“Survivor”: Season 44, Episode 4

“Survivor” expert Vaughn Armour ’25 breaks down this week’s episode, which took a sudden turn when contestants were forced to swap tribes.

“Survivor”: Season 44, Episode 4
This week’s episode of “Survivor” featured important strategic developments that Vaughn Armour ’25 breaks down in this edition of his weekly column. Graphic courtesy of Nina Aagaard ’26.

On March 22, “Survivor” released episode four of season 44. It was a fun romp, and this season is quickly becoming must-watch television.

At the beginning of the episode, we learned that Josh is on the outs of the Soka tribe. He thinks he’s in the middle — aligned with Danny and Heidi as well as Frannie and Matt. In reality, both pairs are aligned against him.

At Tika, Carolyn continued to be hilarious. She concocted a wacky plan to trick someone into finding the fake idol she uncovered last episode, and it worked! She made an X out of sticks, and put it on the birdcage. She then hid the fake idol with her previously found note under a branch, which she marked with another X. Sarah ended up finding the fake idol, completely believing that it was real. It’s hard to watch players celebrate after finding fake idols. No matter how smart a player is, of course they’re going to fall for the fake, just like Sarah. It’s easy to laugh at the mistake, but there’s no way that Sarah could have avoided that scenario.

For the reward challenge, “Survivor” brought back the slingshot from “Survivor: Cambodia.” Soka won a large tarp, but the real prize was the ability to pick which player on each tribe would go on a mysterious solo journey. They chose Josh from their own tribe, Carson from Tika, and Jamie from Ratu.

This journey ended up having massive strategic ramifications. Each player was given an idol that will expire when the tribes merge, but they are now forced to swap into one of the other tribes. Being the only new member of a tribe is a horrible spot to be in, so it makes sense why they were given idols. I found this mechanism fascinating — it emphasized that Survivor is fundamentally a social experiment, which is why I grew to love it in the first place.

Josh went to Tika, Carson went to Ratu, and Jamie went to Soka. They all had idols (Jamie thought that she had a second one because she found Matthew’s fake).

At Tika beach, Josh lied about being a surgeon. The rest of the tribe saw through this, as he had previously mentioned having steady hands, and the timeline he gave for becoming an athletic trainer didn’t make sense. I get why he’d want to downplay his intelligence, but getting caught in a lie mere minutes into joining a new tribe is a rough first impression.

Matthew told Carson that Jamie found an idol in an attempt to gain his trust. He withheld the fact that Jamie’s idol was fake, which made this a very strong move. Jamie’s new situation was the worst of the three. The remaining four Soka members were close to each other, and they even searched Jamie’s bag to see if she had an idol. This is why Survivor contestants should never keep idols in their bags. In my opinion, they should always be buried. Luckily, Jamie had both her idols safely on her person, so the Soka four found nothing.

Switching tribe members didn’t help Tika in the challenge department, as they lost yet another chance at immunity. Josh was the initial target, but Yam Yam did a poor job of keeping Carolyn on board. He was mean to her, telling her that she should be the decoy boot because she’s a smaller target than him. He also told her to vote for Josh, instead of asking her opinion; no one wants to be told what to do.

Carolyn took matters into her own hands. She approached Josh and told him that she was on the bottom of her tribe. Josh informed Carolyn that he had an idol and offered to use it on her to flip the votes against Yam Yam and Sarah. Carolyn knew that most players were voting for Josh, so she told him to use it on himself instead. Sarah went home (thankfully without playing her fake idol) and Carolyn grabbed the power from Yam Yam. Now, Carolyn and Josh have a two-to-one advantage over him.

It was an immaculate move from Carolyn all around — she didn’t even have to use her own idol. Carolyn may be a wildly erratic character, but she’s making solid game moves. I definitely have my eye on her going forward.

Twelve players remain. Tune in next week to see what happens as we rapidly accelerate toward the merge!