Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 45 recaps/ analysis
New era whack-a-strategic-player
By Damnbueno | Published: December 7, 2023
Survivor 45 Episode 11 recap/ analysis

New era whack-a-strategic-player

I don't know why I torture myself. I've always been bad at this, yet I keep doing it. Maybe I do it because I can't obsess over the Ponderosa videos anymore. Maybe I want to write about something other than the final 4 fire challenge. Maybe its because nobody is playing a masterful Jesse-esque subtle game this season. Whatever the reason, I'm gonna do it anyway.

Let's handicap the jury!

We've got half the jury set, so since I'm certain to be wrong about most of these observations, now is as good a time as any to speculate as to why or why not each juror may choose one of the remaining players as a winner.


Kaleb seems very focused on strategy. He also put a high priority on getting to know as many players as possible. He knows Emily better than any remaining player, but he also got to know Jake and Katurah pretty well. He doesn't strike me as a bitter juror. On the contrary, I think he'd appreciate a strong strategic move, even if it resulted in him leaving. The problem with Kaleb is he didn't spend much time with any of the possible Reba finalists. Most of his info on them came from Emily. So who does Kaleb think is making the decisions for the Reba 4? Its most likely Emily told Kaleb that Drew is the shot caller. If that's true, Kaleb also knows Emily has not been calling any shots, and instead has been a follower. We as viewers know Emily has been much more observant through her confessionals, but Kaleb doesn't get to see her confessionals like we do. Kaleb also knows Katurah was left out of the loop on her Belo tribe. I'll guess Kaleb is most likely to vote for Drew, followed by Austin, Emily, Dee, Julie, Jake and Katurah.


I'm cheating a little, because I saw a video of Kellie on the Ponderosa saying she was cheering for Emily. The problem for me is I don't think Emily is gonna make it to the finals. I just don't see how she breaks up the Reba 4. If she didn't try it while Bruce was around, that idea is even less attractive with Bruce and his Idol on the Ponderosa. Like Kaleb, Kellie is very game-savvy, and doesn't fit the typical bitter-juror profile. But I have no idea who she credits with planning her blindside. If she finds out from Emily that Drew did the persuading here, Drew has a great shot at getting Kellie's vote. But if Kellie doesn't learn how Drew has been pulling strings, my gut says she gives credit to Dee. Kellie is most likely to vote for Emily, Dee, Drew, Austin, Julie, Katurah and Jake.

The jury


Kendra strikes me as the exact opposite of Kellie. Kendra has "bitter" written all over her face. It's tattooed on her shoulder too. In fact, she even drives a BSW (Bitter Survivor Woman). Jurors are allowed to be bitter if they want to. It's up to the finalists to make sure they're not creating bitter jurors. Kendra was ruled by her emotions the entire game, even if she believed she was playing a strategic game. She called Kellie "My best Survivor FRIEND," as opposed to a Survivor "ally" or "partner." So if Dee makes it to the end, and takes credit for executing the blindside on Kendra (perhaps by saying "Kendra said my name, so Kendra had to go"), that could cost her Kendra's vote. I think Kendra's vote will be based purely on who she likes the best, and right now that's Jake. Kendra votes for (in order), Jake, Emily, Julie, and it's a toss up between the rest.


I've said many times before that Bruce's Survivor brain never got past season 6. He values strict tribe loyalty, and wanted to play with an us vs them mentality. He hasn't figured out the "i" in "Survivor" stands for "individual." He still thinks there's a "we" in there somewhere. So it figures that Bruce would want to stay tribe loyal, and vote for a Belo, right? Maybe not. For one, I don't think he's gonna have a Belo option available. I think Katurah and Jake will both be jurors. Will Bruce's vote be influenced by his Belo tribemates (namely Kellie)? Perhaps. But I think Bruce will appreciate the loyalty the Rebas showed to each other, and will reward whoever he thinks was influencing their decisions the most. He knows Julie failed to get Jake booted more than once. While on the "chicken without forks" reward, Bruce heard from Kendra and Julie that Dee had some influence. He also knows Julie didn't get her way. So maybe Bruce thinks Dee is in charge? I'll go with that for now. Bruce is most likely to vote for Dee, Drew, Austin, Julie, Emily, Jake and Katurah.

Now of course, there are countless types of events that could change jurors' minds between now and the finale, and there are still four more jurors left to join this group. I didn't think Gabler or Maryanne had any shot of pulling out a win, so what do I know? In recent seasons, the strategic frontrunner (Ricard, Omar, Jesse and Carson) all got taken out just before the finals. This season, there isn't a clear frontrunner. Dee and Drew have both been influencing the voting, and Emily has improved dramatically since her disastrous start. But are any of them standing out to the jurors? Is anyone liked much more than the rest? It's very tough to tell. Besides, a finalist can surprise everyone with a stellar performance in front of the Jury (like Gabler), or kill their frontrunner status by unwittingly revealing they weren't as aware as the jurors thought they were (like Mike did against Maryanne). That's part of the beautiful unpredictability of Survivor I love.

So with that in mind, let's get to this week's episode. The best jury goat in Bruce is gone, and he took an Idol with him. Historically, when someone is blindsided while holding an Idol, that person's Idol has not returned into circulation. It's usually played Idols that return (once Ben gets to inspect them). So that hints that Bruce's Idol is dead and gone for good. That doesn't mean Producers won't introduce a new Idol, even though there are still two active Idols. Austin found both of them, and gave one to Julie. We don't yet know if she returned it to him, but that seems likely.

If a new Idol enters the game, the most interesting scenario is that either Jake or Katurah finds it, and the other wins Immunity. In that scenario one of two things could happen: 1) The Reba 4 turn on each other or 2) Emily gets sacrificed. Of course, the Idol holder could keep it a secr... Who am I kidding? Lately, when someone finds an Idol, they can't wait to blab about it. Let's see what happens.

Oh wait, here's a random thought. Since they used a Kenny Loggins song last week, I thought a few more might work in other moments.

When someone gets fooled, they could play "What A Fool Believes" (Kenny co-wrote that one).

When players go on a Reward, they could play "Whenever I call you 'Friend.'"

When Probst says "Its time to vote," they could play "This is it."

If Jake survives another vote, they could play "I'm Alright."

And away we go...

We see the blindside on Bruce again, and I still wonder if any of these players are impressed with Emily.

They're all celebrating, (especially Katurah) but I don't see anyone congratulating Emily. This looks more like a "I can't believe WE convinced Erik to give away his Immunity" moment from Micronesia.

Bruce is gone!

But Emily steps up and owns the move in front of everyone. Good for her for taking credit, but in this new era Survivor, she just stuck her head up. Next step is having it chopped off like Jesse, Omar, Ricard and Carson.

Emily comes clean

Julie: "Emily's threat level has gone up." Uh-huh.

And Austin confirms in his confessional that he's 100% loyal to the Reba 4. That's more bad news for Emily.

Austin and Dee sit alone on the beach. This is a great way to tell the other players they need to break you two up (unless everyone else is asleep). I'm still not buying this Austin/Dee showmance. They may hook up post-game, but I don't think anything is happening during the game. It still feels like Producers are forcing this on us.

And speaking of forcing things, there's Boston Rob.

I've had a tough time reading Austin as a strategic player. In challenges, he reminds me a little of Ozzy, but strategically he's starting to seem more like Sebastian from Ghost Island - a little too dependent on others for strategic ideas. Much like J.T. without Stephen, I don't think Austin would be in as strong a position if he didn't have Drew with him.


Dee to Austin: "You have my word I'll take you to final 3." Austin : "I'll take you too." That's sweet. I'd rather see someone focused on winning in the finals. I wonder if Dee is gonna end up with one of Austin's Idols? Part of me wants to see them together on the Ponderosa now. But I still think Dee is playing the best game.

Jake: "Hopefully the ahhple kahht gets upset?" Katurah: "What?" I didn't understand him the first time either.

Jake "I'm used to being here in my cess-pit." Did he mean "cesspool?"

Katurah still relishes the fact that nobody knows she's a lawyer. Something tells me if she springs this on everyone at the finals, it'll go over as well as Sheri's revelation in Caramoan that she was actually rich. Nobody cared.

Chatting with Katurah

Hmm ... I wonder if Katura's personal story is gonna sound familiar to Leah Remini?

I'll say it again, don't get on the boat!

Emily grabs the wrong rock, and has to get on the boat. Now everyone will think she's got an Idol. Her threat level got even bigger. Why would you take a rock in the first place? Even if Jake got to go, you've got 3 votes to get rid of him. If I'm there, I say "I'm sitting this one out." They're not gonna force me to take a rock if I don't want to. Very bad move on Emily's part.

Emily: "This is a way to push myself forward in this game." I think its a way to push you out of this game.

Julie: "Now Emily now has a chance to build her résumé even bigger.

Drew: "Emily is starting to get some clout." Julie: "I would have sat with her at the end except for now.

Just a jury threat

Dee to Julie: "Do you want to do something tricky with YOUR Idol?" That tells me Julie still has Austin's Idol. Drew adds it was a blunder for Austin to give it to her. I agree with Drew. He should have gotten it back right away.


Dee: "Drew is really close to Emily. When she gets back, she's gonna lie to everybody. We can put it in everyone's head that she's dangerous." Dee's statement confirms that merely getting on the boat inspired Dee to target her. And Dee has a very solid shooting percentage this season.

Don't try the puzzle Emily!. Get on the boat and go back to camp!

Emily reads the rules

Did I just say "Get on the boat?"

Smart move, Emily. But you're still in a lousy position. Nobody is gonna believe what you tell them. I might have taken the note with me and forced the Producers to pry it out of my hands.

Katurah: "Why can't we just vote somebody out at 4?" Katurah speaks for every Survivor fan in existence not named Jeff ... uhh, Jeff Probst.

Drew pitches Katurah and Jake on booting Julie, and Katurah pitches the same idea to Austin. Something tells me this is gonna get back to Dee and Julie, who'll flip it on Katurah - perhaps when Julie wins Immunity.

Katurah, Drew, Jake

Austin pitches Drew on booting Emily instead, because booting Julie will upset Dee. This tells me Dee's social game is really strong. She has both Austin and Drew taking the target off of her.

Austin: "My Amulet only lasts until final 6, but the Idol I gave Julie lasts until final 5." Why the hell did he give the Idol to Julie? He should have given her the Amulet. And no matter which one he gave her, he should have gotten it back.

Dee: "I don't buy Emily's story." That's why she shouldn't have gotten on the boat.

Emily talks journey

Wow, Drew even throws like Napoleon Dynamite! His first shot went straight to the ground about 10 feet away, just like the "Vote for Summer" button.

Good job on Austin's part looking at Drew's puzzle to learn the word. The hardest part of this puzzle is holding it together while you're putting the pieces in.

Drew wins Immunity, and now comes the tough choice - Boot Emily or Julie? Does Julie sniff out the plan and save herself? If so, who does Julie want gone since she can't go after Drew?

Drew wins!

Drew gets to pick people to join him now. It's smart to take Jake, especially after pissing him off last week. This is a perfect time to do damage control. And after last week's all-female Reward trip, it was a no-brainer to take Austin too. The women shouldn't feel angry about being left behind. Will the guys get forks too?

Julie: "It feels like the right choice. At the last Reward, Emily took all the women." Is there an echo in here?

I see tongs, but I don't see any forks.

Reward feast

Jake: "As an actor, I've been doing a good job, but I'm sick of playing a tree." He just keeps reminding me of Dirk Diggler.

Dee's BS meter is gonna be put to the test for sure.

Dee to Austin: "We're thinking Emily, but I don't think that's the plan for you guys." Dee's instincts in this game are solid. Austin's non-poker face tells Dee what's up. Then he puts it into words. I understand why he told Dee the truth, but its a horrible game move.

Dee and Austin

Will Dee warn Julie to play her Idol? If she doesn't, will she lose Julie's jury vote?

Dee warns Julie, and in confessional, an angry Julie says "Man up and face me when there's three left." Does Julie not know about the final 4 fire challenge?

Julie pitches Emily and Jake on booting Austin. What are the odds this gets back to Austin? I say 100%, and Emily will be the one to do it. That's what she's done all game long. This is why Emily is not a reliable partner. She'll turn on you in a heartbeat.

Julie's move

Right on cue, Emily exposes the plan to Drew. Sorry, but this was a horrible move on Emily's part. What was there to gain by doing this?

And just as quickly, Drew warns Austin about Julie's move, and Emily is right there to back him up.

Good lord, these players can't keep their mouths shut about anything!

Why doesn't Emily consider voting Dee out? With Dee gone, that frees up both Julie and Austin from the partner they don't want to upset. If Julie plays an Idol, she's safe. Julie's one vote won't be enough if Emily, Jake and Katurah all vote for Dee.

Julie to Dee "Why don't I just vote Austin?" Dee: "No, you're getting too personal about it ... You're gonna vote for Emily." Did Dee just talk Julie out of making the best possible move for herself? Dee is running this game.

Kendra didn't like Julie's line "The first ones that made the jury, those (votes) hurt so much."

Skeptical jurors

I feel like we're just spinning our wheels in Tribal Council theater. Let's get to the vote already! I'm most interested in knowing who Julie is voting for.

Something tells me Kellie doesn't want to hear Drew's historical reference about Napoleon. She should be mad at Probst for forcing Drew to keep talking.

Ugh, probst

Voting confessionals again! I love it!

Austin: "Keeping you here with my Idol another day could be a million dollar mistake." Austin, you've made several million dollar mistakes already.

Katurah: "If this doesn't work, I blame Austin, and his stupid, emotional heart." I do too. He deserves to be voted out for his multiple bad moves.

Katurah's vote

Dee did a good job of acting surprised when Julie raised her hand to play an Idol.

Julie plays her Idol. It was the only choice she had. But Austin holds on to his Idol. Will we get back to back boots on Idol holders?

If Emily goes, Dee is in control. If Austin goes, Julie might have made a game-winning move if she can get to the end.

Dee knows what's up.

Bruce: "Where did she get that (Idol)?" When people find out Austin gave it to her, and didn't get it back, his chances of winning will sink.

When did she get that?

Emily is gone, and Julie is by far the biggest target now.

Emily made a high-profile move, and got booted. Julie just made a high-profile move (even though it was actually Dee's), and Julie will likely suffer the same fate.


I know there was a rising amount of fan support for Emily's game, but I stick by my opinion that she got by more on luck than on skill. She talked herself into being the consensus first boot, and was saved by the dumb luck of Hannah quitting. Then Brandon both played and talked himself out of the game. Sabiyah went out while holding an Idol, but that was more Kaleb's move than Emily's. Austin and Drew made the call on Brando, mostly because he had partners and Emily didn't. Then at the merge, she was following Drew and Austin when she voted for Kaleb and J. Maya, Sifu and Kellie. Emily also got lucky at the Auction, surviving by one round and getting to keep her vote.

And I'm still wondering why anybody thought it was important to remove Bruce? He had zero chance of winning the game, but had the ability to take some contenders out with Immunity wins or his Idol. Sure, Emily did a good job of lowering his guard, but she should have saved those skills to fool Drew, Austin, Dee or Julie. As soon as she stuck her head up, it got chopped off. There was just no reason for her to ever want to get on that boat.

But props to the editors on including Emily's "Either I go out first, or I'm winning" line in the first episode. That had people speculating for weeks.

Now that Emily is a juror, my on the spot reaction is that she lost a lot of respect for Austin for blabbing about the plan, so she's least likely to vote for him. She said in confessional she'd probably vote for Julie. Fair enough, but Dee can take credit for changing Julie's mind here at this vote. And Emily has first-hand knowledge of how Drew has been pulling some strings. I'll say her preference is Julie, Drew, Dee, Katurah, Jake, and Austin. Emily doesn't strike me as a bitter juror at all.

What do you think? How would you handicap the jurors and why? Did Julie make a game losing decision in letting Austin stay around? Will any of these new era players learn the value of keeping their mouth shut? 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.