Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 3 Recap: Ugly Baby

You’ve got to love the bluntness of Survivor: Ghost Island contestant Kellyn Bechtold. During tonight’s episode, which featured a surprise tribe swap, she compared seeing her new terrible camp to how it feels when you visit someone’s baby who is just plain ugly…despite the mother going on and on about how it’s their pride and joy, all you are thinking is, man, that’s one ugly baby.

And while her honesty was on full display during that interview segment, this after all, is Survivor. Honesty is not necessarily a virtue out there in the game, and tonight’s episode featured very little of it as the remaining 18 players jockeyed for position after seeing their tribes switched up.

As I do at the beginning of every Recap, please heed the following: Remember that this recap assumes that you have already seen this week’s Episode 3 of Survivor: Ghost Island, so if you have not and don’t want to be spoiled, please come back later! It’s important to add too that while we WILL hit on all of the important developments of the episode, this is not a linear “blow-by-blow” recap, and is more of a discussion and reaction of what we just witnessed together.


Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 3 Recap: The Ugly Baby

And no, you’re not reading it wrong: Tonight’s episode was indeed the third episode of Ghost Island. Last week’s two-hour premiere counted as back-to-back episodes, so don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything. Just know that for every hour Survivor airs, they count that as a single episode. There, we all learned something right off the bat!

So what did you all think of this episode? Whenever “#dropyourbuffs” shows up on Survivor, it’s usually a good thing in terms of entertainment value. This particular occurrence though, seemed to just add to my confusion. Happening a bit earlier than normal (on only Day 7!), I’m still just trying to learn all of their names and keep track of who’s who…you’re telling me I already have to re-learn the tribes? The split itself though, for what it’s worth, was pretty interesting, with the old Orange tribe getting split up evenly with four members going to each of the two new tribes. That left the old Purple tribe squarely in control (or so we thought) with the majority of five on both squads. So what exactly went wrong?

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 3 Recap: The Ugly Baby

Well, as we saw last week, alphas Dom and Chris just were not going to be able to work together. I think it’s good for the show that Chris and Dom were sent to the same new tribe as it keeps this rivalry alive for another week. There butting-of-heads was perhaps my favorite part of the premiere, so I liked that Chris ended up being the one sent to Ghost Island this week…it just prolongs the eventual showdown that will inevitably take place between the two.

Speaking of Ghost Island, as I mentioned last week, I sort of dig the overall concept. That being said, I’m already nearly out of patience with the place. As I’ve read elsewhere, those little urns that the contestants break when they get to Ghost Island? They are told to break them from left to right, so the order of what is inside of them is predetermined by production. But seriously, a second-straight trip to Ghost Island has now produced a Whammy, the “Nope, no game for you” parchment? I’m fine with occasional trips to Ghost Island resulting in nothingness, but I would have thought that they might have front-loaded the place to help try to sell this season’s major theme to the audience. As of right now – two weeks and three episodes deep – Ghost Island has mostly been a huge snore, resulting in the lame Legacy Advantage and then two straight weeks of…nothing. Taking nothing away from the nice moment Chris had out there this week (where he became very emotional discussing his brave mother, battling MS, and calling her the “Ultimate Survivor”), I just really thought that this gimmick (Ghost Island) would have yielded more excitement at this point. It’s disappointing right now, but if we see another “Nope” note next week I’ll be about ready to give up on this season’s theme and call it a bust.

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 3 Recap: The Ugly Baby

Chris‘s trip to Ghost Island was not only interesting for extending his feud with Dom, but because it made this week’s Tribal Council a bit more interesting as well, ensuring that it would be “four-on-four” when it came to votes. The “minority” of Donathan, Libby, James and Laurel ended up getting things to go their way, once Angela decided to throw her vote away on Libby. That allowed the four to vote out Morgan, which was a very interesting choice but probably a smart one…Morgan looked to be a very dangerous social and physical threat in this game. For Libby though, it struck me as the wrong move: She really seemed to bond with Morgan and even though keeping Morgan would have been better for her long-game, it appears that Libby instead chose to be loyal to her original tribe rather than her newfound friend. And in a season of curses, it looks like that Legacy Advantage isn’t much of an advantage at all, now having been in possession of the last two people to be voted out of the game (as we learned in the episode’s closing moments, Morgan decided to will the Legacy Advantage to Domenick, who will receive it next episode).

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 3 Recap: The Ugly Baby

With Dom and Chris being at odds, it appears that the Donathan-Libby-Laurel-James alliance of four is firmly in control of their tribe for the time being, although I include Donathan loosely in this group. Dom was referred to tonight by James as being “Russell Hantz 2.0″ and that is not a term of endearment. Domenick is of course playing his butt off thus far, and is the sort of player that could be around for a while…but usually for the wrong reasons. Let’s break down “Russell Hantz 2.o” and what James meant for a minute. On one hand, this is a compliment, because it is saying that Dom is a powerful threat that needs to be dealt with, and one that isn’t afraid to play the game and manipulate when and where he can. But on the other hand, it implies that he is playing hard to come in second place. Rarely has the Hantz style of game play ended in a win…it has been shown to get players pretty far, but it’s not a winning strategy. Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into this, but thus far Dom definitely does strike me as a “Russell Hantz 2.0” more so than he does a “Tony Vlachos 2.0,” which is more the model that Domenick was going for when he entered the game.

So what else of note happened tonight? Speaking of Dom, he cleverly shared the fact that he had made a fake Idol to try to appease Chris, even though that in doing so he may have made himself a bigger target in the eyes of James. Michael found an Idol, and not just any old Idol…it was one of two actual Idols that famously never got played back when Survivor All-Star James Clement was voted out of Survivor: China…he was the only player ever to be voted-out with two Idols in his possession. That means that both Dom and Michael have the game’s only real Idols at the moment, with Dom also now having Morgan’s Legacy Advantage heading into next week (in case you’re trying to keep track of this season’s advantages thus far).

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 3 Recap: The Ugly Baby

Episode Take-Away: I was a bit annoyed that Ghost Island was a dud this week, but overall I still am confident in this cast. There seems to be a bounty of super-fans and smart players, and I just feel like the strategy will be heightened this season…we shall see. There are still a handful of players that we haven’t quite seen much of (Chelsea, anyone?) but the small clips from people like Kellyn (the “ugly baby” thing was classic) that we did see left me with some hope that they’ve not been kept quiet because of lack of personality.

Strategic Move of the Week: Although it may end up biting him in the butt, I kind of liked Dom‘s decision to tell everyone about the Fake Idol that he had produced for Chris. Yes, James seemed to sniff this out as BS and it just solidified Dom as a threat, but it also seemed to work on a few others. Dom’s playing hard, but is it too hard?

Voted out this week: Morgan

Won Immunity: The (new) Orange Tribe

Vote: No Idols or advantages played. 4 – Morgan (James, Donathan, Laurel, Libby), 3 – Angela (Domenick, Wendell, Morgan), 1 – Libby (Angela)

Next Week’s Episode: Probst tells us that on Survivor there is “nowhere to run, nowhere to hide” and we see that both Dom and Michael spill the beans to others about each of their hidden Idols.

Quick Note! Remember to return right here to Reality Tea for my FilmSurvivor Podcast on Thursday, where you can listen to my full exit interview with Morgan.  Also – BONUS! – If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be out on the island for Survivor, please listen to the most recent episode of the Podcast (Ep46) where I chat with Mara Reinstein of US Weekly, who was out at Ghost Island this year…don’t miss it!!! (We also recapped the Oscar telecast from last Sunday). Speaking of the Oscars and movies, I encourage you to check out my weekly movie reviews as I am also the national film critic for and am a movie critic/TV personality in the Detroit area. As always, the easiest way to get all of my Survivor coverage and movie reviews is to follow me on Twitter – @tomsantilli – or on Facebook.


Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe