Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 44 recaps
Post-mergatory movement
By Brent Sullivan | Published: April 17, 2023
Survivor 44 Episode 7 Recap/ analysis

Post-mergatory movement

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.

Hopefully, everyone had a great Easter weekend last week. I was away from my computer, so unfortunately there was no “Top Five Baby” last week. But this week I am back and ready to discuss all the events that took place.

Merge time is always one of the best (if not the best part) of the season. Getting all the players together for the first time to vote together is great. Oh wait, they still haven’t all voted together yet. I’m normally on board to give new twists and advantages a fair shake in Survivor, but there is absolutely something wrong with having eleven players still remain in the game, but only having four of them eligible to receive votes at tribal council. Plus, to top it off, six of those couldn’t vote or even discuss the vote with the other five. Sure, it’s somewhat entertaining, but it also plays out poorly for certain players (like Matt) and with all of the idols in the game, there could also be troubles with those two overlapping in a future season. Imagine if all four people who could be voted for also had hidden immunity idols.

Ok, enough of my soapbox speech about this, I’m sure that I’m not alone in this way of thinking. One more comment on the episode though. How much fun was that key-finding scene? We need more scenes where people are racing around the jungle looking for random things all at the same time. It makes for good TV, maybe some drama, and it’s better than watching them eat. Anyway, let’s move right along to this week’s “Top Five Baby!”

1. Last week on ...

Last week on ...

Just wanted to recap what happened last week first since I didn’t get to write about it last week. Honestly, there was so much focus on Tika players in the last two episodes, I probably picked a great week to not write anything. The week before, it really looked like Josh was going to go home, but then he didn’t because there was no tribal council. So, then he ends up going home immediately on the first vote after the merge. All the talk about his real/fake idol ended up being nothing and he goes home anyway.

The few things that came out of here though are first, Kane. Kane somehow became a target and even received a vote during tribal. He was able to navigate his way out of it, but it’s always tough to have your name come up once. I feel like it makes it easier to bring up again. The second big thing to happen is Carson and Jaime’s idols are no longer valid. Carson owned up to it in his tribe and showed it to them. We didn’t see Jaime do this, but we also know that she thinks she has a real one besides that one, so I can see her trying to leverage that later in the game at some point. Let’s see how many of the things that came up in this episode will make a return later.

2. Yam Yam charms

Yam Yam charms

This was definitely a Yam Yam heavy episode. Lots of confessionals with him, shots of him making the whole tribe laugh, and even Jeff likes to call on him during tribal councils because of his humor and passion. All these traits also make him a great person to have around camp ... and a terrible person to bring to the end of the game with you. Somehow, his name comes up as a potential vote-off every week and somehow, he makes it through. Heidi even found an advantage on the old Soka beach when they were split up that she tried to use to get him voted off. In the end, though, the original Ratu members stuck together and voted off Matt, but more on that here in a few.

I think it’s easy to say that Yam Yam is not only one of the biggest characters of the season, but he seems to be charming his way through the game as well. It’s been a little rocky, but he seems to have a great relationship with Carolyn. He also has an alliance with Carson from their time on Tika together. On top of that, everyone who gives a confessional, talks about how much they love having him around. I have a feeling that his target will get smaller and smaller, and he will find himself going deep into this game.

3. Carson in the middle

Carson in the middle

Through all the names that have bounced around over the last two tribal councils, Carson always ends up in the middle of those conversations. He has ties to the original Tika and then later on, he used his time on Ratu to his advantage. The two names that were on the chopping block before the split were Lauren and Danny. One from Ratu and one from Soka. Since those two tribes came into the merge with the most numbers, they are already starting to go for one another. That was a big reason Matt went home instead of Yam Yam at tribal council, that was Ratu’s shot to take out a Soka member with little to no objections. My only question there was Jaime seemed 100% on board with it even though she loved being on Soka as well. I think it was just Matt’s bad luck that he was the one stuck in that group since the two of them didn’t communicate much out there.

So, with all that being said, Carson was clearly in the middle with the advantage of hearing from both sides and getting to hear all the reasons why. Carson was then able to take that information back to his “Three Stooges” alliance and inform them of what was going on. That puts Carson and the other two in a good spot here for a bit. As the Soka and Ratu members go at it trying to take each other out, they can sit back and choose sides for a bit until they have to make some important decisions about their long games.

4. Danny's idol

Danny's idol

One of the things that makes the merge so much fun is to see what information gets leaked out to other players. Either by accident or on purpose, it seems like there is always a secret that gets uncovered. In this case, Danny’s idol was found out when Matt was talking to Brandon about his idol (and the fake one that came with it). He put the pieces together in his mind and realized that Danny led him straight to it and even told him where to put his hand to find it. The icing on the cake though was the fact that the bag he found in the birdcage only had one idol in it, but Brandon’s had two.

So, now the question is, how many people know about Danny’s idol? Danny’s name did come up as a potential blindside vote, but after the split and Matt getting voted out, how many of those remaining know about it? Personally, I think Danny has been playing a fun game, but just a little sloppy, so I’m curious to see when all these little mistakes come back to haunt him.

5. Post-merge advantage update

Advantage update

Ok, so a lot has gone down over the last few episodes, and now that everyone is together, two more idols are now invalid, a fake one left the game, and Heidi found, but then played the “Control The Vote” advantage…where do we stand now? Honestly with all the talk of too many idols and advantages in the game, I believe we only have four remaining at the moment. First of all, we only have two valid idols left. The one that Danny has and the other one belongs to Carolyn. Obviously, we just discussed Danny’s and if the word is out about his, he may have to use it or be voted out with it soon. But nobody still knows about Carolyn’s idol, at least no one that we know of. So, that can be huge for her down the road if her name ever starts coming up as a target.

Besides that, Lauren still has her extra vote (which everyone obviously knows about). At this point, she is probably better off to try and use it sooner rather than later to help her Ratu group take out a Soka, if not she is going to make herself a target for still having it in her possession.

Finally, the only other thing that is left in the game is fake idols and the only one that can still make any sort of an impact is the one that Jaime has. The other fake or invalid idols are public knowledge, whereas hers is not, so I can see her still trying to use that as some sort of leverage when she needs to. Honestly, on a side note, I think her having that extra idol is making her play the game better. She was awful paranoid during that first vote and played her shot-in-the-dark, but since she found the fake idol, she hasn’t seemed as paranoid to me. Either way, it will be fun to see these used correctly or incorrectly.

So, there you have it for the seventh episode. A good post-merge episode but could have been better. It’s just rough to have that many immune people at once. What are your thoughts on the tribe splitting up for the challenge and voting? Will Yam Yam keep surviving the vote? Will Ratu and Soka go after each other leaving Tika to thrive? How much fun was that key search? 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