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‘Survivor’ Recap: Player Injury Leads to Skipped Tribal Council

The Third Turd

Season 44 • Episode 5

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Survivor Season 44 Episode 5, “The Third Turd.”]

It’s always a scramble when a once strong alliance breaks. That was the case in Survivor Season 44 Episode 5, “The Third Turd,” as Carolyn and Yam Yam from the Tika tribe struggled to make amends following the shocking Episode 4 tribal council.

The true struggle was with Matthew from Ratu, still suffering from the aftermath of his dislocated shoulder in the season premiere. The med stop-laden premiere already sent one player home after Bruce suffered a gnarly head injury. Brandon needed medical attention as well in the first episode to treat heat exhaustion.

Brandon recovered, and Matthew has been making his sore shoulder work in the weeks since. But Episode 5 proved the pain from his injury was too great to continue. He eventually removed himself from the game, resulting in a rare tribal council-free episode.

Here’s how he found himself making the heartbreaking choice to leave the game early.

Matthew Grinstead-Mayle and the Ratu tribe in 'Survivor' Season 44

Robert Voets/CBS

Matthew expressed he was “in a lot of pain” to new teammate Carson early on in the episode, but noted he was trying his hardest to stick it out. Not being able to play to his fullest after lengthy training ahead of the season added to his melancholy, but he was determined to persist.

Jeff Probst, however, clocked that he sat out of another challenge and came to the event with his arm back in the sling. After Ratu’s victory (Soka came in second, which would have sent Tika to its second tribal council in two days, third overall), the medical team returned to check on Matthew.

“It’s so weak, I feel like gravity’s going to pull it out of the socket,” he shared with the doctor through tears. “I’m just really worried because I’m only eating a couple hundred calories and day, and I just don’t know how well my body can heal under the conditions that I’m in.”

Probst looked on with sympathy as he asked doctor Will to explain the pain. As he described, the soft tissue in Matthew’s shoulder was likely torn to an extent that it would heal quickly like it would in other cases. Jeff asked why he kept competing in the physically demanding challenges if he was in pain, despite their recommendation to take it easy.

While Matthew decided his fate, Tika’s Carolyn, Soka’s Danny, and Ratu’s Brandon were sent on a journey.

'Survivor' Season 44 Episode 5 challenge, Tribes Tika and Soka

Robert Voets/CBS

While they trekked, Yam Yam campaigned against his former ally with Josh. The two bonded, and while Josh trusted Carolyn more, her summit journey results would be a strategy-changer.

The trio worked their way down the beach and got to know each other, eventually making their way to a sanctuary. Rather than having to risk their votes for idols, or having no-strings-attached idols waiting for them upon arrival, their reward was actually a break from the heat, hunger, and dehydration, and the advantage was the informative conversations shared.

Carolyn realized how quickly the conversation became a boys club. While all three were sharing a meal, Danny and Brandon began talking strategy together and acting as if Carolyn weren’t there, despite the fact that she was sitting right between them.

Survivor viewers have noted for several seasons now that most of the people voted out in the game’s first string of tribals are women. Past contestants have also drawn criticism — from fellow tribe members and viewers alike — for voting Black players out one right after the other.

Seeing Brandon and Danny ignore Carolyn so haphazardly showed how easy it is for the players on the show to disregard women and their strategic, social, and physical skills. Even when Carolyn called out the exclusion, they didn’t seem phased by her valid point.

Like Yam Yam last week, Brandon gave Carolyn a backhanded compliment, saying she was someone to keep around because she doesn’t perform well in challenges.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she declared in confessional. “People may look at me and underestimate me and think I’m just goofing around out here, but I’m playing. I found an immunity. I planted a fake immunity idol. I planned a successful blindside. So they better watch out for me at the merge, because I will make the merge. Yes!”

With how much screen time Carolyn gets to defend her playing and decry those who doubt her, the edit is starting to feel like she’s going far in this game. That, or the season’s fan favorite will be going home very, very soon. (Personally, I hope it’s the former.)

Back at Tika, she bemoaned the “meat brigade” to her teammates, making it clear that she thinks Josh is part of it (he wasn’t). To defend himself, Josh repeated the lie that he has another idol, but made the mistake of showing the fake one he made to Carolyn and Yam Yam, who immediately recognized the idol note and the beads from tree mail and subsequently called him out for it.

Survivor Season 44 Episode 4 reward challenge

Robert Voets/CBS

“This idol is so fake,” he told the cameras. As Carolyn vied to get Yam Yam back on her side, and as Yam Yam debated who to side with at all, Josh revealed his medical history that made him capable of turning bad situations into good ones (the surgeon had a full stomach removal during his first year of medical school due to continued complications from childhood illnesses).

All of their campaigning was moot. Jeff came to camp before they could even leave for tribal council to give them news that could “completely change the direction of the game.”

“Matthew is no longer in the game due to his shoulder,” he told the players. “The pain became too much. He couldn’t take it anymore, and he wisely opted to take care of himself longterm.”

But why inform them of this at the beach? “Matthew’s bad news is your good fortune,” he said. “That means, there is no tribal council tonight.”

Viewers didn’t get to see Matthew’s last moments with his team. And based on the trailer for Episode 6, that would’ve been some of Ratu’s last moments anyway.

“Drop your buffs!” Josh reads aloud with glee in the trailer. That’s right: it’s merge time!

Survivor, Wednesdays, 8/7c, CBS

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