[Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for Survivor Season 44, Episode 10, "Full Tilt Boogie."]
It took 10 weeks for the original tribal alliances to finally break down, which in this modern era of Survivor is deeply unusual. After Kane's ouster last week, the final eight players are looking around for threats, and they're no longer relying on their allies from their original tribes when they make a plan to target those threats. But "threat" can mean a lot of things at this stage of the game. By the time the Va Va tribe heads to Tribal Council, several different players have presented themselves as prime targets.
Threat #1 this week is definitely Frannie. When you've already won two immunity challenges, it's probably not the best idea to also win a reward challenge, but that's exactly what Frannie does. She gets to choose three people to join her for a tacos-and-margaritas lunch at the Sanctuary and picks three moms: Carolyn, Lauren, and Heidi. This earns her big points with Carolyn, a player who is savvier than she often gets credit for, but who definitely plays with her heart on her sleeve. For the second week in a row, we get an interview clip where Frannie raves about how much she admires and likes Carolyn. We could be looking at the birth of the season's new power alliance.
But back at camp, the leftovers — Danny, Carson, Jaime, and Yam Yam — do what usually happens when someone chooses half the tribe to take on a reward: They think about reasons to vote out the person who snubbed them. In this case, it's not hard to land on Frannie as a target. She's announced herself as the season's major challenge threat, and she's just bought the loyalty of three potential jurors (while already having in Matt one juror guaranteed to vote for her). Frannie becomes this week's no-brainer target, if everyone wants to do the obvious thing.
Threat #2 is Danny. At the reward, all four women dance around the idea of voting out Danny for obvious reasons. He's the biggest challenge threat besides Frannie, he's made a bunch of big moves, and he's the dominant alpha male on the tribe. Carolyn is the one to actually press Heidi on whether she'd actually turn on her top ally. Heidi says she would, but if you've watched Heidi operate this season, you know she's the queen of equivocation. It's hard to tell whether she's on board or just saying what Frannie, Carolyn, and Lauren want to hear.
Threat #3 is, surprisingly, Jaime. If you thought the epic saga of Jaime's fake immunity idol was over just because Kane was voted out with it in his possession, you are sorely mistaken. First off, Carson has blabbed to everybody on the tribe that Jaime has an idol (he blames this on Kane, who can't exactly contradict it now). Later, Jaime decides to come clean to the tribe and admit that, yes, she once had an idol, but she gave it to Kane for fear of a Knowledge Is Power advantage, and now it's out of the game.
All of this is true, but absolutely nobody believes her. So, to sum up: Jamie had an immunity idol that was completely fake, though nobody, including her, knew it was a fake; she gave that fake idol to Kane because she was worried about a Knowledge Is Power advantage that also does not exist; and now it's out of the game, though everybody except Jaime (and I guess Lauren) thinks she's lying and are now targeting her because they think she has a real immunity idol that she never even truly had in the first place.
There are the people targeting Frannie, who are Danny, Jaime, Yam Yam, maybe Carson, and maybe Lauren. And then there are the people looking to split votes between Danny and Jaime, who are Frannie and Carolyn, seemingly Heidi, maybe Carson, and maybe Lauren. If this all sounds convoluted, get ready, because threat #4 emerges late, and it's Heidi.
After Danny informs Heidi that the plan is to vote out Frannie and she hesitates, Danny says he actually doesn't need Heidi for this vote, implying that he already has a 5-vote majority to get rid of Frannie. When Heidi shares this information with Carolyn, it sounds suspicious. Why would Danny say that? Who does Danny have lined up?
Here's where Heidi's noncommittal demeanor bites her in the butt, because Carolyn assumes Heidi's up to something. So Carolyn and Frannie come up with a new plan to blindside Heidi (not a bad idea, considering Heidi has an immunity idol, though nobody knows this). They seem to be lining up Jaime and Lauren to join them, but when they approach Carson, he's uneasy at the last-minute change of plans. The editing then sends us off to Tribal Council on a Carson interview bite, setting him up as the swing vote for how this is all going to shake out.
Carson won the immunity challenge (blazing his way through another puzzle, go figure), so he's not in any danger, but he is at a precarious point in the game. He doesn't want to stick his neck out with this Heidi vote, correctly intuiting that it's a late-breaking plan that stands on shaky ground. He might have been on board to vote out either Danny or Jaime, but those plans have seemingly fallen away. Carson knows the safest play is for him and Yam Yam to join Danny's group and vote out Frannie, but he also knows that doing so will alienate Carolyn, which he can't afford to do.
Ultimately, Carson takes his chances on the hope that he can mend fences with Carolyn. He joins Danny, Lauren, Jaime, and Yam Yam to vote out Frannie. Heidi, somewhat hilariously, is the only person left out of the loop and casts a lone vote for Danny, while Carolyn and Frannie's votes for Heidi are a lost cause.
So Frannie exits the game in 8th place, having burned brightly as a challenge beast and a major focus of the post-merge edit. At this stage of the game, none of the producers' darlings are safe. And with the top threat now out of the game, we could be entering peak chaos as the final seven scramble to make the finale.
As for the rest of this week's happenings…
Player of the Week: It turns out Danny had exactly what he told Heidi he had: five votes to get rid of Frannie even without Heidi's help. Once again, he guided this week's elimination.
Honorable Mention(s): Carson and Yam Yam maintain their swing-vote status for another week, though after winning immunity, you wonder when Carson's name will float to the top of the threat list.
Sketchy Strategy: Carolyn and Frannie's last-ditch switch to a Heidi vote came way too late in the day to be effective. You get why Carolyn wouldn't want to play her immunity idol to save someone else when she might still need it for herself, but that was probably the only way to keep Frannie in the game.
Alliance Report: Danny now seems to be allied with Lauren and maybe Jaime. Carson and Yam Yam now have to repair yet another broken bond with Carolyn. And Heidi is exposed, having just betrayed her top ally Danny.
Coming Next Week: Carolyn is on the warpath.
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Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.
TOPICS: Survivor, CBS, Jeff Probst