Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 46 recaps
What a bumpy but fun ride
By Damnbueno | Published: May 23, 2024
Survivor 46 Episode 13 recap/ analysis

What a bumpy but fun ride

There’s not much to say about this season’s finale episode. If Maria doesn’t win final 5 Immunity, she’s a goner. That seems pretty clear, especially since she took a shot at Charlie and missed (I’m till baffled as to why she didn’t advise Q to play his Idol. Why leave it to chance?) If Maria leaves, she’ll join the long list of “robbed Gods/Goddesses” who suffered defeat after playing the best game that season – a list that includes Rob Cesternino, Cirie Fields (3 times), Jane Bright, Malcolm Freberg (Philippines), Aubry Bracco, David Wright, and most recently Jesse Lopez.

So, if Maria gets voted out at final 5, or loses at final 4 fire, who is most likely to win? Charlie has shown the best insight in his confessionals, but the jurors don’t see his confessionals. There’s a lot of questions as to how much of Charlie’s game the other players have seen. Entering the finale, his game is less public than Aubry’s in Kaoh Rong. Charlie needs a Natalie Anderson “Did you vote for who I told you to, Jaclyn?” moment so his jurors know he’s been pulling some strings. Kenzie is probably next in line. She hasn’t angered anyone on the jury, but also hasn’t received credit for any significant game moves either. Then again, that was enough to get wins for Fabio, Natalie White, and Michele, so a Kenzie win wouldn’t be a shocker, especially since she played better than those three. Liz and Ben don’t appear to have an edge on anyone else left. They’d need the other finalists to have an Amanda Kimmel/Coach meltdown to get a win.

But this season has been all about mistakes, hasn’t it? From Bhanu’s crippling honesty, to Jem’s failure to hide a decoy Idol, to Moriah not revealing she was on the bottom of her tribe, to Tim not informing Maria of the “Journey 6 alliance,” to five players being blindsided while holding an Idol, it almost seems fitting this season’s winner is crowned more by a fluke than by intentional strategic game play. If that’s the case, Ben might have it wrapped up already.

That being said, I still hope Maria can pull it off. I’d love to see her shatter the “mother curse,” especially after Julie and Janet came close in recent seasons. I’d also love it if the female Immunity Queen is one of the oldest winners, especially since I pegged her as a physical threat way back in the first episoe. But she’s got a rough road in front of her. She needs either two Immunity wins, or one win and a quick fire just to get to the finals.

And let’s hope there are no more Producer twists.

And away we go ....

Maria launches straight into damage control, but if Charlie has a functioning brain, it won’t work. Maria’s “They made me do it” seems pretty weak.

Maria and Charlie

Charlie: “It’s (Maria’s excuse) completely fake.” But he’s right, everyone else knows Maria considers Charlie a big threat. That could be enough to send him to the Jury if Maria wins Immunity.

We’ve seen a lot of elements in this Immunity Challenge before, but I like the twist at the end with the combination lock. Having to go back and count holes and puzzle pieces is a bigger equalizer than any puzzle could be.

I remember how some women in season 43 got their hair stuck in that butthole net. Noelle and Jeanine never got out during the challenge. That’s probably why they cut the net in half this time around.

F5 IC net obstacle

Charlie smacks himself in the face with the bucket. He’s got no shot of winning the game now.

Charlie, bucket

Wow, Maria is flying through this challenge like she didn’t get to read letters from her children.

Did Liz forget her key?


Liz will return

Probst: “Charlie gaining momentum now.” It looks to me like Charlie doesn’t have a clue.

Wait, Liz is allowed to help Kenzie? As Rob Cesternino would say “SINCE WHEN????”

Count the holes in your plank

Liz grabs Kenzie’s plank. Why are players allowed to touch each other’s equipment? What’s to stop one player from throwing another player’s plank into the mud pit?

Kenzie wins Immunity with a HUGE assist from Liz. Maria is probably gone, and Liz probably just guaranteed she won’t win. Dumb luck smiles on Kenzie too. She won Immunity without finishing the challenge. Liz did half the work for her.

Liz hugs Kenzie

Liz is allergic to pasta and can’t share the Reward food. More dumb luck falls Kenzie’s way. She doesn’t have to make a tough choice.

There’s a bad taste in my mouth about this win. Liz was allowed to help Kenzie win Immunity, but I recall Probst wouldn’t allow Sophie and Albert to team up to beat Ozzy in South Pacific (“Albert, drop your stack!”). Maria should protest like Big Tom and Lex did in Africa after they were unjustly robbed of a win. I see nothing wrong with Liz telling Kenzie what to do, but Kenzie should have had to do all the running and counting. And all Probst did was call it “an unpredictable moment?” I’ll call it what it really is “Bullshit.”

It also sucks that they don’t get to wash the mud off before eating. Seriously, the water is 50 feet away.

Muddy Kenzie and Ben, eating

I’m not sure how this affects Charlie though. He benefits from Maria leaving, but he’s not gonna get credit for taking her out. Did Liz just drive passenger Kenzie over Charlie like a speed bump?

Ben in confessional “Unless Maria finds an Idol ....” I forgot about another Idol. They totally should have put another one in and hidden it in Maria’s bag. Oh wait, that only happens for players named Ben.

Maria pitching Kenzie on booting Ben is a bad call because he’s got the weakest case for winning. She should be pitching Charlie as the boot. Or as Kenzie said in confessional “Maria pitching Ben is foolish.”

Maria and Kenzie

Is Liz seriously considering voting for Ben? That would be as bad as Hannah voting out Sunday in Millennials vs Gen X. If you’re actually concerned about Ben, get rid of him at 4. He hasn’t come close to winning Immunity, and sucks at making fire.

Charlie in confessional “Maria has a lot of enemies in this game.” Like who? The only one I see who could be angry at Maria is Venus. That’s a bad read on Charlie’s part. If his read on all the jurors is as bad as this one, he’s in for a rude awakening at Final Tribal Council if he gets there.

Tiffany sure looks happy that Kenzie won Immunity. Yeah, if Kenzie gets to the end, she’s got Tiffany’s vote for sure.

The jurors don’t look like they approve of Liz helping Kenzie win Immunity. I wonder if they respect Kenzie a little less because she needed help?

Underwhelmed Hunter, Tiff, Venus

Kenzie to Maria “You could kick my ass. You would beat all of us. You’re amazing.” Kenzie will regret saying that if Ben leaves.

Liz: “I looked like a jerk.” Way to tell the Jury why you’re not a deserving winner.

Every gracious word Maria says at this Tribal Council would make her a deserving winner if she got to say it at the end.

Maria joins the robbed goddess list. She never should have advised Q to hold on to his Idol. Yeah, there’s no way to know what would happen if she had won Immunity at final 5, but letting two players team up against her was just plain wrong.

Maria snuffed at F5

Now the Jury knows Charlie had nothing to do with removing Maria. This is Kenzie’s game to lose now.

Ben has another panic attack. And now we’re getting flashbacks of all of them. Last week, I speculated that Ben might leave because of these attacks. Is it actually gonna happen? It would suck, but that would mean we lose the fire challenge, which would be good.

And now we’re seeing Ben actually making a fire. Hmm ....

Since Charlie didn’t take Maria out, it’s now inevitable. We’re gonna have an underwhelming winner. If Dee’s win wasn’t so dominant, I’d say the new era inhibits and discourages good game play.

Who’d have figured Ben would pull out the win? I say he should take Liz to the end and force Kenzie and Charlie to make fire. Whoever wins between those two probably wins the game. But I think Ben will make an emotional decision and take Kenzie to the end and watch her win. That would explain why we saw so much of Kenzie helping Ben through his night terrors.

Ben did it!

The contrast of Ben celebrating his win followed by his realization of the tough decision ahead was pretty powerful. I felt Ben’s angst.

Ben wants to put Liz into the fire challenge? If that happens, this season will definitely have a dumb luck winner.

Liz and Ben

If all Liz wanted to do was make it to the end, she should start practicing at fire instead of sitting and crying.

Charlie: “I don’t think I need fire making on my résumé.” Yeah, you do now, Charlie.

I actually don’t care who wins this challenge, and the over-the-top music is making it feel like forced drama. I just wish this challenge would go away. How much more interesting would it be if they had to vote?

Liz: “(I was saying) ‘Liz, you’re the biggest threat.’” I couldn’t keep up with the eyerolls from the jurors. Nobody is buying that, least of all Venus.

Unimpressed jury

Ben throws Liz and Kenzie into the fire challenge, and Charlie gets the dumb luck of a free finals seat. Being taken to the end by Ben’s mistake might have just sealed Charlie’s loss. But at least he’s got Maria’s vote. And if she did any lobbying for Charlie, he might get Q’s vote too. Then again, at least 4 jurors are rooting for Kenzie.

I’ve never wanted Ponderosa videos more than at this very moment.

Kenzie wins at fire, and I think she just won the game too. She’s already got Tiffany’s vote.

Kenzie wins at fire

Kenzie: “I’ve been at the bottom since Yanu and earning it the whole way.” Kenzie is already making her Jury speech.

So, entering Final Tribal Council, Ben “did nothing” and threw the person least likely to win (except of course for himself) in the fire challenge. Charlie appears to have “done nothing,” but has at least one vote going in. And Kenzie just had that late-game big moment that helped Erika, Maryanne and Gabler win. I’m underwhelmed. This one is predictable.

This season reminds me of the most recent baseball season’s World Series between Texas and Arizona. All of the strongest teams ended up going out before the end. I didn’t care who won, and I only watched about 3 innings of the entire series.

Final Tribal Council

The final three

I think anything Charlie tells the Jury will be met with “No, Maria did that” reactions.

Earlier in the game in a deleted scene, Q said Ben was playing like Tony. Q was wrong of course, but that doesn’t mean he won’t vote for Ben if he still thinks that way.

I’m not crazy about the shot of the jurors posing, especially since I know none of them cared for Venus at all. This is not a united group at all, and Liz didn’t even make it to the photo shoot.

Jury glamor shot

I don’t buy Tiffany’s statement at all. Her vote for Kenzie will 100% be based on friendship.

Charlie in confessional “My biggest hurdle is ‘What the heck does the Jury think of me?’” A bad read kills your game.

Stephen Fishbach’s prediction of a 4-4 tie between Charlie and Kenzie seems very possible. Then we get to see Ben agonizing again, this time over his million-dollar vote.

Ok, Dee looks pretty damn good in that commercial for the movie “A Quiet Place,” but I probably won’t see the movie.

Tiffany, “We’re not looking for Taylor Swift lyrics or rock & roll references.” THANK YOU!!! Something tells me the other players were getting annoyed with that stuff.

Tiffany addresses the finalists

Charlie takes credit for the Hunter vote, and Hunter shoots it down by crediting Kenzie. Bad read, Charlie.

Charlie credits Q for inviting him into the 6, but Maria shoots it down by saying she invited him first. I knew Charlie would get corrected, but I didn’t think Maria would do it. Charlie is getting hammered here. The jurors are laughing at him, not with him.

Liz: “Q, I’d like Kenzie to answer the question.” I knew nobody would listen to Q. Liz spoke for the entire audience here. And apparently Tevin too.

Amused Tevin

I like Venus’ “What mistake did you make, and how did you recover from it?” question. It forces the finalists to show humility. That’s hard to fake.

As Kenzie is answering the same question, Charlie looks like he knows he’s getting buried. He’s letting them see him sweat.

Worried Charlie

Ben: “Nobody asked me what my opinion was.” Ben is hammering himself now. But explaining how he slipped through the cracks after getting everyone else’s opinion was a good recovery.

Charlie strokes Tevin’s ego by saying “Tevin was the power player.”

Charlie: “I would have taken Liz (to the finals if I had Immunity) because I could beat her.” That’s the wrong thing to say to get Liz’s vote.

Tiffany stuck pretty close to her 30-second time limit to answer Soda’s question. I was counting. Kenzie got 28 seconds, Charlie got 26, and Ben got 28.

Charlie had a pretty bad Final Tribal Council. Even Ben outperformed him, even though he made little eye contact with the jurors. Kenzie easily performed the best.

Soda: “It might even end up being a tie.” Stephen Fishbach is happy she said that.

Soda: It could be a tie

Kenzie pulls it out with a 5-3 win.


Yeah, Kenzie is an underwhelming winner. And I’m writing this line before the jurors go up to vote. Charlie really fumbled it away at the end.

Ok, now I’ve seen the votes. It was closer than I thought it would be, but my gut is telling me Charlie choked away any shot he had with bad Jury answers and being too stealthy all season long. I also think he presented himself as indecisive by saying things like “Let me talk to Maria” instead of giving a firm, reassuring “Yes” when he was pitched on an idea. In trying to keep all his options open, Charlie appeared to have never chosen ANY option. The turning point could have been when both Hunter and Maria corrected Charlie when he gave his take on game events.

Charlie stroked Tevin’s ego but didn’t get his vote. Charlie insulted Liz but did get her vote. That’s bizarre to me.

Wow, Maria voted for Kenzie. How did Charlie blow that one?

Charlie looks crushed. I agree with Jeff Pitman when he says it’s unfair to make the losers sit and talk about their loss as winner celebrates. Then Probst made it worse by asking what he thought about Maria voting for Kenzie. But since nobody is eating during the questioning, it looks like they had more time to eat than previous finalists.

Crushed Charlie, aftershow

I wonder if Probst is gonna tell them Jem also left with an Idol? Nope. He’d rather talk about rice negotiations. 5 for 5 is worth mentioning Probst. Maybe it was edited out for time, but it should have been mentioned.

Congrats to Kenzie. She played a good, if not great game. She didn’t really influence the voting much, but except for Dee that doesn’t seem to mean much in the 26-day “new era.” Dee was the exception instead of the rule. That’s not intended to insult Kenzie at all. If anything, she should be commended for playing the game that was in front of her the best this season. Maria probably played the better overall game, but she was far from mistake-free. I’m still wondering why she prioritized voting out Jem, and why she didn’t tell Q to play his Idol. That bad read ended up being fatal for Maria.

My gut says Kenzie’s win ranks right around the middle of all winners, probably better than Maryanne’s because Kenzie was in the know a lot more, but not as good as Erika’s because Erika actually influenced the voting to keep herself safe. As usual, I won’t decide until I do a full season rewatch with the benefit of hindsight.

Here’s a couple of statistical notes. Kenzie becomes the 7th person to win Survivor with two Individual Immunity Challenge wins, joining Vecepia, Danni, Tyson, Michele, Wendell, and Erika. Kenzie entered the merge with a tribe in the minority, making her the 16th to do so. There’s some grey area because of tribe swaps and new era mergeatory, but the point is, you don’t have to have the numbers at the merge to win the game. The split is close enough to 50/50 for me. And since the addition of the final 4 fire challenge (11 total now), Chris Underwood and Dee are the only ones to win Final 4 Immunity and go on to win the game after choosing the fire participants.

At the start of the season, I speculated this could be my dream season, with each tribe having 2 super jocks, 2 strong strategists, and 2 wild card/there for the adventure types. It didn’t work out that way, but I realized for my dream season to happen, the players would have to know their categories at the start. A non-themed season prevents that.

I also found it interesting that a whopping FIVE jurors said they changed their minds based on how the finalists answered their questions. I’ve been a firm believer that jurors have their minds made up before Final Tribal Council begins, but it clearly didn’t happen this season. Unfortunately for Charlie, this means Kenzie talked herself into the two votes that put her over the top, and he never had Maria at all. Tevin didn’t raise his hand, but it looked like he was on the fence for a while too. I think if Charlie had given better answers, he’d have won the game.

Five jurors who changed votes

Well, it’s now 1:40 AM, and my mind is about as foggy as Ben’s at Tribal Council. I enjoyed this season a lot despite the consistently sloppy game play. The players’ personalities made up for the lack of strong strategy. I’ll be back next season for more Screaming at the Screen. I hope you’ve enjoyed my rants. I’ve got a lot of catch-up to do on my season rewatches, but I’m hoping to write an off-season column or two before season forty-several begins. Let me know your thoughts on this season’s results. Did Kenzie take the win from Charlie? Did Charlie give it away? Was Charlie’s fate sealed when Ben threw Liz in the fire challenge? Let’s discuss. I can talk Survivor all day.

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.