Survivor this week turned 648 episodes old, and nine of those episodes have included current Georgia Tech aerospaace engineering student, Carson Garrett. The (then) 20 year old has been slowly but surely gaining steam in the game in the currently airing season. Five episodes remain, so we’ll see how far he can make it. Let’s dig in!
SURVIVOR SEASON 44 EPISODE 9 SPOILERS AHEAD
Last week, Carson took part in the Soka blindside of Brandon by voting along with the Ratu members to put on that they weren’t aware of Danny’s idol, protecting his working relationships with Ratu. Critically, he avoided making any enemies and strengthened his stance with the remaining Sokas (Frannie, Danny, Heidi).
The Brandon vote brought the game to nine players left, all evenly divided between the original tribes of Ratu, Tika, and Soka. Even though Carson was part of Ratu for the final part of the tribe stage of the game, he still functions as a Tika member in the merged Va Va tribe.
After an off day, which included Heidi finding the rehidden idol after Danny used his, Carson woke up on day 17 still very exhausted from his previous bout with a stomach bug.
“This morning, I woke up more tired than when I went to bed last night. The last couple of days in terms of how I’m feeling have been a rollercoaster. But at least I don’t feel like I’m gonna throw up all the time.”
For a 20-year old, still physically developing guy, I actually can imagine how exhausting this can be. Not eating when your body is not done fully forming, even if one’s height is at its peak, can be a very painful experience. I haven’t reached the point of starvation like he has here, but not eating is really impactful at this age.
“We are really hungry. I know for myself I haven’t eaten in literally, days. I have nothing in my body,” said Carson.
In this modern version of Survivor, the show doesn’t just give the players food like they did in the past. You have to earn everything, even food as they pretty much scavenge for what they eat in the front half of the game.
“We kinda just find unripe papaya, cook it, an char it. It’s pretty gross, and we don’t have that many coconuts,” said Carson in a confessional. “So we’re really, literally, starving. But, I signed up for this. I knew I was going to be miserable. It is what it is. It’s Survivor.”
Tree mail brought Va Va news that their next challenge would include a negotiation for rice. If enough players opted out of the immunity challenge, the tribe would receive a full bag of rice. At this news, Carson immediately offered up to sit out at camp, but couldn’t pull in others to back out.
Once they arrived at the challenge (“Ballin a Jack”), the rain was in a severe downpour, and the challenge itself was an endurance challenge. Lauren and Carson immediately offered to sit out when negotiations with Probst began to see if they would receive rice. Considering how weak Carson looked when he arrived at the challenge, foregoing immunity for the chance to eat made lots of sense.
The rain and cold that came with it certainly added a heavy psychological effect to the decision making in the moment, as both Heidi and Kane backed out of the challenge as well.
(A quick aside, Jeff Probst on his podcast this week mentioned that in figuring out when the rice negotiation would happen during the show, they consulted with the show’s doctors to land on an optimal day to strike the balance of players of course feeling the effects of being hungry, but not suffering any long-term effects.)
Frannie would win the challenge, a good result for Carson as he gets to eat and a member of his previous voting block was immune.
The rice back at camp provided an immediate effect. Everyone’s energy levels immediately elevated, giving new life to the game.
At this point, everyone at Va Va knew that Tika actually held the most power in the game, as they’ve worked with both Ratu and Soka in the past but haven’t been targeted as enough of threats to be voted out. Soka offers up Kane as their name to possibly get out, while Ratu offers a split vote between Heidi and Lauren, after learning their lesson last week when they didn’t split votes and lost Brandon.
In the discussions with Carolyn and Yam Yam, Carson is the centerpiece of what Tika will do. Both of his alliance members go to him to run ideas by and get an official stance on what they will do. Yam Yam also wants Kane out because Kane voted for him last tribal, and he noted in a confession that the last three people to put his name down all ended up gone the following tribals.
In the midst of this, the entire Va Va tribe still believes that Jamie’s fake idol is indeed real, as the only person who knew it was fake, Matthew, got voted out before telling anyone.
Carson and Tika decide to work with Soka again and get Kane out, and to show face to Ratu again, play along with the idea of splitting votes between Heidi and Lauren, but tell them Jamie’s name has been floating around.
Once Jamie catches wind of that, her next move is to hand her fake idol to Kane in case there is a Knowledge is Power advantage out there.
At tribal, Jeff’s questioning doesn’t exactly make anyone more sure of what will happen, and a live tribal ensues with a bunch of whispering and side discussions. Carson again is the guy both Yam Yam and Carolyn go to and make sure their plan is still in place.
Their plan does end up succeeding better than they literally know, as Kane gets voted out with Jamie’s idol in his pocket.
So, where does it leave Carson? Notably, he’s not in a minority anymore! Him and Soka can control this game for a little bit, picking off the remaining Ratu members if they want. He again was an instrumental part of a vote without necessarily calling the shots for everyone. It will be interesting to see if he decides to bring other Soka members closer alongside Yam Yam & Carolyn, or if he eventually thinks he’ll have to betray either of his closest allies in the game.
This might be the week though where he legitimately has enemies in the game. Lauren and Jamie ought to know at this point they are in the minority. Carson has been incredibly likeable the entire time, but eventually strategy wins out.
Survivor again and again has shown the game can change at any given moment and throw a massive dent in someone’s plans. We’re down to the final eight. Carson doesn’t have an idol, and likely won’t have access to one unless Heidi plays her’s next week and Carson finds the re-hidden idol.
Questions for Carson if I had the chance to ask: Were you idol hunting? How committed were you to not participating in the challenge? How long do you think you would have lasted if you played? Were you confident enough in your position at that point anyways to bow out? How did you feel after you got food? In live tribal, how confident were you you’re plan was going to work?
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