Survivor 45

Episode 5 Recap – Hungry For A Blindside

What went down in Episode 5?


As the (unfortunately short) pre-merge of this season draws to a close, the players might not be eating well, but we, the audience, are. Even in a less compelling and even slower-paced episode, the 90-minute format continues to pay off, with plenty of time devoted to fleshing out dynamics heading into the next phase of the game and cementing some impending conflicts.

Fresh off Sean’s quit, the four remaining Rebas return to camp for an awkward interrogation session over who voted for Sifu. Dee’s remaining tight-lipped about her blunder, J. Maya swears it wasn’t her, and a dumbfounded Julie is just annoyed that Sean told Sifu he wasn’t responsible on his way out, effectively dropping a grenade on the women who were trying to save him. While they manage to shut down the discussion by insisting that Sean lied to Sifu for no apparent reason, Sifu’s not a fool. He knows something’s up, and he’ll be doing a little recon work to sniff out his real enemy here.

Day 10 is the day of starvation for our tribes, though, and it’s hitting hard. All Austin can think about is food and Kendra’s serving that wacky, over-the-top realness we knew she was capable of by failing to eat a worm. Seriously, Kendra is a star. I know the “goofy woman who makes weird noises and talks about weird stuff” archetype is nothing new (see Carolyn last season for the gold standard), but I’ll never get bored of them because they always deliver. And Drew himself puts it perfectly that Survivor is about people from all walks of life clashing and bonding in a survival situation. Kendra is certainly her own walk of life, and watching people just react to her mere existence is TV gold.

But on Lulu, the hunger takes its toll on Jake as he passes out yet again, inspiring him to open up about his history of binge eating, weight loss, and now his feelings of failure on the island. Despite all the work he put in to change his health and fix his body for the better, he’s still struggling compared to the others around him, and it’s breaking his heart. But it won’t be his downfall in the game, he assures us. He’ll be fighting to the end; no quitting allowed.

Meanwhile, Katurah is out hunting for idols and is busted by the entire tribe, making her already shaky standing even more unstable. Kaleb’s willing to throw her a bone, though, even going as far as agreeing with her Bruce slander and hoping to target the guy come merge… but Katurah is only one piece of his puzzle. Going to the others, he’s able to form solid bonds in preparation for the merge. And Kellie, pinned as the most connected player of the game, is his final piece, obtained by spilling the details of Sabiyah’s long-gone idol to earn some trust.

Back on Reba, Sifu continues looking for answers about that rogue vote as the women trash Sean some more just for good measure. Dee even tells us about her family’s history of immigration and overcoming adversity to prove she’s got not a drop of quitter blood running through her veins. But Sean’s gone, and Sifu’s still here… and he’s built a fake idol as a temporary line of defense.

Sifu tells Dee he’s got the real deal and talks to J. Maya about the philosophy of learning your enemy’s energy and pushing back against it with your own, something she assumes to be a threat against his prime suspect. If Sifu thinks she put his name down, all it takes is an idol play and his sole vote to send her home. But J’s willing to play with fire here and set herself up as a pawn to further her game with the women, ironically inspiring Dee and Julie to debate voting her out instead of Sifu if she’s making it that easy and won’t have an idol.

Reba and Lulu win immunity, though, meaning it’s Belo’s turn to face Tribal. But before any scrambling can be done, there’s another journey to Advantage Island with J. Maya, Austin, and Kellie as this week’s travelers. The dilemma this time is Sustenance vs. Strategy. By majority rules, they can either take a sandwich lunch or activate the return of the Amulet Advantage from Survivor 42, which requires all active pieces to be played at once to earn an Extra Vote for three pieces, a Vote Steal for two, or an idol with just one amulet remaining.

Austin wisely realizes this advantage is legit garbage and will only put a target on his back. Plus, he’s hungry as hell. But J. Maya insists on taking the amulets. That puts Kellie in the middle yet again, and being the big player she is, she opts for the amulets over the meal. While this route might not fuel Austin’s stomach, it certainly fuels his drive for revenge. You mess with the man’s sandwiches and you’re all going home so he can get a free idol at your expense.

Returning to Belo, Austin shares his new advantage with ride-or-die Drew and swing vote Emily, but there’s been some chaos in his absence to throw Emily’s allegiance into question. Fearing he’d be targeted, Brando goes to Drew and throws Kendra under the bus, pitching a unanimous vote against her, which he won’t go through with. But Drew’s never been on the same page as Brando, no matter how much they bond over their love of Pokemon or how many Shots in the Dark Brando offers as tokens of loyalty, so the most Brando can get here is a false promise.

Fresh off hearing Kendra throwing out Drew’s name, Emily talks with both Drew and Brando about the vote. Brando tries to spin his own Kendra plan as Drew’s idea, leaving Emily suspicious of Drew’s motives. Thankfully, Austin’s news about his amulet is able to quell her fears of the Reba boys being snakes, and off to Tribal they go with Emily still conflicted. If she cuts Brando, the Belos will be coming for her head. But she really trusts Austin even if Drew’s a bit shady, and voting for Drew will burn an ally who’s got tangible power.

Ultimately, it will be Brando getting his torch snuffed tonight in a 3-2 vote. Emily draws a line in the sand and gives Reba the power heading into the merge with all six members, Austin extends his idol’s lifespan and salvages his vote with the Goodwill Advantage, Drew narrowly escapes a pre-merge demise, and Kendra is left horrified at the blindside with Emily now on her hit list.

Unfortunately for Brando, I can’t say he really had time to shine, even with longer episodes. It was a classic case of swap-screwing for the guy, and with him offering little to the season’s story that Kellie wasn’t already providing with her own swing vote subplot, it sadly makes sense why he got shafted in the airtime department.

With that, we’ve reached the merge. Or… Earn the Merge, even though it’s basically just the merge with extra steps and a fancy Probstian name. Honestly, it’s a bit too soon. These swapped tribes had fun dynamics we got to understand in depth thanks to the 90-minute format, and only getting two so-so rounds worth of game out of them (with one round being a quit) before an early merge with most of the cast still in the game feels like robbery.

However, post-Hourglass merge rounds have delivered between Gabler bulldozing Elie out of the game and the fun Yam Yam and Josh frenemy arc reaching a peak in the last two instances of it. So even if the format leaves something to be desired, the cast will probably find a way to deliver a fun round regardless as this wonderful season enters its next stage.

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.

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