Queer Contestant Katurah Topps Will Be in the Finale of Survivor Season 45

I can’t tell if this season of Survivor is exciting or kind of boring, which is an odd problem to have. And now, with only one episode left in the season, I still can’t decide.

The previous episode’s Tribal Council was in some ways exciting and in some ways, exactly as to be expected. Many folks were targeting Julie, and Dee gave her not only a heads up, but also a plan — Dee Valladares, like all the others, would also vote for Julie Alley, and Julie would play her idol to protect herself and send financial analyst Emily Flippen home. And at Tribal, every single person voted for Julie — except Julie, who played her idol, and as Dee dictated, sent Emily home with just one vote.

A blindside this clean usually feels so epic, and in some ways, it did! But on the other hand, things went exactly as Dee wanted and planned for them to go — which really, could be said for so much of this season. For a while now, it’s felt like Dee’s game to lose, and I’m not sure why no one on the show seems to realize just how wildly dominant she is. She’s got the absolute control of Tony Vlachos, wrapped in the flirty, femme veneer of Parvati Shallow, all masking the quiet, unrelenting focus of Sandra Diaz-Twine. She’s got winner written all over her, and no one seems to know.

After Julie’s Tribal Council, somehow no one can tell that Dee told Julie the plan, even though they have been extremely close the whole game. Dee does what the best liars on this show (and other reality competition shows like The Traitors) — she commits quickly, casually, and wholeheartedly to the lie before you can even question it. So that’s how that goes! Everyone seems to think Julie just got nervous and played her idol.

The next morning, Katurah Topps wakes up early to go idol hunting — this late in the game, an idol can be even more impactful than usual. Unfortunately Katurah doesn’t find an idol, and instead Austin Li Coon, after realizing she’s missing, finds her. Whoops! In moments like this, it really strikes me how Katurah never outwardly seems too stressed by this game’s shenanigans, and I love it. No matter what she’s feeling inside, she projects an air of calmness, almost like this whole situation is funny — which, don’t get me wrong, it is! I think this has helped her keep a low profile this long.

(Speaking of low profiles, it’s interesting to me that Katurah has gotten no votes this season — something which would be more impressive if Austin hadn’t also received no votes. And Dee has only gotten one vote — from Sean, before he basically excused himself from the show. There seem to be few “errant votes” in this season — when people vote, they’re either clearly in the majority, or in the second pick, but there are few random votes thrown around.)

At the reward challenge, Austin wins (shocker) and picks Dee to join him on the reward (shocker!), and then picks… Katurah (actual shocker!). Strategically, perhaps Austin sees Katurah as a potential swing vote, or honestly, perhaps he just thought she’d be the most chill person to bring on what he clearly wants to be his date with Dee lol. Katurah, relaxed queen that she is, couldn’t care less about being the third wheel — she’s basically like kids, enjoy yourselves!

Survivor Season 45 contestant Katurah Topps sits on the beach, addressing the camera, explaining that while Dee and Austin are canoodling, she’ll be “over here thinking about how to win this million.”

love her

Dee and Austin seem pretty in love, and it’s honestly kind of crazy coming right after the season of Frannie Marin and Matt Blankinship. Is there something in the water?? I don’t know.

Back at camp, Jake O’Kane, Julie, and Drew Basile are understandably miserable, especially because Drew and Julie have no intention of working together so basically have nothing to say to each other. Jake decides it’s time for him to find an idol, and to his credit, he does just that. He has big plans to use the idol to beef up his relatively slim resume — we’ll see if he delivers.

The immunity challenge is new to Survivor, which I love. It’s my favorite kind of challenge: an endurance challenge (please reference Queen Parvati Shallow standing on a pole for like, six hours??? so then they had to change that challenge?!). Contestants must hold keep a balance beam level using only one foot. Remember earlier in the season when Dee was talking about how she has really strong toes? I do! The challenge becomes a showdown between Dee and Austin, which feels like both of their fantasies. Dee wins in the end, handily, seemingly able to continue doing this all day.

Back at camp, Drew and Austin are aligned on finishing what they started last Tribal Council, namely: voting out Julie. Dee, however, isn’t ready to get rid of her ally, and is considering turning on Drew instead. Mixed in with Drew being very confident in himself (I found it hard to watch; it seemed so clear that he was about to be so, so wrong), is Dee debating whether or not to tell Austin she plans to vote out his best boy.

In the end, at Tribal Council, there’s a brief moment of excitement, when Austin plays his amulet. But he uses it to protect himself, and then he goes on to receive zero votes. This move cemented Austin in my mind as, unfortunately, a pretty poor player when it comes to strategy; he gave away his first idol to Julie, who then saved herself, and then played his second on himself, when he didn’t need to. He could’ve used it to protect Drew and really shaken things up. It’s pretty anticlimactic to see someone with so many advantages go on to effectively not correctly use any of them. Womp womp!

So the votes come in, and once again, it’s exactly as Dee said it would be: two votes for Julie, and then four for Drew. It was an epic blindside, but again, how epic is something that can happen twice in a row?

The Katurah of it all remains interesting to me. I’m hoping she pulls off a big move going from final five to final four, or else I’m not sure what she can say is on her resume other than playing the middle extremely effectively. Personally, I think the biggest move would be getting out Dee. If Katurah can pull that off, she might have a shot at the million!

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Anya Richkind

Anya is a writer, a Pisces, and a huge fan of Survivor. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner Jess and their kittens, Buckett and Tubbs. She writes a substack called Questions I Have in which she explores questions big, small, medium, and more. Check it out here: anyarichkind.substack.com

Anya has written 34 articles for us.

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