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‘Survivor: Game Changers’ recap: Fourth time is not the charm

We’re still gutted from of a Tribal Council that saw the deserved ouster of Jeff Varner in return for his revealing Zeke’s secret that he is transgender. We might need to take a few shots of caffeine to get through the next two hours. Yes, two hours. There should be a law.

The next morning we rejoin our intrepid survivors at Nuku, and Zeke is the subject of conversation. Sarah refuses to forgive Jeff for what he did, and Tai still is in tears.

Zeke doesn’t want people to cry and yell, but he was touched by how people responded. Zeke says he’s been strengthened and has been able to get over his fears thanks to “Survivor.”

They all say they now feel united. It’s a happy camp, until the next vote of course.

The two tribes meet at the beach and immediately see a long table loaded with food. They believe it’s a merge feast, but they’re a little nervous because there’s another covered table where Jeff Probst is standing. What could it mean?

Probst explains that it is a merge, but before they do that, one person from each tribe must volunteer to not take part in the feasting. Cruelty thy name is “Survivor.”

If there are no volunteers, the feast goes away and they’ll be left with a cheese and cracker and a swallow of tea each. Brad immediately volunteers for Mana; Tai volunteers for Nuku after Ozzy says he just doesn’t think he can do it.

And now they are merged. Go eat, everyone but Brad and Tai, who will instead be feasting on brownie points. Cirie is suspicious.

While the others eat, Brad and Tai talk about their alliance and who’s in, who’s out and who will be the next to go.

Debbie starts twerking (well, she called it that) and dirty dancing against Cirie. To top off the craziness, she moons Tai. Please, Debbie, people are trying to eat.

Debbie, that superb strategist and mastermind, tells the camera that she never had a drop of alcohol; acting like a drunken idiot was just part of her plan. We don’t know what the plan was because, as we’ve mentioned before, when Debbie talks it triggers something in our heads and all we hear is a buzzing sound.

The merged tribe returns to camp and Debbie still is working it. She gives Brad a big hug and kisses him on the cheek after apologizing . Zeke fills the others in on what happened with Jeff. All are horrified.

Brad and Ozzy talk with Tai, Serra and Zeke, and has everyone agree to vote off Michaela. Sierra really wants her off.

Zeke, however, goes to his other alliance of Cirie, Sarah and Andrea. If Michaela goes, then Brad’s faction could take control. The four of them, Zeke says, need to make some decisions. It’s going to be a blood bath, and the days of pretending everyone gets along are past, he says.

Hali is feeling sort of isolated so she wants to light a fire under Michaela to get her to devise a strategy to help her. Michaela knows that it’s very easy to become a target without even trying, so she decides to talk to Cirie.

Cirie tells her she needs to drop her guard, stop shutting down and stop getting angry. Cirie recognizes herself in Michaela. Michaela trusts Cirie, and she’s excited to work with her. Cirie wants to save her because she knows Michaela will have her back.

Immunity Challenge

Survivors must stand on their toes, on a narrow beam, while forcing a block against a beam above them, using just their heads. Drop your block and you’re out of challenge.

Hali, Troyzan and Zeke drop out in a matter of seconds. Cirie is next, then Debbie, Michaela, Ozzy, Aubry and Brad. After 25 painful minutes, Sarah and Sierra fall out, leaving Tai and Andrea. It is Andrea who outlasts everyone, becoming the first woman to win that challenge and the first player in this game to win individual immunity.

For some reason, Sierra believes she is in control of the tribe. She’s confident on voting off Michaela but she’s worried that Hali has an idol. With absolutely no proof of it, Sierra talks herself into believing that she does, so she wants to split the vote between Hali and Michaela. She thinks Hali will play the idol and knock Michaela out.

Cirie is not really happy with that decision. Neither is Zeke, who dares to question the reasoning for putting all the votes on Michaela instead of Hali. If Hali does have an idol but doesn’t play it, she’s going to be on guard the next time.

Cirie tells Michaela she’s trying to save her and tells her to vote for Zeke, but don’t let anyone know that Cirie told her to.

Tribal Council

Probst asks how insane it is at camp with a tribe of 13 people. Zeke says that it is insanity, and you can’t watch everyone. Debbie says she doesn’t expect to be shocked with the vote tonight.

Hali says she’s in the dark. She feels like she’s in a room where some people have rifles and the others are walking around blindfolded. Someone is going to get shot, but they don’t know who. Michaela agrees.

Probst asks Tai how he decides who to vote for when there are so many. Tai says the vote is not just tonight, but for two or three votes down the line. Ozzy thinks it might be possible to point the vote at someone who has an idol. Debbie blathers on about something.

Hali thinks she might be the one they suspect has an idol, but she says she doesn’t and is willing to strip down and empty out her bag to prove it, but only if they ask her. If they are targeting her, she says, they’re making a mistake. They need to take out the stronger players first, and she is a weak link.

And now it’s time to vote. We get to see Hali vote for Zeke, but Cirie votes for Michaela, saying it’s a move to save her. Huh?

Hali Ford, 26, from San Francisco, California.She was on season 30: White, Blue, No Collar, finished 11th and was a member of the jury. (Robert Voets/CBS)Hali Ford, 26, from San Francisco. (Robert Voets/CBS) 

No idols are played and the votes fall for Zeke, Michaela and Hali, and it is Hali who draws the majority, becoming the first member of the jury. She wishes them well as her torch is snuffed.

The next morning, Michaela is grateful to Cirie, but Cirie says it’s very important that no one knows they are working together. However, Cirie says that at the next Tribal Council, she is letting the dragon out. Watch out Sierra.

Aubry feels like she’s in the middle of a big Italian family war, but she’s fine on being with Team Cirie.

Andrea is ready to take out Sierra or Brad, but she tells Zeke they shouldn’t tell Debbie or Tai. Zeke, however, thinks Cirie and Andrea are the bigger threats and he might just try to get one of them out.

Reward Challenge

The tribe is divided into two teams of six. Two from each team must swim out to retrieve a net of wooden fish and bring it back to shore where two others will untie the fish and put them on hooks. The fish are then carried up to a mat where the remaining two members must use the fish to solve a puzzle. Winning team gets a visit to a luxury spa.

It’s close, but team blue – Ozzy, Tai, Troyzan, Zeke, Debbie and Andrea — pull off the win.

Cirie, who was working to solve the puzzle with Michaela, feels like a failure. The game takes you to deep, painful places, she says. Not being able to solve the puzzle was like not being able to provide for your children. You feel worthless, she says.

Over at the spa place, sponsored by Marshalls (product placement here), everyone is smelling the soaps and shampoos, and taking showers. Tai gets so exciting he decides to streak around the pavilion. He’s just having fun.

Zeke is enjoying himself, but he still is playing the game. He talks to Debbie and Tai about Andrea, telling them that Andrea is trying to cut them out of the next vote. Debbie gives us the rather startling news that the Air Force’s way is to do what you want and apologize later. We somehow don’t think that’s true.

Zeke says a war is about to start and he wants to make it go his way. Debbie says she’s not convinced at all by Zeke. Everyone seems to think they are leading the tribe, or at least their coalitions. We think no one is in charge, and this is all going to end badly.

Immunity Challege

Uh oh, it’s the old “how long can you cling to a pole by your fingers and toes” contest? Us? We wouldn’t even try, but Ozzy has done the challenge twice before, and won both times.

Cirie is out first, followed by Brad, Aubry, Debbie, Zeke, Sierra, Troyzan and Sarah. Michaela, Andrea, Ozzy and Tai hold on the longest. Ozzy announces he’s going to set a new record and Michaela decides that Ozzy will never come down that dang pole and it’s not worth it for her stay any longer.

Andrea drops into the sand from near the top of the pole, leaving Tai and Ozzy. Ozzy says if he wins, he’ll go fishing today. If not, they’ll all go hungry.

The pair has been up there for more than 90 minutes when Ozzy suddenly slides down the pole and out of the challenge. He lies bleeding on the sand and our favorite San Francisco gardener wins immunity.

Brad says people need to choose sides and hope they don’t land on the wrong one. He also predicts it’s going to be a crazy Tribal Council that could shape the rest of the game. Isn’t that  the case every week?

Zeke tells Sierra that she’s on the chopping block, and the news gets back to Cirie who is pretty upset at Zeke’s betrayal, as is the rest of the alliance. So they decide to vote off Zeke. Sierra isn’t sure what to do but Debbie suggests voting off Ozzy.

She then practically shouts the plan to several others, cautioning them not to mention it to anyone so they can blindside Ozzy. Oh they will be game changers, tonight, she says, all thanks to her.

Tribal Council

Ozzy says everyone is trying to play the game like secret agents, seeing danger behind every palm tree. Sarah says it feels like they’re all a bunch of single people trying to hook up, and if anyone wants a date, she’s open.

Ozzy talks about his worth in the game, including his ability to catch fish and keep the tribe fed. Without him, he says, they’d be in trouble. Zeke talks about beating people who know that he knows that they know they can beat him. We’re sure it was a brilliant observation on how to convince the jury to vote for you, but we got lost.

Debbie talks about being in the Air Force Auxilliary and all the important work she does. The people she works with have her back, and the people in the game do not. Cirie says she’s basing her vote on who she thinks she can trust.

Votes are cast, but before Probst can tally, Debbie announces that while on Exile Island, she gave up the basic necessities of life (really?) for an advantage, which is an extra vote and she’s going to make it now. Debbie votes again, no hidden immunity idols are played and the votes fall to Ozzy, Zeke, Aubry and Sierra, but it’s Ozzy — nooooooooo, not Ozzy — who is voted off, becoming the second member of the jury.

Oscar 'Ozzy' Lusth, 34, from Venice, California. On season 13: Cook Islands he was a runner-up. On season 16: Micronesia he finished ninth and was a member of the jury. On season 23: South Pacific he finished fourth and was a member of the jury. (Robert Voets/CBS)Ozzy Lusth, 34, from Venice, California. (Robert Voets/CBS) 

He wishes them good luck in eating and gives them a look of disgust before taking his awesomeness off to Loser Lodge. The fourth time was not the charm.

The most painful part was having to see Debbie’s smirk. There’ll be no living with her now.

Next time: An alliance seems strong, but is it?

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