“Survivor 44” Finale Recap – And the Winner Is…

“Survivor 44” (CBS)

Welcome to MoreWhatnot.com, my personal blog where I’ll be posting “Survivor” episode recaps all season long. For exit interviews with all of the final five be sure to check out my YouTube channel on Thursday!

Last Week: Lauren’s win kept her off the block, Heidi’s wasted idol was a shock, and Jaime took the lonely walk.

39 26 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribe as it currently stands…

The Va Va Tribe (wearing black)

  • Carolyn, 35 – Drug Counselor
  • Carson, 20 – NASA Engineering Student
  • Heidi, 43 – Engineering Manager
  • Lauren, 31 – Elementary School Teacher
  • Yam Yam, 36 – Salon Owner

Post-Tribal Shenanigans

Our quintet is taken to their new beach where Carolyn makes them all feel at home by screaming her head off.

Once things settle down, Heidi tells everyone about her idol. Carolyn isn’t surprised that Heidi wouldn’t tell them about her advantage. This also tips everyone off that there’s probably another idol out there.

The following morning, everyone goes on a little idol hunt. The idol is tied up in a tree and the camera crew delights in filming people walking right by it.

During the hunt, Lauren is also doing her best to throw Carson under the bus…or into the fire…

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will race through a giant three-level obstacle while collecting keys. Once they have the keys they’ll unlock a chest that gives them a rope that allows them to unleash a ladder. They’ll climb the ladder and be faced with a puzzle. The first person to complete the puzzle wins immunity. They’ll also get a trip to the Sanctuary for lunch.

Quick Aside: That puzzle looks awfully 3D printable…

Another Quick Aside: As Probst is listing the food available at the Sanctuary, they all flip out over carrot cake. Carrot cake? I can’t support any of these people to win.

Result: The 3D printer wins! He’s allowed to take one person with him and he chooses Yam Yam. 

Pre-Tribal Politicking

The fellas debate the next step at their pasta dinner date. Yam Yam is pushing for Carolyn mainly because of the antics she pulled with the Tika idol.

However, Carson is worried that the Tika three will have trouble against anyone other than each other. He believes the jury will appreciate an underdog story.

Back at camp, Heidi starts needling Carolyn about why Yam Yam was taken on the reward.

Also, Lauren lets Carolyn know that Yam Yam was throwing her name around before the last vote.

When the guys return, Yam Yam is very nervous because he feels a tremor in the force. And Carolyn is giving both of the guys the newbie jeebies. 

Tribal Time

Lauren makes an interesting point that she thinks she’s on her way out of the game, but nobody is talking to her hoping to get on her good side for her jury vote. 

This shocks Carolyn because she feels like they talked a lot.

Carson is very nervous because Lauren never approached him. So, maybe she’s putting on a facade? 

Lauren gets very emotional when discussing how well she has done in the game. This is very touching, but she’s giving people a ton of reasons to send her to the jury.

Voting Time: Lauren votes for Yam Yam, Carson votes for Lauren, and the rest of the votes are secret.

JPro tallies and returns. He asks if anyone wants to play an idol or an advantage and…Lauren pretends like she has one. Adorable.

We’ve got one vote for Yam Yam, one vote for Lauren, one vote for Heidi, one vote for Lauren, and the fourteenth person eliminated from “Survivor 44” is…Lauren.

Immunity Challenge Time: It’s the ol’ Fishbach Breaker! The players will put a ball in a metal ramp structure, they’ll catch it at the bottom, and then pop it back into the top. As time goes on they’ll add more balls. Last person with all of their balls in motion will get to choose who has to make fire. 

Result: It comes down to Heidi vs. Carson with Heidi picking up her first individual immunity win of the season!

Whoa…as Jeff is wrapping things up, he says that she’ll get to decide which of the other three players will have to make fire. Heidi corrects Jeff, saying that she herself could step down and make fire.

Pre-Tribal Politicking

The group is met by four fire-making kits. That’s very convenient.

Carson is very stressed out because he was able to make fire at home, but hasn’t been able to make it happen on the island.

Yam Yam, on the other hand, is very intrigued by the idea of making fire. He thinks a win could put him over the top with the jury. Carolyn is in the same boat. She likes the idea of struggling at all of the challenges during the season and then winning one in the end.

Later, Yam Yam gives Carson some pointers, which is amazing because they could be squaring off against each other. This whole moment speaks very well of Yam Yam.

Heidi’s got some mad fire skills too. And, she appreciates that her possible opponents are pretty good.

Tribal Time

Oh boy, Probst calls out Heidi for thinking about stepping down to compete. Well, now she has to, doesn’t she?

Carson downplays his ability to make fire, and again hits home the point that Heidi should step down.

OK, Heidi decides to take Carolyn to the final three.

Heidi then reveals that Carson will be making fire.

And finally, Heidi reveals that she is going to step down to take on Carson. Good for her. Absolutely puts her in the best possible position to win.

Fire-Making Challenge: The two combatants will each build a fire. The first person to burn through a rope that is tied across the top of their station will be the last member of the final three.

Result: The prophecy came true! Carson lost at fire! Wow, and Probst says that Heidi’s fire was the fastest in the history of the show. Heidi vs. Gabler! Book it!

And Then There Were Three

Kane is very impressed with how well Yam Yam is able to read body language.  Matt liked how he straddled alliances. And, Brandon thought Yam Yam was hilarious and everything he did was very calculated.

Carson was very impressed that Heidi stepped down to make fire. Matt agrees, saying that Heidi took out the king in Carson. And, Jaime says Heidi will get her vote if she can explain how she kept herself safe through every Tribal.

Frannie thinks Carolyn used her emotions to her advantage. Lauren was impressed with how Carolyn was so authentically herself. And, Jaime thinks Carolyn threw everybody off and knew what she was doing the entire time.

We also get the perfect bookend for Carolyn where she speaks to the producer who interviewed her during the very first shot of the season. She’s blown away that she made it to the end, she didn’t even think she’d make the merge.

Tribal Time

Kane starts things off, by saying that every vote is up in the air. He then asks the players what they think the jury’s perceptions of them are, and are those impressions accurate?

Yam Yam thinks they see him as a happy-go-lucky person, which is true. But he thinks the misperception is that he followed Carson. He claims that they were both making decisions.

Heidi interrupts him, saying they were riding Soka’s coattails. Yam Yam tells her that that is what they wanted them to believe, and that Yam Yam knew everybody’s vote at every Tribal. Carson is nodding along with this.

Heidi thinks the perception of her varied throughout the game. At first she seemed strategic, but then when she lost numbers she was just playing under the radar. She disagrees, saying she was always making moves.

Carolyn and Carson made an alliance on day one and she and Yam Yam are both so similar that she was shocked they were on the same tribe. She knows people were underestimating her. 

Carson loved how Carolyn and Yam Yam evolved. But, he didn’t play with Heidi that long, so he asks about her relationships.

Heidi says Soka had targets on their backs at the merge, but she was able to make it through.

Yam Yam counters that Tika took advantage of the fact that the other players thought they were saving Tika.

Heidi responds that Carson is going to defend Yam Yam and Carolyn because he made the same moves.

Danny wants to know how they used Carson. Yam Yam admits that he used Carson to get information. But, he used a lot of the jury to get information. He also says that he used Carson to go on a reward.

Danny also wants to know who Heidi used to get forward and she smartly says she used him. (That was obviously what he was digging for.)

Frannie asks how they used their emotions to propel their game. And Carolyn burst into flames.

Just kidding.

Carolyn tells the jury that when you’re an addict you hold in your emotions. And when she holds in her emotions today, she finds it painful. 

Yam Yam found it frustrating how people would be very blank when they’d talk to him. So, he’d build real relationships with them so he could learn their tells so he could figure out when they were telling the truth. Wowwww…

It was very important to Heidi to represent people that look and sound different. It was important to be a representation of a woman in the science field. So, she’s tried to control her emotions so she can be a great example.

Matt is very impressed with all of their abilities to be themselves which is challenging for him.

Frannie wants to know how everyone thought they would do in the challenges. Carolyn hilariously thought she would do great, and it broke her heart when her letter from home featured her son hoping she was winning challenges.

Heidi thinks her immunity and fire-making wins put her in the best position to be the sole Survivor. She also gets in a nice dig that she wanted to eliminate Carson because he was making all of the decisions for Tika.

And, Carson mentions that she made the fastest fire in the history of “Survivor” for like the 30th time. He really likes that fun fact.

Oh, then she points out that a vote for her will make history because it will make her the oldest female winner ever.

Yam Yam didn’t think he’d do particularly well in the challenges, which is frustrating because his family is very physical. He then makes the point that he’d be the first Puerto Rican male to win “Survivor.”

Carolyn and Yam Yam get into it a bit over Carolyn’s idol move, with Yam Yam pointing out that if she trusted him, she wouldn’t have played it. Carolyn makes an excellent counter, saying that she trusted Yam Yam, but not playing it would have meant she trusted Jaime and Lauren too. And, she needed Carson around because she needed Danny to go.

Danny picks up on this specific comment and asks why it was so important for him to leave. She says that he was seemingly running things at the time.

Carson does a little work for Yam Yam, pointing out that he was on the right side of the vote 90% of the time. This allows Yam Yam to discuss how he voted out everybody who voted for him. And also how he used his wits and his personality to progress in the game.

And finally, Heidi discusses how she ended up without an alliance and had to adapt, whereas the Tikas were able to work together.

Voting Time: No votes are shown. Uh oh…

JPro tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Heidi, four votes for Yam Yam, and the winner of “Survivor 44” is…Yam Yam!

The only person who voted for Heidi was Danny. Not surprising.

Verdict: I can’t complain about that winner. Yam Yam was in the thick of everything, he was likable, personable, clever, charismatic, you name it. Hell of a cast, too.

I’m just not sure what this season’s trademark moments are going to be. Are there any? Is this a case of a great cast giving us a mediocre season?

That being said, the numbered seasons are really starting to blend together to me. Same challenges, same twists, three tribes, etc.

Power Rankings Result: “Survivor 43” Finalist Owen Knight had two people in the right place for four points, while I had three people in the right place for six points. So, the final score is Team Holmes 84, Team Knight 98.



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