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

There's only one winner


Welcome to the finale of Survivor: Ghost Island!


I thought we would be stuck on Ghost Island forever, but we made it off, and I’m not going to let some Jack Shephard tell me that we have to go back.  I’ve given Ghost some grief, but it’s not the worst season ever.  Should any season steal that title away from Redemption Island, I’ll have offed myself before the finale to see how it ends.


This season started off strong and lost all of its steam after the midpoint, but it sparked back up with this finale.  This was the longest-running finale ever which wasn’t the only history the show made, so I hope you feel like Angela and are ready to swallow everything I’m about to serve…



Time to make a big move


“Time to make a big move” – now where have we heard that before?  Laurel’s said it, Donathan’s said it, and now Sebastian was finally ready to make a big move by using his extra vote.  Would it happen?  Of course not.  That’d be too good to be true for what’s become the running gag of Ghost Island.


Domenick and Wendell felt the pressure to come up with a new plan having clearly lost Donathan’s loyalty in the build-up to and aftermath of the last tribal council.  While Donathan seemed like the obvious target since he was going guns blazing toward Dom and Wendell, Dom reeled it back and kept his sights on a bigger threat in the game, Sea Bass, who was deemed the most athletic of the remaining opposition (despite the shot of him shuffling like a zombie as soon as Wendell said that).


This scene also established what would be the driving story of this finale and what has really been the driving story of this post-merge which is the battle between Dom and Wendell.  Wendell admitted that though they were allies, at the same time, they were both trying to find a way to get the other one out, but those damn idols had complicated things.  Dom and Wendell (and Laurel, I guess) agreed on the plan to vote out Sebastian next, but in the back of their minds, they were eager to take a chomp at each other instead.



Skull maze


Just look at that beauty.  A round of applause goes to the challenge design team on that.  I love the mega-mazes and they’ve always been my favorite finale openers with my favorite closer being the “Hand on Hard Idol” or some form of endurance challenge.  Seeing as this season was all about Survivor history, I wished I could have seen both, but I was happy to see at least one of the classics back, and this one was beautifully executed.  I think my #1 is still from the forgotten season of Guatemala which had a bird-shaped maze with a tower and floating pond at its center, but it’s good to know this show is still the best at challenge builds.


Guatemala maze


Donathan was the Lydia in this challenge and fell very far behind with Wendell and Sebastian taking the lead in getting out of the maze first.  Sebastian, of course, got more turned around by the puzzle than the maze which allowed Domenick to catch up to make this challenge come down to, you guessed it, Dom and Wendell.


Wendell remembered to say Jeff’s name this time and with that, he secured his first individual immunity win (making him the first player to ever have two immunity necklaces in his possession).  He also won a reward of steak, potatoes, and dessert which he was allowed to share with two others.  He could have chosen his obvious final three but instead smartly chose to include Sebastian and Angela who would have otherwise been left to plot at camp with one determined Don Don.


Laurel seemed randomly bitter (forgetting she was picked to go on the last reward with Dom and Wendell) so I wondered if her attitude was just for show to make it look like her alliance with Wendell was on the rocks.



Freaking livid


Laurel’s attitude was apparently not an act and she actually was upset about Wendell choosing to fuel up Sebastian and Angela over her, causing her to declare, “I’m freaking livid.”  This will probably be a “…what?” reference for many, but every time I see or hear the word “livid” I immediately think of the greatest Survivor fanfiction of all time, The Many Adventures of Lividmanda from the old Survivor Sucks forum.  I’ll call this an, uh, artistic interpretation of Amanda Kimmel’s journey on Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites (the one that didn’t suck).  Google it.  Also, someone track down its creator and get them to write a sequel, The Many Adventures of Lividlaurel.




On the topic of big open mouths, Angela commented that Donathan didn’t know how to control his.  One would think that her performance in the deepthroating – I’m sorry – gross food eating challenge would make Angela an expert on mouth control, but she’d soon prove to be the one with the least control over what comes out of her mouth.


The other brain trust of Donathan, Sebastian, and Angela concocted a plan to blindside Domenick who was suspected to have two idols while Sea Bass and Angela only believed he had one.  They thought that if they could blindside him at this final six vote, then he wouldn’t be around to use his idol against them at final five.  This only left numbers at 3 vs. 3, but Sebastian had his extra vote to give them the majority.  This plan looked like it actually had potential to work, as in Donathan, Sebastian, and Angela could have taken control and had this game in the bag.  Then…Ibrehem.  I mean, Angela.




Look at her.  Even she knew she done fucked this up.  This could have been the biggest game changing move of the season, but instead, Angela completely sold out the plan to Domenick… without him even having to try for it!  All he asked her was, “How’d it go, today?” and she proceeded to tell him everything about the plan to vote for Dom along with Sebastian’s extra vote.  Like… just… what… I don’t even know!  I was freaking livid.  It’s like those sea slugs finally came back up out of Angela as diarrhea of the mouth.


Domenick knew he only had one idol and he didn’t want to have to use it until the next vote, so with Angela tipping him off, Dom deliberated over how to use his fake idol to get past this one.  He’d have to fool half the tribe, but seeing as they were mostly all fools anyway, that wasn’t looking too difficult.



Fugazi idol


Dom blew his top at this tribal and admittedly it wasn’t best look on him. (Later we’d find this was an all an act, but perhaps an overdramatic one?)  It’s fun when the underdogs go after the big dogs at tribal council, but when the attack is the other way around, it gets a little uncomfortable.  Domenick knew he had to sell that his fake idol was real, hence why he acted unshakably confident that his idol(s) would protect him, but in the process, he came off as a bully, especially when his brawl was with Donathan.


Donathan has been known to blow up tribal, but this time he wasn’t really fighting back which made what I guess we say were Dom Bombs seem unnecessarily brutal.  Domenick showed off his idols and Wendell soon showed up to the party sporting his own bling, adding I believe a third or fourth necklace to his ensemble.  The Dom and Wendell show reached either a new high or new low depending on how you looked at it, and the events spelled doom for one of Donathan and Sebastian who went into this vote planning to quietly go for Domenick.


Domenick gave Jeff his fake idol with no official word that he was “playing it” which left Jeff to not confirm the idol’s legitimacy.  I felt like this was kind of a cheap trick and that Jeff should not have played along with Domenick’s charade once the idol was in his hand.  While Domenick didn’t outright ask Jeff to validate it, not doing so was unfairly misleading to the rest of the tribe and sets a confusing precedent going into future seasons.  Just look at how lost poor Sebastian looked during all of this!




Actually, that’s the same look he always has.  It might be unrelated.  Still, I don’t like how the players can’t even trust the claim of an idol once it reaches Jeff’s hands, and last season, I believe Jeff did announce Ben’s idol as valid before the vote, so what changed?  Since Ben’s idol was real, Jeff was okay confirming such, but with Dom’s being fake, he didn’t want to blow the cover?  Stinks of fish to me, and that’s coming from a big Dom fan.  I almost felt a little bad that Sebastian left the way he did because had it not been for a questionable call on Jeff’s part and an even more questionable call on Angela’s, he may have just pulled off the biggest blindside of the season.  Could he have then went on to win the game?  That’s a terrifying thought.




This guy was what I expect Ozzy to look like on a future Survivor, but when he’s about 60 years old and overbaked out of his mind.  I can’t say Sea Bass didn’t deliver us with some comedic relief, but aside from that, what purpose did he serve this season?  He was cast to be the fan favorite fisherman, but did we even see him fish once?  If we did, my eyes must have only been half-open like Sebastian’s were all the time.  I don’t think we’ll ever see a juror who looks as doped up as him at a final tribal council.


Faces of Sebastian


Also, if I hope to see Sebastian ever again, it’s to see him meet his soulmate Denise Martin.  At the RHAP Live Know-It-Alls, we learned that she’d love to meet him too.  I think that’d be a real highlight for both of them.


Sebastian meets Denise


More exciting than this first tribal council was the first close-up of Aunt Patty we got in this finale!  Lucky for us, it would not be the last.


Aunt Patty!





Puny pyramid


This challenge was far less exciting than the first, so now’s as good of a time as any to announce this season’s Debbie Donato Wanner Award for Best Performance on a Balance Beam or the DDWAFBPOABB for short.  For those that followed me at Survivor Talk with D&D, you’ll remember that last season, Ryan won the coveted title for his performance in the penultimate immunity challenge of the game, the last involving a balance beam.




This season’s final beam ended up in the reward challenge where everyone was fighting for the love of Aunt Patty.  As such, it’s only fitting that that the Survivor: Ghost Island Debbie Donato Wanner Award for Best Performance on a Balance Beam goes to the person whose performance earned a standing ovation from Aunt Patty herself...


Aunt Patty!






This also marks the second year in a row that the recipient of this award shares a career path with Debbie.  Donathan of course has been billed on the show as a caretaker and Debbie at one or many points in her life served as a caretaker to nuns.  Now that I say that, Donathan and Debbie actually have two things in common—they’re both gymnasts!  I may as well have handed this award out before the premiere.


Wendell wins


Getting back to slightly less important matters, Wendell won his second immunity of the night, again remembering to clearly state Jeff’s name.  This made circumstances interesting because this next tribal council would be the last opportunity for Wendell to play his immunity idol/necklace, but having won the immunity necklace in the challenge, he had not only saved himself, but also won the power to save anyone else of his choosing, resulting in some more choice words from Lividlaurel.






Nervous and exposed


Compared to Angela and Donathan, Laurel obviously was Domenick and Wendell’s biggest threat left in the game and someone who could potentially win the final four immunity and take the surviving Donathan or Angela to the final three, forcing Dom and Wendell’s fate to be left up to fire.  Dom and Wendell were, of course, safe with their immunities, so their worry was that exact scenario.


As soon as everyone got back to camp, Donathan made what Domenick explained was a “snap call”—a poker term that’s usually indicative of a bluff—and promised to take Domenick to the end if he won the final immunity.  While Dom didn’t totally buy that, at least he had the offer on the table which narrowed his vote between Laurel and Donathan.  Angela was a “non-factor” as he later put it.


At the other end of camp, Wendell was weighing his options on how to reverse the curse of Erik’s immunity necklace.  He could have, in effect, narrowed Domenick’s vote further by saving Laurel or Donathan in order to show the jury that he was capable of making his own moves in the game.  Last time this necklace was gifted away, the gifter was voted out, so Wendell had already partially reversed that curse, ineligible of suffering its former fate.  It would have been a total waste for the most iconic relic in the game to not be used at all, so I was looking forward to Wendell using it somehow at tribal, even if it may not have changed the outcome we were in for anyway.



Big game of bluff


This was an interesting final five tribal council and the first of its kind in that while two people sat safe, the other three (well, two, since Angela didn’t have much to say) pitched their cases as to why the two should keep them.  It felt a little like a final three tribal council in the days of old Survivor where two vied for the vote of one; here, three vied for the votes of two.  One piece that wasn’t new was the game of bluffing that was still very much at play.  Domenick and Wendell were holding their cards very close, even from each other, not wanting anyone to predict their next move, aside from playing their idols.


Dom plays Andrea's idol

Wendell plays Erik's necklace


Dom played his for himself, naturally, and Wendell decided to play his idol/necklace on Laurel as a form of appreciation for the bond they shared throughout the game.  This was a smooth move knowing how Laurel’s mind works.  After gifting her a spot in the final four, if she won that last immunity, she may not have had the heart to not repay Wendell with a spot in the final three, effectively upping Wendell’s chances at least slightly of avoiding the fire-making challenge.


With Laurel now immune, this meant the end for Sir Don Don with him casting his vote for Laurel and the other four sending their votes his way.  Donathan erased some of the ugly colors that came out of him at the last few tribal councils and let his truer ones shine bright as he marched to the snuffer, giving Laurel a hug on the way and wishing her the best as the last Malolo in the game.


Don Don done


I expected Donathan to be a much bigger presence and someone who may have been unbeatable in the end due to his character and story.  However, he took on a bit more of a supporting role once he joined the Dom and Wendell show.  Still, when we needed fire, Donathan wasn’t afraid to bring it.  I think Laurel otherwise kept him pretty chill.  Not to sell Donathan short, but the brightest burning star he brought to the game was his Aunt Patty.  That loved ones episode was Donathan’s highlight for me (narrowly beating out his “uh uh, honey” finger wagging toward Desiree).  I could see Donathan being brought back, but if he is, he better bring Aunt Patty with him.  I think she really wants to play, so she’d hunt him down if he left again without her.  She’s a fan favorite, after all.


Aunt Patty!





High as balls


As great as the maze made for a finale opening challenge, they should have swapped it for this one.  I’ve not been a big fan of the final immunity challenges for several years, and while I guess it’s suspenseful to have ones like this go back and forth, is it really that exciting to watch people stack some balls?  Is it weird that I find it more thrilling to watch people stand in the same position for hours on end?  Am I so out of touch?  No… it’s the casuals who are wrong.


Domenick was the ultimate victor and with the fire-making challenge in play again, with immunity he won the power to bring one person to the final three while the remaining took to the flame.  Angela, Wendell, and Laurel were to now plead their cases to Domenick but not at camp.  Instead, the final four would spend the rest of the day at Ghost Island since, you know, what would this season be without one last visit to its titular locale where the excitement is always at its absolute peak…



You've urned it


Sorry Jeff!  know you said no more “urn” puns, but let’s vase it, an omission in this finale would just be jarring.


Domenick wasn’t taking Wendell to the final three, at least by choice, so his decision came down to who would be more likely to beat Wendell in making fire between Laurel and Angela which turned into an argument from the two over who sucked more.  Laurel’s case was basically “I won’t beat Wendell at fire, so please take me with you” and Angela’s was about the same but she threw in a bit more about Laurel being tougher competition in front of a jury.


On top of the power to take one person to the final three, Domenick won an even bigger power in… choosing which urn the jury would place their votes in at that tribal council?  ReallyThat was the final Ghost Island twist?  A bucket?


These weren’t just any ordinary buckets, though, and instead were the urns that Colby and Woo “misplayed” by putting the wrong vote inside at their final vote.  The show would have us believe Brad Culpepper made the same mistake, but he didn’t cast the only vote as Colby and Woo did, but I’m not entirely shocked Troyzan’s presence in Game Changers was overlooked.  That, or 90% of the curses being from that season wasn’t enough, so they wanted to give us one more.


Also, Brad winning over Tai and that other guy was not a sure thing like Colby winning over Keith.  And I will go to my grave arguing that Kass could have won over Woo.  Regardless, this urn business didn’t mean a damn thing so I was left leaving Ghost Island again asking myself, “What’s the point?”  Were they just looking for any reason to go back there one last time?


Bucket talk







I’ve yet to meet or speak to anyone who absolutely loves this new final four format.  At tribal council, there should always be a vote, in my opinion.  That’s why the tribe goes there, to vote.  Domenick “voting” to keep Laurel just doesn’t do it for me as the final four used to when someone was actually voted out of the game.  The results of both this season and last have made for a final tribal council that Production wanted, so until this format change somehow screws their favorite, I don’t see it going away.


Angela making fire versus Wendell was like David battling Goliath (hehe) except this time Goliath crushed David’s skull between his palms.  In any of the first 34 seasons, Domenick wins the final immunity, votes out Wendell, and wins the game.  That makes that final challenge all the more epic.  With the fire-making, it just leaves a funny taste in my mouth, and not Laffy Taffy funny.  Domenick wins, puts Wendell as close to elimination as he can, and Wendell ignites his way back in the game.  If you’re a Wendell fan, I guess that was great.  If you’re a bigger Domenick fan, like me, that was tough to watch.


Defenders of this new format may say that it’s now just up to the players to eliminate threats to win well before the final four, and with idols in play, they need to do so that much earlier, but imagine everyone playing with the final four in mind so early that, say, at the merge we lost Chris, Domenick and Wendell all in a row.  The show would have thus been edited differently so it may not have been as terrible as that sounds on paper, but that’s the kind of precedent I could see this setting.  Vote out any remote threat to win as far out from the final four as possible so that they can’t get to the end just by starting a fire.  The chance to still vote out a threat at final four is what will keep those players around.  Take that chance away, and in time, they’ll do as they couldn’t do this season and the goats will finally come together or we’ll end up with casts just playing a lot more timidly to avoid the spotlight.  That’s nothing we want.




Oh yeah, Ang.  Almost forgot!  I was surprised when Probst even got her name right and didn’t call her Plant or something.  We all know Angela got a ghost edit, but I actually enjoyed her when she didn’t.  I loved how whenever there was a blindside, Angela often seemed more shocked than the person that was voted out, even when she voted for that person!  Angela was often not a part of “the game” which is why she was left out of so many episodes, but in classic Survivor, I think she would have had a great presence as comedic relief for how oblivious she was to what was going on and as this wonderfully aloof older woman who somehow made it one day short of the end.


I’m surprised her single mom, military background wasn’t showcased more since that scene with her daughter was incredibly gripping, but that’s modern Survivor for you.  Too much talk of big moves that don’t pan out to focus on the stories of the characters the show works so hard to cast.  Angela will hardly be remembered, but if for nothing else – likely nothing else – she’ll be remembered for being able to swallow slugs whole, impressing and disgusting everyone all at the same time.


Grossest talent


I would create the “Angela Perkins Award for the Grossest Talent,” but I don’t think any gross talent—that the show would be allowed to air—could top hers.



Final three


This was a final three that had been together for over two-thirds of the game and though Domenick tried to push Wendell out at final four, reaching “the end” was otherwise a goal all three shared together.  Most final threes—and final twos for that matter—are ones that somehow just end up there with each other, so it was a unique treat for us to see a true trio like this make it to Day 39.  It was all smiles and laughs before the gloves came off for a battle that Dom said would be “one for the ages.”



Final Tribal


Domenick was my pre-game winner pick and although he started the season a little shaky, by the merge, I was confident in that pick and even throughout the entire final tribal council, I was locked in.  Laurel didn’t stand much of a chance against these two Goliaths and the jury made that clear with their questioning of her being the third wheel to the dynamic duo.  She did the best job she could, but the jury was more focused on what Dom and Wendell had to say.  Wendell I felt gave an average performance while I felt Dom gave the strongest.  However, that turned out to be Dom’s undoing, coming on a little too strong to his jury of peers…


The jury


The jury did not care at all for Domenick’s final six vote charades, but I was disappointed most in Sebastian for holding so much against him over that considering the entire scheme worked and did change Sebastian’s target that night.  Sebastian’s vote was never not going for Wendell, so I guess that wasn’t such a huge loss for Dom.


Negatively, I was surprised by Kellyn whose distaste for Dom also came out at this final tribal.  We saw them spat a few times as they vied for power in the game, but Dom’s aggressive behavior really PISSED HER OFF.  I also was not a fan of her calling Dom the “brawn” behind his alliance with Wendell and crediting the strategy to the latter.  We only see so much, but I’d have credited that piece to Dom over Wendell.  At minimum, I don’t think it was warranted for Kellyn to say that was all Wendell, especially when after asking who brought people into the Dom and Wendell show, the jury seemed to answered with “Dom.”


One that surprised me in a positive way was Chris.  I felt that he’d be over his war with Domenick, but I was impressed by how vocal he was about it and how much his respect had grown for Dom while watching him from the jury bench.  Michael was also a champion of Domenick and with the way he spoke he again proved he was mature beyond his years.  I don’t mean to say it’s because he supported Dom, but he was just able to articulate himself very well and brought up a lot of good arguments.




Everyone else got to speak about as much as the Ghost Island norm.  This is a big issue I have with this format.  Libby, Jenna, Chelsea, and Angela literally did not speak outside of a quiet mention of the name “Dom” or “Wendell” in response to Kellyn’s question.  I’m sure they spoke in real time, but each juror has an equally weighted vote, so to make it seem like it was all in the hands of Chris, Michael, Kellyn, Donathan, and randomly Sebastian was, one word, distasteful.  Given the final vote breakdown, I don’t know why Angela or Chelsea voted the way they did, so it would have been nice to at least get a glimpse—just a glimpse—at their rationale.


I found it interesting that the first five jurors voted for Domenick while the last five jurors voted for Wendell.  This may just be coincidence but given how it seems like Dom’s downfall was the emotional effect his abrasiveness had on the jury, I wonder if that impacted this vote split.  Having been out of the game for longer, were the early jurors able to take a further step back and not let emotions play into their vote?  Were the later jurors still a little burned?  I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with the latter—a huge part of winning is jury management, and with the last four jurors being voted out in the last four days before this vote, one should consider how fresh personal feelings can be.


I will say that this format gets a lot more out in the open than the old way of jurors walking up one by one, so for the game, I’d say it’s a plus, but for television, I think it’s a minus.  Maybe I’m alone, but the last three final tribal council have felt just a little disjointed and rushed.  We start at the opening, spin around in circles, and then get to the end.  Jeff tries to steer the conversation with his forced “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” segments, but as with most endeavors he tries, he fails.




I knew this vote would be close, but despite an even-numbered jury, I never would have predicted a tie.  It just… doesn’t happen!  As soon as Jeff said he was going to read the votes at tribal council, I knew then that we were all watching Survivor history.  That moment was unforgettable and brought probably more excitement to this season’s finish than anything in this finale could have.  I knew that a tie would result in Laurel voting, and in that moment, I realized with disappointment that Dom had lost, but if he had to lose, I couldn’t have asked for any better way.  The tie didn’t quite make up for the last several weeks being severely lackluster, but hands down, this was one of my favorite moments in any finale ever.




Suddenly it all made sense as to why Dom and Wendell were so evenly matched throughout the duration of the game and why Laurel’s relationship with them as so important and beaten to death.  On her own, Laurel would determine the winner of Survivor: Ghost Island.  I can’t imagine that feeling, not only with that pressure on my shoulders, but on top of knowing I had just lost and now would be hand-delivering the win to one of my two closest allies in the game.  After she cast her vote, Jeff came back with it as normal and left the tribal council area back for the states.  We’ll pretend that for 10 months, Laurel was the only person that knew who won, but seeing that she has a heart, I feel like she had to slip Domenick a little something to let him know not to get his hopes up for the nearly the next year of his life.


Dom and Wendell


The Dom and Wendell show could not have ended more perfectly even if was scripted (which there are enough Survivor non-believers who still probably think it was).  I still am a little sore that my #1 TDT draft pick came this close, but he literally could not have come closer, so hats off to being the #1 #2 ever, and a bigger congrats to Wendell for being the newest #1.  Though Laurel didn’t receive a single vote, she played a solid game too to reach the end; her mistake was just reaching it with Dom and Wendell.  Overall, this was definitely one of the strongest final threes we’ve had and obviously the wildest finish ever thanks to all parties involved.




Laurel explained her logic well in sticking with Dom and Wendell, feeling that without them in the game, she’d have been the next biggest target.  Week after week, it was frustrating to watch her not break away from them and play her own game, but she was right that a lot of their game was dependent on her.  Laurel is intelligent, she’s athletic, and she is socially competent which made her a really great player in the game and one that I would see having a lot of potential if she came back on her own.  I still get a laugh over how I thought she’d be out early for playing too big while she ended up going all the way and was criticized for not playing enough.  If she ever played again, I definitely think we’d see a more aggressive side of Laurel that we’d love.




YOU NASTY SON OF A BITCH!  You totally ruined what would have been an epic first showing writing for The True Dork Times and nailing the winner in our draft even after getting shafted with the last pick.  Now I have to come back and reverse the curse I guess… ugh.  Nah, I can’t be too mad.  Domenick played the hell out of this game and like I already said, arguably the best “losing” game ever.  His weakness was Wendell— over anyone else, Domenick wins.  I hope his wife gives him the green light to play again someday because he definitely deserves a second shot at the million.  Maybe he can wait until all the kids are in college (Survivor will still be on in like 15 years, right?)  With whatever astronomically high amount tuition costs are by then, a million dollars might almost be enough to pay those bills.




I was too stubborn to board the Wendell train the day this cast was first officially released.  Everyone was all hyped over how perfect this guy seemed for the game, but I was just like “Yeah, but… Domenick.”  Wendell had me fooled like he did everyone else, letting Dom star in the Dom show and literally up until the second Jeff pulled that first jury vote out, I was 100% certain our winner wasn’t Wendell.  Wendell’s game, though, I think is one that’s tough to showcase on television.  He’s just so smooth that it’s hard to differentiate when Wendell’s playing the game or just being Wendell.


The tie vote doesn’t take away from Wendell’s win but instead just speaks to how great of players both he and Domenick are.  If (when) Survivor does an all-winners season, I may have to finally pick Wendell to win.  I don’t see a case for Ghost Island as a top tier season, but I could see one for Wendell as a top tier winner.  Also—I loved that the reunion (if we’re even still calling it that) opened with Wendell’s 2012 audition video.  I much preferred that to a 15-minute montage of a winner being credited with moves that weren’t entirely their own.





We’ve all hated on how this season played out, so I’ll try not to beat a dead weasel here.  This cast had some standouts—we just lost them too early.  Jacob, Stephanie, Bradley, and Chris especially leaving as early as they did lost us some great potential (most pre-mergers would have been great post-merge), and though they made one hell of a team, Domenick and Wendell couldn’t carry the story on its own, so it suffered.


The biggest lost potential was the theme itself, Ghost Island.  All it ended up being was Exile Island filled with old Survivor stuff.  Cool concept, but a p*** poor performance.  The first thing that needs to change when it’s brought back is NO MORE DRAWING ROCKS to determine who goes.  Make the tribe come to a consensus, or have the lucky rock determine who makes that decision on their own.  Randomness takes out the strategy that could have played a huge role in who was sent to Ghost each week.  Additionally, DON’T USE THE SAME RELIC MORE THAN ONCE.  I couldn’t believe how lazy they were with that extra vote.  Game Changers was not good, Jeff!  Stop cursing us all with all the mentions of it!


At the end of the day, hey, Survivor’s still on the air, approaching its 18-year anniversary which is an amazing accomplishment.  Not every swing gets a hit, but at least they tried a new idea with Ghost Island, and in the beginning, it was undeniably awesome to see all of the show’s history on full display.  What needed to be more on display was a lot of this cast.  Their personalities shouldn’t wait to come alive at Ponderosa—include that in the main show rather than the same old story of false hope every week.  Editors, REVERSE THE CURSE you put on this season, or the ghosts of Survivors past are going to catch up with you.


Player of the season



This title resulted in another close decision, one between Domenick and, of course, Aunt Patty.  While Aunt Patty came on strong in the last three episodes, Domenick was a bigger force all season long, so I had to cast the final vote in his favor on this one, naming Domenick my Player of the Season.


Domenick is possibly one of the strongest mixes of player, personality, and performance we’ve ever seen.  Usually those wild personalities aren’t the best players or don’t perform well, and some of the best players aren’t always the most exhilarating to watch, but Domenick was the best across the board, only finishing second in performance to Wendell.


Being one of the “old guys” of this cast, Domenick faced huge obstacles and while most in his position may have chosen to stay under the radar, Domenick wanted to dominate and for being as big of a player as he was, I can’t believe that only Chris was coming after him before the last week of the game (is The Noble One also The Enlightened One?)  Dom played his ass off and delivered in entertainment episode after episode.  While I just complained about others not getting enough screentime, I can’t say that Dom didn’t deserve what he got – he was a pivotal player in almost every episode, especially after the merge.


I won’t say “Domenick was robbed” because Wendell is a worthy winner himself, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Domenick gave up immunity to go against Wendell with fire.  He’d either go down as the new dumbest player ever or the most brilliantly badass depending on that outcome.  Dom, you’re still a badass in my book, and thank you for giving all that you did this season, as exhausting as it may have been.  Now just sit back and relax with a hot cup of coffee and drink in all praise that will be coming your way.







Next time on Survivor


When I first heard the theme of the next season, it made more sense at least than Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, but I thought, “surely that isn’t the actual name” and somewhere out there, Ron Howard narrated the words, “it was.”


No, it’s not just tiny people versus giants but instead I guess those that fought to get to where they are in life versus those that didn’t have to?  I don’t know.  I was too captivated by this mysterious TKO show they kept talking about during the reunion to catch all of what the season 37 preview was saying.


From the few minutes we’ve seen of the cast, and from additional sources online, it at least looks more diverse than Ghost Island’s in terms of age and background, so that’s one curse reversed.  The names continue to get dumber and dumber, but if the casts get better, then at least I’ll just have the one thing to complain about (lol, yeah right).




Thanks to Jeff Pitman and the team at The True Dork Times for letting me share opinions that I found on-point or jokes I thought were funny and, at times, bitch like Bradley.  I probably shouldn’t thank you for giving me reason to have Survivor consume even more of my life, but as always, it’s fun to dissect/tear apart.  I look forward to being back for Survivor: David vs. Goliath where I will accept nothing less than 1st place in the draft.  Watch yourself, Jeff the Goliath.  This David is gonna take you down.


Also, being a millennial who feels entitled to some prize even though I didn’t win, as runner-up in this season’s draft, I think I should get one “reserve” for the next, so I’m claiming my first pick now:




A Natalie has never finished worse than 4th in this game, so I’m at least making the finale with her.  I’ll say goodbye to Ghost Island with that piece of trivia that I’m sure Jeff already had memorized.


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