'Survivor: Game Changers' Finale Recap: One Survivor is Crowned the Ultimate Game Changer
'Survivor: Game Changers' Finale Recap: One Survivor is Crowned the Ultimate Game Changer
Gina Pusateri
Gina Pusateri
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
This season of Survivor: Game Changers has consisted of several ups and downs. There were a lot of actual "game changers" voted out before the merge. On the other hand, we got to see some unexpected players emerge with strong games, like Sierra and Sarah. There's also the dark cloud that hangs over the season that was the malicious outing of one of the players. But let's hope things can end on a high note with a deserved winner in the finale "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished."

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Who's the Rat?

It's Aubry, Brad, Cirie, Sarah, Tai and Troyzan as the final six at the beginning of the episode, but half of them need to go home before the final Tribal Council.

It's mass chaos when they get back to the beach after the Michaela vote. Sarah is yelling at Cirie, who tells her she was just trying to use the advantage to save her. But Sarah doesn't believe her and she doesn't know who to trust.

When they're all sitting around the campfire, Sarah asks Tai if he really was trying to get her out and if he really was the rat. Of course, Tai is terrible at lying. He can't just answer a simple, "No." He cops to being the one who threw Sarah's name out there. He even admits to wanting to vote for her. Sarah can't believe it, but at least now Cirie is vindicated because Tai is terrible at Survivor.

Now Tai knows he's in trouble. He didn't lie in his previous season, but he wanted to prove that he deserved to be a called a "Game Changer," so he thought he'd try doing things the way everyone else does it. But now he's been caught and things aren't looking good.

To gain favor with Brad, Tai tells him that he has two idols. Brad doesn't know if he believes Tai; he hasn't trusted him since he voted out Sierra. He might be able to use Tai as a number now though. And Tai has lied to him enough where he doesn't feel bad using the information about Tai's idols to get him out of the game.

A Maze of a Challenge

For immunity, the Survivors have to race through a maze and collect three bags of puzzle pieces. Then they have to use the pieces to solve a puzzle. The first to finish wins immunity and a reward of a nice Italian meal back at camp.

Tai tries to tag along with Brad for the beginning part of the maze, but Brad out-runs him. It's Brad, Aubry, and Cirie who get to the puzzle first. Sarah's last, but she manages to make up a lot of ground on the puzzle. It's Brad and Sarah in the end, and Brad pulls out his third immunity win.

Jeff tells Brad that he can pick two other people to enjoy the reward. Of course he picks his bro Troyzan right away. He has to think about the second choice more, but eventually he goes with Sarah. Probably a wise decision, considering she's the one running the show.

At the reward, Troyzan says he feels safe because of his idol, and of course his buddy is immune. But they have to play it smart if they want to make it to the end. Sarah asks them who they want gone next, and they settle on Aubry.

Back at camp, Brad asks Tai if he wants to go to the end. He says if he does, what he has to do is play an idol tonight, and give Brad the other one to hold onto. Brad comes at Tai in completely the wrong manner (did he even watch Kaoh Rong?!). He's aggressive and threatening, and it completely turns Tai off. Tai wants to stay in the game, but not this way. He's also afraid Brad's going to use that idol to make a fool out of him. Which is exactly Brad's plan. He tells Troyzan that he has Tai in his pocket and they're going to make him burn an idol at this Tribal Council and then he's keeping the idol and voting him out at the next one.

So who does Tai go to when he's being bullied? His old pal Aubry, of course. But if they want to do anything against the Troyzan/Brad/Sarah contingent, they have to pull in Cirie. And Tai doesn't trust Cirie. Cirie does her best to smooth things over with Tai, but Tai is still unsure.

First Tribal Council

Aubry says there was a lot of talking after the last Tribal, but the conclusion was that Tai was the rat. Tai tries to stick up for himself saying that everyone lies in this game, he doesn't know why he should get more heat than anyone else. Sarah says it's because he's not taking responsibility for his lies.

Sarah says there are five people left in the game that are tight, and then there's Tai, who is not on the same page with anybody. Troy says he doesn't think Tai can recover from this at this point in the game, but Cirie isn't so quick to write anyone off.

To the Vote!

Before Jeff reads the vote, Tai plays an idol for himself. Then he plays one for Aubry. Good for him, keeping is pal safe while at the same time standing up to the bully that is Brad Culpepper.

Then Sarah plays her advantage, which is immunity just for this vote. Troyzan sees how things are moving and he shrewdly plays his idol as well.

So if you're doing the math, that means Tai, Aubry, Brad, Sarah, and Troyzan are immune. Which means only one person can legitimately receive votes. And that person is Cirie. Jeff points out that this is the first time in 34 seasons that one person was voted out because there was no other choice. And the irony? Not a single vote in the urn was for Cirie (there were three for Sarah, two for Tai and one for Aubry).

Before she goes, Jeff gives her a moment, which is nice. He tells her that she's played every day with grace and it's been an honor to have her part of the Survivor family. That's sweet of Jeff, who usually doesn't have much to say when snuffing someone's torch. Shoot, that really stinks for Cirie though.

Blow-Out Immunity

For the next immunity challenge, the Survivors have to maneuver a ball through obstacles using paddles. If the ball drops, they have to go back to the beginning. The winner gets a guaranteed spot in the final four.

It's Brad's challenge from the beginning and it's not even close. He wins his fourth challenge, one away from the record of five wins. Great.

Sarah, Troy and Brad agree that it has to be Aubry going home tonight. Troyzan thinks it's an easy vote, but nothing has been easy thus far in the game.

Aubry isn't just going to lay down and die though. She tells Sarah and Tai that if Brad wins another immunity, he's definitely taking Troyzan with him to the finals. So there will only be one spot left for both of them. But if they vote out Troyzan and let Aubry stay instead, there are two spots open in the finals.

Sarah and Tai talk it over. Sarah still doesn't know if she can trust Tai, but she wants to mend fences. Tai admits that he thinks they should vote for Aubry instead of Troyzan. He loves her as a friend, but he knows she's smart and can beat him in the end.

But here comes Brad Culpepper, throwing his weight around once again. He threatens Tai and tells him that he controls the vote, and no matter what, he'll still be here tomorrow so Tai had better do what he says. (How did Brad not learn from his mistake?! This is not the way you talk to Tai!)

Tai tells Sarah that he wants to switch his vote back to Troyzan because of how Brad behaved. Sarah can't believe she's in the middle again. But it's much higher stakes now. She has to decide who she wants to sit with in the end.

Second Tribal Council

Jeff waxes poetic about how good Brad Culpepper is at challenges. We get it. He could win his way to the end. And we're all sooooooooooooo happy about it.

Aubry knows that she's on the block and she lays out her plan of percentages. Tai says she makes a good point and he's taking it into consideration.

Sarah says the most important thing is taking into consideration who you want to sit next to at the end. Jeff asks them all if anyone feels 100 percent confident that they can beat anyone. No one is that confident, except Troyzan. He says he can beat anyone. All right Troyzan, time to come back to earth now.

To the Vote!

Aubry votes for Troyzan and Troyzan votes for Aubry. So does the rest of the tribe. Aubry becomes the next member of the jury. Saved by Tai at one Tribal, and then voted out by him in the next. At least now she gets to experience being on the jury.

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Final Immunity

For a spot in the finals, the survivors have to race through an obstacle course, including a bunch of stairs and a giant slide, collecting bags of puzzle pieces on the way. The first person to get through the course and finish the puzzle, wins the most important immunity of the game.

Sarah and Brad are in the lead after the physical part of the challenge. But the puzzle is the great equalizer. Unfortunately, puzzles are not Sarah's strong suit. Brad wins his fifth immunity, his fourth in a row. Now we get to see a Brad final Tribal Council. Exactly what everyone wanted from Survivor: Game Changers.

Brad says he was prepared mentally that he felt like he was already wearing the necklace. Now who is going home? The one who has done him wrong the most: Tai. Troyzan says they should let Tai down easy and tell him he's going, but Brad doesn't think so. He says this is his island, and he wants to give Tai a glimmer of hope before tearing his world down at Tribal. Sounds like a good plan, I'm sure the jury will love you openly humiliating someone. Including someone whose vote you might need.

Tai suggests to Sarah that they both vote for Troyzan to force a tie. Sarah says it might be a good idea and win points with the jury, but it all depends on who she can trust. Tai gives her some pointers about how to build a fire, just in case, but Sarah doesn't seem completely sold.

Third Tribal Council

Brad says it was an amazing feeling winning immunity. But who do we want to put on the jury? Jeff asks Sarah who he is referring to when he says "we." Sarah says it's obviously Brad and Troyzan are the ones making the decisions and it's her and Tai on the chopping block.

Tai says, yes that's true, but they could join forces and vote together to force a tie. He's giving Sarah the hard sell, and Brad just rolls his eyes. He even berates Tai in front of the jury, telling him that he's the one with all the control. Tai says Brad treats him like a simpleton, and only he can decide his own destiny in this game.

To the Vote!

That's not entirely true. Brad, Troyzan and Sarah all vote for Tai and he becomes the final member of the jury. At least he'll get to sit next to his old friend Aubry. So it's a Troyzan, Brad and Sarah final three.

Going into the finals, Troy is happy with his social game. He says people trusted him and liked him and hopes it will count for something.

Sarah says this is what she's dreamed of since day one. She's made moves that other people were scared to make. She's going to own up to her lies tonight in front of the jury because she rewards honesty and she hopes they'll do the same.

Brad says he's maneuvered his way to controlling his own destiny. He's confident that he can argue his way into a million dollar win tonight.

Final Tribal Council

Before they start things off, Jeff tells them that they're going to switch things up this time to encourage more of an open dialog between the finalists and the jury. He says they'll focus on the three main components of the game: Outwit, outlast and outplay.

Zeke is there for Sarah and thinks she's a badass. But Andrea thinks the way she tromped all over friendships in the game is kind of gross, and she wants Sarah to say something that makes her feel good about voting for her to win.

Sarah says the first time she played, she played like herself and it didn't get her anywhere. So her support system at home gave her permission to do whatever she needed to do to get to the end and that's what she did. She could shut off the more kind and caring part of her personality because she has experience with doing that as a cop. And it's something people respect in real life and she hopes people respect it in the game.

Ozzy and Debbie, on the other hand, are championing for Brad. Ozzy says he knows what it takes to win so many immunities like Brad had to do and he respects that kind of gameplay. Makes sense. Debbie, on the other hand, doesn't make much sense at all. Unfortunately she doesn't have to, because no matter what, she still gets a vote. And it's clearly going to Brad.

Cirie says the reason they targeted Sierra before Brad was because everyone knew she was the brains of the operation. So what did Brad do that wasn't connected to Sierra? He says he built relationships and his biggest move was getting Malcolm out early at that double Tribal Council because he had J.T. in his pocket. Not sure if you want to brag about your biggest move being pre-merge, but okay.

Michaela is confused at why everyone feels so emotionally hurt by Sarah. She says when Sarah used her advantage to get her out, she didn't take it personally because it's all part of the game.

Tai tries to make Brad understand how nasty he can come across, especially in the way he spoke to him and also Michaela. Brad says he was just trying to use his immunity to manipulate Tai. Hali calls him out for actually admitting that he tried to condescend and coerce Tai into doing what he wanted him to do.

Meanwhile, no one's really addressing Troyzan. They know he was dragged along by Brad, and he all but admits it. He says "they" made the decisions, not "me" or "I," which Cirie points out. Bye Troyzan, you're not getting any votes. Sorry boutcha.

Before they wrap things up, everyone gets another opportunity to speak. Brad says he didn't deceive and lie to win. He let people come to him and built relationships and won immunity to get him here.

Sarah says in this game you have to strike first, and Sarah's sitting there right now with these two goobers because she thought she could beat them. That's not the case for everyone else on the jury. She wants them to appreciate how hard she worked to be a step ahead of everyone in this game. She's had the training and the ability to adapt and it's saved her life in her job and it's saved her life in this game.

Troyzan has enough dignity to step down. He says he appreciates everyone there being part of his dream, which is nice. They give him a round of a applause. They probably respect him more doing that than they would have had he said anything else.

To the Final Vote!

Ozzy and Debbie vote for Brad, obviously. Brad gets one more vote, but the rest come in for Officer Sarah. Congrats to Sarah for being the winner of Survivor: Game Changers. And probably even being a better player than Tony was in her original season, but we'll let the history books decide that one!

What did you think of the season? Was Sarah a deserving winner? What about the new format for the final Tribal Council? Let us know in the comments.

Look for Survivor Season 35 to return in the Fall of 2017. And like our Survivor Facebook page for more news and updates.

(Image courtesy of CBS)