Survivor Recap: Besties, What Happens Now?


Baby with a Machine Gun
Season 41 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating 5 stars


Baby with a Machine Gun
Season 41 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating 5 stars
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS

The unthinkable has occurred: The Shanissance is over.

Shan, a.k.a. the Mafia Pastor, burst onto the season as a fan favorite. Comparisons, including my own, were quickly drawn to the likes of Survivor greats Tony Vlachos and Parvati Shallow, who managed to control their tribes all the way to the end. Shan maintained power over the post-merge majority through confidence and sincerity. It’s an impressive, perhaps even noble, feat. Shan played the game with integrity that’s often hard to maintain as the game grows more fast-paced and unpredictable every year.

But integrity doesn’t exclude tough breaks. Her bestie Ricard, in his I love you so much I have to lose you breakup era, realized their alliance could never last if he wanted to win. So he orchestrated a blindside with Shan’s other confidants Danny and Deshawn. To seal the deal, they brought in free agents Erika, Heather, and Xander. Shan found her torch snuffed, and Liana, unaware of the move, was pushed out onto her own island.

This week’s episode was thrilling Survivor TV and a touching send-off to one of the show’s most original players in recent years. Shan’s conversation with Deshawn about playing the game for the culture versus their own interests is a standout moment. They spoke about the nuances of why people come on a crazy show like Survivor and opened up about an aspect of gameplay (personal need versus cultural responsibility) that I can’t remember being so openly discussed on the show.

With Shan gone, the game bursts wide open. She sat atop her alliance, meaning the tribe is now splintered. So, in lieu of a regular recap, let’s predict who has the best chance of winning now that the Shantine Chapel has fallen. Obviously, this is all subject to change. This is Survivor, after all.


He’s the man to beat, in part because he won both this week’s reward and immunity challenges. With his line ”I’ve decided that today is the day for Shan to go,” Ricard changed the entire season. He managed to rope in all the needed players to take out his bestie, only for her to say as she walks out of tribal, “Ricard, you have my vote for a $1 million.”

With two individual immunity wins, the orchestrator of two blindsides in a row (Sorry, Naseer), and an individual reward win, Ricard’s resume is the most impressive. However, he’s the clear threat with no long-standing alliance. The game is his to lose at the moment, but is it a match for Xander’s idol?


Xander shouldn’t still be here. He’s nearly always been on the bottom, but somehow he’s learned to masterfully ride the Survivor wave. He’s won one individual immunity, continues to be a challenge threat and has brownie points for helping the team secure extra rice. Plus, he still has his very public idol. With the majority alliance now crumbling, Xander may find he’s no longer on the bottom.


She was on the bottom of the Luvu tribe and has spent most of the merge largely biding her time in a dominating alliance. Sure, she had her big moment of smashing the hourglass and flipping the game, but that decision was offered to her by the Survivor gods.

The past two weeks, Erika has excelled, proving she doesn’t need to be handed anything. She won individual immunity and assisted in both the Naseer and Shan blindsides. Shan smartly sensed Erika’s quietly cunning game. However, she couldn’t get her out before Erika got to her. If Shan was the rabbit, then Erika just might be the turtle who takes it all.

Still, she’s a public threat. So how will she survive the next few weeks? With only seven players left, she could string together a dominant alliance by bringing in her old Luvu tribemates Danny and Deshawn into her Heather alliance.


If Ricard is credited with ideating the Shan blindside, then Deshawn is the scapegoat. Shan called him a “snake” moments after her elimination, and the previews show Liana believes he and Danny “cannibalized” their chances. Plus, Deshawn’s temporary voting partner Ricard admitted in a testimonial this week to wanting him out next. He also hasn’t won individual immunity yet.

Still, Deshawn is very personable, which should help him go far. His trajectory will come down to who Ricard and Xander align with. He could fall victim to their moves, or maybe they all team up. Either way, he’s possibly in the strongest two-person alliance with Danny. That’s a benefit or a curse, depending on if the tribe perceives them as one entity.


Danny has a lot going for him. He’s loyal, appears as a challenge threat, and doesn’t seem to have any real enemies. Well, maybe except for Shan, who mouthed “Really, D?” during her blindside.

Still, Danny hasn’t won individual immunity, and Deshawn, Erika, or Ricard could all take credit for executing the Shan blindside even though his vote proved pivotal. With his Deshawn alliance, Danny might have a big game ahead of him. Plus, his level-headed, likable personality is an appeal if he makes it to the end. But the question remains if he can make it to the end. His alliance with Deshawn could make him an easy target.


Liana wants to play a big game, but she keeps getting played. Her resume-building attempts to take Xander’s idol failed, while her plan with Shan to flip on Deshawn ended up flipping on them. Liana may not see it, but it’s actually in her best interest that Shan’s gone. It appeared like Liana was stuck in Shan’s shadow. Now, she has an opportunity to play her own game.

My recommendation: form a women’s alliance. There’s a possibility Deshawn, Danny, Ricard, and Xander could align and duel it out at the end. That’d be bad for the women, so maybe Liana teams up with Erika and Heather. Make nice with Xander and bring him in. It’s better to fight one threat later than have all of them around at the end.


I’d love to see an Aubry Bracco narrative take shape for Heather where she takes total control of her game. If she folds Liana and Xander into her Erika alliance, they could target the other guys. Then, they could turn on Xander when the time is right and form a women’s final three. There are options for Heather. She’ll just have to activate them sooner than later.

Survivor Recap: Besties, What Happens Now?