Jeff Pitman's Survivor 46 recaps
And that's what hide and seek showed me
By Jeff Pitman | Published: April 21, 2024
Survivor 46 Episode 8 recap/ analysis

And that's what hide and seek showed me

In a lot of ways, the extended hide and seek segment - while also a lot of fun - also served as a way for the editors to say things about everyone's gameplay, most of it filtered through the eyes of Q and Venus, but also with additional subtle commentary based on what was shown. A little post-merge preview, like the old recap/clipshow episodes used to give us, before they were cut out of the season schedule.

Q framed the secret purpose for the contest as "finding out who can hide in plain sight the best." (The editors thought so much of this that he said it at both the start and end of the hunt.) On the first mention, as Q says "hide in plain sight," the shot cuts to Ben hiding, giving us the answer to Q's rhetorical question (which, of course, Q later says is a "mistake" by Ben). What's fun about this segment is that we see Q's (and for some reason, Venus's) views on everyone else:

Liz found you, Q

  • When Liz goes off-trailing and treks several inches through the jungle to find Q, Q's response (in confessional) is "Bad idea, Liz!" for showing him that she's really playing the game, and she really does want to win (?!). This is probably short-term foreshadowing for Liz making the Big Move™ against Tevin later in the episode.
  • Venus gets the chance to react to Maria's moderate camouflaging attempt (sticking a few twigs in her hair): "Maria works well with her surroundings and is really adaptable." This rings true for Maria's game so far.
  • Venus also gets to describe Tiffany's failure to remove the bright red buff from her hair before hiding: Tiff is "a little sloppy, and may not know how to hide the details." This could also be short-term foreshadowing, as Q telling Maria about Tiffany's idol (that Tiff didn't need to tell Q about in the first place) becomes a key point later in the episode.
  • In addition to the "game" revealing how dangerous Ben is (?!), Q also has similar comments - made much more publicly - about Hunter, who "won" by hiding in a tree above the shelter. That's the same Hunter who is in the Six. For a guy who spends 90% of his confessionals talking about how other people in the Six are disloyal and dangerous for even floating other people in the Six's names as targets, Q sure seems to have zero qualms about doing that himself!
  • Finally, in selecting what to show when people were found, the editors also underlined a few character notes here and there. For example, when Venus is spotted, she yells, "I thought I was blending in!", which echoes the general air of obliviousness that pervades her other content this episode - thinking she's building up her résumé by taking public credit for Soda's blindside, all while others silently seethe around her.

Final hide 'n seek note: This silly little minigame, conceived and executed entirely by the contestants, was more fun than a lot of the challenge department-generated rehashes of past competitions that have absolutely been phoning it in throughout the new era. Is John Kirhoffer being held hostage, like the post-merge rice? If so, hire Q as a replacement to run that department, maybe?

Related note: The "Q skirt" segment was also a light-hearted, fun scene, which showed the audience why the other players have been allowing Q to get away with so visibly running the game as hard as he has been - he's really funny and charismatic. This is way more useful than having two or three people tell us in confessional "Q is really fun to be around," because this shows us what that actually means. Like "hide 'n seek," this was a fantastic use of time, one that both serves as an antidote to constant game-talk, and gives the audience important insights into the players.

Charlie vs. Q

Charlie vs. Q

The edit in this episode also continued to build up a longer-term story of conflict between Charlie and Q, and slathered that on pretty thickly in the first half of the episode.

The first big contrast was the post-Tribal segment, where we saw Q wanting to talk to Ben after Tribal, heading down to the beach alone, then complaining that Ben was still in camp, "keke laughing" with Kenzie, Tiffany, and Hunter, instead of "getting down to business" before the other tribe got back. Q was extremely frustrated that nobody else was working on his preferred schedule.

Immediately following that segment was the exact opposite: Charlie regaling us with all the benefits of getting up early and strategizing with other players who are up to watch the sunrise (also on the beach). Same location, different time, different outcomes. Ironically, one of the early morning scenes shown is Q recruiting him into the Six, but we also see Maria giving him the same news. We also see Q later expressing doubts (to Hunter and Tevin) about Charlie's ability to control the game, saying he "doesn't have the killer instinct" to make a big move (big mistake, Q). Q sees Charlie solely as a number, and a non-threatening one at that (while hilariously later going on to express extreme reservations about pretty much everyone else during Hide and Seek).

Importantly, we also had a coda in which Charlie expresses abject skepticism about the Six, noting that they'd already lost one of their members, so it's clearly already shaky, but also that historically, there have been countless groups of six who made the same pledge, but something always goes wrong for them before they can complete their mission. Charlie closes by saying he has to decide, "Am *I* what goes awry?" (Did Taylor Swift cover Mew's "Am I Wry? No," or something?)

Finally, we move on to the Hide 'N Seek segment, and Charlie is "it," so the action kicks off with Charlie (jokingly) threatening, "Q, I'm coming for you!"

Put it all together, and this looks like pretty solid foreshadowing that Charlie is going to end up putting an end to the reign of Q, probably relatively soon. Clearly the opposite of that happened this episode, as our last solo image of Charlie is him shrugging his shoulders in frustration in the voting booth. But after the chaos of this week's vote, it's pretty easy to imagine a Charlie/Maria pair (combined with the equally frustrated and foreshadowed Kenzie and Tiff pair) possibly regaining control of the game at the next (F9) vote, just by picking up one straggler. (Ben? Hunter? Venus?) Or maybe it takes a couple of weeks. (Or several!) But it sure seems like something big is coming.

Where the game may be headed

Where the game may be headed

Despite the pre-merge's incessant Yanu focus, we're hitting the final five episodes of the season with the original tribe numbers exactly even, at three apiece. Among those, none of the three tribes are "strong" in any sense. The formerly undefeated Nami are now thoroughly divided, with Hunter and Liz loosely affiliated (except that Liz just targeted Hunter's #1 in Tevin), and Venus still on the outs. Charlie and Maria are a tight Siga duo, but Ben still seems to be a strategy-light free agent. Unsurprisingly, the Yanu three are the tightest, but there are clear cracks starting to form between the Kenzie-Tiffany pair and Q. And we've now seen Kenzie plotting with Ben a couple of times, and this episode was awash in other cross-tribal discussions. So where is this all headed? Again, thanks to hide 'n seek, we may have a few hints, but it's all pretty much guesswork at this point. But here's a run-through of the remaining players, roughly in descending order of win probability:

Maria is in the Journey Six alliance, and seems like its most hardcore believer, ahead of even Q. She had nailed what Q most wanted in an alliancemate (loyalty), and rightly felt that if he received that in return, he was a fairly predictable player. (He's just unpredictable the rest of the time.) She's playing a very strong individual game, but it's possible she's the one who could experience blowback if Q continues to go rogue. Still, what Maria has going for her most of all is that everyone seems to like her, even the people she voted out. Jem did, Moriah did. We've seen her alliance with Charlie described as "Malcolm and Denise 2.0," and were reminded it was officially solidified with the Jem vote. If anyone is getting a traditional winner's edit, Maria feels like that person - despite being one of the most under-edited recently. Even so, it's unclear who has the strongest case for winning between her and Charlie, but she is the Denise in that pair, which seems like a good indicator. Could Charlie be the F4 fire victim?

Kenzie's edit feels very winner-y, in that she's been described as a strategist/social threat for most of the season, without actually appearing to do all that much. She was tagged as a hypersocial "puppetmaster" threat by Bhanu (also her intro to all of Nami and Siga, thanks to Bhanu's Ep3 journey). She was saluted by Q for her positivity at the split Tribal last week. She's been the co-lead narrator for Yanu throughout. We've seen her bonding with non-Yanu people since the merge (Ben in particular). So far, she (wisely) has mostly gone along with Q's plans, and she was almost voted out of Yanu in Ep3. In her favor: at the merge, Kenzie had the last confessional (where she was a "cast iron skillet") of the initial merge segment, and it ended with Kenzie saying, "giddy up, because we're about to play, baby." This episode (in confessional) we heard her explicitly enjoy that Liz wanted to make a big move, because the post-merge had so far been mostly Yanu-driven. That's a solid and astute in-game read. If a Yanu wins, Kenzie seems the most likely, *except* if you go back to Probst's oddball "right now, there is at least one of you who cannot win" speech in the premiere: when Probst gets to "no matter who you go to the end with [you can't win]," the camera cuts to a nodding Kenzie. Could she be a surprise zero-vote finalist? But everyone seems to like her, so how does that fit? Is this meant to be ironic, because she does win, convincingly? Confusing.

Charlie's edit has been on the rise (described above in "Charlie vs. Q"). At this point in the new era game, though, being too visible is a bad thing (this also applies to Liz), so Charlie feels like he has lower win probability than Maria. While he has a ton of confessionals saying the right things at the right times, it's also hard to overlook that his introduction in the premiere was sort of a joke, rattling off his Swiftie bonafides immediately after Hunter had talked about how he might struggle with some pop-culture references, like Taylor Swift. Not that being a Swiftie is bad, but it made Charlie seem like he's focused on the wrong things as the game begins. (Little did we know at the time that he'd have almost five full episodes to develop that focus.) There's clearly much more to Charlie than that opening sequence caricature, but even so, it was a hole he's still climbing out of (not the one Siga dug under the bush). Having said that, Charlie's in a pretty good spot. He's in a tight alliance with Maria, he's now in the Six, and he's still friends with Ben. We still haven't really seen Charlie or Maria forming solid bonds with Tiffany and Kenzie, the other major pair, apart from Charlie's bomb-drop to Tiffany during the Tribal whispering that Q had told them about Tiff's idol.

Q did it

Tiffany's had a subdued edit, but she usually comes across as one of the few people unflustered by the game - full of common sense (like "Why bother targeting Venus?"), calm in most situations, more than capable of wrangling Q's various eccentricities. It's hard to say who has the better edit out of Tiffany and Kenzie, but it is a little worrisome that essentially everyone knows about Tiff's idol now. Her best move would be to play it soon and remove the target from herself, but all in all, Tiffany feels like someone who has a good head for the game, even if she hasn't had to engineer a move yet. Definitely winner potential there, unclear if this season's edit is leading us there, though.

Wrapping up the Sigas, there's the "hiding in plain sight" Ben. We just had a winner with that description as a "strategy" three seasons ago. It's not out of the question that Ben could repeat that. Ben's greatest assets are that people seem to genuinely like him, and (as highlighted in Tevin's premiere monologue), Ben is "authentic." The Ben you see is the Ben you get. He's playing a straight-up game. He's not conniving, he's not trying to pull something over on you (despite Q's paranoia to the contrary). He's just Ben, and that's enough. He's probably thinking about shredding a guitar solo right now, not targeting you. He's unlikely to turn into a challenge beast. He's probably not going to engineer a blindside. But he'll pump you up with positivity, maybe shed a tear or two, and generally be likable, while also wearing a leather vest. If the jury ends up filled with people who were taken out of the game in particularly brutal and/or mean-spirited fashion, and sweet, straightforward Ben is there in the final three as an option for their jury vote, you could imagine Ben getting a few of them. Maybe even enough to win?

Hunter has made his physical game his most visible attribute, but he has a lot more to offer - if he gets the chance. Hunter is currently the all-time leader in highest single-season team challenge winning percentage (93.8%, counting Nami's second-place finish in the Ep4 RC, which seems fair since it was Hunter's ring tossing that secured that). As such, he's narrowly ahead of S38 Joe Anglim (88.9%), who famously put a massive target on himself right out of the gate in Worlds Apart, by blazing through a puzzle in the first IC. Hunter's also sprinting to the top of the individual challenge mean % finish charts (at 83.3% after two challenges). Clearly, he will become a target soon, although nobody thinks he's at all strategic, and he's essentially ally-free now that Tevin's gone, so his threat level has been diminished a bit, and he does have temporary safety with his idol. Hunter's most likely fate is he's targeted soon for his challenge prowess, skates through a few votes by winning ICs and/or using his idol, but is ultimately out mid-jury. But it's possible the upcoming Charlie-Q power struggle will take short-term precedence, giving Hunter enough breathing room to then Mike Holloway his way to the end. If so, he's a winner candidate.

Q, Liz, Hunter

There was a massive uptick in Liz content this episode, but it felt like the wrong sort of attention. We followed the domino sequence of Venus claiming she engineered Soda's blindside, followed by Tevin's (not unreasonable) attempts to claim that credit for himself, followed by Liz targeting Tevin for stealing HER (debatable) credit for the same move (since any move requires a lot of people to vote together, "credit" is more of a general problem in Survivor than a Liz problem, but here we are). Q's Tribal theatrics sort of hijacked Liz's coronation with that credit, since the outcome seemed random, even though it was exactly what Liz had been pushing for. That hints that the rumored billionaire (or is it trillionaire?) may not be long for this game. Q already thinks she's dangerous (because she uh ... played Hide 'N Seek, and also took away his move against Tiff), so if she continues to seek game credit for the Tevin boot, that may put her on the shortlist of targets soon.

Like Liz, there was obviously also a lot of Venus this episode, but that's been true all season (unlike Liz). You have to feel for Venus: She just wants to play the game, but to a person, just about everyone says they don't trust her, and they don't want to work with her. So what is she to do? There's not much she can do at this point, except maybe do the Financial Analyst Emily Flippen thing and take a low profile for a while, be pleasant, let the big players take each other out, then re-emerge (later than Emily did, ideally). Despite the fact that Venus has picked up votes at every Tribal she's attended, nobody's really gunning for her. Will Venus take that path? It seems unlikely. As Drew said last season, in the new era, there's only one speed, pedal to the metal. That's Venus's M.O. At this point, she has a good shot at becoming a zero-vote finalist, only because everyone's first impression of her was that she was playing too hard.

Q is a fascinating character, and an innovative player. As first pitched, the meat-shieldy Journey Six seemed like a good way for a physical player to protect himself. In The Six's current incarnation, it feels more like a hilariously contrived way for Q to target the people he thinks he can't beat, while distracting them by calling it an "alliance." It could work! He's had solid, entertainingly stated reads ("[Nami has] a beautiful home, but they ain't filled in all the cracks.") Importantly, the Yanu three entered the merge down 5 to 4 to 3, and the Nuinui tribe is now dead even for original tribes, 3-3-3, and a lot of that was Q's doing. At the same time, just about everyone is now aware of Q, and final nine is way too early for that to be a thing in the new era game, especially when Tiffany and Kenzie should now be mad at him for revealing Tiff's idol. His Mississippi connection with Hunter still seems solid, but he may have lost some others. On the other hand, after his "vote me out" gambit this episode, it's hard to imagine Q ending up the winner, unless he can somehow spin it as strategy. He's certainly done so many eye-popping things this season, if he can somehow get to the end, he kind of deserves the title, just for doing all that while being the center of attention the whole way. I don't think he'll get there (see again "Charlie vs. Q" above), but if so, it will have been an entertaining ride.

Shorter takes

Shorter takes

46 solidarity: Good for this set of contestants for refusing to sit out four people from "Get a Grip" just to get rice. (Even better for them for ALSO refusing the even more inane alternative, two people losing their votes.) This is one of the dumbest New Era staples. Not a single person in the audience would miss anything if production just gave the next merge tribe a bag of rice when they merged. Probst grandstanding about his "negotiation" (read: hostage situation) took up four minutes of this episode, and even required an ad break before the challenge could start.

If this show goes back to hour-long episodes, this should be the absolute first cut. Just an utter waste of time that, despite Probst's claims to the contrary, has never revealed anything about anyone's self-perception about their position in the game, just that (duh) people are hungry after not getting food for two weeks. Q himself said that he was finally able to do some more wacky/creative things (like the "Q skirt") because he had some food in him! Please let this cast's holding strong against this idiotic stunt mean we don't have to see it again.

Just kidding, there's no chance it's ever leaving: Probst's first words at Tribal: "Well, all right! I guess we've gotta start with the rice negotiation."

Yes, Jeff. That was indeed the top thing on everyone's minds - audience and contestants - as they walked in. Not "are we voting Tiff or Tevin?" Not "should we just vote Venus?" Not "What is Q about to pull to hijack this entire thing?" They were all busy contemplating that maybe your dumb stunt has finally run its course, and we can all finally stop beating that dead horse. Excellent job of keeping your finger on the pulse of the game.

Ah, you got me: Returning to the general theme of praise for this episode's editing, after many people complained that an earlier "Previously On..." recap's run-through of all the idols spoiled the outcome, we saw a rehash of that in this episode ... only for no idols to be played, and none of the idol-holders to even receive votes. It's fun to see the editors actively messing with expectations, and avoiding ruts. Nice work.

Jeff Pitman's recapsJeff Pitman is the founder of the True Dork Times, and probably should find better things to write about than Survivor. So far he hasn't, though. He's also responsible for the Survivometer, calendar, boxscores, and contestant pages, so if you want to complain about those, do so in the comments, or on twitter: @truedorktimes