I’m back from vacation, so that means the Survivor series is back up and running! Carson Garrett, a current Georgia Tech aerospace engineering student, is still alive and well in the game after seven episodes with a possible path forward to stick around even longer. Let’s get into it.
SURVIVOR SEASON 44 EPISODE 7 SPOILERS AHEAD
The tribes are now fully merged after the events of episode six, where Carson was safe from being voted out by being on the winning team in the “earn the merge” challenge.
This week opens with a discussion about what to call the fully merged tribe. Carson had a Fijian name picked out, but Yam Yam’s idea of calling it “Va Va,” meaning 44 in Fijian, won out.
In a discussion with Danny, Carson comes to an agreement that Lauren would be a possible target because she has an extra vote to use. It was notable to me that Carson was the first one between them to actually say Lauren’s name, which theoretically Danny could’ve used as a reason to get Carson out by framing the Lauren vote as “his idea.”
He’s then pulled into a conversation with Matt, Frannie, and Kane where the idea of blindsiding Danny is proposed after they all agree that Danny feels like he’s pulling the strings with the Lauren plan, but also thinks it will work. If done successfully, the Danny blindside would also send him home with an idol in his pocket.
In his confessional, Carson said, “I feel like I’m in a really great position where just everyone really wants to work with me while Danny and Lauren are really in the spotlight. Myself and Tika are the ones deciding who’s going to win the war between Soka and Ratu and it’s perfect.”
Multiple players in this episode mentioned they felt like they were good positions and felt comfortable. When production decides to put those lines in, it can be an intentional foreshadowing as to what the tribal council vote will look like. For Matt, that ended up being the case this week.
At the immunity challenge, the 11 people remaining were split into two teams of five, leaving one person out who would not participate. As luck would have it, Carson drew the short straw. Since he wasn’t participating, he had to predict the winner between the two teams, and if they won, he would receive immunity from tribal along with the rest of the winning team. If they lost, he would be vulnerable at tribal.
Carson picked the Carolyn/Danny/Kane/Heidi/Frannie team in the challenge, which required players to balance a ball on a disk on the end of a long stick. Everyone but Frannie very quickly dropped their balls on Carson’s team, leaving Frannie in a 4v1 situation to win group immunity.
The end of the challenge turned into a duel between Frannie and Brandon (a former Seattle Seahawks practice squad player), which Frannie pulled out to keep Carson’s team safe at tribal, albeit without the ability to vote.
The winning team also received a meal back at camp (PB&J), and were also given a note that were only allowed to read after they finished eating. The note said there were keys hidden all over their camp, only one of which unlocked the bird cage from earlier in the season. Whoever found the right key would earn the advantage inside.
After lots of running back and forth from the cage, Heidi ended up finding the right key and winning the Control a Vote advantage, which gave her the ability to tell one person at tribal who to vote for.
At tribal, Heidi uses the advantage on Lauren, who has an extra vote as well, but the advantage only worked for one singular vote, not a person’s arsenal of votes. Lauren was directed to vote for Yam Yam, which ended up not materially changing the vote as Matt went home on a 3-2 split.
Where does this leave Carson?
Our friend Carson might actually be in one of the better positions in the game. As he mentioned in the episode, the spotlight is not on him, but he’s involved in strategy and continues to be a puzzle beast. He still has his two primary allies in Carolyn and Yam Yam while simultaneously appearing approachable to the remaining Ratu & Soka members.
On The Pod Has Spoken, hosted by Tyson Apostol, Survivor: Africa winner Ethan Zohn mentioned that playing a more reserved game is an optimal strategy right now. Any time someone looks threatening or starts barking out moves, they instantly become a target. There are ways to navigate oneself through the game without needing to forcefully lead votes or play an obviously intense game.
Carson I think has put himself in that situation. He’s kept himself out of the fray, hasn’t made any enemies, and is winning challenges, critically food rewards. He will be tested eventually if someone gets wise to his gameplay, or if he needs to spearhead a vote without a stable majoriy to back him.
Questions for Carson if I had the chance to ask: What was your thought process when you had to decide what team to go with in the immunity challenge? At the meal, how much was your head spinning about what the note could’ve been about? How long did it take for Heidi to put the right key in? How did it feel beign at tribal in a “jury” setting? What did you want to get out of that tribal?
Jack Purdy is a non-revenue sports writer and co-host of Scions of the Southland for From The Rumble Seat. He previously served as The Technique’s assistant sports editor before graduating Georgia Tech in 2022. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackNicolaus