Survivor: Game Changers
|Survivor: Game Changers|
|Presented by||Jeff Probst|
|No. of episodes||13|
|No. of days||39|
|No. of castaways||20|
|Location(s)||Mamanuca Islands, Fiji|
|Filming dates||June 6– July 14, 2016|
|Original release||March 8– May 24, 2017|
|Preceded by||Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X|
|Followed by||Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers|
Survivor: Game Changers — Mamanuca Islands is the 34th season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor, featuring 20 returning castaways. The season premiered on March 8, 2017 with a two-hour airing, marking the series' 500th episode, and ended on May 24, 2017, when Sarah Lacina was named the winner over Brad Culpepper and Troy "Troyzan" Robertson in a 7–3–0 vote.
This season was the third to film in Fiji after Survivor: Fiji and Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. It was the fourth season to feature entirely returning players, following Survivor: All-Stars, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, and Survivor: Cambodia and was the 11th season overall to feature returning players.
This season introduced several alterations to the game format. The process for resolving a tied vote was changed for this season, removing the second ballot where only non-tied castaways were allowed to vote between the tied castaways and proceeding directly to the procedure to resolve a deadlocked tie: an open deliberation between non-tied voters. The rest of the process remained the same. The format of the Final Tribal Council, in which jurors individually addressed the finalists by delivering a statement or asking questions, was changed to a moderated discussion between the finalists and jurors.
According to host Jeff Probst, this season featured former contestants from the show that were considered "game changers"—those whose strategies and risky moves either affected, or would have significantly affected, how their season played out. Probst stated that in preceding seasons, "we’ve had so many new players that were good players, and the game has continued to escalate in terms of the level of gameplay that it suddenly became apparent that we actually have a lot of great game players." Producers also sought out applicable contestants from earlier seasons in order to ensure balanced representation of players from throughout the program's history.
Probst also pointed out that Game Changers was being cast even while the 33rd season, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, was still filming. Because of this, two of the 20 slots for Game Changers were reserved for Season 33 players, in case producers wanted to ask any of them back. If no one from that season were deemed suitable, producers had two earlier players in mind for the final two spots. Worlds Apart co-runner-up Carolyn Rivera was one of the players considered for this season's cast, but she was cut by producers at the last moment. Her spot was given to Michaela Bradshaw. San Juan del Sur winner Natalie Anderson was originally cast on the season as well, but she ultimately had to back out shortly before filming began due to medical reasons. Her spot on the cast was filled on short notice by Worlds Apart contestant Sierra Dawn Thomas. Jonathan Penner from Cook Islands, Micronesia and Philippines was considered, but he was cut from the final cast, and Earl Cole, winner of Survivor: Fiji was also offered a spot, but he declined.
27, Salem, Oregon
Blood vs. Water & Cambodia
|Mana||1st voted out|
42, Jersey City, New Jersey
|Mana||2nd voted out|
28, Hopkinsville, Kentucky
|Mana||Mana||3rd voted out|
29, Hermosa Beach, California
Philippines & Caramoan
|Mana||Nuku||4th voted out|
|James "J.T." Thomas, Jr.
31, Mobile, Alabama
Tocantins & Heroes vs. Villains
|Nuku||Nuku||5th voted out|
41, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Pearl Islands & Heroes vs. Villains
|Mana||Nuku||Nuku||6th voted out|
50, High Point, North Carolina
The Australian Outback & Cambodia
|Mana||Nuku||Nuku||7th voted out|
26, Knoxville, Tennessee
|Mana||Mana||Mana||Maku Maku||8th voted out|
1st jury member
|Oscar "Ozzy" Lusth
34, Venice, California
Cook Islands, Micronesia & South Pacific
|Nuku||Tavua||Nuku||9th voted out|
2nd jury member
51, Reading, Pennsylvania
|Nuku||Mana||Nuku[a]||10th voted out|
3rd jury member
28, Brooklyn, New York
Millennials vs. Gen X
|Nuku||Tavua||Nuku||11th voted out|
4th jury member
|Sierra Dawn Thomas
29, Roy, Utah
|Nuku||Mana||Mana||12th voted out|
5th jury member
27, New York City, New York
Redemption Island & Caramoan
|Nuku||Tavua||Nuku||13th voted out|
6th jury member
25, Fort Worth, Texas
Millennials vs. Gen X
|Mana||Nuku||Mana||14th voted out|
7th jury member
45, Norwalk, Connecticut
Panama, Micronesia & Heroes vs. Villains
8th jury member
30, Cambridge, Massachusetts
|Mana||Nuku||Mana||15th voted out|
9th jury member
52, San Francisco, California
|Nuku||Mana||Nuku||16th voted out|
10th jury member
|Troy "Troyzan" Robertson
54, Miami, Florida
47, Tampa, Florida
Blood vs. Water
32, Marion, Iowa
- Debbie was initially exiled after not drawing a buff during the second tribe swap. She joined the tribe that lost the next Immunity Challenge, Nuku, directly after their Tribal Council.
- After all other remaining castaways became immune — Brad by winning the immunity challenge; Aubry, Tai and Troyzan by playing hidden immunity idols; and Sarah by playing the legacy advantage — Cirie was eliminated by default.
The 20 returning players were initially divided into two tribes: Mana and Nuku. Nuku fared way better in challenges; throughout two tribe switches, original tribal lines held strong and the Nuku members were able to eliminate most of the Mana tribe.
When the tribes merged, two main factions emerged: an alliance led by Sierra and Brad and one led by Andrea and Cirie, with Sarah navigating between the two groups to eliminate members from each. Though she settled with Cirie and Andrea's group to decimate the other alliance, she later betrayed them to align with Brad and his last remaining ally, Troyzan; the three then used a series of immunities and advantages to secure the majority and reach the end of the game together.
At the Final Tribal Council, Troyzan was overlooked by the jury for being Brad's follower throughout the game, and went on to receive no votes to win. Sarah was commended for her strategic control and social flexibility but criticized for manipulating personal relations for strategic gain, while Brad was lauded for his challenge prowess but condemned for his condescending attitude. Ultimately, the jury awarded Sarah the title of Sole Survivor with seven votes to Brad's three.
|Episode title||Original air date||Challenge winner(s)||Eliminated||Finish|
|"The Stakes Have Been Raised"||March 8, 2017||Nuku||Ciera||1st voted out|
|Nuku||Tony||2nd voted out|
|"Survivor Jackpot"||March 15, 2017||Nuku||Caleb||3rd voted out|
|"The Tables Have Turned"||March 22, 2017||Nuku||Tavua[a]||Malcolm||4th voted out|
|"Dirty Deed"||March 29, 2017||Tavua||Mana||J.T.||5th voted out|
|"Vote Early, Vote Often"||April 5, 2017||None[b]||Debbie[c]||Sandra||6th voted out|
|"What Happened on Exile, Stays on Exile"||April 12, 2017||Nuku||Mana||Jeff||7th voted out|
|"There's a New Sheriff in Town"||April 19, 2017||None[d]||Andrea||Hali||8th voted out|
1st jury member
|Tai||Ozzy||9th voted out|
2nd jury member
|"A Line Drawn in Concrete"||April 26, 2017||Andrea,
|Troyzan||Debbie||10th voted out|
3rd jury member
|"Reinventing How This Game Is Played"||May 3, 2017||Andrea,
|Andrea||Zeke||11th voted out|
4th jury member
|"It Is Not a High Without a Low"||May 10, 2017||Andrea,
|Brad||Sierra||12th voted out|
5th jury member
|"Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow"||May 17, 2017||None||Aubry||Andrea||13th voted out|
6th jury member
|Brad||Michaela||14th voted out|
7th jury member
|"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"||May 24, 2017||Brad
8th jury member
|None||Brad||Aubry||15th voted out|
9th jury member
|Brad||Tai||16th voted out|
10th jury member
- Only one tribe won the immunity challenge, sending the other two tribes to Tribal Council together to eliminate a single player.
- There was no reward challenge due to the tribe switch.
- Debbie was exiled after drawing a package containing no buff during the second tribe switch. She joined the tribe that lost the next Immunity Challenge, Nuku, directly after their Tribal Council.
- There was no reward challenge due to the merge.
- The winner of the challenge also received reward.
- After all other remaining castaways became immune — Brad by winning the immunity challenge; Aubry, Tai and Troyzan by playing hidden immunity idols; and Sarah by playing the legacy advantage — Cirie was eliminated by default.
|Original air date||US viewers|
|500||1||"The Stakes Have Been Raised"||Recap||1.7/6||March 8, 2017||7.64||15|
As the game began, the 20 contestants were divided into two tribes, Mana and Nuku.
Ozzy won the kit for Nuku. During the scramble, Sierra found an envelope. At the Nuku camp, she learned that she had found a "legacy advantage," which would give her immunity when either thirteen or six castaways remained; if she were voted out before then, she would privately will it to someone else following her elimination. Cirie worried that Ozzy, who she had betrayed on Survivor: Micronesia, would target her out of revenge, which he did. At Mana, Tony immediately declared that he was going to look for a hidden immunity idol, which caused his tribe to distrust him. Ciera discussed getting rid of Tony or Caleb, his closest ally, but only earned the ire of her tribemates for strategizing too much.
Nuku won the challenge. At camp, Mana targeted Ciera for her strategizing but told her the target was Michaela. Michaela was angry after finding out she was the decoy target, which caused some of her tribemates to reconsider their plans, but at Tribal Council, the tribe stayed united and voted Ciera out unanimously.
After Tribal Council, Tony and Sandra — the tribe's only winners — discussed how no one else would let a former winner win this season, and agreed to align, forming an alliance with Aubry, Caleb and Malcolm. However, Tony later overheard Sandra talking with Troyzan, and believed she was targeting him. At Nuku, Cirie tried to recruit allies against Ozzy.
Nuku won the challenge. Back at camp, Tony and Sandra campaigned against the other — Tony argued that Sandra needed to go for her poor challenge performances and status as the only two-time winner, while Sandra argued that Tony's inability to remain calm made others paranoid. Ultimately, the tribe sided with Sandra and Tony was voted out.
|501||2||"Survivor Jackpot"||Recap||1.7/7||March 15, 2017||7.87||11|
The day after Tony's elimination, the castaways were redistributed into three tribes: Brad, Caleb, Debbie, Hali, Sierra and Tai formed the Mana tribe; Aubry, Jeff, J.T., Malcolm, Michaela, and Sandra formed the Nuku tribe; and Andrea, Cirie, Ozzy, Sarah, Troyzan and Zeke formed the Tavua tribe, having to build a new shelter from scratch.
All three new tribes were divided by original tribal lines, putting Hali and Caleb in the minority on Mana, J.T. on the outs of Nuku and Troyzan on the outs of Tavua. On Mana, Caleb reunited with Kaôh Rōng ally Tai, who tried to bring Caleb into his majority alliance. On Nuku, J.T. stranded his new tribemates out on the ocean while on a snorkeling trip in order to look for a hidden immunity idol, but failed to find it. At Tavua, Troyzan discovered a clue to his tribe's hidden immunity idol, which was planted at the next immunity challenge.
Nuku and Tavua won the challenge, and Troyzan retrieved the hidden immunity idol while his tribe celebrated. At Mana, Tai tried to convince his alliance to target Hali over Caleb, but Brad warned Tai that keeping Caleb in the game would only strengthen the perception of Caleb and Tai as a strong pair, making them larger targets come the merge. At Tribal Council, Tai decided to stay loyal to his alliance, and joined his tribemates in sending Caleb out of the game.
|502||3||"The Tables Have Turned"||Recap||1.7/7||March 22, 2017||8.10||10|
After eliminating Caleb, the Mana tribe's majority alliance confirmed their plans to vote out Hali next.
J.T. and Malcolm won the challenge for Nuku, Brad and Tai placed second for Mana, while Ozzy and Troyzan lost for Tavua. At the Tavua camp, Ozzy continued to provide food for his tribe, while Troyzan was further outcast for losing the challenge. On Nuku, J.T. bonded with Malcolm, and tried convincing him to target Sandra next.
Tavua won the challenge, sending Mana and Nuku to a Joint Tribal Council, where they would go to vote out someone together. At Nuku, Sandra wanted to vote out Sierra for being Mana's strongest female competitor, while J.T. tried to target Tai for his perceived sneakiness. The Mana tribe debated between voting out either Sandra or Malcolm. The Mana tribe had one fewer member than Nuku, but Tai found his tribe's hidden immunity idol shortly before Tribal Council, promising his tribemates he would use it that night to counter their numerical disadvantage.
At Tribal Council, both tribes attempted to realign with original tribemates Hali and J.T., who attempted to convince their former tribemates to target Brad and Sandra, respectively. J.T. quietly told Brad that Nuku's target was Sierra, in hopes that it would allow the Mana tribe to save her with their hidden immunity idol and eliminate Sandra. However, though Brad convinced Tai to play his idol on Sierra, negating the six votes against her, the Mana tribe targeted Malcolm instead, eliminating him from the game. As the tribes left Tribal Council, Michaela blamed J.T. for Malcolm's elimination.
|503||4||"Dirty Deed"||Recap||1.8/7||March 29, 2017||8.26||15|
After Malcolm's elimination, J.T. tried to defend his actions at Tribal Council; however, his tribemates continued to distrust him. This prompted J.T. to search for the hidden immunity idol, which he found.
Tavua placed first while Nuku placed second, as Debbie's struggles on the balance beam caused Mana to lose the challenge. At Tavua, Sarah aligned with outsider Troyzan. At Mana, Debbie was furious over her poor performance in the challenge, and lashed out at Brad, labeling him the tribe's dictator. Tai later found a clue to the tribe's new hidden immunity idol. At Nuku, J.T. and Michaela squabbled over the latter's consumption of the sugar they had previously won. In order to keep the two fighting, Sandra ate the rest of the sugar, causing J.T. to accuse Michaela of the act.
Mana placed first and Tavua placed second. At the Nuku camp, J.T. and Michaela targeted each other; Aubry sided with J.T., but Sandra teamed up with Michaela out of revenge for Malcolm's elimination. Both sides lobbied for Jeff's vote, but he ultimately chose to vote against J.T., who chose not to bring his hidden immunity idol to Tribal Council and was eliminated from the game. After J.T.'s elimination, Sandra confessed to eating the sugar.
|504||5||"Vote Early, Vote Often"||Recap||1.7/7||April 5, 2017||8.40||14|
At Mana, Tai deciphered his idol clue and discovered the hidden immunity idol underneath the water well. Later that day, the castaways were redistributed into two tribes by random draw: Aubry, Brad, Cirie, Hali, Michaela, Sierra, and Troyzan formed the new Mana tribe; Andrea, Jeff, Ozzy, Sandra, Sarah, Tai, and Zeke formed the new Nuku tribe; and Debbie was exiled for drawing the empty parcel, to later join the tribe that lost the next immunity challenge following their Tribal Council.
On Mana, lone men Brad and Troyzan bonded, and Brad pledged to bring Troyzan into his alliance with Sierra. On Nuku, Jeff and Sandra were outsiders for being the only original Mana members. Though Zeke had bonded with Jeff, Zeke led the original Nuku alliance into claiming that they were against Tai in order to avoid Jeff and Sandra from scrambling, allowing them to take the latter out. Living at a new camp, Tai instinctively decided to check for a hidden immunity idol underneath the well, which he then found. Debbie was exiled to a yacht, where she enjoyed a feast and was joined by Survivor: Caramoan winner John Cochran, who gave her game advice. At the conclusion of his visit, he gave Debbie a choice between three advantages: a kit to construct a fake hidden immunity idol, an extra vote at any Tribal Council of her choice, and an advantage for her tribe at her next immunity challenge. She chose the extra vote as her advantage.
Mana won the challenge. Back at camp, Jeff was confident that Tai was going home, but Sandra was skeptical, and campaigned against Tai for his original season bond with Aubry and Debbie. Though her tribemates agreed with her points, they still planned to eliminate her that night. However, Tai accidentally told Jeff that Sandra was the target, which made the others anxious. At Tribal Council, Sandra took advantage of Tai's paranoia, leading to Tai openly telling his tribemates to target Ozzy for being a physical threat, causing a huge argument between Tai and Zeke over Tai's unpredictability. Jeff and Sandra retaliated by telling their tribemates to vote out Tai for being untrustworthy. However, when the votes were read, the original Nuku tribe stayed loyal and sent Sandra out of the game, voting her out for the first time after 94 days of cumulative play over three seasons. Debbie then joined the Nuku tribe.
|505||6||"What Happened on Exile, Stays on Exile"||Recap||1.7/7||April 12, 2017||8.31||8|
At Nuku, Debbie joined her new tribe while Jeff planned on trying to convince everyone to get rid of Ozzy for being a physical threat come the merge.
Nuku won the challenge. Following their loss, the Mana tribe members tearfully discussed the emotional toll of the game — Brad discussed his newfound empathy towards the experiences of his wife Monica, who played the game in One World and Blood vs. Water, which later prompted Aubry and Cirie to approach Brad about aligning, putting Hali and Michaela on the outs of the tribe. At Nuku, Jeff began making his moves against Ozzy, recruiting both Sarah and Zeke. Zeke apologized for leaving Jeff out of the Sandra vote and promised to be honest with him moving forward, with plans of reaching the Final Tribal Council together.
Mana won the challenge after deciphering the word "METAMORPHOSIS". At Nuku, Jeff tried to convince Zeke again to get rid of Ozzy but Zeke was conflicted due to his strategy of keeping larger targets in the game as shields. Zeke's hesitance caused Jeff to believe that Zeke and Ozzy had a secret alliance, which he exposed to the other tribe members, causing them to question their loyalties. At Tribal Council, a desperate Jeff outed Zeke as a transgender man, and tried to insinuate that Zeke's hiding this aspect of his life showed an ability to be deceitful. However, everyone else—including host Jeff Probst—quickly and emphatically rebuked Jeff Varner for this tactic. After a long discussion, Varner apologized, and expressed shame and remorse for what he had done. Seeing that Varner's actions would clearly lead to his elimination, Probst took an open roll call from all of the players, then had Varner eliminated without a formal vote.
|506||7||"There's a New Sheriff in Town"||Recap||1.7/7||April 19, 2017||7.92||11|
The day after Jeff Varner's elimination, host Jeff Probst announced that the tribes were merging; however, before the celebratory feast, the players were told that one player from Mana and Nuku had to sit out or else the tribe members would receive only crackers and iced tea. Brad volunteered for Mana and Tai volunteered for Nuku, and the tribes were merged. While their tribemates feasted, Brad and Tai reconnected and affirmed their alliance, with Brad targeting Hali and Michaela, outsiders from the third Mana tribe. Debbie later apologized to Brad for her earlier outburst against him, and they realigned.
Though the rest of the tribe agreed to target Hali and Michaela, two smaller factions emerged within the majority: Brad and Sierra's alliance with Debbie, Tai and Troyzan, who wanted to eliminate Michaela; and Cirie's alliance with Andrea and Zeke, who wanted to eliminate Hali. Cirie began mentoring Michaela in order to reduce the latter's target, and the two discussed becoming the first pair of African-American women to reach the final Tribal Council.
Andrea won the challenge. Back at camp, Sierra believed that Hali had a hidden immunity idol, and conspired to split the votes between her and Michaela. However, Cirie and Zeke worked to change the target from Michaela to Hali in order to save Michaela. Ultimately, Cirie's plan won out and Hali was eliminated, becoming the first member of the jury.
The next morning, Cirie and Michaela solidified their alliance, and Cirie tried to rally Aubry, Andrea, Michaela, Ozzy, Sarah, and Zeke together against Brad and Sierra. However, Zeke felt like he had become a subordinate to Andrea and Cirie, and considered betraying them.
Andrea, Debbie, Ozzy, Tai, Troyzan and Zeke won the challenge. While at the spa, Zeke began lobbying against Andrea and Cirie, but Debbie was skeptical.
Tai outlasted Ozzy to win immunity. Back at camp, Zeke told Sierra that she was being targeted by Cirie's alliance. Sierra told Cirie that Zeke told her about their plans, which prompted Cirie to target Zeke. However, Debbie decided to target Ozzy instead for his strength in challenges, and she rallied Brad, Sierra, Sarah, Tai, and Troyzan together. Sarah found herself caught between Debbie's and Cirie's factions; at Tribal Council, Sarah sided with Debbie, who used her extra vote to ensure Ozzy's elimination.
|507||8||"A Line Drawn in Concrete"||Recap||1.8/7||April 26, 2017||8.49||9|
After Ozzy's elimination, Debbie planned to stay strong with her alliance with Brad, Sarah, Sierra, Tai, and Troyzan. Andrea confronted Zeke about his betrayal, but Sarah later talked to Zeke about working together.
Michaela was not chosen to compete. Andrea, Aubry, Brad, Debbie, and Sierra won the challenge after Cirie struggled on the balance beam; after the challenge, everyone encouraged Cirie to complete the balance beam, which she did. As the losing castaways were leaving the challenge, Sarah spotted an advantage by the sit-out bench that Michaela had failed to notice, and retrieved it without being spotted. Back at camp, she learned that the advantage gave her the ability to steal another player's vote at any Tribal Council until the final five, prohibiting them from voting while allowing her to vote twice. On the reward, Andrea campaigned against Zeke while at camp, Cirie encouraged Sarah to flip on the majority alliance.
Troyzan won immunity. Back at camp, the majority alliance decided to target Andrea for being a strategic threat. However, Sarah felt excluded from the decision, and conspired with Zeke to overthrow the majority, though she later reconsidered after Sierra proposed a final three deal with Sarah and Debbie. Debbie instructed Aubry to vote against Michaela, and told Aubry that Sarah didn't trust her in order to gain Aubry's trust. However, Aubry told the others, including Sarah, about Debbie's comments, which made Sarah consider voting Debbie out for her volatility. At Tribal Council, Sarah decided to flip on the majority alliance, joining the others in sending Debbie to the jury.
|508||9||"Reinventing How This Game Is Played"||Recap||1.8/8||May 3, 2017||8.26||12|
After Debbie's elimination, Sarah admitted to flipping on Brad and Sierra's alliance, while the new majority alliance made Sierra their next target.
Andrea, Aubry, Brad, Sarah and Zeke won the challenge. On the reward, Brad and Zeke bonded, which made the others suspicious, especially an already-wary Andrea. Back at camp, Andrea and Cirie discussed betraying Zeke, though Sarah disagreed; to secure Cirie's trust, Sarah told Cirie about her vote-stealing advantage. Zeke later made a long-term alliance with Brad and Troyzan.
Andrea won immunity; safe from Tribal Council, Andrea plotted to eliminate Zeke that night, though Michaela and Sarah were skeptical of giving the other alliance a chance to regain the majority. At Tribal Council, the minority alliance voted against each other to avoid elimination, but the majority alliance betrayed Zeke, sending him to the jury.
|509||10||"It Is Not a High Without a Low"||Recap||1.7/7||May 10, 2017||8.30||11|
Returning from Tribal Council, Tai — having been voted against by his allies Brad, Sierra and Troyzan — was recruited into the majority alliance by Cirie; the alliance decided to break up the pair of Brad and Sierra at the next Tribal Council. The following morning, Sierra told Sarah about her legacy advantage in an attempt to gain her trust. Before the reward challenge, the castaways were joined by their loved ones: Sarah's husband, Wyatt; Andrea's mother, Linda; Aubry's sister, Kerry; Sierra's father, Dan; Michaela's mother, Candy; Troyzan's brother, Todd; Tai's boyfriend, Mark; Brad's wife, One World and Blood vs. Water castaway, Monica; and Cirie's son, Jared.
The team of Andrea, Aubry, and Brad won the challenge and chose Cirie and her son and Sarah and her husband to accompany them on the barbecue. Back at camp, Michaela expressed disappointment at not being able to enjoy the reward with her alliance and spent the time connecting with Tai. The two later formed a pact with Sierra and Troyzan to align with Brad and target Andrea.
Brad won immunity. The majority alliance decided to target Sierra, while the minority planned to vote against Andrea; both sides tried to convince Michaela and Tai to vote with them. In order to convince Michaela and Tai to vote against Sierra, Sarah told them about Sierra's legacy advantage. At Tribal Council, Tai and Michaela voted with the majority alliance to send Sierra to the jury. While Sierra was leaving, Sarah feigned surprise in order to convince Sierra that she hadn't voted against her; Sarah's ruse worked, and Sierra privately willed her the legacy advantage.
|510||11||"Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow"||Recap||1.7/7||May 17, 2017||8.27||8|
After Tribal Council, Andrea and Cirie were suspicious of Sarah's reaction after Sierra's elimination. The next morning, Sarah found the legacy advantage that Sierra had left her.
Aubry won the challenge in six minutes. Back at camp, she tried to rally her allies against Brad, but Andrea tried convincing Aubry to go against Sarah instead. Cirie, wanting to keep Sarah in the game as a bigger target than herself, talked to Sarah about betraying Andrea that night. At Tribal Council, Andrea and Aubry voted against Brad, but Cirie, Michaela and Sarah voted with the minority alliance of Brad, Tai and Troyzan to send Andrea to the jury.
An emotional Aubry, left out of the plan to eliminate Andrea, was consoled by Tai, but Cirie noted that Tai's ability to emotionally connect with others could be threatening.
Brad won the challenge. Back at camp, Tai told Aubry he wanted to target Sarah, but Aubry relayed Tai's plan to Cirie, who later told Sarah. Sarah, skeptical about Tai's betrayal, gave Cirie her vote stealer as a sign of trust, which Cirie promised to return to Sarah after that night's Tribal Council. However, Cirie considered using it to save Sarah and eliminate Tai. At Tribal Council, Cirie tried to use the vote stealer to steal Sarah's vote with the intention of voting against Tai twice, but Sarah revealed that the advantage was non-transferable; following some final strategic discussions, Sarah decided to steal Tai's vote instead, and teamed up with Brad and Troyzan to eliminate Cirie's closest ally, Michaela.
|511||12||"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"||Recap||1.9/8||May 24, 2017||8.48||6|
After the chaotic Tribal Council, Tai felt as if he had lost all his allies; in an attempt to regroup, he told Brad about his two hidden immunity idols. Brad still felt betrayed after Tai eliminated Brad's closest ally, Sierra, and tried to strongarm Tai into giving him one of his hidden immunity idols, with the intention of eliminating Tai with five players remaining.
Brad won the challenge and chose to share his reward with Troyzan and Sarah. During their feast, they conspired to split the votes between Aubry and Tai in case of Tai's hidden immunity idols. Tai, put off by Brad's attitude, told Aubry about his idols and promised to play one on her that night to ensure her loyalty; the two teamed up with Cirie to counter the alliance on the reward. At Tribal Council, Aubry, Cirie, and Tai voted against Sarah while Brad, Sarah and Troyzan split their votes against Aubry and Tai. Tai played his idols on himself and Aubry, while Sarah played her immunity-granting legacy advantage, which prompted Troyzan to play his hidden immunity idol. As Cirie was the only player left without immunity, she was automatically eliminated despite receiving no votes against her.
Brad won the challenge. Brad and Troyzan decided to target Aubry for being more threatening than Tai at the final Tribal Council, while Aubry targeted Troyzan as Brad's closest ally. At Tribal Council, Sarah and Tai decided to vote against Aubry, sending her to the jury.
Brad won the challenge to earn his fifth and final individual immunity. Out of revenge against Tai's betrayal, Brad and Troyzan planned to vote against him, while Tai tried to convince Sarah to force a tie against Troyzan, believing that either of them could beat him in the resulting fire-making tiebreaker challenge. At Tribal Council, Sarah sided with Brad and Troyzan, and Tai became the tenth and final member of the jury.
The next night, the finalists and jurors convened for the final Tribal Council. Unlike previous seasons, in which jurors addressed the finalists individually with a prepared statement or question, host Jeff Probst led a moderated discussion divided into the game's three major components: "Outwit", "Outplay" and "Outlast". During the discussion, Sarah was commended for her strategic and social control but condemned for manipulating social connections for strategic gain; Brad was applauded for his leadership throughout the game but criticized for arrogance and being in the minority alliance throughout most of the game; and Troyzan was regarded as Brad's follower throughout the game, and paid little attention from the jury.
|512||13||"Reunion"||N/A||1.3/5||May 24, 2017||5.84||15|
|At the live reunion show, it was revealed Sarah won the title of Sole Survivor and $1,000,000 with votes from seven jurors — Hali, Zeke, Andrea, Michaela, Cirie, Aubry and Tai — while Brad placed second with Ozzy, Debbie and Sierra's votes, and Troyzan placed third with no votes.|
|Original tribes||First swap||Second swap||Merged tribe|
- On Day 11, a joint Tribal Council was held where two tribes voted together to eliminate one castaway.
- Tai played a hidden immunity idol on Sierra, therefore six votes against her were not counted.
- Following an open and oral poll of his tribemates, in which they confirmed they would all vote for him, Jeff was eliminated without a formal vote.
- Debbie played her extra vote, therefore thirteen votes were cast in total.
- Sarah played the legacy advantage, and Tai played hidden immunity idols on himself and Aubry, therefore three votes against Sarah, two votes against Tai and one vote against Aubry did not count, and there were no counted ballots. As Brad had won the immunity challenge and Troyzan had played an idol on himself, Cirie was the only player non-immune, and was eliminated by default.
- Sarah used her vote stealer on Tai, therefore Tai was ineligible to vote whereas Sarah cast two ballots.
- Debbie was exiled after drawing a package containing no buff during the second tribe switch. She joined the tribe that lost the next Immunity Challenge, Nuku, after their Tribal Council.
Survivor: Game Changers was met with generally mixed reception. Daniel Fienerg of The Hollywood Reporter gave the season and the finale a mixed review, criticizing the season's confusing direction, saying the season "was pretty good for me for a long time and then it started becoming increasingly confusing, both in terms of in-game momentum and the editing, which relied excessively on misdirection that actually left viewers unable to understand several big votes. Then 90 percent of Wednesday's season finale was infuriating for me, with one frustrating vote after another seemingly leading to a result that I was prepared to be irritated by." He did, however, applaud the winner, saying "The correct person was victorious. And a Survivor season ending up with the "right" winner, or a winner whose path to victory I could see and endorse goes a long way toward me making my peace with a season."
Editor of Entertainment Weekly, Dalton Ross, was critical of the season, believing that the final four were "not nearly as engaging or exciting a group as one that would have included any number of people who got voted out early" but still believed that "the right person won." He also noted "there were simply too many immunities and advantages in the game" which became imminent in the tribal council where contestant Cirie Fields was eliminated. "It was almost too much and demonstrates how Game Changers was more about crazy events than solid character arcs."
The incident where Jeff Varner outed fellow contestant Zeke Smith as transgender was covered by various news outlets, with fans heavily criticizing Varner's actions. Varner explained himself following the episode's airing and expressed regret for his actions, but was subsequently fired from his job due to the negative publicity over his outing of Smith. According to The New York Times, between the episode's taping and airing, CBS and the producers of Survivor worked with Smith as well as the advocacy group GLAAD to determine how best to handle the episode. CBS's handling of the incident, including its decision to broadcast, drew mixed response. Ira Madison III of MTV News argued that the episode was "irresponsible" because it put "Varner's words on air" without "actively repudiating them," explaining that while Varner was chastised for his actions his words went unchallenged. In a column for Slate Magazine, however, David Canfield praised the show's handling of a politically sensitive topic: "It’s safe to say that never before in popular culture had a large American audience been guided into witnessing such forceful, persuasive, and (seemingly) unprompted advocacy for the trans community...With fundamental trans rights still a point of debate in standard political discourse, the collective rejection of anti-trans bigotry [sic] that Survivor put on display is major."
The March 8 premiere episode "The Stakes Have Been Raised" faced the smallest viewer audience in the show's history, watched by only 7.643 million viewers and receiving just a 1.7/8 rating/share in the critical 18–49 demographic. While ratings were substantially down from the Survivor: Kaôh Rōng and Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X premieres in February and September the year prior, the series still ranked first in its timeslot, but tied with ABC's The Goldbergs for the 18-49 demo. The series also managed to edge out ABC's Modern Family for total viewership, ranking first but placing second within the demo for the night.
U.S. Nielsen ratings
|Episode||Air date||Time slot (EST)||Rating/share
|500||1||"The Stakes Have Been Raised"||March 8, 2017||Wednesdays
|501||2||"Survivor Jackpot"||March 15, 2017||1.73/9||7.866|
|502||3||"The Tables Have Turned"||March 22, 2017||1.73/7||8.101|
|503||4||"Dirty Deed"||March 29, 2017||1.76/8||8.260|
|504||5||"Vote Early, Vote Often"||April 5, 2017||1.73/8||8.398|
|505||6||"What Happened on Exile, Stays on Exile"||April 12, 2017||1.74/7||8.314|
|506||7||"There's a New Sheriff in Town"||April 19, 2017||1.71/7||7.918|
|507||8||"A Line Drawn in Concrete"||April 26, 2017||1.75/7||8.493|
|508||9||"Reinventing How This Game Is Played"||May 3, 2017||1.8/7||8.258|
|509||10||"It Is Not a High Without a Low"||May 10, 2017||1.74/6||8.3|
|510||11||"Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow"||May 17, 2017||1.73/7||8.273|
|511||12||"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"||May 24, 2017||1.85/7||8.478|
|512||13||"Reunion"||May 24, 2017||10:00 p.m.||1.27/8||5.843|
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