Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 44 recaps/ analysis
When living in a crazy world, learn how to speak crazy
By Damnbueno | Published: March 23, 2023
Survivor 44 Episode 4 recap/ analysis

When living in a crazy world, learn how to speak crazy

As season 44 approached, I decided to go into it as spoiler-free as possible. I didn’t dive into a lot of preseason press or listen to any player interviews. The only preview I read was fellow columnist Ryan Kaiser’s here on True Dork Times. I wanted my column to be as free from outside influences as possible.

But this week, I got a little spoiled. By chance I came across some information about the upcoming episode that gave away the surprise factor completely. That in turn put me in a tough spot. Normally, I write the intro to my column a few days before the episode airs – especially if I’m doing a historical deep dive like I did two weeks ago with my retrospective on Survivor players named Matt. But as I’m writing this just a couple of hours before airtime, I’m stumped. Normally I speculate on what some players might do with their Idols and/or Advantages. I wonder how those in weak positions can improve their standing, and how those in strong positions can maintain the status quo. I also explore some traditional strategic pitfalls other players should be looking out for.

In a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, Bugs fools Daffy Duck with a booby trap wrapped as a present. Daffy can’t stand being in the dark, and grumbles “Oooh, I hate not knowing what it is.” He opens it, the present explodes, and Daffy ends up with his beak spinning around his neck. This is a case of the opposite. I hate KNOWING what it is. Its not even fun to float any conspiracy theories when I already know they’ve been debunked. It’s even difficult to speculate on what the fallout will be for Heidi after appearing so indecisive to the rest of her tribe.

So, with all that being said, I think this week will be a great test for any Survivor player. How do you adjust to unpredictable events on the fly? Everyone’s ability to think quickly on their feet will be put to the test. Situations like these often separate good Survivor players from average ones. Great players can conceive and implement the best plan for themselves immediately in the moment, even if their mistake is the reason for an adjustment. Let’s see how things play out.

Oh yeah, remember last week when Probst couldn’t fit the sword Idol back into the shield Idol? He was putting it in upside down. I got a chuckle out of that.

And away we go ....

Hmmm ... I just watched last week’s Secret Scenes. In one of them, Jaime led the Ratu tribe in a Meditation session. Its Déjà vu all over again, ‘cause Frannie’s doing the same thing.

Soka meditation session

Hey, who is this Joshua guy?

So, they want to blindside Joshua eh? If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were planning on throwing a challenge. I’m still wondering if Frannie and Matt B. threw last weeks challenge.

Carolyn comes up with an “X plan.” Again, I’m wondering what is she hoping to gain from this by leaving her phony out where anybody can find it? What does she do if Yam Yam finds it?

Ok, it was pure luck that the person Carolyn wanted to remove found her phony, but of course, Carolyn doesn’t know who has it. Somebody could find a real Idol later on, and Carolyn will be clueless about it.

Speaking of thrown challenges, Stephen Fishbach threw this one during Cambodia. His tribe was in the middle, and he hit the other tribe’s targets. Eventual winner Jeremy was complicit in that one by sitting out. They wanted to get rid of Monica.

Cambodia version

I wonder if there are phony Idols hidden in the sitout benches?

There goes Danny doing unnecessary somersaults on the net.

Look at Matt G. pretending his arm is still bothering him. Doesn’t he know everybody saw him stacking those crates at the last challenge? Who does he think he’s fooling? Doesn’t he know who I am?

Matthew, arm in sling

Sorry Matt, but if your arm was seriously injured, you wouldn’t be able to do this.

Matthew, slingshot

Jaime: “I wanted to go on the journey.” I keep saying it, but they won’t listen. You shouldn’t want to get on the boat. You haven’t even gotten on it yet, and everyone thinks you’ve got an Advantage already. Or they think you’ve lost your vote. There’s more downside than upside.

Do they still have a rule that says nobody can go on two journeys? Was Soka not allowed to choose Sarah, Lauren or Matt B.?

Since you’re on this journey, I say keep your mouth shut. Giving info away can only hurt you. Just ask Evvie. She gave a ton of info to DeShawn in season 41, and he burned her with it at the merge.


Good lord, three more Idols are in the game? This brings this season’s total of real Idols to six.

Oh, they expire at the merge/fake merge/kind of merge? That means there are 3 more possible phony Idols soon, ‘cause they’ll all move to the same beach in a vote or two.

I’d ask what would happen if somebody took a path that led them back to their original tribe, but I know Production wouldn’t let that happen. Those buffs didn’t go into those bags until after they chose their new paths.

Island of the Idols set the record with 12 Idols in circulation. This season just set the record for the most phony Idols. I’m not sure I’m liking Phony Idolgeddon. It can be fun watching a villain (like Randy in Gabon) or a cocky player (like Jay in DvG) play a phony, but its not fun seeing more respectful players get punked like this.


Now I know what I like about Sarah. She’s got a good BS meter and calls it exactly how she sees it. She’s very straightforward about things. She’s not quite as good as Sandra, but she’s in the same neighborhood. Sarah remembered a small detail about Joshua that nobody else noticed. She knew he was lying before everyone else. Sandra was the only one to see through Jonny Fairplay’s Dead Grandma” lie in Pearl Islands.

Matt G. wants to load Carson up with information? This guy is way too aggressive. Why should Carson trust that you just want to vomit valuable information to him? If Carson is smart, (and I think he is), he’ll think you’re setting him up. You’re telling Carson you made a promise to Jaime to not talk about her Idol ... as you’re talking about her Idol. Carson should instantly know you’re not trustworthy. But if he’s pretending to buy it, I say good move, Carson.

Matthew and Carson

Danny: “I’m gonna search her bag.” Frannie: “Danny, if you’re willing, I’ll watch.” I woke up my dog with another burst of laughter.

Danny: “She definitely doesn’t have an Idol. Matt B.: “She’d probably just keep it on her.” My dog is awake again. Now she’s going into the other room.

Didn’t we see this challenge in Survivor 42? I think they had a hanging fish puzzle instead of a Manta Ray puzzle.

Whenever I see Survivor players jumping off a platform trying to grab a key, I’m reminded of how Chet just didn’t give a crap about doing it in Micronesia. I also remember how Adam had to get all 3 keys in Winners At War because Parvati and Denise couldn’t do it.

Matt G. is sitting out the Immunity Challenge? Is he claiming his shoulder hurts too much to swim or is he hoping they’ll lose so they can boot Carson?

Say this in Eddie Murphy “48 Hours” voice “Damn Lauren, did that bellyflop hurt? It looked real painful when you slammed into the water.

Lauren's bellyflop

Damn Yam Yam, did that bellyflop hurt? It looked real painful when you slammed into the water.

Yam Yam's bellyflop

Probst – “Carolyn can put Tika back in the lead.” Uhh, no Jeff. Carolyn is on the balance beam. Soka is already working on the puzzle.

Well, it’s a no-brainer for Joshua to play his Idol. Whoever he wants gone is dead meat.

Probst gave Danny (his newest man crush) an 11 for his dive. I give it a 3. It looked real painful when his face slammed into the water. My wife said “I could feel the water rushing up his nose.

After the first episode, I nominated Tika for a spot on my “Worst Tribe Ever” list. Most tribes on my list are there because of bonehead strategic or camp decisions, so if Tika makes it, they won’t rank high because their failures are mostly physical.

Yam Yam, nobody likes being the decoy vote. Didn’t you learn anything from Ciera Eastin in Cambodia? Its never a good time to play like Andrew Savage. If you have to say “Don’t be offended,” its probably better not to say it at all.

Decoy vote Carolyn

If I’m Carolyn, I approach Joshua on my own right after Yam Yam says I have to be the decoy vote.

Sarah and Yam Yam’s pitch to Joshua is too direct. It might be better to feel him out and manipulate him into making a suggestion to you.

So, Joshua tells Carolyn about his Idol. He just gave away a ton of power. What was the point? You had the element of surprise and could totally pick who leaves. Now you’ve given Carolyn a chance to make a plan B. Now Carolyn has the power. Will her head explode while trying to figure out what to do with it?

Carolyn: “Joshua wants to play his Idol on me?” Is that what he said? That’s not what I heard him say. Something isn’t right. I think targeting Sarah is Joshua’s plan, but we’re seeing Carolyn floating the same idea in confessional. When push comes to shove in these situations, I think the player-to-player conversation carries more weight. Normally I tend to believe the confessional more, but Carolyn’s confessional looks green screened to me. The lighting on her doesn’t match the background light. Who knows when it was actually recorded?

Carolyn confessional

Yam Yam is doing a great job of talking his way out of the game.

Yam Yam at Tribal

Probst, why are you asking “Who’s Felicia?” I know you’ve heard that expression before. Michaela said it in David vs Goliath AND Game Changers.

And Joshua? This is a great time to keep your mouth shut. If Yam Yam and Carolyn want to fight, LET THEM!

I love watching Carolyn, but if she’s in the game with me, I want her gone ASAP. Unpredictable players are a nightmare. Even if I’m Joshua, I’d vote for Carolyn. The longer she stays, the more likely one of her decisions will get you voted out.

Joshua chose to vote for Sarah. How does he expect to get through the next vote if Tika loses? She was his best chance at surviving to the merge. And Yam Yam, that’s why you don’t want to play like Andrew Savage.

Shocked Yam Yam

And now Carolyn has no idea the phony Idol she made has left the building. Good plan, Carolyn. But I don’t want to be too harsh. I do believe it was 100% your plan to flush Joshua’s Idol. Good job there. Make no mistake, Carolyn is tough to handle as an alliance partner, but as a Survivor player, she’s no idiot.


As soon as I figured out what Iiked about Sarah, she gets the boot. Oh well. Its hard to put a finger on what if anything Sarah did wrong. She didn’t have a choice about getting on the boat. She didn’t have a choice about picking something out of the sack either. She got fooled by Carson, but my gut says he changed his mind very late in the process and was sincere when she started trusting him. I’m also not sure what she could have done to get herself out of each situation that weakened her game outside of having a private chat with Joshua. It looked like Sarah let Yam Yam do most of the talking.

Sarah is a good representation of why it’s often harder to play with irrational, unpredictable people (like Kim did in One World). Carolyn and Yam Yam both speak English, but they prefer to speak Crazy. Sarah didn’t learn how to speak Crazy – at least not as good as Carson did. If you can’t communicate well with the crazy people, you’re not gonna earn their trust. Sooner or later, they’re gonna be the reason your torch gets snuffed. Often the toughest challenges in Survivor is figuring out WHY each player makes decisions. That’s usually the key to earning their trust. If you can convince them your thought process is similar to theirs, you’re one step closer to earning their trust. Carson and Joshua were clearly better at this with Carolyn than Sarah was.

Maybe Carson, Helen, and Joshua all made the same mistake of writing off Yam Yam and Carolyn as goats, or perhaps someone they’ll able to carry in their pocket. I’m seeing Yam Yam and Carolyn as more of a two-headed Noura.

At least Sarah will know she’s not on the list of players voted out while holding an Idol.

Ok, now that I’ve seen the episode, I can sarcastically thank the CBS Promo Dept. for telling me in advance that Carson, Jaime and Joshua were all gonna switch tribes. That’s why I couldn’t speculate on how any of the phony Idols might be used. Danny suddenly needs Matt B. more than he thought. Brandon (and everyone else on original Ratu) can now try to fool Carson with his phony Idol. And poor Jaime is out there on her own with a phony Idol and no way of knowing how it could spell her doom in the short term. It’s a crapshoot as to which Idol she’d use if she goes to Tribal Council.

Unless both Jaime and Matt G. make it to the merge, she won’t find out her Idol is a phony until she watches it on TV, or somebody filled her in after Final Tribal Council.

What are your thoughts? Am I way off on Sarah or was she pretty much cut off at the kneecaps when she was forced to pick from the sack? Joshua had a no-brainer decision to play his Idol, but did he make the right call to boot Sarah? Of the three who switched tribes, who is in the best position? Is Production throwing too many Idols around again? Should people practice diving before playing Survivor? Should Sarah and Helen have sought out an internship with irrational people as part of their preparation? Let me know in the comments.

damnbuenoDamnbueno got his nickname in 8th grade Spanish class when his friend shouted out "You're pretty damn good at Spanish." The teacher insisted he say it in Spanish, so the friend said "Esto es damn bueno en Espanol." The nickname stuck. These days, when he's not forgetting his 8th grade Spanish, Damnbueno is indulging his obsession with all things Survivor. Reach him in the comments section here at True Dork Times.