On Wednesday, Nov. 29, “Survivor” released episode 10 of season 45. It was pivotal. Eight players remained, including the incredibly close-knit “Reba Four” alliance (Austin, Dee, Drew, Julie). Getting through this vote unscathed would give these four the majority and a clear path to the end.
Dominating the game does not come without challenges, though. At the start of the episode, Julie was overwhelmed by guilt for blindsiding Kendra. She prides herself on being a trustworthy person outside of the game — it genuinely hurts her to be deceitful. I love moments like this in “Survivor.” It reminds you that these players aren’t soulless chess pieces, but instead humans that care for each other. It makes the game more interesting and complex.
Julie’s challenges were not just emotional, however. At the same time, Emily began to question her place in the game. She still thought that Drew and Austin were closer to her than they were, but she wanted to make a move against Dee or Julie to weaken the Reba four. Her issue was that Bruce, Kendra, and Jake are not exactly the people you want your game to depend on. They are each hard to work with in different ways. Bruce has a straightforward view of the game that is limited in strategic sense. Katurah absolutely despises Bruce, and would likely never work with him in a significant way. Jake is flighty, willing to do whatever it takes to survive the next vote, even if it means flipping his allegiances.
The reward challenge was the biggest one of the season. The players competed for a Thanksgiving feast: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and all the fixings. Jeff also revealed that whoever won the reward would get to read letters written by loved ones. Emily won and chose Dee, Julie, and Katurah to accompany her. It was moving to see the remaining women in the game read their letters together. They aren’t all on the same strategic page, but they supported each other in that moment.
Back at camp, the boys were being bros. They talked about action movies, Austin caught a fish — Drew was even flexing his muscles! It was a hilarious contrast.
When the women returned to camp, Emily told Jake that he was the backup vote if Bruce lost. Naturally, Jake asked her if she wanted to turn the vote onto someone else. In this case, that person was Drew. In a really funny moment, Emily said no, and that she was in a good spot. Essentially, she told Jake she was fine with letting him go. Emily told Drew that Jake pitched him for elimination, so Drew confronted Jake. Those two are at each other’s throats now.
The immunity challenge was an endurance challenge in which the players had to hang on to a board while being angled over the water. It ended up coming down to Austin and Bruce, with Austin winning his first individual immunity. Katurah was terrified of the water, actually having to step out of the challenge because of it. Afterwards, the whole tribe encouraged her to swim with them to the boat taking them back to the island. She did this with a smile — I loved seeing it.
Back at camp, Katurah realized that Julie was a massive threat in the game, and suggested taking her out to Emily. Emily told Bruce this, but she lied to him about her intentions. She didn't trust Bruce enough to work with him and instead opted to go further with the Reba Four. This was a massive mistake in my mind. Since the tribe split the votes between Jake and Bruce (Katurah, Dee, Austin for Jake, Bruce, Emily, Drew for Bruce), her pulling in Bruce, Jake, and Katurah would’ve been enough to take out Julie. It would’ve broken up the game’s dominant alliance, and given her a much better chance of winning the game. However, Emily was just focused on making Bruce comfortable enough to not play his immunity idol.
That worked. Bruce didn’t play his idol, so Bruce went home. Seven players remain, with four Rebas left. If those four want, they can just march to the end. It’s hard to see them not doing so. Tune in next week to see if anyone can get in the way of Reba’s domination.