Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 44 recaps/ analysis
To sit or not to sit?
By Damnbueno | Published: March 30, 2023
Survivor 44 Episode 5 recap/ analysis

To sit or not to sit?

First off, I want to give a shout out to my True Dork Times colleague Jeff Pitman. His column last week was given props on Robhasawebsite’s “Why ___ Lost” Podcast hosted by David Bloomberg, and Millennials vs Gen X player Jessica Lewis. Jessica appreciated Jeff’s perspective on how the game is evolving (and so do I Jeff). Props to you.

Entering this week’s episode, we know Carson and Jaime are ticking time bombs because they’ve been handed Idols that quite possibly expire after this next vote. If either of them goes to Tribal Council, they’re certain to play them. Jaime of course has a second Idol she doesn’t know is a phony, but if she plays that one, Probst will tell her it’s a phony, and she’ll just play her real Idol. We know Carson and Jaime are safe. So, the only real mystery here is who would Carson and Jaime want gone should they keep their Idols secret? Matt G. has dumped a truckload of tribe info on Carson, so if Carson learns about Lauren’s Extra Vote, he could take her out. Or, if Carson sees Matt G. as a threat because he has practiced more Survivor challenges than he has, an unsuspecting Matt G. could leave. There doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason for Carson to go after Brandon or Kane.

But Jaime is a crap shoot. I suppose since both Jaime and Frannie like to teach Meditation, they could have a meditative cage match – sitting cross-legged and breathing at each other. Whoever “stays in the moment” the best would get another Idol. That could be as entertaining as the Becky/Sundra fire making contest from Cook Islands. If Jaime finds out about the Matt B./Frannie power couple, she could aim at one of them. But if she doesn’t, her smartest play might be to take out the showboating challenge beast Danny. He could do somersaults on his way to the Ponderosa. Jaime is playing with the confidence of someone who has two Idols, so it figures she might be aggressive.

As for Tika, everything seems to hinge on Carolyn. She’s the clear breakout star of the season, but since I’m a strategy nut, I’m still trying to figure her out. Does she make an emotional decision, then think through it to see if it makes sense strategically, or is it the other way around? Did she vote for Sarah because she got angry at Yam Yam and wanted some payback? Did she do it because she knew Sarah was never gonna work with her as partners? Or was she foreseeing another Immunity loss, and knew her position would be better if Joshua were there than if Sarah was? Whatever her reasoning, whoever figures it out between Joshua and Yam Yam will be the one who survives the next vote. Joshua had a very bad read on his Soka tribemates, and he tends to give away too much information (“I have an Idol,” “I was in a good position on Soka”), but he seemed to connect with Carolyn on some level. Yam Yam thought he had Carolyn in his pocket until she surprised him by leaving him out of the loop. Who does Carolyn want to play with? Does she even know herself?

I often say I like to watch the challenges with the sound off because I don’t care for Probst’s often misleading commentary. But I was sound on last week, and I have to call him out on the Immunity Challenge. Soka had already started on the puzzle. Matt B. and Heidi had about 15 pieces placed on what looked like a 40-piece puzzle. Carolyn and Kane were crossing the balance beams when Probst said “Heidi and Matt with a big time advantage for Soka. Carolyn step by step can put Tika back in the lead right here.” I noted in last week’s column how Probst got it wrong, but he screwed it up in back to back sentences. Soka was way out in front and had a comfy lead. But wait, there’s more! When Carolyn passed Kane on the beam to put Tika in 2nd place, Probst said “Carolyn has it easily, and Tika is back in the lead as Kane feels the pressure.” Mr. Probst, I know you like to manufacture some drama, but you’re starting to confuse yourself. Post-production couldn’t fix this one.

And away we go ...

This is a fun night for Joshua. Carolyn is singing “I Will Survive,” Yam Yam is singing “What About Us?” and Joshua is singing “I’m Still Standing.” For you non-music enthusiasts, those songs are by Gloria Gaynor, Pink and Elton John respectively.

The angel and devil in Carolyn’s head are having a great battle.

Matt G. is still in pain? Hmmm, could it have something to do with lifting heavy crates, and climbing 2-story structures in Challenges? I’m still not convinced he’s hurt as bad as he’s making it out to be. He’s reminding me of Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in Tombstone, when he fooled Wyatt Earp into thinking he was too sick to join the fight. But I don’t think Matt. G. will win his showdown with Johnny Ringo. Matt G. has already shown his competitive strengths. Doc was much more subtle.


I knew Carson and Kane would nerd out. That’s bad news for Lauren and Brandon if they go to Tribal.

Carson has connected with Kane and Matt G., but I haven’t seen him doing the same with Brandon or Lauren.

Wow, who’d have figured Danny would lead the meditation session? This guy is way too aggressive.

Soka, breathing

Jaime: “I have more information than anybody.” That’s a great reason to vote you out, Jaime.

Matt B.: “My blind spot is Frannie.” You got that right. I think he’s got a Danny blind spot too.

Joshua is a little too up front. What is there to gain by point blank saying “I don’t trust you?” Now I know why nobody on Soka trusted him.

Yam Yam and Josh

I’ve lost count of the number of phony Idols this season. I think this is 5, with a possible 2 more if the merge comes and Carson and Jaime’s real Idols become void.

Joshua opening up to Yam Yam is great, but I don’t think he realizes he’s killing his “I’m a physical trainer” lie.

Joshua: “I’m in a position of power.” I’ve lost count of the number of players who got booted after saying that.

Soka is looking too happy to see Joshua is still around, especially considering they all wanted him gone.

Soka, happy to see Josh

They only changed the end of this challenge that they just used last season. The only difference is the table maze at the end was from a different challenge. Ryan rolled balls up a ramp at the end last season. I remember the quickest route was going low through the first obstacle.

This challenge is actually close. We rarely get shots where we can see all three Tribes at once, and there’s a bunch of those type of shots tonight.

Table maze

Soka and Ratu mazes

Danny: “Jeff, I always wondered if the matches are as close as they seem on TV.” I think this was an exception.

Carolyn goes on the journey, which means she’s getting something that can save her to go with her Idol. I think Joshua is in trouble.

I don’t think there have been many three-person Tribal Councils. The first that comes to my mind is Stephenie, Bobby Jon and Ibrehem in Palau.

Matt G.: “I feel like gravity is gonna pull my shoulder out of its socket.” That’s how mine felt when I was well-fed and still getting sleep. But I don’t think he’s going anywhere.

I’d like to see how Yam Yam throws someone under a Submarine.

Yam Yam, submarining

Will we actually get to see the players getting to know each other? I doubt it.

If I’m Brandon, I’m taking that sign with me. That’s the only way I can prove I didn’t get anything.

The Sanctuary sign

Carolyn is 100% right for feeling ignored, but her “I’m the victim” act is getting tiresome. She’s reminding me of Taylor Swift.

Carolyn is also reminding me of Michele in Winners at War, with that “respect me” chip on her shoulder. But Carolyn is better at strategizing. Carolyn actually does NOT want people telling her what to do. Michele often complained about nobody telling her what was happening.

Hmm, Carolyn seems to be making an emotional decision to target Joshua purely because Danny and Brandon connected.

Exasperated Carolyn

But now Carolyn vents her frustration to Joshua? Does she have any idea she just set off a warning signal for Joshua?

Joshua is a really bad liar. Not only are his lies bad, but he initially thinks they’re good, and doesn’t notice when people are on to him.

Doctors don’t seem to play Survivor very well. Joshua is starting to remind me of Dr. Peter from Kaoh Rong. Dr. Jill from Nicaragua seemed to blindly follow Marty.

Its 8:50, why aren’t we at Tribal Council yet?

It looks like Carolyn’s vote for Sarah put a huge speed bump in her own path, and she doesn’t seem to know how to get around it.

Here comes Probst. Looks like Matt G. is gone.

Ok, I’m adult enough to admit it. I was wrong about Matt G.’s injury. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a medevac, and its tough to call it a quit too. Its more like Dana from Philippines, who was obviously too sick to continue, but the Medical team said she could stay if she could take it. Tough call here.

My gut says if Joshua wins this game, he just got a huge assist from good ol’ Dumb Luck.


Well, that was anti-climactic. I’m glad I got that column in on Survivors named Matt though.

I think if Matt G. had stayed out of the crate stacking Immunity Challenge, he’d have been able to continue. But that doesn’t seem to be his style. He had “I don’t know when to stop” written all over his face.

This presents an interesting contrast. This season saw Claire leave in part because she sat out a lot, and now Matt G. is gone because he didn’t sit out enough. Joshua doesn’t stand a chance in this game, even with the merge coming. He just does too much to lose trust quickly.

Now that the merge is coming next week, I think this does bring the phony Idol total to 6. Jaime, and Carson’s real Idols are void now, but they can bluff with them. Matt B. has the one Danny received. Jaime also has the phony made by Matt G. and Brandon still has the Ratu phony. However, Sarah’s left the game with her.

And the real Idol count has been reduced back to 2. Danny and Carolyn have the only real ones, assuming Matt G.’s real Idol left the game with him. Those numbers are more manageable to me, but we all know Matt G.’s will probably return ... as will Sarah’s Inheritance Advantage.

This game is wide open. Danny is the most aggressive player left, but I think that will be his downfall. Heidi can hide for a long time now, but her indecisive streak will be tough for her to deal with. We haven’t seen much on strategy from anyone this season thanks to all the trinkets floating around, and it looks like a lot of those trinkets will amount to a lot of nothing. But a phony Idolgeddon could still be fun.

What are your thoughts? Do we have a frontrunner? Has Joshua already killed any chance of winning? Is he this season’s zero vote goat? Can Carolyn survive the battles she’s having with herself long enough to pull off a hybrid Maryanne/Gabler win? Will we see anyone’s strategic thoughts that don’t involve Idols or Advantages? Let me know what you think 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.