Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 46 recaps
To overplay, or underplay? That is the question
By Damnbueno | Published: April 4, 2024
Survivor 46 Episode 6 recap/ analysis

To overplay, or underplay? That is the question

As I sit at my trusty laptop a couple of hours before this week’s episode comes on, I find myself with an unsettling feeling. I’m not exactly looking forward to this merge episode. The immediate cause is obvious. I haven’t cared for the “earn the merge” shenanigans of the new era. I prefer seeing everyone but the Immunity Challenge winner scrambling and positioning to get the numbers. The pressure is always high for those playing the middle to get themselves into the majority. Just a couple of seasons ago, we saw Romeo’s game effectively come to an end because he was left out of the majority at the merge. Even though he got to the finals, his chances of winning were never good. That same season, we also saw Omar managing to control the votes and stay in the middle when he flipped the target from Maryanne to Lydia even though he didn’t have a vote himself. It was a great move by that season’s best player.

That was only four seasons ago, but it feels like a lifetime because it’s no longer interesting to watch a Tribal Council in which half the players have Immunity. This season, we’ve got five Nami members who haven’t been to Tribal Council, so their loyalties haven’t been tested at all. On Siga, we’ve got a freshly alienated Moriah who was left out of the plan at her first Tribal Council. And we know from last week’s teaser that Venus is primed and ready to secure a new alliance.

So how much would it suck if the three Yanu members, Moriah and Venus were the only ones who were vulnerable? I know that’s only five of the 13 but you get where I’m going. The beauty of a merge is seeing how the players react when they know they don’t have any protection. Do you scramble to save yourself, or keep a cool exterior, and put faith into your alliance? The thought of seeing six or seven players with Immunity just doesn’t appeal to me. But I consider myself a Survivor optimist. I’m really hoping to be surprised at the thought of seeing something new.

But speaking of last week’s teaser, we did get one answer, sort of. We saw a shot of the Yanu and Siga tribes in boats heading to a new camp. I’m presuming they’re going to Nami beach. This means Hunter won’t be switching camps and will get “additional information” about where to find his Idol. But of course, now he’ll have to avoid 8 more pairs of eyes watching him to secure that Idol. If he has to jump through as many hoops as Tiffany and Jem did to get their Idols, Hunter could be in trouble. He might have to win the first Immunity Challenge because he’s already made himself the biggest physical threat.

And I had one last note from my rewatch of last week’s episode. I gave Charlie credit for the Jem boot. I figured he did a good job convincing Maria to change her target from Ben to Jem. But the credit belongs to Ben. In a subtle way, Ben was the one to point out to Charlie, Maria and Tim that Jem’s sudden aggressive play was cause for concern. I think it was Ben’s earworm that got into Maria’s head. The combination of Ben selecting a more attractive target, and Charlie’s suggestion to use Ben as a shield is probably what swayed Maria. But of course, Charlie wouldn’t try to protect Ben if Ben hadn’t earned so much trust from Charlie in the first place, right? Ben had Charlie fighting for him, but Jem didn’t have anybody fighting for her. Ben deserves credit for that. Also, Ben kept his mouth shut about losing his vote. Most of the tribe believed he had a vote and planned accordingly. If they’d known Ben was a sitting duck who couldn’t play his Shot in the Dark, things might have turned out differently. As you know, I appreciate subtle manipulation. Ben’s was so subtle, I didn’t notice it on the first watch. Good job, Ben.

And away we go ....

Moriah, if you’re smart, you won’t overreact, but you won’t pretend you’re not affected at all. Walk that tightrope, girl.

Moriah, post-Tribal

Moriah comes clean about her vote for Ben, which was probably smart. But she should know she’s gonna need a new alliance sooner than later. If they leave you out of the loop once, they’ll have the confidence to do it again.

Tim to Moriah: “Nobody wrote your name down.” While that’s true, nobody told you to vote for Jem either. But Moriah appears to be buying what Tim is selling. If she is, good job, Tim. You’ve set Moriah up to be shocked at Tribal Council again.

Kenzie “It took Yanu a long time to get it together, but once we got it, we got it.” Well, you “got it” when you won a Reward Challenge, then you lost it the next day.


Tiffany is happy to make it to the merge with Kenzie and Q, but would she use her Idol to save either one of them? I bet she won’t.

Tim: “In my opinion, Moriah is still on the bottom. If we have to eat our own, it would be Moriah.” See what I told you, Moriah?

Moriah: “If I don’t have four friends here, I’ve got four enemies, and that’s not gonna get me far.” But you’ve got a chance to make eight new friends. You don’t have to sell out anyone on Siga, but you should make it clear you’re willing to listen to other plans.


Ahh, so Hunter has a chance at getting his Idol key before the other tribes arrive. Funny, I don’t remember Hunter’s note saying “Wait until you have to drop your buffs” to get Idol info. Then again, every Idol note was partially obscured when I tried to freeze frame it.

Hunter’s Idol key task was a lot easier than Tiffany’s and Jem’s. Did they make it easier because he didn’t get it until the merge?

Venus is getting in Soda’s face about not talking to her. That’s bad game play on both of them. Soda shouldn’t shut Venus out, and Venus is being too confrontational. Venus is letting her anger drive her.

Venus and Soda

Hunter: “If those boats show up, the time to find the Idol is done.” Why? Sure there will be more people around, but what’s stopping you from searching the steps in the middle of the night? Its not like you’re going to Tribal Council in a few hours.

Hunter gets his Idol, then he confirms he still can’t vote at the next Tribal Council. I still want to know if he didn’t find the Idol, would he have lost two votes? He didn’t have a vote to lose when he went on that Journey. He wasn’t risking anything when he chose to do the puzzle.

Didn’t Michael Jackson sing this at the end of “Wanna Be Startin’ Something?”


I like the first merge moments. We often see who is really aggressive, and who is laying back, observing, and taking notes. Tevin went straight to Charlie before anyone else was out of the boat. Kenzie went straight to Soda (or was that the other way around)? It looked like Hunter was laying back. And surprisingly, so was Ben.

It’s also interesting to see who sits next to whom. Who puts themselves in the middle, and who sits on the fringe? I’m sure Production interferes a little bit so they can get the best shots. They don’t want anybody’s back to the camera if they can avoid it. Just the same, it’s intriguing to me.

Three tribes, one shelter

Kenzie: “I know what it’s like to see Jeff snuff a torch.” How exactly does that give you an Advantage again? Did I mention Kenzie is an overconfident player?

Tim: “We’re in Survivor limbo.” It’s called "mergeatory," Tim. Try to keep up.

Venus is playing this merge like Shii-Ann in Thailand. She was so eager to defect, she spilled all kinds of info as soon as she saw a new face. Then she fell victim to the first-ever fake merge and got herself voted out. Venus is a big enough fan she should know better. But I suppose if she binged watched a bunch of seasons without absorbing the info, that’s something she could easily have missed.

Venus and Kenzie

The funny thing about thick southern accents like Q’s is they can add syllables to any word. Q made “Tim” a 2-syllable word, like “Tee-yum.” That cracks me up.

Wait, Tim didn’t say anything to Maria about Q’s planned 6-person alliance? How do you let this get to a merge without bringing it up? Rob C. speculated that Maria may have decided to vote for Jem because she was interested in this new alliance. That clearly didn’t happen. Tim, when someone pitches an alliance, you say “yes.” Failure to do so only brings suspicion on yourself. Q knows you didn’t get anything on the Journey, so he can be reasonably sure you’ll be vulnerable. Maria has already blown your cover. You should have thought of that, and filled her in. If it backfires, it will backfire on you, not on Maria. It could also turn Maria against you.

Tim may have seen the Tocantins season, but if he did, he wasn’t paying attention to that season’s merge episode. Stephen and Taj had pitched a four-person “Exile alliance” to Brendan, who was supposed to bring Sierra in on the plan. He didn’t say anything to Sierra. So when Stephen and Taj found out, they lost faith in the secret alliance and helped boot Brendan first at the merge.

Q: “I’m so confused as to why Tim didn’t say anything to Maria. Its got me worried now.” Tim just created a reason for people to vote him out.

Worried Q

Venus is playing too hard with Siga, who just booted Jem for doing the same thing.

And now, Tim is failing to say “yes” to Venus as she’s making her pitch. Tim seems to like creating reasons not to trust him.

Moriah, Tim, Venus

Moriah: “Venus is clearly a strong social player. She’s aggressive and crafty.” Venus, read the previous sentence. You’re not earning much trust either.

Tim: “I’m in a better position than I thought I’d be.” Didn’t Jem just say that last week?

There are some who call me ... Tim?

Maria tells Tim “yes” as soon as she finds out the official pitch for the six-person alliance. Good job. Now Tim feels at ease, and you have the power to surprise him if you want to. Saying "no," or not giving a response is an invitation for Tim to make plans that don’t include you. (I know, I’m a broken record on this point).

Now Q is sitting back and observing the conversations like Hunter and Ben were doing earlier.

I loved the conversation between Q and Moriah. You could feel the lack of trust and posturing going on, which was confirmed in their confessionals.

Moriah tells Q that her favorite player is Aubry, and that makes Q suspicious. I wonder what the better lie could have been? If she names a wild card player like Abi-Maria, nobody would believe her. Maybe she should have chosen someone who doesn’t have an intimidating reputation like Courtney Yates, or someone respected, but not intimidating like maybe Evvie from Survivor 41. Picking the player most fans think should have won her season was probably unwise.

Ok, now we find out if there’s any “earn the merge” bullshit.

Probst: “For at least 6 of you, that’s gonna change.” Dammit!!!!!

Hmm ... this challenge will require tall players, and all the tall players are on the left. I wonder if this rock draw could be rigged? Probst could put the same colored rocks on the top so the tall alpha males will end up on the same team, especially since Hunter will be taking the first rock.

Tall people, challenge

Wow, Probst looked like he was having a tough time reading the cue cards during that promo for the Master’s Golf Tournament.

Hey, look at that, all the tall players except Charlie ended up on the same team! What are the odds?

Probst: “A completely random draw.” Uh-huh, ok. If you say so.

I’ll call it now. Venus is a goner. Tiffany won’t have to worry about playing her Idol for Kenzie or Q.

At least the women didn’t have to try to twist their way through a butthole net from past seasons. A lot of them got their hair so tangled, they couldn’t get through it. Look at Venus directing everyone on that puzzle. If she survives this vote, she’s an individual Immunity threat for sure.

Venus, puzzle director

I bet Hunter has one of these puzzles in his back yard. Actual size too. No, check that. I bet he’s got 3 of them, and ran an Immunity Challenge for his students.

Did Hunter just say “I did this at my house?”

Hunter, puzzle doer

My thoughts exactly, Tevin.

He's a puzzle whiz

Moriah: “I need people to think Moriah ain’t a risk.” Too late. Q is already having that exact thought.

Hunter knows he’s safe, so there’s no risk in admitting he can’t vote. But I wonder if Tevin would use his Extra Vote if he feels the outcome is in doubt?

Tim and Ben are in a tough spot. Yanu and Nami are pitching ideas, and they’re both hesitating. That’s a good way to lose potential allies later on. Again, saying “yes” even if you don’t mean it is probably the smartest move. But being pressured to suggest a name is almost a no-win situation. Since they were willing to leave Moriah out of the last vote, she’s the logical sacrificial lamb. Ben has an incentive to save Charlie, and Tim has incentive to save Maria. There’s nobody left on Siga to nominate.

Semi-merge feast

Tiffany in confessional: “Because they (Siga) were so willing to vote Venus, and more reluctant to say Moriah, it made me want to vote Moriah.”

Charlie: “If Moriah has to go for me to stay, that’s what has to happen.” That’s the right game attitude to have, but he has to sell it well to his Siga tribemates to keep their trust.

Q thinks Venus should be grateful to him? Does he know this is an individual game? Why on earth should she feel obligated to him? Does he think he’s running the game? If he does, that attitude will backfire on Q. The moment Venus sends a “Thank you for saving me, Q” message is the same moment Venus loses enough respect to win the game herself. Bad move, Q. Even Kenzie and Tevin can see that.

Q, Tevin, Kenzie

I wonder how Tevin’s Extra Vote is gonna play into this vote? I don’t want to do the math while the show is on, but shouldn’t he be able to swing it with a vote most players aren’t anticipating?

This is an awesome Tribal Council. I’m loving the scrambling. Venus and Moriah are bringing everything they’ve got.

Moriah: “The last vote was not unanimous. I’m on the bottom.” My take is that Q might have pushed harder to remove Venus if he’d known that earlier.

I loved how Hunter and Q called Moriah out for lying to them earlier. Hunter: “Perception is reality, and you have to help us with our perceptions.” Q: “If you were on the bottom, why not express that?” This Tribal Council feels more like a Final Tribal Council than a merge vote.

If the three Yanu members start whispering, I think this vote will flip back to Venus. This almost makes up for having seven people with Immunity.

Not-merge tribe, Tribal


Ok, not at all.

Here come the votes. Did Venus overplay her way out, or did Moriah underplay her way out?

Moriah played her Shot in the Dark? Did she just vote herself out by not voting? Again, I don’t want to do the math while the show is on.

Everyone piled on Moriah except Charlie, which means she shot herself in the foot when she lied to Q about the Jem vote being unanimous. She gave Q enough time to conceive and pitch the plan. The votes were locked in before Tribal council began, so her revelation was too little too late.

Charlie votes Venus


Moriah leaving first at the merge maintains a “New Era” tradition. In five of the six seasons, a perceived non-threatening female got voted out first at the first multi-tribe vote (formerly known as the merge vote). In order Sydney, Lydia, Elie, Josh, J. Maya, and Moriah fell victim to the “half the tribe is safe” twist that has played itself out. That being said, Moriah did have multiple chances to save herself. She seemed fine with being close with Maria, Jem and Charlie. Had she gotten closer to Ben and/or Tim, maybe one or both of them would have done more to protect her. Moriah also put too much trust into the people who left her out of the first vote. As Q hinted, if Moriah had been more clear about being on the bottom, she probably looks like a less attractive target than the aggressive Venus. Venus was VERY clear about identifying herself as a defector, and that’s probably what saved her.

Just the same, I also think Venus set herself up to leave in one of the next two votes. Her move is to try and put the target on one of the physical threats. Hunter seems like her most likely target. But will her aggressiveness at this vote mean people will be reluctant to stick with her next time? I think so.

I see why Charlie voted for Venus. He found out she threw out his name. But I think that’s an emotional decision that should have been suppressed. Since Moriah didn’t cast a vote, now the majority will know somebody wasn’t willing to go with the group. What will Maria think if she finds out Charlie went rogue? She’ll think he could do it again and write her name down. Bad move, Charlie. You shouldn’t have voted for Venus unless you were sure every Siga was doing the same thing.

It seems like Siga is for the most part, following Ben’s unofficial lead. Nobody wants to commit to a plan in its early stages except Maria, and their group hesitation is hurting all of their chances. All the Nami members except Venus will probably go after another Siga. But like the Tika 3 two seasons ago, the Yanu 3 can swing the next couple of votes. The only problem there is all of these players had a chance to watch Carson, Carolyn and Yam Yam make deep runs. They should be hip to that move, and want to make sure it isn’t repeated.

What do you think? Should Moriah have come clean earlier, and if so, how should she have done it? Has Venus turned herself into the next Shii-Ann? Will she call Hunter “Captain America” like Shii-Ann did with Colby in All-Stars? If you’re on Nami, how do you handle Venus? Do you cut her loose, or keep her around to whittle down Siga’s numbers? How about if you’re on Yanu? How do you plot out a path to the end since the obvious Tika flip-flop path should be well known now? And if you’re on Siga, and your united front has been exposed, what’s your next move? Are you forced to recruit Yanu to get rid of a Nami? Has your chances to get Venus on your side been hampered by Charlie’s vote for her? 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.