Episode four of Survivor 45 is in the books! If I had a nickel for every time someone quit in Survivor 45 I’d have two nickels… which isn’t a lot but it’s weird that it happened twice. Let’s dive into what happened.
New Lulu Gets Kaleb His First Win
Survivor 45 reintroduced the tribe swap back into the game — a much needed return to a twist that shakes up the alliances and strategies right before the merge. The swap itself, oddly enough, kept the two dominant tribes Belo and Reba fairly separated still. Lulu ended up becoming the original Belo tribe plus Kaleb, and Reba became the original Reba tribe plus Sean, with Belo getting an even split from all groups.
Normally when you are the only person transplanted onto a tribe where everyone else has been living with each other for a week, you have to fear for your life in the game. Thankfully for Kaleb, his general Survivor competence combined with the bubbling tension between Bruce and Katurah let him swerve into a safer spot than you would assume. Also, Kaleb actually got to be on a successful tribe for once, and a big deal was made about the Lulu tribe finally earning flint eight days after the game started. Congrats Kaleb for persevering, and not throwing in the towel when things look grim!
Emily Gets to Own the Narrative This Time Around
After three episodes of digging her own grave and trying to scramble out of it, Emily finally got to be the one everyone wanted to work with. The new Belo tribe had the most even distribution between the original tribes, placing Emily squarely in the middle as a possible swing vote. The show definitely placed her situation front and center and let Emily cook when it was Belo’s turn to be on the screen. For now, Emily is going to side with the Reba duo of Drew and Austin through mutual interest. Will that hold or will the Belo duo of Brando and Kendra be able to get her to flip? Right now, Drew and Austin have been central characters to the season while Kendra and Brando have been more in the background which makes me think that this original agreement will stand.
Blindside Plans are Thwarted Because Sean Misses His Hubby
The Reba tribe kept four of its original members on the tribe, trading Drew and Austin for formerly dead-in-the-water Sean from Lulu. Sean initially went to work on trying to sway Reba members to take him in as a loyal alliance member, and he saw positive progress. The previously silent J. Maya decided with this tribe swap, it was time to make her #bigmove. J worked to pick up Sean as an ally and campaigned hard to Dee and Julie to blindside big threat Sifu before they get to the merge. It was interesting to see where J. Maya’s head was at: she believes she is in a key position in the Reba tribe and that she has the power to take out who she perceives to be a major problem. However, from a bird’s eye view we have more information and know that the power in Reba was held by the foursome of Julie, Dee, Austin, and Drew. But because the tribe swap broke apart the majority alliance, J was actually able to wield some power and clout in her tribe and convince Dee and a reluctant Julie to take out Sifu right now. Sifu doesn’t actually seem like that big of a threat right now, but if he is not part of the long terms plans of the alliance then it does not hurt to get him out of the way now and guarantee that he does not flip later on. If the original Reba was still together and lost the challenge, J Maya’s aggressive campaigning would have had a lot less influence and looked a lot sillier.
But in a shocking turn of events, the Sifu blindside got thwarted by Sean deciding to soft quit in an almost identical way to Hannah from the first episode. Sean has been told that he will be okay and that the Reba ladies are going to grandstand and make it look like “Reba Strong” in tribal council, only to shock Sifu with the vote. It can be easy to forget that these tribal councils are a few hours long and not ten minutes, so that means somewhere within the hour-long conversation Sean’s motivation to stay in the game completely evaporated. Jeff sets Sean up with the final “what will you take away from your Survivor experience” question so Sean can have a moment to get stuff off his chest before he possibly goes home, but Sean takes the question off the rails, going deeper than what anyone expected and concluding his speech by begging to be voted out of the game. A completely flabbergasted Jeff Probst (he can’t have expected this to happen twice!) gets direct to the point and asks if Sean is engineering a quit and Sean confirms that he is. We still have the vote and Dee makes a desperate audible to try to keep the Sifu blindside on, but Julie and J. Maya respect Sean’s wishes and send him home, making him the second quitter of the season.
Sean had spent eight days on Survivor getting completely smothered by failure on his original Lulu tribe. He withstood Hannah, Brandon, and a blindside of his key ally Sabiyah. But even with all those trials, it looked like Sean was still trying to play the game of Survivor. A deflating third vote did not stop him from trying to save face in the immediate aftermath with Kaleb and Emily, and the tribe swap combined with the plan for a Sifu blindside made it look like he had a lifeline. But I guess whatever happened in that tribal council took away all of Sean’s motivation to play the game. Maybe he thought the Reba girls were leading him astray and he was a hundred percent going home. Maybe the emotion and pressure of tribal council pushed his mental fatigue over the edge and allowed a grown man to be taken over by homesickness like a ten-year-old child at sleepaway camp. Sean will have to tell us why he gave up. He went from being a fairly forgettable presence on a disastrous tribe to having a legacy… but his legacy is that of quitting in the season of quitters.
The Hand Signals Award: Kaleb
None of the rehearsed lines that have come out of Kaleb’s mouth have been more interesting than the sheer amount of hand talking that this guy does. It must have been one of the things that he learned in his Survivor Auditioning class — emote with your hands to sound smarter!
Best Running Joke: Katurah Hates Bruce
I think it’s absolutely hilarious that Katurah did so much complaining about the goofy uncle Bruce that the editors can craft her entire character solely on her hating Bruce and wanting to vote Bruce out.
Worst Tribe Award: Original Lulu
The discussion has to be had now that Sean has quit the game: is Lulu the worst tribe in Survivor history? This tribe had two quitters, two castaways with some of the worst day ones in Survivor, a castaway who went home with an idol in their pocket, and Kaleb. If Emily and Kaleb falter at the merge, then I don’t think there is a discussion and they are definitely the worst. If Kaleb and Emily do well, then I think they will sit with other awful tribes from past new-school seasons like the Brains tribe from Cagayan or Malcolm and Denise’s tribe from the Philippines.
MVP of the Episode: Emily
From consensus first boot saved by a quitter to belle of the ball and desired ally!
Goat of the Episode: Dee
She just made things a lot more complicated on Reba by throwing the vote on Sifu when he was unaware of the potential blindside against him. The girls have a lot of explaining to do to Sifu and they’ve probably lost him as a number at the merge if they all make it in one piece.
PLAYER TIER LIST:
OUT OF THE GAME
BOTTOM OF THE TOTEM POLE
He has to will his tribe to victory in the immunity challenge or get an advantage to stay alive in the game…I wonder if the girls will consider throwing the challenge just to make sure Sifu doesn’t come back to bite them.
13. Katurah, Noted Bruce-Hater
I don’t know how Katurah is feeling about her position in the game, other than being against Bruce. To me, it looks like she has zero numbers and she needs to hope that Belo stays Belo strong.
IN AN UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION
Crazy uncle pretending he lost the flint when everyone knows he’s pretending he lost the flint is the most crazy uncle thing Bruce has done this season (so far)
Emily controls the fate of this tribe: while Drew and Austin seem to be her preferred allies, there’s still plenty of time for her to change her mind.
IN A GOOD PLACE FOR NOW
7. J. Maya
While Reba can fulfill her wishes and pick off Sifu in their next vote, J Maya could be in a dangerous spot. She has been lured into a false sense of security because she made her theoretically successful blindside attempt when the majority Reba four were separated, meaning she still doesn’t know that she has no real power in her perceived alliance, unless Dee and Julie flip on Drew and Austin in the future.
I think Kaleb will be safe in Belo because Belo has been itching to vote one of their own out. There’s still a possibility they call a ceasefire and vote the lone Lulu out, but I get the feeling that won’t happen.
IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
J Maya probably won’t be working with Sifu, which means one of duos in the Reba foursome should be safely in power up to the merge… even if Dee made things messier by alerting Sifu to his own blindside.
Kellie has been highlighted as someone in an especially good strategic position on Lulu, thanks to playing the middle on the original Belo tribe
I think we should be done with all the quitting now this season… excited to see where we go in the next episode!