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Someone please wake up Survivor’s challenge team. And players.

Someone please wake up Survivor’s challenge team. And players.
Dee, Emily, Jake, Katurah, Julie, Austin, Drew, and Bruce learn what they'll have to hold on to next at Survivor 45 episode 10's immunity challenge. (Image from Survivor via CBS)

On the sixth episode after the dissolution of Survivor 45 tribes, Jeff Probst gave to us an episode without a single stupid twist. The players got to play like individuals! There were no fake tribes!

There were two boring challenges, and the game play proceeded in the same direction it has been: The Reba alliance continuing to Pagong the others, with the help of the other players.

I actually don’t blame the players. First, there’s a solid four—Austin, Dee, Drew, and Julie—and they have no incentive to go after each other.

During this episode, Julie said, “At some point, we’ve got to turn on each other. I almost can’t even go there. How do you vote them out?” But I suspect that, even despite the preview for next week’s episode, they will not do that until they have no other option.

The others certainly do, yet Bruce, Jake, and Katurah could not figure out how to work together. This is not unknown. Emily said exactly that: “four Reba members that are kind of picking off people” and the others “don’t know how to work together at all.”

Katurah did suggest “Julie to be the back-up” vote, telling us, “I love Julie so deeply that I would give Julie a million dollars.” She also told Julie, “this is such a sick, twisted, disgusting ridiculously delicious enjoyable terrifying game.” Yet it is not playing out that way.

Meanwhile, Emily thinks she’s tightly aligned with two of the alliance of four, so she doesn’t have an incentive to go after them.

The baffling move this episode was Emily’s perfectly successful gambit to convince Bruce they were turning on Julie. But the net effect of Bruce’s exit that is to reduce a 4-4 game to a 3-4 game, and now that alliance is unstoppable. And a player who could not win is out of the game and on the jury.

While Survivor 45 is not as boring as Survivor 43 was last fall, thanks in part to the extra time we’re getting at camp, I think my theory about that season might also apply now. The constant “danger” in the form of producer meddling makes the players less likely to think strategically, because they’re waiting for something to interrupt their plans.

The other BiG mOvE of the episode was Bruce’s “diabolical plan” to convince everyone he was a perfect target. Yeah. He told Katurah he gave his idol to Kellie, who got voted out with it.

“It’s in my pocket,” he told us, so “I tested out my first really big lie.” He asked Katurah, “What’d you think about my acting?” and said, “that’s our hook to get one of the Rebas out of here.” Bruce called himself “my own TMZ right now.” Yep, annoying and delusional about your own power.

Cut to Katurah: “Bruce’s plan is ridiculous” and “I don’t believe anything he ever says to me.” She added, “no one’s going to believe this.”

Oh, but Austin, Drew, and Jake did—unless they were pretending?

Katurah told Dee, Emily, and Julie about “this half-brained plan” because “I have no loyalty to Bruce,” she told us.

‘The biggest reward of the season’

Two people standing in front of tall bushes and trees; one is clasping their hands in front of their face in celebration
Jeff Probst has Emily choose people to join her on her reward during Survivor 45 episode 10 (Image from Survivor via CBS)

The first of two challenges was an individual reward challenge for what Jeff Probst repeatedly insisted was “the biggest reward of the season,” and that illustrates just how bad rewards have gotten.

Their big reward was a return to The Sanctuary for Thanksgiving dinner. The big bonus, besides silverware, was that they got to stay overnight. Remember when that was a default for rewards? And that it was actually interesting and fun to watch?

The other addition was letters from home, which caused everyone to start crying. They’ve been playing for 18 days. I’ve spent more time away from my husband on a Target run.

Emily won the ball puzzle, and looked stunned at her own victory. She chose Julie, Katurah, and Dee. “Let’s make it a ladies’ night,” she said.

Emily did have a glass of wine or sangria—in a glass, not her hands!—during an interview, so I guess it really was the best reward of the season.

The actual worst part of this reward was that Katurah got a letter from her mom, despite the fact that, as she told us, “I went no contact with my mom a year ago.” That’s deeply unfair to Katurah in the middle of a game, never mind just wrong.

How did that letter get to her? Did the producers know this? Did they request that letter, or decide to include it? Did someone in Katurah’s family slip the letter in with others and the producers missed it? Whatever happened, it was not okay. That’s a decision for Katurah to make, not for someone to make for her.

Four people sit in a hut in the jungle, at low tables covered with bottles, glasses, and plates
Katurah Topps, Julie Alley, Dee Valladares, and Emily Flippen enjoy Survivor 45’s biggest reward ever (Image from Survivor via CBS)

Meanwhile, back at camp, the editors had a terrific amount of fun with the boys’ night. The male players’ antics were set to an actual song, “Playing with the Boys” by Kenny Loggins, perhaps best known from Top Gun as the soundtrack to one of the most homoerotic scenes in film history.

Instead of shirtless, sweaty volleyball, though, we got literal farting and burping, plus actual hilarity like skinny drew flexing and Bruce hurling a coconut into the water.

This was “guys being dudes,” Jake said, who added, “it’s nice to just be the guys sometimes, you haven’t gotten that in 18 days.” (The men are not okay.)

Drew found all of this kind of awkward, which was on the verge of being interesting, had there been more reflection about what he actually meant by calling it “locker room stuff, I guess” and “stuff the girls don’t want to talk about.”

Meanwhile, Austin spent time “enjoying all this wildlife” by stabbing it with a spear.

This was all contrasted with the civilized night the women were having. The real contrast, though, was with how dumb the men are. Katurah immediately saw through Bruce’s lie; after Bruce told Jake that he didn’t have an idol, Drew and Austin believed it and danced with joy.

There was an epic fight teased in the preview for this episode:

Jake: “I think our conversation is done.”

Drew: “Ours is?”

Jake: “Yeah.”

Drew: “All right, mobster. Go have fun with it.”

Jake: “Dude, I’m on the bottom. How am I the mobster?”

I hope medical was able to treat them for those burns.

A person smiles broadly while holding an elaborate necklace that's been placed around their neck by someone else
Austin celebrates winning his first individual immunity on Survivor 45 episode 10 (Image from Survivor via CBS)

The immunity challenge was held in the middle of the ocean—another spectacular location for another spectacularly boring challenge.

It was yet another hold-onto-a-thing. This time, they were lying on a ramp and trying not to slide into the ocean while awkwardly holding grips on the side of the ramp.

Could someone please wake up the challenge department, or at least wake me up after these challenges? The Challenge: USA 2 had far better challenges than Survivor! That’s upside-down world there.

“It is dead quiet,” Probst said, of course preventing it from actually being quiet.

Several people slid off, and Jake, Austin, and Bruce were the final three. As Jake started sliding, you could see the strap holding his mic pack, for those interested in how the players wear mics.

The most-interesting part of immunity was 1) Bruce almost winning for a third time, though being bested by Austin, and 2) Katurah’s panic. She became terrified of sliding into the water.

Probst, to his credit, was supportive. “Katurah, if you’d like to let go, we’ve got you,” Probst said. “Drop and start swimming toward me immediately.” But he also told her, “water’s not a part of the test,” so she just jumped off onto the platform. Katurah said, “I don’t know why I panicked” as Emily and Probst comforted her.

After the challenge ended, Katurah jumped in the water and swam to the boat with the tribe was, which she described as “really beautiful, and I deeply appreciated it.”

“Another epic showdown,” Probst said. It was another something, that’s for sure.

Tribal Council was another thing that happened. The big question was whether Bruce would play his idol. Incredibly, he did not!

Makes up a story about someone getting voted out with his idol in his pocket, actually gets voted out with his idol in his pocket.

My favorite part was watching the jury react to the votes. At one point, Kaleb said, “wait wait wait!” and then came the votes for Bruce. He was sent to the jury and was truly very gracious about it, both before his torch was snuffed and in his exit interview.

Bruce may not have been the best player, and whether he grew and changed during those 18 days is something I can’t judge, but to his credit, he exited in a very different way than he lived on the island.

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Sunday 3rd of December 2023

I have been saying this since they started doing this back in the earlier 30's (seasons): stop with having 5 endurance competitions in a row or having them all the time. It is super boring and not fun to watch. I miss the days where endurance comps were at merge and at final 3/4, not 5 or so in a row, with maybe a random comp in-between. I know that Dalton Ross or someone complained about puzzles being used all the time, and I understand that, but the way they do endurance comps now, they doesn't last long and are boring to watch. Please stop!!! 😑


Saturday 2nd of December 2023

I'm sure I'm in the minority here but I think Katurah totally believed Bruce when he said he had given his idol to Kellie. If he hadn't told her the truth, I think he'd still be in the game because I think the others believed it too.

The "boys" vs "girls" night drove my crazy. Survivor takes so much flak for perpetuating stereotypes you'd think they would realize how backwards it is to think only "boys" fart, etc and only "girls" sit around drinking sangria. Oof.


Saturday 2nd of December 2023

I miss Bruce already.

I liked the Top Gun montage. It was funny because those guys aren't "model types."

I miss Kaleb too.

Thanks for the recap!

James Pats

Friday 1st of December 2023

“The other addition was letters from home, which caused everyone to start crying. They’ve been playing for 18 days. I’ve spent more time away from my husband on a Target run.“

This is a woefully telling comment of just how badly you misunderstand this show you claim to be a fan of. These people have been starving, going through mental turmoil, in a place where there is no one to trust with no comfort or food in sight. Earlier we saw someone quit due to how bad their homesickness was. Over 2 weeks of an incredibly traumatic experience known as Survivor, and anyone would be begging for a sign of home, yourself included.


Friday 1st of December 2023

This show is on auto-pilot. They don't even give the seasons subtitles any more. The creativity is gone.

Once upon a time, this show had twists, different locales, and occasionally returnees. Now they are interchangeable and a drudge to get through. I haven't watched the last two seasons. Until they change things up significantly, I've moved on to more dynamic shows.