Survivor Game Changers

Although sugar played a huge part this Wednesday on Survivor, not everything was so sweet for one contestant. On the heels of last week’s history-making Tribal Council, we were give a heck of a follow-up episode this week, where not only was there not much chaos at Tribal, but someone actually calmly sipped water from a cup as the votes were read…no joke. That’s a bit of a drastic contrast from the craziness we had previously witnessed.

Caution, as spoilers from this week’s episode are to follow! Turn back now! If you want to get caught up, be sure to check out the Episode 4 Recap here.

CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON FOR MORE, AND THIS IS YOUR LAST *SPOILER* WARNING!

The Stakes Have Been Raised

It was only a matter of time after last week before JT Thomas‘ game would come to an early end. The former winner of Survivor: Tocantins (Season 18), JT was the game’s first-ever “perfect game” winner, meaning that he not only won the game, but he won with a unanimous jury vote, and never had a single vote cast against him the entire season. He returned for Heroes vs. Villains (Season 20) as a bona fide hero, but made a terrible error in judgment when he gave an Immunity Idol – wrapped in a hand-written note – to Russell Hantz of the Villains tribe, hoping to stop what he saw as an all-girl alliance forming. That plan backfired horribly when JT was blindsided at the first post-merge Tribal Council…it was the first time he’d seen his name written down as a vote against him and the first time he’d see his torch snuffed (the move was voted on by fans as the “Dumbest Move in Survivor History” at the Heroes vs. Villains Reunion Show).

It unfortunately would not be the last time. JT had the good fortune of winning Immunity the first three times around during Survivor: Game Changers, something he was accustomed to his previous seasons. But when Probst revealed the twist that would send two tribes to the SAME Tribal Council, that’s when the game really changed for JT. After the early tribe-swap, JT was the only original member of the Nuku Tribe to stay on the Nuku Tribe, having been joined by all members of the original Mana Tribe. In an effort to stay aligned with Brad Culpepper, whom he was close with at Nuku, JT got up at Tribal Council and whispered to Brad that his tribe intended to vote for Sierra. This led Tai to use his Idol on Sierra, but instead of Sandra getting voted out like JT had intended, the victim was Malcolm, who, out of all of his new tribe mates, JT had grown the closest with. Just like that, his closest current ally was voted out, his former ally Brad didn’t do what he had hoped, and he was left with a tribe full of players who wanted revenge for his bold, failed attempt.

Dirty Deed

Things began to look up for JT when he located a clue and then a hidden Immunity Idol, the very next morning after his blunder. But he grew over-confident when he was led to believe that the tribe was unanimously targeting Michaela, whom he had grown annoyed with over how she took her coffee (seven drips of coffee and a scoop of sugar, please!). It’s a head-scratcher, but even after JT was in such hot water after last week’s Tribal Council, he didn’t even bring his Idol with him to the next Tribal Council and it ended up being a fatal mistake: Despite being convinced that Michaela was going to have her torch snuffed, Sandra, Michaela, and Varner instead voted out JT, making him the fifth person out of the game. He’s now seen his name written down on three different occasions: When he won Survivor, and now twice when he was voted out.

I had the chance to speak with JT earlier today, the day after his final episode aired. You can listen to the full audio of the interview and podcast below, but here were some highlights from the interview.

Dirty Deed

JT INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

On what he had intended to happen at that crazy Tribal Council last week, where Malcolm was sent home:

JT Thomas: Well I always leave home saying that I can’t be scared to make a move. To really win the game and to make the game yours, you have to do something risky. And unfortunately I had to do it earlier than I wanted to in this game, because I really got a bad draw [with the tribe-swap]. So [the move at Tribal Council] went so completely wrong. Malcolm was my tightest ally, him and Aubry, that I had. So in order to get the numbers at my tribe, I had to get out either Sandra, Varner, or Michaela, to get them either on-board, or out of the game, in order to take control of my own destiny.

The plan was to get rid of Sandra because out of those three, Sandra was definitely calling the shots…we shouldn’t have even been at that Tribal, we should have won the challenge, Malcolm and I were dominating the challenges so he was the last person I wanted to see go home.

But until I did something about the numbers situation, I was going to be on the bottom. My goal was to somehow, someway, get the numbers. I saw this as an opportunity. I had Culpepper as a tight ally, I felt like I could trust him, we started the game together. So here was an opportunity to potentially save someone on his tribe, and in turn, all he has to do is vote for Sandra, who is a huge threat, who needs to go anyway. So my way of thinking was, if Culpepper was going to betray me, he wouldn’t do it yet…I decided in the last minute to try this move, because in my mind, it made all the sense in the world for Culpepper to just honor the deal, because I was helping him out. It didn’t work out, and the last thing I wanted or expected was to have Malcolm voted out.

Dirty Deed

On whether or not it was a mistake to NOT include Malcolm in his plans:

Actually I tried bringing it up to him, but he was against making any moves until he had to. That was Malcolm’s game-play. I tried to find a way to do it without him, because he didn’t want to have any part of it. Instead of asking for permission, I was going to ask for forgiveness, because he wasn’t on-board. Because he was safe, I wasn’t. That was the thing. Regardless if I had the numbers or not, Malcolm was safe. He didn’t want to stir anything up and Aubry was on-board, but the less people I told the less people that could have leaked the plan. So I kept it to myself, and I didn’t know that I was going to do that until that Tribal that night. I said this might be my only chance to get the numbers, and I trusted Culpepper, and I made a judgment call there that bit me in the butt, obviously. I put way too much stock in Culpepper.

On not even bringing his Idol with him to the last Tribal Council:

Oh yeah, right at the end of that Tribal Council before the vote, Michaela just seemed so confident, and she got more and more bitter which showed me how confident she was. It really just made me feel like, oh no, surely not. It was just a bad feeling. And all I could do was just hope for the best. I mean Aubry was blindsided too, she was on-board 100%. I just can’t see the logic behind the decision, but hey, they’re still in the game and I’m not.

For much more from JT, including my full interview, please listen to the latest episode of the FilmSurvivor Podcast below or by clicking here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter – @tomsantilli – and on Facebook, for all of the latest Survivor coverage, interviews, and movie reviews.

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Photo Credit: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment

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