Episode 12: Three main characters
Published: May 20, 2023
One of the strengths of Survivor 44 has been its ability to stick to a consistent storyline week to week, as we have watched the three Tikas overcome adversity, finally seizing control of the numbers with Episode 12's vote. But a bigger achievement is reaching the last episode before the finale and having all three Tika players appearing to have virtually equal chances of winning.
Episode 11: Finishing strong
Published: May 13, 2023
Whether you're a Survivor contestant or a Survivor season, the most important thing is finishing strong, to leave a good last impression in the minds of the jury or the audience. And in Episode 11, Survivor 44 is doing just that, as are the Tika three, particularly Carolyn and Yam Yam this week.
Episode 10: Threats and non-threats, truth and lies
Published: May 6, 2023
With Episode 10, Survivor 44 moved further into the post-merge, and for once, it felt like production finally just let the game play out under its own power, enabling the contestants to make choices and moves that put them in or out of power, completely on their own. At last!
Episode 9: Story telling
Published: April 30, 2023
Episode 9 of Survivor 44 was a bit of a mixed episode: Some really welcome moments of depth and character development, some strategic intrigue, and another surprisingly gritty immunity win by Frannie ... somewhat undercut by, as always, some unnecessary production choices.
Episode 8: At last, a normal vote
Published: April 23, 2023
Three episodes into the merge, Episode 8 of Survivor 44 finally delivered a fully powered merge vote, and it was as full of drama, suspense, and power shifts as you could hope for. Let's hope the producers allow more of that as the endgame approaches.
Episode 7: Existential crisis mode
Published: April 16, 2023
Episode 7 of Survivor 44 showcased both the untapped potential this cast has to play an exciting game, and the production-dictated shackles that have restricted that gameplay, as the show rolled out another pair of unwanted and excessive twists that were both frustrating and disappointing. It all started off so well, though!
Episode 6: This is fine
Published: April 8, 2023
It was mid-est of times, it was the mid-est of times. The not-quite-merge Episode 6 of Survivor 44 had some fun moments, but the half-merge still seems pointlessly cruel to the non-merged people, and erases a major, celebratory mid-season milestone ... again, pointlessly. Can we please have a normal merge again, soon? Please?
Episode 5: Making up for lost time
Published: April 1, 2023
All it took was a medevac to erase Tribal, but in Episode 5, Survivor 44 rediscovered that all you need are a few key ingredients - a doomed three-person tribe where nobody feels safe, and big, capable characters like Carolyn and Yam Yam - and you can just put the contestants together and let the cameras roll and the results will still be great.
Episode 4: Over-engineered, convoluted, incoherent
Published: March 25, 2023
This may seem like a bit of a stretch, but hear me out: The little flag that pops up after a hit from a sandbag in this week's reward challenge is a microcosm of the season as a whole. That is: It's something that was ridiculously over-engineered, time-consuming, and hard for the audience to follow at home.
Interlude: The Ivy Lead - S44 edition
Published: March 21, 2023
Over its 44 seasons, Survivor has had 662 different contestants, of which 35 have been Ivy League alumni. That's 1 in 18.9! Jeff Pitman continues compiling and graphing the appearances of Ivy League alumni on Survivor. This is what he has become.
Episode 3: Mixed messages
Published: March 19, 2023
Survivor likes to bill itself as an egalitarian game, one that ordinary people from all walks of life can win. And if you look at the winners, that remains fairly true. But to get to the end, you first have to get through the tribal portion of the game, and the show is making it increasingly difficult for certain people (mostly women) to do so.
Episode 2: New possibilities
Published: March 11, 2023
As Survivor 44 eased into its regular size for its second episode, it showed the producers still has new ideas, and plenty of exciting players with which to try them. As the pace relaxed, the players were able to connect and evade each other and actually start playing, a welcome development, as a fun new twist entered the game.
Episode 1: Breathing room
Published: March 4, 2023
Survivor 44's premiere was both fun and overhyped, gritty and worrisome, full of fun characters and increasingly grating structural decisions that have really outlived their usefulness. This is by all accounts, one of the most entertaining casts ever, so can we please spend more time getting to know them, and less on repetitive instruction reading? Thank you.
Jeff Pitman is the founder of the True Dork Times, and probably should find better things to write about than Survivor. So far he hasn't, though. He's also responsible for the Survivometer, calendar, boxscores, and contestant pages, so if you want to complain about those, do so in the comments, or on twitter: @truedorktimes