Curses! No, for real. Yes curses and the ongoing attempts to reverse them has been the dominating theme this season on Survivor, but sometimes its not an item or a relic that will bring you bad luck…it’s the choices that you make. If good luck – as the saying goes – is when opportunity meets preparation, then it could be said that the person eliminated tonight was neither prepared, nor did they seize their opportunity to avoid getting voted out.
Tonight was the famed “merge episode” and it gave us everything we could have hoped for: Scrambling, strategy, drama and more than a few laughs. And speaking of laughs, there is a video that came out of the result of tonight’s episode that you simply HAVE to see to believe.
But before we dive in, 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 8 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.
CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON FOR MORE, AND THIS IS YOUR LAST *SPOILER* WARNING!
So boom goes the dynamite! The alpha-male showdown between Dom and Chris that has been brewing since Day One in the game finally came to a head tonight, and just as many would have predicted, it was “Dangerous” Dom Abate that came out on top. But it wasn’t necessarily a “win” for Dom as much as it was a “loss” for Chris. Chris was a good character on the show – the typical clueless model who tries to convince us that they’re not a clueless model. But he was a physical beast and went toe-to-toe with Dom without ever backing down. Chris, in fact, experienced his very first Tribal Council during tonight’s show, which is a major accomplishment, to not experience a Tribal Council through 24 of the game’s 39 days! Now granted, he missed a Tribal he was supposed to be at by being sent to Ghost Island, but it’s still an impressive fete. But in the end, Chris was his own enemy.
Let’s talk about curses for a minute. Do you believe in curses? In bad karma? Sure I like the theme of Ghost Island and the amazing drinking game it has invented (anytime you hear someone say “reverse the curse,” drink! If they show a flashback to a previous season, drink!). But what I think has really been exposed through this narrative is that we humans tend to possess the same fatal flaws. What do I mean? Well, for example, it’s not so much “the curse of J.T‘s Idol” than it is arrogance. The mistaken confidence brought on by ego. JT and Chris didn’t play their Idol not because the “Survivor Gods” pooped on it, or whatever, they didn’t play it because their own vanity and lack of self-awareness gave them a false sense of security that made them both think they’d be safe. Survivor has always been the ultimate social experiment, and I for one just love how it continuously shows us the good and the bad of human nature.
Chris on one hand had the courage to risk blowing up his game by sneaking out in the middle of the night to take a trip to Ghost Island, and then risked his vote at Tribal in order to gain more power in the game. But even after all of that, and even after losing his voting privileges, Chris still didn’t think it was necessary to at least cover himself up through what is almost always the most tumultuous vote of the season, the first merge vote. Ironically, if he would have chosen not to go for the “extra power” at Ghost Island and the Idol would have only been good for one Tribal, he probably would have most certainly used it. So in one sense, by deciding to risk his vote and to make his Idol more powerful than it already was, he pretty much ended his own game. And that’s not even taking into consideration that it seemed like both Dom and Wendell were sincerely trying to clear the air and work with Chris for at least one vote, a gesture that Chris blow off completely…mostly due once again to his own arrogance.
So the long gestating battle between Chris and Dom has finally come to an end. Where does the show go from here? Well, we learned that Dom is seen as being pretty dangerous, but it was clear that both Donathan and Laurel (not to mention Wendell) are quite loyal to him, since they ran right to him after Chris led the tribe away to get water and scheme. As we saw in the preview for next week, Dom and Wendell are the power couple that have most people on edge, so it will be interesting to see if they can find their way through…but we the viewers know that between them, they do have two Idols still. Remember too that Kellyn still has her “extra vote” advantage and that Michael has an Idol as well, and with Ghost Island still in play, there are just too many factors that make the rest of the season quite unpredictable.
Going into Episode 9 already next week, I also realized that there are still too many players left in the game that I know nothing about. Like, we’ve seen and heard from Desi and Chelsea, but what are their strategic games? Earth to Sebastian? It was nice to get a brief scene with Jenna and Libby tonight – and the two look to be very tight – but what’s their angle? For those looking for editing clues, clearly Kellyn, Michael and Dom are given the most strategic air-time, and that’s something usually reserved for the eventual winner…I’m just sayin’.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what had to be the two funniest “vote testimonials” in recent memory, when Dom stated “Chris Noble!” as loud as he could while voting, followed by Wendell‘s instant classic “You are trash…as a rapper” speech. Just hilarious. Even more hilarious? Chris – who also became the first member of the Survivor jury – did NOT take Wendell’s advice to stop rapping, and instead he released – or “dropped” as the kids say – a hot new rap track that appears as part of Chris’s Ponderosa Video. What is a “Ponderosa Video” and where can you watch it? Well as I do each and every season, I strongly, strongly urge all Survivor fans to make sure they hit up CBS.com/Survivor or the “SurvivoronCBS YouTube Channel” each week from here on out, to catch each cast-away’s Ponderosa Video, which highlights their arrival at Ponderosa (the place where the jury is sequestered in-between Tribal Councils for the rest of the game). Chris has become this season’s “Mayor of Ponderosa,” the title bestowed to the first person to arrive there, but in a Survivor first (and hopefully last), he decided to make a rap video in his spare time, detailing his time in and out of the game. Go watch it…after finishing this article of course.
Episode Take-Away: I thought it was a strong merge episode and I loved how the whole Chris and Dom dynamic played out, but in some ways I’m sad that it’s over. It’s been building and building and has really been the best storyline of the season thus far…it would have been way cooler to see Chris play his Idol and have it stretch out for a few more episodes. But I also liked that we saw that the game was still churning well beneath the Chris/Dom feud. We saw the all-female alliance of Desi, Chelsea, Kellyn and Angela get together and discuss voting out Libby despite what the two meatheaded boys were doing or wanting. That tells me that there is still a lot of game to be played even with Chris gone.
Strategic Move of the Week: Dom was referred to as “dangerous” during the episode, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m giving him strategic props this week, for his entire handling of Chris, but specifically for playing the Legacy Advantage. Even though it didn’t save him in the end, he was not going to risk having that Survivor artifact curse his game, and he used it the first chance he could. In doing so, he also kept up his ruse of his fake shell Idol, had Chris stayed in the game. But Dom played the cards he was dealt and Chris held on to his, and only one of these players is still in the game. Lesson learned.
Voted out this week: Chris Noble
Won Immunity: Kellyn (first individual win)
Vote: Legacy Advantage played, making Dom immune…Chris did not get a vote due to losing it at Ghost Island. 10 – Chris (Dom, Wendell, Libby, Kellyn, Donathan, Laurel, Jenna, Michael, Sebastian, Chelsea), 2 – Libby (Angela, Desi)
Next Week’s Episode: We see a scene where Wendell tells Laurel about his hidden Idol, leading us to see Laurel mention how Dom and Wendell are growing too powerful. And then…it’s the disgusting food challenge! Yippee!
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 Chris Noble. I also encourage you to check out my weekly movie reviews (like “Rampage” and “Beirut” this week) as I am also the national film critic for AXS.com 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.
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF TONIGHT’S EPISODE? WERE YOU TEAM CHRIS OR TEAM DOM? AND WHO DO YOU THINK IS IN THE BEST POSITION TO WIN THE GAME NOW THAT WE’VE REACHED THE MERGE?
Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe