Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor: Winners at War analysis
Idols, advantages, ladders, and a lad
By Brent Sullivan | Published: February 23, 2020
Survivor: Winners at War Episode 2 recap/ analysis

Idols, advantages, ladders, and a lad


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.


Episode two is in the books and all I can say is “Wow”! Once again, I still can’t believe that we are experiencing this. This has been so fun already. Before I begin, I want to take a moment to express how sad I am for Danni getting voted out. So many of us, for so long, have waited for someone from Guatemala to return to play Survivor again. Danni was so good in her original season and I really thought that the assassin was sitting in a good spot to make a long run. She was in with the “old school” group, but still knew that Rob was a big target and wanted him gone. Unfortunately, her paranoia got the better of her and her game sort of went off the rails.


Yes, I am aware that she is on the Edge of Extinction and that she has a chance to get back into the game. I am also aware that we will still get to see a little bit of her but depending on who all ends up on Extinction Island with her, that may hurt her screen time. Either way, it was extremely fun to see her on my TV and playing Survivor again. I am looking forward to seeing what she may be able to do next. Ok, enough about that, what else happened this week?


Idols, idols everywhere


1: Idols, idols, everywhere


So, who thought that idols were only going to be coming from the Edge of Extinction this season? Not us of course! We knew that in an all winners season that there would be plenty of idols to go around. I am more speaking for the players. How many of the players were assuming that the idols would only come from Extinction Island? Not only did we find out that wasn’t the case this time around, but we saw an idol get found at both camps within a matter of minutes it seemed.


The first was found on Sele when Ben actually shows someone else how to find an idol. While he is teaching Denise how to do it, she proves to be a quick learner and discovers the idol with the blue ribbon wrapped around it. This is a big moment for Ben because it shows that he has a different side to him. He is not just the guy who gets idols every three days, he is now showing signs of a more social gameplayer. This is also a good moment for Adam, since the idol must be split into two pieces and shared. He is awarded the other half after he talks Denise out of giving it to Parvati.


Over on Dakal, it is Kim that finds the two-part idol. This is great for her because she is definitely playing from the bottom and really needed to find something to help keep her safe. Unfortunately for her, she might have trusted the wrong person. She immediately brings Sophie to show her what she found and to share it with her. Sophie seemed sort of stunned that Kim trusted her with that power tool and could now backfire on her.


We are two weeks into the season and there are already three hidden idols in play with only one of them having a timestamp on it. Sandra has one that no one knows about. Kim has one that she is sharing with Sophie. Finally, Denise has one that she is sharing with Adam, but Ben also knows about it. Sandra’s will definitely be played in one of the next two tribal councils and let’s see when the others will come out!


Advantages from the Edge


2: Advantages from the Edge


I could also call this one: “Natalie sends Jeremy advantages from the Edge.” After first bequeathing her fire token to him when she was voted out, she has now “sold” him the Safety without Power advantage. It’s only been a few days for her, but she appears to be doing great on the Edge of Extinction and the better she does, the better that Jeremy is going to do in the real game.


Now, this has to make you wonder if there is going to be an advantage coming from the Edge every week? Personally, I hope not. That would flood the game with too many advantages and reduce screen time from the real game going forward. So, the fire tokens have already begun to affect the game, and soon the advantages will too. I am fine with stuff coming from the Extinction, but hopefully things don’t get too convoluted and complicated to follow. Let’s just hope for more great gameplay from these top-notch players and let the advantages keep trickling in at a slow pace.


The amazing Tony


3: The amazing Tony


There is just simply nothing else to say about him this season. He is doing everything in his power to not play like the crazy person that he portrayed in his last two times out. He even uses all of that built up energy to craft a dangerous looking ladder to climb up and get some of the breadfruit that Yul was trying to get earlier in the episode. Also, let me just say that the whole ladder scene was one of the best moments that I ever watched on Survivor. So much real human personality, humor, and real suspense wondering if he was going to fall or not.


Afterwards it looks as though the Cops R Us alliance may be back for another round. For both of their sakes, I hope it works. I like both Sarah and Tony so hopefully they can put their past behind them and keep it together till late post merge. The big issue that Cops R Us is going to have is that there is just two of them and there are seven people left in their tribe. They will have to pull in a few more in order to get the numbers. It appears that Sandra may be working with them somewhat, but I am excited to see them work together and see what sort of chaos they can bring upon their fellow Dakal members (for now).


The old-school secret is out


4:The 'old-school' secret is out


There were all kinds of conversations going on about whether the tribes would gravitate towards an “old-school” vs “new school” grouping. Some people were denying it or trying to keep it a secret ... until the aforementioned Danni spilled the beans right in front of Ben and Ethan. That was such a fun moment too, seeing the look on Ethan’s face when she said that. Ben didn’t know how to act at the moment, but he brought it up at tribal council, so they all know now. They all denied it of course, but you must imagine that may be bad news for Rob, Parvati, and Ethan. Since Danni was considered an old schooler, they are now down in the numbers five to three. Unless a swap happens quickly, they may be one of the next targets.


Adam at Tribal


5: Adam at Tribal


After his “rookie mistake” last week, Adam really came on strong this week. Not only did he get half of Denise’s idol (mentioned above), but he is also getting a ton of screen time in a season full of big names. One of his biggest moves to date (in my opinion), took place during tribal council this week. When Rob was demanding that everyone dump out their bags to see if anyone had an idol, Adam was the only one to say anything back to him. That shows that he isn’t afraid to go up against the big names when he has too.


Now, unless a few more people can get the stars out of their eyes, they could join him in standing up to their heroes and really start to put some big moves on their 2020 Survivor résumé. Adam is smart, knows the game so well and enjoys playing it. That can really be a deadly combination if he could take out a few of the bigger targets early on and use his knowledge of the game in his favor. I would love to see Adam beat the odds and make if far into this season.



So, there you have it for this week’s episode. There are lots of fantastic stuff happening this season. It’s only been two weeks, but it feels like it’s been longer with all of the Survivor content to consume between episodes.


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!


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