Each week, Christine Pallon and Gia Worthy will round up the previous week of Survivor 44 as they list their top moments in various important categories. This includes the most essential information, the stand-out castaways, and the key moments from the week.
Here, Christine and Gia break down all the action from the season premiere.
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Top 3 Moments
Four Medical Visits!?
Gia: This cast needs to be wearing helmets, put in rice, and wrapped in bubble wrap for safe measure because we had far too many medical visits for one episode. Hell, we had far too many medical visits for an entire season, and this all happened in the span of 48 hours.
Bruce’s injury was cleared in the reward challenge, but a second visit that night called for him to be officially pulled from the game. After that, Matthew’s attempt to climb a large rock went awry when he took a pretty hard fall. Finally, Brandon nearly passed out during the immunity challenge and had to sit out as a result. Neither of them had to leave the game as a result, but I think I speak for everyone when I say I don’t want to see the medical team for the rest of the season.
Plenty of Twists, Both New and Old
Christine: This premiere saw the return of Savvy or Sweat, the Summit, and the introduction of idol cages. Savvy or Sweat played out like it has in the past, with the exception that Ratu got to choose which challenge they did and which one Tika did, with both tribes being successful in winning their supplies. The Summit, too, played out similarly to how it has in the past: three players – Matt, Sarah, and Lauren – got sent to an island to make a decision.
This time, they were forced to draw from a bag that held two Lose a Vote parchments and one mysterious advantage parchment. After drawing once, they could choose to stop or draw again. Sarah lost her vote but got the new Inheritance Advantage (allowing her to play it at tribal council and “inherit” any advantages played that night) and Lauren scored the new Bank Your Vote advantage (allowing her to chose not to vote at tribal council and “bank” that vote for use at a later tribal council).Matt, on the other hand, lost two votes and got nothing.
While the first two twists were familiar to the castaways, they were surprised with an entirely new twist at their camps in the form of the idol cages. This season, the idols are hiding in plain sight in a cage at each tribe camp, with a key hidden elsewhere at camp. Although I like the idea behind Savvy or Sweat and the Summit, they’ve lost their charm for me and are starting to get a bit repetitive, even with these minor changes. The idol cage twist is the twist I’m most excited about this season. It has a lot of potential, especially if someone re-hides the “dummy” idol after finding the real one.
Jaime makes Survivor History
Christine: Jaime became the first person to successfully play their Shot in the Dark, although she didn’t end up needing it. After Ratu lost, it looked like the vote would fall between either Lauren or Brandon. Maddy tried to rally Jaime, Kane, and Lauren to vote out Brandon and his idol, but her plan hit a snag when Jaime declared she wanted to play her Shot in the Dark. She announced this intention again at tribal council before the votes were read and ended up securing safety for herself while Matthew’s Shot in the Dark failed. This was followed by Brandon’s idol play, leading to Maddy’s elimination with just one vote against her. Was this a good move for Jaime? No, not really. But she made Survivor history, at least.
Gia: Fear not everyone; I have found the disaster tribe! Ratu is overthinking absolutely everything, and I’m obsessed with every second of it. Between Jaime and Matthew playing their Shot in the Dark, Lauren banking her vote, Maddy and Kane voting for the one person that has a public idol is a recipe for an absolute mess. Brandon playing his idol sealed Maddy’s fate, and with only one vote to do the job. We lost Maddy far too early, but what an iconic way to go out.
Gia: Soka is probably the tribe we know the least about so far, but that doesn’t mean they are without entertainment value. Claire has proven to be as iconic as promised, Heidi is the resident firemaster, and a showmance is in the air for Frannie and Matt. We’ll definitely be seeing more of all these storylines and hopefully some more of Josh and Danny too.
Christine: Tika is clearly our “character” tribe of the season, with Carson, Carolyn, and Yam Yam already standing out as big personalities. Tika took a huge blow losing Bruce early on but still managed to pull it together to score a crucial first immunity win. But the seeds for a potentially chaotic tribal down the line are already being sewn.
This episode saw the formation of an alliance between the “young people” of the tribe – Carson, Sarah, and Helen – which seemingly leaves Yam Yam and Carolyn on the outs. However, Sarah’s lost vote could spell trouble for this alliance if Tika heads to tribal, creating the potential for a 2-2 vote on this tribe of five. Carolyn also seems to really be eyeing the idol cage, and she just might be bold enough to go for it on her own and cause even more problems for the young majority alliance. Tika is poised to give us a lot of entertainment this season, and we’ve only just begun.
Top 3 Contestants
Gia: Following Brandon’s game was quite the roller coaster ride this episode, and it’s only the beginning of season 44. He definitely mishandled how he told Maddy and the rest of the tribe about the idol, but the idol he got made all the difference in the end. His sole vote was enough to take out Maddy, and it appears he has a few potential allies available to him in Matthew and Lauren. At the very least, it’s not the worst way to end the episode.
Christine: We didn’t hear a ton from Claire this episode, but she seems to be a potential player to watch moving forward. Her decision to gossip with Matthew on the sit-out bench and expose Lauren’s lies about the Summit was both hilarious and cut-throat and could set her up for a potential working relationship with him if they both make the merge down the road. It could also put a target on her back if anyone catches wind of her sit-out scheming, though. Either way, I’m excited to see what Claire gets up to next.
Gia: Matthew was as excited to be on Survivor as I was watching him on Survivor. There is something so heartwarming about seeing such big fans of the show make the most of their experience, and Matthew was committed to that from the moment he set foot on the beach. He helped complete the Sweat challenge, narrowly escaped a medical evacuation, played his Shot in the Dark, and somehow is still in a fairly good position amongst his tribemates. He brings a fun dynamic to Ratu; now let’s see how he deals with the fallout of that insane tribal council.
Christine: What a devastating way to start the season! Bruce was clearly so stoked to be out there, and to have his time cut short to only 12 hours due to an injury is just brutal. I’m so glad Jeff has confirmed Bruce will get to return for a future season, which was absolutely the right call. Only 12 hours on the island is barely any time at all, so it’s totally fair to throw him in as another newbie in a future season if that’s what they decide to do. He seemed to bring a lot of positive energy to his tribe even in just the short time he was there, and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the game when he gets a real shot at it in the future.
Gia: I am taking this section to let everyone at Inside Survivor know that I am claiming Bruce as my first choice in the draft for his returning season. The way he went out and how quickly it happened was heartbreaking to watch, especially with how much I loved his pre-season press. I can’t wait to see him play again, and I’ll be rooting for him every step of the way.
Christine: I was so bummed to see Maddy go – though not as bummed as Gia, I’m sure, since both Maddy and Bruce were on her draft team. I appreciate Maddy trying to make a move here to get out a strong player with an idol, and I don’t think she played badly by any means. She was the unfortunate casualty of a lot of weird gameplay on Ratu, with Jaime and Matt’s Shot in the Dark plays almost certainly tipping Brandon off to play his idol (if he wasn’t planning on it already).
I do think it was a mistake to actually put votes on Brandon, however. Getting the idol flushed makes a lot of sense, but actually putting the votes on the guy with the public idol who already doesn’t trust you seems like too much of a risk to take on a tribe of six.
Gia: It’s been a rough premiere for Team Gia, and it’s by the grace of Frannie that we live to see another day. That being said, I don’t regret picking Maddy to be a part of the group, and she brought everything she said she would in the span of two hours. Not all of her calls were the best, but she also did a lot right at the start. I think she’d be a player that would be great on a return, a little more polished and with a little more life experience under her belt.