. Them social skills are doing Sierra wonders again! And just like that, Caleb is voted out, not really having the second chance he was hoping for and is voted out in 18th place. On day 9 too, the same day he was medevaced in Kaoh Rong. Damn. Caleb-5, Hali-1.
SURVIVOR JULIAN’S THOUGHTS
After last weeks epic showdown, what a snooze fest we got this week – especially considering we have three new tribe dynamics to consider. The editors definitely did a good job getting me thinking it would be Hali booted, but ultimately I was not sad to see the back of BMC.
I think it primarily came down to the fact that there were three Kaoh Rong players in a tribe of six people, and the perception from the other players that Tai and Caleb would be an inseparable duo was enough for Tai to turn on his former ally. I’ve said it before, but in the modern era of Survivor, strength in challenges really means less and less. Given the frequency of tribe switches and the tendency towards more carnival style games that all players can compete fairly equally, being physically strong isn’t the asset that it once was. And so Caleb was gone and we get to see some of the quirks of Hali a little bit longer. Can I just say how cute her voice is? It’s kind of child-like and doe eyed. Love her to bits.
Since there’s not much strategy to dissect from the episode, lets talk goats. An interesting scene – I really personally didn’t see the problem with eating a goat however like the players maybe not the mother goat. Although had they not caught a mother or baby, I’m still not convinced they would have actually slaughtered and cooked one. Much of this is down to the fact they just aren’t as hungry as they would have been in season 3, and I’m not even sure the producers would allow it. So they chickened out – a pretty easy choice given they had juicy looking chooks to boil just under their noses and not a single Tai Trang or Sia around.
I’m so much more of a fan of the players this season that were less likely to be considered game changers – bar Sandra of course. Troyzan has won me over with his daring idol snatching and is very likeable, Sierra seems to have a great head on her shoulders, and Brad Culpepper is nuanced, calm and so far very impressive. On the flip side I did not shed a tear of Ciera leaving, and I saw all I needed to of Tony. I’m intrigued by how Cirie can wiggle her way into the game, but I’ve already seen most of what I feel I need to see from Ozzy and JT. It’s gonna be interesting to see what the people we consider bona fide game changers can offer differently this season. So far, only Sandra has changed her game with the Tony take-down.
Still, its very early days, and there’s sure to be a lot more posturing and thrills to come.
S34 Episode 3 Q&A w/Neleh Nielson
Neleh Nielson (Dennis), played in Season 4: Survivor Marquesas and was originally cast on the Rotu tribe. Her social abilities and making a power-move at the merge against her old Rotu tribe-mates, along with her strong alliance with Paschal, helped Neleh make it all the way to the Final 2. Neleh narrowly missed out on the million by one vote, with Vecepia winning the title 4-3. This super-Survivor fan is dying to for a second chance and personally I’d love to see her back the show!
LyndzO: Welcome to Reality Ramblings, Neleh! Thanks for joining me on this week’s recap. How are excited are you that we are in our 17th year of Survivor and you are part of the legendary group of players who started this amazing game?
NelehN: 17 years of Survivor. This is amazing! I love it just as much now as the first time I saw it. Playing this game is and will always be in my blood. Our Survivor family is tight. It’s an honour to be a player of this game and so fun to se how it has evolved over the years.
LO: Now, you were on Survivor Marquesas which was filmed in 2001 (aired in 2002), how do you feel about how Survivor has evolved over the years and do you think you could keep up with the fast-paced game it is today?
NN: In the earlier seasons, Survivor had much more of the “Survival” aspects. They showed a lot more of the day to day struggles of Survival. The lack of food, the wear and tear on our bodies. We had far less food and very few food reward challenges. Few comfort items given and never any fishing gear on our season. We wasted away daily. It was brutal.
We really had to pull together as a team to Survive. Rotu never sat down or took a nap. I can’t recall a time anyone took a nap in the first 30 days, They would have been gone! We were all there to play a game for a million dollars; it just didn’t take on such a viscous face. It was done much more under the table. Alliances held stronger longer back then because trust played a bigger factor.
The game now is about the hustle, blindsides, sneaking and finding idols now. All about the relationships and how they need to be manipulated to send players packing. I love it! It’s a different feel then previous seasons and the scenerios and alliances change daily; sometimes minutes. It’s fast paced, whats in it for me and that is exactly how it must be played to win. You win based on your game and your resume. I could absolutely kill it if given a chance to play again. I am an old school player with a new school mindset, It would be a blast! All about the money this time.
LO: What have been your top moments in Survivor, personally or game-wise?
NN: Being the first to overthrow a power alliance in Survivors game history is top of my list. I loved the mind set and game play that went in to doing all of that. The timing of when to execute and watching that unfold was beautiful! I loved Kelly Wentworth’s come back game play. That was beautiful. I love tribals when people are sent home with idols in their pockets or idols are used to save unexpected players last minute. Tribal councils are so much better now!
LO: With the announcement of the Game Changers cast, how excited were you for all the old-school players giving it another shot (eg. Jeff Varner, Sandra, Cirie, Ozzy) versus the new-school players? Was there anyone who you felt shouldn’t be there?
NN: It’s always exciting to see friends play again, but come on!! Spread the love! 3-4 time players? I want to see some fresh meat. Send more of us old school players out that have played once that are chomping at the bit to reinvent our game play and play HARD! Second Chances was sooo good. 3rd and 4th chances? Love them as friends but want new scenery.
LO: How much are you dying for a second chance?
NN: DYING… for real. Would do anything and everything. Naming a tribue NUKU? LOL. Our islands name was NUKU HIVA. Jeff, you are killing me!!
I was 21 when I played! I was so young! I learned from mistakes, the biggest mistake being my final tribal council FAIL! I played the nice card not to hurt feelings. Had I said what I really felt and owned my game from the start, and what I would say now? I would have won our season. I would love to get back out there and play a new school game of Survivor. They wouldn’t see it coming.
LO: We start off the episode with a tribe swap, do you like the split into 3 tribes? And is there anyone who you think benefits from it especially after last weeks big episode?
NN: The tribe swap happened so early. Survivor is ever changing. I like that it keeps people on their toes.
LO: Over at Nuku, JT leaves everyone behind on the raft while he goes searching for the idol. What did you think of this move and does it in anyway hurt his chances of progressing? (The others already know that he’s searching for it!)
NN: The funny thing is that he thought he was so smart by doing that. LOL. SOO obvious!! I do think it is going to hurt him. It was an immature and bone head move. I don’t see him sticking around long. He has lost his the golden boy image that Ozzy still has. I think he is a marked and numbered man.
LO: At the new Mana tribe, can we just talk about how amazing Brad Culpepper is a Survivor shelter interior design? I think we saw a makeshift chandelier! (I also think Monica’s been giving him game tips!)
NN: LOL. What a fancy side to Brad! He is playing the game smart! He is not hot heated as of yet and really getting in touch with his feminine side. I like it! Time will tell as the game moves forward if he can keep his cool go with the flow moves. He is a smart player. I think he has a great shot at manipulating this game! He seems to be building trust and respect right now, but he won’t be afraid to dethrone someone for his personal game. I like him. If he can maintain this for 39 days, I think he will go far.
LO: Also at Mana, Caleb knows he’s on the outs. What do you think of Tai and Caleb’s relationship and the reasons why Tai wants to keep him around? Should people be worried about this duo? And should Tai be worried that he may be seen as a threat with 3 other Kaoh Rong members on this season?
NN: Cute relationship in the fist season, gross this season. Caleb had zero personality this season. SOO boring. I had high hopes for him as far as being a fighter coming back. He seemed so out of his element. This game seems too big for him. I didn’t see anything from him. Tai was smart to let him go. I think Tai will be fine with his tribe.
LO: At the new Tavua tribe, Troyzan finds a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol, which advises that it’s hidden at the next challenge. Were you rooting for Troyzan to find it? And do you think you’d be stealth enough to grab it? (Troyzan put on a great act too when he eventually got it! I was so happy!)
NN: I was rooting for him to find it. I am a big Troyzan fan. I like him as a friend and I love his passion. It was executed beautifully. That is exactly how I would have played that off! The timing worked in his favour and it went seamlessly. I can tell you that if I get to play Survivor again, I will be looking under and over things at challenges knowing things are sometimes hidden there. How awesome would that be to find an idol planted for someone else :)) Can you imagine the uproar?!
LO: Ok, I gotta ask about the goats. I must admit I automatically thought about John (Carroll) and his reaction! Is there ANY Survivor you can think of who would slaughter/eat the goat? (Other than Sandra of course… She seemed pretty keen! The baby was so cute!!)
NN: I bet John flipped his lid. They did the right thing by not eating them. They had chickens!! See, they are spoiled with food now. I can’t think of anyone who would have eaten these goats besides Sandra. Maybe Rupert (if he knew no one would be watching and that no one on TV would ever find out.)
LO: Mana lose the challenge and they’re going to tribal. Who do you think is the bigger threat moving forward, Caleb or Hali, and why? (I thought Hali was very well-spoken at Tribal, plus she’s uber smart.)
NN: She is very smart, but Caleb had to go. He and Tai had to be broken up just incase. She could be much more cunning then Caleb, but I don’t think she has the social game to pull off any big moves.
LP: Brad does an excellent job convincing Tai to vote out Caleb, do you think this was the best move for Tai or is he being easily manipulated again like he was by Aubry in Kaoh Rong? And were you happy with Caleb going home?
NN: Great job, Brad. That was a beautiful execution. That is how you manipulate without putting a target on your back! I was happy with Caleb going home. Yes.
LO: It’s been a long time since you played, but how well do YOU think you would go if you were cast on Game Changers? What approach would you take? Anyone you would align with?
NN: I get along with people and make friends. I read people very well. I know when to speak up and hold back. I would make it deep into the game I am positive. I would be always flexible and people would trust me. I would make moves as needed to get to the end. I see myself in Sarah.
LO: How excited were you to see your friend Sierra nab that Legacy Advantage in the first episode? And do you have a message out there to any of the haters who think she doesn’t deserve to be on Game Changers?
NN: She’s a Utah gal! I love that girl. She has a much bigger personality then showed on her first season. I hope she let’s it show and that she steps up harder to play. We don’t want to see safe Sierra, we want to see scramble and game play-Sierra. She has it in her.
LO: We’re still early days, but which top 3 players do you think have the best chance of making it to the end?
NN: Troyzan, Aubry and Sarah.
LO: And finally, who do YOU want to win this season?
NN: I would love to see Troyzan win.
LO: Thanks for joining Reality Ramblings Neleh, any final words?
NN: I love you girl!!
Follow Neleh on Twitter: @SurvivorNeleh and Instagram: lipstick_by_neleh
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