“Coming into this game I already know I’m a huge threat. I created the spy shack, I found the special idol, I voted out my closest ally, and just when you think you’ve seen it all, you ain’t seen nothing yet” – Tony Vlachos in his opening confessional of Survivor Game Changers.
Today we mourn the loss of one of the greatest legends in Survivor history, out of Survivor Game Changers after just two hours of TV, Tony Vlachos. Coming into this season as perhaps the most notorious player in recent memory, Tony just had a mammoth-sized reputation that was always going to be too much for him to overcome. This above all else was his downfall in season 34 of Survivor.
A Massive Reputation
The biggest factor in Tony’s elimination from the game was without question his ginormous reputation from what he accomplished in Survivor Cagayan. As previously mentioned, he’s the biggest villain, player and character in recent Survivor memory and his name seems to get brought up every single season to describe a dangerous player in the game. Tony was always going to have an uphill battle in this season and the incredible start he made in episode 1 turned out to be just too good to be true. Practically the moment he was caught “looking for the idol”, the scene where he was actually building his spy bunker, the Cagayan contestant was immediately pegged as a schemer and lost the trust of several players, particularly Troyzan. Getting caught “looking for the idol” probably wouldn’t have been as big a deal for most other players, but everyone knows what Tony is capable of when in possession of an idol and that is exactly why all of his tribe-mates were instantly afraid of him.
Going Toe-To-Toe With The Queen
But beyond his past reputation, the Cagayan winner made a couple of minor mistakes in the second half of the premiere that ended up playing a massive role in his ultimate elimination from the game. The first mistake that Tony made was just not going to bed. Tony can never just sit still and while everyone else was sleeping, what was he doing? He was building his spy bunker. Which leads us to Tony’s second mistake: building his spy bunker in general. Of course the fans wanted to see Tony build a Spy Shack 2.0, but for his game, it wasn’t the best thing for him to do, especially not at 4 in the morning. Tony got far too caught up in what I think was an attempt to appeal to the audience and while first building this spy shack in the first half of the episode, got caught by Troyzan who assumed he was looking for the idol. This seemed to instantly make Troyzan wary of the Cagayan man and from there, he was instantly pegged as a schemer again. Tony’s most significant mistake of the premiere however was in scaring Sandra. Sandra was someone Tony was prepared to work closely with but after he busted her conversation with Troyzan, the two-time winner immediately lost trust in him and that is probably what sealed the deal. Sandra is the self-proclaimed Queen of Survivor and with her play in past seasons and this one so far, it’s really hard to deny that. Going toe-to-toe with someone nicknamed The Queen of Survivor, probably wasn’t the best move for him and a better move would have been for him to stick to the alliance he had made with her in the first place (if that was possible).
But that was it! For any other player, a couple of minor mistakes here and there might not have been that detrimental, but with a player with as big of a reputation as Tony Vlachos, after that it was almost like there was nothing else he could do! How many players did we see talk to Tony in the second hour of the episode after the incident with Sandra and Troyzan? Two. Caleb and Malcolm. That’s it, and that’s never a good thing. From this, we have to assume that no one was willing to entertain the idea of keeping Tony around and that only a miracle idol would have been enough to keep in the game.
The Architect of His Demise
When Sandra-Diaz Twine feels threatened, she’s absolutely ruthless. She did it to Coach in Heroes vs. Villains, she did it to Burton in Pearl Islands and Tony is the latest one of her victims this time around. Almost effortlessly, Sandra-Diaz Twine rallied the troops to go against the Cagayan man, including oddly enough people that seemed very open to the idea of working with him in Aubry, Caleb and Malcolm. Tony’s past reputation was the architect of his demise more than any other factor but secondary to that, we have to give all the credit to the one and only Sandra Diaz-Twine.
Pre-Season Thoughts and Predicted Finish
Shot In The Dark Prediction: 11th place.
Thoughts: Oh man. I love Tony and think he is a “top five baby” all time player. But I always said that if Tony were to return to Survivor that he would be the first one out. Now that his return is imminent, I am seriously interested to see how he does and actually don’t think he will be first one out. Although I think that Tony has no shot at winning, I can’t wait to see him try and I know he’ll do everything in his power to make it happen. I’m going to make a bold prediction here and say that Tony finds the idol on the very first day and possibly uses it to avoid being the first one voted off. I really think that the target on Tony’s back is going to be far too big for him to get around and that he will be in trouble very early on but for some reason I am slightly more optimistic over his chances than others. He will be amazing to see back and hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Tony.
Declaring Tony to be our 11th place finisher was a bit of wishful thinking on my part but after a positive start that might not have been totally out of the realm of possibility. I don’t expect you to believe me when I say this but I actually had Tony in 18th right up until a month before the season began. I initially thought that his past reputation would get the best of him, just like it did. But for whatever reason a month before the season I just couldn’t help myself and had to change him to an early merge boot. If there is one thing that I have to reiterate from those pre-season thoughts that sit above, it has to be that very last line. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Tony.
Conclusion & A Tony Sendoff
In short, Tony made a couple of mistakes on route to being eliminated from the game, while targeting Sandra didn’t help his cause, but undoubtedly the biggest factor in him ending up as the 19th place finisher of Survivor Game Changers has to be down to his mammoth-sized reputation from Survivor Cagayan.
Tony Vlachos is one of the greatest characters and players in the history of Survivor. He’s a true Survivor legend. That being said, his play in Survivor Game Changers wasn’t amazing and I think he unfortunately got caught playing up to the audience a little more than he should have been. From a TV perspective, I love everything about what Tony Vlachos brought to Survivor Game Changers and wish he could have stayed longer. Due to the fact that he’s always thinking and can just never ever sit still, Tony is the type of player that deserves to be in the game all the way to the end. But, Survivor isn’t about who deserves it most and Tony was an unfortunate victim of that harsh reality. Tony Vlachos, The Mastermind loves you and I think I speak for everyone when I say I sincerely hope you play the game of Survivor again.