Survivor 46

Episode 9 Recap – Dead Men Walking

What went down in Episode 9?


After last week’s trainwreck Tribal Council, we’ve waited a whole several days to learn the truth behind Q’s sudden attempt to quit. Everyone’s pissed at his chaotic move, he’s thrown away any respect he had, and he’s been written off as a cowardly goat, but Q’s finally allowed to speak his truth. What brilliant play was he going for here? What kind of 4-D chess move has he pulled off? Just what iconic strategy will we be speaking of for years to come alongside Cirie’s 3-2-1?

None of the above because he genuinely did attempt to quit out of guilt. Yep. No brilliant move to be found. He just wanted out. Everyone takes the night to dunk on him more in the meantime, though. Kenzie says she’s done coddling him, and if he wants to leave, he can leave without a vote and lay down his torch. Tiffany confronts him over leaking her idol to the rest of the tribe, and the two fight as the others listen in. And poor Liz, who just nailed her first big move, is furious at Q for overshadowing her with his nonsense. So yeah, it’s all eyes on Q moving forward, either as the easy vote or the easy goat with no path to winning.

But there is one person who loves all this delicious fallout: Venus, who finally found someone to sit below her on the totem pole as the new pariah. And her final nemesis, Hunter, got clowned on as the only one to vote against the Tevin plan, so she’s got options. Finally! She’s so confident about her standing that she taunts both guys to their faces for no reason other than to be petty. Not helping her already terrible chances to win the million, but in an era where players tend to play as inoffensively as possible, bring on this pettiness, please.


As for Q and Hunter, their Journey Six is dead, so they’re both lone wolves. Q blew up his game and everyone else’s, and Hunter put his neck on the line to flip some votes, and it didn’t pan out, so now he’s got no allies either. But there’s still an immunity challenge to be played, and it’s a twisty one. Like last season, the final nine divide themselves into trios to compete in a multi-stage course, but thankfully, they dropped that god-awful “three people have their vote stolen” twist from the ordeal, so it’s actually a fun challenge this time.

Ben, Kenzie, and Tiffany link up ASAP to avoid getting stuck with Q, and the trio of Hunter, Charlie, and Maria do the same. This leaves Venus and Liz to put up with Q the quitter and hope he doesn’t tap out of the challenge too. Jeff won’t give them any words of encouragement, though. Quite the opposite, in fact, as “Spicy Jeff” openly predicts the pariah trio will get stomped and stand no chance of winning this challenge. He’s trying too hard to be mean, but I’ll take an attempt at snark over turning loved ones visits into his own talk show any day.

Well, Jeff is immediately proven wrong when the pariahs survive the first round! They still lose the second round to Hunter, Charlie, and Maria, though, but they put up a solid fight together and prove they aren’t deadweight. With three remaining to battle it out in the endurance portion, Charlie and Maria have to live with their decision not to sandbag Hunter in the challenge. Q asked them to throw it earlier, and they told him to buzz off, and now they have to beat the beast. Maria falls out early, leaving Hunter and Charlie in a rematch, which Charlie actually wins! He didn’t expect to win any necklaces, especially against the challenge beast of the season, so the Swiftie can rest easy with some newfound pride.


With both targets vulnerable, the other seven players have a choice: go for the easy votes… or use them as cover to launch a blindside against Tiffany while she’s not expecting to need her idol. Maria, in particular, wants Tiffany out, both to put a move on her resume and remove a big threat. But after Kenzie thinks over her options, she decides blindsiding Tiffany could benefit her too. The Yanu ladies have been tight, but they know they’ll have to break rank and turn on each other eventually. And if Tiffany is out and Yanu is taken down to just two players, it takes a lot of pressure off Kenzie moving forward in the event the others fear a second coming of the Tika Three. A touch of bigmoveitis, sure, but the benefits are there if you’re cool with taking a risk.

Well, once Kenzie rallies the troops and confirms the votes are there for her plan, Maria’s upset that her own idea is getting put into action before she can do the legwork herself. Charlie insists it’s a good move for them to back Kenzie up, thinking they can get a target out in Tiff and create a new one in Kenzie, so Maria surrenders and agrees. But Charlie wants to make sure the plan works, so he heads off to comfort Tiff so her idol goes unplayed. Too bad for Charlie though, because Tiff’s ready to play the thing ASAP for the sake of getting the heat off her back.

With the plan upended, word spreads of Tiff’s intentions, and Kenzie has to abandon her schemes. It’s boring, it sucks, it’s no fun, etc. But final nine is not the time to be wasting votes on someone who’s claiming to be 100% safe. However, Tiff isn’t sure she’s playing it after all. She could take the guaranteed safety, sure. But if she plays the idol tonight, Hunter or Q could find it the next day and ruin more plans in the future, so she has some feasible reasons to gamble here.


Now that Tiffany is seemingly off the table, we’re back to the easy vote: Q or Hunter. Siga wants Hunter out, Tiffany and Kenzie want Q out, Hunter and Q think each other are going, and Liz and Venus are out of the loop and voting however they please because nobody wants to feed them any plans. But for now, it seems the votes settle on Hunter… until the man himself catches a case of paranoia and spills the beans about his idol to the entire tribe one by one. He doesn’t just have the idol. He’s playing it tonight.

And it’s back to the cycle of chaos we go as the scrambling resumes. Do they just go for Q after all? Do they try to keep the votes on Hunter and call his potential bluff? Do Hunter and Q team up and try to blindside Ben? What about the Tiffany plan? Is that still on the table, or is it dead? Well, the Tiffany plan is definitely dead, and Liz and Venus aren’t down for the Ben plan either, given Hunter waited until five minutes before Tribal to tell them about anything. So yeah, it’s still Q or Hunter, and with two idols in play, it could be another trainwreck Tribal.

To start things off, Jeff whips out a cushion and a bowl of popcorn to help him enjoy the show. And a show he gets because 90% of this Tribal is Q arguing with Tiffany as Hunter panics in the background, asking half the tribe if the vote is still on Q. Everyone assures him he’s fine. But he keeps pressing, all while Q digs his grave deeper and deeper with the likes of Ben and Liz getting some hits in on his character. It’s a Tribal right out of Gabon, just nonsense, paranoia, and chaos galore. And it’s only just beginning because when the votes are cast, not a single idol is played.


Hunter gambles big, and with just one vote left to decide between himself and Q… it’s a vote for Ben, forcing a re-vote where Hunter is totally exposed with an idol in his pocket. The majority makes the smart, common sense play and knocks Hunter out after a Tribal full of brutal lies, leaving Q to survive another day as the Nuinui pariah. Just for the sake of keeping it honest, Hunter shuts down all the transparent ass-kissing sent his way as he leaves. No jury vote pandering allowed.

Did Hunter have a chance to win? Maybe in a less explosive cast, but he sealed his fate early on by dominating challenges, leaving no doubt that he would sweep a jury vote. Nothing short of a Mike Holloway-style immunity run could’ve saved him once Tevin went home, and the idol only buys him another couple days. He was a refreshing casting choice, though, and his deadpan reactions to all the wacky antics made him a fun audience surrogate, so even as the introvert in a cast of clowns, he delivered in his own way.

But next week? Oh, that looks like another banger episode. Q remains a dead man walking with nothing to lose, Tiffany is locked and loaded with that idol, and Liz is set to have another breakout episode as she goes to war with Q, banshee screams included. I have no issues saying it: this season is great. The slow burn first half paid off, and now we can reap the rewards of what’s been set up.

People downright hate each other. Everyone’s betraying their allies left and right. We’re getting multiple fights per episode with snarky confessionals backing them up. Even if the day count leaves something to be desired, this is old-era Survivor in spirit. We asked for drama and crazy gameplay, and we got it. So savor the last four episodes of it while they last.


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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