Peacock’s The Traitors started very strong, but the back half of the season is even stronger, from Kate’s surprising arc to the final, brutally painful backstab, never mind what happens to some of the Traitors themselves in between.
My spoiler-filled thoughts about episodes 6 to 10, from blindside banishments to the emotional ending, are below.
As before, the discussion in the comments below is open to discussion of any of these episodes, so don’t jump in until after you’ve seen the finale and know who won!
The Traitors US season 1 recaps
Previously: Episodes 1 to 5 recaps
- The Traitors US season 1 recaps
- Episode 6: ‘Suspicion and Sabotage’
- Episode 7: ‘The Mask Is Slipping’
- Episode 8: ‘Cabins in the Woods’
- Episode 9: ‘Trust No One’
- Episode 10: ‘The Grand Finale’
Episode 6: ‘Suspicion and Sabotage’
Alan Cumming delivers The Traitors their twist: select three people to be “on trial,” i.e. on the block, i.e. they’ll know they could be murdered.
They don’t murder anyone, however, probably because Amanda left the competition.
Cirie, Christian, and Cody settle on Anjelica, Kate, and Rachel—all women, again. Christian says they chose Anjelica because she’s “super-emotional,” and I guess they want an emotional reaction.
At breakfast, Kate says, “I want to leave and they want to win. I’m a hostage.” I need to start watching Below Deck to get more of this. Obnoxious Kate, however, is on her way.
First, she tells her, “I wouldn’t pick that outfit so I don’t think I trust your judgment completely,” which is so cruel that Rachel’s retort just seems sad in comparison: “I wouldn’t pick that ugly vest.” Kate replies, “Well, Princess Diana did, so…”
Stephenie tell us, “I know Cody’s gonna walk through that door, because he’s a Traitor.” He does, but so does everyone else, and the players must have known this was a possibility, right? That Amanda left and therefore there’d be no murder?
Alan Cumming arrives, with his morning glance to camera from the staircase, and gives Anjelica, Kate, and Rachel “love letters from the Traitors,” and says, “You have been put on trial and face possible murder tonight.”
Kate threatens to quit (“I am leaving tonight, one way or another”), and later tries to throw herself under the bus at the Roundtable. She told Anjelica that the trial “is my get-out-of-castle free card.” If only it was that easy.
Before the challenge, Stephenie says she’s been suspicious of Cody since the first day, and tells a group: “You don’t think Cody’s a Traitor?”
Alan Cumming delivers their mission on the lawn, so the players can see how far they must roll a barrel to win the amount of money written on it. The 15 barrels scattered along the route “have fallen off Fergus’s wagon,” he says. Fergus!
Alan Cumming—I cannot just write “Alan”—sends them off by saying, “Okay, everybody, remember: Safety second! There’s a lot of money at stake.” They head down the hill, across a river, and then up a hill, and through obstacles like a bunch of hay bales.
Kate barely participates. She says she wants to be carried across the river; she stands by while everyone else works. “There’s no amount of money that I would push a barrel up a rocky hillside for,” she says in a later interview. “Get some dignity, y’all.”
Her idea of dignity: chucking barrels worth $600 each into the grass. “It would be a shame if this money went flying down the hillside at the last second,” she says.
The task and her behavior are oddly similar to the penultimate task from Netflix’s The Mole, when Kesi tossed money.
Kate tells us she’s there to “fuck shit up,” and I think she’s on the wrong show. This mission is where I found myself most irritated with Kate’s antics, even though it does make for some great TV. “I want my own thoughts back,” she says at one point, and later hilariously reminds people she’s carrying more ($1200 in two small barrels) than they’re pushing.
Alan watches all of this through his opera glasses from a chair at the distillery, giving time calls through a megaphone. “Get those little feet moving!” he cries.
There are two layers of complication to this mission, which makes it one of my favorites: First, the players have to decide what barrels to push and which to leave behind. The bigger the barrel, the more money it’s worth, including an absolutely massive one toward the end.
Meanwhile, there are also three Armory Pass barrels. If all three make it to the finish line, three players get a one-in-three shot at immunity. The on-trial players want them—well, except Kate—but some of the other players help out too. Cody, however, is more ruthless: “The ones that want the Armory Pass, move the Armory Pass.” This draws further attention to him.
At the end, the players are all clearly exhausted. “The only thing I’ve pushed harder in my life is my children out of my womb,” Cirie says. We see them all breathing heavily, falling to the ground, and then there’s Kate, in sunglasses, biting her nails as if she was waiting for an elevator.
Ultimately, the players earn $16,800 and the armory passes, which they give to Rachel, Anjelica, and absolute not Kate. Arie gets one instead—and he ends up getting immunity, too, making it useless.
In the pre-Roundtable strategizing, Christian tells Stephenie he’s suspicious of Cody. “I can’t have suspicion on me,” he tells us, and then, being subtle, he pulls Cirie outside for a conversation about voting for Cody.
At the Roundtable, Cody says, “Something feels off.” Rachel replies, “It probably feels off because you’re a Traitor.”
Later, Cody asks Cirie, “So where do you see a Traitor?” and she replies, “Um,” and now we have to wait until next week—just kidding, here is the next episode.
Episode 7: ‘The Mask Is Slipping’
Is Cirie going to vote forCody? Cirie says, “Um. I’m basing my vote on the people that I feel are faithfuls, and that’s where I’m voting tonight: with them.”
Cirie casts her vote for Cody, saying, “We’ve been getting it wrong.” Christian says, “I gotta go with my gut. Uh, yeah. No hard feelings, man.” There must be a rule that Traitors can throw suspicion on each other, and vote for each other, but cannot actually out each other, right?
The Circle of Truth is even more unexpected than the vote: Cody chokes up and gets teary. “Fuck. I wanted to play this game so bad,” he says. “And I wanted to be a Traitor so bad. I love you all so it is so not personal. I am a Traitor.”
The group goes wild, except Shelbe, who sits in stunned silence, and that is a small moment that draws suspicion to her that really does seem to stick from here on out. On The Traitors, one tiny thing can so easily snowball and then knock you down!
In his exit interview, Cody tells us, “Cirie is showing future Traitors how to play this game, because she is playing it perfectly.” Indeed!
Stephenie, having gotten things very right with Cody, now gets them wrong, thinking Kate and Shelbe are traitors because they voted with Cody.
For their two-Traitor murder, Christian and Cirie decided to gamble with the shield, i.e. not relieving us of Kate, ugh. It’s the right decision, having Kate around, but I felt bad for Anjelica, who gets murdered. The Traitors’ rationale is that she’s too easily swayed at the Roundtable, which is an actually decent reason.
At breakfast, Ana Cumming mocks Kate over her participation the day before: “Carpe diem! Embrace the day! Right, Kate?”
And then we get some great acting. Alan screams, “Players! Something terrible has happened! Quickly! The ghosts of this castle have ruined my billiard room!” What “those godforsaken ghouls” have done is made a mess, and three players at a time go in, study the room, and then stand in pitch black as three items are swapped: a different-color hat, a different typewriter, a different vase.
I wish they hadn’t shown us what changed immediately, though it’d be hard to play along because we certainly didn’t get to see the entire room.
Kate is ready to play today, and by that I mean, she’s checked out. “I have no idea what’s different, and I don’t really care,” she says, and chooses a photo of Brandi, suggesting it has moved slightly.
“She’s just ridiculous,” Stephenie says. “It’s so frustrating being on a team with her.” I cannot imagine; it’s frustrating to watch her on a team!
“It’s exhausting, ghost hunting, isn’t it, Kate?” Alan mocks. Ultimately, Kate, Stephenie, and Shelbe get one item correct; Christian, Arie, and Quentin get one; and Cirie, Andie, and Rachel get zero, but do get some hilarious acting from Fergus and Alan waiting to hear a sign but getting nothing.
They win just $2,000, but Christian, Arie, and Quentin get armory passes because they were the fastest. Guess who gets the pass again? Arie, again!
In the strategy sessions, Stephenie reveals that Cirie was upset about not being selected as a Traitor, which Stephenie believes based upon their relationship and Stephenie being unable to see Cirie lying. Andie turns around and tells Cirie that.
But despite the Stephenie Suspicion, and Kate’s desire to literally throw herself under a bus to leave, the momentum wasn’t enough to switch from Shelbe, whose reaction at the Cody Roundtable seems to have sealed her fate.
In the Cirle of Truth, Shelbe admits one lie—she works in PR, and for some big clients, and thus is not a kindergarten teacher—but reveals that she, too, is a Faithful.
Stephenie says, “I was positive she was a traitor,” and then tells the Roundtable: “I believe Cirie’s a faithful, I know she’s a Faithful.” Oh Stephenie.
Kate says, “Maybe this will teach everyone that just because you aren’t part of the clique, doesn’t mean you’re a Traitor.” How much of the game is affected by these preexisting relationships? Is it really an impenetrable clique of reality stars?
What is clear is that both civilians and “celebrities” are connecting with each other. Andie tells us, “The guilt is overwhelming in this game.” Meanwhile, Cirie whispers to an empty room, “Sorry, Shelbe.”
At the fireplace, Kate tries to guilt them, says the clique decided. Arie welcomes them into the clique by telling her, “You’re like literally a cancer to the group.” Oh I guess they’re not friends, then.
Possibly also not friends: Cirie and Christian, as Cirie reveals she’s also willing to dump him. “I need to get to the end with or without Christian,” she says.
But she’ll have to do it with another Traitor, too, as Alan Cumming arrives again with “the opportunity to bring someone into your murderous game,” he says. “Gosh I love a plot twist. Don’t you?”
Episode 8: ‘Cabins in the Woods’
Cirie and Christian quickly rattle off names for a possible new Traitor, assuming people like Andie and Quentin will never agree to be a Traitor. So they settle on Arie, who accepts, though he said he considered not doing it.
When Arie removed his hood, Christian reacted like it was E.T. under there, as if he hadn’t chosen Arie. Maybe his over-the-top reactions are just natural for him, even thought they come off as forced?
Arie declared: “We’re making it to the end.”
Kate was the first to arrive at breakfast, and upon finding no one, she said, “Did I win? They all left? Can I lock this?” I’d like a page-a-day calendar with her lines from The Traitors.
When Christian arrives, Kate says to him, “I’m surprised you didn’t get murdered.” Then Christian immediately says: “Cirie? What about Arie?” I’d make a joke about how he might as well just do a song and dance revealing that they’re the traitors, and he has another, even more absurd plan.
“I got something to say. I have something to tell y’all now,” Christian says. “It’s not really bad for y’all, but after the last Roundtable, I was recruited to be a Traitor. I clearly said no. I know this puts a massive target on my back. I really don’t care.”
What the actual fuck! I’d pay to hear a live feed of what was running through Cirie’s head at that moment. Just when I think Christian cannot say or do something more obvious, he says or does something even more obvious.
Christian explained to us that this was “an opportunity for me to drop that card” and said it “buys me cover” and “would guarantee a pass to the final day.” Right after breakfast, though, he whispers to Arie, “I fucked up.”
That’s because everyone was immediately suspicious. “Why would he tells us that?” Rachel asked. Stephenie said, “To throw us off.” They shared their suspicions with Arie, who tried to dismiss that. But Arie tells us: “Rachel is one step ahead of the game, like she has been the entire time.”
Meanwhile, Quentin suspects Rachel and Kate, based upon their fighting, connecting that to fighting with Cody. As viewers, we obviously have a different point of view, but would having open conflict be a good Traitor strategy? Also Quentin—I love him, but it’s hilarious how absolutely wrong he is about everything. I’m sure I’d be just like him if I was playing this game.
Andie tells us, “anybody can be lying to anybody,” and that is really the crux of this game.
For the mission, the players travel to the woods where Alan Cumming tells us they can win $35,000. They’ll be split into two teams and head to “two hunting cabins” which are “two identical cabins,” which is to say that they are the exact same cabin that the production pretends are two by moving a rocking chair for some exterior shots, but not all. And of course that makes sense: Why build two hell cabins when you can just run the same challenge twice in the same one?
Each team of four splits in half, with two players in each side of the cabin. Two of them discover they’re in a room with mice, and since I had gerbils as a kid, this seems fine. The other two discover that they’re going to be showered by insects.
Kate and Cirie are in that side, and right after Kate says, “ours isn’t that bad,” the bugs start raining on them—and I mean Fear Factor-level quantity of bugs. Maggots, roaches, millipedes. There’s also a lot of screaming—so much that the rat team cannot hear their teammates.
What is absolutely thrilling about this challenge is that it is Cirie—record-setting, bad-ass Survivor player Cirie—is rendered inert by the bugs, and Kate comes to the rescue. Kate!
“If it wasn’t for kate, I would have quit,” Cirie says. Plot twist indeed! Kate is still herself, though. During one moment when Cirie screamed at the insect shower, Kate said, “Shut up!” and Cirie yelled back, “You shut up!”
In the other team, it’s the same thing, except Andie is freaked out while Rachel takes control. The bug pairs discover that, once the other team has counted rats to give them the combination to their lock, they now have to stick their heads into cages of critters to retrieve, with their teeth, numbers for another lock.
Everyone manages to do this, and escape, bringing the prize pot to $168,600.
At the Roundtable, Rachel learns she’s being blindsided because people suspect she’s a Traitor because of her track record. Stephenie tries to defend her, telling everyone, “We are gonna lose this as Faithfuls,” but cannot change the group’s hive mind.
Rachel pleads for her life in the game—”I can’t believe, Arie—I didn’t know you are turning on me too”—and also tries to explain her strategy. “Just because i’ve played these games, and just because I can separate my personal emotions from game play, doesn’t make me a Traitor. I’m a Faithful.”
Rachel goes from sadness to anger to deep sadness. “I guess I’m being blindsided,” Rachel says. “Bunch of fucking idiots.” When Andie votes, she says: “Congratulations! You got played.”
When Cirie votes, there’s a really tough moment because Rachel feels super-betrayed. And then she says, “I try to separate the emotions and the business because if I don’t, I’ll go crazy,” she cried. “I’m an emotional person; I’m very dramatic.”
Rachel is banished, and revealed to be a Faithful. With just two Roundtables left, Quentin says, “We have to hit twice in a row.” That is, assuming another Traitor was added.
Andie tells Kate and Arie, “I feel like we made a big mistake” and adds, “so it’s gotta be Christian”
Arie tells us that “once there’s a theory and suspicion gets around to the group, it’s almost like a cancer. Christian could be in trouble.”
Discussing Christian’s outburst, Kate figures it out, telling Cirie: “What if he was already a Traitor?”
Episode 9: ‘Trust No One’
From the opening moments of episode nine, it was clear: Christian is history. He tells us he’s just “one day away from winning this money,” but even his fellow Traitors are ready to hurl him overboard.
“The whole day was damage control,” Arie says, adding that “Christian is a little bit reckless.” I disagree: He’s the literal definition of reckless!
At breakfast, Cirie and Arie arrive first, and she tells him, “Christian’s a liability.” Bye bye, Christian!
Later, Andie points out that Christian’s behavior is “not true nervous energy. It’s not fear. It’s talking about being nervous.”
When Kate shows up to breakfast, she says, “Who knew that sucking was actually a winning strategy”? Well, it’s not for Christian; Kate points out that he didn’t produce the recruitment letter: “Show me the letter, Christian!” she says. “I would have laminated it and worn it as a necklace.”
Andie, Quentin, and Cirie spend time together, and Andie tells us, “Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without either of them.”
Oh, Andie! I am already crushed for what they will experience when they learn Cirie is a Tratior. But they are also letting themselves get too consumed by personal relationships. They tell Quentin, “Cirie wouldn’t do us like that.” Oh no.
Stephenie is murdered, and, like Andie, doesn’t believe Cirie could betray her. “If I found out [Cirie’s] a Traitor…” Stephnie says. She’s also “mad, very mad. Bastards.”
When Alan Cumming throws Stephenie’s portrait to the ground, he says, “A Survivor no more.” He better win an Emmy for this.
He also deserves an Emmy for saying my second-favorite word! “This is the penultimate day!”
The mission takes place at a neighbor’s estate, and Alan Cumming explains to the players that he collects art in addition to “running a successful murder castle.”
“I don’t have a house in Hawaii. I rent,” Cirie says in an interview, and if she wasn’t already getting a possible winner’s edit, the pieces are definitely being laid out now.
The mission: navigating through a maze of lasers and swiping objects, each of which is worth money.
“This is absolutely nothing. I’m going to have this in the bag, guaranteed,” Christian says, talking about how much he runs and does yoga, and then he fails immediately. Even the challenge knows he’s in trouble.
They end up with $13,000, for a total of total of $181,800, which Alan Cumming rounds up to $182,000. Pretty soon, he’ll have given the prize pot more money by rounding up than Netflix’s The Mole players earned all season!
Pre-Roundtable, Christian does damage control, insisting “I could’ve joined. I chose not to.” But then the big dummy tells Quentin and Arie that they could be Traitors, or maybe “Cirie, which has never been talked about. Cirie’s a gamer.” The desperation is obvious, unless it’s just hubris? In an interview, he says this is “our empire as Traitors, and what we say goes.”
What they say is Christian is history. Andie rightfully points out that Christian is “high on life 24/7,” which is as admirable as it is annoying, but it’s stopped working for him.
Episode 10: ‘The Grand Finale’
Andie and Cirie’s votes were saved for the start of The Traitors’s episode 10, its finale, but getting to that point took four full minutes. This season was clearly edited to be released on a weekly schedule (on NBC?), building back tension from the previous episode before the big reveal.
Christian is voted out, including by his fellow Traitors, and reveals himself in the circle of truth. While he is teary about the lies he’s told, he also tells us “I feel more bad that I couldn’t actually get the money.”
The final five gather around a fire with champagne, joined by Alan Cumming in his coat and cape. Again, the production design on the show is just wonderful.
“The question is: are there any Traitors left?” Alan Cumming asks, revealing that there will be no more murders, just three final steps:
- “the mission to end all missions”
- a banishment
- and then, for the final four “my little end game, The Fire of Truth.”
“I’m excited to see what we’re about to go through,” Andie says, and with that, they’ve captured perfectly what is so fun about The Traitors as a first season: none of us know what’s coming!
Cirie reminds us of her Survivor losses, and tells us, “I always mess up by playing emotionally right at the end.” Will she do that again?
The final mission comes first, however. The players take a helicopter to Loch Glass—which is a surprisingly short distance from the castle!—where they discover they can win all of the remaining money.
This is another brilliant choice on behalf of the producers: The players can now win the rest of the money they didn’t get all season, and thus bring the prize pot to its maximum of $250,000. That’s the way to do this!
Two players have to jump from a helicopter and swim to buoys (Arie and Kate. Kate!!), where they hold up flags with numbers: the combination to a lock. The other three players retrieve speedboat keys from there, but they don’t boat themselves around the loch. They have a map that shows three cash locations, though the cash is not exactly super-visible in each place.
The remaining cash, $43,000, is at a fourth location. After arriving back from their swim, and given coats by Alan Cumming, Arie and Kate have to solve a riddle to get the location. They figure it out, and radio to the team, who barely figures it out: the money is suspended in the air, and Quentin is right by the rope, but misses it at first.
Ultimately, the complete this final mission, which is not exactly difficult yet somehow still epic, and the prize pot is now $250,000. So how will it be won? With sadness!
At the Fire of Truth, the final four learn they must decide whether to banish someone again, or end the game. If a Traitor remains, the Traitor(s) win.
Whether they banish is not a majority vote, though: one player’s decision to do so is enough to trigger a banishment. Alan Cumming collects their votes privately, and then hurls them into a fire, where a vote to end the game turns green, and a vote to banish turns red. “Why stop being theatrical now?” he says.
I was surprised, and maybe a little disappointed, that after collecting the votes in secret, Alan Cumming revealed each person’s vote to the group, letting them justify their decision.
“I just can’t let someone else walk away with it who I don’t feel has earned it,” Cirie says, and tell us, “I do deserve this more than Arie” because she’s played as a Traitor the entire game.
In the first shocking moment of the Fire of Truth, Arie bails: “I’d like to remove myself from the competition, because I am a Traitor,” he says, telling us that he’s comfortable, i.e. doesn’t need the money.
Andie and Quentin are shocked and elated, but so thrilled Cirie has helped the three friends win, crying like they’d just won $83,000 each. Andie hugs Cirie, and Cirie tells them, “I love you, Andie. Just know that, okay?”
I obviously have the benefit of watching all this on my couch, knowing Cirie is a Traitor. But that statement and Cirie deciding to banish once more create one big red flag. How did Cirie know about Arie? Why was she so confident?
Neither Quentin nor Andie picks up on this, though, and they all three vote to end the game. That’s when Cirie drops the cloak: “I am a Faithful at heart, but I am a Traitor in this game.”
“We all came to play a game. Our connection, our relationships, all of that is real,” Cirie says.
Andie and Quentin couldn’t have been more shocked, even as Cirie says, “I do love you guys” and “there wasn’t any trickery.” She adds, “My only option was to leave and go back home to my family, or be the best Traitor that I could be.”
She was the best Traitor, unquestionably. But it’s also undeniable how personal the game got. Andie and Quentin leave, supporting each other, without hugging Cirie. Cirie tells us later, “The guilt is overwhelming” and “I betrayed them.”
Did she betray them or outplay them? Maybe both. Despite Alan Cumming’s hug and complement about her poker face, it’s a muted victory for Cirie Fields, one of the all-time-great reality TV competition players, who finally got what she’s always wanted, and deservedly so. Yet her win, and The Traitors season one, showed us there these TV games are not without real feelings.