“Survivor” Season 45: Episode 11, Reviewed

In this semester’s final issue of “Survivor,” Vaughn Armour ’25 recaps episode 11 of season 45, which saw a crucial alliance end in the contestants’ final path to victory.

“Survivor” Season 45: Episode 11, Reviewed
Revelations, romance, and revenge dominate this week's issue of “Survivor.” Graphic courtesy of Nina Aagaard ’26.

On Wednesday, Dec. 6, “Survivor” released episode 11 of season 45. Because the Reba Four (Austin, Dee, Drew, Julie) held a 4-3 advantage, many fans expected it to be a straightforward week. It was not. Reba fell apart, resulting in a glorious hour and a half of television.

The episode started with Emily admitting to the tribe that she had convinced Bruce not to play his idol. This was a massive move, so people were impressed. Unfortunately, that meant her threat level increased. The best “Survivor” players walk a thin line between respected and feared — Emily teetered a bit too far towards the latter.

Soon after, we saw Dee and Austin flirting by the water. There had been hints of their romance throughout the season, but they both acknowledged it during a confessional for the first time in this episode. Though rare, showmances are always interesting in “Survivor.” It complicates strategies and forces pairs into situations where they have to choose between their hearts and their minds.

Next, we learned Katurah’s backstory. Apparently, her parents pulled her out of school in fifth grade to join a religious cult. Because of the cult’s beliefs, she was forced to work three jobs as a middle schooler. When she was 13, the cult’s leader chose Katurah as his next wife. This was a wake-up call for her mom, so they packed their bags and fled in the night. It’s really amazing that Katurah overcame that adversity to become a college graduate and then earn a law degree. Katurah is a “Survivor” in every sense.

After an unnervingly quick transition from Katurah’s story, a boat arrived at camp. One player got to go on a journey for an advantage. Emily drew the odd rock and hopped on the boat. When she arrived at the other beach, she was presented with the opportunity to attempt the “Savvy” puzzle that all tribes failed earlier in the season. If she finished in time, she would get immunity at the next tribal. If she failed, she would lose her vote. Emily decided that her vote was too valuable to risk and headed back to the beach empty-handed.

When Emily returned, Drew filled her in on the plan. He saw Julie as a massive threat in the game and wanted to make a big move. Drew had already talked to Katurah, Jake, and Austin and wanted to lock in Emily as well. He also told her that Dee and Julie wanted Emily out, which was true. Austin had given Julie an idol to hang on to, which Julie never gave back. If she caught wind of this plan, she’d play it in a second — this had to be a blindside.

This week’s immunity challenge was quite fun. Players first had to maneuver through an obstacle course using rope. They had more rope than they needed, so they had to gauge how much to take. Once they completed the obstacle course, the castaways knocked down blocks with sandbags. They then used those blocks to complete a large, arched word puzzle.

Drew and Austin were tight the whole way, with Drew pulling it out. Along with the immunity necklace, he won a barbecue meal. He picked Jake and Austin to go along with him. This made sense, as Emily chose to take all the women with her in the last round.

Upon returning, Austin felt conflicted. He was on board with Drew’s plan to blindside Julie, especially since she had his idol. However, he knew that Julie was Dee’s closest ally. Austin ended up deciding to tell Dee he was planning on voting out Julie. This was the wrong move strategically, but I can’t fault him. Some things are bigger than “Survivor.” If you have real feelings for someone, you can’t lie to them.

Unfortunately, this backfired on Austin. Dee told Julie that she was in trouble and that she should play her idol. Julie then pitched Katurah and Jake on taking Austin out. Dee never wanted to put Austin in harm’s way, but it made sense from Julie’s perspective. After all, he was actively targeting her.

In the end, Dee convinced Julie not to vote against Austin. Julie played the idol for herself, canceling out every vote except for her own. Her vote was for Emily, who went home regretting her puzzle decision.

It’s been a long time since an alliance has been this dominant in “Survivor.” Even after this week’s in-fighting, all four of them remain in the final six. I don’t think Jake or Katurah has much of a chance of winning, so this season will come down to which Reba has the most impressive endgame. After this episode, Julie is an even bigger threat than she was before. She’s likely the next target, but anything could happen with players as talented as these. The only person who isn’t going home next round is Austin, since his remaining idol expires at the final six. However it plays out, it’ll be awesome seeing this alliance battle to the end. Tune in next Wednesday to see the endgame continue to unfold.