11 weeks in, and the home stretch of Survivor season 44 is upon us. Current Georgia Tech aerospace engineering student and NASA employee, Carson Garrett, has made it into the toughest stretch of the game. As Jeff says, let’s get it on!
SURVIVOR SEASON 44 EPISODE 11 SPOILERS AHEAD
At the beginning, we see Carolyn absolutely flipping out to Carson and Yam Yam that they blindsided Frannie, one of her closer allies in the game. She gets over it eventually the next day, but Yam Yam and Carson were definitely put in a panicked position upon returning to camp with how hard Carolyn took the vote. For Carson, he knew this was just part of the game.
“After talking with Carolyn, we’re back on track and Tika is still strong. Yeah, we get in silly fights, but we are controlling the vote and kinda pulling the strings and we are playing a very ‘under the radar’ game,” he said in a confessional.
The immunity challenge this week was a Survivor classic called “Last Gasp,” where the players hold to the underside of a rebar barge while the tide rises up, eventually pulling their faces completely underwater as the waves come in. Carson said he tested the challenge in his bath tub before the season. Yam Yam would win after a couple hours in the water in such deep concentration he didn’t even hear Jeff when he had won.
For Carson, this was in hindsight not a great thing. Yes, one of his closest allies won and was protected, but Yam Yam was the target of everyone else on the tribe. For Danny, Heidi, Lauren, and Jamie, they knew the Tika three were one vote away from controlling the game with numbers, so getting one of the the three out was essential for their own safety.
With Yam Yam winning, that meant Carson, after 20 days receiving no votes, was on the chopping block for the first time.
Carolyn very quickly figures out that Danny is not being truthful when he tells her about a plan that doesn’t involve voting Carson, even when asking about him point blank. I’ve had my doubts about Carolyn, but at this moment, I saw a new level of her bullshit detector that very well could be her biggest asset going forward. For Carson though, if she didn’t deduce the situation that quickly, he may have had no fighting chance.
“This is the first time I’m starting to hear my name and it’s stressful and I’m feeling claustrophobic. I’ve worked so hard to be in this power position. And now to know that it might be all crumbling down, I could be screwed,” Carson said.
The plan for Carson then becomes to approach Jamie and Lauren to see if any of them are up for gunning for Danny, as he still stands as a notable thread in the game too. He thinks he may have swayed them, but I bet in the back of his mind he had some doubt there too.
It’s at this moment where Carolyn wins the episode. After finding the idol at Tika, telling no one about it, and somehow not getting caught despite the bag still swinging when the rest of Tika showed up mere minutes later, she finally reveals to Carson that she has the idol, and is willing to play it for him. Carson tears up immediately knowing his closest ally in the game might be the one that keeps him in it.
At tribal, Carson only gets one question aired, and he speaks as if he’s about to get voted out, but it’s such a beautiful testimonial to what the game mean to him, but also what life is like a for a 20 year old, even when someone like him goes to a unique school like Georgia Tech.
He said, “I think coming in at such a young age, I wasn’t sure how I would be with all of these people that have so much more experience than me. Also, just battling my own insecurities about myself. I was the weird kid. I was definitely not cool in high school. I just learned how to do the bro handshake like a month before coming out here. I’m such a quirky person, but I think Survivor has taught me how to accept my quirks and be confident in them. And that’s something I will never be able to buy with just a million dollars. So, I’m beyond grateful to be here.”
After spending what seemed like 10+ minutes in the voting booth, Carolyn initially wrote Lauren’s name down, but then crossed it out and voted for Danny, played her idol for Carson, and sent Danny home. Carson in the end only received two votes to Danny’s three, so Carolyn’s idol didn’t make a difference. But in the moment, Carolyn knew her best chance at survival was keeping Carson around, and the idol was going to be the cost that to be 100% sure he would be around on day 22. Carolyn now has a massive power play in her resume that the jury was awestruck at.
So, Carson has made the final six. He has a controlling stake in half the votes with him, Yam Yam, and Carolyn. There’s still plenty that could happen to shake up the game and get any one of these six people remaining out. Heidi has the only idol left in the game. Hers is the Va Va idol, which would only be rehidden in the case she plays it at the next tribal council.
Carson’s resume is very good. Yam Yam might be the running favorite right now because he’s been able to manufacture successful votes against people that voted for him, of which some of those people are on the jury.
Questions for Carson if I had the chance to ask: How did you manage to test the challenge in a bath tub? What was that experience like? Before going to tribal, did it feel like the end for you when Carolyn told you it might be you? Were there other scramble plans that you tried that didn’t make it on air? How long did Carolyn take in the voting booth?
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