Sword of Damocles
Season 45 • Episode 9
[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Survivor Season 45 Episode 9, “Sword of Damocles.”]
Getting Bruce Perreault out and breaking up the Reba alliance are proving to be Survivor 45’s biggest battles.
For two weeks in a row now, Bruce has been on the chopping block but curtailed those plans by winning individual immunity. In both Episode 8 and Episode 9 (which aired tonight, November 22, on CBS), a Belo woman has been sent home in his place. When Kaleb Gebrewold tried to break up the Reba alliance (Dee Valladares, Julie Alley, Austin Li Coon, and Drew Basile) in Episode 7, he was eliminated.
As of Episode 9, the Reba foursome is in an impressively strong spot. Their unbreakable bond and majority alliance allows them to set their sights on a target and eliminate it. With Bruce ineligible for votes, they set their eyes Jake O’Kane and Kendra McQuarrie, who each did something to piss off a Reba member. Jake tried to get Julie out with Kaleb in Episode 7, and his honesty about that didn’t mend any fences. Kendra started gunning for Dee before the immunity/reward challenge, but Katurah Topps smartly sided with Reba and informed Julie of that plan.
When Julie, Kendra, and Bruce won the challenge, they were sent to sanctuary for a big meal. Kendra tried to convince Julie to vote for Dee, somehow not realizing that was a fool’s errand. Julie had Jake top of mind, and Bruce was going with the flow, pressuring Kendra to agree.
The key plot twist in the episode was that three people — Katurah, Emily, and Austin — lost their votes when they lost the day’s challenge. The tribe split themselves into three groups of three for the contest that had three stages. The losers of phase one lost their votes, but were able to try and earn them back on a summit journey.
Knowing this, Kendra knew she had to tow the majority party line just in case there were only six people voting at Tribal Council. Jake was the easy vote, but Julie didn’t “see it going that easy.” And of course, in Survivor it rarely does.
Before the challenge, Emily Flippen told her allies, Drew and Austin, that she’d like to get Dee out. It was a test to see which alliance they valued more, and they made it clear it wasn’t hers. On the summit journey, she, Katurah, and Austin had to solve a logic puzzle in three minutes to get their vote back.
Numbers from nine to one were spread out on a chalk board, and they had to place three plus signs and one minus sign into the correct spots to make that an equation that equaled 100. Katurah and Emily both lost theirs, but Austin got his back, meaning the night’s vote would be decided by seven of the nine players. But when they returned to camp, Austin lied to the full group, but came clean to the Reba team.
Julie was annoyed that her alliance wanted Kendra out, showing the first sign of division between her and Dee. Kendra told Emily to vote for Jake, who then told Drew that plan. And just like in last week’s episode, Drew saw an opportunity to prevent a dog pile on Jake by assuring a Kendra elimination instead (he did the same near the end of Episode 8 and eliminated Kellie). Drew’s motive here seems to be controlling where the vote goes more than getting any one player out, which if he can succeed at this multiple times, would be quite impressive to any jury.
Dee may be the first of the Reba alliance to fall. As the Jake-Kendra debate pressed on, she gunned for Kendra’s elimination, and her motives were entirely self-serving. She told Dee and Drew that they need to vote out Kendra because Kendra is gunning for her, which made her look paranoid.
Trying to eliminate someone who wants you out is no crime; Julie’s doing the same thing with Jake. But Julie isn’t showing paranoia about her name being written down again, whereas Dee is trying to make her allies feel worried about her potential elimination as if it were their own. That’s a recipe for making your teammates feel like you’re the puppeteer pulling their strings, and that doesn’t rarely flies in this game.
In the end, Dee got what she wanted. Kendra became the tenth person voted out and the third member of the jury, and her fate seemed to be sealed because of things she said in Tribal Council. After admitting to Jeff Probst that she didn’t consider that someone could be lying about losing their vote, Kendra went on to say that she was realizing she wasn’t being pulled into the important strategic talks. Julie and Drew exchanged a knowing look and a nod, covertly agreeing that with this statement, it was time to vote Kendra out.
Dee got what she wanted, but could her hold on the game be weakening? As for Bruce, Kaleb pointed out to Kellie in the jury that he has been safe for 16 out of 17 days. He may not be outwitting this cast (he only just learned that Kellie, his closest ally, was trying to get him out last week), but he certainly seems to be outlasting them all.
Survivor, Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS