Debating Ciera Eastin’s Game


Feature Articles return again this week with Canadian Ozlet, Colin Hilding and new Ozlet, Kristan Knarr, (from Pennsylvania in the USA), teaming up to bring you a debate article about whether Ciera played a good or bad game in Survivor: Blood vs. Water! In an article that is sure to split our readership, (and have Noah complaining), Colin and Kristan breakdown the moves that are viewed as Ciera’s “big moves” during the game and discuss whether they were actually that impressive or just pointless drama. Don’t forget to join in the conversation by leaving a comment with your opinion below!

In this debate, Colin argues that Ciera did play a great game in Blood vs. Water, defending her moves, whilst Kristan turns the tables, stating why she thinks Ciera’s moves were overrated and how she is the most overrated player since Russell Hantz graced our screens.


Colin: Ciera is without a doubt one of the recent Survivor characters that I underestimated the most in the early game. Based on her pre-game interviews, I had little hope that she would last past the first few episodes. She seemed emotional and unprepared for the game. Surprisingly I was impressed with her early social game, getting in with the men on her tribe on a personal level. It separated her from the other girls, who were obviously going to be picked off one by one. I was even more surprised at how cool and level headed she was. Even considering how differently she was playing socially from what I had expected, I was still certain that Ciera’s game would fall apart quickly on the physical level. She had poor performances in the challenges and never seemed overly concerned with her performance, leading me to believe that she’d end up as a target regardless of how strong I felt her social game was.

Kristan: Ciera found herself on the outs early in the game. She was on a tribe where the women were being targeted first by the all-male alliance led by Brad Culpepper. Smartly, she was able to stay quiet and let the men implode. She survived thanks to Brad turning on John and then Caleb turning on Brad. Post-merge, nothing really changed. She was a nice girl that never really did much in the game—just like many past Survivor’s. However, I was shocked to discover that fans were calling her “the best player to never have won” and “the best Blood vs. Water player.” I couldn’t wrap my head around these statements and still cannot to this day. Ciera seems like a great person outside of Survivor, but she is one of the most overrated people to ever play this game; I frequently referred to her as “the most overrated player since Russell Hantz.”


clip_image002_thumb3When Katie claimed to have the Hidden Immunity Idol, Ciera declared that she had already found it when in fact she had not. Katie quickly admitted to not having the Idol.

Colin: I always wondered when people “claim” to have an Idol why somebody doesn’t call them on it. Like everything that Ciera did, this was a gamble that could have backfired. What’s the worst that can really happen? If Katie actually did have it, Ciera looks a little bit foolish. That’s hardly something that can cost someone the game. Even if Katie did have the Idol, by Ciera claiming she had it instead it could have made Katie nervous about voting for Ciera in the future, since there may have been multiples. This reduces any target that Ciera may have had on her. What makes this move impressive to me is also what makes it risky; that’s how it takes a very skilled deceiver to pull it off. In seasons past when someone has claimed to have an Idol, their lies have always been very transparent. Ciera’s skills at deception were very believable, which is why I think Katie’s story crumbled so quickly. Survivor is a game where the perception of being trustworthy is everything. The fact that Ciera was never perceived as being a dangerous liar after this move is the most impressive thing about it.

Kristan: Lying to Katie was a cute attempt at doing something relevant – nothing more. This was one of many moves that had little to no impact on the game. Tyson was planning to vote out Laura anyway, knowing that Katie didn’t have the Idol; he himself already had it in his possession. So who really cares if Katie has the Idol or not when Laura is being voted out regardless? Yes, it was funny that she tricked Katie, but it was essentially just filler – irrelevant to the game. To make things even sillier, Ciera went back to Tyson, Caleb and Hayden and bragged about her findings. If this had been a great game move, she would have found a way to strategically save her mother. As we all know, it had no effect on the game whatsoever. Laura was still voted out and will bring me to my next point.


clip_image004_thumb2When the decision was made within Ciera’s alliance to vote out her mother, Ciera chose to vote with her alliance even though she was all but given a free pass from voting out her loved one.

Colin: This has to be one of the most debated moves in Survivor history and there are differing opinions on it, even among those who played the game in Blood vs. Water. Did Ciera really have to vote out her mother? Laura was going home one way or the other. While it doesn’t seem like Ciera would have been in any jeopardy and her alliance clearly would have forgiven her for not voting out her loved one, the fact still remains that the power alliance of Tyson, Monica and Gervase was formed due to the fact that they had all lost their loved ones in the game and were playing on their own. Furthermore, the only strategy that was being played by every person on the season was to separate the pairs. Any pair was a threat and nobody on Blood vs. Water seemed keen on having pairs in the game together. One needs to remember that Redemption Island was still up in the air and based on the first round of Redemption, Laura had to be the odds on favourite to re-enter. By being willing to vote out her own mother, Ciera proved that when push came to shove, she would side with her alliance ahead of her mother. Guaranteed this would have carried some weight later in the game had Laura re-entered again. Had I been in Ciera’s shoes, I would have voted out my loved one as well. That gesture could work wonders to build future trust with her alliance. More importantly, there was no way Laura would have held it against her own daughter for making this move. Had Laura won at Redemption and re-entered the game, Ciera would have that trust with her alliance and had her mother in her back pocket in case she wanted to make a move. She lost nothing by voting Laura out, but definitely gained a little bit of extra trust from her alliance.

Kristan: Fans loved this move because they wanted someone, anyone to vote out their loved one. What would have happened if Ciera didn’t vote out her mother? That’s up for debate, but I don’t see it playing out any differently. This was yet another overrated decision that did not affect the game. I’d like to assume that Ciera voted for her mum in an attempt to prove to her alliance that she was with them one hundred percent. However, what impact did it really have? Tyson, Gervase and Monica were tight and planning to go to the Final Three together for a long time. They were simply using Ciera as a number at this point – and she bought into it. She tried to strengthen her bond to them by voting for her mum but in reality, Ciera was a number for the rest of her alliance and would be dropped as soon as they didn’t need her anymore. Whether she voted for her mum or not, nothing changed; Laura was still given the boot and Ciera was never part of the core alliance. Essentially, it just proved to her tribe mates that she couldn’t be trusted; if she was willing to turn on her mother, she would be willing to turn on anyone.


clip_image006_thumb2When Laura was victorious at Redemption Island, she gave the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol to Ciera. While most other players in previous episodes had burned the clue, Ciera kept it and shared it with her alliance. Thanks to that clue, Tyson soon found the Idol.

Colin: With the clue Ciera had three possible moves. 1. She burns the clue as was the trend. 2. She keeps the clue for herself. 3. She shares it with her alliance. Burning the clue would have been a safe move and in the long run wouldn’t have cost her anything in the game. Keeping it for herself, even temporarily, would have been a massive mistake when you consider what happened to John earlier in the season. She chose to share it with Tyson, Monica and Gervase. I think there is an upside to this move and a down side. The upside is that she further gained the trust of her alliance, which we can clearly see was her top objection in the post-merge game. In that sense, I think it was a smart move. The closer it gets to the end of the game, the more paranoid everyone gets. For the sake of security in an alliance, there is really no negative to showing loyalty. The downside was that she probably assumed whoever found the Idol would share it with the rest of the alliance. This of course didn’t end up happening, as Tyson found it and kept it for himself. If Ciera had found the Idol, she could have made her eventual flip more secure, but simply keeping the clue her herself would have painted a huge target on her. I think by washing her hands clean of the Idol she gave her alliance another reason to trust her, which only helped her chances of making it further.

Kristan: Everyone knew that there was actually a Hidden Immunity Idol in play because Tyson had just played one during the previous Tribal Council. This made it crucial that it didn’t fall into the wrong hands. What does Ciera do with the clue as soon as she returns to camp? She drags Gervase, Monica and Tyson away from camp to read them the clue. Why wouldn’t she look for it on her own first? Her alliance already didn’t trust her completely and there were only six people left in the game. Why not buy herself a few extra days in the game instead of handing Tyson that advantage? Instead, Tyson found the Idol and could play more comfortably. Yes, Ciera was in an alliance with Tyson, Monica and Gervase at the time, but when you’re number four in a four person alliance, you shouldn’t be doing everything that you can to help out those top three players. Even before she knew she’d eventually flip on them, it was extremely naïve and foolish to share the Idol clue with the strongest competitors in the game; she should have been more worried about keeping herself in the game than keeping her untrustworthy allies happy.


clip_image008_thumb1When it came down to the final six, Ciera flipped on her alliance, claiming that she didn’t want to be fourth place. This forced a tie. When nobody was willing to change their vote, the players drew rocks for elimination. In the end it was Katie who was eliminated.

Colin: On the surface it seems like the choice to flip came one Tribal Council too late. Had she done it one episode earlier when Caleb was still in the game, the power shift would have been all but guaranteed, but I believe that would have been shortsighted thinking. I see Ciera as someone who was working harder on Jury votes than anything else. Had she flipped when Caleb was still in the game, would her position have really changed? Ciera’s main reason for flipping was that she knew she was only fourth in her alliance. By flipping the vote one week earlier, she still would have been fourth in a new alliance with the old Tadhana. That doesn’t improve her odds and it all but guarantees that she loses Tyson, Monica and Gervase’s votes at the end of the game.

Now considering the odds of elimination if she drew the wrong rock and was sent packing, was it worth the risk to turn on her alliance when she did? I think it was absolutely worth the risk. If it worked, she would be in the new majority alliance of three, which improved her position by at least one. Even by it failing and Katie being sent home, she lost nothing. Ciera was now in the minority with Hayden, but despite turning on her power alliance, Tyson, Monica and Gervase were still more concerned with eliminating Hayden. She had the opportunity to try and flip the vote and despite turning on her alliance, she was still their preferred fourth place. Drawing rocks is a huge risk, but it was a risk everyone else was willing to make, (including Tyson), who went on to win. I think the real question is whether or not it hurt Ciera. She took a chance that was worth taking. Had it worked and she made the finals, she would have gained a whole lot of respect from the Jury. The move didn’t mark a power shift after all, but based on her fourth place position, it didn’t hurt her one bit. She was always going to be fourth.

Kristan: Here we have the most overblown move that Ciera made all season. Sorry sweetie, but you’re three days late. If she was going to flip, last Tribal Council was the time to do it. She may have had a better chance of winning against Tyson, Monica and/or Gervase, rather than Hayden, Caleb and/or Katie, but the latter would have given her a better chance of even getting to the Final Three. Her chances were very slim of winning the final three Immunity Challenges and that’s what she would have needed to do to get into the Final Three with Tyson, Monica and/or Gervase.

At the final six Tribal Council, Ciera was still running blind. She defended Tyson, Gervase and Monica until Hayden convinced her to flip. If anything, Hayden deserves ninety percent of the credit for Ciera flipping. Had he not spoken up and reasoned with her as to why she should flip, she wouldn’t have. Hayden played hard. By flipping, all Ciera did was become Hayden’s sheep instead of Tyson’s. That should not be considered a big move by any means.

Furthermore, drawing rocks proved to be pointless. With Katie picking the wrong rock, Ciera and Hayden were still down in numbers. At least at that point she was able to frantically look for that Idol that she had a clue to… oh wait… never mind, she gave that to Tyson.

One can argue that if Tyson had drawn the white rock, it would have been a brilliant move. Guess what? It would have been a great move then, but that’s not what happened. You can look at any bad move in the history of Survivor and say that it would have been a good move if it worked out differently. Fortunately, we don’t see many people claiming that J.T. played the best game in Heroes vs. Villains or that Erik was the best player in Micronesia because their move could have been good. Why is Ciera any different? She shouldn’t be.


Colin: I have watched Survivor from the beginning and being Canadian, I have never had the opportunity to play. I’ve spent fourteen years dreaming about how I would play if I were ever cast on a Canadian version. Much to my surprise, by the end of Blood vs. Water, I found that Ciera was the player in Survivor history that I most identified with the game play of. I love big moves, but I love calculated moves even more. Voting out her loved one had no impact on her relationship in or out of the game with Laura, yet it instilled trust in her power alliance. She had the guts to try and flip a vote when it would have no impact on her position with the alliance she was planning on betraying. Ciera was a gutsy player whose moves just made sense to me. I’m not one who believes that you have to win Survivor to play the best game that you can play. Considering the odds that were against Ciera early in the game, she did nothing but impress me from start to finish. No move Ciera made contributed to her exit. She made it as far as she could in the game and never made a crucial mistake. Winner or not, those are the players I love to watch.

Kristan: Overall, Ciera seems like a great girl that played a very mediocre game. I appreciate that she laid low early on and then was a bit ballsy at times, but nothing about her game stands out as a great one. Each and every “big” move she made had very little impact on the game or actually hurt her own game by making her alliance members distrust her. Survivor is about results, not just moves. Good players produce results that fall in their favour. Ciera simply did not do that. It is one thing to root for the underdog, but it is another thing to glorify the pointless moves of now one of the most overrated players in the history of Survivor.


Who do you agree with? Colin or Kristan? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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18 Comments on Debating Ciera Eastin’s Game

  1. Jellykristan // April 20, 2014 at 9:21 am // Reply

    Jealous much Kristan. Lol what a joke of a write up by u

  2. Interesting debate. I see both arguments and thought Ciera played well in parts, while also making a few mistakes. I think her biggest mistake was sharing the clue – given the obvious implications of sharing it with experienced players like Tyson, especially given her plan to linkup with her mum again if she won her way back from RI. While forcing the rock draw was her best move as it gave her a way to eliminate Tyson without the risk of idol play after she proved herself last tribal- she took the risk by actually making a move (while RI was still in play to slightly improve her odds).
    I look forward to debates about other players games

  3. I think Kristan’s argument, that all the moves ciera made didn’t actually effect her place in the game, was wrong. As we hear time and time again from past survivors, its a game of smaller dominos, rather than wrecking balls. Ciera voting out her mum, sharing the idol clue, getting information from Katie, may not have caused a tidal wave of change in the game but it solidified trust with her alliance in a game all about interpersonal relationships.

    I would also like to point out that while Kristan argued thats its better to just get to the end “the latter would have given her a better chance of even getting to the Final Three”, Ciera came to win? As I’m sure they all did. So flipping with Hayden and Caleb doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, as they had a much better shot at winning than her. However, with a rock draw under her belt, Ciera could see a path to the finals where she had a resume.

    As for the ridiculous idea that a good player is only the ones that produces results, Cirie? Rob C, Rob M. in 8 and 20, Yau Man, Malcolm, Ozzy… You don’t have to win, or even make it to the end to be a good player, in my opinion anyway 😛

    • Just to clarify, I think our definition of “results” here is different. I never mentioned winning. With Rob C’s flip-flop strategy, he produced positive results for himself for many weeks and continued to position himself well. Ozzy won heaps of challenges throughout his seasons and that kept him in the game much longer than his tribemates expected. Ciera’s “moves” did not do anything to help move her game in a positive direction. She was simply a goat that others were dragging along until they didn’t need her anymore. It was by the sole decision of other players that she remained in the game for as long as she did, not because of anything she did. You can disagree as strongly as you want and that’s the beauty of Survivor; everyone can watch the same show and form totally different opinions. 🙂

  4. I liked this analysis. I have to say that I think Ciera is a decent player, and better than many new players we’ve seen in recent seasons, but is definitely overrated. What’s important, though, is that she has a lot of great potential; some of the things she did like tricking Katie show that she was starting to realize how to play the game. When she returns I’m hoping for big things.

    • I absolutely agree with you about her potential. She made moves that didn’t really play out for her, but if done with better timing or in a wiser way–they could. I think she could be really great a second time around.

  5. thegaminggeek // April 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm // Reply

    No mention of Ciera voting against Caleb? That was such a bad move. Siding with Hayden and Caleb, with Katie as a fourth would have paved the way for Ciera to reach the final three and make S27 the first season where returning players never made it to the final. Would it have won her the game? I can’t say for sure, but a higher place finish is certainly better than where she ended up.

    • I cover my opinion on that on the section discussing the tie vote and drawing of rocks. Basically I feel she was at risk of swapping a 4th place with Tyson and co. to a 4th place with Caleb and co. with jury votes lost in the process

      • thegaminggeek // April 22, 2014 at 4:53 am //

        Agree to disagree I guess. From my point of view, Katie was the 4th one in that set up. Hayden and Caleb were offering Final Three when they approached Ciera, with Katie as the 4th as she was previously aligned with Aras/Vytas/Tina and was basically a floater. Katie flipping with Hayden/Caleb puts them at even ground (they would all be flipping at the same time; Hayden/Caleb were previously aligned with Tyson in voting out the Aras group). Ciera appeared to have no way of cracking the Tyson/Gervase/Monica trio.

  6. ScottWatchesSurvivor // April 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm // Reply

    Goiod points all around. I think Ciera is a perceptive player that understands the game quite well. However, she made that terrible mistake of voting out Caleb, then having to backtrack. That is my sole problem with her game, but it’s awfully large.

    Good player? Yes. Overrated? Definitely. And Kristan sums it all up nicely.

    That said, I would be more than happy to see her get another chance to play!

  7. Great Article! 🙂

  8. Ciera was not an amazing player, but what she had more of then anything was potential.

    She had a very strategic mind and she was on the right track at times, but sometimes she just made the wrong move. Ciera should return for the next season with returning players (I hope they wait with that until season 30). If she can learn from the mistakes she made, which returning players sometimes do (Cochran, Andrea, Coach etc.) there is a chance she might become one of the best players.

    • Totally agree that she would do even better a 2nd time, although Coach didn’t really improve until his 3rd go. I’m hopefully Ciera does better than that

  9. There’s something I don’t agree with: “By flipping the vote one week earlier, she still would have been fourth in a new alliance with the old Tadhana.”. This is absolutely wrong. Had Katie been on the final 3, she would have had 100% the votes from Tina, Aras and Vytas, and may have also had the votes from bitter Monica, Gervase and Tyson. So Hayden would have never let her get to the final 3, and would have done a Hayden-Caleb-Ciera final 3. So Ciera wouldn’t have been fourth in that new alliance.

  10. Good job Kristan! Nice to see someone being objective. Ciera is a great girl but clearly she made some rookie mistakes.

  11. I do think Ciera needed to flip but she should have stuck with the loved ones in voting out Tyson, Gerv or Monica instead of Caleb. It was too little to late when she flipped.

  12. Anonymous // May 7, 2014 at 11:42 pm // Reply

    I was a big Ciera fan. Great person, great player. I don’t agree that she should have flipped one week sooner. After all, the reason Ciera flipped was that she realized she was fourth in her alliance with Tyson/Monica/Gervase. She didn’t realize that until the week that she flipped! Also, if she had flipped when Caleb was still in the game, she’d probably be fourth in that alliance because Hayden, Katie, and Caleb were in an alliance all along! Ciera’s mistake was aligning with Tyson, Monica, and Gervase in the beginning, not staying with her original tribemates. She was put in a tough spot, and drawing rocks, was her best option, especially given that Redemption Island was still in play. Had Tyson gone home, Ciera’s flip would have gone down as one of the best moves ever, she would have gauranteed herself Final 3, and probably (more than likely) the win. Unfortunately Katie drew the wrong rock so Ciera was now odd woman out. Just because Katie drew the wrong rock, not Tyson, this shouldn’t go down as a bad move, IMO. Ciera finished one spot worse than she would have with Tyson/Monica/Gervase which is not bad at all given that if Tyson had drawn the white rock, Ciera would have likely won herself the game.

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