Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Survivor 44 Episode 2.
It’s official: Survivor 44 is underway. No more premieres, no more introductions, and no more new advantages (for now). We are in the thick of Fiji with 16 castaways after Bruce was medevaced and Maddy was voted out in Episode 1. The episode kicks off directly after tribal council, with the Ratu tribe congratulating Jaime on her successful shot-in-the-dark play.
Matthew and Lauren are feeling great because they didn’t have to choose sides. Kane, on the other hand, got the short end of the stick when he became the only person to vote against Brandon that’s still left. Brandon’s not happy and now Kane is rightfully paranoid. Then we see some beautiful, crashing waves before we head into the meat of the episode.
Lovebirds and Birdcages
Our three favorite tribes are not just surviving, but thriving. On the Soka tribe, which is the only tribe with six players, Matt and Frannie’s showmance develops. Matt lost his vote for the next two tribal councils, so his “Matt-stock is at an all-time low” but don’t fret! He “really, really likes Frannie,” and after we learn that his ex-girlfriend got to keep the dog, we know that Matt really needs a win.
Matt and Frannie get so close that he feels comfortable enough to tell her that he feels like she’s a “fishy” and he has the “big, long rod.” Erm, is this still a family show? Matt even reveals to Frannie that he lost not just one, but two of his votes, and Frannie thinks they should stay apart, but they can’t! How romantic. She says that they’re like “two big dorky magnets,” giving the second episode its name.
At our kooky Tika tribe, everyone decides to look for the key to the birdcage, and feeling like she’s on the outs, Carolyn never! gives! up! even after sticking her hand into a snake’s nest. Indiana Jones would not love this episode. In fact, Carolyn is such a determined person that she once dug through her son’s poop for three days straight to find his missing tooth for the tooth fairy.
1. Ew! 2. Is that determination or delusion?
Even still, Carolyn finds the key and quickly hides it. When her tribe goes off without her, Carolyn quickly steals the package inside the birdcage but forgets to replace it. She realizes her flub just in the nick of time. However, in doing so, the bag is both moving and empty when the rest of her tribe gets back from their outing. And somehow, even Carson the NASA student can’t put two and two together that Carolyn is the one who has the advantage.
Back at Soka, Danny decides to look for the key while the rest of his tribe is all buddy, buddy. He finds the key and manages to open the cage, get the idol (and the fake), and put it back in its place before anyone else in the tribe notices. He has to take the risk, because in his words, “Scared money don’t make no money.” Please don’t ask us what he means, as we have no idea, but his platitudes work for him.
A Complex Immunity Challenge
Tika and Soka get their first looks at Ratu, who voted out Maddy, and the game gets real. Host Jeff Probst explains the very complex immunity challenge, which we’ll do our best to describe. Basically, each team must go up and over a net obstacle to a large pile of sand bags, which they then have to empty until they find a colorful bag that contains a small ball.
Then the team must untie some knots (we always have to untie knots in Survivor challenges) to release a ladder that they push up to a platform. One team member climbs the ladder and drops a rope down, which the team uses to release a bridge. Then, the team member on top of the platform crosses the ladder to get to a lever to secure the bridge.
Once that’s done, the entire team can cross the bridge, slide down the obstacle, untie some more knots (because why knot?) and then one team member has to maneuver the ball up a snake puzzle. Yes, it’s a very snakey episode. Before the challenge commences, Claire announces that she’ll sit out… again. Jeff asks, perhaps for the first time in Survivor history, “Is that a volunteer or a tribe decision?”
Claire answers, “Both,” to which Jeff responds, “Hmm.” Curiouser and curiouser. Regardless, Soka begins in the lead as always, but Ratu and Tika catch up on the snake maneuver. Matthew leads the Ratu team to victory, securing a bounty of fishing gear, their flint, and their safety. Sarah and Josh are neck and neck for Tika and Soka, respectively, but Josh pulls out the win, sending Tika to tribal council.
After the Challenge
Matthew reveals to the castaways that he built the snake maneuver in his backyard to practice. While we at home may think that’s impressive, he’s basically just let the cat out of the bag that he could be a huge threat, despite his shoulder injury. Carson notes this and shares through confessionals that he also built plenty of the classic Survivor puzzles at home using his 3-D printer, but he would never, ever tell his tribemates this.
Back at the Tika camp, it seems like Carolyn will be the easy vote-out. Yet, we at home know that she has a hidden immunity idol. However, Carolyn and Yam Yam are like crumpets and jam jam — not only do they go together, but they are tasty to watch! Yam Yam says that Carolyn is “a mix of Goofy and Cher.” We never thought that combination could exist, but he nailed it!
Carson appears to be tight with Helen and Sarah, the other two youngins on the tribe, but he approaches Yam Yam and Carolyn, willing to work with them. Carolyn is skeptical — what’s the benefit for Carson? So right up until Jeff reads the votes, Carolyn looks like she’s about to pee her pants, which we wouldn’t put past her based on the previous episode.
Tribal Council Tears
As Jeff grills the Tika tribe, Helen reveals that she’s worried. “What if I’m just living in my own delusion?” she asks. Jeff responds, “That would be called a blindside, and that’s what happens on Survivor.” That’s our clue that we’re about to witness a blindside, but before we can get to that, Yam Yam shares his appreciation for Carolyn’s emotional vulnerability and openness.
Yam Yam loves that she cries, and so do we… everyone loves tears on television! Carolyn shares that she’s just grateful to be there (and for ripe papaya), giving us an at-home lesson in gratitude. When she votes, she describes the spooky chess board, “This is like a horror movie up here, like a haunted house,” and the editors give us some creepy music to accompany the moment.
Carolyn rightfully decides not to play her idol, because Carson chooses to vote with Yam Yam and Carolyn to take out Helen. Perhaps Carson saw Helen as an endgame threat, and it’s possible that he felt like a trio of three different personalities with Yam Yam and Carolyn could be a stronger alliance. Hopefully, we’ll find out his true intentions in the next episode. But through all the snakes in the trees and the challenges, Carson was the ultimate snake in the grass.
New episodes of Survivor air every Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.