Last week, the true Queen of Survivor watched as the “queen” of Vokai was dethroned. On Lairo, Chelsea found an idol and Kellee was given one by the Survivor Idols, Boston Rob and Sandra. But what will happen this week? You can only know if you keep reading this re-cap (or if you watched the episode)!
EACH AND EVERY PERSON ON THIS TRIBE IS DEAD TO ME
Mary: Last week tribal was pretty nuts, and I’ve been wondering how the fallout from that would be. We get our answer in the first few minutes of the show. If you’ll recall, there was a lot of talk of stripping in the last episode, with Jason being the last person to offer--during tribal, no less. Somehow, that little stunt helped him stay in the game, and everyone at Vokai comes back to camp a bit stunned. Molly is gone, Jason somehow stayed, despite being a little shady. And the one thing everyone knows is that there’s going to be some fallout from this blindside. Mostly, Jack and Jamail are going to be angry. And hey, THEY ARE.
We get our title quote super early this episode.
Todd: Oh, you mean the super-normal phrase, “Honesty would be chill”? Spoken by Jack (formerly of the King, the Queen, and the Jack alliance--I wonder which one he was?), this very dumb phrase quickly became my favorite thing ever spoken by a Survivor, narrowly edging out “Hold up, bro” to become the head of the Survivor bro-sayings pantheon. But hey, I get it, Jack. Honesty would be chill, but it is not likely to happen on a game like Survivor.
Jamal recognizes this, and while he seems like he is going along with what everyone else is saying, he is not going to forget what happened at the last tribal--we know this because he tells us in a confessional that he will “Forgive but not forget.” Basically everyone from the tribe can tell this, so we get a lot of strategy talk where Noura is put on the block by Dan which then leads to Dan’s name being thrown out by Jamal, which then leads to Jamal’s name being thrown out by Janet (who goes to Tommy, who seems receptive to the idea). It is kind of dizzying to watch and basically leaves us exactly where we started at the beginning of the episode: Jamal is on the outs, people find Noura annoying and Dan creepy, and no one seems to notice that Tommy is subtly pulling a lot of strings (why did Janet feel the need to go to him, specifically?), which either means that Tommy could go far or he could be the next one out.
Vokai seems like it is in disarray, but Lairo isn’t full of sunshine either, especially for Karishma, who really got a lot of time this week and had an interesting arc that I am not sure we have ever seen before. What did you make of Karishma’s story this week, Mary?
Mary: OOF. I have so much to say about this. One of the most upsetting parts of the show features Karishma cutting her hand, telling her group she can see her bone, then collapsing in the dirt about fifteen feet away--AND NO ONE CHECKS ON HER. There’s been some speculation on the Twitter-sphere that maybe this is editing to make Karishma seem even more on the outs than she is (there’s not much to do on the island, so why wouldn’t they check on her? Even if it’s just for something to do). I’m not sure if editing plays a role here or not, but it’s heartbreaking to see Karishma be pushed to the side, even by her own women’s alliance. Later in the episode, Vince tells Karishma that she essentially needs to be more assertive in her play style, that if she doesn’t want to get voted out she needs to tell them someone else to vote for.
Because Vince has been such a vocal champion of people of color this season (when he walked in and saw Sandra on the Island of the Idols, he said she’s a strong woman of color, and he’s mentioned in his bio materials he’s here to represent minorities), it hurt to see him tell Karishma that her concerns weren’t valid, and that she just needed to be stronger. I would imagine--though I don’t know--that being on an island like this is physically and emotionally taxing, and if Karishma already feels more isolated than everyone else that bodes ill for her rest of the time in the game. I want good things for Karishma! And I like her even more after seeing how mean everyone was to her this week.
Todd: I agree! And knowing how the vote ends up going later in the episode, it paints her conversation with Vince in an entirely different light. She can’t tell Vince another name, because the name is his. I think in previous seasons we would have seen Karishma implode and be voted out, but the women’s alliance stays strong and Vince, who I agree comes off less well this episode than he has previously, is sent home. Here’s a question: knowing how the episode ends up going, do you think too much time was spent on the Island of the Idols challenge? It ultimately ends up feeling, to quote Billy Shakespeare, like a lot of sound and fury that signifies nothing.
Mary: It made it that much wilder when Vince got voted out. We spent all this time on the IoI seeing Vince win this immunity idol, only for him to go home with the idol in his pocket. I think they showed a lot of the challenge on the IoI because it was more involved than the other challenges have been. He had to infiltrate the other camp--sort of--not listen to trivia or make a fire. I don’t think his challenge was more difficult, per se, but it was more--as David Wright would say--involved.
Todd: 100%. And once again, the editors clearly had fun with the sequence, even throwing in a shot of Vince falling down on top of a voiceover where he talked about how empowered he felt.
Also, if Karishma got a showcase episode showing how great she is, then Dean, of Lairo, got the exact inverse of that. When Vince leaves for Island of the Idols Elizabeth says he will probably come back with an idol. Dean, in front of the whole tribe, then says, “Split the vote!” Not a great moment for Dean, and Chelsea immediately points out that the entire tribe is here.
Mary: Dean was a real dum-dum in this episode, truly. In his confessional, he notes that everyone was thinking that the vote would have to be split, but no one wanted to say it. Yes, Dean! No one wants to say it because it makes you look like you’re playing hard, and everyone wants to play hard without looking like they are. Survivor, at this point, is a complicated set of social choices where you have to do things without appearing to care too much.
Todd: That is so true! It is a delicate balancing act, and it seems, at this point at least, that Dean may not be up for it. Speaking of balancing, the challenge this week involved lots of balancing and also featured a showdown between our resident Olympic athlete Elizabeth and the head lifeguard Janet! And Janet did a really good job. If she had been competing against anyone except Elizabeth my guess is she would have had them beat. The editing up to this point had been so even that I couldn’t get a read on who would go to tribal, which led to an exciting challenge. Unfortunately, Janet struggled a little to get a buoy from under the water and for a time it seems like Vokai is in trouble, but as is so often the case, the puzzle proves to be a problem. For Lairo, Dean and Karishma struggle, while Jamal and Lauren fly through a really cool fish puzzle. Afterwards, everyone on Lairo blames Karishma while seemingly letting Dean off the hook (fish pun!). What do you make of this, Mary?
Mary: I’m not sure why Dean gets a pass on this, and I think that’s actually something we both said while watching the episode. It’s absurd that Karishma is deemed less desirable as a tribe member, when she and Dean both donked up the puzzle--and Dean already had that slip up where he mentioned splitting the vote! Dean’s name should have at least been on the chopping block as an option.
Todd: Mmhmm. Ultimately, this seems like a pretty cut and dried instance of implicit bias. The majority of the Lairo members are white, and while the dudes are outnumbered, there is also an implicit in Survivor (as in life), that men are obviously stronger and more valuable than women. This kind of criticism is often lobbed at Survivor, but rarely has it seemed as blatant as it does here, even if the members of the Lairo tribe (and certainly Survivor’s producers) would deny any kind of bias in the show.
Mary: I truly wonder how much work the producers do to mold the show in a certain way. I feel like we know a lot about how things happen on other reality shows--like The Bachelor--but I haven’t heard that sort of talk about Survivor. There’s always an element of manipulation in reality TV. It’s never really reality, but I wonder how much of it is.
Tribal was exciting, with blame for various failures getting thrown around to everyone. Jeff said at one point that Tom really seemed like he wanted to win, which...of course he does, Jeff. Tom is playing the game more than we think he is right now, I think, and I’m worried about how he’s going to continue to develop as the game moves forward. Yes, he seems like a sweet dad type, but I think he could also be secretly mean. And you know how I feel about mean people on Survivor.
Todd: I think Tom is also playing into a bit of a stereotype, because he is a retired hockey player and thus must be competitive. Survivor loves having retired sports athletes on the show who basically only focus on winning challenges at the beginning and are then voted out post-merge. But, I suspect he is less mean than he is stuck in his ways. He is going to focus so much on “keeping the tribe strong” at the beginning that it could blind him to strategy. However, he was also one of the people behind the Ronnie vote, which was an unexpected first vote, so who really knows! (Fun side fact about Tom: as a Canadian, he is the first non-American to play Survivor!)
Mary: I didn’t know that! You’d think they’d be hyping that he’s Canadian more as an angle.
Todd: A nice show of restraint for the producers, to be sure. I’m surprised he didn’t come onto the island in a Maple Leafs jersey. Also, remember two episodes when Tom and Vince were in an alliance? What happened to that?!
Mary: GONE! Vince wasn’t as tight with the dudes as he seemed, I think. And he wasn’t as tight with the women either. Maybe the moral of this episode is that though Karishma seems and feels on the outs, she was still more “in” than Vince.
Todd: Oh, definitely. At tribal, Karishma says she is different from her other tribe members, pointing out that she is older and a mom, and the younger women of Lairo often seem like a “sorority.” Elizabeth immediately tells her that’s not true, and then Karishma stands up! She does some whispering, to which Tom says, essentially, “That don’t impress me much” (another Canadian reference!) and then there is the vote: Vince votes Tom. The other men vote Karishma. And the women’s alliance votes out Vince.
Mary: When Tom kept saying that Karishma was doing this for show, I got mad. No, Tom, it’s not for show! It’s her trying to get something done!
Todd: Mmhmm! I was truly shocked by this vote! I thought the women would stick with Vince, but by voting him out they have solidified the remaining Lairo members (in case there is a tribal swap) and...sigh…”kept the tribe strong”. With that being said, who are your picks to win it all and go home next?
Mary: This week my favorite is Karishma. I don’t know that I think she’ll win, but I’m rooting for her now, and I definitely have my eye on her. My least favorite is Tom because, well, I’m suspicious of him. If Tom keeps trying to manipulate everyone and is loud about it, I think he could go home next.
Todd: That’s fair. Older men on Survivor are really either cute/funny, like the OG Rudy or your favorite Bob, or they are just very set in their ways and dumb. Let’s hope Tom is the former.
My favorite to win this week is...Janet! I think she is showing a lot of strength and while she is not the center of attention, she does seem to making alliances and building real relationships within her tribe. My pick to go next is, sadly, Jamal. I think he is going to be driven too much by revenge and end up shooting himself in the foot.
Todd: Look, I get it, bodies are bodies, people are people, but it was really funny to me when Dean tripped on the way out to see the boat taking Vince away. I’m not a perfect person.
Mary: Noura is still getting on my last nerve this week. I don’t like how she talks about things, or how she acts. I don’t like her dumb jokes. I do not like her!
Todd: Importantly, Vince did hug Sandra first when he got to the Island of the Idols. Also, Sandra at least seemed disappointed when Vince got voted out. I hope the next person to go to the island does not also get a target on their back, though it seems like going to the island only emphasized what was already true about Vince and his placement on his tribe.
Also, I love that at the beginning of the episode we saw the Lairo women’s alliance in the water saying “Vicious!” I hope that becomes the name of their alliance. It has a nice ring to it.
That’s all for this week. Join us here next time for