Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette: Sierra Dawn Thomas

We now conclude Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette, where the authors of this site were randomly assigned contestants from the upcoming season of Survivor: Game Changers and had to give an honest assessment of what to expect from them. We finish- as we must- with Game Changing Fan Favorite Sierra Dawn Thomas.

Wow, I cannot believe Survivor was lucky enough to get GCFFSDT back on the show. Remember when she voted out her mom?!? That was amazing! Who could believe that? Probst wouldn’t stop talking about it! Or how about when she arranged for that 3-2-1 vote? Unbelievably cunning! Or when SDT won? TWICE?!? What about Cops R Us? That was pretty cool. What about all the different chyrons the show used for her? Man I loved that joke!

Remember when she should have won Kaoh Rong? Or when she was beasting challenges in Millennials vs Gen X? Or when she sat on the idol to prevent Malcolm from getting it? Or when she was all excited about ‘Merica? What about when she had that showdown with David in Millennials vs Gen X?  Remember when she said, “Hold up, bro?” I loved that! Remember when she teamed up with Fishbach and bossed Tocantins? What about when her high-wire act led to one of the most exciting wins ever in Cagayan? Or when she told people to burn the idol clues? Pretty clever! Or her whirlwind of activity in the first four episodes of Cambodia? What about all those challenges she won in Cook Islands? Or how she almost died during a challenge? Or when Sia gave her money for saving a chicken? Or when she was present and ineffectual in the face of Kim’s overwhelming awesomeness?

Remember GCFFSDT? Of course you do! I am just glad Survivor remembered her to bring her back. Thank god she possessed that most necessary ingredient in returning contestants: availability.

Best-case scenario

Now that I got that out of me, let’s get serious for a second. Some people would have you believe that Sierra can win. She cannot. And here’s why: Because she could not win Worlds Apart.

I know what you’re thinking: “She totally could have won Worlds Apart if not for Mike!” Except that is not even remotely true. Remember, the first person her Blue Collar alliance turned on was her. Not Dan, not Rodney, not even Will or Carolyn (who weren’t originally in Blue Collar), but Sierra.

Sure, she might have been better at challenges than Dan, Will, and Rodney. Almost everyone was. But she didn’t demonstrate any appreciable difference in challenge skill between her and Carolyn. And more than that, do we really believe that even if she gets to the end (which, remember, would require an immunity run once all her allies turned on her because she was at the bottom), do we really know that she was actually liked and respected?

So what is her best case? Another invisible exit at 6. She isn’t good enough at challenges to go on a run, and she didn’t prove to have enough of a social game to get herself off the bottom of her own alliance of awful people.

Ron Howard narrator: “They were not”.

Worst-case scenario

She goes home first. She had no time to pre-game, she has no alliances, and she is the new face on the island. The same thing happened with Candice in Blood vs Water, a last-minute replacement on that season. It makes for an easy consensus first vote, and honestly I think it is rather likely once people realize that tall does not necessarily equal athletic.

Can’t teach height, though.

Most likely scenario

She lasts until she is no longer useful. If she winds up in a minority alliance early, I can see her going home super early (like I said, maybe first). But more likely, she is an anonymous pre-merge boot. She’ll get on the wrong side of numbers, but the majority alliance will be scared to go at their real target.

Literally changing the game.

Read the rest!

Other Game Changers preseason contestant content:

Follow me


Matt has an irrational dislike for all contestants named Michel(l)e. Also if he ever takes a strong stance about why everyone else is wrong, it is he that is inevitably wrong.

Favorite seasons: Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains, Palau, Philippines, Pearl Islands, Cagayan
Follow me

148 thoughts on “Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette: Sierra Dawn Thomas

  1. I think people might target her off the bat, but there are definitely bigger fish to fry on her tribe. And while we didn’t see a *ton* of Big Movez the last time she played, that wasn’t really for lack of trying. Mostly, no one else wanted to play with her, and the first big move was probably booting her. But if she can be useful in challenges and around camp (note: she can) and go along to get along until the swap, she could be set up to coast to the merge. From there, it’s more iffy because we’ve seen that her post merge strategy can’t get her to FTC. But I wouldn’t bet against anyone willing to vote out their own mom.

    1. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying by other people but was indeed for lack of trying by Sierra. I can kind of see the logic – why give up her current alliance to be on the bottom of the other – but she was certainly the Monica of post-merge World’s Apart in terms of flirting with flipping then not doing it

    2. Matt instructed me to read this again. Bravo sir.

      I am both embarrassed and honoured to have fallen into your trap.

  2. This is worth the wait, particularly the Ron Howard narration part and the way that you managed to be almost enthusiastic about every other contestant (there’s Troyzan!) All the snark surrounding FFGGSDT somewhat eases the pain of her replacing Natalie Anderson. Somewhat.

    I haven’t been around these parts long enough to be sure but my only worry is that your certainty that she cannot win bodes well for her chances.

    Also in honor of the true game changer, wanted to share the drinking game I proposed to our Hornpuffcorn Violinjets league: drink (whisky, tea, water, whatever!) whenever somebody on your team is described as a game changer but everybody chug if FFSDT is described in relation to game changing.

  3. “Or when she was present and ineffectual in the face of Kim’s overwhelming awesomeness?” I mean, she was partially that

    I hope she at least outlasts Water Felon and He Who Must Not Be Named because that would be my favourite double boot combo for tonight

  4. Okay I’m gonna actually do some defense of Sierra Dawn Thomas at the end of Worlds Apart here (through probably the worst 4 episode stretch of the show since…I dunno, pre-merge Caramoan?)

    “Remember, the first person her Blue Collar alliance turned on was her. Not Dan, not Rodney, not even Will or Carolyn (who weren’t originally in Blue Collar), but Sierra.”
    First off, this is a false statement. The first person the Blue Collar alliance turned on was Carolyn. And that included Sierra. The Dan vote was 5-2, with the 5 votes being a Double D(an), Rodney, Will and Sierra. The two votes for Dan were Mike and Carolyn.

    Which brings us to the Final 5, where Mike being there has completely screwed everything up for Sierra and her game. Because we have a clear pair in Rodney and Will, and with Mike winning the next person Sierra wants to go for is Rodney, because she knows if Rodney makes it to Final 4, he and Will are going to vote together. And Carolyn knows that too. So Mike becomes the kingmaker in this, whoever Mike wants gone here, as the immune swing vote is going to go. Mike knows that his only shot at this point is to win the last immunity, so the person he’s going to want to take down is the person who’s most likely to beat him. That’s Sierra, because Sierra is athletic and has puzzle skills. Carolyn has won immunities because she can hold onto things for a long time, but Mike knows that’s probably not going to be the final immunity. So Mike at this point can basically tell Rodney and Will who to vote for, because with Sierra and Carolyn targeting Rodney, that’s the only chance they have. The vote ends up 4-1 because Carolyn still needs Mike and doesn’t want to vote against him.

    Did Sierra miscalculate? Yes, she should have gone to Rodney and Will and been like “still Carolyn, right? – you need me to beat Mike in the Final Immunity” But Mike still being in the game epically screwed up Sierra’s plans and her position at the end of that game.

    Sierra is a better player than you are giving her credit for by a lot, and you just have to listen to any cast member on Worlds Apart talk about her to be able to recognize that.

    (Yes, yes I’m back to championing bland-ass Survivors)

    1. Shirin, if I remember correctly also said that she had a great social game. And I think that in that Final 6, the only people who would beat her are Rodney and Mike. While I don’t think that she has what it takes to win this season, she definetely isn’t as bad as some say she is. I don’t think that I will be rooting for her but still.

        1. Also, let’s keep in mind that she may mean that in a relative sense. Because compared to Carolyn, Rodney, Will, and Dan, I’m sure Sierra seemed much more tolerable.

        2. I’m also not sure that Shirin is the best person to listen to for social game advice.

    2. Also, Matt made a mistake in including Carolyn as a blue collar.

      From her original tribe: Sierra was the other half of the split vote to get rid of Lindsay. Then she was put in her place by Dan and Mike after that vote.

      From there, she was on the bottom of the blue collars and stayed there. Mike moved himself out of that group. Kelly and Dan were idolled out. But she never moved up. In fact, she fell behind Will.

      So her big master strategy was to hang around, being mildly pleasant to people, and hope that she gets enough breaks and immunity wins to make the finals… where maybe she wins? Note: this could win. It’s basically exactly what Michele did. It doesn’t make it a great strategy. “Sometimes shit happens” is not something worth discussing.

      Also note: you’ll never convince me that she beats Rodney in the finals.

      1. Also people forget that Carolyn after they tried and failed to vote her out, was welcomed back by Rodney with open arms and was openly talking to Rodney and company about how they needed to get out Mike. There is a reason everyone votes for Sierra

          1. I think we as fans drastically overestimate how disliked Rodney was. I think he largely amused people.

          2. I don’t think Rodney was loathed personally (even Jenn was amused by Rodney), but FTC votes are about the voter more than the finalist. And I think there’s a fair chance that the dominant question in a Sierra-Rodney-Will final 3 is “will a misogynist ass- even an amusing misogynist ass- win?” That’s a framing that has real appeal to Hali/Jenn/Shirin/Joe/Mike, because it lets them feel smugly noble by voting for Sierra.

            Now, I ultimately think Rodney takes it, in part because Rodney is SOOOO much better at telling a story than Sierra.

            But I don’t think Sierra was drawing dead against Rod.

          3. Maybe. But I think both Joe and Mike (especially Joe) were open to social pressure from Hali/Jenn/Shirin.

            Again, I don’t think both vote Sierra (specifically, I don’t think Mike votes Sierra). But there are enough variables that I also don’t think we can treat Rodney over Sierra as a certainty in the same way we can treat Mike over Sierra as a certainty.

          4. I don’t think the misogyny would have bothered Mike, but he and Shirin clearly had a bond, and I think the degree to which he found people culpable in her ostracism would have affected his vote.

          5. Plus Rodney actually put together and ran alliances. As much as I dislike him, he did make moves. Rodney would not have taken her. The only way she gets there with Rodney is if she wins immunity. (I doubt Carolyn, Will or Dan would have either, and I only think she could beat the latter 2. Carolyn might have been close.)

          6. A Rodney’s winners edit would have been quite interesting I think. I imagine it would have been Boston Rob-esque, since they seemed to like that theme

          7. That’s what I mean, plus they either would have had to either show less of Dan and Will’s misogyny or put some space between him and them

          8. I think it’s obvious that Rodney was well-liked. I think that if I were on the Worlds Apart jury and he was a finalist, I would have had probing questions about why he thought it was a good idea to taunt Shirin right after she got voted out, but I would have considered voting for him.

        1. Not so fast. In a F3 of Rodney, Sierra, and Will, Rodney gets Dan, Carolyn, and Mike’s votes; Sierra gets Hali, Jenn, and Shirin’s votes. So the question is how Kelly, Joe, and Tyler vote.

          1. I think Joe votes as a block with Jenn and Hali, but Tyler goes Rodney.

            Which means we really could have had our first tie at a FTC, between Sierra and Rodney.

            And then probably Will gets to decide who wins.


          2. A revote with the third-place finisher added to the jury would make a kind of sense, but it would still be awful. I’d rather have a coin flip or fire be the tie-breaker.

          3. Sierra does not get Hali. Hali has said that she has beef with Sierra because her waffling on flipping is what cost Hali the game.

            She also doesn’t get Joe or Tyler. So.

          4. You can have a beef with someone if the alternatives are distasteful enough. Fairplay voted for Sandra. In that F3 I think Hali definitely holds her nose and votes for Sierra.

            I guess Joe and Tyler both vote Rodney but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk.

          5. It’s a post-game interview, so take it with all the salt you want, but when we interviewed Shirin I asked her if she hoped the next boot would be Sierra, just so Ponderosa would be nicer for longer. Shirin said yes, in part because she knew that the jury would never vote for Sierra. Because they didn’t respect her.

          6. But it’s like the joke about outrunning the bear. The jury doesn’t have to respect her, they just have to respect her more than Rodney and Will.

            But actually I agree with you that the edit overplayed Rodney’s doucheiness and underplayed how much he amused everybody, like Joe Pesci. I’m just saying it’s 5-3 at best.

          7. Rodney is popular enough post-game to get Survivors to come to his stupid bowling tournament.

            Although getting Survivors to come out to places where fans will slobber all over them might not be as difficult as I might think.

          8. I think Sierra gets Carolyn’s vote. They were close, Carolyn got Sierra’s vote for a reason.

            Tyler is possible, Kelly is possible, Mike is possible

          9. I think there is a solid chance that Carolyn would have voted Will, the two of them seemed close.

          10. Maybe in a Sierra-Will-Dan F3. Wasn’t she also close to Rodney?

            Just think-we’re only a few hours away from having something better to discuss than who would have won World’s Apart if Mike had lost immunity.

      2. I would have actually loved to see Rodney make the finals and give a teary-eyed speech about how he should win because of how it was his birthday and Carolyn was mean to him.

      3. I think there’s some overthinking happening here. I think that once it got down to F7 or even F8 (sorry Shirin), Sierra realized she was surrounded by aggressively awful people, wet blankets, and Mike. I think her strategy was simply to get rid of Mike as soon as he lost an immunity challenge, remain invisible enough to not get targeted, and win any F3 configuration. I think a combination of starvation and DGAF prevented her from updating her assumptions every time Mike didn’t go home.

        1. I’m thinking of the vote where Mike claimed he was giving his extra idol to Shirin.

          1. I have seen it – love it! – but have a terrible memory – there’s actually Zombie Coldplay and a crowd of undead fans?

  5. I don’t care about Sierra. I care so little about her that I can’t even muster up the ironic effort to pretend to care about her and mask it as sarcasm.

    I only worry that because so much hubbub has been made about her by the community that the show will either (a) work hard to prove us wrong or (b) go the opposite way and deliberately show her as a mess-up and a nobody in order to feed our expectations. Which while fine I suppose, I’d rather just have more Tony or Sandra or Cirie or even Culpepper.

    1. I want more everyone but Troy, Sierra, Hali, Brad, Sarah, Debbie, and I guess Caleb.
      That’s actually a fairly sizeable chunk of the cast that I’d rather wasn’t there.

      1. Agree, but as others have said there’s also an equal number, if not more, of players I’m really excited to watch this season. If even a handful of Cirie, Sandra, Tony, Aubry, Malcolm, Michaela, Varner, Zeke, Tai, Ciera make it deep, I think there’s a pretty good shot for an entertaining season.

      2. I would be ok with Hali and Sarah having time. The rest I can agree with but add Zeke and Ciera to that list.

        1. I almost put Zeke on my list, but I did enjoy Zeke enough last season that I’m ok with more Zeke. But this season will probably fill that quota of Zeke.

    2. I think Sierra Dawn Thomas’ greatest asset to the season might be as someone they safely ignore, thus granting more time to someone else.

  6. Here’s some armchair psychology that could (and probably is) be really unfair, but I wanted to share it anyway.

    Maybe the reason Sierra Dawn Thomas was so risk adverse in Worlds Apart is because of her career. As a rodeo gal, she only makes money when she places well. I’m sure she competes to win, but making rent might depend on her placing as well. Thus, she may have it in the back of her head to first minimize errors, because her livelihood depends on it.

    Translate that to Survivor, and you get someone predisposed to not want to rock the boat and hurt her chances at a bigger payday. Someone like that is probably less likely to make a play to win if it means going out three spots earlier should it fail. Because that a five figure difference in pay.

    1. I think it comes down simply to the fact that flipping wouldn’t have helped her. A jury that was composed primarily of members of the axis of evil was not going to reward her with a win. Hoping Mike stumbled one more time and that she would be the beneficiary of the challenge prowess vacumm he left was literally her only path to the end.

      1. I’m frankly okay with her not flipping. She’d be flipping to a side with people more likely to beat her. What I have more of an issue with is that she also didn’t seem to do much to consolidate or improve her position within her group.

        Or maybe I just have a problem with anyone suggesting that her finding herself in a situation where she had no outs other than “I hope things break my way” played a decent game. Rather than the probable truth, which is “Sierra was there”.

        1. I agree. I think the key for me here is that she didn’t DO anything. It isn’t that she didn’t flip, of course she didn’t, she can count. But Survivor is rarely that cut and dry, and if she was trying to do something, who knows, maybe it would have shaken things up. Maybe she could have split the alliance apart and fit it back together in a way that benefited her. A big ask, but certainly worth it if you are trying to win the game. Which I think, back to Andy’s original point, is part of her problem. She seemed content to do well, but not determined to win. Her boot shows this. It wasn’t a blindside, there wasn’t a struggle, it was clear and simple, no drama. You can bet a more determined player would have at least thrown some shade.

          Also, a note which relates to my post about our upcoming double elimination episode, her boring boot was part of a double elimination episode in World’s Apart. No drama.

          1. Yeah. Bot Sierra and Rodney were booted and then FTC, all in the finale. I would say yes, finales are usually a bit more action packed, thus a double elimination isn’t uncommon, but it also means that her and Rodney’s boots didn’t yield the level of content or excitement to warrant their own individual episodes.

        2. Also, the biggest reasons she found herself with no options at the end were:
          1. She missed a million opportunities to make a move earlier
          2. She wasn’t persuasive or charismatic enough to sway anyone to her side when it would have counted

      2. But she had opportunities much earlier. She did not do it then either. And you are right.

    2. I can see that. I also legitimately think she believed that if she stuck with Dan and Rodney, she would beat them in the finale. Too bad Rodney had no interest in taking her that far.

      1. She did have that belief. And Rodney would have beaten her. Of the 3, he was playing the hardest and was the most strategic.

        She might have gotten Shirin’s vote but who else?

        The only two I think she could have won against was Dan and Will together.

    3. I guess the question you have to ask is what risks could she have taken?

      All she could have done was flip to the bottom of a minority from the middle (say 4thish) of a majority.

      Her one vote was at no point enough to swing things in that season.

      1. If your best argument is that “there was nothing she could’ve done” my interpretation of that is “she was a nothing player”.

  7. Strategically speaking, I am a SDT defender. I think she played a game that gave her a reasonably good chance to win (it would have required winning an immunity or two near the end, and a strong FTC, but a reasonably good chance). And that’s part of why I hate having her on this season. Because I think that Sierra has every incentive to play the same plodding, consistent, slightly-better-than-average-chance-of-winning game.

    Sierra’s signature move is talking about making the game interesting (and not in a particularly funny or charismatic way)…and then backing away. She brings not drama, but disappointment and frustration.

    And that’s not good TV, even if she is very tall.

    1. You said you are a SDT defender, but then you didn’t seem to defend her at all, lol. Maybe she isn’t very defendable? But i agree with most of what you said.

      1. He was thinking about defending her but not really defending her (thinking about making a move but not making it) so by Jeff’s definition, he’s a game changer.

      2. I defend her strategic choices. I think she’s pretty good at playing Survivor, if we view the goal as winning.

        But as a viewer, boring contestants with a better than average chance of winning are the last thing I want to watch.

        1. I guess I would say, i don’t think she’s completely inept at playing Survivor, hell, she could be an amazing player, but the edit doesn’t show it. And so i agree with you, good player or not, she isn’t entertaining enough to really root for.

          1. Frankly, the best argument for “Sierra might not be that bad” is “they asked her to come back for some baffling reason”.

          2. This is absolutely true, and i’ve got faith that Production know what they are doing. It could be that she was available and wasn’t going to overload a season already fill with Survivor big names, but she’s replacing Natalie, so I think they just believed she had more to contribute in a second go. And who knows, maybe that will be her story arch this season. #Wentworth

  8. I see any placement for her, other than first, a possibility. She could get taken out early due to lack of alliance. She could also get dragged to the end and get second from a unanimous winner or a friendship/spite vote. What I do not see her being is interesting tv.

      1. I hope its the former I don’t think it will happen. Even though Matt thinks she is not particularly athletic – she’s not the reverse either. She’s not a liability in challenges (so far).
        At least from the editing, she did almost beat Mike in one of the last challenges. That may have just been editing. Carolyn did beat her in a challenge (where a man and woman won immunity) where you would have thought she would have won because it was strength/weight based.

        The one positive thing I can say is she did show early annoyance with Dan.

        My guess is she will go 5-7 but I can hope for earlier.

        1. “Carolyn did beat her in a challenge (where a man and woman won immunity) where you would have thought she would have won because it was strength/weight based.”

          Shirin beat her too.

          The title of that episode? Survivor Russian Roulette.

    1. I can see her winning, but it involves getting to the end with Troy and someone else like a Hali, and then every juror just flips a coin (because Troy ain’t winning so they’ve already ruled out voting for him). But yeah, that won’t make for interesting tv.

    2. I feel like Sierra’s only potential to be remotely interesting is by deciding to have a random feud with another player. I forget which tribe she’s on, but Troy would be a nice choice.

      1. No joke: Sierra Dawn Thomas has said in interviews that Troy is her only pre-game alliance.

          1. Here, ladies and gentlemen, are times when ATFFGCASCSSTHFPFASDFT was on screen. Some even say that these are the only times she was there. We didn’t find any evidence that suggests otherwise.

          2. I know it’s a hotly debated topic on this site, but in my opinion Sierra is the most beautiful woman on this season. It’s unfortunate that she’s such a nothing personality-wise.

  9. Glad you guys covered all the contestants, but would have been much funnier to ignore her. Not that this wasn’t funny.

      1. Love it. Sophie would have worked. Apparently she missed a phone call because she changed phones. Otherwise, it might have been her.

        1. Aubry’s Winner’s Edit – I can’t find the comment that came in to my email asking where I got the Sophie info but Sophie was on RHAP and basically said she was changing phone numbers. I had heard it elsewhere too.

      2. Wow, missed opportunity. at least Sierra was relegated to hours before the premeire when focus is elsewhere.

        Lets hope Probst can mention the cast is full of 19 Game Changers and 1 Barrell Racer

  10. *Tangent* I would like to wish everyone a wonderful Premier viewing experience! I promised to watch the premier with a couple friends who are always stupid busy, thus I won’t be watching it till Sunday. In the mean time, i’ll be avoiding the site for fear of ravenous spoilers. I shall return Sunday with too much to say, or later if i am recovering from the loss of my Bae (I will never recover).


    1. Unfortunately for me, the premiere is on midnight where I live. I will be able to see it only after 13 hours it airs. But to everyone who will be watching live, have a pleasant viewing experience, and if God will smile upon us, maybe Troy will be first boot and Sandra, Cirie, Tony and Ciera will survive.

      1. Yep. Except I’m napping a few hours preshow watching it and good straight back to bed.

        1. Off topic: British Prediction Prize.

          My final predictions is as follows

          Pre Merge Boots

          Post Merge Boots

          Final Boot



          The two players that I have going from Post to Pre if the merge is later than I have it will be Michaela and Ciera.

          1. As a fellow Survivor fan, i really want you to succeed. But I also want you to fail, because Sandra & Tony out before the merge would be sad indeed.

          2. Well Bruv, you are already done, but I’m feeling kinda giddy after watching on the train on the way to work so I am adding a new rule that you are allowed to get one wrong premerge. So who do you want to bump to post merge in place of Ciera? If you are wrong again it’s over.

          3. I feel like this won’t be the only one I get wrong. So I’m going to play this based on rooting interest. I’m going to move Sandra into the post merge spot.

          4. I love you dude. This is the right call to make me happy. If this season goes well I might just send you something anyway.

  11. Best friend says that “talk about SAVAGE. That was hilariously incredible.” Meanwhile, he says that my article was “Well-written, but not sure it made me like Zeke any more, tho.” So, you got that going for you, Matt.

  12. I can’t figure it out. And Google sent me to Reddit. What does “FFGCSDT” stand for?

Comments are closed.