Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 44 recaps
Solo players, pairs, and a surprise three
By Brent Sullivan | Published: March 13, 2023
Survivor 44 Episode 2 Recap/ analysis

Solo players, pairs, and a surprise three

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.

After watching this episode for a second time, it makes me miss the longer two-hour episodes. I feel like there was a lot we didn’t see around camp. All the shenanigans that revolved around the birdcages at two of the camps and some of the after-challenge discussions seemed a little rushed. It was still entertaining; I’ve just always wanted at least 90-minute episodes every week.

Also, Helen seemed like an odd choice to go home this week as well. Since Sarah had no vote, I’m assuming that’s why Carson jumped ship with her, but we didn’t see any of that. But more about that later. Let’s see what else happened during this week’s “Top Five Baby!”

1. Kane is left out

Kane is left out

So, Matthew thought tribal council went great even though he played his Shot-in-the-dark. He wanted the pressure off himself, didn’t want to vote for his alliance buddy Brandon, and knew he wouldn’t be the only one playing that shot. Lauren also had a good tribal (according to her). She was able to successfully “bank” her vote and now has an extra vote moving forward. Jaime and Brandon weren’t quite as good since Brandon had to play his idol to survive and Jaime was safe because of some luck, but they are both still around. Kane, it appears, is the only one that left this tribal not in a good spot. Even though he originally didn’t want to vote for Brandon, he ended up being the only one that did.

Personally, I think he handled it wrong and now he is reeling and trying to scrape his way by. Instead of trying to blame Maddy or taking Brandon to the side to explain himself, it appeared that he just sat there and took it. He made it worse for himself later when he was out looking for “firewood” and found a hermit crab instead. The funny part was he found the crab in a spot where no firewood would be. It was obviously more of an idol-finding spot.

From here, I’m not sure what he can do. No one in Ratu seems to be in a great spot, but Kane may just be on the outside looking in.

2. Matt hearts Frannie

Matt hearts Frannie

After 44 seasons of Survivor, I can’t believe that two people would still be caught doing this. I guess the heart wants what the heart wants and Survivor rules be damned! So here we are just a few days into the game and these two can’t be separated for more than a few minutes.

Listen, as Jeff says: “I love Love”, but there is a time and place for it…and this isn’t it. At least they could try to keep quiet about it. But both Frannie and Matt are openly spending lots of time together and constantly acting like a couple. Claire’s expressions should really say it all, but Survivor does a really good job at casting and these two should know better.

It’s safe to say that these two will be voting together and unless the other four band against them, they may actually be safe on such a small tribe. This may be one huge advantage of the smaller starting tribes. A duo is only one person away from a tie vote. Now, from a viewer’s standpoint, since they have been winning challenges, we don’t know exactly what the tribe breakdown could be, but I’m anxious to see how that all unfolds the first time they have to go to tribal council and vote someone out.

3. Two idol cages

Two idol cages

So, at first, I thought about making these two separate points, but, basically, the same thing happened at both camps. One person was left alone while the others went out to do something. The person left back at camp all alone, sneaks away to the birdcage, unlocks it, and takes what’s inside. For Soka, this was Danny, who for some reason everyone is completely ok with him going out constantly looking for firewood by himself. Whether it be a lack of work ethic or something else, he seems to be running circles around them all when it comes to looking for clues ... or keys in this case.

The big difference here is that when Carolyn found it and took it, she actually left it empty for a minute and then had to scramble back to put in the empty bag. She clearly wasn’t as good as Danny was at doing this as her tribe noticed instantly that the bag was empty. The other difference here (at least so far) is that Carolyn isn’t a suspect, but everyone else on Tika is being looked at as a potential candidate. It was quite comical the way they were all blaming each other when none of them had the idol.

So, as of now both Danny and Carolyn on their respective tribes have the hidden immunity idol and no one knows that they do. Plus they also have a fake one that they can do whatever they want with ... just as long as they know which one is which.

4. Claire sits out

Claire sits out

Some points that I make are longer and more drawn out than others. Then there are times like this when something small happens, but I feel compelled to discuss it even though it was such a minute part, because what sort of top five would this be if I didn’t?

The moment I’m referring to is when Jeff asks Claire why she was sitting out of the challenge again. He asked if it was a personal decision or a tribe one. When she stalled, then answered “both”, I loved his reaction. He looked amused sort of or questioning and just said: “huh”.

I have to wonder if this is going to come up again later and what does that mean for Claire? During this next episode, Soka is going to have to sit two people on the bench during the next challenge. I wonder if Claire is going to step up to compete in the challenge.

5. Carson makes the jump

Carson makes the jump

All right, so the last thing we need to discuss is why did Carson vote with Carolyn and Yam Yam and did he know about Sarah’s no-vote? If he knew for sure that Sarah couldn’t vote and he was afraid of a tie and drawing rocks, then maybe that explains everything. But we have never seen a single scene of him or her talking about it to each other.

Personally, I think Carolyn had every right to be paranoid when she was afraid, he was lying to her and wanted to vote her off. Carson, Helen, and Sarah have been hanging out and doing some strategic talks for five days, now all of a sudden, he appears to be jumping ship. Obviously, during voting, he did indeed go with Carolyn and Yam Yam when they voted off Helen.

Now the big question for Carson is: is he going to stick with them now that he voted with them once or will he try to get back with Sarah to pull off a move against one of the other two? With such a small tribe, I think he is stuck with the side he picked for now, but I am interested to see exactly which way he goes.

So, there you have it for the second episode. There was lots of birdcage and idol hunting going on this week, so hopefully, next week is full of more strategy and other stuff. What did you think of Carolyn’s reaction to finding the snake? Is Kane a dead man walking now? Will Soka go to tribal council anytime soon? 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