Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 41 recaps
Twists and risks and savviness
By Brent Sullivan | Published: September 27, 2021
Survivor 41 Episode 1 Recap/ analysis

Risk it, or play it safe?

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.

Survivor is back baby! It feels so good to say that. After the longest offseason layoff in the show’s history, the greatest reality show on TV is finally back. Let me start by saying, I hope everyone is staying healthy and well. The last year-and-a-half has been tough on everyone. Some tougher than others, but I hope we can start putting all that behind us and get back to a little bit of a pre-COVID life.

One of the things that will help us, is watching Survivor and its 2-hour premiere. There really is lots to unpack here on this 2-hour episode along with 18 new faces and multiple new twists that we need to remember.

Like Jeff said, I’ve missed you. I do this so I can share my thoughts with you, and you will hopefully share them back with me. I have taken some time off from doing this, but I am excited and glad to be at it again. So, without further ado, I am thrilled to say once again, welcome to “Top Five Baby!”

1. Lots of new twists

Lots of new twists

Let’s start things off by talking about a few of the new twists in the game. First up is the “Shot in the Dark Die.” Very weird name, but a superpowered new tool for the new castaways. With a 1-in-6 chance of being immune without having immunity or an idol, this will be huge. With two tribes already down to five people, this may come into play rather soon too. Not much room to hide, so players will want to try to keep themselves protected early on. Also, how cool would it be to be the first person to ever use a new twist successfully?

Next up is the new twist that will take away your flint if you lose a challenge. What better way to prevent a tribe from throwing a challenge or someone on the tribe not trying their hardest? I wouldn’t want to be the one that not only lost the challenge, but also made us lose the flint.

The last one I want to mention (here) is the challenge for Luvu and Yase back at their respective beaches. They had to fill the barrels with water from the ocean in 4 hours. We already saw Danny and Deshawn form a bond over that and went out to look for an idol together (see more below on this). How many more of these challenges are we going to see and how many more chances will there be for tribe mates to work together and make lasting in-game bonds or alliances?

There are a few more, but no need to go into too many details about them like the one Jeff hid in a tree and was passed by Tiffany two times, or the fact that two teams went to tribal instead of the normal one at this point in the season. I’m sure we will see some more of these come into play next episode.

2. Good intentions

Good intentions

Like I mentioned briefly above, Danny and Deshawn decided to take a break from the water-carry challenge to look for idols. At first that looked like a foolish move when Naseer caught them. He then went back to camp and told the other three what was going on, most likely trying to forge an early alliance out of that information. It was a smart move, in case they didn’t get the challenge done in time, he was already planting seeds about what they did. However, the move appears to have backfired.

When the two men finished the challenge and won the supplies for their tribe, they were told about what Naseer did and now they are upset at him. His good intentions for himself and his game just took a big hit now that those two want him out. He will have to play a very careful game over the next few days to try and navigate out of that hole he put himself in.

3. Protect or Risk

Protect or risk

Not sure if this is going to be considered another twist or just something that happened in the first episode like the Survivor Summits that we have seen before. Really, the whole first part of this seems rather pointless and needlessly painful on the contestants. I get it that they want them to get to know each other and want the game to play faster and tougher this season, but the real meat of this didn’t come until they split up at the end and had to make a choice to either protect their vote or to risk their vote.

Danny clearly didn’t get to know the other two when he chose to protect his vote, thinking that they were going to do the same thing. But at least his tribe believed him, and it shouldn’t come back to haunt him later. Xander played it cool and told the whole story and even said he would share the extra vote with them. We are not sure yet if he really is going to share or not, but he definitely has the extra vote in his pocket now.

The third and final member of this summit was JD. Not only did JD not tell the whole truth about what happened, it appears that a few people don’t believe him or trust him either now. His name was thrown out as a possible vote this last time, so the extra vote he earned may come in handy sooner rather than later. I'm curious to see how both extra votes pan out.

4. Evvie is savvy

Evvie is savvy

I just had to mention Evvie here. Evvie is already playing the game at a very high level. When the votes were seemingly going to go for Tiffany, Evvie stepped up and realized that if they vote for Tiffany first, then it wouldn’t be very hard to figure out who was going next. There was talk about keeping the tribe strong and Evvie knew who would be perceived as the next weak one. Evvie went to work with Tiffany got the votes swapped over to Abraham ... who was surprised, to say the least. I am curious to see how Evvie’s game comes along next.

5. Brad opens his mouth

Brad opens his mouth

I will keep this one short and sweet. I can’t believe that Brad called out both Sara and Shan as potential votes right in front of them. Then, in the very next scene, he is telling JD that they are gunning for him. I am not sure why he keeps telling everyone all of the secret plans, but someone like this can be someone good to drag to the end if you can keep them in check and make sure they don’t spill any secrets or hidden information.

So, there you have it for this double-length premiere week. With two hours of content, there was plenty to discuss. There was also quite a bit that I didn’t get to. But I want to hear from you as well, let me know if I missed any moments or if you think I was correct in my thinking, the interaction is part of what makes this so fun!

Please catch more of me here next week where I will try to bring you more fun top five!


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