Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 44 recaps
Characters, solid groups, and a tribe swap
By Brent Sullivan | Published: March 27, 2023
Survivor 44 Episode 4 Recap/ analysis

Characters, solid groups, and a tribe swap

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.

Wow ... another young female gets voted off again this week. This seems to be a disturbing trend in the last few years. In Sarah’s case, I think she is just a victim of circumstance with Carolyn wanting to work with Josh and her relationship with Yam Yam. However, I still don’t like this trend. Not sure about Maddy, but Helen, Claire, and Sarah all seemed like they knew this game and could be really good players later in the game. From the players’ perspective, I understand it. You want to win, and you need the “smaller” or “weaker” player out to do that but from a viewer’s perspective, we want the best characters and best players to stay in the game longer. I know as a parent; I would also be devastated to see my daughter get voted out of Survivor based solely on her size. Not sure how they fix it, but hopefully we start seeing the numbers even out soon.

Other than that, we had a couple of fun challenges and another point-turning journey to discuss. So, let’s get to this week’s “Top Five Baby!”

1. Carolyn


Is there a bigger character this season than Carolyn? I will answer for you: Absolutely not.

Somehow, she is even completely overshadowing Yam Yam who is also a big character. Her motions, how she interacts with her tribemates, and even her attitude when she’s talking to the camera is larger than life. After the first episode, I thought she would have been one of the early targets because of this, but despite everything, she found people to work with and she has slowly helped vote her tribe down to just three people. Plus, the two castaways remaining on her tribe are Josh (whom she appears to be working with currently) and Yam Yam (whom she has been working with this whole time). She also has Carson on the other tribe now with whom she had a good relationship as well.

Now for Carolyn, she is playing a better game than I thought she would, but at the same time, I feel like she may be overplaying her hand a little too early in the game. At this point, no one on the other two tribes knows anything about her or how she’s playing so this early-game stuff she’s pulling off isn’t going to matter. Also, she needs to be careful with how she handles either Josh or Yam Yam because if they merge soon, she may be in a merged tribe with at least one of them. Either way, Carolyn has been a fun character to watch so far, but let’s just hope she doesn’t flame out too soon.

2. The Soka four?

The Soka four?

Ok, so this isn’t an actual name that they called themselves, nor was it ever pitched to us in a previous episode. I bring it up here because I think it could be. We know Matt and Frannie are an extremely close pair. We have also seen that Heidi and Danny appear to be a tight pair as well. We haven’t seen it on the show much, but she did choose to keep working with Danny instead of keeping Claire, plus we heard during Claire’s exit interview just as much.

This episode starts out with each pair talking about how Josh is on the bottom, then we get both pairs together to discuss the same thing. The two reasons I think this will become a bigger thing are, first of all, Josh was clearly on the bottom and now they have Jaime who is a completely new person whom they know nothing about. She makes an easy vote if they go to tribal council. However, I don’t think this tribe is going to lose another pre-merge challenge. That means they should be able to hit the merge and be Soka strong, plus have ties to Josh (if he’s still around) and Jaime who is currently with them. Either way though, the foursome of Danny, Heidi, Matt, and Frannie looks to be in a good spot.

The second reason I think this will be impactful is after the merge, the other tribes appear to have a few cracks where they don’t. I could easily see them picking up someone like Yam Yam or Kane to solidify their numbers early on. Again, all of this is dependent on if those players are still around and if they do indeed stay together at the merge.

3. Josh on Tika

Josh on Tika

Now on to my favorite moment of the season. I miss the old days of tribe swaps, so when this happened, I got a little excited inside. This is really the first time in the new era that we’ve “swapped” people around from the original tribes. I’d like to talk briefly about each person and the spot they are in at their new tribes.

Let’s start with Josh since this one is more in the spotlight. Josh came into the tribe replacing Carson, who had been working with Yam Yam and Carolyn, so for a bit, that was good news for Sarah since she thought she might be able to get rid of Josh and stick around for another day. Unfortunately for her two things happened. First, Josh had an idol that he ended up playing for himself and secondly, Carolyn decided to do her own thing and work with Josh.

So, the big question on Tika is if they lose again, will Carolyn keep working with Josh or go back and work with Yam Yam? Even though Tika is way down in the numbers, he may be in the best spot since he’s actively working with someone on that tribe ... and that someone has a hidden immunity idol.

4. Carson on Ratu

Carson on Ratu

This is the one I am most intrigued by. Ratu has been winning, so they seem to be getting along ok, but there was quite a bit of turmoil early on in this group. Lots of misplays during the first tribal council, plus both Lauren and Kane struggling at the immunity challenge this week may make Carson look good in their eyes. Not to mention the fact that Matthew is already starting to cultivate a relationship with him by telling him secrets that no one else knows.

Since Ratu seems to be on a nice winning streak and Tika is not, I’m not sure if we will see them go to tribal council before the merge, but if they do, Carson is smart enough to play his idol, then it comes down to who will be the one voted out and will Ratu be able to keep working with Carson after the fact? As I said, this is the tribe I am more interested in seeing how things shake out and I’m looking forward to it.

5. Jaime on Soka

Jaime on Soka

Finally, I will talk about the one that appears to be more straightforward. Going back to my second point of Soka seemingly being a strong group. That isn’t good news for Jaime. Even though she has two idols ... I mean one idol, if the other four Soka members are tight enough, she doesn’t stand a chance. Even if they happen to vote off one of their own because she plays the correct idol, she would then immediately be voted off the next time.

Of course, all of this would be dependent on if Soka were even to lose a challenge and have to go to tribal council. Jaime was really paranoid early on in the game and even burnt her shot-in-the-dark during the first tribal, but now she has seemed to calm down a little, so hopefully she can have a level head and play her idols correctly if needed.

So, there you have it for the fourth episode. I loved seeing a few players switch tribes. I miss the full-on tribe swaps from years past and this gave me a tribe swap feel. Who do you think is in the best position in their new tribe? Will Tika lose again next week? If so, is Josh done? 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