Survivor 44 Episode 8 Recap: The Three Stooges Strike Back

After the forced break-up of everybody’s favorite nerd-couple, Matt Blankinship and Frannie Marin last week, there was barely enough time to wipe away the tears. Survivor churned forward, and a major power-play evened the playing field.

Despite the odds, it was the self-proclaimed “Three Stooges”YamYam Arocho, Carolyn Wiger and Carson Garrett – who ended up in the power position this week. Even if on the surface it might have seemed like Danny Massa was the one who executed the game’s biggest blindside yet.

Sick To Your Stomach

While Frannie ( and the audience) had to deal with Matt’s early departure, Carson was dealing not with heartache, but with a bad stomachache. The show took time to highlight Carson’s struggles, so you know it had to have been quite bad. After winning the PB&J challenge last episode, something didn’t sit right, which led Carson to the bushes where he spent most of the episode puking his guts out.

The illness may have slowed Carson down physically, but strategically he was once again at the center of things this week. His incredible likability, matched with his strategic knowledge of the game has me thinking that Carson can make a deep run this season. He has options, but the fan in me would LOVE to see The Stooges take control of this game. It’s always fun to root for the underdogs, right?

Best Of Intentions

I loved how Kane Fritzler framed his vote during Tribal Council: That every vote holds with it a clear “intention.” Sometimes, that intention might be to weaken an opposing alliance, sometimes the vote might be intended simply to gain trust with his allies. But there is always an intention behind every vote.

As we know from watching Survivor over the years, it is never a good omen to feel comfortable in the game. Or to be shown on-air feeling like things are just swell. Kane was admittedly a bit cocky, going so far as to say that if his current alliance doesn’t produce this season’s winner, they must have made a major blunder somewhere along the way. What he forgot to factor in was that making it to the end isn’t all about having the best strategy. Survivor is way more complex than chess. There are no hidden Immunity Idols in chess. And what ended up happening to Kane’s alliance may or may not have been avoidable.

A Near Blunder

Having taken out Matt, the alliance of Kane, Brandon Cottom, Jaime Lynn Ruiz, and Lauren Harpe had the numbers advantage. With four strong – and over-looking “The Three Stooges,” YamYam, Carolyn, and Carson – they had their sights set on weakening the other strong alliance, consisting of Frannie, Danny, and Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt. As if Frannie hadn’t been through enough in the past few days, she became their target. And who can blame them? Frannie has proven to be a big physical threat, as well as a social and strategic threat.

With YamYam, Carolyn, and Carson in the middle and hearing strategy from both sides, Danny knew that Frannie was the target. Up until this episode, Danny has been portrayed as a solid strategic player but not necessarily a “team” player. Not that Danny isn’t loyal, but that he is decidedly in-it-to-win-it for himself, as he should be. It came as a shock to me then, when he not only revealed his hidden Idol to Heidi, but then offered to play it for Frannie and not himself. It’s a serious leap of faith to do what Danny did. He could have kept the Idol for himself despite his alliance being in a weaker position had Frannie gone to the jury. Time will tell if this was the best move for Danny’s game, but it was unquestionably a bold one.

But telling Heidi about his Idol nearly blew up in Danny‘s face. Word spreads quickly on Survivor. Heidi spilled the beans. And the knowledge of Danny’s Idol made The Three Stooges (yes I plan to continue referring to them as such) reconsider what they should do.

Brandon Blindsided

I think The Three Stooges made the right play. They not only took out the game’s biggest physical threat in Brandon, but they flushed Danny‘s Idol in the process. Had they chosen to blindside Danny, Brandon’s four-person alliance would have still been in the majority. And Danny’s allies – Frannie and Heidi – would no longer want to work with them or trust them. The time was now. Brandon was blindsided, and Lauren, Kane, and Jaime are left to scramble without their leader. Next week should prove incredibly important to the game’s outcome when we are basically left with a 3-3-3 showdown. Lauren still has that extra vote (and likely saved herself from getting blindsided by winning Immunity), which will for sure come into play.

But who is left with the game’s only known Immunity Idol? That would be Carolyn. It’s a secret that not even Moe and Curly know about. Carolyn’s power grows the longer she remains in the game, but will she end up being “splashy” enough to actually win?

Kudos to all though, for pulling off this massive blindside. Virtually every episode of every season is spent discussing blindsides like this one, but rarely are they pulled off successfully. It was a masterful play. One that I’m sure has kept Brandon up late at night thinking about, and wondering what could have been done differently to avoid such a harsh fate.

Episode Take-Away

The blindside was epic. The characters are growing on me. I absolutely adore Carolyn and YamYam. Is Survivor 44 turning into a good-to-great season?

And how cute was it that Matt and Frannie – now separated with one in the game and one in the jury – are still unavoidably adorable? Watching Matt root for Frannie each week makes all of us root for Frannie, with the consolation prize being that we know they shall be finally reunited should Frannie ever get voted out. Be still my heart.

In trying to see where things steer from here, remember that Jaime still possesses a fake Idol. She had the chance to play it after Danny‘s Idol play but decided not to. Hmmmm. Carolyn was one of the four that voted for Brandon, most likely to prevent a 3-3 tie-vote scenario had things gone a different way. Meanwhile, Carson and YamYam put their votes on Frannie, most likely to stay in the good graces of Jaime, Kane, and Lauren. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. And most of all, never get cocky.

On Fire With Jeff Probst

The Survivor Official Podcast that followed this week’s show took a deep dive into the editing process. Again, this is a must-listen for die-hard Survivor fans and casual fans alike. You can find the podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

RELATED: Survivor 44 Premiere Recap: Blood, Sweat, Tears, And Injuries

Erik Reichenbach DabuDoodles Art

Former SurvivorErik Reichenbach, honors us each and every week with his exclusive artwork! He is an amazing artist in addition to being a Survivor legend. Sharing his talents every week in my column and with my audience is a huge honor and thrill. If you don’t see his art below, that means that it isn’t ready yet (one does not rush an art-eest). But it will appear once ready, so check back if you don’t in fact see it.

“Meow If You Love YamYam” Art by Erik Reichenbach – is where you want to go to find all of Erik’s work. I urge you to support this fantastically skilled former Survivor player!

Final Episode Tallies

Out this week: Brandon

Won Immunity: Lauren (1)

Vote Result: Danny played his Idol for Frannie, and all votes for Frannie were nullified. 4 – Brandon (Danny, Heidi, Carolyn, Frannie), 0 – Frannie (Carson, YamYam, Brandon, Jaime, Kane, Lauren)

Current Advantage/Disadvantage List:

  • Lauren – Extra Vote
  • Jaime – Possesses a Fake Idol
  • Carolyn – Immunity Idol

Next Week’s Episode: Kane is “woken up” by the Brandon blindside. Danny wastes no time looking for another Idol. And there’s another illness on the horizon, of a different kind, when Carolyn confesses she is getting sick…of Danny.

Quick Note! I appreciate that you are reading this recap! I am also a TV personality and Film Critic in the Detroit area and a RottenTomatoes-approved film critic. Check out my past movie reviews and my movie show (episodes are also available online at the website, Follow me on Twitter – @tomsantilli – or on Facebook.


[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]