“Survivor”: Season 44, Episode 5

In this week’s “Survivor,” competitors strengthened bonds and missed valuable opportunities. Columnist Vaughn Armour ’25 details the tensions within the tribes.

“Survivor”: Season 44, Episode 5
This week’s “Survivor” is the final episode before the merge, and alliances are being tested. Graphic courtesy of Nina Aagaard ’26.

On March 29, “Survivor” released episode five of season 44. It was dramatic, largely because of Tika. It’s a tribe full of future reality TV stars, and they kept me thoroughly entertained on Wednesday night.

It began with the last vote’s aftermath. Yam Yam was mad at Carolyn for flipping on him, while Carolyn wasn’t over the way Yam Yam belittled her. They had a heated argument, ending in mutual annoyance. Of course, when those two argue, the winner is the audience: it was hilarious. Carolyn made her usual unintelligible yelps, and Yam Yam pouted like a sad puppy. This feud left Josh in the middle — and with significant power. Yam Yam regained some favor with Josh later, though. In a sweet scene, they bonded over their coming-out stories.

At Ratu, Matthew’s shoulder pain became unbearable. He has worn a sling since injuring it climbing rocks in the premier, but the 400-calorie-a-day “Survivor” diet is awful for recovery.

Kane and Carson bonded at Ratu over their shared love of “Star Wars,” “Pokemon,” and “Lord of the Rings.” Young, smart players tend to target each other, leading to many of them being eliminated earlier than expected. Because of this, it’s a great move for these two to join forces. Carson has made significant inroads in his new tribe — he could be a power player moving forward.

At Soka, we learned more about Danny. In a heartwarming scene, he talked about his love for his wife and four-month-old daughter. He misses them both desperately and is playing for them. I’m on Team Danny going forward.

That tribe loves each other in general. Since being swapped onto Soka last episode, Jamie has grown closer and closer to her new tribe members. Look for her to stick with them at the merge. Matt and Frannie continued their flirting, with Frannie admitting to the camera that she had a crush on him. I’m impressed with how far they’ve made it while being an obvious duo, and I hope they keep going. It’s adorable to watch this relationship develop week by week.

Like in the last episode, the winner of this immunity challenge could choose a player from each tribe to go on a journey. Ratu won, with Soka coming in a close second. Ratu chose Brandon from their own tribe, Danny from Soka, and Carolyn from Tika. The journey was exactly what they craved: a feast. After starving for eleven days, a large spread of wraps and fruit is basically a pile of cookies at Late Night. But the real power of the feast was the opportunity to meet other players.

Danny and Brandon took full advantage of this, talking the entire time and committing to work together at the merge. They’re the two most athletic guys in the game, so it makes a lot of sense for them to stick together and minimize the size of the target on each other. In doing this, though, they ignored Carolyn. They pretty much acted like she wasn’t there, which is shocking to me. They had someone sitting right to them, waiting to be pulled into an alliance. They either assumed she was going home or didn’t know she wasn’t loyal to her tribe. Either way, they compared tattoo stories instead of asking her to join them. I was very disappointed in both of them; it was bad gameplay that could come back to bite them.

Since Tika lost (another) immunity, they were sent back to camp to prepare for Tribal. Josh overplayed. He showed the other two a fake idol, claiming it was real. The issue was that this monstrosity of beads was one of the worst fake idols I’d seen — Yam Yam and Carolyn saw right through it. This lost him trust, and it could have cost him. Luckily for Josh, Jeff Probst arrived minutes later on a speedboat with news. The shoulder pain was too much for Matthew, so he exited the game. This meant that no one from Tika would be eliminated that night.

While the injury was solely due to his reckless and unnecessary climbing, it was tough to see Matthew go. Like many others, Matthew had spent years auditioning, and then training for “Survivor.” This was his shot — losing it from injury is heartbreaking.

The next episode will be the merge. Tika is the most fractured original tribe (Carson, Carolyn, Yam Yam), and I suspect most of them will jump ship at the first opportunity. I think the other tribes will attempt to sway that trio, and whoever gets more of them will control the next vote. Tune in next week to see if I’m right!