'Survivor' recap: Brandon Cottom voted out after Danny Massa plays idol to save Frannie Marin
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/20/2023
Survivorfeatured the "Va Va Tribe" blindsiding and voting out Brandon Cottom after Danny Massa made a big move during the Season 44 episode that aired Wednesday night on CBS.
Brandon, a 30-year-old security specialist from Newtown, PA, was voted out of Survivor 44 on Night 15 of the game with only four out of 10 votes because Danny had used his hidden Immunity Idol to save Frannie Marin, a 23-year-old research coordinator from St. Paul, MN, who currently resides in Cambridge, MA, at Tribal Council.
Frannie had received six votes but was safe thanks to Danny's idol.
"Clearly Danny had the idol. It was a great move, I can't knock him for it and I'm not leaving here with any regrets. I left no stone unturned," Brandon said in his final words.
"I did everything I felt that I could to make myself proceed further in this game, and I played as hard as I could and tried to swing as many relationships as I could. But in the end, that's Survivor. Sometimes you get caught. They were going for the big fish, and tonight, they got him!"
The Survivor broadcast began on Night 14 with the merged "Va Va Tribe" returning to camp following the Tribal Council session in which Matt Blankinship got voted out.
Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt, a 43-year-old engineering manager from Ponce, Puerto Rico, who currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA, had an advantage that she used to control the vote that belonged to Lauren Harpe, a 31-year-old elementary school teacher from Port Arthur, TX, who currently resides in Mont Belvieu, TX.
And so Heidi demanded that Lauren vote for Yamil "Yam Yam" Arocho, a 36-year-old salon owner from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, who currently resides in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
But Heidi's advantage didn't effect the vote, and so Yam Yam was happy that he was still around.
"As it is right now, I've been at every Tribal Council except for two of them, and I survived all of them. I guess I'm the cat with nine lives," Yam Yam boasted in a confessional.
Frannie said the "worst possible outcome" had happened at Tribal Council because she lost Matt, her crush and closest ally in the game.
"Now that he's gone, I feel like I've been marooned with nothing all over again," Frannie cried to the cameras. "I feel like Matt felt like home to me here, and to watch him at Tribal and see how scared he was and how alone he felt and to watch him go... it was so hard."
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Brandon and Kane Fritzler, a 25-year-old law student from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in Canada, who currently resides in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, however, celebrated the move because they had wanted to take another person away from the former "Soka Tribe" so that they could control the numbers in their own way.
Heidi then explained to Yam Yam how she had wanted Lauren to vote for him just so she wouldn't ruffle too many feathers with her former "Ratu Tribe."
Heidi didn't want to make too many enemies, and she told the cameras that she wanted to work with Yam Yam going forward and so she needed to build some trust with him.
At this point in the game, there were three Tika, three Soka, and four Ratu with a lot of currency. Lauren still had her extra vote, and Heidi pointed out how there was a rumor that Jaime Lynn Ruiz, a 35-year-old Yogi from Mesa, AZ, had an idol.
Heidi called Kane "very strategic and very smart," and she thought Brandon was a physical threat. Heidi was therefore hoping "the misfits" -- including Carson Garrett, a 20-year-old NASA engineering student from Rome, GA, who currently resides in Atlanta, GA, and Carolyn Wiger, a 35-year-old drug counselor from North St. Paul, MN, who currently resides in Hugo, MN -- would come together and work against the big threats.
Yam Yam pointed out how the game was changing and since he, Carson and Carolyn were in the middle, everyone wanted their votes. Yam Yam and Carson also agreed there was a war going on between Soka and Ratu.
"Tika members are the Three Stooges. No one thinks we [bring] strategy. Nobody thinks we're the power players," Yam Yam told the cameras.
Carson agreed that Soka and Ratu were underestimating the Tika three. Since the two former tribes were battling against each other, Carson noted how Tika was in a very powerful position.
Carolyn said she liked being looked at like "the turkey in the tribe," and she didn't mind being underestimated.
Kane, meanwhile, admitted it was really hard not to get cocky in the game. He thought it was Ratu's game to lose.
On Day 15, while everyone munched on crab claws, Carson threw up in the bushes. Carson acknowledged this day was a "low" for him and he was just trying to push through.
Suddenly, Tree Mail arrived for "Va Va," and they learned there was only going to be one immunity necklace at the next Immunity Challenge. The tribe was asked to divide themselves into five pairs to compete, and they had to choose partners themselves.
Carolyn volunteered to pair up with Carson, but Frannie realized the instructions never made it clear whether the pairs would be competing with -- or against -- each other.
Going into the challenge, the pairs were Lauren and Danny, a 32-year-old NYC firefighter from Bronx, NY; Carson and Carolyn; Kane and Brandon, Frannie and Yam Yam, and Heidi and Jaime.
Ironically, Danny had thrown Lauren's name out as a possible target before the previous Tribal Council, and so he joked about how things can change so quickly in the game of Survivor.
On Day 15, "Va Va" arrived at the Immunity Challenge, which required the pairs to compete in three different stages, with players being eliminated in each stage. In order to make the next stage, they had to make the cut.
For the first stage, castaways were instructed to crawl one person at a time through a twisted muddy net, dig up planks, and race back to their mat. The first four pairs to get back to their mat and plant their flag would move on to the next round. The last pair would be out and have no shot at immunity.
For the next stage, the players had to race up a cargo net and use the planks to cross a rope bridge. Once both players and all three planks were transferred to the other side, they had to slide down and race to a mat. The first two pairs to finish would move onto the final round.
The final two pairs would break up into four individuals. They had to use their arms to brace themselves between two walls while their feet were perched on narrow footholes. Survivor host Jeff Probst admitted it was going to be "painful."
The last person standing would win immunity and be guaranteed a spot in the Final 9. The next person voted out at Tribal Council would become the second member of Survivor's Season 44 jury.
Carolyn was all knotted up in the twisted net, and she was yelling and freaking out while Carson watched her helplessly at the start of the challenge.
The pairs who made it to Round 2 were Kane and Brandon, Frannie and Yam Yam, Danny and Lauren, and Heidi and Jaime.
The pairs who advanced to Round 3 were Kane and Brandon and Danny and Lauren.
The challenge came down to four players, and Kane dropped first. Kane was then followed by Brandon. Danny and Lauren both made it to the final small perch, and so Lauren pulled out a win for Individual Immunity after an "unbelievable performance," according to Jeff.
"My kids are going to be so proud!" Lauren gushed. "I never thought I would win any immunity, so this is so cool! This is a bucket list item and it's the coolest thing ever!"
Danny hoped to take someone from Ratu out, and after the challenge, no one really wanted to throw out a name first.
Suddenly, Kane suggested to Brandon they should put votes on Frannie and get Carolyn and Yam Yam to join them.
Brandon said Ratu -- which was comprised of Jaime, Lauren, Kane, and himself -- had the numbers with Carson, and he thought they were dictating the way the game was played.
Danny and Heidi also both agreed on Frannie since she's intelligent and physically strong.
But Heidi wanted to make her own plan since she thought the three Soka could team up with Tika to make a six-person alliance.
Heidi told Danny how Brandon was "the most dangerous" person left in the game, and then Danny shared how he had an idol to play.
"I knew it!" Heidi said.
"So I'll play the idol for Frannie and we blindside Brandon," Danny suggested.
Heidi told Danny that they needed to convince Yam Yam to be on their side, and she noted how the move would have to be a blindside for it to work.
Carson and Yam Yam, however, talked about how they needed to make a move that wouldn't ruin their own games. Carson didn't want to make enemies, and so he was worried.
To gain trust and hopefully loyalty, Heidi told Yam Yam and Carson that Danny had an idol and was willing to play it for Frannie.
Yam Yam was thinking about approaching Ratu and telling them that Danny had an idol as well as his plan to save Frannie. Yam Yam wanted to save his alliance and give them options for tomorrow.
Danny gave Frannie a heads-up that he was going to play his idol for her and she was thrilled, but Frannie knew the stars would have to align for this to work out.
Carson then warned Danny that Yam Yam knew about his idol. Carson promised that he could watch Yam Yam and monitor him, but Danny was afraid Yam Yam was going to spill the beans about his goal to take out Brandon and then Brandon and his Ratu allies would switch their vote onto him.
Danny therefore considered using the idol for himself, and he was prepared to be adaptable.
At Tribal Council on Night 15 of the game, the castaways voted one by one, and then Danny decided to play his hidden Immunity Idol for Frannie. (Matt's face in the jury lit up!)
Jeff proceeded to read the votes in the following order: Frannie, Frannie, Frannie, Frannie, Frannie, Frannie, Brandon, Brandon, and Brandon.
Brandon became the ninth person voted out of Survivor 44, and Frannie appeared totally relieved.
Brandon just kept repeating, "Wow," on his way out.