‘Survivor 44’ Ratu power rankings: Matthew Grinstead-Mayle dominates with high-risk tricks

After three episodes of “Survivor 44,” 14 castaways remain standing in the 26-day adventure to claim the million dollar prize and the title of “Sole Survivor.” By now, all three of the original tribes (Ratu in orange, Soka in green, and Tika in purple) have gone to Tribal Council once, leaving us with a good impression of who is aligned with who and in whose pockets the idols and power rest.

At Ratu, Matthew Grinstead-Mayle is playing a high-risk game that so far has yielded high rewards. Can he ride this self-made wave through to the merge and beyond? Let’s take a look at how he stacks up against his tribe mates in our first power rankings of the season. Also check out the rankings for the Soka tribe and Tika tribe.

SEE ‘Survivor’ winners list: All seasons

1. Matthew Grinstead-Mayle

We’re one week into the game and already Matthew has landed his shoulder in a sling, used his Shot in the Dark advantage, found a replacement idol, and fooled his own ally into finding a fake idol he put into play. It was a big risk for Matthew to use the Shot in the Dark simply to avoid having to show his cards at Ratu’s Tribal Council, but it seems to have bought him the time he was looking for while keeping both Brandon and Kane on-side. He now seems to be keeping Jaime close to him, securing a pawn that he has built trust with. The catch is that if Jaime finds out Matthew not only planted, but helped her believe her fake idol is real then she could turn against him and probably easily get the rest of the players to see how conniving he can be. If that kind of heat gets turned on Matthew, it will put a major target on his back, but if he manages to play through these moves smoothly then the risk could really pay off.

2. Jaime Lynn Ruiz

It might sound silly that the player believing in their fake idol could be the number two in power of their tribe, but the Ratu tribe is so messy that it actually feels accurate. What helps Jaime is that right now Matthew is going to want to use her as a pawn to ensure that the numbers go his way if they return to Tribal Council. As a block of two, Matthew and Jaime can pull in the third player of their choice and essentially send any one of the other three home. How Jaime’s fake idol plays out is anyone’s guess, but for the next few weeks it is unlikely to be an issue and Jaime should consider herself a number Matthew wants to keep around.

3. Brandon Cottom

Brandon had a shaky start to the game with the way he fumbled the discovery of the Birdcage Idol and then being forced into playing it at the first Tribal Council. Since then he’s managed to help lead his tribe to back-to-back challenge wins, securing safety simply by avoiding a return to TC. Our guess is that Brandon will be protected by Matthew at Ratu’s next vote, simply because his strength at challenges is valuable, but both Matthew and Lauren are playing duplicitous games that could send this tribe’s votes in any direction, even Brandon’s.

4. Lauren Harpe

It hasn’t played out yet, but it’s meaningful that the edit showed Claire Rafson cluing Matthew in to the fact that Lauren might not have told the full truth about her journey in the first episode. We know that Lauren lost her vote in order to bank one for future use, but she doesn’t know that her tribe might suspect she’s hiding something. Lauren seems keen to play a stealthy strategic game, but it’s unclear if she’s actually going to be successful at it. Right now, Ratu’s easy vote would be Kane because he wasn’t part of the vote to take Maddy Pomilla out, but the tides could turn toward Lauren instead if Matthew decides she can’t be trusted.

5. Kane Fritzler

The obvious vote does not always become the actual vote in “Survivor,” a nuance that gives Kane a bit of hope in the event that Ratu returns to Tribal Council. On paper he’s the odd man out of the tribe for not voting with the rest, but in the passage of time since that first vote his fortunes could very well have changed. In a tribe of five, one single vote could sway two others into a majority and so Kane sits as that single vote waiting to be claimed by someone looking to make a move. That being said, Kane is the player at Ratu furthest away from calling the shots and as such is at the bottom of their power totem.

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