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Survivor recap: Can ex-Buc Brad Culpepper make it to the end zone?

Watching  ex-Buccaneer Brad Culpepper at the end of  Wednesday night's penultimate episode of Survivor: Game Changers all I can hear in my head is ESPN's Chris Berman. "Culpepper's got the immunity ... He's headed to the finale!... And the final 6! ... He ... could ... go ... all...  the.... way!"

But really, could he? Will people who have starved and scraped and fought for more than a month on a desert island award $1 million to a prominent lawyer and ex-NFL star?

It's been a much different season so far for the Tampa lawyer who was famously flipped off and cursed out ("Eff-you Brad Culpepper!") the last time he played Survivor: Blood vs. Water in 2013 with his wife, Monica. He was portrayed as the ruler of a dude-ocracy that pushed the little ladies aside.

Culpepper has insisted that was never true and fans have come around this season.

But first, let’s look at how he again escaped two Tribal Councils in this double elimination episode with little more than a glancing blow and whiffed tackles.

They got right into the first Immunity Challenge, a house-of-cards style stacking challenge that looked extremely tough to pull off. Considering all the falling stacks, it was. Aubry Bracco showed remarkable focus and finished her tower in a record 6 minutes.

Without immunity, Culpepper’s name comes up and Michaela Bradshaw goes into the jungle to look for him to make sure he isn’t rooting around for hidden idols. “I just want the dude to go fishing so we can eat,” she tells her group.

She does indeed find him rooting around in the bushes, clearly trying to find a hidden treasure or two and tries get him to stop looking for an idol.  Instead of diplomatically suggesting he could show how important he is as a provider by rustling up some grub she bluntly tells him, “Go fish.”

While that probably is good advice, the way she says it sounds more like a  diva placing an order, Culpepper says later. And I know this from our interview last week back in Tampa: Culpepper found the whole process of gathering food a huge expense in energy with little pay-off for him as the game went on,  Especially after his fellow fish hauler Ozzy Lusth was voted out. Culpepper said he’d spend hours getting maybe 10 fish and would only eat 1 or 2 himself so he started cutting back on all that gathering as the game went on, finding it too much effort with very little reward.

It’s no surprise that besides Culpepper, the player people are going after is Andrea Boehkle, who made the apparently fatal mistake of going after Sarah Lacina, the MVP of this season who keeps making masterful moves by shifting alliances.

And then it’s on to the next Immunity Challenge, this time a combination of water obstacles to release a key that unlocks puzzle pieces. Culpepper wins it, a crucial reward that takes him to next week’s finale in the final six.

But first we get another wacky Tribal Council, this time because Cirie Fields didn’t read the fine print and didn’t realize the vote-stealing advantage of Sarah’s was non-transferable. As in, she can have it, but she can’t use it. Oops.

And did anyone else notice the irony that this vote-stealing advantage was the very treasure that Michaela failed to see when she was sitting right on top of it earlier this season? Sharp-eyed Sarah saw it after grumpy Michaela stormed off. Then, the advantage gets used to vote her out last night.

Going into the finale it looks like Sarah is back with her old alliance, voting with Brad and Troyzan Robertson to evict Michaela. They also teamed up to get rid of Andrea earlier.

Like so many crazy Tribal Councils this season, this one also had a load of last-second whispering and blindsides in the final votes. What will be interesting in the finale will be whether the jury will be impressed by game play and reward the best strategist, which would probably be Sarah. Or will they be so bitter over being blindsided that they will reward someone who is likable? That could be Culpepper or Cirie, if either of them make it to the finals.

Next week: It’s the season finale so we’ll be getting some of those famous gauzy (and ususally way-too-long) Survivor flashbacks and memories of fallen comrades in a two-hour episode, followed by a reunion special at 10 p.m. on CBS.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 18, 2017 12:35am]

    

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