Welcome back to Survivor: Island of the Idols. Last week, one of our beloved recappers picked a person who proved herself to be shrewd and able to deflect votes from herself when her name came up, and our other recapper picked *checks notes* the person who got voted out this episode? That can’t be right. *checks notes again* Huh. Well, without further ado, let’s get to tonight’s recap of Survivor: Island of the Idols!
FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU; FOOL ME TWICE, THAT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN
Todd: There is no “Previously on…” and I guess that means nothing of import happened last week? But it is still weird. Regardless, we jump right back into Lairo’s camp, where Aaron feels like an outsider. He tries to convince everyone he wasn’t that tight with Ronnie, but he is secretly plotting against everyone. Mary, what did you think of how your tribe handled itself coming back from tribal council?
Mary: As I expected, Aaron is upset about being on the wrong side of the vote, and I get that. Still, I don’t think Aaron is savvy enough to figure out how to get on everyone’s good side again. We don’t really see much from Lairo during this episode, which tells us immediately that Vokai is going to be on the outs, going to tribal at the end of the episode. Vince is MAD when he returns to camp. He’s not happy that his name came up during tribal, and he’s willing--it seems--to do whatever he needs to in order to stay in the game. I think Vince is one to watch in terms of how sneaky he’s willing to be--and I love it.
Todd: Another person who is being sneaky and could be a potentially big player moving forward is Missy--she goes and talks to Aaron, trying to calm him down when he is on the outside of the votes. Missy knows that the girls’ alliance is in control, but she still thinks she could work with Aaron. I am intrigued to see how this plays out in future episodes. There have only been 2 successful women’s alliances--more or less--in the history of the game, so here’s hoping that this one can succeed where so many have faltered.
Mary: I want a successful women’s alliance, honestly. I think that would be fun, and you mentioned that they might be priming viewers for Parvati’s return next season. A bit later, Chelsea starts a fire at Lairo when Tom couldn’t, and it becomes a big issue of “the women getting too powerful” or something like that. To add insult to injury (in the viewer’s eyes), Chelsea finds a hidden immunity idol by accident, giving her even more power in the game. I think it’s stupid that Tom is emasculated by a woman starting a fire, but it makes sense to edit the show together that way, to get us ready for the women’s alliance plotline. There’s so much editing in reality TV we don’t even think of, isn’t there?
Todd: Oh for sure! I was reading an interview with Molly this week where she basically said that she didn’t feel like her, Jamal, and Jack were as strong an alliance or as powerful as the edit made it seem. It’s all about crafting a narrative that makes sense for viewers, and it’s not surprising that sometimes that might lead to literally creating something out of nothing.
Mary: I’d also like to note, while we’re at the beginning of the episode, that I’m enjoying the Jeff-less intros more and more. I love Jeff, and I think he’s a big part of the show, but I also think that changing things up is a good thing, and messing with the format of Survivor has made the show feel fresh to me.
Todd: I totally agree! It is a little jarring as a long time fan to see things change so much, but I think it is ultimately fine and doesn’t mess with the integral parts of the show.
Mary: Even though I’m not a “long time fan” I feel like I get to critique because I watched so many seasons in such a compressed amount of time. :p
Mary: Vokai got featured a lot this episode, and I have to say that I was confused by how they were represented for the most part. Noura is whining when we first see her (which is prime reasoning for getting voted out, if history tells us anything), but even more confusingly, she keeps saying that she’s a nerd and referring to other players as cool kids. I didn’t get this analogy AT ALL. Noura is not what I’d consider a nerd to be--by Survivor standards or real world standards.
Todd: This is a thing that gets said on basically any season of Survivor and it often makes sense, insofar as we can look at someone that production has styled or presented as nerdy (i.e. Christian from David vs. Goliath or Cochran, both men with glasses and a professorial way of speaking that immediately lets the audience know that they were probably bullied in school). But you’re totally right, Noura does not strike me as particularly nerdy, but throughout the episode she insists that she is always on the outside looking in, and based on how she is presented here I am not surprised, but she doesn’t strike me as nerdy so much as quirky.
Mary: At best, Noura is a yoga girl, into a bunch of spiritualist, new agey stuff.
Todd: Yep. And I love the shots of the Vokai tribe doing yoga, and how everyone is like, “Do we really have to do this?” Really funny, and once again, it feels like stuff we wouldn’t have gotten in the last couple of seasons.
Mary: I’m no yoga master, but I’ve taken a lot of yoga classes in my life, and I feel comfortable saying that wasn’t yoga.
Todd: It’s Survivor yoga!
After the yoga sesh is finished, someone in a boat arrives on Vokai’s beach and whisks Kellee away to the Island of the Idols! When she gets off, she wonders what it could be, even positing that maybe Cochran will pop out (as he did in Gamechangers) and give her some tidbits of wisdom.
Mary: I’d like to note that when Sandra and Rob appear, Sandra gets hugged first. I will be keeping a tally of how many people honor the queen before acknowledging Rob.
Todd: It will be everyone, I assume, as it should be. Also, Sandra tells Kellee, rightly, that this is better than Cochran. Mary, what did you make of Kellee’s visit to the Island of Big Head Statues?
Mary: It went better than the first visit, I think. Kellee took some time to think of things, and when she couldn’t decide what to do, she got Rob to “sweeten the deal” so to speak. This is what Rob was alluding to in the first episode when he said Elizabeth was too eager to get tested and didn’t stop to consider that she could negotiate for different terms. I also really enjoyed the montage of Sandra and Rob telling Kellee all about their families and lives. It brought me so much joy that she won the game by naming one of Sandra’s pomeranians, Papa!
Todd: I don’t know if you know this, but Rob is married to Amber, his wife, who he met on Survivor: All-Stars, and they do have 4 children.
Mary: I know Rob better than Amber at this point, but I really want to see them compete against each other next season. Because I think Amber will cream Rob.
Todd: If history is any indication, she definitely would. Kellee, after answering 3 questions correctly in a row, gets an idol that is good for 3 tribals. It is unclear to me if these are the next 3 tribals she attends, or the next 3 tribals period, but either way it is a pretty great deal for her.
Mary: Importantly, when Kellee returns to camp, she offers to strip to prove she doesn’t have an idol and makes up an elaborate story about what happened on the Island of the Idols. (Todd: Once again a shout out to Ghost Island, which seems to have been on the castaways’ minds.) While I get her impulse to prove she isn’t hiding anything, THIS IS A VERY WEIRD MOMENT. I’m also curious why everyone feels compelled to lie about what happens on the island, and I wonder when someone will tell (and how that’ll make the previous contestants who went to the island look).
Todd: That is a great point. I suppose we will find out next week, but I also wonder if the people who have been to the island will keep the secret. Does getting tips (and idols) from Rob and Sandra make those people bigger threats? Maybe! Survivor is always about knowing how people view you and how you can change that view, but admitting to getting special knowledge from two of the greatest people to ever play the game is not a good way to endear yourself to your tribe, I would imagine. Speaking of not knowing how you are viewed, though...
Mary: That’s true! There’s a challenge (which is all I really have to say about that), Vokai loses, and then the real drama begins. At camp, everyone begins conferring on who should be voted out. Most people say Noura--after all, she’s been annoying everyone--but then a new plan begins…
Todd: Jamal says, at one point, that he wants to have an “under the radar” alliance with Jack and Molly, which is a surefire tell that everyone knows about this alliance and it is as over the radar as an alliance can be. Jamal even insists that they take a nap and chill on the day of tribal because of how great everything is going, which is another way we as viewers know that everything will not go as smoothly as Jamal wants.
As far as who leads the counter-vote, it is a little hard to parse who puts this plan together, but the editing wants us to believe that Lauren comes up with the idea to get out Molly. She brings in Kellee, Janet, and Tommy, and a plan is formed. The phrase “a Queen, a King, and a Jack” gets thrown out multiple times, and I gotta believe whoever came up with that is very pleased with themselves, though they should not be.
Mary: It’s one of those phrases that sounds cool, but it doesn’t really mean anything. Ultimately, I think it’s just meant to show that some people have the power, and isn’t it more fun to upset the hierarchy than go along with it?
The editing during this segment was particularly confusing, and it really is a mystery who will be voted out at tribal. Once the crew gets to tribal, everyone makes their argument for why they should get to stay, and, for the second time this episode, someone makes an offer to strip for the rest of the tribe. Jason says he’ll take his clothes off because the others suspect he has an idol (he does not). The willingness of everyone to strip this episode!
Todd: It’s a lot, to be honest.
Mary: Jason also tells everyone he’s been in “purgatory” since day one when he was accused of looking for an idol (he was). Everyone seems to take offense to that, especially because he’s one of the people who seems to be in a pretty secure alliance!
Todd: Molly, especially, seems taken aback by that! She likes Jason, she says, and doesn’t think he is in purgatory at all (despite the fact that she thinks she is about to vote out his ally, Noura).
There is also a lot of discussion of who is in first gear versus fourth gear versus just stalled out in their driveway (okay, maybe I made that last one out), and Jamal tries a little too hard to convince everyone that the game has not really started yet which, once again, is not a great sign for Jamal.
The votes are read: 1 for Noura, 2 for Jason, and the rest for Molly. Sandra sums it up nicely when she says, “Dang, they played her ass!”
Molly is shocked and with that she exits the game. Jeff says, “This tribe is definitely not in first gear.” A good line from Jeff! Way to go Jeff!
Mary: I was surprised, yet also pleased, that Molly got voted out. I think everyone was right that Molly could be a big contender in the game, and it was probably right to vote her out. That being said, it was a total surprise! The editing masked the fact that Lauren’s plan was working.
Last week we picked our favorites from our tribes to win, and our top picks on who’s going to go home next. This week, I’m really digging Vince’s determination to stay in the game, and I think it puts him in the top spot for me this week. I don’t really have a least favorite this week, because we barely even saw my tribe! That’s okay, though. I’m glad Vokai got more development!
Todd: Me too! This seems like the first season in a while where one tribe didn’t just win every immunity challenge pre-merge, and I am looking forward to a more balanced beginning to the season. It felt like we never got to know anyone on Kama last season outside of Joe and Aubry (who had already played), so I am glad we got to see more of Vokai this week.
My top pick this week is Kellee! Boston Rob was very impressed that Kellee went to Harvard, and he said she has a lot of potential and I agree! Go Kellee! She was also pretty clever in hiding her idol in her hair, so I am picking her this week to go all the way.
As for who is at the bottom: unfortunately, I think it has to be Jamal. The editing this week made him seem completely aloof and unaware of what was going on in his tribe, and while some people seem (like Tommy) seem willing to work with Jack, I’m not sure they will feel the same way toward their former “King”.
Todd: Jeff did not appear in the first 24 minutes of the show!
Mary: I think Jeff is going to go the way of Christ Harrison, and only come out for mimosas and to mock people.
Todd: Oh my. I could definitely see that. Less spray tan but same amount of facial movement.
We covered a lot up above, so no real Merge thoughts this week, but another exciting episode. What do you make of the season so far, Mary? I am enjoying the renewed emphasis on camp life and the players.
Mary: I’m liking it, but I’m curious (as I mentioned earlier) to see how long they can keep up this Island of the Idols charade. Will someone actually get to strip?! We shall see