Survivor 44

Episode 7 Recap – Out of Your Hands

What went down in Episode 7?

Photo: CBS

There’s one big lesson to take away from this week’s episode. If production is absurdly hyped about a season and promises us it’ll be an all-timer, just assume it’ll be a massive letdown and save yourselves the disappointment. It’s a time-honored tradition in the long line of Jeff’s so-called favorite seasons.

But before everything goes off the rails, the episode starts innocently enough. Yam Yam scraped by Tribal Council, but he knows he’ll be an easy target moving forward. He has votes to his name, making him an easy vote sponge, and his closest ally is the woman nobody seems to listen to. But Yam Yam’s got a plan: turn up the social game, whip out his own brand of charm, and make some inroads to survive day by day.

Meanwhile, hapless Matt is finally free from his No Vote curse! Too bad he’s also wielding a fake idol thinking it’s the real deal. But he won’t be clueless for long because Brandon’s there to explain the birdcage situation to anyone willing to listen. From there, Matt realizes two things: his idol is fake because it was the only thing left in the cage when he got to it… and Danny was the one who duped him, meaning the real idol is 100% in the firefighter’s pocket.

And Danny, oblivious to Matt’s epiphany, has his eyes set on booting Lauren before she can weaponize her public extra vote. But that vote plan will not be a unanimous call. Matt spreads the word and gets some solid votes on board to blindside Danny when he least expects it, setting up a civil war between the old core of Ratu and the four remaining Sokas. Carson himself is giddy at the news, realizing that he, Yam Yam, and Carolyn can be the power players here and dictate which side wins out.

But before we can get that pretty cool and fairly pure round of social strategy, production’s gonna production and ruin it with one of their worst twists yet. It seems they’ve pushed the setup for the final ten double Tribal Council up one round to the final eleven, made it even more game-ruining, and added even more twists on top of it.

The cast is divided into two teams. Yam Yam, Matt, Lauren, Brandon, and Jaime are on purple, while Frannie, Carolyn, Carson, Heidi, and Danny are on orange. Carson draws the odd rock and sits out but bets on the orange team for a shot at immunity for himself. The last player standing on each team gets immunity… but the last player standing overall wins their entire team immunity, letting them watch Tribal Council from the jury bench as spectators rather than voters.

Not only is it a convoluted twist, but it also makes the game incredibly boring by cutting a crucial true merge vote for the sake of having another small tribe situation where people can’t vote. Because that’s really the thesis of the New Era right now. Steal people’s votes by force, throw random twists into the mix every other week, and let luck decide who goes home in almost every episode as the players try to outlast the game rather than each other. It’s all so blatantly manufactured, not fun to watch, and has squandered an overall excellent cast just for the sake of forcing production’s boredom-born daydreams to become reality.

Putting a pin in the rant for now, Frannie goes into beast mode to outlast almost the entire purple team herself, edging out Brandon for the ultimate victory. And I have to question her for not just throwing at that point, as she’d be immune, protect Matt by giving his team immunity, and have the numbers to potentially blindside Danny. But the realization comes too late, and Matt’s in the firing line with only four people vulnerable. And to make it even more terrifying, he left his bag at camp and can’t get it back as the losers head to the old Soka camp for the rest of the day, meaning no fake idol to bluff with and no Shot in the Dark as a last resort.

But if stripping six people of their votes at the final eleven wasn’t annoying enough, production decides to add another wrinkle by sending the winning team on a treasure hunt for another birdcage advantage! And what’s inside? Why, a Control-A-Vote advantage! AKA the Airtime Advantage in Heidi’s case, given she was destined to be totally ignored had she not stumbled across the right key. All it does is force Heidi to stand up at Tribal, tell someone who to vote for in front of the entire tribe, and they have to follow her orders.

This advantage itself would be fun in a different setting with different rules. Let her choose when to play it, making it essentially a less powerful and more risky Vote Steal. But no. It’s only in place to make an already dumb twist even dumber by depriving another innocent player of their most basic level of agency.

At the very least, it gives Heidi a choice regarding whose vote to steal, which is still more interesting than someone losing their vote by drawing shells out of a sack. Frannie and Carolyn are hopeful that Heidi will help save their number ones, while Danny insists on carrying out his plan to blindside Lauren by directing someone’s vote onto her and hoping the others follow suit. But once she chats with Kane, she leans toward Yam Yam being a worthwhile ally to keep around as a lone wolf and fellow Puerto Rican, leaving Matt as a possible target. Take him out, and you break up some strong connections, gain some allies, and avoid making enemies, even if Frannie won’t take it well.

Across the sea, the losers plot out some plans. Yam Yam and Matt realize the others will likely split the votes, so if they team up and target Lauren, they might be able to force a tie and go down swinging. But that’s still a fantasy because Matt and Yam Yam just want to survive a hopeless situation and return to their allies. And the only way out is pandering to the Ratu majority. Matt argues he’s been a loyal, trustworthy ally to Brandon so far, who brings numbers. Yam Yam argues that because Danny is after Lauren, taking out Matt will weaken his numbers going into the final ten. But Heidi’s Control Advantage will be the real kingmaker tonight.

And Heidi does something I think she’ll live to regret: telling Lauren to vote for Yam Yam. I don’t get this move at all. It burns Lauren by stealing her vote, burns Yam Yam by casting a public vote for him, and burns an assortment of others too. Brandon and Jaime will probably be wary of working with her moving forward. Frannie was already tired of Heidi’s headstrong decision making and losing Matt won’t make her any happier. And Carolyn and Carson nearly lost an ally because of her.

Like, this move is just baffling. Either go for the safe plan of having Matt or Yam Yam vote for each other to appease the Ratus for the time being, or make the big move and force one of Lauren’s allies to vote for her. It might not pay off if Lauren uses her extra vote to force a tie and save herself, but at least that move would earn her some trust outside her tight-knit Soka circle. Instead, we got the pointless move that alienates Tika and Ratu in one fell swoop. But I can’t lie and say I’m not interested to see what kind of backlash Heidi gets the following morning.

And so we say goodbye to Matt, our first juror. I adore Matt. He played like a lost puppy, but he was so infectiously wholesome that you just wanted to hug the guy. His awful luck with fake idols and lost votes are offset by the potential girlfriend he found in Fiji, but I still feel like this man was robbed. I doubt he could’ve won this season. However, it still took multiple levels of BS to get him out this early: the split tribe twist, the random draw leaving him without any allies, him forgetting his bag and nobody bothering to bring it to him, the Control Advantage doing him no good… Like, what is he supposed to do here?

It’s not like he got strategically outsmarted. If anything, he was starting to improve at the game when he realized Danny had duped him, but all these bad twists just happened to land on him before he could make a move with that information. It’s not a Cirie in Game Changers level robbery, but it’s still so disheartening and sucks the life out of an already dreary season.

At this point, this season is on kind of life support for me. What should’ve been a simple merge round turned into Merge-atory 2.0, which does not leave me hopeful for the coming weeks. Maybe production frontloaded the game with twists and the rest of the season will be fairly normal. Perhaps we’ll see a new awful twist every other round. Either way, this first half has largely been a disaster, spared from the absolute bottom of the barrel by Yam Yam and Carolyn carrying the entertainment factor on their tired backs.

And that’s not to shade the other players. It’s just that we haven’t been shown all that much of them when they aren’t talking about idols and advantages. This is effectively a hopelessly unaware self-parody of modern Survivor now, and at some point, you either have to give up and laugh at the absurd irony… or just give up in general. Because production certainly isn’t giving up on the New Era’s worst qualities if this “all-time great” season is any indication.

Written by

Cory Gage

Cory is a writer and student from Texas. He's a die-hard Survivor fanatic who's seen over 50 seasons worldwide, hosted his own season in high school from scratch, and hopes to one day compete on the show himself.

4 responses to “Episode 7 Recap – Out of Your Hands”

  1. This twist was a disaster the first time they did it in Fiji, when Michelle voted out. And, they decide to repeat it and make it even worse?! Probst is out of control with these stupid twists. Strategic gameplay just doesn’t matter anymore.

  2. If you hate this show so much, why continue to watch? It’s clear you’re not getting anything out of it, so it’s better to find something else to do than spread constant negativity, which is something Inside Survivor *used* to be above.

    • If we think a season is bad, we are allowed to express that. Just as we are if something is good. Episode 5 received lots of praise here and elsewhere.

  3. I have watched survivor since the very beginning. After so many seasons of kind of basic basic strategy strategy it’s kind of refreshing to see Something a little different. Like you don’t know what the next move is gonna be And so therefore even if you’re strategizing You could be completely wrong. I would like to see more of the Challenges For rewards And not so much running through the forest trying to find things.

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