Survivor: Caramoan - Episode 13

Don’t Say Anything About My Mom

By Ben Willoughby

May 9, 2013


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Probst asks Brenda about the loved one challenge and whether her decision was difficult. She explains that because “it was either the two of us or the four of them, it was a no-brainer. It was hard but easy.” Probst asks Dawn if this buys Brenda anything in the game and Dawn says “It does buy her something, everyone was happy, in the long-term it will benefit her in the game.” Sherri agrees: “Everyone is looking to Brenda as a saint, you could not do anything to her right now.”

Probst asks Cochran to confirm that tonight is an easy vote, and he replies that “the easy vote isn’t always the smartest vote. It’s about weighing the short term gratification versus long-term benefits, and that’s a constant struggle in this game.”

Eddie thinks it’s time for him to give his farewell speech, and starts talking about how he had the best time and so on. Probst has to say, “Let’s find out what’s going to happen,” before announcing that it is time to vote.

We see Sherri vote for Brenda and poor trusting Brenda vote for Eddie. Probst collects the votes for “tallying” and then remembers to ask if anyone has a hidden immunity idol to play. Everyone face-palms and says “Dammit, I forgot to look!”

And the votes are for Eddie, Eddie (which we know is Erik’s vote because it is written in fancy writing), Erik and then Brenda, Brenda and the sixth member of the jury is... Brenda. “I knew it,” she sighs. She stands up and faces them “I was honest with you guys, I was genuine with you guys.” But the tribe has spoken. It’s time for you go to. “It hurts,” she says to the remaining castaways.

Eddie still cannot figure out what happened, and Probst sends the final five packing about what a “crazy finish” we are going to have this season.

Obviously, voting out Brenda was one of the harshest things we’ve seen in the game, but those are the sorts of things that have to be done to win Survivor. After the loved ones reward, Brenda was clearly a big threat to win everything and it was important to get rid of her, though I’ll concede that the timing could have been better. Remember too that Brenda’s decisions to invite Dawn on the reward, and then to stay home while the other four enjoyed the reward weren’t 100% altruistic either. Brenda made those decisions to take her further in the game.


There’s been a lot said about Dawn in particular on the Twitters, but to me, anyone reaching for their smelling salts or saying that Dawn is an immoral devil-woman with has no soul understands the game so little that they should apply to be on the next “fans” versus “favorites” season.

That said, while I don’t think it was particularly evil of Dawn to vote for Brenda, I do think it was a bad move for her. Dawn’s problem is that she is working two separate strategies – she has her strategic game, which is about eliminating the biggest long-term threats as she explained in interview. But there is also her social game, which is all about building close, personal, bonds and also by sharing vulnerabilities and seeking emotional support from others.

I think a player can win Survivor by either one of these strategies, but it’s usually a disaster to do both. I don’t think you can deliberately build connections based primarily on emotions, and then expect other players not to be emotional when you cut them loose.

There are players who have done this and won their seasons, like Boston Rob and Kim Spradlin. But their connections with people on their tribe were built around less emotional things like respect and leadership and authority, as well as being a big brother or a big sister figure. But Dawn’s relationships are built around being a mother figure, and it hurts deeper when your mother cuts your throat.

If she makes it to the end, tonight’s really going to cost Dawn at the jury.

Next time on Survivor, it’s all on the line for the final five, but “one Survivor goes down.” An extremely rare night-vision shot of Probst saying “this game just got rocked!”

Brenda totally breaks down in her final interview. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone so genuinely upset in one of these. Disappointed, frustrated, angry, sure. But not upset like this. “I’m in shock. I’m hesitant to lie to people, I was so true to Dawn. It just hurts so much right now what I’m feeling.” So long, Brenda. Maybe next time you should get some better advice from Dad.

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