Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 44 recaps/ analysis
Textbook self-destruction
By Damnbueno | Published: April 6, 2023
Survivor 44 Episode 6 recap/ analysis

Textbook self-destruction

So, last week, we saw Matt G. leave the game at final 13 due to a painful shoulder injury. The Medical Team said he could continue if he wanted to, but he opted to leave instead. He was in too much pain to continue.

Matt G.’s departure brought to mind an enduring Survivor question. Was this a medevac? Or was it a quit? I don’t think either category accurately applies here. The Medical Team didn’t remove him for his own health or safety, so that rules out a Medevac. And it was clear Matt wanted to continue in the game, so its hard to call it a quit. It’s not like he just couldn’t handle the mental toll the game takes on a person (like Kathy in Micronesia, or Lindsey in Cagayan), and no longer wanted to continue. This also is not a case of someone who overestimated their ability to play the game (Osten in Pearl Islands), or just didn’t like it anymore (Colton twice), so, I think there should be a third category. I’m gonna call it “Physically unable to continue.” Here’s a brief history of examples I think fit here.

Jeff Wilson

Jeff Wilson (Palau) – Jeff was clearly the physically strongest player on the Ulong tribe. But on night 7, he left camp to relieve himself. He returned with a limp and told his tribe he rolled his ankle on a coconut. In confessional, he said he’d injured the same ankle prior to playing. Jeff sat out of the next Immunity Challenge (which required walking through the water carrying heavy bags). Upon returning to camp, Jeff asked his tribe to vote him out. Despite watching Jeff limping, they didn’t want to grant his request. They wanted to boot Jeff’s showmance Kim, whom many saw as very lazy. Ultimately, Jeff got his wish and was voted out 4-2-1.

Jim Lynch

Jim Lynch (Guatemala) – I can hear everyone now asking “Who?” At 63, Jim was the oldest member of the cast. After an 11-mile, overnight hike to camp, everyone in the game was exhausted. Then they had to run a physically tough Immunity Challenge that required them to paddle and carry a large canoe, then pull it up a hill with a rope. Jim snapped his bicep while helping lift the canoe. His arm was in a sling when they returned to camp after losing Immunity, and he had to be helped out of the canoe. Jim was voted out 8-1.

Jerry Sims

Jerry Sims (Tocantins) – Coach and Tyson had gained power and planned on voting out Erinn. Jerry was very well-liked by the tribe and had positioned himself right about in the middle. But then he developed stomach discomfort around day 7, and it only got worse. He had trouble running during a crate stacking Immunity Challenge and spent the rest of the day laying down in the shelter. He stuck it out through the next Immunity Challenge, but again, he was just too weak to be effective. The writing was on the wall, but Jerry never asked to be voted out. He did provide a great laugh for me. At Tribal Council, Probst asked who should be named “Leader” of the tribe, and Jerry said it should be Brendan. Coach’s eye roll at that moment was priceless. I think he was sicker than Jerry, who got voted out.

Dana Lambert

Dana Lambert (Philippines) – Dana was a very sharp player – possibly the most observant on her Kalabaw tribe. When Penner put himself on the outs by constantly Idol hunting, Dana spent her time earning trust from the other 5 on the tribe. When Penner found the Idol, and used it to align with the men, it was Dana who noticed the disturbance in the force when Jeff Kent stopped lobbying to remove Penner. She advised Katie and Dawson they needed to recruit some women at the merge. So, when the Matsing tribe was dissolved, and Denise joined Kalabaw, Dana made it a priority to recruit their new member. But she never got the chance. On day 11, Dana fell ill. She was dizzy and vomiting, then was doubled over with sharp stomach pain. Medical was brought in to examine her and cleared her to stay for at least 12 hours, but Dana couldn’t take the pain, and like Matt G., opted to leave. She ended up spending 4 days in the hospital, and clearly made the right decision.

Bi Nguyen

Bi Nguyen (David vs. Golliath) – Bi was an MMA fighter, and was playing more for the adventure than to win the million. Her strong competitive side shone through, as she took spotlight roles in the first two Immunity Challenges, and was aggressive in directing her tribemates. In the third IC, Bi once again stepped up to run an obstacle course while tethered to a rope. She battled Alec to a dead heat as they climbed over and crawled under fence posts. A soon as she finished her portion, she told Elizabeth “I hurt my knee.” The Davids won their first Immunity Challenge, but Bi stayed to have her knee examined. She returned to camp with her knee wrapped up. In confessional, Bi said she’d previously had a torn MCL, and this felt the same as that injury. On day 10, the tribes showed up for a challenge, and Bi announced she was leaving because she didn’t want to put her MMA career at risk. Probst told everyone Bi was quitting, then watched her limp away. Curiously, Probst pulled out two trays of new buffs, and the remaining players swapped in to three 5-member tribes. This of course, meant Production knew well ahead of time that Bi was leaving, but didn’t get the dramatic TV moment they likely wanted. So perhaps as punishment, that’s why Probst labeled her a quitter?

I find Probst’s different reactions to Bi and Matt G.’s decisions interesting. Both players got hurt while playing Survivor. Bi did it during a challenge, and Matt did it while unnecessarily climbing a rock. Both chose to leave because they made their personal health a higher priority than playing Survivor. When Bi left, Probst said “Alright, Bi has made her decision, and is quitting the game.” But when Matt G. left, Probst said “The game became too much. He couldn’t take it anymore, and he wisely opted to take care of himself long term.” In Probst’s eyes, Bi is a quitter, but Matt G. is wise. Why is that Mr. Probst? In my eyes, both players made a no-brainder decision to leave the game, but Matt G. was acting irresponsibly when he hurt himself. If Probst wonders why he gets accused of favoring aggressive male players, this is a great example of why this happens. Survivor is a game where strong self-awareness can be a player’s greatest asset. I think the host could use some self-awareness too.

And away we go ...

Joshua: “Carolyn and Yam Yam are very ridiculous.” This might be true, but they’re also pretty good at getting rid of people on Survivor.

I don’t think the Sideshow Bob look is working for Lauren.


Carson told everyone he had an Idol, and that it’s powerless now? Carson: “What’s the point of me hiding it?” David Wright would know what to do with it. If nobody has seen your Idol, you could hide it for an enemy to find. As a viewer, I’m glad I don’t have to think of another phony Idol floating around, but as a strategy nut, this was a missed opportunity.

I always like scoping out the merge meet up. Who hugs who first? Who gives away too much info? Who keeps their mouth shut and gathers information? Who sits next to whom at camp?

So many hugs

Joshua: “I have the Soka Idol.” Ok, Joshua gives away too much information. When people know you have an Idol, the first thing they want to do is separate you from it. You make yourself half of the upcoming split vote plan. And just like that, Frannie, Heidi and Jaime are talking about booting Joshua. Good job, Joshua.

Guess what Yam Yam is thinking?

Suspicious Yam Yam

Matt B. gives away too much info too.

Who’d have figured Carolyn to be the one silently gathering all the info?

Carolyn listening

Carson’s plan is a smart one. Recruiting the alienated can get you through a few votes. Its like he watched Omar’s game and is doing the same thing. Matt B. is worried about people thinking he and Frannie are close, but then they sleep next to each other? Do they realize they can’t control what Danny, Joshua and Heidi say about them too?

Matt and Frannie, and Josh

There’s absolutely nothing new about this challenge ... again. I remember Ryan hung upside down on the net to help his tribemates up last season.

Oh wait, pushing the big ball over that large hurdle is new. They actually combined parts of challenges from Season 42 and 43 for this one.

Sisyphus teams

Everyone was talking about booting Joshua, so that probably means his team will win.

Yep, Joshua’s team is gonna be able to push the big ball better for sure.

Lauren and Heidi are on the puzzle? Interesting choice. I’d have pushed to put Kane and Joshua on it. Maybe they were slick enough to keep themselves out of that role.

This is the puzzle we saw Carson creating on his 3-D Printer. I might have to invest in a 3-D printing company.

Carson on the puzzle

Joshua is vulnerable, once again, proving why I don’t make Survivor predictions. Just the same, it seems too obvious that Joshua is leaving. Would someone be foolish enough to save him with a real Idol? That could be a good way to make him your pocket vote. I wouldn’t do that, but Danny might.

When did Lauren and Heidi become so close?

Lauren and Heidi

Matt B. sits next to Frannie at the merge feast. Yeah, nobody will think you two are close.

Half-merge feast

These players are sloppy. Too many people are throwing out names. There just isn’t a standout strategist like Omar or Jesse this season.

I thought Carolyn was aware enough to know people don’t take her seriously. Didn’t she learn that from Yam Yam, Danny and Brandon? So why is she still surprised it’s happening again at the merge feast? Does she realize that’s what’s keeping her safe for now? Does she have any idea how to change how she’s being perceived? Gabler had a better handle on this than Carolyn does.

Frustrated Carolyn

Joshua is buying the Kane decoy vote plan? He’s very easily fooled. This one is making me consider adding Joshua to my “Worst Players” list.

It’s starting to feel like the boot will be a random “this person doesn’t have an Idol” boot, like Elizabeth in David vs Goliath or Lydia from Survivor 42.

If they’re going to Tribal at 8:45, it probably means we’re gonna see some Idols and/or a tie vote.

Carolyn is sitting in front again. It’ll be hard for others to read her facial reactions. It’s playing to her advantage, but I still don’t think she knows it. But Probst probably does.

Tribal Council

I’m surprised Danny didn’t do a somersault when he left the voting booth.

Bye Joshua. I can’t help but think Sarah would have played it better if she had been in your spot.


As I watch Joshua walking out, I find myself wondering if anybody ever trusted him. He had Danny, Heidi, Frannie and Matt B. plotting against him, and I don’t think he ever had Claire on his side either. Then on Tika, Sarah saw through him immediately, and was able to turn Yam Yam and Carolyn against him. Joshua only survived because Production handed him an Idol, and Carolyn never liked Sarah. I can’t even say Joshua saved himself.

This game still feels wide open. Now that Joshua is gone, I don’t see anyone as an obvious zero-vote goat. I don’t see a frontrunner either.

I think Kane did a decent job of deflecting the target from his back, but I also think Carson got himself in trouble by tipping him off. Carson created a reason for Brandon not to trust him.

This season has a high unpredictability factor. But in my eyes, that’s a good thing. A predictable season is a boring season.

What do you think? Who improved their position at this vote? Who weakened theirs? Does Joshua deserve a spot on a “Worst Players” list? Mine has 82 on it, and #82 is Sean Rector from Marquesas. My primary criteria are players who create obstacles and put them in their own path.

And I’d love to know your thoughts on Medevacs vs Quits vs Physically unable to continue.

Let me know in the comments.

damnbuenoDamnbueno got his nickname in 8th grade Spanish class when his friend shouted out "You're pretty damn good at Spanish." The teacher insisted he say it in Spanish, so the friend said "Esto es damn bueno en Espanol." The nickname stuck. These days, when he's not forgetting his 8th grade Spanish, Damnbueno is indulging his obsession with all things Survivor. Reach him in the comments section here at True Dork Times.