Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 46 recaps
To lead or not to lead
By Damnbueno | Published: March 21, 20234
Survivor 46 Episode 4 recap/ analysis

To lead or not to lead

When Bhanu went on the Journey with Ben and Liz, he spilled all the info he had about his Yanu tribe, part of his word vomiting included his opinion of Kenzie. Bhanu said “Kenzie’s a mastermind. Kenzie is running the show at our camp. Kenzie’s the one who is influencing Tiffany .... Yeah, she’s the brain. Whatever order she wanted, that’s happening.” In my book, Bhanu labeled Kenzie a “leader,” which traditionally isn’t a good label to be wearing.

In my “Survivor rule book,” a player is labeled a “leader” when one player tells at least one other player that a third player is calling the shots. This would include phrases like “He/she’s the head of the snake,” the “puppet master,” the “boss,” etc. I don’t count statements made by players in their confessionals, it has to be a more public outing so to speak. It doesn’t matter if it’s one tribe talking about someone on a different tribe, or one tribe member talking about someone on their own tribe. And a player can label themself as a “leader” too. In Survivor: The Australian Outback, Michael Skupin said, “Thank God for making me leader of this tribe,” and Alicia Calloway immediately quipped “Whoever said he was our leader?” This season, Q sees himself as “The Dude” of his tribe, but he hasn’t been shown saying it publicly yet (See? I told you I’d work in a Quincy Jones pun).

Under my parameters, only 6 players labeled as a “leader” has gone on to win the game – Tom Westman (Palau), Yul Kwon (Cook Islands), J.T. Thomas (Tocantins), Boston Rob (Redemption Island), Mike Holloway (Worlds Apart) and Ben Driebergen (Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers). Six winners in 45 seasons is not a good ratio, but I should clarify that I’m only considering those who were publicly identified as leaders. There are several who functioned as their tribe’s “leader,” but managed to avoid being labeled as such. This group would include winners Tina (The Australian Outback), Earl (Fiji), Todd (China), Kim (One World), Natalie Anderson (San Juan del Sur), Jeremy (Cambodia), and Tommy (Island of the Idols). I’m a little behind on my season rewatch duty, but I suspect Dee from Season 45 will be part of this group too.

In Survivor 44, Kane said “Yam Yam is our new leader” right after Brandon was voted out, but Yam Yam made him immediately retracted his statement. I think Kane was joking, so I don’t count that one.

So, what does this mean for Kenzie? While it doesn’t mean her game is over, without a doubt it got significantly more difficult. Since Ben and Liz shared Bhanu’s observations with their tribemates, it likely means all eyes will be on Kenzie in the event of a swap or a merge. She definitely has an adjustment to make, and her Survivor skills will be tested for the rest of the game. This isn’t an impossible task at all, but it usually takes some extreme circumstances. Tom won Immunity 5 times and got saved by his partner Ian once. J.T. did it in part because the opposing tribe was tearing itself apart, and he also had a very strategic partner in Stephen Fishbach. Yul didn’t get labeled a “puppet master” until the final 7 on day 30 when his 4-person alliance had taken control. Mike Holloway got thrown out of his own alliance after the merge and had to rely on an Idol and 5 Immunity wins to reach the finals. Ben and Boston Rob had several unofficial factors that helped them reach the end. If Kenzie survives that deep, she might also have to make a fire.

My personal opinion is that Kenzie is probably doomed to finish no higher than 8th. Most “leaders” finish around 10th place just like most Alpha Male style players. Kenzie has always appeared overconfident to me and doesn’t seem to know when to pull back. Since her cover has been blown, I don’t know that she’ll be able to make an adjustment strong enough to win the game.

On a different note, in a secret scene, we learned that Ben has avoided talking strategy with everyone, instead telling his tribemates (in separate conversations) “Let’s just see how things go.” That approach is getting Ben in trouble, and he doesn’t know it. In confessional, Jem said “I tried to have a strategy talk with Ben and Tim, but it leads to nothing. Ben is the only one who isn’t talking strategy. That drives me insane.” And Maria said “I have been wanting to talk strategy with Ben for a long time, but so far, I’m not getting anything back from him. I love Ben, and he’s somebody that I wouldn’t want to see go, but I don’t trust him 100% because he’s not fully engaging in strategy talk with me.” Ben could be making himself a default vote simply because his tribemates don’t know where he stands. Even Tim said, “When I ask Ben, (he says) his strategy is ‘Let’s just watch the vibe.’ That’s Ben.” Tim is the closest thing Ben has to a #1, so if Tim is also frustrated, that tells you Ben is doing something wrong.

And away we go ....

It’s weird not starting the episode at night with a tribe returning from Tribal Council.

Bhanu comes clean about spilling info to Liz and Ben but waits until Kenzie leaves. At least he was smart enough not to make that mistake. Then again, this might make Tiffany and Q want to cut Kenzie loose if they have to.

Bhanu talks to Q and Tiffany

Tiffany: “If I would have voted out Kenzie and then found out all this information, I would have jumped head-first into the ocean.” That sounds like she was gonna vote Kenzie out.

Bhanu to Q: “Did I say something wrong?” Q’s reaction is exactly why I say it’s often harder to play with unpredictable people than with knowledgeable superfans. Kim handled the nutjobs in One World very well. So did Aras in Panama - Exile Island. Sophie kept Coach in line in South Pacific, and Earl turned Fiji’s wild-card Dreamz into a valuable informant.

Q, face-palm

Bhanu: “I said it in good faith.” You can’t have a lot of good faith in Survivor. You have to play with bad faith, while making it look like you have good faith.

Q: “We had Kenzie gone!” Yeah, I think Q convinced Tiffany to boot Kenzie.

Well Kenzie, now that you know what Bhanu has said, this is the time to prove you’re very good at Survivor. Figure out a way to get the target off your back. A few who have preceded you (like I listed above) have done it. But I don’t see Kenzie going on an Immunity streak. She’s gonna have to excel at making someone else seem like a more important target.

Ok, I love this Soda food song, with music and everything. It’s better than the Shanthem from Survivor 41. This is easily the most musical season of Survivor ever. But the funniest part was when the black guy asked the white girl to play bass. Way to reverse the stereotype, Tevin!

But Hunter is not amused.

Grimacing Hunter

Is Moriah channeling Jeanine from Survivor 43? That bruise on her lip looks worse every time. Jeanine is probably the most bruised Survivor player ever.


Maria finds the decoy Beware Advantage and opens it. I thought she was smarter than that.

Wait, Jem didn’t plant a decoy under the note? What’s the point? This could backfire on her. She’d better not tell Bhanu about it. I guess Jem isn’t channeling Tony Vlachos. She’s not even channeling Danny from 44.

I feel bad for the person who had to put a camera inside that ant colony. They must have gotten tons of bites.

Siga digging up ants

That’s an interesting twist to have Yanu walk in second. Siga had to be tripping when they saw nobody had been voted out.

I remember this ring toss from Survivor 44. Carolyn screamed several times when she couldn’t do it, then took off her pants thinking that would make it easier.

Siga sits out Moriah in a Reward Challenge? Do they know she’ll have to compete in the Immunity Challenge?

Bhanu is yelling “1,2,3” while he’s paddling. He doesn’t seem to know the paddling should happen AFTER he says “3”. He’s paddling on “1,” and they’re not going straight.

Probst: “Tim takes a big dump.” Who does Tim think he is, Fabio?

Capsizing Tim

Siga managed to end up facing the wrong way, and Yanu is still veering to the right. But Siga played it smart. Instead of turning the boat around, they all stood up, turned themselves around, and paddled the boat in backwards. “That’s how you do it on Survivor!”

Maria struggling in a Reward Challenge might be good for her game. She’s probably the strongest female in the game, but this will lower her threat level.

Maria vs. ring

Q says he knows he’ll be targeted for being a strong athlete, yet he tosses all 4 rings for his tribe? At least he didn’t go first. But he did scream “I told y’all I’d make up” several times after they won.

Yanu and Nami win Reward, and Q and Hunter make themselves bigger targets. Hunter made that ring toss look easy.

Kenzie “We not only won, we demolished.” Did I say Kenzie has been overconfident? I think I did.


Tevin’s story about gutting fish with his dad was nice, but it felt like filler.

Liz is excited about getting the fish. But in pregame, she said she was allergic to fish. Hmmm ....

Liz eats fish

Shouldn’t the Yanu tribe be putting their tarp under the Palm fronds?

Yanu tarp

In Survivor: The Amazon, Rob Cesternino mentored Matt V throughout the game, specifically telling him when he should sandbag in challenges. In the end, Matt finally showed he learned something. He threw the final Immunity Challenge, knowing both Rob and Jenna would take him to the finals. Rob couldn’t beat Jenna and finished in 3rd. It’s a long shot, but wouldn’t it be funny if Bhanu is the reason Q gets booted?

Kenzie showing how annoyed she is with Bhanu is a bad social move. Bhanu could end up on the jury, and more importantly, he could tell other jurors how rudely she treated him. Will Kenzie make the same mistake with someone else? I think she would.

Moriah: “Jeff will never lie to you.” Which Survivor has Moriah been watching? Jeff lies to people all the time. “Yes, you’ve always been able to trade Reward items.” “If you win this challenge, you’ve earned your merge buffs.” Ask Danny McCray from 41 if Jeff lies to the players.

More Siga digging

Bhanu is pissed off at Kenzie. If Kenzie loses Bhanu’s possible jury vote, right here is where it happened.

I wonder if Kenzie’s apology will stick? Bhanu has been burned once. Will he let it happen again?

Venus doesn’t look amused while she’s stuck in the underwear washing room.

Unhappy Venus

Hunter is the smartest one on the Nami tribe. He just sits back and lets everyone else take aim at each other. He’s smart enough to say “yes” whenever someone pitches an idea, and he has done a great job of not getting on anybody’s nerves. His game is reminding me of Mike White’s game in Davids vs Goliaths.

Charlie becoming Moriah’s jumping coach is a smart move. She’ll remember that even if he has to vote her out.

Charlie coaches Moriah

Look at that? Soda finally got to hold the Immunity Idol ... and Jeff promptly takes it away from her.

Tevin is sitting out? That makes me think he wants to lose this challenge. Or maybe he wants to search the sit out bench?

Q’s face plant in the water was pretty good, but it doesn’t quite crack the top 5. Yeah, Bhanu’s was better.

Bhanu bellyflop

Probst: “You might as well jump!” Yep, this is the most musical season ever.

Soda is putting on the mask before she jumps in. I remember Skupin broke the mask diving head-first during Philippines, and he did it AFTER warning another player not to do it. I’m sure the Survivor legal team made sure this season’s players didn’t repeat that feat.

Tim should stay away from floating platforms.

Tim vs platform, rd. 2

No joke needed here.

Hunter, balls

Look at Hunter shooting underhand like Hall of Famer Rick Barry. We know Hunter isn’t throwing this one. Once again, Hunter is making this look easy.

Ok, what the hell is that thing on Ben’s chest? Is that a band-aid on steroids?

Bandaged Ben

Yanu loses again. Unless Tim broke his groin jumping on that platform, we’re gonna find out if Kenzie was really in trouble or not. They’re all saying Bhanu is doomed, but with 20 minutes left in the episode, I’m not completely sold.

Probst hands the Idol to Venus again, but this time she hands it to Soda.

Your situation hasn’t changed, Bhanu. Work on convincing Q to remove Kenzie! What are your other options?

I feel bad for Bhanu, but I can’t put him on my “Worst Players” list because he was never there to win it in the first place. And I also think he’s a lock to get the Sia money this season. The only question is how much is she gonna give him? She gave Carolyn $100K, and $15k each to Carson and Lauren after Survivor 44, and last season she gave $100k to Katurah.

Yanu at Tribal

This Tribal Council feels like it’s time to pile on Bhanu, and that sucks. But at least he gets to make his speech now.

It ironic that Bhanu says “There is always hope” when he lost hope so many times this season. Q was right. You have a passion for the game, but you don’t understand it.

Departing Bhanu

Bye, Bhanu.


There’s not much to recap about this episode. Bhanu’s departure seemed pretty certain. Would you consider Bhanu one of the worst players when he said he was there to win hearts? At least Jelinsky was sincerely trying to win. That makes Jelinsky a worse player to me. How about the other tribes? Who is most likely to leave first if Siga or Nami goes to Tribal Council? Has Soda’s aggressive social game already sealed her fate? Has Venus worked her way into the tribe by not trying to work her way into the tribe? Is there any upside to Jem planting the phony Beware Advantage? Was she on anybody’s radar in the first place? What does she get out of it besides a few chuckles? Who do you think is playing well so far? 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.