With this being the penultimate episode, the last showing before the big finale, I was expecting something truly spectacular this week… lol just kidding! I know better by now. I guess I can admit I was surprised because I felt Kellyn was finale-bound, but 2 minutes into the episode, it was clear that wasn’t happening, yet the show tried once again convince us that the game was going to be flipped upside down. I feel like that nasty son of a bitch Bradley, having so much to complain about, but I think I really am just ready to say goodbye to Ghost Island. I mean, we all know how this season ends, right? Angela wins.
KELLYN COULD USE AN ALLY
The last bit of the “Previously On…” segment informed us that with Chelsea leaving, Kellyn was left without an ally in the game. Apparently, Angela has gone ghost and is no longer considered a player left in the game. I feel like the show went out of its way to hide Angela this week starting by erasing her from Kellyn’s alliance as though she was never in it.
With or without Angela, Kellyn was still on the bottom, but there were also still two enormous targets left in the game, Domenick and Wendell, that surely the rest of the tribe would want to take out before her. Tired of following Laurel shying down from any previous opportunity to take out one of the big dogs, Donathan approached Kellyn with an olive branch and proposed going after them. For real, this time.
Honestly, it was kind of frustrating that this was going to be the story again. This whole merge has basically been “will Laurel and Donathan finally flip on Dom and Wendell?” and week after week they flake. Donathan at least seemed ready to go all in on the move, but knowing how wishy-washy Laurel has been with the idea all season, my gut was telling me not to get my hopes high for that blindside.
REWARD – SPOOLING AROUND
I kind of despise the challenge that was used for the first time as the final challenge in Tocantins where the players have to prevent balls from dropping after they spin around a giant metal contraption. I think I mostly dislike it as the final challenge because it just doesn’t do it for me in terms of an “epic showdown.” Here though, I didn’t mind the supersized redesign because it came with the players competing in pairs which is something seldom seen these days. Admittedly, no pair was the next coming odd couple of Brandon and Frank, but at least this felt somewhat fresh. Angela, of course, was also erased from this challenge.
Round and round the spools spun before Dom and Wendell was the pair that won. Sebastian was never going to win a challenge that required him to have quick reflexes, and once it was down to Laurel and Donathan vs. Dom and Wendell, Laurel likely sabotaged her spool cycle so that Dom and Wendell could win. To repay her, they chose Laurel to join them on a visit to a Fijian village while sending Sea Bass the pirate to Ghost Island to find some booty. Unfortunately for Sea Bass, he voted out that booty just the other night…
Sebastian did as he was told and smashed the “yurn” to learn that a Ghost Island game awaited him. He walked up the path and found a set of now 4 bamboo boxes, also learning that his odds at an advantage were increased. I’m not sure why we bother with these “increased odds” at this point. Just give the poor, clueless kid an advantage if you’re going to make it that easy. Since we’re slated for at least one more visit go Ghost Island in next week’s finale, I fully anticipate those odds increasing again, probably to some outrageous number.
Sebastian easily struck gold in the form of a key which unlocked another box that inside held a brand new—oh wait, no. It was a curse we had seen before, literally just two episodes ago. What a joke. They couldn’t put Dan or Stephen’s extra vote in there instead of Sarah(/Kellyn)’s? Must every curse be tied to Game Changers? I mean, I know that season sucked and lots of stuff was cursed in that game, but that doesn’t mean other seasons don’t have their cursed relics too. How about something old school? Like the pot of drinking water that B.B. used to wash his dirty clothes in or the sticks used to start the fire Skupin fell into (or the hard drive from his laptop…)
This advantage will be useless in the hands of Sebastian anyway. He’ll just roll up the extra vote and try to smoke it. Just look at those eager eyes…
Like the pairs challenges being less special in modern Survivor, these cultural rewards have also lost their sparkle. Dom, Laurel, and Wendell were briefly shown playing with what was supposed to be the highlight of the reward, the kids, but once we were given proof that they did that, it was back to game talk because the strategy this season is so dynamic.
Dom, Laurel, and Wendell vocalized their final three commitment to each other and even polled the locals on who they thought would win among the three of them, and that one woman’s face pretty much summed it up for us.
It was weird to see this many days out from the end an alliance talking about how they can beat each other at the final tribal council. Laurel told the guys that she would stick with them and hope they’d split enough votes for her to secure the rest and win. At least we finally heard Laurel’s rationale over going to the end with them, but I fear she was misremembering how often this strategy had actually been proven successful in the show’s history. Spoiler: it had never. Second spoiler: it will be just as successful for Laurel too.
BYE BYE DON DON DIVA?
Donathan woke up on the wrong side of the bamboo rack and was in a mood on Day 34. Obviously feeling left out by the other three in his alliance of four, he dropped some more Don Bombs on Wendell about how he was going to vote for Domenick when he ended up on the jury. Wendell didn’t know exactly what to say and when Dom walked up, Donathan expressed not wanting to be in the alliance anymore. Rather than pitting Dom and Wendell against each other, Donathan just pissed them off and brought them more committed to each other.
Wendell said “Peace, bro” and took a walk with Domenick who threatened to slit Donathan’s throat with a credit card. Harsh! Now, that may sound totally bizarre but actually not as unheard of as one may think. I’m pretty sure that happened on an early episode of 24, and if it can happen on 24, it can happen in real life too.
IMMUNITY – BUILDING BRIDGES
After Donathan just showed how good he was at burning bridges, he unsurprisingly did not prove so great at building them. Angela was right there with him and again was ghosted out of this challenge, but at least this time she fulfilled her role of participating. Immediately after Jeff declared the winner, if you look close enough, you can almost see the apparition of Angela solving its puzzle.
The puzzle came down to a photo finish between Wendell and Laurel, and the photo showed that Wendell clearly finished first but Survivor rules are the same as Uno rules – you’ve gotta call it out. Jeff likes to hear his name, so Laurel won immunity by being the first to yell it. Wendell showed a bit of his Bradley side too this week with his reaction to that call but ultimately understood the ruling. Tension rose a bit and had the winner been someone Wendell wanted out, like Kellyn, I think he may have protested a bit more, but since it was Laurel, “Whatever, I’ve got my own immunity necklace,” he thought.
DONATHAN GOES BONKERS
Post-challenge, the powers that be met to lock in a vote for Kellyn, although Dom and Wendell still had some doubts surrounding Donathan after his outburst the day before. Later when talking to Dom and Laurel, Donathan had another sassy spasm and told the two to come out with it if they were going to vote him out which caused them to shoot back some confusing expressions. “Paranoia will destroy ya,” and it was certainly not a good look on Donathan. His reminded me of the last “freakout for no reason” we’ve seen on the show.
While no one called him “crazy lady,” Donathan looked well off his rocker. In his defense, that exchange he witnessed between Dom and Wendell was super shady and if they were concerned about Donathan already at that point, I don’t know why they thought that move was necessary right then and there. After feeling further convinced they were voting him out, Donathan ran to the only other person he could: Kellyn.
Donathan proposed to Kellyn voting out Domenick and while still not sure of any other plan, Kellyn was even hesitant to grab that grenade Donathan launched. Back at camp, Domenick suggested to Angela and Sebastian that they eliminate the bomb threat. I should also point out here that Angela spoke her only three words the entire episode during this short exchange. Absolutely abysmal for the show to have only seven people left in the game and not be able to give her more than that, but I guess they thought we didn’t need to hear anything else once Domenick’s “hammock plan” was in place.
Angela looks like she’s just seen a ghost. Did someone give her a mirror?
Still filled with fire, Donathan was a hot mess at tribal council. I didn’t think he had it in him to burn down the house like he was trying to do but I’m happy he did. Without Donathan going kamikaze this week, the episode may not have had much of a pulse. Donathan bursting up in flames had to have made Domenick and Wendell even more committed to voting out Kellyn, however, because few would want to work with Donathan after this, and even fewer jurors would want to reward that kind of behavior. We all caught the jury shaking their heads at him, no?
After the first vote came back a tie, Donathan was certain he was done for and even grabbed his bag as Jeff began reading the second set of votes. However, the plan that Dom told everyone to stick to ended up being to kill off Kellyn. Judging by the tears in her eyes, she must have seen it coming, so no Kellyn Heller this week.
I loved Kellyn pre-game, second only to Stephanie, and this episode taught me that I most love Kellyn when she’s the scrappy underdog. Kellyn in power is just pisses me off. When she was fighting for her life in the final days of her game, she seemed to be having a lot more fun. The stress of trying to lead an alliance all the way to the end may have simply gotten the best of her which caused her to be snippy with people. Though her gut wasn’t always right, she was playing as aggressive of a game as Dom and Wendell; they just were never on the Malolo tribe before the merge, so they weren’t cursed like Kellyn was. I could see her coming back to play again and kick a lot of ass, learning from her “one bad decision” (or a few) and hopefully never wearing an orange buff again.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
Many may still be thinking “Dom or Wendell, Dom or Wendell…” but I’m sitting here wondering how is the winner not Domenick? This entire season has been shown through his eyes, and while it wouldn’t be the first time a player like him was upset at final tribal council, I don’t think that’s happening, and my hot take going into next week is that even if Dom and Wendell both make it to the end, Dom will still win in a blowout.
How we get there ultimately doesn’t matter because none of the other four are winning. My gut has been saying all along that the alliance of four that has run most of this game will hold, placing Sebastian and Angela in 5th and 6th place. Whichever of Dom and Wendell win final immunity will take Laurel and let the other face off against Donathan in the fan favorite final four firemaking challenge. Donathan will lose that, giving us our final three and our winner, Dom Corleone.
Donathan – Without a doubt, a total trainwreck this episode, but trainwrecks make good TV. Like I said, without him freaking the fuck out, this one would have been another snoozer, so I’m glad the Donathan bomb exploded. I also appreciate when edits take a 180, even more when they go from sitting on cloud nine to hitting rock bottom. I can totally understand Donathan’s frustration, though. I’d probably have lost my shit too if my #1 ally didn’t back me up on making the biggest, most obvious move of the game after sitting on it for days.
Kellyn – Seeing Kellyn cry as the votes were being read was tough because I imagined myself in her shoes, a superfan who gave it their all for 35 days of Survivor and was slowly watching their dream be crushed. Kellyn could have won, and had Laurel not been so locked in with Dom and Wendell, she just might have. At least Kellyn walked away with a consolation prize in the form of Bradley Kleihege. Few may call that a trophy, but Bradley definitely would.
Angela – “Donathan said that?” Easily will go down as one of the most iconic lines in Survivor history.
Ryan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser