Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 4 Recap: Trust Your Gut

“Reversing the curse” has been the mantra of Survivor: Ghost Island thus far, and it’s been a more-than-appropriate theme. With the mistakes of Survivor players’ pasts literally hanging over their heads, nobody wants to become “that guy” or “that girl” who is shown royally screwing up in a flashback on a future “Ghost Island” themed season.

But how do players know if their move is a good one while they’re making it? It’s not like epic mistake-makers James Clement or Erik Reichenbach purposely catapulted themselves onto the wrong side of Survivor history. More often than not though – like in the case of James Clement having been voted out of Survivor: China with not one but two Idols in his pocket – contestants come out ahead by playing the game…not nervously sitting pat and letting the game play them. Just as common however, trusting one’s gut is usually a good way to go, as the heart and the head tend to mislead and disappoint when it comes to Survivor.

“Guts” were on display during tonight’s episode, not only with some player’s trusting their instincts, but with a tribe who displayed them during an amazing Immunity Challenge win. But first, 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 4 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 4 Recap: Trust Your Gut

Well holy crap, that was an intense, solid episode, am I right? As I’ve commented right here on these very pages, I am really liking the building rivalry between alpha dogs Chris and Dom, and the entire first portion of the episode gave us a good helping of it. Dom and Wendell were genuinely blindsided when Morgan was voted out, but when all hope had seemingly vanished, in came Laurel. Laurel had a great episode overall, not just strategically but by absolutely dominating the “water battle” Reward Challenge…she even mentioned that she’s been “flying under-the-radar” thus far, but if she keeps up that level of effort like at the Reward Challenge, she’ll be landing squarely on several radars soon enough. But after showing her physical strength, we saw her throw Dom and Wendell a lifeline strategically as well. Chris and Angela have offered up their services to the majority alliance to get rid of Dom and/or Wendell, but Laurel isn’t liking the authoritative tone that Chris is striking when barking orders to everyone. It seemed that Donathan felt the same way but – as we saw in the preview for next week’s episode (more on that later) – Chris’s game looks to be far from over.

Long-time Survivor fans (like me) have now seen the show so many times, you start to pick up on little editing cues throughout the episode. At it’s best, Survivor producers play to these expectations and then throw us for a loop…it’s always so refreshing when the episode or the vote DOESN’T go the way we think it will. The show isn’t always successful at staying unpredictable, and it still falls into some set patterns that fans of the show are able to pick up on. So my Survivor-senses were tingling tonight, because with all of the Chris/Dom stuff early on, I thought for sure that their tribe would be on the losing end of Tribal Council…heck, we had barely heard or seen anything from the Orange tribe, other than Kellyn‘s trip to Ghost Island. So how cool was it then, when the Purple tribe had the #HugeComeback at the Immunity Challenge? It was exciting in and of itself, made more exciting because – based on the editing of the episode – I was certain that Orange wasn’t going to be going to Tribal.

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 4 Recap: Trust Your Gut

Speaking of Orange and Kellyn, her Ghost Island trip at least allowed her another “game on” moment. One of my biggest critiques of this season thus far has been that Ghost Island itself has mostly been lame…it yielded the boring “Legacy Advantage” and then for two straight times it didn’t even allow the person on Ghost Island to do anything. Well Kellyn became just the second person to be offered a chance at a secret advantage, and despite the entirety of the audience (including Probst and the producers I’m assuming) wanting her to take up the challenge and try for the secret advantage, Kellyn instead trusted her gut instincts…had she chosen incorrectly, she would have lost her vote at the Tribal Council and this wasn’t the time, as her vote became incredibly valuable as things turned out. In this instance, not “playing the game” seems to have been the correct move, but that’s easy to say now…I mean, what if she would have chosen correctly and would have gotten some crazy-amazing advantage that would have set her up for several weeks to come? Yes Kellyn “trusted her gut” and it helped her, but only time will tell whether she’ll look back at that non-decision and have any regrets.

I rarely recap the Challenges, but really quickly before I move on: That was a pretty awesome comeback! Wow, Purple was in the midst of a complete train-wreck, from not being able to open the water gate, to not being able to set their trunk on the right track. But somehow, someway, they continued to fight and they ended up pulling through what has to be one of the biggest come-from-behind wins in Survivor history. And I’m glad they did…I always seem to like the show more when we get to see both tribes at Tribal Council, and not just the same tribe over and over again!

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 4 Recap: Trust Your Gut

That win not only keeps the Dom/Chris rivalry going for at least another episode, but it gave us a bit of insight into the dynamics over at the Orange camp. And it also produced one HECK of a Tribal Council, thanks in no small part to Michael, whom you’ve got to love, right? We learned that the perception is that Bradley is running the show, sitting at the top of the five-person majority…and as we know, on Survivor (and in real-life to a certain extent) perception is reality. It doesn’t matter if Bradley doesn’t see himself as being the ringleader, if others think that he is, than he is. We also were made to believe that both Sebastian and Chelsea were on the bottom of that majority alliance, although I’m not sold that this is all that truthful just yet…it could have just been portrayed that way in the editing to make us believe there were people capable of flipping.

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 4 Recap: Trust Your Gut

But man did Michael and the minority alliance go down swinging, in epic fashion. Let’s remember that Michael is the youngest to ever play the game of Survivor, despite the fact that part of his game is lying to everyone to say that he’s older. Michael made the strategic move to tell everyone about his Idol (one of James Clement‘s Idols from Survivor: China), was making great points during Tribal Council that seemed to have affect on both Chelsea and Sebastian, but then tragically just played the Idol on the wrong person. He’s lucky it wasn’t him that went home, because that would have been a fitting end for the person in possession of James’s cursed Idol. Sure, that Idol finally saw the light of day and was played, but I’m not sure that the curse was reversed, as it ended up being a futile gesture. Add to all of this that Michael created the very believable lie that the Idol could protect TWO people, and I couldn’t imagine a better effort from a minority alliance to upset the apple cart and try to swing the game in their favor. Like Probst said at the end, they may have lost this battle, but the war is far from over.

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 4 Recap: Trust Your Gut

Episode Take-Away: Overall a very good episode in my opinion! I loved the Tribal Council and the “double idol” lie, and I also liked that Dom/Chris thing is still going on and building as it goes. When you can mix in a great Immunity Challenge as well, what more can you ask for from a pre-merge episode of Survivor?

Strategic Move of the Week: Yes, it didn’t work out the way he wanted, but kudos to Michael for not just playing his Idol, but specifically for creating the lie that it would protect two individuals. That was a brilliant lie because it was believable, as it feeds into the legend of James Clement having gone home with two Idols. It made things that much more interesting and challenging for the majority to choose who to send home. But maybe most important of all, the way Michael played this entire Tribal Council was effective in that he might have planted a few seeds in Chelsea and Sebastian that could end up saving his game down the road.

Voted out this week: Brendan

Won Immunity: Purple Tribe

Vote: Hidden Idol played by Michael on Stephanie. 5 – Brendan (Bradley, Kellyn, Sebastian, Chelsea, Desi), 4 – Bradley (Jenna, Michael, Brendan, Stephanie)

Next Week’s Episode: Jenna flirts with Sebastian, Donathan looks to bond with Chris, and Desi shows off her underwater breathing skills…or something like that.

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 Brendan. I also encourage you to check out my weekly movie reviews (like “Tomb Raider” and “Love, Simon” this week) 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