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

Seize the moment


Despite Angela claiming it’s yet to arrive, last week was, in fact, “the battle of all battles.”  Naturally, we were in for a bit less exciting episode this week—had we not been, I can’t even imagine what that would have looked like—and that’s about what we got.  This episode left me feeling a little uninspired and with all the talk of big moves and breakouts, the outcome was rather straightforward and predictable.  What felt like a big buildup led to a bit of a bore.  Maybe that “big move” everyone kept talking about will happen next time, but it certainly did not happen in this episode.



The war is far from over


Libby was all of the sudden a major player again at the top of the hour which was a red flag as to how this one would play out for her, and while her reaction to getting some votes was expected, I was surprised we didn’t hear anything from Angela and Desiree who were the only two that didn’t vote for Chris. Not knowing Chris didn’t cast a vote, from their perspective, it would have appeared that they and Chris were the only two that voted for Libby.  Given the last time Angela was blindsided, she surely had some words about what happened, but instead the focus was on the biggest triumph of the tribal council which was earned by Domenick.


The shrinking of the target on Dom’s back should take a while, if it ever happens, but his approach to life in a world without The Noble One was sharp. Lay low, let someone else call the shots, and pretend like he isn’t still in control of the game. I was majorly worried for Dom going into this episode, but no one else seemed to be and instead looked toward his buddy Wendell. A lot of people have been calling Wendell the winner since the pre-game press, but I’m still not sold. In my opinion, we got a bit of insight as to why that is…



What is Wendell doing?


I didn’t find Wendell’s conversation with Laurel to paint him in the best light.  He was only trying to reaffirm her loyalty, but he did it in a bit of an accusatory way by which, if I was Laurel, I’d have been a little offended. If someone in my final four alliance was questioning my loyalty, I’d immediately start questioning theirs. Wendell stumbled down a slippery slope with Laurel by making her doubt his trust in her and I imagine the question entered her mind, “If he doesn’t trust me 100%, why should I trust him 100%?”


Wendell tried to reel it back by giving Laurel the information about his immunity idol as well as Domenick’s which, one on hand showed he was being honest with Laurel while also proving that he had already lied to her since the idols were both found before the merge. Laurel talked about needing to make a big move, and listening to Wendell’s words, she should have or at least moved away from the idea of going to the final four (three?) with both him and Domenick. I can see why she didn’t immediately act this week, as casting a vote against someone with an idol is always risky, and they’re still her firmest final four deal in the game, but if Laurel wants to pull the trigger with that BIG MOVE, Wendell’s words gave her ammunition to use.





My favorite drink in the world is a margarita, but when Jeff said the tribe was playing for “mah-ga-rrritas” it was the first time the word ever sounded unappealing to me. Thanks, Jeffrey.


If this was any other type of challenge, the orange team would have stomped purple, but keeping with the curse of that damned color, the purple team was able to be carried to a win by Wendell and Laurel.  It would have been much more interesting to see each person be responsible for knocking one target down rather than “fulfilling the goal of participating” but then the tribe may have also been at it ‘til sundown, and by then the maaaaahgaaahrrrrritas would have turned warm. Imagine the squalor of that!


The squalor!


Of course, the highlight of this challenge(/episode) was when Sebastian missed his target and Jeff yelled out, “He is high every time!” Yeah, we’ve been watching the season too, Jeff.


High as Seb


The purple team of Wendell, Laurel, Donathan, Chelsea, Libby, and Angela won a trip to the Tiki Taco Hut and let the orange team draw rocks to determine who’d “win” a trip to Ghost Island. Production had to still be hating themselves for ever letting such a decision default to rocks, and this time Jenna drew the white rock and set off for Ghost Island, hardly even letting Jeff explain the rules as she walked away.



I know

Wait! I have rules to announce!





See above.



Taco hut


No, the “Taco Hut” was not one of those Taco Bell/Pizza Hut Express restaurants you see, although the food probably went through people the same way. Had I been on that reward, I’d have honestly just slurped down the margs until I puked and called it a day. I just can’t imagine not eating real food for 23 days and then packing Mexican food into my intestines. That can wreck anyone one a normal diet. I’d bet a lot of money that an evening full of severe gastrointestinal distress was left on the editing room floor. RIP Camp Lavita.


I got those Taco smells


As everyone pushed food down, Libby brought up her concerns over continuing to get votes every time she went to tribal council, wondering if she was doing something wrong. You’re Parvati 2.0, Libby—that’s what you’re doing wrong!  Obviously! Angela surprisingly spoke up and gave Libby an answer more or less like “you were there” while a few others added that it was Libby’s close connection to Michael that made her a target, opening Libby’s eyes to the idea that moving on from Michael could further her game.



Stirring the pot


Proving to be the real Parvati 2.0, Angela sought out to stir the pot and start a war at camp… by targeting the person everyone was already targeting. WOW. What a game changer.


Bless her for trying, but this “big move” further cemented how out of the loop Angela has been in this game which continues to be my favorite thing about her. I adored how she thought “turning” people against the biggest challenge threat/ underdog/ lone wolf was going to shake up the game in a big way. Angela “convincing” everyone that Michael was their biggest threat had me re-playing the Clay card as I did on her pal Chris…




Even though she was several days behind everyone else with this epiphany, I still appreciated Angela stepping out of Chris’s shadow and trying to play a bigger game. At least she didn’t go as far as someone did to say she was the next reincarnation of Boston Rob and Kim.


A+ game





Bust your gut


I think every season of Survivor needs a gross food challenge. I’ll pull a Jeff and say that “people on the street” usually talk about Survivor by asking, “Is that show still on?” and that’s confirmed, they proceed to say they could never hack it because they couldn’t “eat the bugs.” One of the things the show is apparently most well-known for is forcing people to eat all kinds of nasty shit. This season’s run of it included fish eyes, grubs, sea slugs, and some sea creature known as the “Mother of Pearl.” Frankly, this just added to the long list of reasons I have to make Debbie a permanent inclusion to the show in some capacity. In Game Changers she said she had the tenacity of a giant squid, so she’d be great to have on the sideline as the show’s marine biology expert.


Marine biology expert


The best part about food challenges, duh, is all the “gagorific” body spasms. (I need to update my Microsoft Word evidently because Spell Check didn’t recognize modern Sëbastian language) WARNING: if you’re squeamish, make sure to zoom in before looking at all of these:


Gag 1

Gag 2

Gag 3

Gag 4

Gag 5


Okay, now let’s talk about this last one. Angela literally deep throated an entire sea slug, pulled it out from the back of her throat, and deep throated it again. What. The. Fuck.


I was legit terrified by Angela after watching her swallow the competition in this challenge and I’d put my photoshopping skills to their own challenge, but I feel like that’d go deep down a dark hole with no way to return from safely… kind of like Angela’s gullet.


Angela beat Michael in the final round, but like a champ, Michael finished that motherf***** of pearl anyway. His reasoning was that this moment was one he’d never have again which… um, sure, okay. As he was saying that, we all know Jeff was like “Boy, please, I’ve already got your flights booked for season 37 and 38.” Win or lose, Michael will definitely be asked back to Survivor—after Chelsea, of course, so she can once again fulfill her role of participating.



Malolo strong


All we’ve heard about this season when it comes to tribal loyalty has been “Naviti strong” but for the first time we saw a counter to that, aptly called “Malolo strong.”  Naviti’s plan was to split votes between Michael and Libby, ensuring one of them left, but their split relied heavily on the old Malolo members Laurel, Donathan, and Jenna. With Naviti splitting, this opened the door for old Malolo to regroup and narrow that Naviti-Malolo gap once more.


We didn’t hear from Jenna but we know she has a tie to Sebastian, Libby was considering voting for Michael out of self-preservation, and Lauren and Donathan had their alliance with Domenick and Wendell to weigh, so it actually appeared as though Malolo strong was more like “Michael strong.”  That is, he wasn’t crying this time.




I think the players with the most at stake in this decision were Laurel and Donathan. It’s too early to tell for certain whether they made the right move in not voting for Wendell as a fivesome with Malolo, but for as exciting as it would have been for them to pull off that blindside, I’m going to tentatively say they made the right call. They’d have eliminated an idol, but they’d have lost not one, but two allies who are also two big meat shields for them in the game.


At this point, Laurel and Donathan are probably be best positioned without having targets on their backs, so not being major instigators in flipping the game upside down should serve them well. They’ll just have to eliminate Wendell and Domenick later if they want to win because if they continue to keep those two in the game, they’ll likely lose to them. Laurel especially seemed to be the biggest “will she or won’t she?” player this week, signaling either a move still yet to come or a story of the girl who cried wolf—the one to repeatedly want to make a big move but back off before casting her ballot. I’d love to see her shock everyone, but right now my non-fish-eye-filled gut is telling me her big move may end up too little or too late with her failing to ever seize that moment.



Not just a stick


Contributing to the lukewarm feel I had about the episode, tribal council was a letdown. Jeff was once again preaching the narrative about BIG MOVES and talking about how the new final tribal council format was so revolutionary which it may be, Jeffrey, but you brought this up with 12 people left in the game. We’ve still got 9 votes to get through before that final one.


Even the big play of the f***ing stick was just okay. Next to Erik’s immunity necklace, the stick is the most iconic Ghost Island relic that we’ve seen. I like Michael, but he’s not one for making a big spectacle, and when playing an idol like the f***ing stick, I feel that’s necessary. His delivery of the big stick-play couldn’t have been drier for me. Maybe he suffers from the same dry mouth problem as Phillip? To make matters worse, he said, “This one’s for Ozzy,” which made me gag more than anything I saw during the immunity challenge.


Jeff at least delivered a good line (one he clearly had been waiting to deliver since they buried the stick) and admittedly did fool me for a quick second before confirming the idol was real. And that was that. Michael would have been voted out had he not played it, so add this to the list of curses reversed on the Ghost Island Wiki page, but with Libby being the one who ended up the victim of the idol play, I was just unenthused by the night’s outcome. Libby’s not a big loss to the season, and Naviti had perfectly protected themselves against an idol being played, so ultimately, it was just another f***ing vote.




She’s an untrustworthy, cute blonde, but that’s all I really got from Libby. Like Michael, she has a mystifyingly calm voice (she could start an ASMR channel on YouTube) which doesn’t exactly make for mystifying TV, but unlike Michael, she didn’t have the huge underdog story to make up for it. Her closeness to Michael is what did Libby in, but we weren’t really given much content to see just how deeply connected they were. Were they a power couple? I honestly don’t know from the lack of details provided about their relationship. Libby is sadly the first of several women we’ll see voted out with little remembrance. I feel sorry for her over that, but even more so over the fact that after losing the game, she had to go spend three days alone with Chris.


I have to do what?





Next time...


I’ll believe this “ready to take out a Naviti” statement when I see it actually come to fruition. It definitely needs to for the sake of a shake-up, but unfortunately a big blindside would also lose us one of the few people really keeping the narrative going.  I’m not even sure what a game without Domenick and Wendell would look like at this point, so until there are enough other stories being told, I’m skeptical they’re in real danger. I thought Dom may have been doomed this week, but seeing Wendell targeted over him, I think my man is still riding high… not Sebastian-high, though. Never go full Sebastian.


Players of the week


Michael – While I wasn’t WOWWED by his idol play, I’m glad he didn’t leave with the f***ing stick in his pocket, so brilliant read on that room, Michael. It’s just too bad they didn’t pile the votes on him like they did with Chris. Had they gone all-in that same way, Michael would have broken Kelley Wentworth’s record and negated 11 votes. Still, he deserves a big nod for reversing… Jason’s? Eliza’s? Ozzy’s curse? Who exactly are we crediting with that one? Chet?


Laurel – UGH! Like I said, I think Laurel made the correct albeit safe move, but I so badly want her to become a boss! She’s playing a spectacular game, arguably the best since she’s got a clear path to the end and isn’t a target, but trusting my gut, I think she’s going to lose to one or both of Domenick and Wendell in the finals because juries nowadays love flash over finesse. Dom and Wendell certainly haven’t played losing games, but Laurel is just a much different player than they are and one whose type is sometimes less appreciated. Laurel had everyone’s balls this week, and her boys better be grateful she didn’t crush them when she so easily could have.


Angela – What another randomly big episode, this one bigger than her last when she was, again, completely oblivious to the game being played around her just after the swap. I definitely didn’t see her immunity challenge performance coming – no one did. Sea slugs and grubs after binging on burritos and tacos… Angela’s stomach is the real Sprint Player of the Week this week.


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