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 latest episode.
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Top 3 Moments
The Ratu vs. Soka war rages on
Christine: This episode was dominated by the “Ratu vs. Soka” narrative, with Tika as the real power players caught in the middle. We saw glimpses of this war with Matt’s elimination last week, but this week’s refreshingly normal vote was the first real battle between these two tribes. Brandon and Danny’s short-lived bromance crumbled, and both sides tried to win over the Tika Three to secure a majority at this crucial vote. Soka came out victorious with the Brandon blindside, but the battle has only just begun.
It’s not terribly clear to me as a viewer how this Ratu/Soka line got drawn so firmly in the sand. But we’ve seen this kind of narrative play out before on three-tribe seasons – most notably on Survivor: Philippines – when two of the three tribes lock on to each other for the early merge, allowing the third, smaller tribe to make it deep. With the numbers even going into the final 9, the narrative could shift and put Tika in some real danger. For now, they’ve done a great job at playing the middle while downplaying their strength and letting the other two tribes target each other.
Lauren takes the win
Gia: The pairs’ challenge from Survivor 43 returned with some minor improvements and slightly less screen time. Players started the challenge in pairs before the remaining two pairs competed as individuals, with only one person winning immunity. This time Lauren, Brandon, Kane, and Danny battled it out in an endurance competition, and Lauren was the one to walk away with the immunity necklace (after no one wanted to pair up with her, no less). Not only was Lauren safe from the vote, she is also the first Black woman to win individual immunity in the new era (the last one also being a Lauren… Lauren Beck from Island of the Idols). Now if only we could get her the screen time she deserves…
Danny’s idol is revealed
Gia: Remember Danny’s idol? Well, it’s finally come into play, though the fallout may be more trouble than it’s worth (unless you’re Frannie). With Ratu wanting to vote out Frannie and Tika wishing to stay as neutral as possible, Danny planned to play his idol on his ally so Soka could live to fight another day. The only problem was that Heidi spilled this plan to Yam Yam, someone who could potentially have spilled the beans to Ratu if necessary. The plan still worked in Danny and Heidi’s favor, but I’m wondering if this will lead to further drama down the line?
Top 3 Contestants
Gia: Heidi has been all over the place this season, going from a near-invisible edit to one of the stars of this episode. After botching the Control-a-Vote advantage, she went to work mending her relationships with Tika and painting a target on the backs of the OG Ratu members. We saw her perspective when Soka was formulating the Brandon blindside, and even her slip-up about Danny’s idol wasn’t enough to derail the plan. Heidi is forging her own path in this game and knows what she needs to do to get to the end. Initially, I wasn’t sure what her way to the win would look like, but it’s becoming clearer with every episode.
Christine: Danny lost immunity – to his top target, Lauren, nonetheless – and could have been in a lot of trouble at this vote. Knowing he could easily be blindsided after Heidi spilled the beans about his idol (we saw Yam Yam considering this exact scenario), he still took a big risk in playing his idol for Frannie. In an era where Jeff harps on about taking risks, these risks are always artificial and crafted by production in their new twists: risking your vote, sacrificing your vote to play a Shot in the Dark, hunting for a public idol, etc. It was so refreshing to see Danny take such a basic risk and give us the first big idol play in years. I have a hunch the play won’t be great for his game long-term, but kudos to him for trusting his gut and making a solid play nonetheless.
Christine: Carson was down for the count this week because of a nasty stomach problem, but he and the rest of the Three Stooges gained even more power as the Ratu vs. Soka war raged on. Unlike Yam Yam – who is seen as being a little suspicious as evidenced by Danny’s reaction to finding out he knew about his idol – Carson seems to have maintained a lot of goodwill with both sides. And unlike both Carolyn and Yam Yam, Carson had the chance to make some real bonds with Ratu during the “swap” that might give him a lot of options in the future. I still can’t help but think someone will catch on to Carson sooner rather than later, but he’s playing a fantastic game in the meantime.
Christine: With Danny’s bold idol play for Frannie, Carolyn now has the only real idol left in the game. And no one knows about it. We haven’t heard from Jaime in a while about the status of her fake idol, but if she still believes it’s real, we could see it come into play in a funny way at some point, especially since there’s no longer anyone in the game who can confirm it’s fake.
Gia: Lauren’s extra vote is still in the game, making her a target. Had she not won immunity, she would’ve been a likely target to go home because of it. Her ally may be gone, but the extra vote is still in the game despite everyone’s attempts to get her to flush it. Perhaps she can find a way to use it and turn things around for Ratu.
Christine: Brandon was on my draft team for this season, and he didn’t let me down until he and Ratu got a little too cocky towards the end – a fatal mistake to make in a game where you need to always keep your guard up. Still, Brandon, despite some moments of cockiness and bro-y-ness, never fell into full-on unlikable villain territory, even during his downfall in this episode. He made a strong comeback from saving himself with an idol in the premiere and even made inroads with Kane, who had tried to eliminate him at that first vote. Unfortunately, the entirety of Ratu got too cocky after Matt was eliminated, and Brandon paid the price. It was only fitting that his story was bookended by an idol play that saved him and an idol play that ended his game.
Gia: Brandon started the game being saved by an idol and ended the game being idoled out. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Brandon; he was always a pleasant player to root for, even when things were not going his way. Not to mention that he spent the majority of his time immune, which is probably one of the things that made him such a big target. He remained a good sport throughout all of the twists and turns, from the birdcage idol to his eventual blindside. His final words in the game and on Twitter showed nothing but positivity and gratefulness, which is always appreciated to see as an avid fan of the show. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing him make a return to Survivor or another competition show in the near future.