Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 41 recaps
One last trip back in time
By Brent Sullivan | Published: December 18, 2021
Survivor 41 Episode 13 Recap/ analysis

One last trip back in time

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.

I want to start out by congratulating Erika on a great season and a great victory. Not only is she the first female winner in quite some time, but she is also the first Canadian winner. This season really was a tale of two halves. The first half of the season was filled with lots of big characters and advantages, but mostly predictable votes. The second half (right around the time the eventual winner broke the hourglass) was filled with good, old-fashioned gameplay with little splash from idols or advantages and quite a few vote-outs that I didn’t see coming.

In the end, we somehow ended up with one original Yase member and two original Luvu members fighting it out for the money and the title. I was a little surprised that Xander didn’t even receive one vote, but overall, it was a fun final three and I didn’t know who was going to win until about the third Erika vote was read aloud.

This week will be a little different. Since there isn’t anything to discuss about what could have made an impact next week or down the road, I will be taking a look at all of my previous articles to pick out the five that I think I got the closest to getting correct. Plus, maybe one at the end to see how bad I did as well. Here we go one more time with a Survivor 41 Top Five Baby!

1. Evvie is savvy

Evvie is savvy

Top Five Baby! from Episode 1:

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 weakest one. Evvie went to work with Tiffany and 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.

Evvie continued to show how savvy they were. They played an extremely strong game that only came to an end because of being on the wrong side of the numbers. It’s too bad Xander, Tiffany and Evvie couldn’t have figured something out to work together and stay in the game longer. They are extremely smart and well-spoken. It’s a good bet that we see Evvie back on a future season of Survivor.

2. A challenge throw attempt

A challenge throw attempt

Top Five Baby! from Episode 4:

To throw or not to throw, that is always the question when this is brought up. Danny, Deshawn, and Sydney decide they want to throw the challenge to get Erika out of the game. When Sydney had to sit out of the immunity challenge, that task fell on the shoulders of Danny and Deshawn. Personally, I felt like Deshawn was doing a better job at this than Danny did. I’m sure Danny wasn’t giving his full 100%, but you could tell he was still putting in an effort, whereas Deshawn was literally tying extra knots in the net holding the blocks. Moving forward, I feel like the pressure is going to be on them to do this again. I don’t know why their agenda would change when the same people are still involved. I think it will be enjoyable to see them try to do it again and if they succeed, what will the fallout be?

Knowing how the season ended, this looms large now. What would have happened if they would have lost and voted her out? Would it change much? Would Xander and Deshawn still be sitting at the end, but with Heather instead? There is a lot to "what if" about here for sure, maybe it was her destiny, and she wouldn’t have went home anyway.

3. Ua: Then there were two

Ua: Then there were two

Top Five Baby! from Episode 5:

It’s been a long time since we have seen a tribe of two on Survivor, but here we are 41 seasons in, and we have Ua … the tribe that just can’t seem to get a win now. After JD went home, Genie thought she was in a good spot. So much so that when she found Brad’s re-hidden Beware Advantage, she shared that information with Shan and Ricard. As a tribe, they decided that they didn’t want to lose their vote and that they would leave the advantage where it was. So, in normal Shan and Ricard fashion, they went and got it anyway and just replaced it with a regular bracelet while Genie was out catching fish. After that, they convinced Genie that Shan was going to say the phrase just to see if anyone at Luvu had their idol. The plan went off exactly how they wanted to, and Genie had no idea what they had done, and then they plotted against her (and with her) to get her out of the game. The biggest thing that happened at Ua was that tense conversation between Shan and Ricard about whether Ricard should give the extra vote back to her before tribal. This was the first sign of trouble between the alliance and may be a telling sign of things to come if they must choose sides after a swap or merge.

The final two on Ua ended up being quite the power couple for most of the way through. They still had a few more tense conversations along the way, but they trusted each other and strategized together right up until Ricard saw an opening to take Shan out. They both played a great game and ended up being two of the best players of the season.

4. Erika on Exile

Erika on Exile

Top Five Baby! from Episode 6 (and 7):

As a part of the new twist at the merge (or what seemed to be the merge) five people drew a yellow rock, five people drew a blue rock, and two people drew a gray rock. The ten that drew a colored rock got to compete in the challenge, the other two had to sit out and watch the challenge and then their fate would be determined by the winning team. After blue won the challenge, they chose Naseer to join them at the merge feast. That meant Erika had to go to Exile Island for two days with very meager supplies. She wasn’t very happy with this choice. I mean … who would be, right? But she immediately felt like she was on the bottom of her original tribe and was feeling down and depressed when Jeff Probst paid her a visit on Exile. He surprised her with another new game twist. He brought out an hourglass and a hammer and said that if she smashed the hourglass, then she could turn back time and change the outcome of the challenge they had just competed in. That means instead of Danny, Ricard, Deshawn, Evvie, Sydney, and Naseer being safe they now had to compete for immunity at the next challenge. That would also mean that Xander, Heather, Liana, Tiffany, Shan, and herself would be safe at the next tribal and wouldn’t have to compete in the challenge anymore. I am hard pressed to imagine that she wouldn’t smash the hourglass here. Not only was she feeling on the bottom anyway, but this would guarantee that she would be safe for at least the next vote. The bad part for her here is once she does that, the other Luvu members who were safe and now are not, will stop at nothing to try and get her out of the game as soon as they can. They were trying to do that anyway, so she might as well go ahead and smash it!

Is there any doubt this moment would make the cut? Not only did this change the direction of the game for the near future, but it really opened the window on Erika’s game (and screen time). Granted, she was a victim of being on the winning tribe in a three-tribe season, but we saw very little of her until this episode. I guess smashing the hourglass really was a good idea for her, huh?

5. Shan and Deshawn communication

Shan and Deshawn communication

Top Five Baby! from Episode 8:

So, what is going on with Shan and Deshawn here? Like I have mentioned before, Shan does come on a little strong at times, and multiple people have said likewise. She and Ricard have had their share of issues, now it seems that Deshawn is having some as well. Two times during this episode, he felt like Shan was shutting down any plans but her own and he wasn’t being listened to. The other side of that coin is Shan is getting tired of having to handle him with care. The second time this happened was right in the middle of tribal council where everyone got to see the turmoil within the group. Will the two of them be able to hold it together? Will they have more communication issues? If they do, that could hurt the alliance with Danny and Liana as well. We will keep a close eye on this one to see how it progresses.

This continued to be a major story, even during the final tribal council discussions. They both had a similar story that they wanted to write for the season, but they could just never get on the same page all the way through.


Now for one that I completely was wrong on. Ok honestly, I was wrong on lots of other ones, but this one really stood out to me because I was clearly way off.

6. Yase Strong

Yase Strong

Top Five Baby! from Episode 7:

Despite everything that has happened to the original Yase tribe, including the reveal at tribal council that Evvie told Deshawn all about Xander’s idol and other tribe information and details, this tribe has come out stronger on the other side. Minus Liana, of course. Xander, Evvie, and Tiffany are bonded together and outnumbered by the other eight castaways, and it was made clear by the votes that came their way. The numbers would tell us that they are probably the next three to go, but we have all seen too much Survivor to know those clear paths don’t normally happen anymore. The question is, can they pull in some other people from the bigger group? Can they strategically use both Xander’s idol and extra vote to help them in any way? Another likely scenario is that the larger group turns on themselves thinking they can dwindle down their number safely because they have such a large difference, then the bottom drops out, they all turn on each other and Yase remains on top. I am really looking forward to how this little group of three turns out.

Man ... I was way off on that one. I thought for sure that Yase would stick together after that. Not only did they all sort of scatter and try to join up with other alliances, when one of them made it to the end, the other two didn’t even vote for him to win.

So, there you have it for another season. Once again, I hope you enjoyed reading and interacting with these as much as I did writing them. As always, I am honored to even be given a chance to do this and to be a minimal part of the overall Survivor coverage. Thank you to everyone who visited this weekly article, whether you are a committed reader and you seek this out every week, or you just happened to come across this while searching for something else. I couldn’t do it without either of you! Survivor is still the greatest show after 21 years and it’s fantastic to enjoy it with all of you. So, thanks again!

But, one last time, 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!

Were you happy with Erika’s win?

What was your favorite part of the season?

What do you hope to see in season 42?


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