Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Survivor 44, Episode 3.
Fans were devastated after Survivor 44, Episode 2’s tribal council, which led to the elimination of the second woman in a row, following in Survivor 43’s footsteps. Helen Li was eliminated from the Tika Tribe because Carson deemed her “untrustworthy." But let’s be honest, we wouldn't have wanted Carolyn to go home either. Episode 3 picks up directly after Tribal Council, with Yam Yam and Carson attempting to smooth things over with Sarah.
Sarah isn't dumb, though. She astutely observes, “Carson is the most dangerous player by a landslide,” because everyone trusts him the most, herself included. He’s the snake in the grass we never expected, but upwards and onwards for the Tika Tribe. This is Survivor 44 — it’s a new season, a new episode, a new challenge, and a new Tribal!
The Ratu Tribe of Five Knights
Kane LOVES the Immunity sword, and can we blame him? His adeptness with the sword makes us think he’s cosplayed at a renfaire or two, and we’re probably not wrong. Just a minute later, we learn that he loves RPGs (role-playing games) like Dungeons & Dragons. And we thought Frannie and Matt were the nerds of the season! (When we say “nerds,” we of course say that as a term of endearment.)
Now onto the second of Ratu’s five knights — Brandon the NFL player isn’t just a football bro. He’s a *literal* “Renaissance man.” He tells us, “I’m a pilot, I play piano, I play the drums, I do magic tricks. I love to snowboard, [I’m going to] have my scuba license, I cook like a madman.” He really is a jack of all trades, and a master of them too. Then he just straight up catches a fish! Brandon can do anything… except stay conscious during the first immunity challenge.
Jaime also shines in Episode 3. Lauren takes note of Jaime’s positivity as Jaime scarfs down worms. Fish and worms? Ratu is turning out to be the most well-fed tribe of them all! Jaime and Matthew venture out to search for worms while enjoying nature, and Jaime calls them “plant lady and plant daddy.”
As they search, Jaime discovers what she believes is a hidden immunity idol. However, through some sneaky flashback editing, we learn that Matthew actually found it two days earlier, made a fake idol, and rehid the fake by the water well. Sneaky boy!
Soka Is So-kaput
Are Frannie and Matt just full-on dating now? Frannie asks Matt to go on a road trip after Survivor… but they need to get through Survivor first. Back at camp, Danny, Claire, Heidi, and Josh lock in an alliance as they discuss the Frankinship showmance. Claire notes, “They’re like two nerdy people who just like to nerd out.” Season 44 is clearly the nerdiest season yet, and we are here for it.
Danny’s heart is warm, but his main focus is getting the target off himself and onto someone else. No one knows he has the idol. So, he makes sure that no one will ever know the truth by wrapping the fake idol in the real idol note, putting it sneakily back into the birdcage, and re-hiding the key. With some ninja-like forward rolls, Danny compares himself to a classic children’s tale: “I’m Peter Pan running through the woods!”
Later in the episode, the Soka Tribe decides to do a group search for the key. Danny remarks that this tribe is just frankly bad at searching, so he slyly leads Matt to the key’s location. Matt really thinks he has the idol when he says, “Everything in this game has gone wrong for me so far,” until now, in his perspective. Sorry to say it, Matt, but everything is still going wrong.
Danny creates some more C-H-A-O-S by outing Matt's find in front of Josh, and Matt quickly tells Frannie everything. He also finds his own ways of reluctantly telling Danny and Josh about his "idol," but of course, only Danny knows the truth.
We also get some great moments with Tika as Yam Yam runs down the beach Baywatch-style. Plus, Carolyn makes fun of him for snoring. Will that be Yam Yam’s downfall? And of course, Jeff Probst guilts us all into applying for Survivor before we head into another brutal immunity challenge.
The Immunity Challenge: Three Times a Charm
Jeff jumps into describing this third immunity challenge after his iconic “Come on in!” catchphrase (without the “guys”). The tribes need to dive into the ocean and move a large cube to two large poles, which the tribe needs to stand on top of to retrieve two keys.
Once they have their keys, they can run to the shore, where they need to dig to get themselves under a log, after which they need to unlock their puzzle platform using the keys. The puzzle is a Survivor classic: stacking four blocks with no repeating colors.
The first tribe to win gets immunity, as well as a large toolkit and a large platter of fruit. The second tribe also gets immunity, as well as a smaller toolkit and smaller fruit platter. The third tribe, or as Jeff once again calls them, “the losers,” gets nothing and loses their flint. Aren’t all the tribes winners just for competing?
Apparently, there are no participation trophies in Survivor 44. Even if there were, Claire wouldn’t get one, since she sits out a third time in a row.
Ratu stays ahead in the challenge the entire time, winning it all. When it comes down to the puzzle, we expect Carson to knock it out, but he needs to copy Ratu’s puzzle. Tika makes it happen faster than Soka, which sends Soka to Tribal Council for the first time this season.
Kane asks Jeff to knight him. Jeff seems perplexed but also pleased by the request, and Matt says the cutest thing we’ve ever heard in any reality television show: “I want to stay in this game and with Frannie for as long as I possibly can.”
Back at the Soka Camp
Frannie cries because she and Matt did the puzzle and lost the challenge for the tribe. The tribe seems to come to a consensus to vote out Claire since she doesn’t contribute to “Tribe strength,” but Frannie wants to keep Claire in the game. She would rather see Josh leave, who she finds “cagey,” although let’s be honest, the only Soka player who has actually conquered the cage is Danny.
Claire is distraught (and so are we)! She is already a meme so it’s way too soon to see her go. As Danny guns for Claire, she thinks that “Danny doesn’t have brains in his head,” but sadly for Claire, he does. Because Matt lost his vote at the summit, Frannie and Claire need to get Heidi on board to vote against Josh, but Heidi is hesitant. Heidi’s number one ally at this point is Danny, so she discusses the options with him, and he lets her make the ultimate decision.
A Gargoyle-Infested Tribal Council
After the camera pans to some Notre Dame-esque gargoyles, Jeff says the “magic words” about the torches, according to Frannie: “Dip it in the fire and get flame. In this game, fire represents your life. Fire’s gone, and so are you.” As we get into the nitty gritty of Tribal, Jeff reenacts a gargoyle, which we will never unsee, before looking for his much-needed metaphor.
Frannie compares preparing for Tribal to “a sick merry-go-round. Every name is going to be said at some point, you just don’t want it to land on yours.” The discussion veers to the question of what tribe strength really means, and if what’s best for the tribe’s collective game is best for each player’s individual game. Well, that’s the classic Survivor conundrum.
Claire tries to save herself by claiming that she puts her pride aside in service of the greater good of the tribe. In doing so, she trusts them to win. But when she asks Heidi point-blank if she gave any more thought to her vote, Claire understands that Heidi won't vote in her favor. So, Claire rightfully plays her shot in the dark.
When Claire is “not safe,” she goes home in a unanimous vote. Our Survivor Queen is dethroned, and Claire’s facial expressions won’t be back… for now.
A major twist is teased in the next episode that “can change the game,” so we’ll just have to tune into Survivor at 8 p.m. EST next week on CBS to find out what the twist is.