Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 45 recaps/ analysis
By Damnbueno | Published: December 21, 2023
Survivor 45 Episode 13 recap/ analysis


It's time for the season finale. By the time you read this, we'll all know who won season 45. But I'm writing this about 6 hours before the finale begins. We've got five players left: Austin, Dee, Jake, Julie and Katurah. So I'll do a little irresponsible speculation as to what each player could do to win or lose the million.

Austin: What he should do is emphasize how he stayed loyal to those he aligned with, how he used his relationships to stay in the information loop, and how he used his Idol and Amulet to gather information. He could also explain how he helped plot J. Maya and Kellie's removals so he could get an Idol. He should definitely mention how well the Reba 4 kept others from knowing how close they were. If Dee is on the jury, he should be completely honest about how the two of them stayed a step ahead of the others by sharing their information. But if Dee is in the finals with him, he shouldn't mention their closeness at all. That would create the impression that he was following her strategically. Either way, Austin should be prepared to answer questions about his closeness to Dee. Austin should emphasize HIS game, not THEIR game.

Dee: She has the best information to use to impress the Jury. She should start with explaining her role in making sure the Belo and Lulu members never found out how close the Reba 4 were. Since her moves were subtle, she should be aggressive in explaining how much she influenced Julie, Austin and Drew. She should claim the Emily boot (preventing Julie from owning it) by explaining how she convinced Julie to vote for Emily instead of Austin, then how she fooled the remaining players into believing she didn't tip Julie off. Owning that move, and preventing Julie from owning it, could be the game-winning move. If Dee does that, it will be easier to own the moves to remove Kendra, Sifu and Drew. And even though it might embarrass him, Dee should explain how she manipulated Austin at the votes to remove Emily and Drew. That'll be the clincher for her.

Jake: Jake has to rely on charm and his sense of humor because he has spent too much time telling the Jurors how frustrated he's been when his plans didn't work. If he uses his Idol effectively, that's what he should lead with, especially if he was able to keep his Idol a secret. If he can concoct a convincing "I played dead all season" ploy, that might work too.

Julie: She can emphasize the fact that she made it to the end even though she'd been targeted the longest of all the finalists. She can mention how she 'broke the mom mold" by playing a strong game without being resented like most "mother" figures before her. She should also mention her strong performances in Immunity Challenges, beating everyone but Bruce in the first few. Aside from that, Julie is at a disadvantage because Dee can lay claim to some moves Julie may try to own for herself, and Julie won't see it coming.

Katurah: Katurah has the toughest road to a win because she was left out of the loop by two of her own alliances - once with Belo, then again by the Reba 4. She doesn't know what to say because she has no idea what her jurors want to hear. Entering the final 5, Katurah hasn't outwitted anyone, and hasn't really outplayed anyone either. She did know when to jump off the Belo ship and start over. If she's closer to Dee than we thought, it's possible she could claim a move or two, and hope the jury believes her. Her best argument is that she outlasted the jurors. That's usually not enough to get a win, but hey, Gabler did it.

Two seasons ago, we saw Cassidy's chances blow up when she claimed ownership of a move, only to have jurors Jesse and Cody immediately contradict her by saying "No, that was our move." That could easily happen to Katurah, Julie or Austin, but probably not to Dee.

The win usually goes to the finalist who best tells the Jury what they want to hear. How well have Dee, Austin, Julie, Jake and Katurah been reading their jurors as they sent them out of the game? In season 42, runner-up Mike thought his jurors would be happy when he claimed he'd never lied during the game. He had no idea that explaining when and why he lied probably would have given him the win. His jurors wanted him to explain how he knew his lies were working. His read was wrong, and it cost him the win. Are any of this season's finalists as disconnected as Mike was? If frontrunner Dee says the wrong thing, it could cost her the win too. How will it play out?

And away we go...

Hmmm ... Katurah isn't even mentioned in the "Previously on" clip. That's very bad news for her.

Austin knows Dee lied to him. How soon will he forgive her? Austin "If I had a tipoff, I probably would have given him the Amulet." Dee: "Are we still homies?" Austin hugs her, then says "Let's stay out here longer." That took about 14 seconds.

No hard feelings

Katurah: They're together, they're together. I don't wanna fumble the ball this close to the end." Somehow, I think people are gonna listen to her request to break up Austin and Dee as much as they listened to her requests to remove Bruce. It ain't happening unless Katurah wins Immunity at final 4. I think Katurah is leaving next.

I remember this challenge from Tocantins. Stephen Fischbach won it by using a math/memory trick, assigning words or letters for each number.


Austin gives Dee his count on the crabs. She still has him working for her.

Jake wins. Jake's method worked as well as Stephen's in Tocantins. He assigned his numbers to Survivor seasons. This is more bad news for Katurah. If Jake wins Immunity she's a goner unless he gives Immunity to her.

Jake wins advantage

There are a lot of steps to this challenge. The winner probably takes one person with them. It might be better to stay at camp. Austin still has an edge, even with Jake's advantage.


Austin is in the lead yet again, but Jake and Dee pull even with him. Jake's advantage gives him a nice lead.

Jake forgot his keys. So much for that advantage.

Jake, going back for his keys

We've seen this puzzle several times before. Once you figure out one level, the next two should be easier because it's often the same pattern for each level.

Austin wins Immunity, and Probst rubs salt in Jake's wound.

Thanks, Probst

This actually works in Jake's favor ... if he can keep his Idol a secret, and if he can lure votes his way. But it won't matter if Austin and Dee decide to remove Katurah. In that scenario, it's 3 votes on Katurah, and Jake has to risk his life in the game to save Katurah.

Dee immediately walks off, giving Katurah a chance to plot against her with Julie. Normally, I'd call this a mistake, but I think Dee has Julie's loyalty locked down tight.

Dee heads out

Katurah to Julie: "I wanna get Dee out." Julie: "Nope, I want Jake gone." That's a break for Jake. But Julie is still working for Dee.

Austin: "I took Jake because he'll spill all his secrets." And right away, Jake admits he's got an Idol. DUMB MOVE. Now Austin will tell Dee, who'll flip the vote to Katurah.

Jake shows his idol

Austin in confessional: "Why'd you tell me bro? Why'd you tell me?" My thoughts exactly.

Now, Jake's Idol will only be effective if he plays it for Katurah. Dee is the only player this season who can keep her mouth shut. That alone means she deserves the win.


And Jake shows his Idol to Katurah too??? She wants Dee out, but now it's gonna be 3 votes for Katurah, and 2 for Dee. Jake killed his Idol by talking about it. Katurah has burned him twice already. Jake will never learn!

This vote has changed several times, all because Jake told someone he's got an Idol. I've said it a few times this season, but I have to say it again. How much better would Jake's position be if nobody ever knew he had an Idol?

This will be interesting. Katurah and Jake haven't been able to make a plan work yet. The best move for everyone (except Dee of course) is to remove Dee. I don't know who is leaving, but an unpredictable Survivor is a good Survivor.

Would Austin give his Immunity to Dee? He shouldn't, but I think it's 50/50.

Katurah to Jake: "I'm 100% in on Dee. If you are too, we have the numbers." Jake's mouth could be his downfall here.

Swearing on Nana

Austin has a long way to hand that necklace to Dee, and Jake has a long way to hand that Idol to Katurah.

F5 Tribal

Jake: "I was close, but was missing a piece." That might sum up his entire game.

Katurah is changing her vote? Did that just save Dee? Did she just fumble the ball this close to the end? This is really the only time all game Dee has been in danger.

And Jake plays his Idol for Katurah. Once again the vote comes down to who Dee wanted gone. But this time it could backfire if she chose wrong.

Kellie: "Is it gonna be Dee?" Kellie knows Dee is the frontrunner.

Katurah's switched vote decided it. Austin and Katurah voted for Julie.

Shocked Katurah

Julie is gone, and whispers "Win this game" to Dee. I see that as one vote for Dee. The vote didn't go the way Dee wanted it to go, but the strength of her relationship with Katurah saved her.

This is interesting now. Katurah just gave Jake a huge reason not to trust her, but they have no choice but to trust each other since Dee and Austin are so close. The strength of Dee's relationship with Katurah saved her. Dee earned more trust from her than Jake did.

You made me swear!

Final 4 Immunity just might decide the game. If Dee wins, she wins the game. If Austin wins Immunity, he takes Dee, and she wins the game. It's only interesting if Katurah or Jake wins Immunity.

Julie leaving at 5 seemed inevitable to me. But I don't make predictions.

Jake blows up Katurah's plan. Katurah says she doesn't trust Jake. Like I said before, it would have been so much better for Jake if he just kept his mouth shut about his Idol.

Pot stacking for Immunity. We've seen this several times before. Once again, I think Austin has the edge.

Dee has a height disadvantage, but it's not slowing her down.

Dee, F4 IC

Jake knocks his entire stack down, then breaks his frame. This reminds me of Owen breaking his pole in frustration when his stack fell?

Katurah drops her stack, and Austin watches Dee win Immunity. And now he's about to watch her win the game.

I think we might be watching a top 5-level, absolutely elite game being turned in by Dee. It doesn't matter who she takes to the end (but it will be Austin). Right now, I think she can only lose Drew's vote to Austin.

Man, Jake looks like he's falling apart.

Near-broken Jake

It's nice to see Katurah taking responsibility for her own mistake. So many players come up with excuses in their exit interviews. Katurah owned hers during the game. Good for her.

This fire challenge is gonna be anti-climactic. It doesn't matter who wins.

Katurah: "I kept my moves hidden." The confused looks on the jurors' faces says they don't believe (or don't understand) her.

Dee has been laser-focused on her game, and I love it. She's also showing the jury she's not afraid to be honest with them.

This season it's a red and blue station for making fire. I always forget which color usually wins, but I think it's yellow.

Jake wins. The only question I have is will he get any votes?

Jake finally wins something!

I love that both Julie and Jake encouraged Katurah to become a lawyer.

Austin: "I don't know what this jury is thinking." That's a bad sign. You should have been trying to find out what they want in a winner all game long.


I think this is gonna be a 7-1-0 win for Dee, with Drew voting for Austin. The only juror I have no idea about is Kaleb.

Kellie: "I think Dee had the social relationships where people were unwilling to vote her out, even though that was probably their best move. That's really powerful." And that's why Dee's gonna win.

Kellie, jury speaks

Dee to Austin: "I'll give you a big hug when you lose." I love that confidence, and if she shows it to the Jury, this vote might be unanimous. It didn't come off as cocky to me.

I like these juror snippets, but they're nothing compared to the "The Jury Speaks" videos.

As much as I love Dee's game, it's not as fun writing a column when her win seems so clear. Even if she doesn't win, right now, I'm still thinking her game was so much better than everyone else's this season. I'm thinking her win might be top 10 elite-level.

Jake's charm is working. The jurors are laughing and smiling while he's speaking.

Laughing jurors

Dee: "No, I wasn't really scared." Dee is starting to pull away.

Austin: "I called the Kendra vote." Dee: "No, I did," and she brought the receipts.

Dee: "My heart and head were the same." Dee just missed a chance to own the Emily boot, which was 100% Dee.

Dee: "I don't care about "Big Moves." Probst didn't like hearing that. Dee might have just blown her chance to play again.

Emily: "You let your #1 get voted out with that Idol." Austin takes a shot to the gut, then Dee steps in and shows the jury how she was ahead of Austin the whole way. Dee: "I could have let Austin know, but I didn't."


Emily to Austin: "The Julie blindside failed because you told Dee ... that was a sign of weakness. You allowed a strong ally to get voted out because you couldn't keep a secret." It's like Emily is writing this column for me. Emily is voting for Dee for sure.

Dee to Austin: "You don't know this, but I did tell Julie ... We're at final 3, and he still didn't know." That should be game, set and match for Dee.

Dee explains the Emily blindside

No matter what the result is, Dee deserves this win.

Dee wins 5-3-0. I'm surprised Kendra voted for Austin. I thought she was voting for Jake.

Dee got votes from Kaleb, Kellie, Katurah, Emily and Julie, and Austin got votes from Bruce, Kendra and Drew. It's nice that they showed everybody's votes. And it didn't look like there were any bitter jurors at all. Well, maybe Bruce was bitter. I don't think he liked it when Dee said "You should have played your Idol."


I love the misdirection the editors gave us all season long. Emily: "I'm either gonna go out first, or I'm winning this whole thing." Austin to Dee: "I'm gonna beat you." Even the Bruce vs Katurah battle didn't end the way most thought it would. Most fans love to trash the editors, but I think they did a fantastic job this season.

Like I always do, I'm gonna wait until I finish my season rewatch to decide where I'm gonna rate this season, its players, and any individual great or bonehead moves. But it's a safe bet Dee's win will rank very high. She is easily the best winner of this "New era" so far. I'm glad we finally have a winner with a game strong enough to challenge other stellar rookie efforts like Earl, Kim, Yul, Natalie Anderson, and Todd.


And I know I'm in the minority on this, but I love the spontaneous, on the spot cast reunions. I think we get the most honesty from the players when they haven't been influenced by a live audience, or months of social media. The players are much less worried about their images. They're not trying to answer back to comments they've heard from the audience, other Survivor players, or even columnists like me who've never played the game. I'd like to see this continue.

This was a very satisfying and entertaining season. The 90-minute episodes were a huge improvement. I hope they continue. And I also hope the columnists who chose to sit this season out decide to return. I love reading different perspectives on Survivor.

I hope you've enjoyed "Screaming at the Screen." I'll definitely be back next season. Let me know what you think of Dee's win, the juror's reasoning, and Survivor in general. The end of each season always ends in sadness because Survivor will be gone for a while. But there's not much more exciting than ramping up to a new season, and seeing how the new players take the information from previous seasons to change their approach.

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.