Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 41 recaps
Emotional moments, power shifts, and luck
By Brent Sullivan | Published: December 6, 2021
Survivor 41 Episode 11 Recap/ analysis

Emotional moments, power shifts, and luck

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.

Man, that was quite the emotional tribal council. It doesn’t matter if you thought it should be included in the episode or not, that was a tough real-world conversation that we just witnessed, and it happened on a big stage in front of a big audience. Lots of heart-felt discussion that is affecting the real world, is making it into the game … which is what it is supposed to do. All the contestants come from different backgrounds and beliefs and these sorts of things are bound to come up. We have seen smaller versions of this in past seasons, but it seems like things are starting to shift a little bit and we are going to see more things like what we just saw.

Now, along with that, there was some gameplay this week as well, let’s see what else happened on this week’s “Top Five Baby”!

1. Xander is on top

Xander is on top

I know that we only see what the editors want us to see, so I have a strong feeling that this quote from Xander isn’t long lasting. However just for one episode, he is feeling pretty good about his spot in the game. He feels like he has an alliance with Ricard, Heather, and Erika.

We have never seen the four of them work together and with the way the second half of this season is going, I doubt they are able to work together that much longer. At some point, they are going to try and cut Ricard loose, they are all smart enough to know he will most likely beat any of the other three in the end and with fire making at final four, they only have two votes left. Even though both Danny and Deshawn appear to be on the bottom, I believe they will be forced to work with some (or all) of the others to get Ricard out of the game.

But, at least for one moment, Xander feels good about his place in the game.

2. Danny gets emotional

Danny gets emotional

This was such a nice moment for Danny, to see him get emotional about his father on the anniversary of his death was a really touching moment. I know we get fooled all the time about what we see and what actually happens, but I was trying to decide if this was a great moment for Danny because he was getting ready to be voted off or because he is going to use this moment to propel himself to the end.

We are getting closer, but obviously we don’t know how this will turn out yet. Like I mentioned in my first point, I don’t think those four will stay together, so I can easily see Danny sitting at the final three. At that point, I’m not sure if he’s done enough to win or who he would be sitting with at the end, but he’s having a good journey either way.

3. Erika makes a choice

Erika makes a choice

Sitting at the final seven, Erika finds herself as the swing vote going into tribal council. She had the choice of staying with Ricard, Heather, and Xander or siding with Danny, Deshawn, and Liana. She come quite far from being the one that changed the outcome of the challenge a few weeks ago by smashing the hourglass. She has turned herself into a legitimate threat. So much that her name has now come up several times as a possible candidate to be voted off. She has avoided that so far because there has always been bigger threats to get out. The question for this is however is did she make the right move?

I am thinking that she made a poor choice because I think she loses the game to both Xander and Ricard if she sits with either one of them but would have a chance if she was against Danny or Liana. With Liana now gone, the number of players left in the game that she can beat is getting smaller. Plus, she still must make it there and I’m not sure who would choose her over Heather to sit with at the end of the game. I still think she is in a good spot, she just has to make a couple more big moves and get out a couple bigger threats and she can pull out a victory.

4. Deshawn doesn't die

Swing vote

Wow … what an exciting moment for Deshawn. Exciting and scary. I would be sweating out of my skin if I was in his spot at this point in the game. To know I could be out and done just by picking the wrong box. Kudos to him for sticking with his original pick and not changing when the Monty Hall problem came up too. It’s hard enough to pick one out of three, but to then stick with that again is a gutsy move for sure.

People have said for years that this game requires so much luck to win and this is a great example of that. So, can Deshawn use this great luck to propel himself further in the game? That all depends on how he can spin it back at camp. Now that Liana is gone, it looks as if he and Danny are at the bottom, so perhaps he can use that and his good luck to make it through another vote. I am excited to see how he acts after he gets back to camp at the start of the next episode.

5. Only one idol left

Only one idol left

For a season that was ridiculed for having too many idols and advantages, almost all of them are gone from the game without making a single impact. Idols went home in people’s pockets, advantages were mis-played and extra votes were largely used when they didn’t need to be. Now, here we sit at the end of the game and the only thing still left is Xander’s idol.

For the life of me, I don’t know how he hasn’t played it up till now. I would never be able to hold on to it for that long. Especially with him being on the bottom or being talked about as a potential boot almost every episode.

He is pretty much guaranteed a spot in the final five at this point and if he can somehow pull out an immunity victory, he’s got the final four locked up. Based on the scenes from next week (which you know I don’t like talking about), another advantage or idol may show up. At this point, we don’t know what that will be or if it will end up being anything at all, but either way, the season is almost done, and the idols and advantages have made a very little impact so far. Let’s see how we finish it out!

So, there you have it for this week’s episode. Rather a short recap since tribal was 25 minutes long, but still good stuff. Will Xander, Ricard, Heather, and Erika really be the final four? What box would you have picked in Survivor Do or Die? Was anyone secretly hoping for Deshawn to pick the wrong box? I want to hear from you, let me know if I missed any moments or if you think I was correct in my thinking, the interaction is part of what makes this so fun!

Please catch more of me here next week where I will try to bring you more fun top five!


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