Survivor 45

Episode 4 Recap – Lost Time

What went down in Episode 4?


After Sabiyah’s epic exit, the remaining Lulu trio return to camp and assess the fallout. Emily and Kaleb are tight after uniting for a common goal; Sean’s an obvious outsider who returned with egg on his face, and his attempts to cover his tracks and avoid the heat fall flat. Emily and Kaleb call it what it is: Sean got royally outplayed, his attempts to save face are clear to everyone, and he’s got nowhere to go unless there’s a sudden swap to bail him out.

But lo and behold, the Survivor gods provide because we have the first swap of the New Era. Not a single-player trade-off, but an actual shuffle like the Old Era. When the buffs drop and the dust clears, we have three tribes of five. On the new Belo, we have Drew and Austin, Kendra and Brando, and Emily in the middle of the two duos. On the new Reba, Sean is the lone Lulu against Julie, Dee, J. Maya, and Sifu. And on the new Lulu, it’s Kaleb against Bruce, Katurah, Kellie, and Jake.

The new Belo is the most compelling group, seeing as they don’t have a single target to pile their votes on. Emily approaches her apparent swing vote situation with Kaleb’s advice in mind, presenting herself as genuine and kind to find a new start with people who don’t know about her terrible first impressions on Lulu’s beach. And it seems to work, as Drew and Austin see her as a number worth looking into and quickly bring her into the fold. With multiple advantages and the swing vote on their side, their duo seems to hold all the cards for the time being, and Emily’s found new life in the game on a stronger tribe.

But that doesn’t mean the other two tribes are bore-fests. At first glance, the new Reba appears to be a solid four against a lone wolf, but Sean might have wiggle room here as the Reba women want to finish what was planned early on and remove Sifu from their beach. At least, that’s what J. Maya wants, and she views Sean as a potential long-term ally rather than a sacrificial lamb for a Reba-strong mentality. On the other hand, Dee and Julie are quick to search Sean’s bag to verify he doesn’t have an idol, going as far as learning the nonsensical knots Sean ties to make sure they can cover their tracks.

On the new Lulu, Bruce emotionally recalls his 12 hours spent on that same beach last season. It’s a genuinely moving scene and one of the few upsides to the show refusing to change these beaches after a dozen seasons. But once again, Katurah’s not having it with Uncle Bruce, taking to the confessional to drag him through the mud. She even informs Kaleb that he’s definitely safe as Bruce was scheduled to leave first from their original six, an attitude Bruce finally picks up on as Katurah’s secret Bruce hate becomes a more public affair when she asks Kaleb to verify Bruce’s journey story.

But Kaleb himself has multiple options here as the lone wolf. Jake wants to help him survive but isn’t sure how the others will feel just yet. Nevertheless, Jake’s willing to throw tribe loyalty to the wind and jump ship if need be, which might prove risky if he’s the only one harboring those ideas when it’s time to vote. And Kellie is channeling her inner Kim Spradlin and keeping options open, seeing paths with each of her tribemates. There’s the women’s alliance with Katurah, the crossover alliance with Bruce and Jake, and maybe even a new ally in Kaleb should she need a free agent on her side.

At the immunity challenge, Kaleb guides Lulu to victory and finally gets a day off. Belo beats Reba on the last leg of the challenge and sends Sean to a fourth straight Tribal, but with Sifu as a potential blindside target, there’s hope for an episode to end without a Lulu casualty.

J. Maya continues to push for Sifu to go, hoping this can be her first big move of the season. Dee is willing to listen to her pitch, but Julie’s offering the dissenting opinion here, arguing that Sifu is the only reliable challenge beast on their tribe and voting him out now will only guarantee a Lulu-esque losing streak in the future, something that would be a tough road for someone in her archetype.

And left between the threat of being blindsided and trusting what his new tribemates are claiming, Sean’s not sure how to proceed. Does he cross his fingers and hope Sifu takes the hit tonight? Or does he play his Shot in the Dark and potentially burn new allies who want to trust him?

Well, it turns out there’s a third option: straight-up quitting. Yep, two quits in four episodes, both from that cursed Lulu six, and both earning the same bitter glare from Jeff as his desire to strangle someone boils below the surface. You know how a joke can be kind of funny the first time you hear it, but when it’s told again you’re not so amused? Yeah, that sums up the vibe of this quit.

Hannah quitting was amusing to me because it was only three days in and didn’t really intrude on anyone’s game except for the poor alternate at Ponderosa who could’ve had her spot. But Sean’s quit is more frustrating because we just lost two great personalities who wanted to stay so badly… just so Sean could ask to be voted out and go back to his husband feeling satisfied with his journey on day nine.

If Sean truly discovered something about himself and will take that lesson home, good for him, honestly. And there’s no reason to harass him (or anyone on the show, for that matter) over a personal decision to leave a game show. But really? He couldn’t stick it out and let the votes fall where they may for one night? Sifu was primed to go home with Dee and J. Maya gunning for him. Even Jeff revealed in press materials that Sifu was the boot that night, according to production’s interviews that day. And then Sean randomly had a change of heart mid-Tribal, offered his name up as a sacrifice, and couldn’t even get voted out unanimously because Dee wanted to stick with the Sifu plan to her dying breath.

With this season joining the multiple quits Hall of Fame (or Shame), I wonder how casting let two pre-merge quitters onto the show in 2023. Though, to be fair, Sean’s quit isn’t something you can really predict. With Hannah, she clearly wasn’t physically and mentally prepared to compete for obvious reasons. That’s an easy mistake to rectify for future seasons. But still, what about Sean? He was totally capable of surviving another day, if not the entire season, but a sudden realization at Tribal convinced him to call it there.

I don’t think there’s a solid answer. Maybe it was just the terrible losing streak taking a toll on Sean, and he’d already checked out to some degree. But that’s just Survivor for you, and so many players have endured and thrived after worse losing streaks. Should the show rebrand the New Era to be less about the “journey of a lifetime” where everyone leaves happy and highlight the cutthroat competition for a million bucks again? Maybe, but you’d still get the same people applying, and it’s not like the million isn’t in everyone’s minds, regardless of how the show is promoted after the fact.

Do they brutally trash quitters in the edit again to discourage it in the future? Perhaps don’t go easy on them, but they shouldn’t dehumanize them or cover up reasons why they actually did quit to make them look worse (see Osten’s staph infections that weren’t part of his aired story in Pearl Islands).

Ultimately, it comes down to casting. Cast people who are hungry for the million and maybe don’t have this amazing life to go back to where they’re already successful with families and careers. Cast people where Survivor isn’t just a bucket list item to tick off a list or a place to discover themselves, but a way to make some money and be competitive. Cast some people who are competent in the outdoors and know the struggle of survival firsthand to avoid another Hannah situation. Cast or even recruit people who haven’t made loving Survivor a personality trait, meaning they’ll be there for the money first and the experience second, and being voted out would actually frustrate them.

In short, just change it up! The New Era just gave us four absurdly samey seasons back to back before this one swooped in with 90-minute episodes and so many welcome features. And now it’s the shining beacon after some dark-ish days and bringing people back into their fandom. So why not keep changing things, starting with who’s actually put on the show to begin with? As Jeff once said, it’s always worth a shot.

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.

2 responses to “Episode 4 Recap – Lost Time”

  1. 3 out of 4 people in 1 tribe quit or asked to be voted out? This must be a record. I hope CBS / Survivor fires the casting director for this. The new era casting is already lackluster but 3 quits in the first 4 tribals? …. Please get Lynn Spilmann back. She gave us all the greats.

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