Blinded By Love (And Stupidity)

Before we get into this week’s episode of Survivor 45 (Ep. 11, “This Game Rips Your Heart Out”), I need you to know that I’m very angry about it. In fact, you could even say I’m furious about it. But I have a job to do, so all I will say is that there’s one player so blinded by love that they make one of the stupidest moves in Survivor history. OK, I said it, I had to. But more on that coming up.

Oh yeah, also, spoilers ahead. (Duh.)

Before we get to any of those spoilers, let’s get caught up a little. Last week, Bruce got sent home, which everyone has been trying to do since day one of this season. You can read my full recap of last week to get all the details. While you’re tapping on links, sign up for my newsletter For the Culture for everything Survivor delivered to your inbox and check out The Parting Shot with H. Alan Scott podcast for loads of fun celebrity interviews.

OK, this week starts off with everyone celebrating that they finally ousted Bruce. They’re ecstatic about it, particularly Katurah, who has been president of the “Get Bruce Out” fan club. However, now that they’ve finally got rid of the one person they’ve been gunning for all season, a haunting reality set in at camp. It’s like the game is real now. They look around and realize that they’re no longer united in over trying to get one person out, they’re about to turn on each other. Things will never be the same again.

This starts when Emily reveals that it was her gameplay that got Bruce to not play the idol sitting in his pocket. She made him feel like he didn’t need to because it would be a waste of an idol, one he could probably play in the future. She didn’t say exactly that, but the implication was there. So everyone starts cheering for Emily because it was one of the best game plays of the season. But the merriment is all a pretense because now this puts a target on Emily’s back. She’s clearly smart, perhaps too smart. (Insert evil music here.)

Meanwhile, the original Reba tribe members, Drew, Austin, Dee and Julie all celebrate that their alliance remains strong. Now that it’s down to seven people, they hold a majority at Tribal Council and effectively control the game. The begs the question: is their alliance truly as strong as it appears?

Well, two of them are, but in ways (wink wink) that go beyond the game. You see that subtle romance brewing between Dee and Austin finally materialized in this episode, with the two of them lying on the beach talking to each other. Austin brings up that he secretly hoped for a showmance before he left, one akin to Boston Rob and Amber’s romance (and later marriage) from Survivor 8 (Marquesas). He tells Dee, “Maybe I’ll find my Amber on the island.” (Gag.) She laughs playfully (OMG get a room, right? Wait, it’s Survivor, there are no rooms. Get behind a large rock? What’s the equivalent?) and then says that she told herself before she left, “No showmances.” However, she then says that she did think, “Maybe I’ll find my husband out here.” Ugh, I want to throw up, but in a cute awww kind of way, you know? Anyway, spoiler alert, this love s*** will come back to bite them in the a**.

Pictured (L-R): Katurah Topps, Jake O’Kane, Austin Li Coon, and Drew Basile. Photo: CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Highest quality screengrab available.
CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc


Suddenly they see a boat, which means a ton of things, but it’s usually not a source of joy. Basically, someone delivers a note telling them they need to choose one member to go on a journey. They draw rocks and Emily is chosen, which only puts more of a target on her back. They already know she’s smart, and now she has the potential to win an advantage on this journey.

While Emily goes off on this journey, the rest of them do the one thing they can do, talk strategy. (It’s a beach, what else can they do? They already have tans.)

Drew and Julie chat about Emily. Neither of them loves where she’s at in the game. Drew also wants Julie to do something with her idol. (However, it really isn’t her idol. Not long ago, Austin gave it to her to protect her, and she’s just kept it like a piece of Tupperware after your friend’s Thanksgiving dinner. Like, you need to give that back.) This chatter worries Julie because she thinks Drew is being paranoid. She chats with Dee, and both agree that they need to take out Emily because she’s close to Drew.

Meanwhile, Jake and Katurah have their own plotting going on. They think Julie is too strong, everybody loves her, and they fear that if she makes it to the end she will win. Drew joins in and is down to take out Julie. Then Katurah goes over to Austin, and to everyone’s surprise, he’s down to take out Julie too. It looks like it’s going to be Julie. But not so fast, it’s Survivor, things never go as expected.

Emily gets off the boat and discovers on her journey that she needs to do a puzzle called disentanglement involving a rope and something else dumb. However, she has an option. She can choose not to do it and lose her vote at Tribal Council. She knows she won’t be able to do the puzzle, so she decides to lose her vote, and hopes people believe her when she tells them back at camp.

Once back at camp, she tells everybody and Dee does not believe her. But it’s fine, because Drew tells Emily that the majority is cool with taking Julie out.


Only one challenge in this episode, and it’s for both immunity and reward. Basically, they need to collect enough rope—which is also tied around their waist—to make it to the end of this long obstacle course thingy. They gotta climb up and over stuff, then throw a bunch of sandbags at blocks. Those blocks spell a word. They gotta put them together so that they spell out the same thing on both sides. (Literally just writing this description of the challenge gives me a headache.)

Anyway, Austin thinks he’s close to solving it, but doesn’t realize it needs to spell out something on both sides. So Drew sneaks in there and wins immunity. Not only is he safe from being voted out at Tribal Council, he also gets to pick two other people to go have some food. He picks Austin and Jake.

Survivor 45 Ep. 11
Pictured (L-R): Drew Basile. Photo: CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Highest quality screengrab available.
CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.


It seems like things are settled, Julie is going home. But Austin is torn. You see, he has this showmance going on with Dee, and he feels so guilty not telling her about this plan. Even though he says he knows Dee won’t tell Julie the plan, you know deep down he does. He probably thinks the affection they share for each other will be enough to keep it a secret. (When has this ever worked dudes?)

Anyway, he tells Dee, and now her head is spinning. Because she wants to remain good with Austin, but she also knows she needs to tell Julie. (Of course she does.) She even admits that if Julie knows and plays her idol (aka Austin’s idol), it would really hurt both Austin and Dee’s game.

So what does Dee do? She tells Julie. (This is where I started to get furious, just so you know.)

Well now Julie is spiraling. Dee tells Julie to play her idol and vote for Emily. But Julie is like, nah, I want Austin out because she feels betrayed by him. (Duh, I would too.)

So then Julie, also making a dumb move, goes over to Jake and Emily and throws out the possibility of voting Austin out. (These Reba tribe members are acting really dumb.) So this, of course, makes Emily and Jake tell Drew what they’ve heard, which means Julie knows they’re targeting her.

Survivor 45 Ep. 9
Pictured (L-R): Austin Li Coon. Photo: CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Highest quality screengrab available.
CBS Broadcasting

Eventually, Austin tells Drew that he told Dee, but he doesn’t think she would tell Julie. (Ugh, dude, wake up, how can you be so stupid? I’m screaming at this point.) He says he could play his amulet—which turned into a immunity idol—but he’d rather not have to until the next Tribal.

You see, basically what happened was Austin made a dumb move blinded by love, and then Dee made a dumb move blinded by… sand in her eye? I really don’t know what her thought process is. Either way it’s dumb. Because now Julie is a wild card and could potentially send anyone she wants home—with the exception of Drew, who has immunity.

And this whole who should be playing with who thing was discussed in depth on Jeff Probst’s official Survivor podcast On Fire. Certainly worth a listen.


So there’s a lot of chatter about feelings and how the votes are becoming personal because everyone’s so bonded, blah blah. We all know everyone wants to know what Julie is going to do. (Us and them at Tribal Council.)

So they go and vote. Jeff asks if anybody has an idol. Julie plays her idol. (Austin’s idol. Return your Tupperware folks!) Then Jeff reads the votes. Everybody votes for Julie except Julie. (Because that would be weird.) Who does she vote for? EMILY!

Ugh, I hate it. But what this does is it puts a kink in the alliance of Reba, because now it’s war. In the preview of next week’s episode, Julie and Drew go ham on each other, like it’s a battle. (Also there’s a hint Jake, who like Bruce has been perpetually on the bottom, might be making a comeback. I hope so.)

Who Needs to Get Snuffed?

All of Reba. Austin, Drew, Dee and Julie. I want them all gone. Bye. Good day to you. You’re done.

Who Should be the Sole Survivor?

At this point, I’m rooting for Katurah or Jake. It doesn’t matter which one. I think Katurah has had a better game and has played a better game, but I’d be happy with either of them.

Watch Survivor every Wednesday on CBS or anytime on Paramount+ to follow along as I react to every episode this season.