Assuming You’re Safe Will Always Be Your Downfall

The Immunity Idol on Survivor can be a blessing and a curse. The assumption of safety is perhaps the most dangerous thing you can do in this game. There’s this dance players must do between trusting their alliances and following your gut, and it’s never easy. (But it’s also what makes the show so darn good.) In episode nine of season 46 of Survivor, there’s a whole lot of assumptions going on and well, it doesn’t go according to plan.

But before we get into that, just a reminder that all season long I’ll be recapping every episode of Survivor 46. Make sure you subscribe to the Parting Shot podcast and my newsletter For the Culture for all things Survivor-related. (And everything else entertainment-related.)

Let’s start things off by briefly recapping what went down last week. (For a more detailed recap, read this.) Basically, it was a topsy-turvy episode complete with one of the most head-spinning Tribal Councils in Survivor history. Q spent the episode switching targets left and right, confusingly organizing various strategies to take out Venus, Tiffany and then Liz. All this mayhem from Q led to a wild Tribal where he offered to quit the game as some kind of martyr, confusing literally everybody. In the end, though, it was Liz’s plan to take out Tevin that prevailed. This obviously means it’s going to be a very awkward return to camp for Q.

Once they got back to camp, everyone was basically like, ‘Uh, WTF, Q?!’ Nobody knew he was going to do what he did. Everyone agrees this puts a massive target on Q. But Q isn’t part of this conversation, because he’s isolated himself on the beach.

In a confessional, he said his intention was to flip votes at the last minute and he felt guilty about causing the chaos. Because of that, he wanted to take himself out. Instead, it just blew up in his face.

“I tried to take the heat and fall on my own sword,” Q said.

Tiffany confronts Q. He says he told everyone about her Idol because she wanted to take out a member of the alliance of six, Maria. She’s not having any of it.

“If you running around calling yourself my number one ally, then why are you spilling the beans about an Idol that I could have possibly used to protect your dumb ass? Because you couldn’t have your way? Are you stupid? Are you dumb?” Tiffany says in a confessional.

Meanwhile, Liz is pissed because she’s not getting any recognition for her big move that successfully got Tevin out of the game. Normally, I’d be like, who cares about recognition? You did the thing. But in Survivor, it kind of matters. Because of Q’s actions, everyone is focusing on what he did and not on Liz’s arguably very calculated move. And she only did that move so that she wouldn’t get lost in the game, yet now it seems like she’s just even more lost. However, I’ve always felt that if you have to work at getting attention or recognition, it’s always a perfect recipe for irrelevance.

Anyway, Liz only has one thing to do: Take out Q. Let’s see if she can do it.

Survivor 46: Ep. 9
Pictured (L-R): Maria Gonzalez, Hunter McKnight, and Kenzie Veurink. Photo: CBS ©2024 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.


Day 17

The next day they’re still talking about Q. The consensus is Q blew up his game.

“Even if he makes it to the end, he’s not getting my vote,” says Tiffany. Everyone agrees.

Venus loves the chaos. Remember last week when she thought she got Soda out? (It was really Tevin and Liz’s plan, but they let Venus think she did it.) Well, now she seems to think she got Tevin out. Honestly, I want to live in Venus’ world. Now she’s turning her attention to Hunter and Q—the two “meatheads”—because she’s sick of them thinking they’re running the game.

“Karma is a bitch,” Venus says. But also, karma is a two-way street. (Is that a saying? Probably not. You know what I mean. It’s gonna come back to get her. Whatever, let’s move on.)

Later on, they all gather for Tree Mail. It reads, “Three teams of three. You decide who’s who. Another joins the jury tonight. Just make sure it’s not you.” Clever.

Tiffany immediately calls a team for her, Kenzie and Ben. The next team is Hunter, Maria and Charlie. That leaves the last team as Q, Liz and Venus.

Survivor 46: Ep. 9
Pictured (L-R): Charlie Davis, Liz Wilcox, Kenzie Veurink, Hunter McKnight, Q Burdette, Maria Gonzalez, Ben Katzman, Venus Vafa, and Tiffany Ervin.


Q steps into action. He’s concerned about Hunter. He talks with both Venus and Charlie about Hunter. He’s planting little seeds that if Hunter makes it to the end, he wins. He’s suggesting for Charlie to throw the challenge to ensure Hunter is in the hot seat at Tribal Council.

“That does not jive with me, not at all,” Charlie says in a confessional. “Throwing a challenge, that’s just yuck to me. YUCK! I’m not gonna do it.”

They end their discussion with perhaps the most awkward handshake ever to be seen on Survivor.

Q is transparent, though: He’s only doing this to get the target off his back. It’s not a bad move, because Q is fully disliked at this point, he’s not a threat. Whereas Hunter, who all season has won challenges because he’s a literal beast, he’s certainly a threat.

Later, Charlie tells Maria, now seemingly his main ally, about what Q said. In a twist, Maria isn’t as concerned with getting rid of Q. He’s not a threat, nobody is going to vote for him to win, so who cares if he stays or goes? For Maria, she sees Tiffany as her biggest threat. She wants to send Tiffany home with her Idol.

“This is absolutely the time for a massive blindside,” Maria says.

Immunity Challenge

Survivor 46: Ep. 9
Pictured (L-R): Hunter McKnight, Q Burdette, Charlie Davis, Ben Katzman, Venus Vafa, Tiffany Ervin, Maria Gonzalez, Kenzie Veurink, and Liz Wilcox.


Today’s challenge runs in stages. At each stage, the last group is out. For the first stage, they’ve got to climb a balance beam and then grab a pair of handles. They’ll use those handles to transport a buoy across a second balance beam. Once everybody is across, they’ll work together to dig up three rope rungs. The first two groups to finish move on, the last group is out.

In the second stage, they’ll use those rope rungs to build a bridge. Once everybody is over their bridge, each player will be responsible for landing a ball on a little circular hoop attached to a pole. The first group to finish moves on, the other group is out.

In the final round, each member of the remaining group is competing against each other for individual immunity. They’ll have to balance their feet on a narrow perch with their hands above their head holding another handle. Once they drop or any limb drops, they’re out. The last one standing wins Individual Immunity.

Survivor 46: Ep. 9
Pictured (L-R): Kenzie Veurink.


Maria takes an early lead in stage one for the purple team of Charlie and Hunter. Venus is in second for her green team of Liz and Q. Kenzie is struggling in last for her yellow team of Ben and Tiffany. Purple finishes first, followed by the green team. Kenzie, Tiffany and Ben are out.

In the second stage, the purple team finishes their bridge first because of Hunter. (He assisted Charlie.) They moved on to the ball round, and Hunter lands the first hoop with the ball, followed by Charlie. The yellow team struggled after Q landed a ball. As Venus struggled to land her ball, Maria landed the final ball for the purple team.

Survivor 46: Ep. 9
Pictured (L-R): Hunter McKnight, Maria Gonzalez, and Charlie Davis.


The last stage, Hunter, Charlie and Maria will compete for Individual Immunity. While Hunter excelled at the rest of the challenge, considering this is a balancing challenge, my money is on Maria winning. (Her feet are smaller, she can stand on it easier.) They assume their positions and hold firm. Hunter is the first to show signs of struggle, but in a twist Maria is out. Just like last week’s challenge, it’s a rematch between Charlie and Hunter for Immunity.

(Can we pause for a moment and go back to when Q suggested Charlie throw this challenge? How perfect are these circumstances of events that now we’re in a moment where Charlie is faced with easily throwing this challenge. There’s a moment where Hunter, clearly in pain, looks to Charlie. Charlie just gives him that grin of his, acting fully unbothered by the pain of the challenge. This is great TV, y’all.)

And then in the end the great Hunter falls. Charlie wins Individual Immunity. This one right here is perfect. Like a perfectly executed challenge mixed with great editing.

But now somebody has got to go home.

Pre-Tribal Council

They get back to the camp and the first confessional they show is Venus, who is more than happy that Hunter lost that challenge. She likes all the options laid out in front of her.

The likeliest target is Q, and he knows that. He attempts to go to other players, starting with Kenzie, but she isn’t having any of it.

“I’m not working with you,” Kenzie tells Q. Ouch.

But Kenzie points out in a confessional the writing that is clearly on the wall: With Q being a mess and Hunter on the outs, now is a perfect time for a blindside. Venus agrees. Kenzie goes to Maria, Hunter and Charlie and throws out Tiffany’s name. They’re on board—especially Maria, who has wanted Tiffany out for a hot minute. Hunter is going to put on a show of scrambling for votes, even though he knows he’s safe. It’s all pointing to a Tiffany blindside.

Charlie and Maria talk about Kenzie co-opting Maria’s plan. She’s a bit bummed because she wants the glory of the move, but they both agree that it’s better to have the attention on Kenzie. It takes any potential attention off Maria.

But not so fast, there’s trouble in the water. Charlie goes to talk to Tiffany, just to see where she’s at. (Like the good lawyer he is, he’s covering all his bases, never assuming anything.) She immediately starts off with her Idol, she’s ready to flush it, use it at Tribal, because everyone knows she has it and it’s putting a massive target on her back. The problem is, they all planned to make it seem like they were voting Hunter so that Tiffany would feel safe and not use her Idol. Now it seems like she’s going to use it anyway just to get rid of it.

There goes that plan, I guess.

“Plans change faster than the winds change on Survivor. Now the playing field is wide open,” Charlie says in a confessional.

Maria, Charlie and Ben meet to talk about a new plan. They pivot towards voting Hunter out. Just as they bring up his name, Hunter steps into the frame and just lurks behind them. (Fantastic editing.) While they talk, Hunter sits by himself quietly like a little boy in timeout.

Hunter is picking up on all the vibes here, and he knows something is up. We see him doing the math in the sand, all Beautiful Mind-style. Will he use his own Idol and blow the game up? He tells Q about his Idol, because he wants to blindside Ben. He then tells Venus and Liz, and it just blows everything up. Venus isn’t on board for the Ben vote.

“Just play ball with me this time, and we’ll own it together tomorrow?” Hunter asks Venus, basically begging.

Venus then goes around telling everyone about Hunter’s Idol.

Hunter then goes to Kenzie about his Idol. Literally, there is no plan leading into Tribal Council. Will it be Q? Or another surprise vote because of all these Idols in play?

Tribal Council

Jeff Probst starts things off by talking about that last bonkers Tribal Council. He plays up that he wasn’t prepared for it, but this week he is. He brings out some popcorn and a cushion, just in case things go crazy this week. He then gives the popcorn to the players, allowing Liz—who is allergic to everything—to finally eat something.

(I need to say something here. The bowl Jeff pulls out with the popcorn is tiny. Like the kind of bowl used for nuts at bars and stuff. Everyone knows a popcorn bowl needs to be huge. Am I alone here?)

Things then swiftly move on to the rift between Tiffany and Q. They have a back and forth about their fallout from last week and him telling everybody that Tiffany has an Idol. Tiffany then proceeds to tell everyone that he’s wanted to get Venus and Hunter out, news to everybody. This Q crazy twister just never ends.

“Is Q just playing a sophisticated game of crazy?” Jeff asks the crowd.

While they all talk, there’s lots of whispering about who they’ll be voting for. Hunter is trying to make sure the vote is on Q. It’s the most not live live Tribal Council I’ve ever seen.

Survivor Translation: A live tribal is when they breakout and talk privately before voting.

After they vote, everyone expects Tiffany and/or Hunter to play their Idols. In a tense moment, complete with Hunter’s hands deep in his pocket, they both decide not to play their Idols. Risky! Will it pay off?

Jeff reads the votes. It’s between Hunter and Q. The tension is insane. In the end, it’s four votes for Q, four votes for Hunter, and one for Ben. Because it’s a tie, everyone except Hunter and Q will have to re-vote only for Q or Hunter.

Jeff reads the re-votes. It’s now clear Hunter’s risky move didn’t pan out, they voted him out. Another player leaving with an Idol in their pocket. This is what you get for assuming things.

And yet again Q survived the crazy he created. They should start calling him Teflon Q. Will he last another week? We’ll find out next week.

Who Needs to Get Snuffed?

I’m standing by Q. While I get he’s not a threat at all at this point, he is strong and could easily win Immunity. If they keep him in, they’re playing an easy game, because bringing Q to the end is just too safe of a move. (Nobody will vote for him. But, if I were there and somebody did bring Q to the end just to play it safe, I’d vote for Q just to vote against the other players for making such an easy movie.)

Who Should be the Sole Survivor?

At this point my money is on Charlie. He’s had some fantastic past few episodes, and he’s always involved just enough to make sure he does the right thing without putting too much of a spotlight on himself. I didn’t expect him to be as good at this game as he has been, and it’s been really fun to watch.

Watch Survivor every Wednesday on CBS or anytime on Paramount+ to follow along as I react to every episode this season.