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Betrayal! Survivor 44 gives us Traitors-level backstabbing

Betrayal! Survivor 44 gives us Traitors-level backstabbing
Jeff Probst snuffs the torch of the person betrayed by their tribe on Survivor 44 episode 9 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

For the second week in a row, Survivor 44 delivered an old-school episode that had a surprising outcome, gave at least some attention to all of the players, and had minimal producer meddling. Woo hoo!

The episode opened with these three segments:

  1. Everyone searches for an idol
  2. Carolyn is absolutely to win this season
  3. Everyone is starving, cold, wet, shivering, and forced to negotiate for rice before balancing painfully, altogether known as a Jeff Probst erection

The first two segments actually gave us a chance to see the tribe at camp, with some game talk and some human connection talk, too.

“Today we had time to just connect with each other,” Carolyn told us. “That’s my favorite part of the game.”

This episode, Carolyn shared with us and her fellow players about reaching her 13th year of sobriety, and also her general approach to life of not being ashamed of her experiences. I love her.

As we saw her climb a jagged rock over the ocean and I panicked that this was going to be Matthew all over again, Carolyn also told us this: “Am I having fun? Of course I am. But I want them to think that I’d rather be having fun than actually strategizing—but I’m here to play.”

And win, apparently! If Carolyn isn’t getting a winner’s edit—if this season gets Gablered again—let us riot.

A person smiling
Carolyn Wiger on Survivor 44 episode 9 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

From other camp time, we learned that Brandon was the one player who insisted the tribe not split the vote at the last Tribal Council, ensuring his exit, oops.

We also learned that Yam Yam is ready for a down day. “At what point are you gonna chill? Never?” Yam Yam asked. Well, it’s now a 26-day game for $1 million. It’s one-third shorter than it used to be. The answer probably should be never!

But it must be exhausting being played by the producers all the time, so I’ll give them a break. And Yam Yam’s word game did provide entertainment.

Meanwhile, Kane told Jaime, “The number one mantra in this game is: don’t get cocky.” (Hello, foreshadowing!) He also said, “The common enemy in this game is the big threats,” identifying Danny as the biggest threat.

Both Kane and Danny went idol-hunting, setting up a kind of showdown. Danny had a strategy: checking five trees, bringing back firewood, “trying to be somewhat subtle,” he said. “My goal is to outwork them.”

Just when I was convinced he’d find one, Heidi swooped in and found the idol sitting at eye level in a tree. It was a regular ol’ idol, good until five players are left.

Before the challenge, Tree Mail—That’s old school this episode was! Regular ol’ Tree Mail!—informed them that it’d be the rice negotiation, aka a multimillionaire demands you do give up things to entertain him.

Carson, in danger of withering away, told us, “I’m hungry” and “we’re really, literally starving.”

Danny, however, told us that even considering Probst’s forthcoming offer was “embarrassing,” saying “you can go 30 days without eating.”

He told the tribe: “Let’s just play the game. … Let’s be the season that says: We’re players.” I admire Danny for his general F the Producers approach here.

At the challenge, we learned that this is not actually a negotiation. “I want four,” Probst told them. He got two right away: Carson and Lauren.

“The idea of this negotiation is really simple,” Narrator McExposition then said, and then babbled so long I started to fall asleep.

“The easy thing is to say: We won’t vote the four of you out,” Probst said, trying to get something to happen.

Kane said, “If the vote had gone how I thought it would have at last Tribal, I would have been more willing to step forward, but I’m not certain that four will.”

Then Danny said: “I won’t vote for the sit-outs.” Probst confirmed: “You will not?” Danny said, “sure.”

Carson and Carolyn agreed, too, and then Danny confirmed: “Scout’s honor.”

Kane then said he’d sit out. Wow! Going from Everyone lied to me to I’ll believe everyone that quickly!

For a moment, it looked like no one else would, so his gesture wouldn’t matter. Perhaps to avoid yet another segment of The Jeff Probst Show while everyone stood around drenched and cold, Jamie appeared to be about to join the sit-outs—but then said no. Heidi, though, stepped in and sat out.

Narrator McExposition then explained what just happened and what was happening while it continued to rain, which is when water falls from the sky because God is sad you’re actively making our favorite show worse with your babble.

The balancing challenge quickly came down to Frannie and Danny, with Frannie winning individual immunity, defying her own expectations yet again—tying Erika for eight challenge wins in this pandemic Survivor era.

Two people standing in the rain, both smiling, one wearing a large ornamental necklace
Frannie wins her second individual immunity on Survivor 44 after balancing in the rain and cold (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

Back at camp, Yam Yam, Carson, and Carolyn were in the middle yet again. Both of the other tribes wanted to work with them.

Frannie realized, however, that could leave Tika stronger than the other two, and wanted to go after Yam Yam and Carolyn. Danny objected, saying they weren’t threats—which is exactly why they are threats, Danny! But you do you.

Jaime still has her fake idol, and gave it to Kane in case there was a Knowledge is Power played. And Kane told us, “If I want to win this damn game, I have to start voting people out.” Instead he got voted out with her idol.

Carolyn, meanwhile, told us she wanted to vote out Danny because of “the muscle bro thing.” As if a producer wouldn’t stop asking her for reasons, Carolyn declared, “I’m sick of him! That’s why I’m voting him out, okay?”

At Tribal Council, Narrator McExposition started what seemed like it’d be the usual say-nothing Tribal Council by saying, “This is fundamentally why Survivor is so interesting. Every season is different because the players are different.” You know, Survivor is far less interesting when it climbs up its own ass and wastes time looking around!

Right after that, we here in Central Florida got an emergency alert for a severe thunderstorm warning, so I didn’t get to hear what everyone was saying, because I was instead hearing an announcement that sounded like it was coming from the surface of Saturn, though that did give me time to change underwear because the start of the emergency alert was very loud and very unexpected.

In the past, I probably would have freaked out about missing a minute or two of Tribal Council, but I didn’t mind since Tribal Council discussion has become the least-interesting part of the hour.

I was literally about to type but I don’t want to go back to whisper-fests!—and then guess what the Survivor gods gave me?! Exactly that.

I did laugh when Yam Yam said, “I want some subtitles to see what’s going on,” and the editors not only typed those words as subtitles as he said them, but we also got some.

Carolyn said to Kane, “Danny?” But she was, rather convincingly, misleading him, as Carolyn ended up voting for Kane. So, too, did Carson and “scout’s honor” Danny.

No one played idols, fake or real, with the votes going to Kane (5), Heidi (3), Jaime (1), and Danny (1).

So, after Kane reluctantly gave up immunity and was promised safety, the other players—though not his fellow original Ratu members—sent him to the jury with a fake idol in his pocket and a knife in his back.

He was remarkably cheerful in his exit interview despite all that, making the outcome of this Survivor episode even more satisfying.

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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

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

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Happy discussing!

Kevin W

Friday 28th of April 2023

I thought the rule of thumb was that when Executive Producer Jeff Probst thinks it's a good season, a guy wins it?


Friday 28th of April 2023

I liked Kane. I was sad :-( to see him go. He has more personality than some of the others. Heidi? Who's she? Carolyn is too showy to be the winner. I'm thinking Frannie or Jamie will win but I would rather see "I'm not a scout" Danny win.

I read in one of my progressive magazines that God hates Florida and that's why you guys get all those hurricanes and storms and the reason the state is sinking into the ocean. Just sayin. :-)

Kevin W

Friday 28th of April 2023

@Antonio, Being the wrestling junkie that I am, I always found it humorous that there was a guy named Kane who resembled Isaac Yankem, DDS (same wrestler, different gimmick).

I'm a little split about Kane losing. On one hand, he seemed like a nice guy. On the other, he completely butchered O Canada despite being from Canada.


Thursday 27th of April 2023

Turn on you closed captioning so you can read what they’re saying


Thursday 27th of April 2023

Who was negotiating anyway? Could the hostages could negotiated with Jeff and refused to give him 4? They didn't much negotiate with each other aside from lying about not voting out the sitter-outers. And then what if everyone but Frannie sat out so she got immunity and they wouldn't vote for each other? I guess she wouldn't have offered not to vote anyone out...


Thursday 27th of April 2023

Why don't the players actually negotiate with Jeff during these rice "negotiations"?