It’s just one slam-bang Tribal Council after another on “Survivor: Game Changers.” Warning: If you haven’t seen Thursday’s (March 29) episode in its entirety, don’t keep reading — because it ended with a terrific blindside.

So, it was shaping up like the big event from the latest “Survivor” episode was Debbie breaking down over at Mana tribe — but they pulled out an Immunity win and she’s safe (for now). The tribe that did not pull out a win was Nuku, who went to its second Tribal in a row. The set-up before TC pits J.T. against Michaela, which is far too reminiscent of Michaela’s first go-round on “Millennials vs. Gen-X.”

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Michaela is a bad-ass “Survivor” player, but some people on each of her seasons have acted like she’s a problematic layabout. It smacks of “Survivor’s” race/woman problem — in nearly every season, strong females and strong people of color get targeted early on if they don’t “sit down and shut up,” basically; and that goes at least double for a woman of color.

Michaela isn’t the type to sit down or shut up — and so, she’s been targeted early. It’s particularly laughable since most “Survivor” tribes tend to want to keep physical challenge beasts in the early stages: Michaela is a powerful competitor, but apparently not even that’s enough to keep her around. Maybe Michaela gets a very charitable edit on “Survivor,” but all we have to go on is what we see at home — and she does not appear to be lazy or have a bad attitude. J.T may need to do some self-reflection about why he’s so convinced otherwise.

And he’ll have plenty of time for that, as it’s bye-bye J.T. at Tribal Council, despite the Hidden Immunity Idol in his pocket: An extra special way to send someone home. Kudos to Sandra, Michael and Jeff for playing J.T. so well. Sandra and Jeff didn’t let on in the slightest they’d voted for him, and Michaela perfectly played the part of a dejected evictee who is out of options — though her drinking water as the votes were read was also a nice touch.

Honestly, it’s just deserts — after the stunt J.T. pulled last week, alerting the Mana tribe about which person Nuku was targeting, so Tai would know who to give his Idol to. That was a totally uncool betrayal — and Sandra is not a “Survivor” player to be trifled with.

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There’s a reason she’s a two-time winner, people — and as a woman of color, she’s a rare exception to the usual pressures of this social microcosm — and that makes it even greater to see Sandra and Michael working together. Good on Jeff for seeing which way the wind is blowing, too. We think he made the right choice as to who he should align himself with moving forward. When the tribes merge, a Sandra/Michaela/Jeff alliance should be pretty formidable.

Speaking of Sandra, it’s kind of stunning that she hasn’t yet been targeted on “Game Changers.” She’s a huge threat in the game — and even though she has won twice already, if she gets to the end, she’ll have a tremendous case to argue for making it a three-peat.

“Survivor” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."