Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 44 recaps
The games begin
By Brent Sullivan | Published: May 7, 2023
Survivor 44 Episode 10 Recap/ analysis

The games begin

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.

Hello and welcome to another week of Survivor and another week of “Top Five Baby!” This week’s episode was once again some top-level gameplay, and it keeps showing how strong this season is. The main reason for this is once again the cast is great. Don’t get me wrong, Survivor has always been great at casting great characters, and we’ve had some great ones over the years, but in this new era, it seems like they have kicked it up a notch. I would find it extremely hard to put together an all-star cast just using the past four seasons and not leave someone out. In fact, most of the top moments I pick each week are directly because of these super-strong characters doing amazing things within the game.

Also, a final word on Frannie. She really did a great job this season. Even though she and Matt were tied together for the pre-merge part of the game, she didn’t let that define her game. Her run of challenge wins was phenomenal, and she would have done great in a final tribal council stating her case for the win. So, like so many other players in the past, she peaked too early, and they took her out as soon as they had the chance. Ok, enough of the past players, let’s look forward to this week’s “Top Five Baby!”

1. Danny's game

Danny's game

Every so often a player comes along who plays a game that is wildly erratic and makes you question a lot of their moves along the way. But sometimes that same person will make some big flashy moves and still make it far into the game. Someone like Tony. In his first season, he was all over the place bouncing back between groups and having to constantly do damage control (or have Trish do damage control). Yet somehow, he came out on top at the end. I can see a lot of that in Danny this year. He is definitely no stranger to big flashy moves. Just two weeks ago he was using his idol to save Frannie and now he’s leading the charge against her. He is always on the move doing something and always looking for idols out in the jungle while constantly outworking everyone.

At the same time, he also has a very arrogant way about himself while he is doing all of this. Whether it’s trying to get everyone to compete in every challenge to the fake looks of shock when his name comes up on a voting parchment. So, does this mean that Danny is going to Tony his way to the end and win? Not necessarily. If he can survive the next few votes even though he has made himself a huge target, I do think he stands a chance. However, he will still have an uphill battle with players like Carolyn standing in his way. She doesn’t much care for him and has been wanting to get him out for a bit now. He will also have to change his attitude for the jury. He will have to either tell them it was all a part of his game plan to act that way or apologize for it if he wants them to vote for him in the end.

At the very least, Danny has been another fun character to watch and one that we don’t get to see a whole lot of on Survivor.

2. Meanwhile at the Sanctuary

Meanwhile at the Sanctuary

At this point, I don’t need to harp over the fact that Frannie probably chose poorly when selecting fellow castaways to join her at the Sanctuary. One different choice and maybe she’s still in the game. What I want to focus on here is the other ladies that were there with her. Carolyn was obviously overjoyed to be chosen and that would have continued to make her and Frannie’s bond even stronger. But more on Carolyn later in point number 5. Heidi was shown looking very strong with her acceptance to vote out Danny. They have been tight since the first of the season, but she’s now at the point where she knows she may have to cut him loose to make it further herself. Plus, she still has a hidden idol that no one knows about. Finally, there is Lauren, whom we haven’t seen a ton of story about. It was quite a nice moment when she was reading the letter from her father. She got such a nice highlight there, that I thought maybe she would be the one that got sent home at the end. My point is it was nice to see some of the other ladies on the tribe get some nice screen time other than Carolyn, Frannie, and Jaime. Not sure of the lasting impact except if they are sitting in the final three this season, we at least have some back story to go with them.

3. Jaime's fake idol story

Jaime's fake idol story

I can’t believe it. Who would have thought that a fake idol that someone made way back in the first part of the game would still be making waves? Especially since the actual fake idol itself isn’t even around anymore. At some point, you have to feel bad for Jaime the way she’s been talking about it the whole time. But I almost feel even worse knowing that she had to go the entire time thinking it was real. Who knows, maybe it made her feel safe and not paranoid, so maybe she played a better game because of it.

Either way, this week she thinks she is doing the right thing by telling everyone about where the idol went, and in typical fashion for her ... no one believes her. We didn’t see Lauren’s reaction to it, however, so we don’t know if she will back her up or not yet. Ultimately, I think this is going to hurt her and there is a really good chance that she will be voted out next because of it. Her best bet is to probably quit talking about it and try to get the focus onto someone else.

4. Carson and Yam Yam

Carson and Yam Yam

Really, this is going to be mostly about Carson because he seems to know exactly what is going on in every aspect of the game. However, he does always want to confer with Yam Yam every time, so he gets a call out here too. Carson appears to have his pulse on every movement in the game with players from Soka, Ratu, and Tika all coming to him with plans. The best part about it is he has continued to play the middle group for multiple votes now with no one suspecting anything from him. His name has never even been mentioned as a potential vote-out.

I am curious how long he will be able to keep this game up. There are still several bigger threats out there that could go before him. Although he did just win the immunity challenge, so we will see. The other aspect of this is he and Yam Yam just left Carolyn out of the vote, so she is going to be angry, and they may have to deal with the fallout of that as well. Let’s see if he will be able to get Jaime, Danny, or Carolyn out before they come for him.

5. Carolyn's game

Carolyn's game

Back at the top, I talked about Danny’s game, well this one is almost the exact opposite. Carolyn is playing the game with her heart more than she is with her head. She has shown this time after time by going back to Yam Yam after they weren’t agreeing on anything and this week, she absolutely refused to throw a vote on Frannie even though she had a feeling that they were trying to vote for her. I know she is fun to watch and that she is a fan favorite, but I honestly think she is playing too much with her heart and that will cost her in the end ... if she can even make it that far. Let’s see how she reacts after her two old Tika tribemates didn’t tell her the latest plan.

So, there you have it for the tenth episode. I’m glad we could keep the streak of great episodes rolling. I have enjoyed the last three episodes a lot since the “Earn the Merge” was over. What do you think of Danny’s game and attitude? What do you think of Carolyn’s game? Is Carson the front-runner right now for a victory? 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