Survivor 46

Episode 12 Recap – Dueling Blindsides

What went down in Episode 12?


Whatever they put in the well water this season needs to be put in there next season, and the season after that, and every season for the rest of time. Because this season is officially iconic, even more than it was after the last three or four episodes of stupid chaos.

With Venus gone, it’s time to explain what happened at that last vote. That random Kenzie vote from Ben? I and basically everyone else assumed it was a split vote orchestrated by Maria and company, but nope, Ben had a major brain fart and voted for Kenzie by total accident. I don’t get how that happens, and Kenzie doesn’t either, but she’s still willing to comfort Ben as his late-night panic attacks get worse, so it’s all water under the bridge.

What goes down a little less pleasantly, though, is Venus’ takedown of Maria because Maria is destroyed over her remarks at Tribal. Venus went for the jugular, and she got a direct hit. But Maria’s strong enough to bounce back because even if Venus thinks she’s a phony hypocrite, Maria’s won immunity twice and pulled off a big blindside, something very few players can say in any season. She’s got game, and it’s time to keep that momentum going.


The next morning, Liz announces she’s finally made a big move(ment) and gone to the bathroom for the first time this season. Congratulations, Liz. But the real story is Charlie reflecting on last night’s vote. He’s been keeping options open all season, and he won’t stop now. So moving forward, he’s got two routes: Kenzie, Liz, and Ben… and Maria and Q. Siga has fractured, the lines are drawn, and he has to pick a side this late in the game. No more waffling.

Charlie gets the chance to pick a side by winning reward, so the spotlight’s on him with these picks. The Chinese takeout is great, but the loved ones’ letters make the decision even more difficult. He’s not just holding food over people’s heads, but some incredibly strong emotions. His first pick is Liz because she’s been denied the last two rewards in brutal fashion. Easy choice. Makes sense. And his second pick… is Kenzie, who put off her wedding to play this season and would get a lot out of a letter from her man back home. Maria is devastated missing out on letters from her kids, and back to camp, she goes with her pizza party partners Q and Ben.

At the Sanctuary (where something good finally happened to Liz!), Charlie admits the choice was hard, but his mind was made up before the challenge even happened. This is the right move for his game, and he’s sure Maria won’t be that upset. Well… she’s seething on the tribe boat and cooking in the blistering hot sun as tears stream down her face. So yeah, bad read, Charlie. She wanted this reward more than anything, but she and Charlie agreed weeks ago they’d never take each other on reward… so she understands. It’s a game. Charlie is playing for himself, not her. She won’t let it get her down, though. She might not have love to fuel her, but she has the next best thing: spiteful determination.


Back on the reward trip, the trio gets their letters and reflects on what they’ve learned. Liz learned it’s okay to show her emotions. Kenzie learned it’s okay to not be in charge all the time. And Charlie learned it’s okay to put emotions aside and play hard. With lessons learned, the trio puts a plan into action: Maria goes home if she doesn’t win immunity, and if she does win it, they vote Q instead.

Back at camp, a wrinkle is added to that scheme. Because Q has found the replanted merge idol, and he tells Maria about it with the intention of playing it for her if she doesn’t win immunity. With all this information in her pocket, Maria has a sudden revelation: she could take this opportunity to turn on Charlie before he potentially turns on her. He’s a big threat, so why not run another red light and play risky if it means her biggest challenge threat is out of the way heading into the finale? Once Charlie gets back to camp and the two reconvene, neither is aware of the other’s intentions, so either way, it’s going to be a blindside.


However, that blindside won’t be on Maria because she beasts the immunity challenge to win her third necklace. So with the primary target safe, Q enters the firing line not as a smokescreen but as someone with a legit fire under his butt for a change. Kenzie herself has wanted Q out for ages, but Maria’s always been playing defense for the guy to take out bigger threats in his place. So now it’s time. Time for the camp jesters to revolt against Queen Maria and King Q for another brutal blindside.

Q and Maria rally votes against Charlie, but Liz and Kenzie aren’t biting. They just nod, smile, wave, and do whatever they can to keep Q and Maria secure. But Charlie isn’t willing to lie that hard. He and Ben talk about the votes, and Charlie realizes something: if they leave Maria out of the loop, she could easily swing to working with the other women at five out of spite and knock out the men before Final Tribal. He’s all about options, and Maria needs to be an option just in case.

Charlie won’t leak the plan to her, but he does bring up voting Q out. Maria assumes Liz and Kenzie are still with her, so she hits Charlie with the nod along strat and “agrees” to the plan, knowing full well she’s going to vote out her island son this round. At this point, she’s just hoping he hugs her on the way out because it’s a done deal.


With Maria feeling incredibly confident and Q whipping out the Q-skirt for another fashion show performance, we’re set up for a brilliant downfall as a fifth idol is potentially leaving in someone’s pocket. Or, I guess this time, in someone’s Q-skirt, as long as Q doesn’t get spooked. But this is Q we’re talking about. Unpredictable to a tee, he could do anything tonight.

In a shocking turn of good TV, we’re shown everyone’s voting confessionals. It’s four votes on Q, two votes on Charlie, and one idol in Q’s Q-skirt to decide who goes. Have the jesters put on a great show and kept royalty feeling safe? Or has someone made a big mistake and secured Charlie a spot on the jury instead? Turns out it’s the former.

Burdette fumbles once again, and Q becomes the fourth person in a row to leave with an idol and the fifth overall this season. Is there a better way for him to go than with this one BIG MISTAKE, as he would put it? He was the smokescreen to all the other post-merge idol flushes, and now it’s his turn to get smokescreened for a change. A perfect downfall for a perfect villain.


After 12 episodes, we’re down to the final five! On paper, this feels like Kenzie or Charlie’s game to lose. Maria’s giving final boss energy and would need to comp out to reach the end, and Liz and Ben just voted out the person they could reliably beat in a final three so they’re as good as goats. So, if we’re looking at the two frontrunners, take your pick.

Charlie has played a not-too-flashy but very well-rounded game across the board, winning immunity, making bonds, and deciding between plans with Maria round after round. Kenzie is a sociable underdog with a great story to tell the jury, and we were warned earlier in the season that she could win if she wasn’t taken out pre-merge. It’s going to be a battle of strategy versus sociability, and if both of them manage to reach the end, it’ll be an all-out war. 

This season has been unhinged in the best way possible, and while we’re likely looking at a less ridiculous and more sane winner at the end of the journey, it’s still going to be a fun destination with a satisfying conclusion. But maybe, just maybe, the season’s not done with surprises just yet, and someone who seems out of the running now could swoop in and steal the win out of nowhere in a week’s time. It’s been an unpredictable season, so never say never.

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.

One response to “Episode 12 Recap – Dueling Blindsides”

  1. Lets not make it more than it was. Same plot for the only few good episodes this szn and very lil venom during any of them is not great tv.

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