Sierra Dawn Thomas was one of the biggest question marks heading into Survivor: Game Changers, but how does host Jeff Probst feel about her second time playing?
Sierra was the 12th contestant voted out of Survivor: Game Changers Wednesday night. Becoming the fifth member of the jury and coming in ninth place, she will help decide who wins the $1 million at the end of the season. Having previously competed on Survivor: Worlds Apart, where she came in fifth place, she did slightly worse placement wise but managed to play a more aggressive game than some fans thought her capable.
Survivor: Game Changers saw Sierra aligning with the likes of Brad Culpepper, Troyzan Robertson, Tai Trang, Debbie Wanner, and Sarah Lacina. After the merge, she was seen as the leader of this alliance, helping spearhead the vote to get out Hali Ford and Ozzy Lusth. Things soon fell apart when Sarah flipped on them to get out Debbie, and Sierra did whatever she could to stay in the game. After Sierra revealed that she had the Legacy Advantage to Sarah, she became too much of a threat and was voted out.
Comparatively, Sierra mostly stayed in the shadows in Survivor: Worlds Apart, not flipping on allies like Dan Foley and Rodney Lavoie Jr. even if she didn’t like them personally. She would ultimately be blindsided by her supposed allies just a few days before the end of the game. Jeff Probst spoke with Entertainment Weekly after this week’s episode, discussing the reasoning behind bringing back Sierra for an all-star season and having a sense that she might have some stronger gameplay in her.
“Sierra earned her spot on Game Changers. A lot of people tilted their head when they saw her on the ship on day one. But our thought with Sierra was that she played from a place of caution the first time and we saw that caution evaporating in her first season, but it came too late. So we followed our gut that she might pick up where she left off, and she did. I was very impressed with how she played and that she took control and played aggressively. She played a very solid game and should be proud.”
Sierra being brought back despite an unremarkable original game is in keeping with an age-old Survivor trend. Fans initially questioned why people like Survivor: Australia’s Amber Brkich, Survivor: Cook Islands’ Parvati Shallow, or Survivor: San Juan del Sur’s Kelley Wentworth were brought back for all-star seasons considering they were arguably unmemorable, and all three bolstered their reputations through strong social and strategic gameplay. While Sierra did not reach the heights of Amber, Parvati, or Kelley in her second season, she had more screen time and was at least shown as playing a more active, strategic game.
Probst specifically commended Sierra for making a big move by telling Sarah about her Legacy Advantage, even if it ultimately led to her demise.
“This kind of decision is always criticized by at least half of the audience and I understand the feeling — why would you share that with someone? But having watched people play this game for a long time, it’s a very consistent move and the reasoning is almost always the same — to develop trust… Yes, Sierra’s move backfired. But she made the move. I will say it until you guys vote me off the show: You can’t play this game without making moves. When they work, you’re a genius and when they don’t, you’re usually blindsided — that’s the game.”
Survivor: Game Changers airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
[Featured Image by Robert Voets/CBS]