‘Survivor’ 44 Recap: Tika Takes Control With Idol Blindside

Lauren Harpe, Jaime Lynn Ruiz, Yamil “Yam Yam” Arocho, Carolyn Wiger, Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt, Danny Massa, and Carson Garrett in 'Survivor' Season 44 Episode 11
Spoiler Alert


I'm Not Worthy

Season 44 • Episode 11

rating: 4.5 stars

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Survivor Season 44 Episode 11, “I’m Not Worthy.”]

The three remaining members of the Tika tribe had the chance to become the majority voters in Survivor Season 44’s 11th episode, and they took it. But it required a major move from Carolyn that was not made easily. The quirky character whom everyone has cast aside as beatable showed just how good her game has been all along in the Wednesday, May 10 episode, and it may spell trouble for her in the coming installments.

The episode started out with an emotional breakdown from Carolyn, who realized she was kept out of the vote plan by her two Tika allies, Yam Yam and Carson, in the tribal council that sent Frannie to the jury. The deception angered Carolyn, and she made her displeasure clear in front of everyone back at the beach right after the vote. Yam Yam and Carson urged her not to take the exclusion personally, and Danny, Jaime, Heidi, and Lauren saw the vulnerability as a sign of weakness. But as she explained, she just needed a minute to feel her feelings. The next morning, she understood why her allies didn’t tell her about their Frannie plan.

Carolyn has been labeled the player to take to the final three, as no one’s ever thought she could win it all in the end. However, viewers know that she’s been sitting on a secret immunity idol since long before the merge, successfully avoiding any suspicion that she could possess it. She’s not a strong player in the individual immunity challenges, but only those on the show, not watching, would think she’s been playing poorly.

'Survivor' Season 44 Episode 11 Last Gasp challenge


Truthfully, no one among the Season 44 cast has played a bad game, and not every Survivor cast can say that. No one at this point in the game is just skating by under the radar, intentionally making themselves look meager. The main thing just some players (like Jaime and Heidi) lack is carrying out big moves to impress the jury.

Danny has kept a level head throughout, never losing sight of the prize. But he, along with several other players, need to figure out how to recognize the truth when they hear it. Is it possible to trust the truth in Survivor, when, as Jaime said last week, the “era of alliances” is over? That’s hard to say without actually being there. But the players could surely benefit from doing some more digging to figure out if someone’s claims are true. Episodes 10 and 11 showed that even when a contestant is telling the God’s honest truth, their competitors only trust their own assumptions and don’t investigate further.

Danny was the most guilty of this in Episode 11. Heidi, Danny’s closest ally and the only other Soka member left, voted for him in the last tribal council. As part of Tika’s strategy, Yam Yam told him the truth about that vote, but Danny refused to believe it, saying even “second graders” would have a hard time believing that tale. He instead trusted Heidi, who repeatedly lied to his face when given the chance to come clean. After spending this whole season expressing his commitment to good Survivor strategy, he made the mistake of not considering the possibility of a betrayal from an ally.

Danny Massa in 'Survivor' Season 44 Episode 11


Because of Yam Yam’s “lie,” Danny campaigned for his elimination. Getting Jaime, Heidi, and Lauren on board was easy; they all needed the Tika alliance broken up. But this backfired when Yam Yam won his first individual immunity challenge — the Last Gasp challenge, no less.

Lauren was the first to bow out of the water challenge, which required them to hold onto metal bars like sloths as the tide rose around them. It came down to Heidi and Yam Yam in the end, and after nearly two hours, Yam Yam was declared the winner.

Convinced that Carolyn posed no threat, the Soka-Ratu foursome set their sights on puzzle master Carson. The vote seemed locked in for the season’s youngest player until Carolyn suspected they were planning to give him the hook.

In a private moment, Carolyn revealed her idol to Carson, indicating her interest in playing it to protect him. It was in that moment that Carson realized Carolyn’s strong game. In order to protect her secret, she didn’t tell Yam Yam. The trio had a plan in place to eliminate either Danny or Heidi, so the less people who knew about the idol, the better. Plus, Yam Yam had individual immunity, so he was safe.

In tribal council, Danny didn’t seem the least bit worried, but he’s never considered his elimination an impossibility. In the voting booth, Carolyn painstakingly weighed her options. Was now the right time to reveal her idol? Was she ready to change how everyone perceived her? Was playing the idol for someone else worth the risk? Ultimately, her answer was yes.

Carolyn Wiger and Carson Garrett in 'Survivor' Season 44 Episode 11


She played her idol for Carson in the last possible moment, sending shocked delight across Yam Yam and the jury’s faces. The Soka-Ratu foursome was screwed, but who would go home?

The first two votes went to Carson, who couldn’t be voted out. Danny and Heidi then got two votes each. Carolyn’s vote was read last, and she had originally written Lauren’s name, but then scratched it out and wrote Danny’s. With that, Danny became the fifth member of the jury. He impersonated Robert De Niro before Jeff Probst snuffed his torch (“You snuff my torch, Jeff? Snuff my torch”). He went out because of a big move, just the way he wanted. But that big move may have made Carolyn the person to beat in the eyes of the remaining players, even her closest allies.

Next week will determine who makes it into the Survivor 44 finale on May 24. If Carolyn can hold on through the next two eliminations and the fire challenge, she very well could win it all. But will Yam Yam and Carson opt to ditch their hard-won Tika majority — their strongest ticket to spots in the final three — in order to make sure she loses?

Survivor, Wednesdays, 8/7c, CBS