Survivor 44 recap: Win at your own peril
- TV Show
Good day, everyone, and welcome. Today's reading of the Survivor gospel comes from an esteemed member of our congregation, one Danny Bronx. Danny is going to preach about how important it is to win individual challenges because of the need to be "great." You don't just want to get the million dollars and title of Sole Survivor, you need to be great while doing so! You need to be a legend! And the only way to be great and be a legend, according to Danny, is to win challenges. Never you mind that Danny Bronx will simultaneously be leading the campaign to get rid of someone because they win challenges. Greatness is just too important!
And then we will hear from our next speaker, Jeffrey Probst. Jeffrey will second everything Mr. Bronx says and further illustrate the need to go all-out in every facet of the game, even though he has seen player after player get voted out season after season for doing exactly that.
After those speakers are done, I will instruct the congregation to ignore every single word they said. I know it, you know it, and even Frannie knows it: Winning a reward challenge when you have already won two other individual competitions and will then have to leave other players out of a feast (and, it turns out, letters from home) is a TERRIBLE idea. Even Carson told us before the season he would throw any challenge with a food reward, and he had exactly zero individual wins heading into this contest.
Danny can talk about the need to be great, but his voting someone out for doing exactly that speaks a million times louder than his words. The more illustrative comments came from Carson, who said Frannie wasn't even on the radar before her third individual win. Or listen to Frannie herself: "It's simple Survivor strategy: Take out the person who could, in theory, win every challenge."
Here's another simple Survivor strategy: Don't needlessly raise your threat level, especially when there is a really good chance you can get the reward by not winning. Look, I'm no math major (shout out to Sarah Lawrence College, which I'm not even positive had a math department when I went there), but there were seven non-winners at that challenge, and three of them went on the reward anyway. That means you still have a 43 percent chance of getting the tacos and the letters from home even if you make absolutely no effort whatsoever to win. Which is presumably what Carson did. (To be fair, I also don't believe it was possible to print this entire obstacle course out on a 3D printer, so I'm not sure he had a legitimate chance anyway.)
Frannie talked in a deleted scene about how excited she was to be the predator hunting down prey. She was referring to fishing, but it may also be an apt analogy for her in the game as she gained more confidence in her athletic abilities. Translation: She couldn't help herself. And now she's gone. Of course, it's not the first time she got herself in trouble for winning a challenge when she should have let someone else take it.
I try not to be a big "edit" guy in terms of it telling us who the winner will be. That certainly has not been an accurate indicator in this new era of Survivor. (Raise your hand if you had Erika or Gabler winning their seasons.) That said, however, this season has given me vibes ever since the merge that one of the Three Stooges (Carson, Carolyn, or Yam Yam) will be taking home the title. The only other person I could possibly see winning was Frannie, and now she's gone.
But — silver lining alert! — she's now reunited with her island snuggle bunny Matt and they can continue their romance, this time with brushed teeth and washed bodies and lots of other personal grooming items not available out on the island. Okay, let's strive for greatness as we spin cycle our way through the rest of Survivor 44 episode 10.
Big Brother has long known that the key to good television is getting your contestants so dizzy they are on the verge of puking their guts out. They used to do this by supplying them with unlimited amounts of alcohol. Once that became socially unacceptable, they transitioned into forcing them to spin around and then walk in a straight line. Survivor, which considers itself a classier show, doesn't always embrace such low-brow exploits, but lately they have not been able to resist such simple pleasures.
Cut to this week's reward challenge, which forced players to spin around on a metal frame before attempting to run towards on obstacle and then complete a bunch of other stages that were not as fun as watching discombobulated folks take one step forward and then 10 inadvertent ones to the side as they regained their balance and bearings. Unfortunately, Survivor has yet to go full BB and put the players in frilly tutus during this competition, but it's still close enough.
Frannie led pretty much the entire way en route to the win, and she did it in another awesome rainstorm. Of course, then she had to decide whom to piss off by not bringing them with her on reward — truly a no-win situation for the winner. In the end, she picked three moms, Carolyn, Lauren, and Heidi, to receive letters from home. Perhaps a little harsh to Danny, who has a new baby back at home. Then again, I'm pretty sure that 10-week-old is not writing the most scintillating letters as of yet.
Predictably, the mom card did not play well with Yam Yam, who felt his familial connections were being minimized, and helped set into motion the events to come. Hell hath no fury like a Yam Yam scorned.
The stealth all-star
Carolyn is one of the most electric Survivor players in years. Yam Yam is a flat-out quote machine. Danny is attacking every element of this game. Frannie and Carson have been so easy to root for. But there has been one other player that has been wildly entertaining all season in a much stealthier way. And that is Jaime.
Yes, much of the entertainment value has come at her expense, but even though the show appears to cram Jaime into a clown car at every possible turn — presenting her as wildly clueless to what is happening around her — what that footage has ended up doing is making Jaime that much more likable.
When Jaime was boldly (and mistakenly) proclaiming how the game was running through her and only her, it didn't make her look conceited — it made her a (comedic) sympathetic figure. Someone you maybe chuckled at, but also found yourself starting to really root for. Jaime is so genuinely optimistic, enthusiastic, and ebullient, which, for producers and editors making a TV show, has proven to be the perfect balance to everything going wrong for her in the game… unbeknownst to her.
Poor Jaime (which may as well be a subtitle for the entire season at this point) could not catch a break this week either. She decided to come clean and tell everyone that Big Daddy Kane took what she thought was her real immunity idol with him to the jury… only nobody believed her. And I mean NOBODY. And the editors did everything in their power to make Jaime look as clueless as possible.
Danny's comment that "it's a horrible story, its absolute B.S." was followed immediately by Jaime telling the camera that she thought everyone believed her. As if the editors had not already dunked on the woman hard enough with that backboard-shattering juxtaposition, they later doubled down on the perception vs. reality schism. After Jaimie told the Mom Squad that had missed the earlier admission about her idol being gone, she informed us how happy she was to feel finally free in telling the truth: "I love being honest!" This naturally was immediately followed by Frannie asking, "Does she think we're all idiots?"
I'll say it again. Poor Jaime. The woman is sitting here telling the truth — or at least what she thinks is the truth — and yet nobody believes her and the editors make her look clueless yet again. She just can't win. Well, that's not entirely true. She's won one thing — my heart. I love watching Jaime Mr. Magoo her way through the game. And while the edit has certainly not painted her as most perceptive player this season, it has made her the most endearing. Jaime just seems like fun, and she's made this season more fun… even if a bit inadvertently.
Movin' and groovin'
When I first saw this week's immunity challenge involved players essentially doing the worm on the sand, I figured Danny Bronx — who basically had been parkouring all over the island — had this one in the bag. And then I saw the puzzle.
Of course, we know all about Carson 3D printing out the Survivor puzzles and mastering them all before he even hit the island, and considering this star-shaped brainteaser appeared recently on the Edge of Extinction season, it seemed like Carson's victory was petty much assured. And it was. Which is why I will repeat my suggestion that the show blow up all old puzzles and start anew. But I'm not here to complain. I'm here to compliment!
I've bitched and moaned in recent seasons about there being too many immunity challenges of players just standing in a line and balancing a block or a ball until everyone drops. I've wanted contestants to be out and moving more, and that's exactly what producers have had them do this season. Plus, the masochist in me kind of loves that they made players struggle through the sand with their hands and feet bound FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON since they knew the only thing that really mattered in terms of determining the winner was the puzzle — and yet they made them struggle anyway. God bless everyone involved in that decision.
Also, I want to make one thing absolutely clear: props to Carson. It's not his fault that the puzzles are repeated. He was wily enough to take advantage of that and use it to his advantage because that's what smart Survivor players with enough money to buy a 3D printer do. And more people will continue to do it unless producers decide to mix things up.
The name game
Before we get into this next section, can I just ask: Who had Probst busting out the phrase "full tilt boogie" in not one but two episodes this season? I don't know if he's been listening to a lot of Janis Joplin or watching From Dusk Till Dawn documentaries lately, but if we don't watch out, that could easily become the next "Dig Deep!" or "That's how you play Survivor!" And lord, I hope it does.
Anyway, what was so cool about this episode is that heading into Tribal Council there were four distinct possibilities for who could go. Sure, the last proposed plan to get rid of Heidi didn't feel super legitimate (Lauren and Jaime were just kind of nodding along to it, because what else were they supposed to do in that situation?). But you couldn't completely discount the plan either, unlike the way Danny seems to be discounting his shirt more and more as the season goes on.
Heidi, Frannie, Jaime, and Danny all could have had their torch snuffed. Not only did that keep things unpredictable for this individual episode, but it also shows how a highly regimented game has now been blown wide-open. Look at all the wacky voting. The only vote on Danny came from his closest ally in the game, Heidi. The two votes on Heidi — who had about as much luck telling the truth this episode as Jaime did — came from the two women she was legitimately trying to work with, Carolyn and Frannie. And Carson and Yam Yam knowingly lied to and burned their ally Carolyn.
To which I say… LET'S GOOOOOOOOOOOOO! This is what we've been waiting for. Chaos. Confusion. Bridges burned. Unlikely allies. And a very pissed off Carolyn. It's all setting up what I hope will be an electric endgame to a season that has so far been steady if unspectacular. As for Frannie, it sucks to lose her, but it's no surprise the Survivor gods struck her down after she confessed to "renegade excitement" at not having immunity or security for the first time this season. You can't express such confidence in this game and expect to survive. Unless, apparently, your name is Carson. Or Yam Yam.
Okay, the recap may be winding down, but your Survivor coverage for the week is just heating up. Wondering what loved ones would have made the visit if such visits were still allowed? Wonder no more! The contestants told me before the season whom they would have brought, and you can watch their answers here. We also have an exclusive deleted scene involving Carolyn and… bowling? Plus, we've got Jeff Probst talking about whether loved ones visits will ever return and we'll be chatting it up with Frannie about her big decision to go for the win. Follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss for all the updates, and I'll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.
- Frannie Marin reveals details of Survivor romance reunion with Matt
- Carolyn Wiger takes the tribe bowling in Survivor 44 deleted scene
- Jeff Probst says future Survivor loved ones visits are not dead
- Survivor 44 players reveal the loved ones we won't get to see
- Kane Fritzler reveals reaction to Jaime's fake idol on Survivor 44
- Carolyn accidentally lights her pants on fire in Survivor 44 deleted scene
- Jeff Probst considered a Survivor idea where players won a celebrity as a reward
- Survivor 44 recap: The season where fake idols go to die
- Jeff Probst says future Survivor juries might watch challenges
- Brandon Cottom blames Survivor birdcage miscue on 'wet underwear'
- See more of Carson's 'miserable' night in Survivor deleted scene
- Jeff Probst addresses whether Survivor jury members should be sequestered individually
Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning $1 million, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "Dig deep!"