Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 41 recaps
A big move, and a big tribe finally merges
By Brent Sullivan | Published: November 8, 2021
Survivor 41 Episode 7 Recap/ analysis

A big move, and a big tribe finally merges

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.

There is definitely a new trend happening on Survivor recently, and this season has been doing it more than ever. Almost everyone who has been voted off this season had some exquisite editing at some point during the last seven episodes. Between, Brad, JD, Genie, and now Sydney this time around, they were all big characters and they all had very good screen time and favorable edits. Although JD sometimes got the silly edit, he was shown as a passionate fan of the game.

So, from week to week, it makes it really hard to know what’s going to happen (except the Genie vote), which happens to make my job here a little more difficult, but it’s still great fun! So, let’s get to this this week’s “Top Five Baby” and see what’s going on!

1. Erika on Exile: The Conclusion

Erika on Exile: The Conclusion

So Erika smashed the hourglass. Was there really any doubt about whether or not she would do it? It guaranteed her safety and possibly won her some good will from Shan, Liana, Tiffany, Heather, and Xander.

The fallout from her decision indirectly caused Sydney to get voted out after they decided to split the vote between her and Evvie. So, original Luvu finally loses a member. Not that the other two tribes will work together to take them out, but Erika saved herself from being in that spot.

The other thing that happened because of her decision was the whole Xander idol scene (which I will uncover more of in the next point). Overall, she seemed to come out of this ok, but it was mentioned several times in the episode and one time by Jeff telling her to “See what you caused?”

I can’t help to think that this won’t come up again in some form. Either one of the aforementioned people above wanting to keep her over someone else or one of the other five trying to make her a target now. Either way, I can’t imagine we have heard the last of this game twist this season.

2. Liana's advantage

Liana's advantage

Wow…what a trip that was! Some great gameplay mixed with some questionable gameplay and all-around great television for us!

We have to go back to a previous episode when Shan let Liana’s advantage secret slip out to Tiffany, now everyone knows about it. Tiffany told Xander and Evvie about it. They weren’t happy, so Xander wanted to let Danny and Sydney know about it so they would know what kind of game she is playing. Of course, in return, they had to let Liana know about since she is working with them now.

After a quick meeting with Shan to look over the rules of the advantage again, she goes back to the Yase members to act like she is still with them. This led to several more discussions where Xander was proudly toting his idol around, preaching that he was going to play it on Evvie that night. Here is where the questionable gameplay comes in: Liana was just told earlier from Danny that Xander knew about her advantage where she could possibly steal an idol, and yet she still tried to steal his idol.

I obviously am not there, but I thought it seemed way too telegraphed that he was showing it off just for her to do that. So she tries to steal it and we find out that he made a fake one and that’s what he had in his possession during tribal council. Brilliant move for Xander to give it to Tiffany whose name wasn’t even coming up as someone who could have it and questionable move for Liana to blow her advantage that was burning a hole in her pocket.

The fallout from this is obvious, they all know that Liana is now working with the other tribe, and they are outnumbered. But there is still a lot of Survivor to be played and lots of ways for them to wriggle their way out.!

3. Shan and Liana's relationship

Shan and Liana's relationship

I am with Xander and Evvie here. How did Liana become so close to Shan in such a small amount of time? I understand that they went on that journey together earlier in the season, but apart from that, they seem to be inseparable after such a short time together. She turned her back on her tribe of 12 days to work with someone that she only knew for a couple of hours.

Personally, I get the feeling that it’s not a 2 way relationship. I think what is happening is Liana is 100% on board with her and Shan being the final two and she is in with her till the end no matter what. But, more importantly I also think that Shan is just using her. Shan didn’t have anyone left on her tribe except Ricard, and we saw how that relationship was going near the end of Ua. So she has attached herself to Liana in hopes that she can drag her along and make her do all of the dirty work.

We already saw her say this week something about “We all knew we would have to draw blood at some point, but you are just drawing blood first”. That’s a crazy thing to say to someone, you draw blood first. I would feel leery about it for sure. Let’s see how this relationship does in the next few episodes.

4. Yase strong

Yase strong

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 that 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.

5. Advantage update

Advantage update

Finally, a quick advantage/idol update after this week’s events. First of all, we have seen the first “Shot in the Dark” used. So now we know how that works. Secondly, for some reason, Deshawn used his extra vote that he just got on Evvie when he voted two times for them. We all know about Liana’s advantage being gone too, but what is left now?

All three activated idols are still floating around with Xander (assuming Tiffany gives it back), Naseer, and Shan. Two extra votes are also still in play with both Shan and Xander each having one.

Is that it? Did I miss any? Both Xander and Shan have two items. They both have an immunity idol and an extra vote. That could easily put them in a position of power within their respective alliances, but who knows if and when they will be played. Shan has no need to play any of her stuff anytime soon, she seems to be in a good spot right now. Xander on the other hand will most likely have to play one of his in the next tribal or two to keep himself or his alliance mates safe or at least give them a chance.

So, there you have it for the rest of the merge episode of Survivor 41. Wasn’t that a fun and wild tribal council to watch unfold? Do you think original Yase can escape this? I want to hear from you, 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