Survivor 45

Episode 8 Recap – Blast From the Past

What went down in Episode 8?


Following last week’s double elimination, the ten remaining players reunite and assess the damage. Sifu and Kaleb leaving was predictable, but what wasn’t so predictable was Jake blowing up his game in an attempt to blindside Julie. He admits it was a reckless play and vows to not mess up that badly again, but his efforts to patch things up with his recent target go nowhere fast as Julie shuts down any hope of them working together in the future. And to make it worse, Jake’s now a tribe pariah alongside Bruce: two easy votes with only each other to trust.

But Jake has borrowed time on his side because Bruce has pissed off so many people that even Kellie is ready to ditch him for a shiny, new alliance of six women. As the guys talk about food by the beach, the women unite… but it’s more of a facade than anything remotely sturdy. Julie, Dee, and Emily, in particular, have Drew and Austin as proven allies, so while a gender-based alliance sounds flashy and appealing, it might not be the best move for anyone outside of the Belo ladies.

All talk of alliances is put on hold because THE AUCTION IS BACK! It’s been 15 seasons across 8 years without a trace of it, but it’s finally returning to our screens thanks to the 90-minute format and with some updates to the design as well. First, there’s no standard starting amount of money per person. Instead, the players compete in a glorified Easter egg hunt for money around their island, meaning you could end up with enough money to sweep the auction or, in a worst-case scenario, never have anything to bid with at all. The second change? No advantages! Yay! It’s the exact change we said would work for years if they were tired of people avoiding the food and saving up.

Unfortunately, the third change is a bit of a downer: the person with the most money at the end of the auction loses their vote. On paper, I don’t hate it. It encourages people to bid as often as possible instead of saving up for the advantage… that isn’t even there anymore. So, instead, the auction becomes less of a bidding war and more of the person with the most money at any given time spending it all ASAP. Yeah, the new rules are a bit contradictory. It’s definitely worth a revision in the future.

But I won’t complain too much because this auction is so much fun. I’m having fun, the players are having fun, and Jeff is having fun. It’s fun all the way down. From Bruce taking his sweet time during the money hunt and ending up with chump change to Dee dropping all $900 on a milkshake of all things, to Katurah buying fish eyes, to Austin buying the same fish eyes and actually eating them, to Kendra’s sip of beer bringing back touching memories of her biological father she hadn’t known for years, to Bruce losing his vote despite entering the auction with the least money.

It’s just SO good, and it baffles me that it took so long to bring this one back. Even if they can’t do it every season (though they most definitely should), at least it’s back in the slush pile of challenge concepts for the foreseeable future.

With the auction over and Bruce without a vote, the target on his back is pretty big, but the strategy of this round won’t be so cut and dry. Emily pulls Drew aside and rats out the women’s alliance, figuring she has a better route to the end with her Reba allies than with a gender-based alliance that typically never works out unless you’re the Black Widow Brigade.

However, the forming women’s alliance will be the perfect cover for Drew to make a move. Once he confirms to Katurah that Bruce is his target this round, both Reba and the women’s alliance can work together on this vote… all while Reba pulls the strings and has the real power moving forward, leaving the Belo women unknowingly on the bottom despite a momentary success.

At the immunity challenge, we get the usual rice negotiation, only now Jeff pulls a knife and bleeds their bag of rice out to pressure people into sitting out. Ridiculous but hilarious. Dee, Emily, Drew, and Katurah sit out, leaving Austin, Bruce, Jake, Julie, Kellie, and Kendra to compete. Bruce and Julie prove age is just a number by outlasting all the rest in a battle of endurance. However, unanimous target and non-voter Bruce holds on longer, taking the easy target off the board and setting everyone on a wild scramble to find new options.

Kellie has grown sick of dealing with Bruce dragging her game down with him, so if he can’t leave tonight, she’ll settle for Jake, his closest ally and fellow bottom-feeder. But if Bruce plays his idol for Jake or Jake nails a Shot in the Dark play, they need a backup target. And Kellie herself is terrified that it could be her, seeing how she’s been tight with Bruce so far and could be seen as guilty by association.

Meanwhile, Jake refuses to throw out any names and hedges his bets on a blatant idol hunt to bail him out. While the Belos monitor his search, Reba and Emily unite at Drew’s call to discuss a daring blindside option: Kellie. If Belo assumes all the votes are going to Jake and nobody is fitting for a vote split, that gives Reba’s five all the power this round. And if Kellie goes, Bruce and Jake are still in the game to be voted out next time, any idols they play tonight will be flushed, and Reba will enter the final nine with the numbers.

At Tribal, Jake sticks his foot in his mouth between stumbling over his answers, losing track of the questions asked, and directly implying he has an idol. Perhaps it’s all a layer of smoke, and Jake’s playing the slick bullshitter game he wanted to. But when the votes are cast, Jake has no idol to play and defaults to his Shot in the Dark, which won’t strike twice in a row. But after three Jake votes pop out of the urn, it’s a five-vote sweep to knock Kellie out of the game in one of the most shockingly emotional blindsides in years.

There’s no “good game, guys!” or satisfied smiles from her. Just confusion, horror, and sadness as her dream is brutally put down. The perfect blindside reaction, if there ever was one.

For Kellie, her game was one of riding the middle until she got run over. From day one, she swore she had a dagger ready behind her back and would have to make tough choices. When the choice finally presented itself with Bruce and Sifu on the block, she gambled and kept Bruce around one vote too long for her own good. That being said, Kellie did have some bad luck. She lost valuable allies at the swap and merge. Bruce losing his vote destroyed any chances of a 5 v 5 situation this round. And then Bruce just happened to win immunity, forcing Kellie into the firing line when she should’ve had Jake and Bruce as buffers in front of her. But as brutal as her exit is, it’s fantastic television. One for the books. The gold standard for blindside reactions.

As one amazing episode ends (and perhaps the best episode of the season?), another is on the horizon. However, the tease of three people losing their votes at the final nine sounds legitimately awful, like something ripped out of a fan fiction written to satirize the New Era’s worst gimmicks. They’ve certainly done a better job at letting the players play than last season, but I sincerely hope they haven’t saved their worst twists for later in the game after such a great first eight episodes with minimal nonsense.

But production’s been on their best behavior lately, and the season’s been incredible, so I’ll keep an open mind and reserve judgment with fingers crossed.

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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