‘Survivor’ 45 Recap: Reba Alliance Finally Breaks, Final 5 Revealed

Drew, Julie, Katurah, Dee, Austin, and Jake in 'Survivor' Season 45 Episode 12
Spoiler Alert


The Ex-Girlfriend at the Wedding

Season 45 • Episode 12

rating: 4.5 stars

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Survivor Season 45 Episode 12, “The Ex-Girlfriend at the Wedding.]

Fans would have reason to be concerned about Austin Li Coon‘s place in the game based on his major snafu in last week’s episode. But it didn’t come back to haunt him, and Dee Valladares learned from his mistake when the same situation repeated itself in Season 45 Episode 12, the last before the December 20 finale. Their showmance deepened throughout the episode (the penultimate of the season), but feelings only soured between Julie Alley and Drew Basile, the other half of the Reba Four alliance. The season’s strongest majority crumbled in this episode, revealing the Survivor 45 Final Five in the end.

Last week, Austin made the mistake of telling Dee that everyone was planning to blindside Julie. Dee played along with the majority, putting her own vote on Mama J, but that was part of their plan. Julie played the idol given to her by Austin and voted out Emily Flippen. Returning to camp was incredibly awkward, as everybody there hated voted to send Julie home. Dee was pretending that she and Julie had a falling out to make their once public alliance a secret, but Drew saw right through it.

It’s ironic that Drew caught on to Dee’s lies but couldn’t detect the blindside she and Julie staged later on in the episode. He got Survivor confident, trusting that he and his closest ally, Austin, were still running things. In Tribal Council, Drew told Jeff Probst that he was fully confident in certain allies and that if he made it through the night, he could see a clear path to the end. Drew has been one of the best strategists of the season, who more than once was able to one vote being arranged but then successfully turn the tide to a vote of his choosing. This, paired with his expert talking skills, would have made him a strong candidate for the $1 million if he made it into the Final Three. But Drew got Survivor confident — one of the game’s most famous missteps.

Drew Basile and Austin Li Coon in 'Survivor' Season 45 Episode 12


Drew has been so logical, so pragmatic all season long and to so much success, it’s easy to understand why he thought his plan to vote Julie out in Episode 12 would work. But the second you get comfortable in Survivor is the second you need to realize that something is up and change course. His lack of self-awareness became his first and last mistake in the game. Jake O’Kane and Katurah Topps rightly decided that voting Julie out would be following someone else’s plan, and that’s no way to win jury votes. So they banded together, looped Julie into the fold, and Katurah brought in Dee to stage a Drew blindside.

Austin and Dee spent the whole episode flirting, and Austin’s reward win even resulted in them being flown by helicopter to a sandspit for a picnic “date,” with Katurah as a third wheel. Unlike Austin, Dee didn’t let her feelings for her teammate get in the way of smart game play. When she realized she could be like Austin by telling him about the plan to vote out Drew, so as to keep his trust, she B-lined in the other direction, refusing to make his same mistake from last week. (Their relationship will no doubt survive this kind of break in trust.)

Drew has been controlling the votes since the merge. The first time he wasn’t in full control became his downfall. Dee, Julie, Jake, and Katurah voted for Drew, making him the sixth member of the jury. And Drew and Austin voted for Julie. Now, Jake and Katurah have added this blindside to their resumes. This was Jake’s first successful blindside, but Katurah already played a major role in Kaleb Gebrewold’s elimination a few episodes prior. Should they make it into the Final Three, they’ll have to pitch themselves in a way that clearly differentiates their comparable resumes.

Jake does have an idol to his name now after finding the new one earlier in this episode. However, Jake laughed and held his face in his hands in disbelief when Jeff revealed the survivors were going to a new camp when they left this Tribal Council. Did he leave his idol on the beach? We’ll find out in the Survivor 45 finale.

Survivor, Season 45 Finale, Wednesday, December 20, 8/7c, CBS