Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor: Winners at War analysis
Three new tribes and a lot of hardware
By Brent Sullivan | Published: March 15, 2020
Survivor: Winners at War Episode 5 recap/ analysis

Three new tribes and a lot of hardware


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.


First, I hope that everyone is staying safe and keeping their hands clean. Since so much stuff is canceled and there are no sports to watch, that means you can re-watch Survivor episodes again. This week was a real treat.


First, we got a great tribe swap with a great mix-up. I haven’t seen a mix-up like this since Millennials vs. Gen-X. Second, we got a full episode with any Edge of Extinction footage ... and I was 100% fine with that. After that segment being too long last week, it was refreshing to stay away for a week. Finally, for those that are not fans of Rob, they got to see him sent to Extinction Island to join his wife.


There is always so much happening during a tribe swap that I decided to break three of my points down by new tribe layouts. With a third of the season already done ... here is this week’s Top Five Baby!


Yul's touching moment


1: Yul's touching moment


I am glad that CBS decided to show that moment with Yul talking about the struggles that Stacy Title and Jonathan Penner are going through right now. They even showed Jonathan and Stacy talking about ALS during the first commercial break and how people can find out more information about it.


For those who followed the pre-season, we know that Yul has promised to donate his winnings this season to ALS research, which is very honorable and just an amazing thing for him to do. Even though I can practically guarantee that he is doing this because Penner is his friend and it is just something, he wants to do to help them out and not a game move, I also know how other people are going to think about him if it gets out. Up until now, we haven’t seen Yul mention anything about Penner or ALS, so I seriously doubt that anyone knows about his plans to donate his winnings.


At the same time, if anyone does happen to get word of this, that may ruin his game. I don’t see Yul being that type of player to mention this at the final tribal (if he is sitting there) for his advantage. However, depending on who could be at the end with him, it could be one of those moments that he drops on everyone to turn a few votes his way. If it means that he can win, then that is more money going to a great cause. Truthfully, this may not come up again, but it was such a touching moment, that I had to put it here in this spot this week.


New Dakal tribe


2: New Dakal tribe


The first swap tribe to talk about is Dakal. On the surface, it appears that old Dakal has the numbers over old Sele, but with Kim being one of those numbers, that may not be the case. Jeremy and Denise are obviously staying together. It also looks like Sandra and Tony are working together very well. Tony wants to keep the big threats around (himself, Sandra, and Kim) and even though he makes a good point, Kim is definitely the swing vote here and could go either way. She knows that her group has the numbers and there could be two easy vote-offs, but she also knows that she was on the outside of her original tribe from the very start and she could very simply join the other side and get two massive threats out of the game.


With two tribes going to tribal council next week, I doubt that they make it through, especially with Sandra being a little bit of a challenge liability. They fell behind in the immunity challenge this week, only to storm back on the puzzle to pass Yara. Another thing to keep in mind is that Sandra has a hidden immunity idol that will expire soon, so there is an excellent chance that will come out, too. Sandra isn’t the type of player to sit on an advantage.


New Sele tribe


3: New Sele tribe


The second tribe to discuss is Sele. There was just as much going on here on the “awkward beach” as there was on Dakal. It was filled with such funny and uncomfortable moments like Nick revealing to Parvati about his “high school” crush on her, or the whole Wendell and Michele being ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. I would like to think that both players are good enough to overcome any social issues that they may have with each other, but they certainly struggled this week.


The other aspect of this tribe to look at is how strong the threesome of Yul, Wendell, and Nick are going to be. They were in a tight foursome before the swap with Sophie, so they are in a good spot having a three-to-two numbers advantage over Michele and Parvati. As big of a threat that Parvati is every time she plays Survivor, she may actually be safer than Michele if they go to tribal council. With Rob out of the game now, she may be seen as an easy target down the road. Michele’s relationship with Wendell may come back to bite her. I think that would be a crummy reason to get voted out of this game, but a lot of these players have pre-existing relationships and that is the way it goes for an all-star season.


A new tribe


4: A new tribe


One more post-swap tribe to discuss. This is the Yara tribe and they are perhaps the most dysfunctional of them all. This is the only tribe of the three where the original Sele has the numbers over the original Dakal. However, the three members of Sele happen to be the three that were the least aligned, with Rob, Ben, and Adam being stuck together. At least Sarah and Sophie have a working relationship and can hope to bring that forward. Sophie even finds an idol (see number 5 for more on that).


Rob knows where he stands with the other two guys, but also knows that it is in his best interest to try and keep them together. His buddy system that worked so well on Redemption Island backfired on him here, as not only did he get voted out, but everyone involved (especially the girls) didn’t like it. They were able to communicate anyway and formulate a plan against him.


Will this move draw Ben and Adam back together or will this more closely align one of them (or both of them) with the girls? Yara probably has the most interesting story line moving into next week. I could see any of the four of them getting the votes whereas in the other two tribes, there are one or two likely victims each.


The women are killing it


5: The women are killing it


The last thing that I want to discuss this week is how much these women on this season are killing it so far. Apart from the first three vote-offs being women, the rest of them (including Natalie on the Edge of Extinction) are having great starts to the season and most of them are holding an idol or advantage in the game. In fact, apart from Jeremy, the women hold all the idols and advantages. Let’s look at who has what hardware and how it may impact the game:


  • Natalie now has four fire tokens after receiving one in four straight episodes. This clearly makes her the front runner to return from the Edge at the merge. We still aren’t sure what sort of an advantage she will get, but she has three more tokens than everyone else.

  • Denise has a hidden immunity idol. If they can get Kim to swing over to their side, she shouldn’t have to use her idol for a bit. However, if another idol is played, it may spook her to use it. We will see.

  • Kim has a hidden immunity idol, like I mentioned above, Kim is in a really good spot on her tribe. As an obvious swing vote between the Denise/Jeremy group and the Sandra/Tony group. She is in the same boat, unless another idol play spooks her to play it, she shouldn’t have to use hers until post-merge.

  • Sandra has a hidden immunity idol. So, three different women on Dakal all have idols. The difference with Sandra’s is that hers has a time-limit on it. So, if Dakal goes to tribal council this week, I expect it to get played ... which means Kim and Denise may play theirs?

  • Parvati has four fire tokens in the game. Again, we are not sure what exactly they can be used for in the game, but Parvati is the front runner for number of fire tokens. This will surely come into play soon with the season being close to a merge.

  • Sophie has a hidden immunity idol. I don’t know how she felt comfortable enough this week not to play it, but she did, and it may prove huge if Yara goes back to tribal and it ends up being a two to two vote split.

  • Sarah has the steal-a-vote. Just like Sophie, I don’t know how she felt comfortable enough not to play it this week, but she has it still and will most likely hold onto it until post-merge.



So, there you have it for this week’s episode. Not only is so much happening on each new tribe, but there is so much more potential for even more stuff to happen. I can’t wait to see how next week goes with two of the tribes going to tribal council.


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!


How did you like the new tribes?


How much Edge of Extinction do you think we will get next week?


Have you been washing your hands for at least 20 seconds?


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