Best episode of the season – best episode in two seasons unless I’m counting the Edge of Extinction finale for just how much of a gas and clusterfucky shitshow it was. While the Island of the Idols took up its usual time, why it worked for me so much more this week was because we really got to see not just one person but an entire tribe interact with the twist. Don’t get me wrong – it was absolutely the Noura show, but the entire cast of characters knocked it out of the park on this one. This is what Survivor is meant to be — dramatic, eccentric, and chaotic from beginning to end, topped off by a beautiful if not totally tragic blindside.
Getting back to camp, Karishma did a much better job than Aaron at pretending that she was fine with how the vote went, but in her mind, she knew better. There was no reading between the lines — 3 votes came Karishma’s way and to her, that signaled she was expendable to Lairo. Even if the girls had her back, she sensed that they were aware of her being Plan B. Aaron related to Karishma’s conundrum and added that she was an easy next; however, he had a different Plan A in mind.
The show did such a bad job at storytelling with this Dean and Chelsea plot that it had to go back three episodes for footage to properly present this narrative that would ultimately influence the outcome of the night. Dean and Chelsea apparently were an immediate item — a comment was made about them sleeping next to each other on the first night — and Missy and Aaron in particular were growing weary of what they were witnessing.
This was brand new information to the audience even though the small showmance had been a thing for almost two weeks in the game. God forbid there was any reference to a pretty, pretty, pretty important Dean/Chelsea story in the premiere. I felt bad for Dean — what if this was the real deal? He’d end up losing his island girlfriend and barely have any visual evidence of it happening. How would he get his fraternity brothers to believe him?
A PRESENT FOR THE PRESENT
I questioned Jamal’s decision to hang out alone at camp while the rest of his tribe spent part of their day on the raft and Jason went on a walk (I guess it’s just normal now for no one to stop him from going off alone). Jamal, instead, should have been doing everything he could to work his way back in with the tribe. I get wanting to be done with them after getting duped, but he can’t let his tribe know that.
He lost me even more during his monologue about being present, “here in space and now in time” which sounded like a Noura-ism over anything else. I guess being present in mind did end up getting him a present in the form of an idol, but to me, that wasn’t as valuable as staying present with the people on the tribe. Then again, the last 6 winners have all played hidden immunity idols, so what the hell do social politics matter anymore?
LIVING IN NOURA WORLD
To be honest, I barely remember details of what happened before this next segment which would go down as one of the greatest in recent Survivor history, maybe of all-time Survivor history.
The Island of the Idols boat showed up as is now custom and instructed Vokai to unanimously elect one person to go to the island or else they’d have to randomly draw. I rolled my eyes at the “threat” of a random draw, instantly assuming that’s where this would go, but luckily Kellee kind of egged on her tribe to not take the easy way out of making a decision. So, if they weren’t leaving it up to chance, then who would volunteer?
We witnessed a beautiful sequence of multiple members of the tribe explaining why it’d be a terrible idea to go.
“I’m not going!”
“Stay with the numbers!”
Then suddenly, the voice of an angel chimed in with, “I would go!”
This didn’t even enter my mind as a possibility as soon as I heard the tribe would have to choose someone to visit the island because who would choose Noura? I was naïve, of course. Noura would choose Noura.
My excitement for Noura visiting the Island of the Idols is matched perhaps only by Noura’s own excitement when she heard Rob and Sandra had some watermelon for her — fruit that only Idols are apparently able to hunt down in Fiji.
Rob, being the main host of the Island with Sandra in merely a supporting role, then went into a spiel about the power of persuasion and explained that Noura would be given a lesson and an opportunity to gain an advantage if she passed what would be her upcoming test.
Without even blinking, as soon as Rob presented that Noura could gain a special power if she persuaded her tribe into making her their caller in the next challenge, Noura went all in.
Rob and Sandra were actively trying to get Noura to stop and not fold on the first offer, but she just wasn’t hearing any of it. Somehow, that wasn’t even still the best part of this whole adventure.
Noura’s lie about the knowledge she possessed wasn’t actually bad in concept, making her tribe believe she had to play a significant role in the challenge in order from them to gain an advantage within it — presenting it sort of like a Roadblock on The Amazing Race. Give the tribe enough to get them to commit one way or another — that’s sound logic!
Naturally, Noura talked far too much after that, confusing the hell out of everyone and confirming to all that she was totally full of shit. After half-ass agreeing to partake in The Noura TV Show, Vokai humored Noura by letting her practice being this coveted caller. The activity could not have been a bigger disaster and had me absolutely dying. I can’t even imagine how far off course Noura would have sent her tribe had they actually followed through with letting her lead them to victory:
Yeah, that future didn’t look good.
IMMUNITY – BLIND AND BRUISED
Dan, just because they can’t see you doesn’t mean they can’t still feel you.
I know people bitch about this challenge being too dangerous, but fuck it, it usually gets a laugh out of me. Maybe they’ve made it safer so the men aren’t guaranteed to go completely infertile. Yeah, balls were definitely getting bruised here, but mine ended up especially blue when Vokai shut Noura down by not only blocking her from calling but by sitting out of the challenge entirely! What a huge slap in the face (as Missy, above, knows).
Bunch of idiots. It’d be like making Debbie sit out when there’s a balance beam.
We were absolutely robbed of an iconic moment of Survivor with Noura getting the majority of her tribe medevac’d in a single challenge, but I suppose Vokai winning meant she was safe because as Lauren said, if they lost, it would have been Noura’s ass. Noura going down this episode in the biggest ball of flames the show has ever seen would have been a marvel, but I think the better outcome was The Noura TV Show staying on air even if for just one more week.
Lairo was their usual lame selves in the challenge, falling far behind Vokai (Dean noticeably being able to listen about as well as Noura’s able to lead), but for a second at the end, I thought they actually had it. Imagine Noura being forced to sit out and Vokai still losing — that’d have been perfect poetic justice, but alas, we suffered another Lairo loss where this time Karishma wouldn’t survive getting cut, but only if Missy didn’t have anything to say about it ....
SWING FOR THE FENCES
I thought most of the excitement was over once Noura took a nap for the rest of the night, but hot damn did Lairo keep it up. First, Karishma’s case was one of almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. She knew she was a bit of an outsider, so she pushed the tribe even further away. It made the most sense for Lairo to lose her, as she’d be a major liability at a swap, but Missy and Aaron were instead stuck on the showmance.
When talking with Elizabeth, they shared that they wanted to vote out Dean. Citing some wisdom from the almighty Boston Rob, however, Elizabeth wanted to look before she leapt, so she shared with Elaine what Aaron and Missy had proposed which Elaine could only describe as “fucking insane.” Elaine still didn’t trust Aaron after all the Ronnie ruckus, and keeping Karishma to vote out Dean and leave Chelsea along with Tom in the dark — I agree, kind of fucking insane.
The shitshow ensued when word got back to Missy that Elaine wasn’t on board to do Dean, so Missy eventually threw out Chelsea’s name as an alternative. So now Karishma was still in some hot water, Dean and Chelsea were at risk of being split, Elaine didn’t trust shady Aaron, and it even seemed like Missy’s head had grown a little too big for the camp. In my mind, the vote was a potential toss-up between all 5 of these individuals.
Ranking the vote at the time, I felt pretty good that Missy’s time would come later and that all of this was a bunch of smoke and mirrors for a 7-1 Karishma vote the tribe would settle on, maybe with a surprise settling on Dean. I had Chelsea at probably #4 on the list. Survivor’s still had some good nail-biting finishes in recent seasons, but a vote legitimately going any one of five possible ways? Missy wasn’t kidding — we were witnessing a game of Survivor: Russian Roulette and holy shit it was a bang.
CHAOS IS A LADDER
Tribal Council’s tale was similar to what we saw last week with the addition of Karishma dropping a sick Game of Thrones reference (if anyone ever quotes Queen Cersei, I’ll be dead on the floor). Following the chaos at camp, Karishma said that she loved exactly that and saw “chaos as a ladder” to use to climb out of the trench she was in.
Missy was quick to jump down Karishma’s throat a bit, an odd choice considering Missy was majorly responsible for the tribe keeping Karishma, telling Karishma that she wasn’t without fault and was still “getting lapped” by the tribe. Harsh. Missy ended up getting her way with the vote, but she clearly was still upset with the direction the tribe was heading.
Another damning statement that stood out to me was Sandra saying Elaine “never knows anything” after she said she tended to stay lost in all that goes on at camp. We know Elaine is more astute than she lets on and more than likely, this comment was only to make people believe she’s aloof, but as I’ve brought up before, Rob and Sandra’s commentary has to have significance, and if Sandra’s not a fan of Elaine, that may not bode well for her chance at winning.
When all the dust settled, Jeff asked Dean what you say to someone after you blindside them and Dean gave a short and simple answer which was essentially, “Sorry ... thanks for playing.” In truth, there’s nothing really to say that can make that situation smoother for someone. As Chelsea would soon find out, blindsides are only fun when you’re in on them ....
And if you ask me, Missy didn’t look too “sorry” at all.
That’s the way I prefer my Survivor blindsides – stone cold.
I knew Chelsea had potential to go all the way or end up an early “shock” boot, so what really shocked me so much about this was that the main reason, as was presented to us, was Chelsea getting herself into a showmance. Even if there’s no romance, a duo can still be deadly. I don’t know what she could’ve done differently – told Dean to keep his distance? Really, Missy had her sights set on Dean anyway in order to bring Chelsea closer to her, so in a way, Chelsea was told, “it’s not you…it’s Dean” but regardless of the reason, Chelsea was still the one who ended up getting dumped. It sucks especially since she was such a big fan. Sigh…stupid boys.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
“Yeah Dean, it was me. I took your girlfriend out of this game.” What a line! I wish Missy’d say that to his face, but she already went pretty hard this week, so it’s best she doesn’t. We’ll see how Dean handles being blindsided as he goes into the swap which is yet to be determined as staying as 2 tribes or going to 3, but with 16 in the game, I hope they land 8 vs. 8. The three-tribe expansion is old news now, and we have enough flippers from both tribes to create some insanely intense episodes that get us to the merge (presumably after 3 more votes). Karishma’s frothing at the mouth to flip, Dean may do the same having lost Chelsea, and Jamal could jump ship with little convincing as well — we should all be very excited about next week. I think it’ll keep the high going from this one.
Missy – Missy emerged as the big power player on Lairo and while her aggressive gameplay will have no doubt placed a tremendous target on her back (hopefully she can dodge it until post-merge), I applauded Missy for saving us from what could have been an easy 7-1 vote against Karishma. There’d have been no fun in that, so I’m glad Missy had the guts to push a different agenda than “keep the tribe strong.” Was it her best move? Ehhhhhhhh. Missy probably goes from “decently dope” to “dangerously dope” with this one — now an unmistakable move-maker — but I’ll ride the Missy Byrd bandwagon until it goes up in some Sasha Fierce flames.
Aaron – He’s not “calling the shots” like he thought, but Aaron wasn’t exactly wrong about him climbing up from the bottom. He was alone there following Lairo’s first vote, but along with Missy, Aaron played an influential role in how this vote went. I appreciated Aaron recognizing that Dean was no premium performer in challenges when the rest of tribe was content blaming everything on Karishma. Aaron has bounced back, but as noticed by Elaine, he still shows shades of shadiness like that other sneaky bastard Ronnie. Eventually that’ll bite him, but before it does, I have to say that I’m impressed that Aaron was able to climb that ladder out of his own trench.
Noura – I mean ... need I say more?
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