Survivor 45 recap: Emily makes a move

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Plus, who's ready for some shirtless beach volleyball?

Drew accused Jake of trying to act like a mobster on this week’s episode of Survivor 45. Perhaps the least successful and intimidating mobster in the history of the mob, but a mobster nonetheless. How dare Drew?! He needs to take that back immediately! Because the real mob boss of Survivor 45 revealed herself this week, and that mob boss was none other than financial analyst Emily Flippen.

Don’t believe me? THEY LITERALLY SHOWED HER DRINKING THE BLOOD OF HER ENEMY!!! Okay, okay… maybe that was just a glass of merlot in her hand during those confessional interview clips, but even so, who sits there displaying a massive glass of wine while doing an interview? It was like Mike White’s biggest Survivor fantasy come to life. And they kept going back to it. And she kept sitting there holding the wine. There was so much wine on this week’s Survivor I half thought I was watching an episode of Cougar Town for a second there — or some other sitcom where middle-aged adults hang out way more than actual middle-aged adults do in real life.

But it wasn’t just Emily’s giant half-filled wine glass that painted her as the Godmother this week. She was the one to crack the code on how to finally get Bruce out of the game. Not only that but… and I want to assure the reading audience that this next part of the sentence is not a typo… Emily Flippen won a challenge. And not some challenge where people were divided up so she only had to beat one or two people. Emily Flippen beat everyone. The entire field. And a physical challenge to boot.

<p>CBS</p> Emily Flippen, Bruce Perreault, Drew Basile, and Katurah Topps


Emily Flippen, Bruce Perreault, Drew Basile, and Katurah Topps

She looked so disturbed and discombobulated after winning that I at first feared she had chosen the umbrella cookie shape for line number four or something. But no — she was merely in a state of shock that can only be experienced when either winning a Survivor challenge or being told that aliens built the pyramids.

And as she downed wine during her girls night out at the Survivor Sanctuary — “where drunk things happen” — Emily came up with a super risky move that somehow, someway played out to perfection. She convinced Uncle Bruce to not play his immunity idol, telling him that a plan was in place to take out Julie. And he actually fell for it. This was such a baller move because there appeared to be so much risk and so little reward.

As for the risk, if there is one thing we have learned this season of Survivor, it is that the robot dance craze was meant to performed on boats and boats only. But if there is another thing we have learned, it is that the Reba women do not forgive and do not forget if you make any sort of move against them. Julie has been obsessed with getting Jake out after he wrote her name down, and Dee was like a Cuban targeted missile at both Kaleb and Kendra after they said her name. So imagine if Bruce had gone ahead and played his idol and then went back to camp and told Julie that Emily was throwing her name around. That couldn’t have made her very happy (unless Emily got her blessing on the plan, which we did not see).

And what was the reward? I guess they got Bruce out two days earlier than he would have gone anyway? Or maybe four if he won another challenge? But as great as he has been in challenges, it’s not like Bruce was going to win out. Nor was he any social or strategic threat that needed to be neutralized immediately. Which is what makes this move seem so unnecessary. Which is also what makes it such an impressive feat that Emily went to such (unnecessary?) lengths to make it happen.

Only a true mob boss would have the guts to pull off such a play. And this week, Emily was that boss. Okay, let’s hit on the other big moments of Survivor 45, episode 10.

<p>CBS</p> Dee Valladares, Julie Alley, Jake O'Kane, Austin Li Coon, Emily Flippen, and Bruce Perreault


Dee Valladares, Julie Alley, Jake O'Kane, Austin Li Coon, Emily Flippen, and Bruce Perreault

Making your bed, and lying in it

The utter self-inflicted dismantling of Belo these past few weeks has been so fascinating to watch. It has been somewhat akin to watching an America’s Funniest Videos montage of people repeatedly hitting themselves in the groin for no good reason. But my favorite moment of the entire Emmy-worthy arc of terrible game play went down at the start of this week’s episode when Katurah, Bruce, and Emily talked about how strong and unbreakable the Reba fearsome foursome was, and how they needed to break it up … and then proceeded to immediately go at each other’s throats again.

The pièce de résistance was Bruce telling Katurah he was nervous about the Knowledge of Power so gave Kellie his immunity idol and she was voted out with it. WAIT, WHAT?!? All of a sudden I was having PTSD flashbacks of Dwight Moore lying to my face about walking out of Tribal Council with Jeanine’s idol, when he actually had given it to Jesse (which we found out the following week). Had Survivor producers pulled another fast one and asked Kellie to fib in her exit interviews as well?

No, because in possibly the most confusing move of the season, Bruce then told Katurah he was lying and just trying to gauge if his lie was believable. Bruce telling Katurah his whole plan — while still lying to Jake — seemed like the height of lunacy. And it was, as she immediately got a coconut camera and filmed an entire infomercial about Bruce’s lie to be broadcast live and wide on the Island Television Network and its sister streaming site ITN+.

What a massive miscalculation on Bruce’s part, and a perfect symbol of the Belo dysfunction. Also, when you are essentially playing by yourself (as Bruce was), it is never a good idea to concoct any scheme to intentionally attract votes your way. For some reason that seems to be a thing on Survivor 45, but both Bruce and J Maya can tell you how that worked out for them.

Anyhoodle, by the end of the episode, Bruce had lied to Jake and then had to admit he lied when while trying to flip the vote; Emily had lied to Bruce to get him to not play his idol; Jake had voted against Bruce; and Katurah had completely forgotten she was playing for a million dollars because she had finished her true mission of getting her nemesis — who did not even realize he was her nemesis — out of the game. That’s not exactly a strong resistance to the dominant alliance currently running the game.

<p>CBS</p> Jake O'Kane


Jake O'Kane

Entering the Danger Zone

Not since the days of the Amazon, Vanuatu, and One World have we had such a jarring division along gender lines. After Emily won the reward, she chose Julie, Katurah, and Dee to join her on a girls trip to the Sanctuary to drink wine out of oversized glasses, talk about the boys driving them crazy, and cry. (I’m not even making a joke. This is actually what transpired).

But that paled in comparison to the gender stereotyping happening back on the beach where — in what may be the weirdest Survivor moment since players were forced to compete to watch an Adam Sandler crossdressing comedy — the dudes, the bros, the fellas were doing what dudes, bros, and fellas apparently do. And when they do it, they do it to the sweet, sweet sounds of Kenny Loggins and the Top Gun soundtrack.

Again, I cannot stress enough how much I am not making this up, but as we listened to the certified synth rock banger that is “Playing with the Boys”, we were treated to images of males farting, flexing, and chopping things. There were bro hugs. There were fist bumps. There were freeze frames. My initial reaction to seeing this on my TV screen is that my wife should have cut me off three Milwaukee’s Bests ago. After all, this could not be real. I must be hallucinating. Either that or they had turned the gold standard of reality television into a freakin’ Kenny Loggins video… and I was so here for it.

Now, yes, I could quibble with the song selection. There is no doubt that Kenny Loggins is the undisputed champion of cheesy 1980s soundtrack work — with celebrated jams in classic films like Caddyshack, Footloose, and Top Gun. The guy even served up a juicy bop for Sylvester Stallone’s Over the Top… AN ENTIRE MOVIE ABOUT ARM WRESTLING!!! “Playing with the Boys” is a solid selection, and certainly makes editorial sense considering the title. Plus, any callback to the homoerotic beach volleyball scene in Top Gun is always welcome. But damn if I wouldn’t have been jumping off my couch and busting out some sick air guitar to the most underrated Loggins track ever — “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man).” Is that because I am sucker for a song with a parenthetical in the title? Perhaps. And that is wrong why, exactly?

Anyway, this montage was so thrillingly insane and I loved every single second of it. I don’t know what they are smoking in the editing suites of Survivor these days, but it’s making for fantastically entertaining television.

<p>CBS</p> The cast of 'Survivor 45'


The cast of 'Survivor 45'

Slip 'N Slide

You all know I’m not a fan of having too many isometric challenges where players just stand at stations next to each other and try to outlast each other at things. It just starts to feel repetitive. But one way to help counter that is to do it out in the water. And another way is to do it is in a brand new challenge.

We got both of those things this week in a fresh contest that forced players to lie on a steep ramp suspended over water and hold on for as long as possible. Essentially, I think it was the Survivor version of the dunk tank. The show actually did another variation on a dunk tank game back in season 12 on Survivor: Panama where players had to kneel above water on a plank that would give out when they could no longer hold up a percentage of their body weight, and in my perfect world every Survivor episode would include a Kenny Loggins soundtrack and some unlucky fool being dumped into a body of water.

Adding some extra drama to this week’s contest was the fact that Katurah seemed to panic over falling into the ocean. There was no reason for fear since — as Probst mentioned — there are safety swimmers right there in the water, but fear cares not for logic nor reason. I don’t have any problem with Katurah stepping out of the challenge due to that, the same way I had no issue with Brandon not being able to climb that ladder just a few minutes into the game. Sometimes the mind just won’t let the body do what it wants to do.

Speaking of which, Bruce once again found himself one of the last two contestants standing — or, I guess, lying down — this time against Austin. I thought Bruce would lose the last two times and he won. So naturally, I thought he would win this one, and he lost. Figures. But he no doubt felt he was safe with his idol so decided to let go. WHOOPS!

<p>CBS</p> Bruce Perreault


Bruce Perreault

Bruce is cut loose

“We cannot go the final three with anyone called Mama.” That is the most astute thing Katurah has said all season. Well, outside of anything she said in time lapse form, that is. And yet then Emily and Katurah decided to use the one opportunity when they actually had the numbers to take out a Reba four alliance member and instead gun for the player every single person on the beach wanted out. It’s impressive Emily was able to make it happen, but I still wonder… why make it happen?

I have to assume that Emily figures Austin and Drew also have no plans to sit next to Mama J at the end and will strike before she makes it that far, but after seeing how tight that foursome is, do you really want to risk that? And do you really ant to sit next to Drew and Austin? Isn’t a final 3 with Jake and Katurah a lot more appealing? I’m just asking questions here. Instead, Emily convinced Bruce not to play his idol and now Bruce is heading to the jury so he can instruct everyone else on how to properly vote.

As I wrote last week while admittedly somewhat distracted contemplating how much stuffing and gravy I planned cram into my mouth, Bruce has had a very up and down experience this season. Super impressive in challenges, but I’m sure he can’t be happy to see how everyone was talking about him behind his back and how he was perceived even by the folks he considered his biggest allies. Taking in both the good and the bad — definitely not atypical in this game. Bruce wanted the full Survivor experience after his day 1 medevac on season 44. Well, he got it — and all that comes with it.

My only question is… what will Katurah now do with Bruce gone? Look, I’m sure there has been more to Katurah’s game and experience than acting as the founder and chairman of the Uncle Bruce is Driving Me Insane in the Membrane club. But I also know that every cutting comment and frustrated facial reaction and seemingly laser-focused obsession with getting her bossy tribemate out has been absolute television gold. And it’s the reason Katurah has been so entertaining to watch this season. Anytime Bruce — who was a huge presence himself — did something super impressive or super annoying, there was only one reaction we wanted to see, and that reaction was Katurah’s.

Now we just need Jake or Julie or someone to piss her off so we can get more of that goodness. Either that or she should get voted off on day 21, leading producers to immediately reinstate the Ponderosa videos with round the clock footage so we can see every single awkward interaction between Bruce and Katurah as they attempt to coexist at the jury house. If that’s not a Paramount+ streaming series, I don’t know what is.

Okay, Bruce’s time in the game may be done, but his time with us is far from through. We chatted with Uncle Bruce, who had a lot to say about his relationships with Katurh and Kellie, so make sure to check that out. We also have a deleted scene from this week’s episode just for you and only you! Plus, Hostmaster General Jeff Probst explains how that insane fever dream of a Top Gun montage made it into the show, so put on your Aviator sunglasses and give that a read. You can follow me on Twitter/X and Instagram for more updates, and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy.

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