Survivor 45

Episode 6 Recap – Roll of the Dice

What went down in Episode 6?


This season is really good. Great even. And with the majority of the season left to air, it might become excellent. Despite the season falling into a lot of New Era traps as of late, including the extraneous Earn the Merge twist that always feels more like a convoluted bump in the road to the rest of the season, Survivor 45 is bringing the fun across the board with a merge that pays off five episodes of buildup. Yes, a twisty round of New Era Survivor actually felt like a proper climax to long-term storylines and relationships. Thank you once more, 90-minute episodes (and a touch of insane luck).

But before we get into the messiness of the merge, we have to deal with our last trace of the pre-merge tribes. On Belo, Kendra returns to camp totally shocked about Brando’s departure, swearing revenge on Emily for betraying her as Emily remains in the dark about Kendra’s true feelings. But Emily finally found a home among the Rebas, who conveniently haven’t lost a single member going into the merge.

Meanwhile, Lulu goes on a hunt for the rehidden idol at Kaleb’s request. If he can’t find it, he’ll at least know who has it. And that person just happens to be crazy uncle Bruce, who digs his idol out from under their shelter in front of everyone except Katurah. It’s good until the final five, has no limitations or extra rules, and it might be what Bruce needs to stay alive at a merge where he’s going to be an easy target round after round.

As the tribes unite on Reba’s beach to form a yet-to-be-named merge tribe, Kaleb and Emily reunite as the last remaining Lulu members and intend to play as the swing votes between Reba’s six and Belo’s five. Meanwhile, Kendra informs her old Belo allies about Emily’s betrayal and tries to unite her former tribe together as a solid block.

And as for the old Rebas, Austin comes clean about his amulet and throws J. Maya under the bus for robbing him of that sandwich on Advantage Island. If they can get landslide numbers against her, Austin can sacrifice a vote to power up his idol again, knock out an amulet to give their alliance more ammunition, and cement Reba’s strategic control despite sacrificing one of their own.

But there are old wounds still bleeding on this tribe: Bruce and Emily. She called him out on the marooning mat for being contradictory. He… didn’t do anything to prove her wrong, even if she came across terribly in her first impression. Emily’s willing to bury the hatchet, and Bruce accepts, but neither truly sees this as the end of their feud despite the cordial reunion.

Everyone has fun dancing with a stick bug, but the real dance is the tango Kaleb’s doing with both sides. If he pretends to be solid with Belo and Emily pretends to be solid with Reba, they’ll have all the information and make the best moves… as long as they don’t get busted. But the Lulu Two will not be the second coming of the Tika Three because Bruce is on the scene and sabotaging their plans.

Nobody is talking game with the lone returnee, and even if Bruce isn’t the best player here, he’s not ignorant to reality: if nobody wants to talk to you, you’re on the bottom. It’s a concern he voices with the likes of Emily, Katurah, and Kendra, along with the randomly spot-on read that Kaleb is playing all sides and schmoozing everyone with his social skills.

Not only does Bruce tell this to his supposed allies, but he says this to Kaleb himself, partially as a call out and partially as a cry for help. But Kaleb’s not amused at the crazy wildcard of the season having a perfect read on his game, and so Operation: Boot Bruce might need to be first priority. Running to Kellie, Kaleb informs her of Bruce’s chaotic turn and solidifies a plan, provided he doesn’t win immunity.

But with over half the tribe winning immunity at the Earn the Merge challenge, Bruce avoids the firing line along with Austin, Drew, Julie, Kendra, Sifu, and sit-out Katurah, who picked them all to win from the bench. That leaves six unlucky losers as the possible targets: Dee, Emily, J. Maya, Jake, Kaleb, and Kellie.

At the merge feast, Sifu is quick to toss out J’s name, hoping to get revenge for a vote she never even cast. The rest of Reba is primed to vote her out, and Belo won’t really oppose voting a Reba out first to save their own numbers, so it’s a solid plan. But Kendra’s not willing to let the Lulus float under the radar here, namely Kaleb, whose golden retriever shtick is falling apart, revealing him to be a ravenous wolf among a flock of sheep. Bruce agrees, but Katurah (in classic anti-Bruce fashion) loathes the idea of blowing up the game right away when there’s such an easy vote for J sitting there without much pushback.

Back at camp, the votes quickly fall on J. Maya. Kellie wants to weaken Reba and power up her amulet, Dee pulls in Jake and tells him to vote for J, and Emily and Kaleb know it’s either J or themselves going here, so J it is. But J herself will argue for Kaleb to be the vote, an attitude that quickly takes wing once the feasters return to camp. Kaleb’s name spreads from Kendra and Bruce to Drew and Jake and Dee and basically everyone except Kaleb. But the others make a crucial mistake in telling Emily, who immediately leaks the plan and tells Kaleb he’s in “play your Shot in the Dark” levels of danger here.

From golden retriever to lone wolf, Kaleb’s on the ropes. Figuring he has a shot to win Reba back to his side, he tells Drew and Austin about Bruce’s idol to earn some trust. While voting for Kaleb has its upsides, Austin reminds us once more than J did deprive him of that sandwich, so voting her out tonight would be sweet justice for such an unforgivably heinous act.

Just to drive the point home, Kaleb goes for broke and puts J on blast at Tribal. She’s a big threat because she’s sneaking under the radar; he’s always going to have a target on his back and can be dealt with whenever, and the Rebas can lower their threat levels by sacrificing her, so they should make the long-term move over the easy move.

But Kaleb’s arguments fall on deaf ears, forcing him to rely on the Shot in the Dark to save him here. And for only the second time ever, and in the most epic fashion possible, it actually works! Eleven votes down the drain. Eleven! A new record for the most votes nullified by a single advantage or idol too! And with no votes left in the urn after the never-ending streak of “Kaleb, does not count!” we’re off to a re-vote with Emily and J as the targets.

J’s face says it all: the Kaleb sweep was her only chance to survive, and without him on the table, she’s the new consensus pick. So, with ten votes against her, J. Maya’s swan song is sung.

From the group deciding not to split their votes to people telling Kaleb’s closest ally about the plan to blindside him to Kaleb hitting the jackpot as a last resort, it’s a lot of bad luck and bad decisions behind J’s demise. Mostly luck, though, but with everyone piling on Kaleb, the door was open for J to throw a vote on a third party just in case all hell broke loose. But she didn’t. All hell did break loose, and out she goes as the latest Mergatory victim.

With the first legit merge round coming up, it’s actually a double elimination this time! Much better than wasting the crucial final nine round on a double boot or… whatever last season’s split Tribal disaster was. With lone wolf Kaleb dodging eleven bullets this week, he might need a miracle to survive again. But Reba and Belo are at odds and willing to go to war, multiple idols are in play, and major pre-merge rivalries have yet to be settled.

With how chaotic things have been from day one, the season is anything but predictable as it rises to stand among the best modern Survivor has to offer, hiccups and all. For the first time since David vs. Goliath graced our screens, I can confidently say I’m actually (yet cautiously) optimistic about the show’s trajectory. And man, does it feel good to say that again.

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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