Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor: Winners at War analysis
Strained relationships, strained arms, and strained Tribal trends
By Brent Sullivan | Published: May 3, 2020
Survivor: Winners at War Episode 12 recap/ analysis

Strained relationships, strained arms, and strained Tribal trends


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.


Tony was once again in the spotlight this week. Even though the “Spy Nest” didn’t amount to anything other than showing that Sarah and he are still a team, Tony was still everywhere. It was Tony that got the vote turned around onto Kim, even getting Ben to not vote for Jeremy was amazing. We also can’t forget that he was pooped on! Only Tony could get pooped on while playing Survivor.


Plus, he won his third straight immunity challenge. Speaking of immunity challenge, I was also really surprised that there were three people that stepped down for food. In an all winners’ seasons with the prize money being so high, I would have been surprised if one person stepped down. You know that Kim is really regretting that decision now. Let’s see what else happened this week on Top Five Baby!


The Ben and Jeremy relationship


1: The Ben and Jeremy relationship


I can’t exactly pinpoint where it all went wrong for Jeremy and Ben. Was it the tribal council where Jeremy played his advantage and went back to camp? Is Ben so pissed at him for evading his potential vote-off that he won’t even speak to him? I’m not sure that I have ever seen this caliber of player play the game so poorly. They are close enough to the end that Ben must know he is handling what could be a jury member terribly. At this point, if Jeremy is on the jury, there is no way that he is voting for Ben to win. Plus, with Jeremy and Michelle being so close, he could talk her into not voting for him as well.


The other side of this is Ben probably wouldn’t vote for him to win either. Not really fair comparably speaking since Jeremy didn’t really do anything to Ben, but it still probably won’t happen. I know they voted the same way this week on getting Kim out, but will they ever be able to actually work together? With both Tony and Sarah still in the game as the two most likely winners (in my opinion), the other players need to work together to get them out. However, with so much in-fighting amongst the other castaways, I’m not sure if they will be able to make that happen.


Edge of Extinction update


2: Edge of Extinction update


Let’s head over to Extinction Island for a few minutes and see what is going on there. First of all, it’s getting crowded over there. With Kim just joining the party, they are up to twelve people over there now and four more are going to be joining them before we are done. That’s a lot of mouths to feed!


Next, there was another endurance challenge where they had to carry coconuts from one side of the island to the other. They had to carry twenty of them and do it one by one. That is brutal for the ones that had to do the log challenge earlier in the season. I didn’t catch it the first time I watched, but Natalie is the only one that did the log challenge, that also finished in the top six on the coconut challenge. She may very well be a superhero!


Finally, we may have gotten some insight on who may struggle in the challenge to get back into the game. We obviously don’t know what the challenge is going to be yet, but Adam clearly is struggling right now and couldn’t even jog a little this week. We also see Ethan and Danni both looking a little weaker and struggling a bit. Rob actually fell and busted his elbow. We have no idea how bad he is hurt, but medical didn’t come to bandage him up, so I doubt it was serious; however that could still affect his ability to come back.


Finally, it appears both Natalie and Parvati both have more tokens than anyone else still. Expect plenty of challenge advantages purchased by the two of them. I expect with next week’s two-hour episode that we will get one last look at life on the Edge and then the ones that don’t make it back into the game will hang out at Ponderosa and the jury until the end of the game.


Ben finds an idol


3: Ben finds an idol


The sole reason that Ben won season 35 was his ability to find hidden immunity idols. He showed off those skills a little bit this season when he was teaching Denise how to find an idol, but he finally gets his chance. While he and Tony were out searching, Ben happened to find one in a tree and tried to sneakily put it in his pocket. Tony saw him however and called him out. Ben was busted and he knew it. Although he tried to explain it was habit to hide it quickly. Tony wasn’t buying it, but seems happy for him either way. There was even a hilarious moment when Ben picks him up and runs through the jungle with him.


So, at the final seven both Ben and Tony have an idol since neither one of them played it this time. The other advantage that is still in the game is Michelle’s 50/50 advantage, which now belongs to Jeremy, I think. She definitely gave it to him, and I would imagine that he will need it worse than she does coming up next tribal. It also must be played next time or it won’t be valid anymore.


The only question that I have regarding this is there going to be any more that come into the game this late? I can almost guarantee that at least one more advantage pops up some where and if an idol is played and new one will be hidden. It has been really nice this season to have advantages and idols, but we haven’t been completely swamped with them.


What is Nick doing?


4: What is Nick doing?


Almost 30 days into a 39-day game and I still have no clue what Nick is doing. If someone knows, please explain it to me. I thought that he was in a tight four-person alliance early in the game, but he helped vote out Yul which broke up that group. Since then, he has seemingly voted just wherever anyone tells him too. He agrees to any plan (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but he goes along with the last plan that is given to him.


He said this week that he wants to take control of the game, but so far, I have yet to see him do anything like that. I like Nick and thought he played a great game in season 37, but at this point it looks like he may be the person that is carried to the end and not get any votes.


Denise is fed up


5: Denise is fed up


Another completely chaotic tribal council this week with whispers starting almost immediately and people standing up and walking around, regrouping, more whispering, and even a little play-by-play from Jeff which was fun. I think that Denise speaks for all of us when she says she is done!


I agree that the whispers can be fun, but when it happens at every tribal, it does start to get a little old. Thankfully, they had a few captions on the bottom of the screen this time, so we at least had some idea of what was going on. The difference for her though is that she is still in the game and it looks as though she might have made Jeremy angry at her.


Denise has played a very solid game up till now, but she has to be careful this late in the game making people upset, especially since the vote didn’t go the way that she expected it to go. I think that she will be fine, she is smart enough to overcome this and to apologize to Jeremy. But can she get back on the right side of the numbers?



So, there you have it for this week’s episode. Tony and Sarah avoided the vote again, but how long can that last? We are getting so close to the end plus we have a two-hour episode coming up next week. Should be lots to discuss then as we ramp up for the three-hour finale coming up soon.


But I want to hear from you as well, let me know if I missed any moments or if you think I’m way off base, the interaction is part of what makes this fun!


Will Tony win another immunity or is his run over?


Will another advantage come into the game next week?


Does sand properly clean off bat poop?


Please catch more of me here next week where I will try to bring you more fun top five thoughts as we continue the 20th year of Survivor!




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