“Survivor” Season 45: Episodes 8 and 9, Reviewed

Columnist Vaughn Armour ’25 recaps episodes 8 and 9 of “Survivor,” which featured two blindside votes and an exciting auction.

“Survivor” Season 45: Episodes 8 and 9, Reviewed
In the ninth episode of this season of “Survivor,” players battled it out to win a rotisserie chicken. Graphic courtesy of Nina Aagaard ’26.

On Wednesday, Nov. 15 and 22, “Survivor” released episodes 8 and 9 of season 45. Episode 8 gave us the “Survivor” auction! It was the first since season 30, so fans were eager to see it. “Survivor” updated the auction quite a bit — I loved every change. Every moment made me smile and fondly remember my childhood watching “Survivor”.

Before that, though, the players dealt with the aftermath of the previous two votes. Because of his failed attempt to save Kaleb, Jake was the only person to vote against the majority. Bruce bluntly (and unnecessarily) told Jake that this meant he was on the outs. Another bad Bruce moment.

He wasn’t wrong, though. Jake realized that asking Katurah to go to rocks was unreasonable, and that his position in the game was tenuous. He tried to mend his relationship with Julie, but it didn’t do much. He lied to her and voted for her, so she wants him gone.

The six women on the tribe (Dee, Emily, Julie, Katurah, Kellie, and Kendra) got together and realized that they held a six-four majority against the men. They pledged to work together and take them out. Despite male players constantly fearing women’s alliances, they rarely work in “Survivor.” Previous tribe groupings hold more weight than gender alone. For the time being, though, they planned to take out Bruce.

After this, the players found out about the auction! In past seasons, everyone went into the auction with the same amount of money to spend on food, luxuries like showers, and of course, advantages. This time, though, money was hidden all around the island, wrapped in bamboo. The players had to run around, collecting as much as they could. Everyone started sprinting, except for Bruce, who meandered around and expected the cash to come to him. He only ended up getting one wad of bamboo, which was the least by far.

After this period ended, the players unwrapped their bamboo wraps. Here, they learned about two more changes. They were bidding with actual money, and each of the bamboo wraps held different amounts of money. This was to ensure that even if they collected the same number of bamboo wraps, the players would end up with different rewards. Dee had $900, Kellie and Austin had $700, Drew had $520, Emily had $500, Katurah had $480, Julie had $420, Kendra had $360, Jake had $340, and Bruce had $80.

The last two changes to the auction were the most important. There were no advantages, which I loved. The “Survivor” auction used to always end with an advantage, which incentivized players to hold their money until the end. This made it more predictable and less fun — the auction should be removed from strategic gameplay. The last change was that there were fifteen items, with five of them guaranteed. Before, “Survivor” never specified how many items there’d be in a given challenge. After the five come out, Jeff draws a number from five to fifteen from a bag. Only Jeff sees this number, and that determines how many subsequent items are drawn. Whoever has the most money at the end loses their vote at the next tribal, which makes things really intense — whoever had the most in each round needs to spend it after five, in fear of being the person to lose their vote.

The lack of an advantage allowed players to bid on food items guilt-free. Kendra first paid $360 for beer and pretzels, and then Kellie spent $500 on fries and a soft drink. The next item was a covered item, which Emily spent $400 on. It ended up being a charcuterie board and wine, which brought Emily to tears. Dee followed this up by spending $900 on a chocolate milkshake. It’s likely the most expensive milkshake in history, but it made sense — she didn’t want to risk losing her vote.

The fifth item was also covered, which Katurah bought with all of her money. Jeff then offered her the chance to switch it for another covered item, which Katurah passed on. Jeff uncovered two massive, disgusting-looking fish eyes. Katurah took one look at them and went back to her seat — not even trying to eat them. Jeff offered up the item to anyone else, which Austin took advantage of for $100. He took a massive bite, which looked nasty. These people are starving though, so you can’t fault them.

Now, any item could be the last. Drew purchased the covered item Katurah didn’t swap for with all of his money, which was candy. Austin then won a $600 slice of pepperoni pizza, which was bigger than his head. Julie got a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash for $420. By this point, Jeff was milking the reveal of whether it was the last item each time. Jake bought a chocolate cake for $340, which he devoured with just his hands. Next, Kellie took herself out of danger by spending all her money on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a margarita. Bruce ended up being the one to lose his vote, which was fitting.

Back at camp, Emily told Drew about the women’s alliance. He wasn’t too worried about it, as he trusted Dee and Julie. He was actually happy to hear that they wanted Bruce gone — he was his target anyway.

It was another endurance immunity challenge. The players had to hold up a long rod that was a third of their pregame body weight, slowly lowering it in steps. Jeff offered a bag of rice if four people sat out of the immunity challenge. He then cut the bag of rice to rush their decision. Katurah, Drew, Emily, and Dee sat out.

The immunity challenge came down to the oldest tribe members, Bruce and Julie. Bruce won, which was huge for him, as he was the main target and had lost his vote.

Because he had previously voted against the majority, Jake became the vote with Bruce safe. Dee tried to make him feel comfortable, but Jake knew he was in trouble. He started frantically searching for an idol.

Drew and Austin, though, wanted Kellie gone. They saw her as a much bigger threat in the game than Jake. Likely because of the women’s alliance, Dee and Julie disagreed, standing firm on wanting Jake gone.

At Tribal Council, Jake unsuccessfully played his shot in the dark. To his surprise, though, Kellie went home in a 5-3 vote. Three votes went to Jake. Austin and Drew ended up convincing Dee, Julie, and Emily that Kellie was the bigger threat. I thought this was a smart move, as Kellie did have a much better shot at winning the game than Jake. It also gives Austin his second full idol, as both of the people he shared the amulet advantage with are now gone (J. Maya and Kellie). I was a huge fan of Kellie, though, so it was sad to see her go.

To start the next episode, Jake was smiling around camp, quite happy about the vote’s outcome. Bruce was less pleased. After he voiced his dismay, though, Drew informed Bruce that Kellie wasn’t as loyal to Bruce as he thought. Drew told Bruce that Kellie wanted him out because she found him overbearing.

This hurt Bruce. In his most vulnerable confessional of the season, he questioned whether his daughter saw him the same way. I hadn’t seen this side of Bruce before. The cockiness was replaced by introspection, and genuine remorse. This one confessional made me feel for him and root for him significantly more.

Kendra, Bruce’s fellow Belo, wanted Dee out badly. She saw her as a massive threat because of her immunity wins, so she pitched Katurah on taking her out. Katurah ran this information back to Julie, screwing Kendra over. Julie told the other Rebas, who started scheming. I don’t know why Katurah is in such a rush to be on the bottom of the Reba alliance, but she wants to work with them over Belo. Emily is in the spot Katurah wants to be in — bottom of Reba. She’s starting to question whether Austin and Drew value their original tribe more than their alliance with her. She pitched voting out Dee to test this out, and they pushed back. This made her trust them less.

The castaways then received a note saying that they’d have to split into three groups of three. They didn’t know whether these groups would be working together or going against each other. When they got to the challenge, they learned it’s a bit of both. The team that finished last in each stage of the challenge would be eliminated, with the remaining groups battling it out against each other for immunity. The winning group would get a rotisserie chicken reward, and the first group eliminated were at risk of losing their vote — huge stakes.

Austin, Emily, and Katurah got last in the first section, in which players had to carry a ball across a series of two balance beams. Jake, Dee, and Drew lost the second section, which was building a rope bridge to climb across, then shooting three balls into hoops of varying heights. The last challenge was a pure endurance test, which Bruce won. He has now won two individual immunities and has been immune for all but one vote this season. Katurah was mad, but I was glad — Bruce needed this.

As the winning three ate their rotisserie chicken, Kendra pitched them getting Dee out. Because Dee is her closest ally, Julie offered up Jake instead. Bruce and Kendra just wanted to survive the vote, so they agreed.

Because they got last place, Austin, Emily, and Katurah took a journey to a separate beach. There, they went to three separate stations, each of which contained an hourglass and a complex math problem. They had until the time ran out to solve the puzzle and regain their vote. Austin did this successfully, but Emily and Katurah didn’t. This wasn’t fun for game purposes, as the people who could’ve swung the vote no longer had a vote to swing with.

The Reba Four debated between sending home Kendra or Jake. Julie wanted Jake out because she had already pitched that to Bruce and Kendra, but the other three saw Kendra as the bigger threat. Emily was more closely aligned with Kendra than Jake, but without a vote, she was powerless to change things. Kendra was blindsided, leaving eight players in the game.

If the Reba Four is going to be broken up, it has to be in the next episode. They now comprise half the remaining castaways and have two idols at their disposal. I can’t even remember the last group of four this tight: They’re even willing to share idols without worry of betrayal. Tune in next week to see if someone stands in the way of their domination.