Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor: Winners at War analysis
Top Five! (Maybe ... one more as well)
By Brent Sullivan | Published: May 10, 2020
Survivor: Winners at War Episode 13 recap/ analysis

Top Five! (Maybe one more as well)


Welcome to “Top Five, Baby!” where after each episode of Survivor, Brent Sullivan will try to break apart and find the top five moments that made a lasting impact on the season or moments that could at least affect the next few episodes. Sometimes the moments are obvious and other times ... not so much, but after years of watching and analyzing this show to myself, I like to share the ones that I think stand out the most.


The penultimate episode has come and gone. Only one more evening of Survivor left. During those final three hours, we will find out who the winner of Winners at War is. There was definitely a lot going on during the two-hour episode and we got to see plenty of tribal council and quite a bit of the Edge of Extinction too.


Since this week’s Survivor episode was a little unorthodox, so too will be my writing this week. I couldn’t figure out how to separate what I wanted to talk about, but then it dawned on me, there are only five players left in the game and I need five different topics to cover. It sort of fell into place, so here is the last five in this week’s Top Five Baby!




1: Tony


There is a reason that I have Tony listed first. I think he stands the best chance of winning. He is playing circles around most of the players in the game and should also take home the crown of Sole Survivor if he is sitting in the end.


There were plenty more great Tony moments this week as we saw a funny interaction between him and Jeremy over how many days are in a week and the “Spy Nest” made a triumphant return as Tony was able to eavesdrop on a conversation at the water well about how Denise wanted to take Sarah and Ben to the final three with her and not Tony. His “Cops R Us” alliance managed to directly or indirectly drive the votes or in the case of the Jeremy vote-off, they were in that middle as the swing vote.


Tony has absolutely played a brilliant game and if the other players know what is good for their own games, they won’t let him make it any further. Tony has a couple of things going for him. For starters, his allegiance to Sarah. Or how about his social game with the rest of the cast? It has been great. Plus, he still has an idol that he found a few weeks back and that thing will definitely come into play. I don’t think Tony will ever take an idol home in his pocket. He will play it and any other tricks in order to make it to the end.




2: Sarah


If Tony isn’t sitting in the final three, then I think Sarah has the next best chance at winning. In fact, she may be the only person left in the game that can beat Tony outright in the end. Her social game has also been top-notch and just like when she won season 34, everyone seems to really like her and enjoy her company.


Like Tony, she was involved in almost every strategic conversation this week. Her only downside was the talk she had with Michele while they were painting. I thought Sarah came off a little too much like she didn’t care how Michele was feeling. I don’t think that one moment is big enough to cost her the game, just pointing it out though.


Sarah doesn’t have any advantages left to play, but what she does have is a closer bond to Ben and Denise. The three of them are in pretty tight with Tony, but they could also just as easy cut him out if they are thinking clearly enough about what he could do at the end. But Sarah has played a nearly immaculate game and I am excited to see if both her and Tony can ride it out to the end together. Also, let’s not forget that Sarah was my pre-season pick to win it all.




3: Denise


This is sort of my dark-horse pick to win the game. I think that she would be a sure thing if she was sitting in the end with both Michele and Ben, but with Tony and Sarah both being huge threats to win and someone from the Edge of Extinction coming back, she has a job to do.


She has some good marks on her résumé like single-handedly voting Sandra out of the game, winning a couple of immunity challenges, and overall being well-liked. This week, she tried a new strategy where she made herself seem defeated and almost ready to be voted off. She even used her fire tokens to buy more rice for the tribe. For a moment, she was a target because of this, but ultimately, she survived and will now have to navigate some big players and big personalities to make it to the end and win.




4: Michele


I am not saying that Michele has no shot to win. In fact, we have seen her in her previous season be in a similar boat and come out as the victor. I just think that she has been on the bottom for too much of the game. When a person is stuck on the bottom, most of the time, they are not driving the direction of the game and are stuck in survival mode.


Overall, I think she played a pretty good game, but being left out of so many votes and having to fight back every time sort of leaves her out all by herself. This week she played her 50/50 advantage for herself, which was probably the correct choice. If she would have played it on Jeremy, she probably would have been sent to the Edge on the re-vote. Whomever comes back from the Edge of Extinction has a good chance to pick her up as an ally. As she said in this episode, she will keep fighting, but I don’t think it will be enough.




5: Ben


He is the only one of the final five that I don’t think has a chance to win. He is in a pretty good alliance with Sarah, Tony, and Denise, plus he still has one hidden immunity idol. He has a great chance of making it to the end and sitting in the final three, I just can’t think of any of these five people left that he could beat. In fact, I think that anyone that comes back into the game also has a better chance than he does.


This whole season, Ben has been shown as being goofy, not being able to keep a secret, and fighting with too many people (Adam and Jeremy being the two biggest ones). This week was another week of him and Jeremy going after one another, and him being a target.


I have enjoyed watching him this season, I just think that he was star-struck and in over his head from the start.


Edge return




A double episode calls for an extra piece to discuss. How can we be ready for next week if we don’t talk about the person returning from the Edge of Extinction?


Even though we don’t know who is coming back into the game, we do know that quite a few of them have purchased an advantage in the challenge to get back in. The other thing that we know is that Rob and Natalie still have their immunity idols that they purchased from the previous Edge of Extinction challenge. Finally, we saw that Natalie was by far the richest person on the island with 14 fire tokens. She used them to buy three advantages in the next challenge and even used three of them to buy an immunity idol for Tyson if he makes it back into the game.


With that being said, I am making Natalie my pick to win the challenge and make it back in. At that point, she will have an idol and make it past just one vote, only to be voted out in the final five. It should be fun and exciting no matter what happens.



So, there you have it for this week’s penultimate episode. Somehow “Cops R Us” survived again without a single vote being thrown their way. No one even mentioned them as a potential target. We also saw fire tokens come to an end. It was a little anti-climactic, but still offered some various levels of fun along the way. Hopefully they will continue to grow and become something amazing to watch in future seasons.


But I want to hear from you as well, let me know if I missed any moments or if you think I’m way off base, the interaction is part of what makes this fun!


Who will come back from the Edge of Extinction?


Who do you think will win the game?


Did you like the way that the fire tokens played out this season?


Please catch more of me here next week where I will wrap up the season and take a top five look at myself from my season 40 writings as we finish up the 20th year of Survivor!




Brent Sullivan - Top Five, Baby!Brent Sullivan is a long-time fanatic of Survivor and has been writing about it for years. When he is not writing, talking about, or applying to be on the show, he spends his time with family, doing nerdy IT stuff, and watching movies. Follow him on twitter: @BSully_13