Episode ten of Survivor 45 is in the books! Amongst the chaos of my life I still snuck this recap in before the next episode. Let’s dive into what happened.
Emily Thrives, Jake Cries
If we are looking at the big picture character arcs that dominated the episode, it was how Emily is putting together a winning game of Survivor and how Jake finally realized that he’s put together a losing game of Survivor. Emily had bemoaned in the previous episode how losing her vote removed the option for her to control her own fate in the game. This week she took full responsibility and showed off why she is such a threat to win the million dollars in the end. She’s playing the middle between her Reba duo Austin and Drew and the remaining women coalition of players, and she has actively been currying favor with future jury members by keeping players on the bottom in the loop of what’s happening. It’s a move she co-opted from the very beginning of the game when the shoe was on the other foot, and Kaleb kept Emily in the loop when she had seemingly tanked her game day one and had zero friends. Now Emily is operating at full power with unlimited paths to take to get to the end of the game. Because she is willing to work with anyone to get the job done, Emily can control how her game plays out and her victory is contingent on who she decides to go with. Will she stick with the alliance she made with Drew and Austin or will she go with the girls and ensure a woman wins this season? Or will people wisen up to how strong a player Emily is and send her home before final tribal council? I think all things could be possible.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Jake who realized that he’s the goat of Survivor 45 in this episode. After the Kendra vote, Jake believed that he had many friends in the game, a pawn in Drew that is feeding him information, and a real shot to blindside whoever he wants in the upcoming vote. All that got shattered over the course of the next hour and a half. Jake learned that no one was telling him the truth, that Drew actually saw Jake as a pawn, and that he was completely powerless to alter what happens in the game. First off, I think it can be easy to laugh at Jake for being clueless about his position in the game, but it’s always important to realize Survivor players perceive themselves in the center of the story of the season and don’t get the benefit of seeing what everyone’s thinking like we do. Jake apparently felt the friendships he had cultivated in the game to this point could be used strategically to get what he wanted, but he was blinded by what he wanted his game to look like rather than the reality of the situation. It all hit Jake at once before tribal council when no one was giving him the truth and he cried under the weight of the pressure of a game that had fallen apart.
What we can laugh at is Jake picking a fight with Drew and making the nerd feel like he’s in the Godfather or something. I enjoy when people pop off at each other, and Jake’s such a goober that he ends up looking sillier at the end of the argument than most people should.
Well Actually, Pretty Much Everyone Cried this Episode
Yeah, this ended up being quite the emotional roller coaster of an episode. With the allure of being able to read a letter written by someone you love, the waterworks got turned up to eleven. You would think all these people had never spent a moment of their lives away from anyone in their family, but I guess with rewards being so meager in the current era of Survivor, people are probably hungrier and more emotionally spent at this point of the game. I also wouldn’t put it past production telling the cast to ham it up a bit concerning love from home. I mean, Drew crying not once but twice this episode was not on my Survivor Bingo card.
Emily wins the reward challenge (a major accomplishment for her, congratulations!) and after everyone pleads for a trip to the Sanctuary, where above average things happen, she picks all the girls to go with her out of kinship with the ladies and strategically keeping the possibility of a girls thing open in the very end. The combination of starving people getting food, large glasses of wine, and the letters brings out more tears and emotion, which is of course cinematically shot in the New Era Survivor way to make things seem ten times more dramatic. This lunch had Emily rethinking her thoughts on marriage, Katurah reevaluating her estranged relationship with her mother, and Dee speaking Spanish. It was that impactful!
Then we had the odd moment in the immunity challenge where Katurah has a bout of fear over falling into the water in this brand new endurance challenge. Of course when Jeff smells the insecurity, he bites into it like a lion chasing down a zebra and makes a big deal out of Katurah’s cold feet, turning it into this big inspiring moment. I can understand why Katurah was so scared, because if she isn’t a confident swimmer then involuntarily falling into the ocean doesn’t sound very fun. But in classic Jeff fashion he tries to make some big overcoming of adversity and has her jump into the water after the challenge… ignoring the fact that Katurah has already done multiple swimming challenges this season already.
But whatever, I hope this was a true growing moment for Katurah and not the show making a mountain out of a molehill. I desire the rest of the season to be more measured in doling out the emotional beats rather than going for this overly-inspirational presentation like we got here.
Now back to the strategy.
Bruce Takes the Bait
The plan that was executed in this episode’s tribal council was straight-out explained within the first fifteen seconds of us returning from the immunity challenge. There was going to be a split vote between Bruce, who would receive the majority of the votes , and Jake would be the backup if Bruce played his idol. The Reba four, Emily, and Katurah all agreed early on to enact the plan and then the rest of the time put us into the POV of Bruce and Emily. Bruce looked around for an opening in the hopes that someone would use tonight for a blindside and he thought he found it. Rumors started going around that maybe it was time to blindside Julie because she’s a jury threat. Who wouldn’t vote for someone whose nickname is “Mama J” to win a million dollars? With that information Bruce campaigned for the blindside and, after the tribal council discussion, believed he was safe enough to save his idol for another time. But Bruce has no allies and has never had any allies, and he was fully hoodwinked by the rest of the tribe. Bruce went home with an idol in his pocket with much celebration from both the jury and the remaining castaways.
It’s fair to wonder why Bruce was sent home so unanimously, especially when with Bruce’s exit the Reba four can control the rest of the game with the majority. The only thing threatening about Bruce was that he could possibly idol out someone. If that was the main worry, then tonight was ideal for everyone because Jake was still around for a safe split. If Jake went home tonight then Bruce’s idol would take out someone in the Reba alliance, the Emily-Drew-Austin alliance, or Katurah who wouldn’t be able to live down going home at the hands of Bruce.
I think it’s more likely that Bruce went home simply because everyone just wanted him out of the game. He’s been the easiest person for everyone to agree to vote on, and because it is the first time Bruce doesn’t have the individual immunity necklace, the catharsis of him being vulnerable for the first time was too much to ignore for what would instead be the betrayal for a loyal ally and friendly tribemate in Julie. We already know Belo couldn’t stand Bruce and that their desire to get rid of him is what allowed for Reba to take control of the game. Of course Reba would be happy to finish the job for the Belo castaways who couldn’t get their sweet sweet revenge without their help.
Given how unanimous the vote was, I must assume everyone sees a path to make it to the end and hopefully win. For the Reba four, they can now stick with each other on the safest possible path, with the option to blindside one of their own if someone feels they are handing the game over to their Day 1 friend. Jake can make it to the end as a goat, and Katurah must believe there is some opening to bet on herself and make a blindside happen. The ending of this season is most contingent on Emily: who will she decide to side with to get to the end?
Best Montage: Boys Day at Camp
Putting on 80s music and channeling the masculinity of the Top Gun volleyball scene for three goobers (and Austin, who could actually pass as an extra on the beach in Top Gun with Tom Cruise) was certainly a choice. I never want to see Drew flex again. But alas, despite the corniness, I did enjoy it.
The Keith Nale Award (Most Old-School Player in a New-School Game): Julie
Wait… someone feeling bad about blindsiding friends and making #BIGMOVEZ…. In MYYYY New-Era Survivor?!?!
The Bruce Perreault Award (Least Aware of what People Think of Him): Bruce
Before we erase our memories of Bruce and his delusions, can we just take a moment and appreciate that Bruce test ran fake-losing his idol on Katurah of all people? Did Bruce go almost twenty days on a deserted island with Katurah and not realize that she absolutely despised him? That’s the cherry on top of one of the best villain seasons we’ve seen in a while, even if Bruce wasn’t really trying to be a villain. But a villain who thinks he’s the hero is the best type of villain.
MVP of the Episode: Emily
She made a signature move that she will absolutely use to convince people that she deserves a million dollars in the end.
Goat of the Episode: Bruce
PLAYER TIER LIST:
OUT OF THE GAME
13. J Maya, Unaware Queen
12. Sifu, Wildcard
BOTTOM OF THE TOTEM POLE
There’s really nowhere Jake can go from here. He has to hope the game completely falls apart and he can just end up standing on the highest pile of debris.
IN A GOOD PLACE
6. Katurah, Victor over Bruce
I don’t really know what Katurah’s game is, which is a bad sign for her winner chances given there’s three episodes left. I think she is banking on being able to orchestrate a blindside against an important Reba player alongside Emily in the next episode or two, and hope that people will give her the most credit for it in the final tribal council
Being thrown about as a “jury threat” this early can’t be a good sign for Julie, who has long felt like the fourth most important castaway on Reba. At least she got a little more screen time this episode.
IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
If things play out right for these two, then they should have a great chance of winning. I just don’t think their ideal scenario will come to fruition.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m still Austin-pilled and he’s still my winner pick. But I think that right now, Emily has the best chance to go to the final tribal council as a favorite to win. I’ve already said that Emily controls her fate. But to win over the jury, she can’t allow this endgame to look Reba-controlled. If she’s sitting in the end next to two Reba players, a lot of the strategic points she can make will look a lot more flabby next to two Reba castaways. What’s the point of all the jury management if you look like the errand girl for the alliance that spent the whole game in power? If Emily can’t make an impact and Reba just steamrolls the end, then any of Dee, Drew, and Austin can win it all. I’m betting on Austin’s likeability and idol power as the favorite among the three.
How will Katurah celebrate beating Bruce back at camp? Find out next week!