We were back to our regularly-scheduled 60-minute programming this week and it was ... fine. Could I have done without the 10 minutes at the Island of the Idols? Absolutely. Is the cast at least the bomb behind that? Totally. I wish we could get a quarter of an episode more from them, but I’ll try to stop bitching about it since there’s nothing we can do about that. I’ll just have to learn to appreciate what we’re given in these episodes — like Noura. Beautiful, brilliant, powerful, rainbow-infused space unicorn Noura.
Right on cue, Aaron freaked out a little bit about being left out of the Ronnie vote, claiming he would’ve been cool with it and wasn’t that tight with Ronnie anyway — a likely story. Aaron, shockingly, wasn’t the one with the biggest immediate reaction once Lairo was back at camp. Vince lashed out, bluntly asking, no, demanding to know how the BLEEP his name came up. It was very reminiscent of Rupert storming back into camp in Pearl Islands after receiving his first votes, roaring, “WHO THE HELL VOTED FOR ME?” and nearly choking out Jonny Fairplay (Vince didn’t try to choke out Aaron, though). Let’s calm ourselves, guys. It’s a game where people vote for each other. Vince has even less of an excuse not to be aware of that 32 seasons after Rupert (who may still be unaware).
I can understand being pissed, but Vince wasn’t even close to going home. The vote was 7-2. His side won and Aaron’s lost. Kicking Aaron while he was down was just a dick move and a bad one for Vince’s social game. I don’t know if he just wanted to have his “moment” for TV or what, but it came across as a little extra, even for me.
Missy pulled Aaron aside to help calm him down and assured him that he wasn’t next on the chopping block because the tribe still needed his strength. In stark contrast to Vince, this was an excellent approach from Missy in trying to rebuild the bridge she helped burn. At quick glance, Aaron looks like he’d be Lairo’s next target, and I think he’ll definitely be Vince’s, but should they lose again, I could easily see the tribe voting out Vince for lack of any better options and wanting to “keep the tribe strong” to avoid yet another loss.
Was this a total mislabel of what time it actually was? Lairo got flint on Night 3, yet the show would have us believe they didn’t try making fire until the following night, after the sun went down? If the fire-making took place the next morning, then this had to have been a flub — anywho, nothing happened for Lairo in this episode beyond this scene, so I’m getting it out of the way and leaving the rest of the recap for the Vokai volcanic eruption.
Tom and Aaron attempted to make fire but were unsuccessful at it, so like at Vokai, a woman stepped up and showed the boys how it was done. It was Chelsea, the superfan who of course came into the game knowing how to make fire in the blink of an eye because she wasn’t an idiot. Soon after, in another moment nearly missed by the blinking of an eye, Chelsea stumbled upon the Lairo hidden immunity idol — putting the first of probably many of the season on the board ( ... joy). What should our official over/under be on idols? 10? Surely the season with “idols” in the name will set a record for most found/awarded. Regardless, Chelsea gets the distinction of finding the first. Who knows, maybe she’ll snag the 4th and the 8th too!
Someone definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, although it maybe had more to do with the fact that Noura felt she was the only one waking up at all. Yeah, Noura sure was WOKE all right.
This was the big hook from last week’s promo — Noura unhinged — and the episode delivered with a magnificent montage of Noura complaining about how lazy her tribe was, saying how they wouldn’t have fire, wood, food, or water if it weren’t for her. She was shown bouncing around from person to person whose looks on their faces said they couldn’t have given less of a shit about what she was blabbering on about.
You just might be, Noura.
No, honestly, her points were all true if she was the one doing all or most of the literal heavy lifting. However, in the game as we know, it’s not always what you say but how you say it. Luckily, she had one friend in Jason who eventually gave her a full listen. After Noura tried to help Jason last week in telling him he was making a bad first impression, Jason felt he owed Noura the same in return. If you ask me, no one owes anyone nothing in Survivor and if Noura was digging her own grave, Jason should’ve grabbed a shovel, and I was surprised of all people that Jason was the one to have the biggest heart when it came to Noura. I definitely took him to be the cold-hearted dick of the season, but I guess that dick went soft.
I do feel for Noura because clearly she’s got a big heart as well and wants her tribe to thrive — they just weren’t having her tone. Someone must’ve been listening, however, because Noura was the first person to point out the threat of Queen Molly, her King Jamal and their Jack, uh, Jack. Again, I think Noura was made to look a little crazy when she called out Molly’s cattiness and general uselessness around camp which lacked any other evidence besides the words coming out of Noura’s mouth. In the beginning of the episode, I felt we were supposed to side with poor Molly getting picked on by neurotic Noura, but later we’d find out that Noura wasn’t just hallucinating.
Taking a complete 180, Nagging Noura centered herself to become Namaste Noura, later leading her tribe in a group yoga session. As if we weren’t already concerned for her mental well-being, Noura went full Coach here for those that remember a nearly identical scene with him and the rest of his Villains tribe. I believe Coach is married with children now, but if he wasn’t ... this could have been a match made in Heaven.
Only in our Dreamz.
What came around the corner next looked to be a nightmare, a boat sent to pick someone up and take them to the Island of the Idols. The name that Elizabeth drew last week and wasn’t totally chosen by Production was revealed to be Kellee who took the news worriedly. Separated from your tribe, left to fend for yourself, and participating in the titular twist of the season — what could possibly go wrong?
THIS IS BETTER THAN COCHRAN
Kellee saying she speculated Cochran jumping out from the bushes and Sandra immediately going, “No, this is better than Cochran” gave me life! His I suppose was this season’s trial run as a “Boat of the Idol” when Cochran visited Debbie in Game Changers, but Cochran had no such business being given that title, so I’m glad Sassy Sandra set us straight on that. No good came from that “twist.”
Except my meme, of course.
Kellee was walked back to Rob and Sandra’s camp and they started hounding her with questions about her personal life while they simultaneously shared facts about their own. Kellee’s head was clearly spinning a million miles a minute, and of course they anticipated that, so naturally, the next “test” took advantage of Kellee’s newbie state of mind.
Kellee was told that her test would measure how well she listened to the information she had just been given and that she would need to answer 5 questions in order to receive an idol good for two tribal councils. It didn’t take long for Rob to sweeten the deal down to 3 questions and an idol good for three votes (methinks Kellee initially refused and that was cut since last week, Rob made no better offer without Elizabeth asking for one). This proved too good to pass up and Kellee took on the test.
I feel like I’m going to end up using that screenshot every single week questioning how much these “tests” actually help the players understand the game better. The first question couldn’t have been easier — what branch of the military did Sandra’s husband serve? Hmm, that had to have been a toughie because surely the ARMY hat Sandra was wearing wasn’t a hint. Kellee, of course, got the question right and proceeded to get the next two (admittedly a tiny bit more challenging) right as well to win an idol. I shudder to think of what questions 4 and 5 may have been though. “Does Sandra wear glasses?” or “What city does Rob get his nickname ‘Boston Rob’ from?”
Listening to Boston Rob talk about this pahtying days at Hahvahd paid off!
Kellee was sent back to camp with an idol packed in none other than her bun which was pretty freaking smaht too. It won’t take long on the show until no one’s allowed to wear their hair down ever again without looking suspicious.
I’m not sure if what followed was absolutely the smartest act though, Kellee crying to her tribemates about being worried they’d think she had an idol or advantage. I would find it hard to believe that someone would be taken away to another island after not even having lost a challenge only to find a “no game” message and return a few hours later. People believed that? What the hell would the point of such a “twist” be? Either Kellee crying helped sell it to the tribe or the tears were just so awkward and cringey that they wanted to make her stop. Nonetheless, Dan was readily available to give Kellee a comforting embrace.
I don’t think he’d have passed Rob and Sandra’s listening test ...
IMMUNITY – SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
I’ve never seen people so amped up for spices. Also, it was only Day 6, so were spices really going to be a substantial quality of life improvement?
Lairo really wanted to win that cumin for Elaine.
While Vokai filled the gap with their balls, Lairo dominated most of this challenge. What really set Vokai back was their inability to use a ladder to hoist Molly up to untie that bag that was needed for the final phase of the challenge. If only they had some help from the ladder-climbing, idol-finding, rice-negotiating, jacket-requesting Goliath goddess, Angelina.
Tommy got the usual post-challenge confessional for the losing tribe summarizing that the vote was between Noura and Jason, and while sometimes these narrations are misdirects, we really had no reason to believe that the vote would go any other way. Surely Noura wasn’t to be believed about Molly needing to go, right?
A QUEEN, A KING, AND THE JACK
Kicking off the pre-tribal scramble was Noura, Jack, and Jamal who I thought turned into a complete douchebag here. Noura checked in on the original plan to vote out Jason, and Jamal immediately snapped back at Noura asking her to convince him why the vote shouldn’t be her. Uh, pompous ass, much? I couldn’t stand Jamal the rest of the night and his rude behavior came out of nowhere. After talking (down) to Noura, he circled back with Molly and Jack before deciding they should all take it easy and enjoy an afternoon nap since they had the vote all figured out with the plan to split between Noura and Jason.
As much as I was over Jamal, it seemed like the vote was stuck on Noura and Jason, but then entered Lauren. We knew Noura was after Molly, and so Molly was coming after Noura, but when Lauren name-dropped Molly it was one of those “oh shit” moments. It was something I had never even seriously considered coming from Noura, but from Lauren and then Janet ... damn. Molly was about to get blindsided bigtime for being too much of a “Parvati” it seemed. You know, because every young, attractive woman with a charming personality is DANGER. DANGER. DANGER.
That’s Noura about to dance her ass off over Molly actually leaving the game. Shame on Jason for telling her to stop dancing! He said himself that he owed Noura — so dammit, he owed her this chance to dance!
With the outcasts and the rest of the girls on board to blindside Molly, Tommy was the last piece of the puzzle. For having not really a ton of say in the decision, Tommy got an awful lot of time to share his own insight here in the final minutes before tribal council. We saw Tommy making connections to everyone last week, and here again he was portrayed as pivotal when, in actuality, I’m not sure that he was? This had become Lauren and the Chief’s call at this point, but with Tommy’s massive weigh-in, that’s likely indicative that we’re supposed to believe he’s more important in the grand scheme of things. Sure, the women are dominating now, but maybe Tommy dominates in the end?
STICK OUT OR STICK IN
After another glorious entrance of Rob and Sandra into their booth, Jason opened the floor at tribal council by telling the tribe he knew he was on the outs over immunity idol suspicion. The theme of the night thus became “sticking out” as people talked about different feelings about where they stood within the tribe. Noura talked the most, of course, but a lot of what she said wasn’t just more crazy talk.
Noura said she was used to sticking out and admitted, “I don’t like to stick in.” I’ve heard of “sticking out” but not “sticking in” in that sense so leave it to Noura to coin a new term. She’s not one to go with the flow and, in fact, when she felt her life was becoming too predictable or routine, she made a major change and stepped out as an entrepreneur which is a hugely admirable real life Big Move™, but in Survivor, “sticking in” is more often than not a good thing.
Later, we listened to a series of metaphors about chess, cars, and gears — during the latter of which, they may as well have been speaking Hmong to me. When it comes to cars, I just “stick in” and hope it works (that metaphor would’ve landed better several years ago when most cars still started up with an actual key). Here, Jamal’s arrogant attitude displayed itself once more. When asked what gear the game was in, he stated that it was in first gear and that they were still in a slow burn. Jason tried to argue that, but Jamal corrected himself to say that only he was having to play that way, implying that Jason needed to play harder because he put himself on the bottom of the tribe.
Lauren stepped in for Jason and supported that the game was actually in fourth gear (I assume that meant ... faster?) making Jamal sound foolishly naïve. Based on how he had been acting since after the challenge, Jamal getting blindsided and booted would’ve been the optimal outcome of this tribal for me, but instead it was Queen Molly whose game came to a braking halt. Kudos to the editors for capturing her shift in facial expressions as the votes were being read — ‘twas practically perfect in every way.
Rob is a great co-host for Sandra in the booth, but my god do I love watching her listen and react to everything at tribal council. The intensity on her face amuses me to no end and even though this concept is still cheesy, it’s at least the ooey-gooey delicious kind of cheese.
Sorry “Queen Molly” – Sandra will forever and always be the queen.
Even more so than Ronnie, I did not think I’d be writing Molly’s eulogy this early. Even after the premiere, I was feeling like Molly was still looking like the biggest contender to win. The show duped me and I both loved it and hated it because I loved Molly and hated seeing her go. It all makes sense, though. For the same reasons so many people I know picked her pre-game as the winner she became a quick target of Vokai. Had her tribe not realized it when they did, I definitely think Molly would’ve went on to win. I didn’t see many major mistakes Molly may have made other than perhaps spending a little more time with Jack and Jamal than with everyone else. Her wanting Noura out was far from Ronnie going after his tribe’s beloved Elaine, so I guess it must’ve been mostly the Parvati thing. That’ll be a great storyline for 40 — “We’ve got to get rid of Parvati. She’s acting too much like herself!”
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
KARISHMA NO!!! THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF PERSONAL INJURY YOU’RE MEANT TO FACE!
I’m hoping this promo is just the standard tease and Karishma will be bandaged up with a visit from Dr. Joe not even necessary. I’m questioning more what this Lairo bro alliance will do for Vince’s game — I’m guessing he’ll run back to the girls and tattle on the guys, but if Lairo loses again, we’ve already seen Missy reassure Aaron that the tribe needs his strength, so could Vince end up like Ronnie and be painted as a sneaky rat? And god only knows what kind of shit show we’re in store for as someone from Lairo attempts to sneak themselves off to Vokai. I mean, what, is Lairo supposed to believe they’re just going out for a midnight skinny dip for a few hours?
Noura – Last week’s promo had me excited, but I couldn’t even comprehend the exact immensity of the Noura napalm headed our way. From the general jabberjawing to the yoga instructing to the dancing like there was no tomorrow (there almost wasn’t), I ended up nuts for Noura! Early on, she seemed like someone who lacked self-awareness about how she was coming across, but Noura was surprisingly well-spoken (albeit long-winded) at tribal council about who she knew herself to be. She owns who she is and frankly isn’t ashamed of it — still maybe a little batshit crazy, but a healthy dose. I wouldn’t mind a little extra dose, though, if I’m being honest. Noura is definitely someone that I’m falling in love with and may soon be my #1.
Lauren – Not to completely discredit Noura, but I saw Lauren as the big mastermind in moving the votes onto Molly. Noura I think would have been content with Jason going so long as it wasn’t her, so Lauren I felt was more responsible in saving the freak and geek pair. It was quite a Big Move™ and I while think it may have been a little too soon, Lauren seems long enough for this game, so it must work out well for her. On the other hand, Molly and Ronnie were my top two contenders, and Lauren was my #3 so she’s more than likely fucked, but I hope I’m finally right about someone. I see YOUR game, Lauren, and I’m loving it!
Kellee – That crying may have been a little cringe for me, but no negative reactions to it made the edit, so those fake tears must have fooled everyone else. That charade ended up being way more impressive than Kellee passing Rob and Sandra’s latest test, but she still got an idol out of that, so a win’s a win. Kellee’s definitely off to a stronger start than I imagined for her and if Lauren’s running the tribe for now, then she should be in good.
Almost all the women are looking good right now (with Noura, you never know) and it’s definitely being presented to us that the women are running circles around the men, so ... I guess I’ll just go ahead here and give a pre-emptive congrats to the inevitable male that wins the game on the heels of winning the fan favorite final four fire-making challenge.
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