Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor: Winners at War analysis
Chaos, an Edge split, and rising and falling targets
By Brent Sullivan | Published: April 12, 2020
Survivor: Winners at War Episode 9 recap/ analysis

Chaos, an Edge split, and rising and falling targets


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.


Chaos this week! This was the sort of chaos that I was expecting during last week’s tribal council and everything leading up to it. Even though in the end, it ended up being more of a straightforward vote, it was still chaotic and it was fantastic to watch. Adam may have made more than a few mistakes this season, but he definitely played hard and I think that he will continue to play hard even on the Edge of Extinction.


Also, in this episode ... Tony survived another vote and has made it to the final ten! Can we just stop to think about how crazy that is? Who would have thought that he would still be around this late in the season? Plus, he still hasn’t gotten a single vote cast against him.


Ok, enough honorable mentions, let’s get to this week’s Top Five Baby!


Nick and Michele


1: Nick and Michele


Collateral damage from the Wendell vote out. That is what Nick and Michele are. Nick seems a little more upset than Michele does for being in this spot and he is almost ready to burn the camp down because of it. It is a little weird that they appear to be on the bottom by themselves when Michele and Jeremy had a good working relationship before the swap and Nick was in an alliance with Sophie. You still see Michele and Jeremy having conversations, but I'm not sure if Sophie has even talked to Nick since the merge.


Nick's name came up several times as a possible candidate to vote out, but an easier target rose to the top and they took out Adam instead. With Adam out of the way, will Nick be the next easy target, or will the bigger group start to turn on itself? Eight people in a group is an awfully big group to try and keep together, especially when some of those people are Tyson, Tony, Kim, and Sarah.


Michele seems to be in the better spot of the two for sure, and her social game is way better, so she may be able to save herself from a vote or two until the bigger voting bloc starts to break apart.


Edge update


2: Edge update


I wasn’t going to devote a section to the Edge of Extinction this week, but then something interesting happened. For the first time all season, there seems to be a divide among the castaways on the Edge.


I thought it was going to be the typical segment of everyone looking for a hidden clue or advantage and then sending it to someone in the game. End of segment. However, while they were looking for it, they divided into pairs and they put Wendell and Yul in a group together because they didn’t want either of them to find anything. They thought since they haven’t been there that long, they didn’t deserve anything. At least not yet.


After Parvati and Danni found the 50/50 coin hidden in the rocks; they decided to only tell their group of six. If they got the four tokens from Michele (which they did), then they would use it to buy a jar of peanut butter just for them to share. Other than Rob running up ahead and finding three of the four hidden fire tokens a few weeks ago, this goes against what we have seen on Extinction Island this season. Now, it may not amount to anything at all, but I thought it was worth pointing out, especially if it’s one of those six that make it back into the game.


Sarah's questionable decision


3: Sarah's questionable decision


After the reward challenge, Sarah decided to give her reward to Nick. I still can’t decide if Sarah made this move for personal reasons or strategy. I still feel deep down that this was solely a game decision. She knows that the other contestants see her as a cut-throat player, and she wants to seem more personal and friendly to them.


However, I don’t know why she would say in a confessional that it was not a game move. That sort of thing may work on a new player season, even though it has not for some (just like Jeremy said), but there is no way this will fly on a season of all winners. Sarah is a very good player and she should also know this, but at the same time, if it was just a nice gesture or friendly move, I would think Sarah is smart enough that the other players wouldn’t see it as that. I hope all of that makes sense!


No matter what sort of move it was, everyone definitely sees it as strategy, and it put a target on her back where there was none before. There were quite a few people in the preseason that mentioned Sarah as a possible first boot because of the way she played won her game in season 34, but she came into this season and defied the odds. She was sitting in a pretty good spot with quite a few allies, now her name was one of the ones being tossed around as the vote for this week.


Moving forward, I think she is going to have to be extremely careful. Now that this is out and there are fewer and fewer people to hide behind, she could be in trouble sooner rather than later.


Is Kim a target?


4: Is Kim a target?


Just like Sarah, Kim was one of the few people mentioned in the pre-season as someone to vote out early. Also, just like Sarah, she beat the odds and has made it this far. Her path was a little different, though. She was clearly on the bottom right from the start, with all her allies being voted off around her. She got lucky in the swap and ended up in more of a swing position between her old Dakal “buddies” Tony and Sandra and her new colleagues Denise and Jeremy.


Now that she is in the merge, she appears to be in a good spot, with her actually directing some of the gameplay now. She still has lots of bonds in the game, but I have a feeling that just like Sarah, her time could be coming soon. Her quiet game is not so quiet anymore, and now she has an individual immunity win to go along with that. If they decide to take out another big threat, there are still a few around, but Kim’s target could be growing.


Blindside, merge-style


5: After the dust settles


After watching this episode twice, I am still not sure that I caught everything that was going on here. Like I mentioned above, this is the sort of thing that you would normally see at the first merge vote, instead we got it here. There were so many names thrown around pretty much the entire episode. Let’s see if we can make sense of everything. Well, obviously we heard Adam a lot, and that one panned out as Adam was sent to the Edge of Extinction.


The next name that we heard was Nick, and to a lesser extent, Michele. Nick actually received two votes this week as well and will be in a tough spot moving forward. Michele seemed to be the backup vote for a few minutes, but not sure if that got any traction. The only other person to receive a vote was Sarah. Like it was talked about earlier, she may have put that target on herself and she is going to be someone to watch carefully over the next few votes. Her closest ally Sophie was also brought up, but that was quickly turned around on to Sarah.


Finally, the last name that was a possible name to write down was Tyson. It is possible that his name may come up as an easy vote every week just because he has already been to Extinction Island once. So, after the dust settled this week, Adam was left as the name that almost everyone picked.


Who will be next?



So, there you have it for this week’s crazy episode. I still can’t get over how chaotic that Tribal was and part of me was hoping there really was an idol hiding on Jeff’s podium. That would have made an even more epic ending to the episode. Adam swung for the fences and missed, but at least he was playing. Also, congratulations to Kim for now having more individual immunity wins than any other female in Survivor history.


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!


Was anyone else really hoping that Adam was correct about the idol?


Did Sarah make a bad decision?


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