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Did Survivor 44 deliver a classic blindside or a fart in the wind?

Did Survivor 44 deliver a classic blindside or a fart in the wind?
Frannie Marin, far left, with three people trying to vote her out—Brandon Cottom, Kane Fritzler, and Jaime Lynn Ruiz—plus Danny Massa, who ended up giving her his idol. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

For the last part of Survivor 44 episode 8, I was anxiously awaiting seeing what moves two players would make—and also waiting to see how the producers would screw that up.

Maybe that’s because I’m grouchy cynic; maybe that’s because that’s what the producers did last episode, and several times before that this season alone.

But no! They did not interfere! The game actually played out. Imagine that!

It was classic Survivor: a merged tribe, old loyalties, people in the middle, a single idol capable of upsetting the balance. There was a chance of a big blindside or a massive betrayal—the kind of typical average episode in the old days, which today counts as a remarkable turn of events.

My only complaint about the episode was that all that strategizing was compressed into one act, about eight minutes.

Meanwhile, the challenge consumed about half the episode, and Tribal Council took another act, even though basically nothing of value was said during the entire conversation. I’ll give the cast credit for learning how to respond without saying anything—smart, but not the best television.

A portrait of a person standing with arms crossed
Brandon Cottom, Survivor 44’s second juror (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

As the episode opened, Frannie was crushed that Matt was gone, while Brandon described Matt’s exit as just “another person away from Soka.”

As Carson said, “Soka and Ratu hate each other,” and as Yam Yam explained, both of those tribes are ignoring him, Carson, and Carolyn. “Tika members are the Three Stooges,” he said. “No one thinks we’re the strategists, no one thinks we’re the power players.”

They almost were down one stooge, as Carson got sick from the PB&J reward. That sucks for him, and he described “one of the worst nights I’ve ever had in my life,” having thrown up nine times. I really feel for him, but did not need the addition of throwing-up noises for the one time we saw him crawl into the bushes.

While still at camp, the players got Tree Mail (!!) which said they needed to divide into pairs for the immunity challenge. Frannie pointed out they didn’t know if it was pairs or competitors; it turned out to be both, of course: pairs, then competitors.

Carolyn volunteered to partner with the sick one: “I’ll be with Carson; I’ll carry him on my back,” she said.

Survivor 44 logo in sand, with flames and sparks flying around it

The challenge was an obstacle course we’ve seen before, just broken into stages and with a new ending. Pairs were eliminated during the first stages, and the final two teams competed as individuals in a—wait for it!—balance challenge.

The very first pair out were Carolyn and Carson. Carson’s “you got it, Carolyn” was so quiet and sad, and almost sounded like a different person.

Not quiet was our host. “That’s a Survivor right there!” Narrator McExposition said, pointing at Carolyn, a person who was, in fact, on Survivor. “Never give up on Survivor!” he added, indicating Carolyn, a person who had not given up.

Their loss puts them in a stronger position, I think: they didn’t have to compete, and both look good for trying while not appearing like threats.

Those who made it to the final stage were Brandon, Danny, Kane, and Lauren.

As they stood between two pieces of wood, balancing their feet on tiny pieces of wood, Narrator McExposition said, “This is about pain, absolute pain tolerance. It is going to hurt. Every time you move down, that foothold gets more narrow, puts more pressure on your foot, then you start relying more on your upper body. At a certain point you go numb.”

My brain sure went numb went during that. But that was followed by one of my favorite moments on Survivor in recent memory, because I am a third grader:

Probst: “Don’t lose your focus. Channel whatever you need to.”

Danny: “Jeff…”

Probst: “Danny…”

Danny: *farts*

Farting as a response to Jeff’s mind-numbing narration is an A+ move. Probst responded to the fart with, “That was nice. Well-timed. I’m so glad I’m not up there.”

The weight Danny lost from that escaped gas couldn’t keep him up, and Lauren won. She was ecstatic about her win, and rightfully so. “I never thought I would win any immunity—it’s so cool,” she said.

Then I turned on subtitles and rewound because I thought she added, This is, like, a fuckin’ idol, and it’s the coolest thing ever. But that was not it. She actually said, “Like, this is a bucket list item, and it’s the coolest thing ever.”

Tangent: I am completely convinced, however, that in “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” Brenda Lee sang, “later we’ll have some fuckin’ pie.”

After the challenge, Ratu was convinced it was in the power position.”We are strong right now, we are kind of dictating the way this game is being played,” Brandon said, perhaps telegraphing his own potential blindside.

Brandon just assumed Carolyn and Yam Yam were voting with them, and that Yam Yam had undying allegiance because they kept him last episode. Not good to assume!

Heidi, however, ran the numbers and realized that that they were 3-3, with some floaters. She told Danny Brandon was too much of a threat; Danny said he’d play his idol to save Frannie.

Heidi shared this plan with Carson and Yam Yam, and shared that Danny had an idol. When Carson told Danny that, Danny was not thrilled, because he realized Yam Yam might use that against him. Carson even volunteered to be Yam Yam security.

Yam Yam told us, “I’m playing everybody,” so the question going into Tribal Council was if Yam Yam would leak the plan to Ratu, and if Danny’s concern about Yam Yam would lead him to play the idol for himself, or if he’d stick with the plan to protect Frannie.

Danny did play his idol, and for Frannie. The remaining question was whether Yam Yam blabbed, and the editors cut to Brandon smirking. But that was a misdirect.

Everyone voted for Frannie except the four votes for Brandon, sending him home in a true, classic blindside. Ratu was so confident they just all voted for Frannie; not a split vote in sight! Curiously, though, Carson voted for Frannie.

So in one episode, Frannie went from what she described as the “worst possible outcome” to the best possible outcome, and she’ll possibly fade to the background now as other threats emerge. Let’s hope the producers keep letting the players just play like this.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

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Happy discussing!


Wednesday 26th of April 2023

Thanks for the recap! I liked the episode. I wish Brandon wouldn't have gone. My mother doesn't like Carolyn and wants her out pronto.


Wednesday 26th of April 2023

So I’ll start by saying I’ve watched Survivor since I was 12 years old and will forever watch, but I’ve found this season disappointing.

Even this far in the season, some of the players pop up and I still can’t remember their names which never happens. I honestly just don’t really care for this cast overall, they are not doing it for me. The only one I have any interest in seeing win is Carolyn. She’s the exception, she’s easily one of the best people CBS has cast in years.

I just feel like we had really strong casts especially the last two seasons, and this cast to me doesn’t stand up to those. I find the majority of them to be boring, unlikable, or both.

And we won’t even mention the even more excessive than usual Idols/twists/producer manipulations in giving half the players safety, etc. They need to stop trying to overproduce and let things be.

If you ask people their all time favorite/most memorable Survivor moments, I promise no one is going to say, “OMG remember when half the players were safe and half of a showmance got voted out?” Like just let things happen.


Sunday 23rd of April 2023

Personally I don't put a ton of faith in the accuracy of subtitles so if you think you heard it better you probably did

Bad Mitten

Saturday 22nd of April 2023

Yam yam and carson voted for frannie for plausible deniability aka so they could still feign ignorance about the plan and play both sides


Thursday 20th of April 2023

Amazing parallels how all the twist this season has had were a fart in the wind in this episode that had no twists 🤔🤔