On April 19, “Survivor” released episode seven of season 44. The episode was another great one in what is becoming a fantastic season. It was entertaining throughout and packed to the brim with the strategic dilemmas that “Survivor” fans love.
It also had emotional moments, like Carson struggling physically. He repeatedly threw up and was visibly weak throughout. This likely won’t have a long-term effect on his game, but his tears and trembles were tough to watch. During another emotional moment, Frannie was crying after Matt’s elimination. She had to sit and watch him fear for his “Survivor” life, and then watch him leave. Understandably, that took a toll on her.
Unlike Frannie, the Ratu four felt great about Matt’s elimination. Brandon, Jaime, Kane, and Lauren thought they’d cruise through the game with the Tika three (Carson, Yam Yam, and Carolyn) in their pockets. In modern “Survivor,” though, that never happens. Players are too individually motivated now and will do everything they can to put themselves in a winning position. The Tika three are no exception. That group, who Yam Yam affectionately called “The Three Stooges,” is actually in a great spot — underestimated and trusted by both Ratu and Soka.
The contestants paired up to start the immunity challenge. Carolyn immediately said she’d go with the ailing Carson, which was heartwarming. Carolyn has grown on me throughout the season as a player and person. She cares about her people and treats them well. She’s also not a bad strategist.
In the challenge, there were five pairs: Carson and Carolyn, Yam Yam and Frannie, Heidi and Jaime, Brandon and Lauren, and Kane and Brandon. In the first section, Carolyn struggled mightily through a twisted, muddy net. This led to her and Carson’s exit from the challenge. The next section used planks to cross a rope bridge. The Yam Yam-Frannie and Heidi-Jaime pairings lost there.
The last part of the challenge was a classic pain tolerance and endurance test. Brandon, Danny, Lauren, and Kane stood between two walls with their feet perched on small footholds. The longer the challenge lasted, the lower the remaining contestants had to climb. The lower they got, the smaller the foothold. All four contestants performed admirably, but Lauren ended up winning the individual immunity necklace.
Back at camp, the Ratus planned to eliminate Frannie, who they perceived as the biggest threat in Soka. In their minds, they had a stronghold on the game. They told Yam Yam, Carson, and Carolyn the plan and assumed it was a done deal. Ratu even told the other Soka (Heidi and Danny) their plan. Their confidence bordered on cockiness, which is often punished in “Survivor.”
In reality, the scheming was far from over. Now aware of the plan, Danny told Heidi about his idol and said he’d play it on Frannie. This would cancel the votes against her and eliminate the Ratu member of Soka’s choosing. Soon after, Heidi told Yam Yam and Carson about the idol. This was risky. Yam Yam is a walking source of drama — it’d be so easy to envision him running to Ratu and spoiling the plan. If Ratu knew about the idol plan, they could switch the votes to Danny or Heidi and send either one home. Danny recognized this possibility and faced a dilemma — trusting an untrustworthy player or losing an ally.
In the end, Danny trusted Yam Yam. He played his idol for Frannie, which canceled out the six votes for her and sent Brandon home. All four Soka players had their jaws open and their eyes wide — the road to the end wouldn’t be as easy as they thought. Interestingly, Carson and Yam Yam voted for Frannie. This idea likely came from Soka and was probably to fool Ratu into thinking the Tika three were still loyal to them. Despite this, I think those three will continue to bounce back and forth between the other two alliances.
The Three Stooges made it through another vote intact! Now, the game is even: three Ratu, three Soka, and three Tika. Tune in next week to see which tribes gain an advantage and which falls behind.