I have mixed feelings about this episode and they mostly surround the time we spent at Island of the Idols. There were some entertaining moments in there but all because of something that really shouldn’t have even been happening on the show in the first place. There’s “thinking outside the box” and there’s “tearing the box apart and throwing it in a dumpster” and I think we witnessed closer the latter. If that was only the third test, what test is it going to be where someone has to kidnap someone and bring them back to Rob and Sandra (dead or alive) in exchange for an idol? Survivor gods help us if Rob ever reads a note that says “To test your ability to meet our insane demands, you are to bring us Dean in the flesh.” At least they’ll know who Dean is now.
YOU GUYS WANT TO TALK?
I loved the contrast at Vokai’s return to camp between Jack and Jamal. After an initial awkward silence, the suggestion to “go get water” (Survivor code for “let’s talk”) was made and Jack joined Tommy and Kellee at the well. Tommy mentioned last week that he’d hurt his relationships with Jack and Jamal by voting out Molly, so it was time for damage control. Jack took the blindside with a smile, showing himself to be impressed by the move at least to Tommy and Kellee’s faces. Jamal, however, reacted not unlike Aaron did the vote before and went into defense mode — “forgive but not forget” which I think is actually a reasonable reaction to something that happens in the game. But still, Jamal was pissed and he didn’t hide it.
In the later scenes of Vokai, Jamal lost his defensiveness and instead determined his best move was to forge an all-out offense against Dan. Dan, however, was still feeling like Noura was a little much. (I’d argue, of course, not enough!) After calling Jack and Jamal “naïve” players, Dan held a small meeting to shift the target back onto nagging Noura.
This is the second time Dan has given us a set of low odds — first with it being “impossible” for Jason to dig himself out a hole and now saying that it was statistically “improbable” for Noura to annoy everyone on the tribe (a new state — Jeff, please research), yet she had succeeded in doing so. Dan is being set up to be blindsided big-time with all of these “facts” he keeps presenting. I’d be hesitant to believe that Jamal is going to turn 7 other people against Dan after being 1 of 2 left out of the first vote, but I think Dan is going to be outlasted one way or another by everyone he keeps putting himself above — Jason, Noura, Jack, and Jamal — which really narrows the field of people that could go instead of him should Vokai lose again.
Lauren, Tommy, and Kellee are all in great positions, but I’ll give a special nod to Janet here for possibly being the most well-positioned person in her tribe. She was the middle-woman last week between Lauren and Tommy — the two having a civilized battle between Molly vs. Noura — and this week we saw Jamal first confide in Janet about his plan against Dan which she then shared with Tommy. Chief’s in on all the plans and has got some serious game, dude. To quote the Reem machine, “this old lady can kill it!”
While Vokai was the cool kids up against the freaks and geeks, Lairo’s story was more of an awkward junior high dance split between the boys and the girls. I was a little surprised the girls were so obvious about their pow-wow in the water while all the guys gathered back at camp to discuss that very circumstance. Aaron looked to be the leader in pulling together Tom, Dean, and Vince to discuss forming an all-guys alliance to go up against the girls – a little late now, but worth a shot, eh? (That was for Tom).
Especially since Aaron had voted for Vince already, Vince was unsurprisingly just nodding along while mentally maintaining loyalty to the ladies. Vince called the guys stupid for coming to him so late, and really, they were, because if the women had the numbers, then it made sense for Vince to stick with them. Plus, who wouldn’t want in on the fun of being suplexed by Elaine?
That looked pretty damn good. Does Elaine have a past in professional wrestling like another Survivor?
Oh…I meant “Johnny Mundo” Morrison, but I’m sure Debbie’s dabbled in the ring too, yeah.
CUT TO THE CORE
We learned a lot about Karishma this week starting with a monologue during the suplexing scene where she expressed discomfort in being on the beach in her underwear — growing up in Indian culture, she was used to being much more conservative and well-behaved, but as the phrase goes, “well-behaved women seldom make history.” Karishma has had to be braver and bolder than most to put on a strong face for her alliance and I think this is a powerful story shaping out, so I hope that the early cool, calm, collected Karishma is one that takes back control once the dust settles from what happened the rest of the episode…
What hurt Karishma more than her cutting her hand down to the bone, though, was Lairo’s reaction or lack thereof one. Karishma walked a short distance away from the “kitchen” before feeling lightheaded and lying down on the ground while no one was quick come to her aide, making Karishma feel isolated and unwanted by the tribe — a fear she clearly already possessed given her cultural differences. The wound, thankfully, did not end up being life- or game-threatening, but the impact was still pretty painful.
I can’t really defend Lairo based on what we saw. I’m hoping that eventually someone came to Karishma’s side and escorted her to see Dr. Joe, but the edit would have us believe no one cared for Karishma over their coconut dinner. I’m not sure if this was to help explain Karishma’s “dead to me” declaration and later paranoia about being the next to go or if this will be something Karishma ends up leaving Lairo later in the game, but either way, I had a lot of sympathy for Karishma here and can understand why she felt uncomfortable about where she truly stood within the tribe.
I’ll get to the shit show to end all shit shows that was Vince’s Mission: Impossible, but first there was a delightfully dumbass scene at Lairo involving the long-awaited introduction of Dean.
KATHY, I JUST SAID WHO!
We may not have known his name, but damn did Dean know how to make an entrance.
After Vince was escorted away to the Island of the Idols (following another “random” name draw) Dean spoke up to the tribe about flushing the idol Vince was likely to come back with in his pocket. As he said in confessional, everyone was thinking it so it didn’t need to be said, but the worst part about Dean proposing the plan in that moment is that everyone was there, so he was essentially saying “I want to throw some votes on one of you people standing right here.” Smooth move, Dean-dong. Maybe just keep your strategies to yourself from now on.
The next (what felt like an) hour of television was something so un-Survivor that I thought I was watching a completely different show and not really a good one. We started off strong in the Rob and Sandra department, at least, with Vince pulling the usual ERMAHGERD reaction to the idols walking out to greet him. It was all smiles from there until Boston Rob asked the seemingly simple question, “Where are you from?” which caused Vince to pause for so long that Rob must’ve either thought Vince was having a stroke or had truly lost his mind and no longer remembered how he had gotten there.
That exchanged killed me! Rob misread the moment and didn’t realize Vince was on the verge of tears from being so overwhelmed, and before Rob did, he responded in the most perfectly Boston Rob way possible by poking some fun. When Vince burst into tears, all Rob could do was look across to Sandra wondering what the hell they were supposed to do with this guy.
Never before have I related so much to a moment on the show. That’s the exact face I make when anyone starts crying in front of me — I just look around for someone else to comfort them because I just can’t/don’t want to.
Once Vince got his composure back, it was time for Rob and Sandra — but mostly Rob because for some reason he does all the talking — to present Vince with his lesson: staying calm under pressure (we’ll call it Attempt #2). How were they going to teach this? Why, with a classic Survivor scenario – sneaking into the other tribe’s camp and stealing their fire! Oh, and by “classic” I mean “never-before-seen” and by “Survivor” I mean “who the fuck even knows anymore.”
This was an absolute joke from start to finish from the planning of the attack out on the cartoon treasure map to Sandra teaching Vince how to Army crawl and hide behind some foliage.
Rob himself said that Sandra took this “test” ...
... two steps too far. Just look at the shit-eating grin on Rob’s face as he watched Vince crawl across the sand thinking this was somehow remotely relevant to the game of Survivor.
No winner ever has needed to do anything this asinine to win the game. By passing this test, all Vince would be doing was proving what a gullible goon he was and what a gimmicky twist this had become. I said last week that it was the right amount of cheese, but it turned into a complete mess this time.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s me who’s missing something. Sandra has won the game twice, so perhaps behind able to hide behind some leaves is what she considers her biggest moves. “As long as it ain’t me?” Please. “I’m behind a bush, motherfucker” is the real Sandra strategy. They can’t vote her out if they can’t find her!
A literally unwinnable game.
Finally, Vince voyaged to Vokai via boat (again, something no one would have access to under the normal conditions of the game). I’m convinced this entire thing was staged. Why? Because we know Noura never sleeps and tends to that fire all night long, yet she was nowhere to be seen during this entire raid. I think they CGI’d Vince’s body sneaking into camp to make us believe he actually pulled it off. I was hoping Noura was actually sneaking behind the sneak and would scream and lunge toward him at any second, but the only screaming we got was the result of Tommy’s night terror.
I had to rewind a few times to see who was shrieking like a banshee. Based on the pitch, I assumed it was a woman, but Kellee and Noura popped their heads up, and the body didn’t look like Lauren – plus, nothing could make Janet flinch, so when I realized it was Tommy (also confirmed via Twitter) I wondered what kind of tremendous terror he had imagined.
That’d sure to do it for me.
All things considered, I don’t think this task was actually all that as impossible for Vince as it was made out to be. That’s some serious armchair criticism, I know, and while I’ll give Vince the fact that it was pitch black, that also was kind of an advantage as much as it was a disadvantage. In that moment Jack stirred and looked straight at Vince, Jack could’ve taken him for anyone tending to the fire, hence why he didn’t react at all. I’ve done that while camping — woken up to someone stoking the fire and didn’t care enough to determine who before falling back asleep.
Vince got his idol out of the ordeal, but this also begs me to question again the legitimacy of the selection of people going to the Island of the Idols. From a comedic standpoint, there was probably no one who could’ve bumblefucked their way through this better than Vince, and he just happened to be the one “drawn” to be the guinea pig for possibly the goofiest gag ever pulled on the show? Sure, okay.
It’s only Episode 3, and we’ve already moved past “tests” that have anything to do with actual Survivor. If invading the other tribe’s camp is such a staple, then why weren’t Cao Boi and Flicka brought to the Island of the Idols to give Rob and Sandra a break while they showed Vince what to do? I mean, if the show’s already jumped the shark, it may as well push itself so far beyond recognition that I don’t even have to be sad about it no longer being Survivor. Watch next week’s “test” be something like “make personal connections” with Rob telling a Vokai they’ve got to get someone to make out with them for 10 seconds ... and it’s Dan who has to do it.
Line up, ladies.
IMMUNITY – TEETER TOTS
This was a fun, original challenge following what was a not-fun-however-admittedly-original mini-challenge. We had our usual water and puzzle, but in the middle of that was an exciting-to-watch balancing element that involved a giant teeter-totter. We’ve previously seen a variation of a tribe having to clime over itself on a balance beam but not while the beam was in motion. I was crossing my fingers we’d see someone launch into the air by accident, but alas, I didn’t get my wish.
The challenge started with a swim race between Elizabeth and Janet — an Olympic swimmer vs. a lifeguard captain over twice her age. Despite that gap, Janet managed to finish the swim only a few seconds behind Elizabeth which was hella impressive. However, Janet lost some time untying her underwater knot which gave Lairo a big lead.
Buuuuuut thanks I’m sure in no small part to Noura’s yoga classes (check out those forms above), Vokai made quick work of the teetering and came back to crush Lairo on the puzzle. Aaron said after the challenge that Karishma shot herself in the foot by blowing the puzzle, but why were we letting Dean escape the blame? He’s now 0 for 2 on puzzles, so, um, maybe stop putting Dean on them? Karishma definitely choked, but not by herself. Enough with the Dean erasure!
It’s honestly just rude at this point.
BOYS ON KARISHMA, GIRLS ON VINCE
Tom took a surprising turn from his tune in the premiere — heavily now preaching tribe strength and harping on Karishma for sucking at the challenge. He also gave up Vince pretty soon after us being led to believe the two of them and Elaine would be an item. Dean just must have such a way with words that he convinced Tom to ditch ’em and go with the guys.
Dean relayed his mastermind split vote plan to Missy, confirming the guys voting for Karishma and the girls voting for Vince — if he didn’t play an idol, he’d go, and if not, she’d go. Missy wasn’t too keen on this, knowing that Vince would be more loyal to the girls than Tom would now that he had gone all “tribe strong.” Therefore, Missy threw Tom’s name out there as a surprising third option to us viewers.
A bigger surprise came from Elizabeth being the one to I think end up holding the original plan together. As a fellow athlete, Elizabeth felt a connection to Tom that no one else did, and she felt that voting for Vince would be the easiest vote with the least amount of repercussions.
Another wild card in this conversation that was shaping up to really be Vince vs. Tom was Karishma’s personal paranoia about being on the bottom. With the girls still together, she wasn’t, but she knew votes were coming her way, and with the plan to flush Vince’s idol, that meant a certain doom for her if he played it. By losing her cool a bit, Karishma was putting herself in hotter water than she was already in, and on the flip side, Vince was the one keeping his cool when perhaps he shouldn’t have been. Did Rob and Sandra teach him so well that he’d not react to the pressure and rightfully play his idol?
Before tribal council, Chelsea and Elizabeth had one last key conversation about the Tom and Vince debate and while this wasn’t a new development, I found it interesting that Chelsea was the one to get the confessional about how this vote could be the “one where [she] went wrong” in voting out Vince. Like anything, it’s either ironic or it’s not — only time will tell which.
PARANOIA SETTING IN
Tribal councils where tribe strength is all the talk never do it for me. It was clear that’s what this tribe was thinking, and thus Karishma felt the most on-trial for her role in losing the challenge. I thought she gave a great rebuttal — as she should be expected to as a lawyer — but she may still have done just a little too much talking here. I’m still lost on exactly why she got up and whispered to Elizabeth just before the vote. What did that accomplish, and why Elizabeth of all people? Shit, is Elizabeth the one that’s running this game right now?
Our question about Rob and Sandra teaching Vince a lesson too well ended up being answered when he chose to hold onto his idol for the next vote ... which, of course, he wouldn’t actually live to see, much to the shock of the mentors.
I wonder if they at all felt responsible for this…
Didn’t think so.
All that mattered for me was that they kept Karishma – I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief with how that ended up working out.
Now if she could not make me sweat this much again, that’d be great. I don’t want to start smelling like Vince’s socks at the weekly watch party.
Vince turned me off with his attitude last week, so this is probably the first vote of the season I’m actually happy about (haters feel free to @ me). I do wonder what would’ve happened had someone else gone to the Island of the Idols — would they have gotten the votes instead of Vince? Would it have been a slam dunk on Karishma? Or was his trip just an excuse to lock in votes for Vince that may have already been there? If not the latter, then lol at IotI being what screwed Vince out of the game. That said, he had the chance to fess up to his tribe about exactly what he had and flush it out himself at this vote, but he didn’t. What was the real lesson then? Honesty? “If you got it, play it?” Maybe what could be a recurring theme of the season, “Don’t trust Rob and Sandra.”
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
This “next time on” looks more like a “previously on” because I’m pretty sure those blossoming romance scenes are from Day 1, but only now must that story be relevant so Survivor’s pulling some wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. I feel like with Dean’s dumbassery this week and falling into a showmance next week, he’s doomed, so that’s a bummer. What’s not a bummer is the Island of the Idols finally being a visible choice with Vokai having to elect who to send there — though, I can’t even fathom anything more outrageous than what Vince had to go through, and yet, I think we’ll eventually see it.
Karishma – She took some heat this week but a lot of it came from inside herself which is kind of tragic. Yeah, she panicked during the puzzle, but outside of that, I think a lot of her issues came from her self-consciousness and insecurities about fitting in, realized in moments like the tribe not showing more effort to aid her as she was gushing blood. I really felt for her and hope that seeing that her alliance having her back has an impact moving forward. I should chop my own head off for what I’m about to do — reference an artist who I cannot stand but it works — and say to Karishma, “You need to calm down” because she’s better off than she thinks. I think she can do it — re-center herself, rebuild some confidence, and prove to be the strong woman she made her case about at tribal.
Vince – Considering he had 25% of the show devoted entirely to him, and probably close to another 25% to people talking about him, it was hard for Vince to go unnoticed, or “Deaned,” this week. I make no secret that I hate edits that focus too much on any one person, and had Vince stuck around, I fear he may have become one of the “it” people of the season the audience is “supposed to” root for and therefore I would not have. Not my cup of tea on TV, but I appreciate at least him coming in wanting to play hard. I’d rather have some opinion on someone good or bad than no opinion at all.
Dean – No, but like actually. His intro in Episode 3 was totally worth the wait. How often do you see someone suggest voting someone out from within the group they’re talking to? GAME CHANGER. I don’t think Dean’s as dumb of a person as he was made out to be, but he’s at least the right kind of dumb to make great TV. Forget what I said earlier, Dean — keep letting stupid things slip out of your mouth!
And that’s why we love him.
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