Episode eight of Survivor 45 is in the books! Who doesn’t love a blast from the past? Let’s dive into what happened.
The Return of the Survivor Auction
At long last, the widely anticipated return of the Survivor Auction is upon us, and questions abound on how the show would handle the classic reward after 14 seasons away. Would it be exactly the same? Would there be advantages? Would Survivor production layer on a stupid twist? Well, in my opinion, I quite enjoyed the return of the auction. It was fun, lighthearted, and gave me my fill of starving castaways going crazy over modest amounts of snack food. Survivor did add some twists to the proceedings: auction money was hidden around camp for castaways to find, giving us an opportunity to laugh at Bruce for playing the slow game and earning himself zero money. Jeff also made a big deal about randomly and secretly selecting the number of auction items, a fairly extraneous performative measure that made sense given the rest of the twist. Castaways learned that if the auction ended and they had the most money remaining, they would lose their vote in the next tribal council, which makes all the castaways think twice about saving money in hopes of an advantage to buy.
All in all, Survivor succeeded in reviving the auction with these key format changes. The auction got retired because the game of Survivor as a whole got more competitive and the reward of food got overshadowed by the allure of a possible advantage to help your game. The fact that the cast really is getting starved in the new era, combined with the punishing lost vote twist, got the players to buy into the food rewards and revived a bit of the magic these old seasons had… though I could use a little less Jeff Probst suspense building in the process.
Bruce and Jake Take ALL the Heat
After the double tribal council, two people came out as major losers — Jake and Bruce. Bruce’s Belo tribemates officially ran out of patience with him, and seeing that the girls have the numbers over the boys, Kellie, Kendra, and Katurah pushed the idea that it was time for some strong, independent, badass ladies to take control of the game and castrate all the men to the jury lifestyle. Reba vs Belo looked like it was gonna be a war, but the group never needed to battle even once after the merge. Belo self-destructed at the hands of Bruce. The girls of the group, maybe underestimating how tight the remaining Reba players actually were, felt they had a much better chance of getting to the end by convincing Dee and Julie (plus Emily) to betray the people they had been with since day one, rather than get Bruce to agree to a plan and force a possible draw.
Jake got lumped in with Bruce as collateral for the girls distancing themselves from what Belo used to be. Jake had been the friendliest with Bruce of the group and he had just tried to rally up a huge rock draw gambit to save Kaleb. Jake’s actions showed Reba players like Julie that he wasn’t looking to be on their side and made him an easy name to throw as a vote, now that he is left only with the worst ally in the game.
The Biggest Blindside of the Season, So Far
Everything had gone bad for Bruce for the first fifty minutes of the episode. He lazily collected 80 bucks for the auction and even though he started with the least money, he ended with the most and got stuck with the lost vote penalty. It seems all but guaranteed that Bruce would have to use his final lifeline, the hidden immunity idol, this week. But this episode’s challenge relied on dad-strength, and Bruce had plenty of that. Bruce saves himself with immunity, leaving Jake the odd man out. All the strong, independent, badass ladies just started an alliance with each other so, to the Belo women who are gung ho about the gender war and not working with Bruce, it seemed obvious that piling onto Jake was best for an easy and harmonious vote.
But behind the scenes, the “Reba Four Plus Emily” alliance held all the cards. They agreed that Jake isn’t actually a big threat right now while Kellie is, and they completely shocked her at tribal council by voting her out. It’s the first true blindside of the season and it shattered all of the Belo people, bringing Kendra to uncontrollable tears and leaving Jake dumbfounded that he survived his funeral. It’s an excellent move for the group as a whole. This fivesome now holds the majority and have the option to stick together to final five if they want with minimal resistance. At least four of these players can convince themselves that they can ride this alliance out and win in the final tribal council. That would be the easy way to the end… but with this group I wouldn’t put it past anyone to orchestrate a blindside and give up all the power they just earned.
Biggest Surprise: Jeff Whipping out the Knife
I saw the rice sitting and was like “Oh ok, here we go again with the generally forgettable rice negotiation twist”. But then Jeff pulls out a knife and stabs the bag, making this year’s version of the twist quite memorable. Two quitters really have taken a major toll on Jeff’s mental state.
It got me thinking: we’ve come a long way from Survivor 41. When Jeff’s first incorporated this rice twist, it came with a long winded fourth wall monologue followed by an awful negotiation where Jeff rolls over at the first sign or bargaining (but it’s not the worst negotiation in Survivor history… put some respect to Drew Christy’s name). That was pretty on-brand for that first new era season. This season really has felt more like classic Survivor, embracing the new era games and twists but presenting it like the Survivor we know and love.
Grossest Surprise: Austin Eating the Fish Eye
Poor Katurah went all in on the covered gross food at the auction, where Survivor provided the ugliest looking cupcake known to man. But props to my modern-day Fabio Austin for taking a big fat bite out of the eye and confirming to all of us that it indeed, did not taste good.
MVP of the Episode: Drew
This is a general “Reba Four plus Emily” group MVP for pulling off such a lethal blindside, but Drew gets to hold the trophy because he got to play narrator for the whole thing.
Goat of the Episode: Kellie
When things seem too easy, you might be out of the loop. Kellie learned the hard way.
PLAYER TIER LIST:
OUT OF THE GAME
13. J Maya, Unaware Queen
12. Sifu, Wildcard
BOTTOM OF THE TOTEM POLE
How ironic would it be if old Belo came crawling back to Bruce in hopes that he would use his idol for their benefit? I think Belo hates him too much for Bruce to find any foothold to get him out of the bottom.
IN AN UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION
7. Katurah, Noted Bruce-Hater
Losing Kellie hurts these two castaways the most… they need to hope that someone on Reba (more likely the girls) have plans in the future involving their votes.
IN AN OK PLACE
Jake being dead in the water on this specific vote helps him so much… he can be happy that he didn’t vote in the group that got blindsided, and can try to hitch his wagon to Reba in response. He’s likely still powerless after this, but in terms of lasting longer, Jake can play dumb and embrace a “goat” role as someone who needed Reba to save him to stay in the game and hope he finds an opening to successfully make his mark on the strategy.
IN A GOOD PLACE
In an alternate universe, Julie has an edit that paints her as a threat to win. In this universe, I don’t believe that is happening.
IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
These are the four people who can make a winner’s case right now. Dee has a lot of respect as a strong player, but within the Reba group is the most likely to get targeted as a threat. Drew is a good strategist and involved in the important conversations, but socially isn’t as sexy a winner vote as Austin or Dee. Austin is super likable but his strategy is the least obvious to a jury member. Emily has the best winning story and has a strong alliance with Drew and Austin, but down the road can get easily painted as a jury favorite for the Lulu story.
Will a new twist shake up the powerful Reba alliance? Find out next week!