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Survivor producers meddle with a big pile of dumb, vote-revoking twists

Survivor producers meddle with a big pile of dumb, vote-revoking twists
Jeff Probst reveals some of the avalanche of episode 7's twists to Survivor 44's players (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

For a few blissful minutes, Survivor 44’s first post-merge episode showed real promise.

The game was developing in interesting ways; the merged tribe (Va Va, the Fijian word for four, twice, thanks to Yam Yam’s suggestion) was divided into factions and ready to play it out.

Danny, for example, wanted to target “easy vote” Lauren and her two votes, saying he was “causing mischief like Dennis the Menace.” That led others to plot to blindside Danny while he thought he was in control of the game.

As Carson pointed out, he and original Tika members Yam Yam and Carolyn were in the middle of the Soka vs. Ratu war, and thus had the real power.

Meanwhile, there were fun moments like Yam Yam illustrating how “my strategy’s always been to charm people,” he told us, by telling his fellow tribe members that had he been voted out, “you were all gonna be sent to hell—you bitch, you bitch, you bitch…”

On day 14, Matt finally got a clue that his idol was fake, thanks to Brandon. Matt also finally had an actual vote! “I finally have a vote after all of this time,” he said, and “my wings have suddenly sprouted and I’m soaring now.” Those wings are about to melt off and send you plummeting, dear Icarus.

Yes, despite all of the pieces falling into place for an interesting post-merge game, the producers fucked everything up by giving us tonight’s pile of bullshit. Not that I have strong feelings about it.

11 people standing in a row on a beach, clapping
Survivor 44’s players—Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt, Jaime Lynn Ruiz, Lauren Harpe, Carson Garrett, Danny Massa, Yamil “Yam Yam” Arocho, Carolyn Wiger, Frannie Marin, Matt Blankinship, Kane Fritzler, and Brandon Cottom—clapping, possibly before learning most of them wouldn’t be able to vote at Tribal Council (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

It’s hard to imagine Survivor’s producers topping their imprudent decision in Survivor seasons 41 and 42 to let a player reverse the results of a challenge. It was so misguided that a player even called Probst out on it mid-game, though that wasn’t shown on TV.

Thankfully, that was dumped last season. But the producers had an even worse idea.

As the players approached the challenge arena for their first balance challenge of the season, I was appreciating the large logo on the field, and just the way even balance beams look good on this show.

I was also appreciating how Jeff Probst gave his art department team members credit for their work, by name, in the most recent episode of his podcast; I may not agree with all of his decisions as producer, but I really do think it’s great how he makes sure we know

And then that goodwill drained away and I started yelling at the television when Jeff Probst started piling on the twists:

  • instead of competing individually at their first individual immunity challenge, the players would compete in two teams
  • the longest person to last on each team would win immunity
  • the person who lasted the longest altogether would win immunity for their entire team
  • the players who got immunity would not be able to vote
  • the players who lost would be sequestered from the winners for the rest of the day
A person reaches into a bag held by another person. Two other people watch
Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt and Lauren Harpe watch as Jaime Lynn Ruiz selects a random team for Survivor 44 episode 7’s challenge. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

Jeff Probst at one point referred to the winners as receiving “safety without power,” a phrase that should have caused every single producer on the show to be like, Wait a second, what? Why would we do this?

Oh, as a fun topper: They decided to split the tribe like this when there were not an even number of players, so Carson had to sit out.

Narrator McExposition explained all these rules, and then explained them again while everyone stood there holding their balls.

Ultimately, Frannie won, beating Brandon—who still won individual immunity—and got immunity for her entire team.

Probst pointed out that Frannie’s immunity was pointless because her team was neutered at Tribal Council, another sign that maybe this was all a terrible idea.

So to recap:

  1. Carson is immune
  2. Carolyn is immune
  3. Danny is immune
  4. Frannie is immune
  5. Heidi (who?!) is immune
  6. Kane is immune

But none of them could vote. The people who could vote:

  1. Brandon, who’s immune
  2. Jamie
  3. Lauren, who has an extra vote
  4. Matt
  5. Yam Yam

Except: Nah! Five people being able to vote is way too many for the casuals to keep track of while watching TV and looking at Instagram at the same time.

So the producers decided one of the immune people should take away one of those people’s votes, and forced that to happen.

After their reward of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the winners were given another challenge: find a key to get a new advantage that was placed in the bird cage.

In isolation, I really like the idea of a reward challenge where the winner gets an advantage as reward! But this was effectively the producers forcing an advantage to be played at the already overcomplicated Tribal Council.

Heidi (who?!) found the right key, and received the control-a-vote advantage.

Frannie, immunity winner, told us, “in some sense, I would rather be on the chopping block myself, and how the power to at least write a name down.” So she was thrilled to possibly have some power, if she could convince Heidi to do her bidding.

Meanwhile, Matt left his bag back at camp, so he had neither his shot in the dark nor his fake idol for Tribal Council. I guess players now need to carry everything with them at all times? Is this The Amazing Race?

Two portraits, one of a person with long hair and glasses smiling, the other of a person with curly hair, glasses, and a beard with an expressionless face
Frannie and Matt, whose friendship/connection/showmance got a lot of attention on Survivor 44’s second episode (Photos by Robert Voets/CBS; composite by Andy Dehnart)

At Tribal Council, Matt talked as if he’d already been voted out, so we were treated to another episode of The Jeff Probst Show.

“Matt, if this is it, what has this journey been about?” Probst asked, prompting Matt to give a teary speech that I just couldn’t feel anything for because I was so mad that Survivor is now turning Tribal Council into Egregious Exposition Elocution Hour.

Matt did get ultimately get voted out.

Despite Frannie convincing Heidi to control Lauren’s vote and vote out Yam Yam, the rest of the tribe voted for Matt.

Of course they did: Heidi’s attempt to save Matt made him and Frannie even more dangerous as a couple. And thus ends the showmance, which honestly is fine by me.

Thus also ended by far the worst episode of Survivor 44 so far, and a real letdown because of how interesting the game was getting by itself.

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Happy discussing!

M

Monday 6th of November 2023

Your typos drive me crazy.

Andy Dehnart

Monday 6th of November 2023

They bug me too! But the way my brain works, I often cannot see them; I'm instead seeing what I thought I typed. If you notice something, especially something glaring, please send me a note and I’ll fix it right away!

Rima

Sunday 16th of April 2023

Wow I can’t believe how bad your writing is. Run on sentences with parenthetical as within those sentences… Jesus make it stop.

kerri

Sunday 16th of April 2023

why, Why, WHY didn't Frannie throw the overall tribe immunity in order to save Matt? She would have been safe, he would have been safe and we all could continue watching Love Island in between annoying interruptions of puzzles and hilarious interjections of Caroline eye rolling?!?

APS

Friday 14th of April 2023

I wonder if Frannie is safer now that she's not in a couple

It's Time to Vote

Friday 14th of April 2023

@APS

Safer now that Matt isn't hovering around her every second? It was creepy.

Kim

Friday 14th of April 2023

If you are going to sign up for Survivor, you now need to be aware that it will be like signing up to play golf with Donald Trump. You may follow all the rules, but you whether you win or lose will up to some ego maniac lunatic, who constantly changes the rules and then stands around patting himself on the back for what a great gift he is to the game of golf.

Melissa

Friday 14th of April 2023

@Kim, LMAO!