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‘Survivor: Island Of The Idols’ Recap: “Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You”

Survivor Island of the Idols

Dean Kowalski, Private Eye

The morning after the Chelsea vote, we see a new form of Dean. He dons his Dick Tracy hat, gathers his notepad and pencil, and becomes Detective Dean, interrogating each and every member of the tribe to determine whose idea the vote was. He first – and quite astutely, I might add – clears both himself and Chelsea of any wrongdoing. That’s some crack detecting, if I do say so myself.

Of course, no one takes credit for the move, even when Dean confronts Missy about it. She denies it, saying, “Nobody ordered a hit.” And while it makes complete and total sense for her to say that, it was still great to see that juxtaposed against a flashback of her literally suggesting it.

Survivor Swap Meet

Even though the episode description on my TV guide described this as a “surprising swap,” not a single person was surprised. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t act like it. A huge part of Survivor is acting. Whether it’s lying to someone you’re voting out or forcing yourself to get overly excited about something you saw coming miles away to seek out a little extra screen time.

And speaking of over-acting to seek out extra scream time, Survivor had a surprise sponsor this episode in the world (?) famous, gourmet (?) restaurant, Applebee’s. I mean, just look at Missy’s reaction.

And then there’s Karishma.

Sit down? Not chain, not fast-casual, sit down. Incredible.

It was all very reminiscent of a particular “reward” Coach’s tribe received in Survivor: South Pacific. And that of course is getting to watch the award* winning Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill.

*Razzies are still awards, you guys.

And Coach’s reaction?

Jack and Jill. I loved it. I love Adam Sandler. Personally, I’m a fan. It was good because it was funny. But at the same time there was a message, and the message was, hey, family comes first.”

All this is just a roundabout way of saying how great the unintentional humor can be in Survivor. There are certain things you can do to maximize your airtime. And waxing poetic about how unbelievable exceedingly average (Applebee’s) or outright terrible (Jack and Jill) sponsor products are.

But we jumped ahead just a little bit. Before we got to that moment, we had the swap to get to. And the result of the tribe swap was:

New Vokai

Dan, Jason, Tommy, Lauren, Aaron, Missy, Elizabeth, Elaine (that’s a 4-4 split for those keeping track at home)

New Lairo

Noura, Kellee, Jamal, Jack, Janet, Tom, Dean, Karishma (5-3 old Vokai advantage)

Reward Challenge

Yep, count me in for this kind of challenge 1,000 times over. Six tribe members are tethered together in pairs of two. In addition to that, their own feet are tied together and their arms are bound at their sides. Each pair slithers through obstacles on the sand. Once all three pairs complete their part of the course, the remaining two tribe members complete a puzzle.

New Vokai runs roughshod over new Lairo, continuing the Vokai challenge dominance. Even though there wasn’t much in the way of actual competition, it’s always a blast watching players struggle through this challenge. They move awkwardly and look hilarious in doing so. A few of them (all?) inevitably swallow more sand than you could ever want to. And you get Lauren screaming out to the Survivor gods “I can’t move!” Glorious, simply glorious.

Vokai Beach

Missy and Elaine wrestled. That was…fun? Or was it stupid? I’m going to go with both. Fun for the viewers, stupid for the players, especially Missy and Elaine. There are already enough ways to accidentally hurt yourself, why would you add this kind of risk voluntarily? Sure, you could tell they were taking it easy, but still. Why even take the chance?

More interestingly, Missy and Aaron seem to be ready to ditch old tribe lines and commit fully to Vokai. Good for them. I tend to believe that this is the best way to go anytime you don’t end up in the majority after a swap.

They don’t know what the other Lairo members are doing on their new tribe. Why risk forging new, potentially stronger alliances in favor or allies who may or may not be waiting for you come a merge? I recognize it’s much more complicated than in practice, but just as a general idea, I think it’s the right way to go.

Lairo Beach

Karishma is predictably ready to flip, having felt ostracized from the jump on her original tribe. At the same time, we see Dean and Tom trying to ingratiate themselves with the rest of old Vokai. Their easiest path to salvation, temporary as it might be, is to convince the tribe to target Karishma, focusing on how weak Karishma has been in challenges.

Immunity Challenge

Every challenge is better in the water. Fine, maybe not every challenge, but I think you get the idea. But every challenge certainly looks better in the water. That much I can assure you.

In this week’s immunity challenge, the tribes swim out to a ladder, climb up, and leap off. They then release three buoys and maneuver them across a set of balance beams, while balancing the balls on a large dish, held over the water. To finish, they shoot the buoys into three basket targets.

Vokai picks up a lead, and it’s just enough for shooters Tommy and Missy to finish it off, once again sending Lairo to Tribal Council.

Bye Week for the Island of the Idols

With the swap and two challenges, Island of the Idols was mercifully skipped this week. Without getting a 90 minute or two episode, cramming that in too would have been too much. It’s small, but I’m glad Survivor production recognized as much. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried that we would see and Island of the Idols visit every week no matter what, if no other reason than to give Rob and Sandra more air time. But if two challenges is now the norm, it’s going to be interesting to see how the show balances all of that along with an IoI visit.

Tribal Council

It seems obvious that one of Dean, Tom, or Karishma will be headed home. The only question is which one? There are good reasons to keep all three, and there are good reasons to vote off all three. It’s not going out on a limb to say this is the kind of vote that I like. Give the majority multiple compelling options, and see how they sort it all out.

In the end, Tom is voted out 5-2 (Noura lost her vote from failing her IoI challenge). As much of a challenge liability as Karishma is, they more feared he would stay loyal to Lairo upon making the merge, and wanting to squash that threat. Besides, if they lose again, they can vote off Karishma next. But was it the right call?

I say no. Keeping Tom now gives you the best chance at not returning to Tribal Council. That’s the place you don’t want to be. As any fan can tell you, even the surest of votes can go haywire at the last minute. Not losing removes that threat. Plus Tom would have been seen as a big physical threat at the merge, and likely would have been targeted early on. And I don’t think anyone saw him as much of a strategic player, so is overall threat level is mitigated. And the same logic of “we can vote off Karishma next time” applies to Tom here as well. Vote Karishma to keep the tribe strong. And if you still can’t win, vote Tom.

But only time will tell if this was the right choice for Lairo. And if history is any indication, that time will be next week.

Written by Matt Hambidge

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