Kaiser Island S36 - Ryan Kaiser's Survivor: Ghost Island recaps

Go big or go home, girl


Yeah, this is officially going to be a walk to the finish line and not a sprint.  Looking back, this season suffered a huge loss when Bradley and Chris were voted out back to back on top of strong presences like Jacob and Stephanie leaving long before their time.  This would be a much more exciting ending if the first eight boots were the last rather than the final eight we have remaining.  At least the girls tried to get something going this week to take out our inevitable winner Domenick but, sticking with what has been the real theme of Ghost Island, the game was all talk and no action and the ladies were left lamenting over how they can’t get a female alliance together because Laurel sucks.



Tally the votes




We all know confessionals are heavily edited, but Laurel’s seemed to be extra choppy as if the show couldn’t get this scene out of the way fast enough.  Laurel wasn’t happy with Kellyn voting for her (twice) but Laurel also threw her vote at Kellyn, so she shouldn’t have had too much room to squawk about it.  She was thankful Dom and Wendell stuck by her and that’s about all we needed to know, apparently, because there was so much else to get to in this episode!



Jeff Probst Show revival


The family visit is a big milestone in Survivor, and while it’s still an emotional night for both the players and the people at home, in recent seasons, Probst has gone out of his way during these episodes to remind us why his talk show tanked miserably.  The way he inserts himself into the loving reunions and tries to ask these profoundly deep questions about the relationships almost makes me want this tradition to be retired, but then we wouldn’t get gems like Aunt Patty, so I guess it can stay.  But Jeff, please give the people some space and stop trying to get in on their love.


Jeff Probst Show revival


It sucks that so few people left have had their character fleshed out because I think I would’ve cared a lot more about the loved ones if I cared more about the players.  Domenick and his wife Kristin had the most loving scene that also gave us a rare glimpse into what it’s like for the loved ones to go 39+ days without their Survivors.  While Domenick’s been in the game keeping his ass alive, his wife’s been at home covering hers and their kids’.  I don’t have kids so I can’t say for sure, but I may lean in favor of the argument of Kristin maybe having the harder 6-7 weeks to survive.  The Survivors can’t wait to go home to comfort, but we often don’t hear about the unique hardships being faced there in their absence, so I appreciated seeing that come out of Dom’s wife by means of, “I love you and hate you so much.”  Well put.


Speaking of sacrifice, the other moment that “got” me was when Angela broke down over once again leaving her daughter on the other side of the world like she had to do when serving in the military.  That suddenly got heavy with another story that isn’t always told.  This one even made Jeff choke up, maybe as he was reflecting on his own life and about his own family that he leaves behind when he’s off filming in Fiji.  (I later learned that according to Chelsea, they had to halt production for a bit for him to get himself back together)


Of course, the star of this whole segment, and perhaps the episode, was Aunt Patty.  I knew it the second she walked out in that Southern Sunday brunch attire.  Is it possible to legally adopt someone as your aunt?  If so, I’d like to put in a request to adopt Aunt Patty as mine.  She’s the person I’ve needed all season to latch onto and root for like she did for Donathan.  A truly great season of Survivor has someone that makes me stand up off the couch and cheer for them.


Aunt Patty


Aunt Patty!  I didn’t know you had that in you!


Sebastian beat out Domenick in this challenge to win time with his sister who looked uncomfortably like his island girlfriend, Jenna (the blonde girl who made a cameo last week right before the Michael vote, for those that couldn’t remember).  I wonder if Rudy would have the same thing to say about Sebastian and his sister Grace as he did about the Buis family back in Borneo.




Sebastian also won the right to spread the love (not in a sexual way, that’s for sure) and he chose to take Domenick, Wendell, and Donathan with their loved ones on a reward trip.  Naturally, since this is Survivor: Ghost Island, there was a twist.  Awaiting at Ghost Island, which the producers remembered existed this week, was a risk-free reward and Sebastian was told he could choose to go there himself and give up love, send one of the unchosen women, or offer the chance to one of the men he had just selected for the reward.  With little hesitation, Wendell said he’d go which meant giving up a once-in-a-lifetime afternoon with his dad.  A Ghost Island advantage was surely better than that, right?  Sorry, Wendell Sr.


Kellyn is unhappy


This didn’t sit well with the women who did not look like they’d have given up love like Wendell did and felt that Sebastian effectively wasted a spot on the reward by initially selecting Wendell to join.  Poor Sea Bass didn’t know that it’s never a good idea to leave an angry group of women alone in this game.  There goes this old saying, made popular on Survivor by Phillip Sheppard…



Winning Wendell


At Ghost Island awaited no game for Wendell and instead an automatic gain.  The advantage “won” was the same Malcolm won in the Philippines which later became cursed and had, of course, been living on Ghost Island for such and such years after Malcolm failed to win that season’s final immunity challenge with the advantage’s help.  The show went ahead and made the joke for me this week:




Wendell was determined not to make Malcom’s same mistake and practiced the challenge with his advantage presumably for the rest of his days on Ghost Island.  This would totally not prove to be pointless and I’m sure Wendell has absolutely zero regrets about taking the advantage over a father and son adventure.



The Domfather


On the reward, Domenick made an offer Sebastian and Donathan couldn’t refuse (to his face, at least) about sticking together.  This may also have been the shortest loved ones retreat we’ve ever seen, but this family reunion Jeff wasn’t around to crash, so maybe that’s why we spent more time at the challenge where he was able to play daytime TV host.  There was still enough time, however, for Aunt Patty to once again steal the show.


Domenick made a vow to Aunt Patty that he’d stay committed to Donathan, to which she replied that she’d hunt him down if he did anything different.  I believe this makes Aunt Patty the only other person besides Chris to threaten Domenick’s safety in (and out of?) the game.  I wish no ill upon Domenick, but I really hope he betrays Donathan after that promise because I’d give all my money to watch this spinoff:


Aunt Patty, bounty hunter




Hell hath no fury...


…like a Kellyn scorned?  Kellyn’s had some visibly frustrated reactions to many things this season, but after returning from the reward challenge, she went full Donato-Wanner and she got PISSED!  (Doesn’t she know you’re never supposed to go full Donato-Wanner?)


Kellyn pointed out that the guys made a mistake in leaving all the girls back at camp and she proposed a plan of attack to finally go after Domenick and Wendell who had been catching the breaks all game long.  Her only foil… was Laurel.  Laurel still felt burned by getting two votes from Kellyn, and she was still loyal to Domenick and Wendell with the additional knowledge that they both had idols, but there was at least a small blip going off in her mind that now was the time to finally make her mark on the game like she had been wanting for weeks.


I hate when the show builds up suspense over ultimately nothing and teases us with something that actually was never going to happen.  Knowing this flip was a flop, and others before it the same, I wish the night wasn’t 99% devoted to Laurel considering a flip.  We know Laurel’s not going to flip, so stop trying to make us think she will.


Stop trying






Good thing Wendell took that advantage or else he’d have been the third one out of the challenge.  Oh wait, he still was.  Awkward.  Ah well, another Ghost Island twist that was a failure.  What else is new?


I started rooting for Chelsea weeks ago ironically because of how little the show has cared about her, but somehow that evolved into I think a real level of fandom, so I desperately wanted her to win here to A) piss of Probst, and B) to narrow the vote options for Dom and Wendell and maybe force them to play an idol to make them just a little more vulnerable later.  That’d have been a double whammy for Wendell, though, going from two advantages to zero in the span of 30 minutes while his buddy Dom added a second immunity win to his resume.



Pull the trigger


Domenick and Wendell quickly established their target as Chelsea, Dom adding that it’s important to get rid of the CHALLENGE BEASTS before the endgame and obviously, Chelsea has been this season’s biggest challenge threat.  She’s so good, she even crushes it from the bench!


The Chelsea bench


The girls’ target was also a given.  Since Domenick was immune, their plan was to vote for Wendell.  Laurel met with Donathan as she always does before not making a move, and while Donathan seemed up for the idea of breaking up Dom and Wendell, Laurel was still hesitant to ditch her easy ride to the end.


I understood Laurel’s dilemma when she said that with Domenick and Wendell she’d be less likely to win but likely to make it to the end.  With the girls, she’d be more likely to win in the final three, but less likely to make it there.  However, Laurel had to have known that her chances of winning against that dynamic duo was 0%, so even if her chances of making it to the end with the girls was just 1%, I think she had to take that chance.


One could argue that she still has time and that maybe she and Donathan can now make a pact with Kellyn and Angela to go to four, but with Laurel not pulling the trigger this week, what will make Kellyn and Angela willing to work with her again next week?  Her only saving grace is that it still could be mutually beneficial (or beneficuary) for those four to work together even though they’ve been on the opposite side of several votes, but the more Laurel settles with Dom and Wendell, the less respect she’s going to get from the jury.


If Laurel flips now (don’t worry, she won’t) the jury could potentially give Kellyn more credit for being the first to actively go after Dom and Wendell with Laurel looking like she just jumped from one bandwagon to the next.  What a hairy mess Laurel’s made for herself, though still not as bad as the one Donathan made for himself on that walk to tribal.






Truth bombs


First Ben Bombs, now Don Bombs.  Tribal councils sure are more violent these days.


Donathan held nothing back (it’s the Aunt Patty in him) and let all of Naviti know that he had been approached by both the men and the women with different pitches, so there most definitely was a crack in that old “Naviti Strong.”


Naviti may have finally cracked, but the result was still pretty much crap as it wasn’t news to anyone by this point that Naviti was broken.  The 5-3 vote split was I guess the one nice surprise at this tribal council since I wasn’t putting it past the show to still give us a 7-1 vote for Chelsea despite all the talk about the women voting for Wendell.  After all, she was the biggest threat in the game.


Chelsea snuffed


The show did its best to hide Chelsea completely, but never underestimate the Survivor community’s ability to make a big meme out of something small.  I’m not even kidding when I say that making fun of her edit has kept me more invested than anything else the last few weeks.  I don’t care if I was beating a dead horse—what else was I supposed to do with this ghost of a post-merge?  Like what have casuals even been talking about if not Chelsea’s edit?


In all seriousness, the show did Chelsea so dirty in giving her absolutely nothing during her 32 days besides a few mentions at two of the immunity challenges, and only then because she won them.  Chelsea won’t ever be back unless literally every single other female says “no.”  The only person I think Probst would consider casting Chelsea over would be Michele Fitzgerald.  Maybe that’s why she got such an invisible edit.  A bit of a lookalike triggering Probst’s PTSD?








“The consequences could be dire.”  Oh please, Jeff.






Players of the week


Kellyn – You tried, girl.  You really, really tried.  Poor Kellyn probably walked out of that tribal thinking she was taking crazy pills.  Domenick and Wendell just got to Laurel and Donathan first.  Laurel and Donathan will look back at this vote more than any other and regret the decision they made.  I’d say Sebastian too, but he probably doesn’t remember what he did 10 minutes ago let alone 10 months.  Kellyn’s “ride or die” now is Angela which…does not bode well.


Laurel – Undeniably a big player this week, but an even bigger tease.  I feel like a broken record about Laurel, but she’s more of one than I am.  I think she should have pulled that trigger this week.  Sticking with Dom and Wendell, Laurel is playing for second runner-up which, I mean, is fine if she’s just out there to make some small cash, but why go all this way and not play to make a lot of cash?!  She may not go home for not going big, but instead she’ll be spending the next 10 years living on Ghost Island as her own curse.


Aunt Patty – Who dares to say they didn’t fall in love with Aunt Patty?  I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN!!  She could very well be the purest angel ever to grace the show and Donathan is one lucky boy from Kentucky to have her in his life.  Highlight of the episode by far, and maybe of the season.  Definitely of this post-merge.  Aunt Patty was the light we needed during these dark times.


Aunt Patty

Aunt Patty

Aunt Patty

Aunt Patty

Aunt Patty

Aunt Patty

Aunt Patty

Aunt Patty


Aunt Patty for Blood vs. Water 3!


Ryan KaiserRyan 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