Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 41 recaps
Goodbye (?) to three tribes, hello to three idols
By Brent Sullivan | Published: October 25, 2021
Survivor 41 Episode 5 Recap/ analysis

Goodbye (?) to three tribes, hello to three idols

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.

Well, that was certainly a lot of theater for such a straight-forward vote. Did anyone actually think Shan and Ricard wasn’t going to vote together? I really though Genie was going to play her Shot in the Dark when she went up to vote. But she had other thoughts in her head about what was going to happen, and so we lose another fun character already this season.

Since we are five episodes in and we are still in the same tribes that we started with, I’m going to do something a little different this week. I’m going to stop by each tribe and check on the tribe dynamics and see what each one has going one at this point in the game.

So, let’s see what’s going on during this week’s “Top Five Baby!”

1. UA

Ua: Then there were two

Then there were two. It’s been a long time since we have seen a tribe of two on Survivor, but here we are 41 seasons in, and we have Ua ... the tribe that just can’t seem to get a win now. After JD went home, Genie thought she was in a good spot. So much so that when she found Brad’s re-hidden Beware Advantage, she shared that information with Shan and Ricard. As a tribe, they decided that they didn’t want to lose their vote and that they would leave the advantage where it was.

So, in normal Shan and Ricard fashion, they went and got it anyway and just replaced it with a regular bracelet while Genie was out catching fish. After that, they convinced Genie that Shan was going to say the phrase just to see if anyone at Luvu had their idol. The plan went off exactly how they wanted to, and Genie had no idea what they had done and then they plotted against her (and with her) to get her out of the game.

The biggest thing that happened at Ua was that tense conversation between Shan and Ricard about whether Ricard should give the extra vote back to her before tribal. This was the first sign of trouble between the alliance and may be a telling sign of things to come if they must choose sides after a swap or merge.



More of the same from the tribe that has yet to go to a tribal council. There really hasn’t been a lot of trouble in paradise other than a few minor instances with wanting to throw a challenge and Naseer going in and out of the bottom spot.

This week, Naseer seems to be back in the group while they are discussing whether to throw the challenge. Danny and DeShawn both still wanted to, but after bringing in Naseer (who didn’t want to), they decided not to. We also got to see Sydney doing her part by catching plenty of fish for the tribe.

They are in a really interesting position here now. With only 12 people left in the game, half of them are on Luvu. So, them not throwing a challenge now may end up being a good thing. They will now have the numbers in any sort of merge, or a tie at the very least. Now if there is a swap of some sort, that may be bad for them depending on how the numbers come out. Either way, they have a chance to run the table with all 6 of their starting members if things go their way. I am curious to see if they can hold it together.



Finally, over to Yase, who have been on quite the winning streak lately. Things seem to be going well for most of them. Evvie is close to everyone on the tribe. Evvie has a good relationship with Xander and a girl’s alliance with Tiffany and Liana. However, while Evvie is out talking with Xander, both Tiffany and Liana search his bag and find all his advantages in there.

I could have sworn that they already knew about them, but they seemed surprised by it all and gives them a reason to not trust him. Xander then makes it worse on himself by telling Tiffany about his potential idol, but he lies (terribly) in the process and has to back track on his story. Tiffany clearly doesn’t believe any of his story.

I think this tribe is in a weird spot come a merge or swap because even though they have been together awhile and have gone through two tribal councils, they are not in a spot where they will keep tight with everything that has gone on with the advantages and Xander more specifically. I would definitely see him as a potential next boot depending on how the numbers break out. The three-way girl’s alliance will be around awhile if they can stay together come a swap and can work with Shan or others come a merge.

4. The idols are activated!

The idols are activated!

Finally ... after five weeks of waiting, these damn idols are finally activated! That means that Xander can finally vote again too. So, after some brilliant Survivor editing, we now know that all three idols have been found and all three phrases were said at the same immunity challenge. Here’s how it breaks down.

Xander ... finally has his immunity idol and his vote back. The question for him is, will he use it? Does he feel safe enough with his Yase group to not use or will he feel like he is a threat now and want to pull it out early to make a early merge move?

Shan has one after her and Ricard did some sneaky business to get the advantage and get it activated. With Ua being down to two members, she could use that as a great bargaining chip to get in good with a bigger group.

Finally, the aforementioned brilliant editing was a great scene where we see Naseer finding the idol a day before the immunity challenge. With Luvu having many more people and Naseer feeling pretty good in his tribe, I would think he will be hanging on to this for a bit. There are a few people who know about the phrases and knows that he has it now, but they don’t really know him and how big of a threat he could be down the road. He could really make it far if he plays this right.

5. Another cross-tribal meeting

Another cross-tribal meeting

The last thing I want to talk about is the meeting between Shan and Liana at the other island where they have to protect or risk their vote. They seemed to strike up an extremely easy friendship in the short time they were there. Shan told her that her vote was too valuable, and that Liana should risk her vote.

That’s exactly what happened, so Liana gets a new advantage in the game. The new Knowledge is Power advantage gives her the power to potentially steal an idol or advantage from anyone else in the game if she uses it to ask them if they have an idol or advantage. At that point not only do they have to answer honestly, but they have to give it to her.

With so many people knowing about the phrases to unlock the immunity idols, this advantage gives her too much power. She knows exactly where three immunity idols are and there is a good chance that she will use this against Xander since they were plotting against him earlier in the episode anyway. So, this is great for her: she gets a secret alliance with Shan and the most powerful tool in the game so far, all at the same time.

So, there you have it for another episode of Survivor. What does everyone think is going to happen next episode? Will there be a merge or tribe swap? I want to hear from you as well, 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