Comprised of eight new contestants, they were joined by veteran player and self-described "dragon slayer" Coach Wade. Upolu is known for their religious cult of personality, and for their dominant performance after the merge. Their tribe color is blue.
The sixteen new castaways rowed rafts ashore to the Redemption Island Arena to await the arrival of two mystery players by helicopter. Coach and Ozzy disembarked. To determine which tribes the two returnees would join, each randomly drew a paint-filled egg. Crushing their eggs, Coach discovered his was filled with blue paint, meaning he would join Upolu; likewise, the paint inside Ozzy's egg was red, meaning he would join Savaii. Coach's welcome to Upolu was cold, with only Edna showing him kindness. At the first Reward Challenge Coach and Ozzy would represent their tribes to win taro and flint.
They both struggled with the Tower of Hanoi puzzle, requesting help from their tribes. Savaii's assistance was pivotal and Ozzy took the win. When Upolu arrived at their campsite, Coach tried to charm his tribe and overcome his cold greeting, while Christine went off to look for the Hidden Immunity Idol, which aroused suspicion amongst her teammates. Brandon found himself struggling with a secret, being the infamous Russell Hantz's nephew and having "Little Hantz" tattooed on his back and arm to betray that fact to the others. During a night conversation, Coach formed an impromptu alliance with Albert, Brandon, Rick, and Sophie.
The first Immunity Challenge was won by Upolu in a close match. In addition to tribal immunity, Upolu received flint and was told that a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol was hidden at their campsite.
At Upolu, Coach, not having forgotten Edna's earlier kindness toward him, allowed her to join his alliance, albeit as a sixth, outlying member. In keeping his relation to Russell Hantz a secret and with guilt eating at him, Brandon revealed his secret to Coach and asked him to keep it to himself. Brandon gave his word that he would stick with Coach and their alliance. Christine found the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol. Brandon continued to project sinister and sordid motivations in Mikayla's simple camp activities and felt so uncomfortable around her - saying that she reminded him of Parvati Shallow - Brandon planned to vote Mikayla out as soon as possible.
At the combined Reward/Immunity Challenge, the men of Upolu blew a huge lead going into the crate stage of the challenge, allowing Savaii to come from behind and win the challenge. Back at camp, Coach was concerned about Christine having a Hidden Immunity Idol and suggested to his alliance that they protect themselves by splitting their votes between Christine and her closest ally Stacey. Brandon, however, expressed his desire to vote out Mikayla instead. Coach, trying to maintain control of the alliance, insisted that they stick to the plan of splitting the vote. Still wanting to eliminate Mikayla first, Brandon lied to Coach and told him that Christine and Stacey would vote for Mikayla. At Tribal Council, Coach confronted Christine and Stacey about their votes. Christine and Stacey denied they had ever said they would vote for Mikayla. When they asked who Coach had heard that from, Coach refused to say until Brandon confessed to telling the two women to vote against Mikayla. When the vote came, the alliance of six along with Mikayla followed Coach's plan and split their vote, casting four against Christine and three against Stacey. Having failed to find the idol, Christine was sent to Redemption Island.
Day 6's Tree Mail announced the first Redemption Island duel. The tribes were instructed to send two members to witness the duel; Upolu sent Coach and Stacey while Savaii sent Ozzy and Elyse.
Before the duel started, Semhar recited more poetry to calm herself, but it did not help and she lost to Christine. On Day 7 at Upolu, Brandon felt guilty about lying to his tribe during his push to vote out Mikayla. He finally told them the truth about his family, displayed his tattoos and apologized for continuing to lie to them. In private, Brandon and Mikayla discussed why he wanted to vote her out. After Brandon felt threatened by her demeanor, he gathered the rest of the tribe and told them all that he was very upset at Mikayla's approach, that she did not appear to have much of an alliance, and to keep him out of all tribal drama. Coach was concerned that Brandon's outburst would cause friction within the tribe and his alliance.
The tribes were neck-in-neck until the grappling hook stage of the challenge; Upolu gained an insurmountable lead, winning the reward and immunity.
At Upolu, Brandon was still feeling tormented by his actions and decided to be a better more honest player. He apologized to Mikayla for his recent outburst in front of the tribe. He then confessed to Edna that she was not actually part of the core alliance of Albert, Brandon, Coach, Rick, and Sophie, but merely a sixth, disposable member, much to Edna's shock and disappointment. Cochran, Jim, Brandon, and Edna went to observe the Redemption Island duel.
Before the duel started, Brandon apologized to Christine for his rash behavior toward her during Upolu's first Tribal Council. Acknowledging the apology, Christine edged out Papa Bear to win her second duel in a row. Once Brandon and Edna returned to camp, Edna, now on edge about her status in the tribe due to Brandon's earlier confession to her, decided that she had to emphasize the social aspect of her game by being cordial and polite. However, she overplayed her "be nice to everyone" strategy; due to her constant talking and laughing, Edna just ended up irritating Mikayla and Stacey.
At the combined Reward/Immunity Challenge, Savaii chose Dawn, Jim, and Keith to be the weight bearers while Upolu chose Albert, Brandon, and Stacey. Keith dropped out first after 26 minutes and 180 pounds (82 kg). Albert was out next at the same weight. Jim and Brandon surpassed the Survivor record of 220 pounds (100 kg) held by Rupert Boneham in Survivor: Pearl Islands and James "J.T." Thomas, Jr. and Brendan Synnott in Survivor: Tocantins by going to 240 pounds (110 kg), but both dropped the pole shortly after the last 20 pounds (9.1 kg) were added. Just like Survivor: Tocantins, it came down to the two women: Dawn and Stacey. The weight was at 140 pounds (64 kg) when Stacey dropped her pole to give Savaii the win. Stacey expressed her frustration over being the next target for elimination in her tribe due to her previous ties with Christine, even though she believed she had proven herself to be a strong competitor with her performance in the challenge. Stacey appealed to Coach, implying that she deserved to stay over Edna, whom Stacey viewed as annoying and weak. However, Coach confessed that while he "understood" Stacey and where she was coming from, she was still not safe. Stacey then tried to stir things up by lying to Brandon, telling him that he needed to watch out for Albert, Mikayla, and Sophie, because the three of them might have formed their own secret alliance. Panicked, Brandon relayed the news to Coach, but Coach cut him off and told him that Stacey knew she was getting voted out next and would say anything to save herself. Annoyed about Brandon's actions, Coach and Sophie mulled over the possibility of kicking Brandon out of the core alliance at some point. At Tribal Council, Brandon broke down emotionally for feeling that he had something to prove by being Russell Hantz's relative and that he had to reclaim the family name in a positive manner. The tribe then discussed their issues of trust and loyalty. When the vote came, the core Upolu alliance followed through with their plan and Stacey was sent to Redemption Island, angrily rejecting her tribe's attempts to embrace her before she left.
When Stacey arrived at Redemption Island, she vowed to tell Savaii at the Redemption Island duel that Coach was in control of Upolu. At Upolu, Brandon felt offended by Mikayla's answer during the previous Tribal Council that she disliked him because he was a Hantz. Albert, Mikayla, Dawn, and Whitney went to witness the Redemption Island duel.
Christine and Stacey lambasted Albert and Mikayla, and told Dawn and Whitney that Coach, whom they declined to call Coach, but instead used his real name, Benjamin, was in complete control, Albert was Coach's right-hand man, and the entire tribe were liars. Christine won her third duel in a row. When Albert and Mikayla returned to camp, they told the tribe about Stacey's venting, which upset Coach as he felt it would put a target on his back. Albert found the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol, but when he couldn't find the Idol itself, he told Coach and Sophie about the clue to enhance their trust in him. Coach found the Hidden Immunity Idol and told his new sub-alliance of three.
The combined Reward/Immunity Challenge was won by Upolu by a slim 2 ounces (56.7 g), continuing the trend of alternating tribal wins.
Over at Upolu, Brandon found the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol and shared it with Coach and Albert. Brandon went on the hunt without knowing that Coach already had the idol. Coach and Albert agreed that telling Brandon that they already had the idol would cause him to fly off the handle.
Sophie, Rick, Ozzy, and Keith witnessed Christine continue her domination at the Redemption Island duel with her fourth win in a row. Over at Upolu, Edna continued cozying up with Coach in order to improve her outlier status with the core alliance of five.
At the combined Reward/Immunity Challenge, Savaii struggled during the first half of the challenge, falling way behind Upolu. When Mikayla missed several shots with the slingshot, Coach told her to sit out and let someone else shoot, but she refused and stubbornly kept trying, continuing to miss. Meanwhile, Jim and Keith proved to be adept with their slingshot, allowing Savaii to overcome the deficit and take the win. Coach angrily blamed Upolu's upset loss on Mikayla and privately expressed satisfaction that he wouldn't have to deal with her for much longer, as she was the core alliance's next target. Albert, however, having befriended Mikayla and believing her to be an asset to the tribe, began a campaign to keep Mikayla, arguing that Edna should go instead. Sophie agreed with Albert to vote out Edna. Brandon, however, refused to go along with Albert's plan, arguing that the core alliance had a duty to stay true to their original agreement to vote out Mikayla next. Albert and Sophie then tried to convince Coach that Edna was their weakest link and the tribe still needed Mikayla's strength. However, Coach remained steadfast in his decision to vote out Mikayla, claiming that Edna was much more trustworthy than Mikayla, and he felt that was more important going into the merge. With the alliance split, Rick became the swing vote and Coach and Albert each lobbied hard to win Rick over. At Tribal Council, Brandon once again acted out, this time livid over what he perceived to be a breakdown of loyalty within the core alliance. In the end, Rick sided with Coach, Edna, and Brandon, sending Mikayla to Redemption Island.
When Upolu returned to camp from Tribal Council, most of the tribe expressed concern that Brandon's recurring blowups at Tribal Council could potentially jeopardize their future in the game. Edna, however, secretly hoped that Brandon's behavior would continue, as it might shift the next target from her to him.
Sophie, Albert, Ozzy, and Cochran witnessed the duel between Christine and Mikayla. Despite the verbal support that Mikayla received from Albert and Sophie, Christine won her fifth Redemption Island duel in a row in a closely fought match. At Upolu, Coach tried to inspire his tribe by having them all "find" the Hidden Immunity Idol. Coach, Albert, and Sophie staged a hunt for the idol for the others. While passing the Tree Mail stand, Coach and Sophie found a package announcing the upcoming challenge, so they took the opportunity to announce they had "two pieces of great news": the upcoming challenge and the "finding" of the Hidden Immunity Idol.
Both tribes considered the Reward/Immunity Challenge to be crucial, since they had correctly suspected that it was the final tribal challenge of the game and the tribe that won it would secure all of their members going into the merge, and would potentially have a numbers advantage depending on who returned from Redemption Island. Upolu chose Coach and Rick as their callers/rope handlers, while Savaii used Jim and Cochran. The tribes were neck-in-neck through most of the challenge, but on the final heat, Cochran struggled to get Ozzy and Whitney properly hooked into their rope. Savaii fell behind and never recovered, and Upolu ecstatically took the pivotal win. Cochran's entire tribe was extremely upset over his incompetence in the challenge, which concerned Cochran that Ozzy might renege on his plan to volunteer to go to Redemption Island.
- Upolu's namesake, Upolu Island, is the second largest island in Samoa, the largest being Savai'i, the namesake of the other tribe, Savaii.
- Upolu Island was the shooting location of all four Survivor seasons that were shot in the Samoan islands.
- Upolu is the second blue starting tribe to produce the winner of the season, after Drake in Pearl Islands sixteen seasons prior.