Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 42 recaps
Looking back on 42
By Brent Sullivan | Published: May 30, 2022
Survivor 42 Episode 13 (finale) Recap/ analysis

Looking back on 42

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.

First of all, congratulations to Maryanne. What a great season she had, and a well-earned victory. From the start, she was always a very big character. Even though she wasn’t always shown as the strategic leader or the one directing very many votes, she was always a part of the story. Whether it was with a group like the Taku Four, or with her scrounging around with the other bottom-feeders who were left out of the bigger group. Either way, she came a long way in the 26 days she was out there, and she definitely earned the victory over Mike and Romeo in the final three.

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 looking at all 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 42 Top Five Baby!

1. Early advantage

Early advantage

From Episode 1:

I absolutely loved this moment. Right out of the gate, during the very first challenge of the season, three players from three different tribes have a huge decision to make. Ok, maybe it wasn’t that huge of a decision. It was mostly a no-brainer decision, to be honest, but it was still fun to watch them talk it out and then rub mud, sand, and blood on themselves to help cover up the lie. What exactly did they tell their tribemates about what happened when they were back there?

The second part of this is when they get to open it up and read it. The three of them all have an amulet that must be played together to have any power. However, the fewer of them that are left in play, the more powerful they become. When it’s down to just one left, it can be used as an immunity idol. This opens the door for all sorts of back-stabbing between the three of them.

I think they will act like they want to work together, but they will start cutting each other when the time comes to make their amulet even more powerful. Other than knowing that the other two have one as well, there is nothing binding them together. They have their own tribes and own alliances they will have to navigate long before we get to see any payoff from this. But it will be fun waiting to see what happens if and when these three ever get together.

So, this ended up not being a huge moment. We didn’t see them actively going for each other, but this ended up being a side conversation during many episodes leading up to Hai and Drea being voted off. Really, the only bad part about this is that Lindsay’s idol ended up not making much of a splash at all.

2. Taku is a Goliath tribe

Taku is a Goliath tribe

From Episode 4:

Yes, it is true that Jonathan was called a Goliath, but really this whole tribe is doing great in every challenge they participate in now. They are not just winning; they are completely dominating the whole thing from start to finish. It doesn't matter if it’s just for reward or immunity, they are just crushing it.

Now because of Jonathan’s performances, most of the attention is being drawn to him with his size and ability to take over a challenge. He is the one technically being called out for being a real Goliath among the regular humans he is competing against. The bad part about this is the attention was already on this group anyway and now it’s been made worse by him stating that they were a really strong tight group of four.

Now, I am not sure when the merge is going to happen, or if we are going to have any sort of a swap this season, but whenever the tribes do get merged or mixed up, there is going to be so much attention put on that group right out of the gate. The remaining Ika and Vati members can easily combine together and vote all Taku members out starting with Jonathan the moment he doesn’t win individual immunity.

The Taku tribe continued to dominate with the four members all making it to the final six. Plus, on top of that, both Jonathan and Lindsay from this tribe ended up being the two biggest competitors in every challenge 'til the end of the game.

3. Chanelle's in a tough spot

Chanelle's in a tough spot

From Episode 5:

It wasn’t looking great for either Chanelle or Daniel this week and we all knew it was going to be one of the two going home next if Vati went to tribal. It played out exactly like we knew it would and everyone told Daniel that Chanelle was going home, and everyone told Chanelle that Daniel was going home.

So, Chanelle came out on top of that vote out with Daniel being voted out, but you have to wonder what sort of spot she will be in when coming back to the game after receiving votes at tribal. She knew that she was the second choice, and she probably would have gone home if Daniel had successfully played his shot in the dark. So, yes, she is still in the game, but she had gone against Hai and Lydia in the tribal already, so now they don’t fully trust her. She is going to have a tough road ahead to get some luck on her side to try and salvage a decent finish this year.

She ended up going home right after this. She never could really get her footing in the game after she and Daniel quit working together. She was left out of the big group of eight alliance that formed after the merge and was at the bottom until she went home.

4. Jonathan eats

Jonathan eats

From Episode 8:

During the reward challenge, they were randomly split up into two groups and whoever won, was going to get to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The team of Tori, Rocksroy, Chanelle, Mike, and Jonathan won the very close challenge and got to go back to camp and eat the sandwiches.

This is huge for Jonathan who is used to consuming an inhuman number of calories every day. I think he said something like 4,000 calories a day! That is crazy, but he obviously uses that much looking at what shape he is in. He has been fortunate that his teams have been winning the rewards, so he has been able to eat semi-regularly… at least semi-regularly in modern Survivor terms. So, all this food is helping Jonathan perform better at the challenges and it’s helping him think straight and make smart gameplay decisions.

I’ve talked about him before and his ability to be a social player, well as long as he keeps eating rewards, he will continue being a smart social player

This kept coming up through the endgame of season 42. Since Jonathan was a big guy, he needed more calories, but he couldn’t eat more than the other players, so his attitude and his energy suffered from his lack of food consumption. He was able to get a few rewards and was still able to compete at every challenge, but he was getting worn down at the end of the season.

5. Romeo gets another life

Romeo gets another life

From Episode 9:

Somehow Romeo survived last week. He plays it cool when he comes back to camp, but otherwise, he was still on the bottom, then after an argument (sort of) with Hai, he was still clearly on the bottom. But once again, he survives the vote.

After a strong start where it looked like he was in the majority alliance, he has been fighting his way across the bottom ever since. With both Chanelle and Tori out of the way now, this might actually help his chances of staying around longer. Like in most seasons, when the minority alliance gets down to just a person or two, the bigger group always seems to break apart before the task of disassembling the smaller group is complete.

We kind of saw that already this week with Rocksroy going home and now that only eight players are left, Romeo may be in a decent spot. There are still some pretty big targets out there, literally big men like Jonathan or Mike could draw plenty of attention over the next few votes, leaving Romeo largely forgotten about until he’s made it to the end.

This is exactly what happened. He kept getting overlooked or was constantly the backup vote, so he was able to slide all the way to the end. He didn’t get a single vote, but he was able to sit at the final three of Survivor 42.


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

6. Daniel and Chanelle

Daniel and Chanelle

From Episode 2:

The Vati tribe has seemingly split into three equal pairs. Mike and Jenny are a pair, Lydia and Hai are pair, and Daniel and Chanelle are a pair. The most important of these groups are Daniel and Chanelle. Even though the two of them seem like they have a great two-person alliance, the both of them also have other people on the tribe coming to them with information and plans.

Daniel seems like he is also in a good position with his shoulder still obviously bothering him. He will be no threat later in the game to win any challenges, so that makes him someone easy to bring along. Also, with his good standing in his tribe, he should have plenty of people wanting to work with him. Chanelle seems to be in a similar good spot with other people wanting to work with her. They should be able to continue to work together deep into this game.

I was certainly way off on this one. Not only were they both out pretty early in the game, but they ended up turning on each other after that infamous tribal way back at the start of the season. Daniel was voted off before the merge and Chanelle went right after the merge.

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 be even the smallest cog in the great big machine that is Survivor 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 all these 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 Maryanne’s win?

What was your favorite part of the season?

What do you hope to see in season 43?

Thanks again and talk to everyone real soon!

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