A Game of Blindsides: Audience, Player or Both?


Everybody loves a good #Blindside and they're frequently the highlight of a Survivor episode when at tribal all the planning and plotting either comes together or falls apart spectacularly as the votes are read. Today Ivan Ornelas serves up a special treat as he teams up with a group of fellow Ozlets to get their opinions on five Survivor blindsides and whether they were shocking to the audience, player or both. Read on and join in as we play a game of blindsides.

31 seasons of Survivor have given us countless blindsides. Kim Spradlin confirmed the typical definition of a blindside: when someone is not expecting to be voted out, thinking the vote will go against someone else, but that person himself or herself is voted out instead. Simple in practice, difficult and complicated in execution. To add another layer to this, sometimes the audience feels more or less blindsided about a vote than the player. Because this show is edited down to 13-14 episode seasons, sometimes we see things much different than the players do.

So we have a little game. I’m the host, and the participants are Ozlets Patrick Gustavson, Kristan Knarr, and Tom Shembrey. I’ve selected 5 blindsides from throughout the Survivor series and they must decide whether they think it’s an audience blindside, player blindside, or both. If there’s a tie, I’m the tiebreaker. Once we go through all five, we would love to hear what you readers feel about our decisions. So here we go.

Blindside #1: Rob Cesternino voted out in Survivor: All-Stars


Rob’s room for error was very slim going into a season where everyone was wary of his capabilities, and his tribe took him out the first chance they had despite him thinking Alicia was on the chopping block.

Patrick: In doing this, it shed some light on the editing process of blindsides and how that has changed, and this blindside was certainly different than any of the other four. Following Chapera’s first loss, Amber targeted Rob C due to his intelligence, but we then saw Tom praise him for his smarts and deemed him useful to the tribe. Rob C then made a deal with Boston Rob. Boston Rob then explained how it would either be Cesternino, Alicia or Sue. At tribal, the focus was really not on Rob C at all, he was not even mentioned. Towards the end of tribal, they shifted focus on Sue, who would have been the obvious boot. The editors really did not give us much at all; there was no true obvious boot, and if anything it would have been Sue. Therefore, this was definitely and audience blindside. And based on Rob’s reaction, which was probably the most upset anyone has ever been when being blindsided, it obviously falls under the category of a player blindside. Both.

Kristan: I think Rob C’s blindside was one of those vote-outs that both the viewers and Rob himself knew was a possibility, but we all kind of convinced ourselves that it wasn’t actually going to happen. Rob knew he was a threat going into the game and tried to lay low and when in danger attempted to push the vote to Alicia.  The edit left it unclear whether or not he would be the first one voted out of Chapera and I was blindsided when he was—and from his reaction, it’s very clear that Rob himself was also blindsided. Both.

Tom: I was already spoiled coming into this but I thought the signs were obvious during the shelter construction challenge that Mariano wasn’t pleased with Cesternino’s performance, and that made it obvious for me. Player

Verdict: Rob Cesternino’s vote out is BOTH.

Blindside #2: Ozzy Lusth voted out in Survivor: Micronesia, idol in hand


Always a sure bet to win individual immunity, Ozzy won 83% of individual challenges in his first season. Combine that with his relationship with Amanda, letting him get any further would not have been wise. Ozzy trusted his alliance would keep him safe, but that was not the case.

Patrick: This is without a doubt a player blindside. If Ozzy had the slightest idea that he could be going, he would have played his idol, so there is no doubt that he was blindsided. What is not cut and dry is whether or not this was an audience blindside. Initially, it seemed obvious that Jason had just made a game ending mistake by stepping down from the challenge: he was being mocked and laughed at immediately. Ozzy’s name was then brought up by Cirie. It seemed the four girls were on board until we got the clip of Parvati contemplating the repercussions of breaking her word to Ozzy, James and Amanda, but we also saw clips displaying Ozzy’s confidence. That theme carried on into tribal. Jason’s move was the hot topic, but Jeff made a point of mentioning how Ozzy had the idol and how it puts a target on him. This was very difficult to determine but I am going to say that it is not an audience blindside. I feel we got enough clues that Ozzy would be blindsided. However, that does not take away from the fact that this was truly one of the greatest blindsides in the history of the show. Player.

Kristan: Ozzy’s blindside felt like an inside joke among the viewers and half the players that Ozzy wasn’t in on. His arrogance was at an all-time high throughout the entire episode and I had little doubt that he was too cocky to think anyone would flip on him and wouldn’t play his idol. Ozzy was obviously very blindsided, but I personally felt that the edit was very strongly hinting at his imminent departure. Player.

Tom: For me Ozzy was similar to the Jeremy SJDS blindside; there was a little stray comment from Parvati to Alexis and Natalie and then at tribal we heard more about he was a threat. Still shocked me. Both

Verdict: Ozzy Lusth’s vote out is a PLAYER blindside.

Blindside #3: Ace Gordon voted out in Survivor: Gabon


Despite having two strong allies, one of which who had the hidden immunity idol, Ken found a way to turn Sugar against him. Ace felt he was in position to survive and send Crystal home.

Patrick: This is a really brilliant blindside. Kenny told Sugar a diabolical lie about how Ace was targeting her, knowing she bases decision off of emotion. It did not help Ace’s cause when he asked Sugar for the idol, which was consistent with Kenny’s story. At tribal, we saw a bit of an outburst from Crystal to try to paint her as a target, but it didn’t appear to be phasing Sugar, the swing vote. This was certainly a player blindside on Ace, but I cannot consider it an audience blindside. Player.

Kristan: To me, Ace’s boot was more of a viewer blindside than a blindside for him.  He and Sugar were close allies and I didn’t think she would turn on him so early, especially when Crystal was acting like such a lunatic and frustrating everyone.  Ace is a smart guy and he seemed like he wasn’t terribly shocked when Sugar turned on him. Audience.

Tom: Early on I had thought Kenny would win this season, and I thought him taking Ace out would be one of his great moves that would build his resume. So I saw this one coming, but I don’t think Ace did. Player.

Verdict: Ace Gordon’s voted out is a PLAYER blindside.

Blindside #4: Kat Edorsson voted out in Survivor: One World


Kat found herself in hot water after the loved ones visit. She went after Sabrina only to find out the hard way that blindsides aren’t fun, especially when you’re the one being blindsided.

Patrick: This one is just a player blindside to me. It is not an audience blindside to me due to Kat’s overall edit of the entire episode. Her flaws were consistently pointed out: making a poor, immature choice when choosing people to go on the loved ones reward, her selfishness, naivety and even poor sportsmanship in the challenge, and this was what the discussion at tribal surrounded. The editors did attempt to make it seem as if Sabrina was in equal or greater danger, but Kat’s spiel at tribal calling blindsides fun and exciting was the tip of the iceberg where it was pretty obvious she would be going home. Player.

Kristan: Kat’s questionable choices at the reward challenge, great performance in the immunity challenge, and confidence about her spot in the alliance were the perfect combination for a fairly obvious boot from a viewer’s perspective.  Her obliviousness and infamous line about “blindsides are always fun and exciting” made for quite an amusing episode for viewers, when Kat herself was the only person that actually seemed to be blindsided by the result of the vote. Player.

Tom: Although Kat took her ousting hard, I was glad she was unexpectedly voted out so Tarzan could stay in. It was pretty surprising. Both.

Verdict: Kat Edorsson’s voted out is a PLAYER blindside.

Blindside #5: Alexis Maxwell voted out in Survivor: Cagayan


After Cliff and Lindsey exited the game, the remaining Brawn and Brain players knew a Beauty had to go next. Tony put a target on Jeremiah’s backs but Alexis seemed too close to LJ and Jefra for the Brainiac trio’s liking. Alexis was surprised to he her torch snuffed instead of the country boy’s.

Patrick: This is an intriguing blindside and a bit vague. The events that followed the challenge and proceeded tribal council did not provide much insight on what would happen. Alexis targeted Jeremiah and the remaining five seemingly agreed to it. However, we got a tease from some of the brains that they could also target Alexis, but did not explain much. At tribal, the heat was on Jeremiah for being previously disloyal. However, right before the vote, all of the attention shifted towards Alexis, grouping her with those who could potentially flip, which came out of nowhere. Even though they did foreshadow it, a majority of the attention was placed on Jeremiah so I am going to label this as an audience blindside, and basing it off of Alexis’ reaction, a player blindside.

Kristan: I don’t think Alexis’ vote-out would have been a blindside at all for viewers if the whole Tony/Jeremiah/Hidden Immunity Idol clue situation didn’t happen.  However, I think this one probably blindsided some viewers but not others—if I’m remembering correctly, I personally didn’t see it coming. Additionally, this was an absolute blindside for Alexis; there’s no question about that. Both.

Tom: This was a line ball for me going into tribal between her in Jeremiah, and I thought Tony’s play with the wrong idol clue would lead Aparri to knife Jeremiah before he could get dangerous at the merge. Both.

Verdict: We finish with a unanimous decision. Alexis Maxwell’s vote out is BOTH a player and audience blindside.

So there you have it. Rob and Alexis were both, Ozzy, Ace, and Kat were player. Thank you for reading and be sure to let your opinion and reaction be seen in the comments section.

Do you agree with the Ozlet’s choices? What would you classify each blindside as? What blindsides would you like to see analysed in the future? Leave a comment to let us know your thoughts!


About Survivor Oz (2110 Articles)
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4 Comments on A Game of Blindsides: Audience, Player or Both?

  1. A blindside from each season that would be cool to analyze

    Borneo- Gretchen Cordy
    Australia- Jerri Manthey?
    Africa- Silas Gaither
    Marquesas- Hunter Ellis
    Thailand- Helen Glover
    Amazon- Alex Bell
    Pearl Islands- Rupert Boneham
    All-Stars- Richard Hatch
    Vanuatu- Dolly Neely
    Palau- Gregg Carey
    Guatemala- Jamie Newton
    Panama- Courtney Marit
    Cook Islands- Nate Gonzalez
    Fiji- Edgardo Rivera
    China- James Clement
    Micronesia- Mary Sartain
    Gabon- Marcus Lehman
    Tocantins- Tyson Apostol
    Samoa- Erik Cardona
    HvV- Cirie Fields
    Nicaragua- Kelly Bruno
    Redemption Island- Matt Elrod (The 2nd Time)
    South Pacific- Keith Tollefson
    One World- Michael Jefferson
    Philippines- Jeff Kent
    Caramoan- Brenda Lowe
    BvW- Aras Baskauskas
    Cagayan- Sarah Lacina
    SJDS- Jeremy Collins
    Worlds Apart- Vince Sly
    Cambodia- Stephen Fishbach

    If being idoled out counts, then also

    Alexis Jones (Micronesia)
    Kelly Sharbaugh (Samoa)
    Tyson Apostol (HvV)
    JT Thomas (HvV)
    Phillip Shepard (Caramoan)
    Baylor Wilson (SJDS)
    Kelly Remington (Worlds Apart)
    Andrew Savage (Cambodia)

  2. I feel like you needed to clear up the meanings of the different blindsides because it left me confused. Otherwise, great article.

    • Essentially, a player blindside is when the player who gets voted out isn’t expecting to be voted out. A viewer blindside is when a typical viewer of the show would expect someone other than the eliminated contestant to be voted out. Both simply means that it was both a viewer and a player blindside.

  3. How is Jeremy’s blindside in San Juan Del Sur not here???? One of the biggest audience blindsides ever!

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