Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor: Winners at War analysis
Fishing, covert missions, and momentous decisions
By Brent Sullivan | Published: March 1, 2020
Survivor: Winners at War Episode 3 recap/ analysis

Fishing, covert missions, and momentous decisions


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 three had so many fantastic moments. Seriously, how great was that Tony scene with the shark? There are some other great moments as well which I will cover below, but then it had to go and break my heart! We were possibly blindsided just as much as Ethan was ... ok, maybe not that bad, but it was still shocking to see, and I still don’t think that I am over it yet. Even though Sarah is still my pick to win, I had such high hopes for Ethan.


When I was still just a young man, Ethan, Lex, and Big Tom from Africa were some of my early favorite Survivor players. His time on All-Stars was over too soon, so I wasn’t sure that we would ever get to see him play again especially after all he went through health wise in his real life. It was such a moment of joy seeing Ethan’s name on the cast list and even greater seeing him actually playing the game again. After all of that waiting and joyous return, it made his vote out this week that much harder to watch happen. This almost makes the Edge of Extinction worth it just to give him a chance to come back. Well, I’m sure I’m saying this for a lot of people, but I personally hope that he makes it back into the game at the merge.


Ok, time to wipe my tears away and get down to business. Here is Top Five Baby!


The Sandra stock is rising


1: The Sandra stock is rising


I can’t believe it. If you would have told me four votes into this season that both Sandra and Rob would still be in the game, I would have told you it was a false premonition and couldn’t possibly happen. Well, here we are four votes into Winners at War, and both Sandra and Rob are still in the game. Wow. Not only are they in the game, but the players on Sele are actively trying to not vote out Rob. He is definitely on the wrong side of the numbers at this moment, but that really doesn’t seem to matter for him this season.


Over on Dakal, Sandra is in an even better situation. Early on, it seemed like she may have something going with both Tony and Sarah, and now Yul wants to keep her around. In fact, when Tyson started throwing her name out as the next to go, Yul went to Sandra and told her. So, not only are they not trying to vote her out, but they are “chomping at the bit” to work with her.


This week, she was able to raise her stock a little higher by coming up with the idea to catch fish, or in this case, a shark. She has never really been shown as a big provider in the past, but she seems to be playing the role this time a little bit. Also, if things weren’t going pretty good for her on her own, remember that she has that idol from Natalie too. Overall, Sandra is in a pretty good spot on her tribe with some bigger targets in front of her and the fact that her tribe doesn’t know how to lose a challenge will only keep things looking good for her in the near future.


Update from the Edge


2: Update from the Edge


Since the winners that lose this season are going to Extinction Island, we know that there is going to be plenty of time showing the Edge of Extinction every week, so it’s only fair if I update what is going on there and how I think it will impact the game. We got a little tease this week that Amber may be onto something, but just like the previous weeks, Natalie ends up figuring out the clue to open the chest that contained an advantage. So basically, she is killing it on Extinction Island.


We still don’t know exactly how the fire tokens are going to be used to help someone get back into the game, but she has a huge lead on everyone else now with three! Another thing to note, I am usually not a big one to examine the edit too closely, but with so many great characters on this season, I was a little surprised that we got a moment with Danni catching the fish. I agree that it was a nice moment to watch and I am glad for her, but why focus on it when there are literally hours and hours of stuff that we don’t get to see. Ok, that’s enough of EoE for this week, check back for another update next week.


Cops R Us


3: Cops R Us should have their own show


Say what you will about how Sarah sneaking into that camp wasn’t a big deal because it was dark or because it wasn’t that dramatic. I have two things to say about that. One, I watch Survivor with my daughter, and she was absolutely on the edge of her seat worrying that Sarah was going to get caught. So that is a good reason why they show that sort of stuff. Secondly, any scene with the Cops R Us alliance is absolutely gold. From Sarah recruiting Tony to go under cover, then Tony leading her through the dark, then finally the scene where they spit in the ash and he rubs it on her face was hilarious. Give me more of that behavior every day.


I can see these two playing in a weekly buddy cop series together ... most likely with a word like misadventures in the title. Another thing that this scene tells me is that the Cops R Us alliance is stronger than I was originally thinking. They may actually be able to pull this off for the long term. Sarah could have easily sneaked into the other camp without Tony’s help, but she chose to trust him and bring him in on her plan anyway. That is great news for them ... and us.


Adam overplays his hand


4: Adam overplays his hand


Going back and watching this episode again, the first part had a lot of foreshadowing what was to come after Sele’s defeat in the immunity challenge. By the way, wasn’t that just an insanely close challenge? Very intense indeed. Adam wanted to target one of the three “old school” players and everyone seem to be onboard with it. But then we get the scene of Adam talking to Ethan about the plan and then him explaining to us why he was doing it.


Later, after the challenge Adam goes to Rob and tells him the plan to vote out Parvati and actually thinks this is a good idea. The bad part is that I understand what Adam was trying to do here, but he should have brought someone else in on the plan for it to work the way that he wanted. So, after a bit of scrambling around, everyone knows about the plan to take out Parvati and the “new school” players are now mad at Adam. So, not only did he try to get too sneaky and pull off a move to keep both sides liking him, but now no one wants to work with him. He is in a bad spot now and will surely have a target on his back if Sele loses again.


So Michele does have some game


5: So Michele does have some game


Before this season started, Michele said that she had something to prove. It appears that she took a big step in that direction this week. After Ben, Denise, Jeremy, and Michele found out about Adam’s decision to play both sides, they had to make a choice on what to do. She and Jeremy seem to be the closest and they might have devised a plan together, but Michele is the one that goes to each person to let them know about Adam. I believe it was her that got the four to vote out Ethan.


That move showed that Adam wasn’t in control and neither was Rob, but at the same time, it kept Rob’s biggest ally in the game next to him to show goodwill. Michele, Jeremy, Ben, and Denise clearly have the numbers now and should be able to vote off whomever they want next. They are in that position because of Michele and her ability to play Survivor with the best of them.


What will be her next move though? How does she move forward from this? Personally, I think that she should lay low and stick with her numbers for a few weeks and then maybe flex her Survivor muscles and pull off another big move after a swap of some sort. Let’s see how she decides to move next.



So, there you have it for this week’s episode. More fun stuff happening all the time. No hint of a swap yet. Makes me wonder if we are going to ride this out a bit longer.


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! What are your thoughts about how the Edge of Extinction is going this season? How great are Tony and Sarah together? Do you think that the immunity challenge was really that close?


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