“Survivor” Season 45: Episode 5, Reviewed

In the pre-merge episode of “Survivor,” alliance-making is frantic and boundaries are tested. Columnist Vaughn Armour ’25 recaps the action.

“Survivor” Season 45: Episode 5, Reviewed
Tensions run high and lies are told in episode 5 of “Survivor.” Graphic courtesy of Nina Aagaard ’26.

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, “Survivor” released episode 5 of season 45. It was wonderful, laying the groundwork for a fascinating merge next week.

The episode started with Sifu. He was angry at his tribemates for lying to him about the last vote. There were three votes for Sean (from J. Maya, Julie, Sifu), one vote for Dee (from Sean) and one vote for Sifu (from Dee). Right after being eliminated, Sean told Sifu that he didn’t vote against him. Sifu believed him, making him confident that one of the three Reba women was lying to him. Despite not knowing Dee was the culprit, Sifu’s trust in his original tribe is fractured — look for him to split off from them in the future.

On Lulu’s beach, Bruce was being his typical bossy self, this time directing his torment towards Jake. After Bruce forced Jake up from his rest, Jake briefly lost consciousness, falling and twitching on the ground. This was the second time this had happened to Jake on the show. It’s terrifying to see, especially since this had never happened to him before “Survivor.” It’s heartbreaking to think that his “Survivor” experience could end with a medical evaluation. At this point though, it looks likely.

Later at Lulu beach, Katurah got caught looking for an idol. Her excuse was looking for “um, papayas” — not great. Kellie especially saw right through her. I’ve been very impressed by Kellie. Everyone on Lulu likes her and wants to work with her, plus it seems like she has a strong strategic mind. Kaleb pulled her aside and locked in an alliance with her, which could make a powerful duo going forward.

At Reba beach, Brando’s (originally Belo) and Drew’s (originally Reba) alliance conversation went less smoothly. Brando approached Drew about working together, but Drew said no. Drew is firmly of the Reba-strong mindset, so keeping Belo players didn’t appeal to him. This reasoning is fine, but Drew broke the number one rule of “Survivor” here. If someone asks you to be in an alliance, you always, always say yes. Because of Drew’s gaffe, Brando, along with Kendra (originally Belo) pitched to Emily (originally Lulu) why she should work with them to take out Drew and Austin (originally Reba).

One of my favorite recurring parts of this season is Katurah’s hate for Bruce. Since day one, she has looked at this man with flames in her eyes. This is mostly justified — Bruce is ridiculously bossy around camp and generally conceited. His one-episode appearance in “Survivor 44” went to his head for sure. He gave Katurah more ammunition in this episode, saying women shouldn’t get push presents for giving birth. In his mind, the present is the child. Bruce’s antics are getting bad enough that Kaleb wants to turn on him as well. He’s unbearable to live with.

The immunity challenge came down to the final component, where three tribes had to knock down blocks by slingshotting sandbags. Reba did this first, followed by Lulu. This sent Belo to Tribal Council.

Because of their win, Reba received a massive fish reward and got to choose a member of each tribe to go on an advantage journey. They picked J. Maya from their own tribe, Kellie from Lulu, and Austin from Belo. I thought Reba messed up by sending Austin (originally Reba) on this journey. Forcing him away from camp gave Brando and Kendra more time to sway Emily towards the Belo side, putting both Austin and Drew in unnecessary danger.

The trio journeyed to a new beach, where they hiked up a tall mountain. At the top, they were faced with two options that they’d decide by majority rule. They could either eat a tray of sandwiches together or each take an amulet advantage. The fewer amulets remaining in the game, the more power the amulets have. Three amulets have the power of an extra vote, two amulets become a steal-a-vote, and one amulet becomes an idol. This would be an easy decision for me. This advantage is framed as an opportunity for those three to work together, but that’ll never happen. Taking it incentivizes them to target each other, worsening all of their positions in the game. In my mind, the clear decision is to eat the sandwiches. Austin agreed, but the other two outvoted him. They took the amulet.

At Belo beach, Austin lied and said that they failed to receive an advantage at the mountain. He later pulled Drew, and then Emily, aside, telling them the truth. Emily had a tough decision between the two pairs, but she ended up going with Austin and Drew. Those three voted Brando out, making him the fourth player eliminated. 13 players remain.

This was a solid episode, and leaves the layout of the game in an interesting spot for the merge. All six original Reba members remain, along with five Belo and three Lulu. The two larger tribes will likely fight over Lulu in the next episode, putting that trio in a great spot. Tune in Wednesday, Nov. 1 to see how the merge plays out.