Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor: Winners at War analysis
Boats or tokens, post-merge Tony, and potent tensions
By Brent Sullivan | Published: March 29, 2020
Survivor: Winners at War Episode 7 recap/ analysis

Boats or tokens, post-merge Tony, and potent tensions


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.


We are pretty much halfway through the season and who would have guessed that all the “old-school” players would be sitting on the Edge of Extinction? Well…almost all of them. Sandra took about 5 seconds on the Edge to decide it wasn’t for her. Climbing up the massive hill everyday for a tiny scoop of rice just to have to win a challenge to get back in the game. She knows that challenges are not her thing and went out on her own terms.


I can respect the decision, although it will be sad not to have her on our TVs anymore this season. It makes me wonder if anyone else will raise the flag if they lose the first challenge to come back in the game. Is it possible that she opened the door for someone else to also bow out? Also, it looks as if the merge is finally here next episode and presumably someone will come back into the game at this point too, so plenty to look forward to.


But let’s not stay in the future too long, it’s time for this week’s Top Five Baby!


Edge update


1: Edge update


I touched on this a little bit above, but other than Sandra raising the flag and gracefully walking away, here is what else is going on at Extinction Island. Let's start with the fire token hunt this week. There were four fire tokens spread out along the top of the hill. After a mad dash up to the top, somehow Rob ended up with three of them and Tyson got the other one. Since Tyson already spent his one, that leaves him with just the one now. Rob with three is now in second place behind Natalie who has had four for awhile now. Amber, Ethan, and Danni are all sitting at one each. (I think that is all of them).


But, only three fire tokens can be used to buy an advantage in the challenge, so that basically puts Natalie and Rob on equal footing in the competition. We still don't know what the advantage is going to be, but those two are going to have the upper hand either way. Tyson may also have a slight edge since he has the one token, plus he has been secretly eating peanut butter everyday to give himself extra calories. I'm anxious to see who comes out on top.


Next, there was another touching moment with Ethan. He is legitimately scared that this hardship on his body could make his cancer come back. Personally, I don't blame him for being scared. I think he was brave to not only go back out and play, but to keep toughing it out on the Edge of Extinction. It would certainly take a lot of will power to stick it out. Thankfully for him, he has some people that he is close to that he can talk to.


Finally, I just wonder if we should take Edge of Extinction screen time into account for anything. Danni, Amber, and Natalie has gotten little to no visibility the last two weeks. Does that mean anything? Are they just focusing on the bigger names because they are bigger names or is it one of them that comes back into the game? I always say that I am not a huge edit guy, but sometimes it can be a factor. You can use Chris Underwood's screen time on season 38 as an example.




2: Tony!


I can’t believe that Tony made the merge. Let’s just say that again ... Tony made the merge! Saying it aloud and typing it twice, I still can hardly believe it.


Tony is such a huge name in Survivor history and such a huge target, and yet here he is. Yes, he dodged a few close calls along the way, but he has changed his game up just enough to still be hanging around. Plus, the people who are in a tribe with him really seem to enjoy him. Kim even said that she loved Tony but wasn’t sure if she wants to stay with him.


As a Tony fan, I am thrilled to have him still around and as Survivor fan ... I am even more thrilled to have him still around. The good part for Tony is he actually isn’t in a bad position either. He has a little bit of history with Kim since they have been on a tribe together from the beginning. He seems to be bonding with Jeremy and we all know that Jeremy’s meat shield philosophy fits Tony perfectly. Jeremy can ride to the end the same way that Tony did with Spencer in Season 28. With the merge, we also get the long-awaited “Cops R Us” reunion. I love this duo so much and can’t wait to see what they can do from here on out.


There are going to be so many targets for this first vote, I think that he can hide and be able to survive a bit longer. At least, I hope ....


Kim is finally in a good spot


3: Kim is finally in a good spot


It appears to be for the first time all season, Kim is in a good spot. Kim dominated her season back when she won season 24. So she was really struggling this time around being on the other side of the numbers. She avoided the same fate as her other “poker alliance” buddies Amber and Tyson, and survived through the pre-swap portion of the game.


Then she some how found herself in more of a swing position on the new Dakal tribe. During the last tribal council, even though she voted with Sandra and Tony, she could have gone either way. Moving forward, she finds herself in a pretty good spot. She goes into the merge having stayed true with Tony and he feels like she is on his side. Plus, she has made a super tight alliance with Denise and Jeremy.


Depending on how the numbers fall next episode, she could either find herself in another swing position or be firmly aligned with the larger numbers. With so many big names already out of the way, Kim’s name may start to come up as a possible vote to eliminate a threat. It may do her some good to stay tight with Tony and to try to re-bond with Sarah and Sophie. Her other group with Jeremy and Denise may not be a better long-term deal if they meet backup with Ben and Michele. That would make her the biggest name to get out of that group of five.


No matter which way she goes, it may at least be her decision on how the rest of the season goes.


Tension on Yara


4: Tension on Yara


Adam is really struggling this season. After coming back from so many missteps early in the season, Adam is once again making things tough on himself. He is so sure that either Ben or Sarah has the Yara idol, he can’t focus on anything else. I mentioned last week about how he felt like he was on the bottom, well he is making it way worse on himself.


He has had issues with Ben this whole game, and now he is pushing Sarah away. The only person on Yara that he seemed to talk to was Sophie and she is closer with the other two than she is with him. The tension is so bad that I can almost guarantee he will be a free agent come next week. At the same time, him being a free agent could make him an extremely easy target for the first post merge boot.


Adam has definitely had a tough season and it doesn’t appear that it is going to get much better for him for the remainder.


Pre-game relationship


5: Pre-game relationship


Like I have talked about in the past, it is no surprise that 20 years into this show, there are lots of people with pre-existing relationships. What is a surprise, however,  some of these relationships are playing a pretty big factor during in-game decisions.


Unless there were some scenes that we didn’t see over on Sele, I have yet to fully understand why Nick and Wendell decided that keeping Michele was better for their games than keeping Yul. I know that Yul is a strategic threat, but the three of them have been super tight since the beginning and don’t owe anything to Michele.


Except maybe the Wendell/Michele relationship is driving the way they voted. Maybe Nick was forced to vote that way so there wouldn’t be a tie. Maybe they are downplaying how close they actually are. I wouldn’t think so especially the way Michele talks in confessionals. However, something makes them keep voting together when they really shouldn’t be.


There have been a few other examples of pre-existing relationships working together this season, like the Sarah/Tony “Cops R Us” alliance, the Natalie/Jeremy duo from the first episode, plus all of the goodies that she has sent him. None of these seem to be making a bigger strategic impact like the Michele/Wendell duo. Hopefully they know what they are doing. I am curious to see where this goes after the merge.



So there you have it for the last pre-merge episode. This next episode should be amazing. There are a few different ways that this may go. Lots of different groups spread out throughout the remaining players on the three tribes. The biggest things that I am looking forward to is where Kim will end up and how Adam’s game is going to go once he is away from Ben.


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!


Who will win their way back into the game? Is that person immediately voted out again?


How will the groups form up after the merge?
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