On first watch, this episode was a total snooze for me, and it aired well before the tryptophan from the Thanksgiving turkey kicked in. Watching it again, though, I found some fun moments among what can sometimes be a mundane middle part of a merge. I’m thankful that we’re able to still have some light-heartedness and laughter, but they make it all the more unfortunate that the season will likely be remembered more for that dark merge episode. I don’t think the season can be “saved” entirely, but three votes later, Janet, Noura, and Karishma are all at least alive and kicking, so there’s still hope for some happiness in the end.
Coming back to camp after the two tribal councils came with a mixed bag of emotions: on one end of the spectrum, Elizabeth felt completely defeated having lost her two closest allies, while on the other end, Karishma couldn’t have been happier to see her two biggest nemeses out of the game with an immunity idol still tucked in her trusty armpit. Sounds like a big win for Karishma — who’s the “goat” exactly?
Dean’s fear of this “goat army” assembling was downright (Deanright?) comical. I see the logic in the perceived goats, namely Noura and Karishma, posing as threats because of potentially taking up two of the three seats at final tribal council, but Dean made a glaring omission in this army — himself.
What the hell has Dean accomplished that Karishma and Noura haven’t? Noura has won individual immunity and more challenges overall than Dean, Karishma up to the point of Dean making this argument had survived 4 tribal councils with her name being written down and found an idol and had the right read to hold onto that idol — what does Dean’s resume have on it? Making a clutch free throw shot after missing a hefty hundred or so? His puzzle performance is no better than Karishma’s, and I don’t think he’s significantly outlasted her in challenges since the merge (Jeff would have the answer to that), so please define “goat” for me, Dean, and why you aren’t one.
The chicken that bit Sandra could’ve used this week’s lesson too, literally biting the hand that had been feeding her – the hand of a queen, no less. I think we all know what’s next for that poor little pecker: “Off with her head!”
The “test” this week was interesting, I guess, but watching the deliberation wasn’t as exciting for me. Lauren’s read on everyone was impressively spot-on, but I don’t feel like we needed a montage of everyone’s personal challenge performance history. Still, I liked that this gave Lauren a mission of sorts to complete back at camp — convince everyone but the two she had bet on to win to not participate at all.
Again, the concept was cool, but watching 10 minutes (almost a quarter of the episode) devoted to Lauren guessing who would win while promoting a pancake breakfast to everyone she wanted to lose was just meh for me. Luckily, in middle of it all — in sharp contrast with Lauren’s awareness — we got a little more dumbassery from Dean.
I don’t fault Dean too much for believing Jamal’s legacy advantage was legit because it doesn’t sound insane for Survivor to throw something random like that into the game — a scribbled note that has “matured” into a legacy advantage — but did Dean seriously believe he could convince everyone that this smudgy, painted replica was real?
They’re not, though.
Dean’s idea was to play this fake, fake advantage at the next tribal council so that he could keep his real, fake advantage to use at the final six. I actually hope he makes it there because the moment where he thinks he’s a genius only to be told he’s just gullible is going to be so satisfying for me.
The perfect ending to all of this would be Karishma playing another real idol that knocks Dean out of the game — a true G.O.A.T. move.
IMMUNITY – BRING ON THE BACON
The lack of reaction to the breakfast buffet was cringey because we all know that Jeff knew Lauren had gone to the Island of the Idols and that she had already “stolen his thunder” by revealing the pancake platter at camp, but nonetheless he put on his acting face anyway and reminded us all why he works in reality TV. In his defense, the pancakes did deserve a little more pomp and circumstance as the Survivor chef really put their special signature on them.
With only Noura, Elizabeth, and Karishma competing, Lauren had a 2-in-3 shot at an idol here and shortly into the challenge, Karishma gave it to her by dropping out. Karishma may have come across as “whiny” or “woe is me” here, but I didn’t see that. Anyone who chooses to compete and not eat is always a winner to me, and the fight Karishma has in her adds to her compelling character development as an underdog. We were told #DontSleepOn39, but now I’m preaching #DontSleepOnKarishma.
Not even you, Noura!
This was one of the sweetest moments of the season, and we all know how much we need stuff like this as of late. Noura knew she had won, yet she chose to stay standing so her tribe could continue chowing down. Jeff clarified, “it doesn’t work that way,” and told everyone to take their last bites, but it was her thought that showed what a generous heart Noura has and made me love her even more. She 100% gets the annual Angelina Award with this great sacrifice for the tribe. Nothing will ever be as selfless as sitting out of an immunity challenge so the tribe receive more rice, but I’m glad others are following Her example.
THE KARISHMA WITH NINE LIVES
I love that shot of Karishma so much. When Karishma sits (or sleeps) in the hammock, I know shit’s about to go down.
The tribe was talking about splitting the votes between Karishma and Elizabeth but wondering if Karishma had an idol, Noura stole Karishma’s bag while she wasn’t looking and searched its contents only to find a crumpled-up note and some string with shells on it — nothing to worry about, right? Uh ... except, isn’t that exactly what hidden immunity idols look like nowadays? Noura, you should know better! I’m assuming Karishma still had the idol tucked in her armpit, so perhaps this was just your average string and shells.
Karishma was given Janet’s name by Dan as the decoy vote, led to believe the split was between Janet and Elizabeth. Playing from the bottom with an idol must’ve given Karishma confidence to play a little ballsy here, because her immediate next move was to share this information with Elizabeth. Lauren watched and read their lips from afar (hella impressive tactic, by the way), and finally deduced that Dan was the one they were talking about.
Anything involving Dan now just makes me twitch, so the way he stormed over to interject in Karishma and Elizabeth’s conversation was especially uncomfortable even if he gathered correctly that Karishma was throwing his name around. After this exchange, Dan went back to the rest of the non-goat army assembly to switch the majority of votes back to Karishma whereas before it sounded the tribe was leaning more Elizabeth’s way.
Whether Karishma played her idol or not, I didn’t think the outcome of the night would change. If the tribe wanted to vote out the bigger threat, they’d split at least 4 votes onto Elizabeth and 3 onto Karishma or go 5-3 with Elizabeth as another Karishma vote – thus, Elizabeth would be eliminated no matter what. Obviously, it’d be more exciting if Karishma’s idol made a big impact, but surely everyone else wouldn’t be stupid enough to let her one vote hold so much power…
WRONG SIDE OF THE TRENCH
This was Karishma’s tribal council (feat. Dean) and my god was I here for it. She herself knew that it would be too because she came looking fiercely fine for the fireworks about to go off.
Tribal talk went a bit to the wayside once they started talking about the Indy 500 and pit stops, but the overarching theme was that this tribe was a fairly united front aiming for an “easy tribal” and if we can read between the lines as well as Lauren can read lips, we’d have pieced together that the “easy” vote was Karishma who said she was on the wrong side of the trench that was brought up at tribal.
Before Jeff read the votes, Dean stood up to play his fake, fake advantage as everyone smiled when they learned it had no real power. The smiling quickly turned to shock as Karishma then shook the set by pulling an idol out of her bra (Sandra-style) and the reactions to this were absolute perfection.
Not knowing what the fuck was going on, Lauren let her new idol go lickety-split to make sure she wouldn’t be the victim of Karishma’s carnage. I think this was 100% the right call here and anyone saying she “wasted” it is someone who if playing the game would go home with an idol in their bag. Lauren knew almost everyone’s votes had been cast for Karishma, and fearing a #ChaosKarishma move, Lauren was smart not to take any chances. If you vote for someone and they unexpectedly play an idol and you’re wondering whether or not to play yours, keep Cirie’s wise words in mind, “if you got it, play it.” You can also consult with Chris Noble.
The vote read was epic as vote after vote came back Karishma, to my own surprise, until I saw “Janet” written down. My heart sank because if Karishma playing an idol meant Janet leaving, that would’ve been a total buzzkill — if her vote had been for Dan, now that’d have been something. Dan, however, threw a vote onto Elizabeth to avoid giving Karishma sole voting power. On the re-vote, everyone voted for Elizabeth so she could be reunited again with Missy and Aaron.
Elizabeth never struck me as strategically savvy, and that was what I thought would be her downfall going into the game. She made her bed with Missy and Aaron, two of the game’s most aggressive strategic players, so it only made sense that once they were out, she wouldn’t know what to do and would join them on the jury soon. Elizabeth let Missy lead her down a dark path and unfortunately, Elizabeth got lost in it. More details have emerged about the merge episode, and a lot of Elizabeth’s actions could be contributed to naivety, but that’s never the strongest excuse. Had Elizabeth played a little more on her own, she may have been better off on many levels.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
Idoling out Dan would’ve been “exactly what we wanted” from Karishma this week, but she, Noura, and Janet are all still in the game, so I’ll consider it a win. Noura gets called a Froot Loop next episode which is supposed to surprise us or something? On top of that, it’s time for the loved ones visit, so I plan to be drinking heavily and trying not to heave during Jeff’s awkward narration of that. Maybe he’ll bring out his own loved one for once — Boston Rob, since they’ve already got him there in Fiji.
Lauren – A visit to the Island of the Idols tends to be a breakout episode for someone and this was a long time coming for Lauren. Players like Lauren are often overlooked because their “moves” aren’t ones that are as easy to telegraph on TV. Lauren now remains as the last person in the game to never have her name written down, and I don’t think that’s for being a non-threat but rather an astute social player. She proved this week that she’s incredibly observant and has kept a close study on everyone and everything around her, making a strong case for her to win the game. My only doubt about her ability to win is that we haven’t really seen a whole lot of her up until this point. She’s been present and in on almost every vote, but she never has gotten much major credit whereas her partner Tommy has even taken credit for moves that weren’t his (the Missy vote). Lauren won herself an idol, but if she were this season’s winner, I don’t think this would be the first big accomplishment noted as “hers.” I have a tough time seeing Lauren’s gameplay making her a losing finalist, so she must not make it there somehow. If she does and doesn’t win ... she’ll be #robbed.
Noura – Either Noura grows saner each week, or I grow more insane, but more and more, I think Noura can actually win this game. Sure, she gets called names, but getting called a goat by King Goat Dean may actually be a positive more than a negative for Noura. I mentioned last week too that Noura has more strategic chops than she’s been given credit for, and with her immunity gesture this week, she has to be winning favor with the tribe. I’d love a final three of Noura, Karishma, and Dean where Dean gets no votes and the girls split the rest, and in that dream of a final three ... I think Noura wins!
Karishma – The journey continues, and if Karishma’s survived 5 votes now with her name being written down, does that mean she still has 4 lives left? That makes her safe at the next four votes, and if people think she’s a “goat” then she’ll be taken to final three – safe from having to make fire at final four – so it looks like Karishma is guaranteed to be sitting at final tribal council! I expect Karishma, as a lawyer, to have the ability to present a miraculous case of why she should win. She’s a huge underdog and has the biggest story, in my opinion, of the season, so it would be no surprise to me if we’re supposed to think she has no shot and then gives one of the greatest final tribal council performances of all time to pull off the win. I learned recently that the name Karishma means “miracle,” so we’ll see who’s smiling the most on Day 39.
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