On March 8 and 15, “Survivor” released episodes two and three of season 44. A whole lot happened, and it was scintillating to watch these quirky characters dive into the game. At the beginning of episode two, we learned that Matthew played his “shot in the dark” so that he wouldn’t have to vote for anyone — keeping his hands clean. This was his only “shot in the dark” all season, but the move seemed to work. Kane was the only one who voted for Brandon, which landed Kane on the bottom.
At Soka Beach, Frannie and Matt further developed their showmance. They seem to act similarly: making nerdy jokes and laughing together constantly. They also trust each other. Matt told Frannie about his risk in the previous episode, and how he lost two votes. However, Frannie has realized that their extensive time together makes them look like a pair. It’s a tough situation — there’s so much time spent filming “Survivor,” and the competitors want to spend it with the people they like. However, their flirtation makes them significantly more threatening in the game, and they are targets because of it.
When an idol is played on “Survivor” (as it was at the end of last episode), it is re-hidden at that tribe’s beach. Kane knew this and went searching. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sly about it, and everyone noticed.
Back at Soka, Danny was more successful. He found the key with no one noticing. As established in the previous episode, the cage contained a bag with an idol, an idol note, and a fake idol. Danny put the fake idol in the bag, and locked it back where he found it — no one noticed a difference.
Tika did a group hunt for the idol key. They searched everywhere, and Carolyn found a snake in a tree. It wasn’t what she was looking for, leaving her (understandably) frightened. However, her luck paid off, and she found the key soon after. Unlike Danny, Carolyn did not immediately think to put the bag back in the cage. It wasn’t until she lay down at camp that she realized an open, empty cage might be suspicious. To make matters worse, the whole tribe was together at the time. She sprinted back while they returned from the water, and re-locked the cage just in time. Unfortunately, she didn’t put the fake idol in the bag — it looked suspicious. Tika now knows someone has the advantage, and Carolyn is the obvious culprit.
The end of the immunity challenge was a balancing maze that has appeared countless times in the show’s history. Josh narrowly edged out Sarah, sending Tika to Tribal Council already down a member. The initial plan was to vote off Carolyn, but Yam Yam was not on board. He likes Carolyn, and ran to tell her that she was in trouble. He didn’t trust Helen, thinking she was cunning and constantly scheming, and he pitched that idea to Carson, who became the swing vote. In the end, Yam Yam successfully switched the vote to Helen. Sarah didn’t have her vote from the previous episode, so Helen went home three-to-one. In the next episode, we found out that Carson didn’t tell Sarah about the vote. She is on the bottom now and has lost trust in Carson.
At Soka, Frannie and Matt continued to grow closer together. As they planned future road trips, the rest of the tribe planned to vote them out.
After laughing about how poorly that duo was playing, Danny concocted a genius scheme. He ate the note that said the fake idol had no power, and then put his immunity idol note in the bag inside the cage. Next, he re-hid the key in an obvious spot for someone to find. Matthew ended up finding it, unaware that Danny could see him. Danny later confronted Matt about the idol in front of Josh, framing Matt as the larger target. With this maneuver, Danny threw all suspicion off of himself and onto Matt. It was incredibly savvy. Interestingly, it also incentivizes Danny to keep Matt around: as soon as Matt leaves, Danny loses his cover.
At Ratu, we learned that Matthew did a similar thing to Jamie. He had found the key after Kane searched for it and made a fake idol out of beads. He hid the idol with his note for someone to find it, and Jamie was that someone. Now she trusts him, and he has information that he can use to undermine her.
In “Survivor,” when one tribe has more contestants than another, players sit out to balance the numbers. This gives an advantage to the leading tribes — they can choose who to sit out. So far, Claire has sat out of every challenge she could. This is odd because she’s smart and seems fairly athletic. Heidi, on her own tribe, is much older than her as well and has been playing in the challenges. So she sat out of the immunity challenge again, and Soka lost.
This caught up to Claire in the end. The tribe told her that they were voting for Matt, and took her out unanimously. Danny, Josh, and Heidi still maintain a three-to-two advantage over Frannie and Matt, so this made a ton of sense. Frannie pitched Josh because of her lack of a strategic relationship with him, but it didn’t matter in the end.
Although this vote made sense, it continued a troubling trend. Since “Survivor 40,” most of the first eliminations from each tribe have been women. Only two men have been voted out first, compared to ten women. While the new era of “Survivor” has yielded two female winners, ending the six season drought, this trend is still troubling. A large reason for this is how physical the early challenges have become. I have faith that “Survivor” will make changes, but this has to be addressed going forward.
Tune in next week for the next episode of Survivor!