There was two-times the fun on this week’s episode of Survivor, when we got to witness two Immunity Necklaces, two Tribal Councils, and even a contestant who got to cast two votes. This wasn’t the usual late-season case of “let’s-mash-two-tribal-councils-into-one-episode-because-the-votes-are-so-predictable.” Instead, it was a pretty cool game twist that added new, exciting and complex layers to a game that already has several of them.
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 11 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!
Yes, tonight’s episode felt like a nice jolt to this season, giving us not one but two Tribal Councils. I was a bit leery when I first heard Probst describing this shake-up, but I thought it played out nicely. Tribal Councils with five or less players will always be more dramatic, because the stakes are higher and each vote has more weight, and tonight we got to see a lot of intense game-play. Ultimately, two Malolo members were sent to jury, so even though the outcome might have ended up being predictable, the journey to that point felt fresh and inspired.
First out we had poor Jenna, who just has gotten a raw deal this season. There seems to always be one player who just can’t ever get a break (more than one usually) and this season it was Jenna. She constantly found herself in the minority of her tribe, and only won Immunity (as a tribe) three times all season. Fitting then, that Jenna even got the shaft on her way out, not getting the usual “walk of shame” after getting her torch snuffed, where normally contestants can have a chance to decompress and even touch base with the Survivor psychologist and doctors. No, Jenna experienced a Survivor rarity, of getting voted out and then having to immediately sit in as a jury member at Tribal. Top it all off, but because of the way the episode was structured, we didn’t even get to hear a good-bye message from Jenna. At least Jenna did leave the game a winner in one respect: There has pretty much been confirmation that she is currently in a relationship outside of the game with Sebastian, a topic I’ll be sure to ask her about on this week’s double-sized FilmSurvivor Podcast.
But Jenna leaving is but a footnote to my RealityTea peeps…I know that this week is a sad one for many of you as fan-favorite Michael finally saw his survival streak come to an end. Yes Michael is dreamy, I get it, and I thought it was only appropriate that Kellyn would address this in-show at Tribal, when someone said that “all eyes are on Michael” and she replied with a, “Well of course, um, I mean, look at him!” The young whippersnapper will be 20 years old this July, but was just 18-going-on-30 when Ghost Island taped. And while there have been several hunky, sexy contestants on the show over the years (both men and women), few seemingly have had it all: The looks, the attitude, the physicality, the mental toughness, the strategic prowess and the strong social game. To think that he was also the youngest player ever to play Survivor by age, makes Michael all the more impressive. He was definitely a stand-out this season and is my vote for one of the players that should definitely be chosen to play the game again at some point in the future. In his 29 days in the game, he saw his name written down 15 times, he also played a few Idols and somehow slithered his way out of more than a few tight spots. I know his exit will have many of you sad or angry, but I say stick around for the rest of the season…if for nothing else, you’ll get to see Michael at each and every Tribal from here on out!
We’re now down to eight players left – and two regular episodes leading into the two-hour Finale on May 23rd. Despite tonight’s episode getting right down to the business of the two Tribals, we also had a few other big developments. First, Laurel‘s relationship with Dom and Wendell seems to have been strengthened…for once this season, Laurel’s fate really did lay in Dom and Wendell’s hands this week. Kellyn definitely shook things up by using her double-vote advantage – both cast against Laurel – a move that will surely have ramifications.
Elsewhere, Donathan was teetering on doing something stupid, when he told Jenna that he would play his Idol on her, and then avoided doing something even stupider when he almost didn’t play his Idol at all. Now granted, had he not played his Idol, he would not have gone home this week, but I think given the circumstances, he absolutely had to play his Idol – and on himself – in a week that was so volatile, and with only one other potential Malolo (Jenna) at his Tribal.
Both Donathan and Laurel have survived the purging of all of their fellow Malolo’s, so next week is when we should start seeing the Naviti begin to eat each other alive. If they really are four-strong with Dom and Wendell, next week will be their toughest challenge, as with eight players left in the game, it will take a major coup to derail them…but at next week’s Tribal, they will need at least one more person in their alliance to have the majority…who can they convince to vote with them, knowing that whomever does is surely going to be on the bottom?
Episode Take-Away: Maybe my favorite episode of the season, and not just because there was no time to squeeze in the lameness that is Ghost Island. Both of the votes made sense, but the real telling thing to me was that clearly nobody sees that Donathan and Laurel are a power couple. Sebastian, Angela and Chelsea – the so-called barnacles on the Good Ship Naviti, that just continue to cling and coast along – could only have voted out Jenna with the knowledge that Donathan had a hidden Idol, but we were given no sign that any of them are even the least bit aware that there is a power-foursome in their midst. Kellyn is now the main leader in the opposition party, but now she is fighting an uphill battle with both Dom and Wendell possessing Idols…man could she use that double-vote advantage NEXT week, when it would have been a 4-4 split and her extra vote could have really swung things. Had she just trusted Dom, she’d still have her advantage, but then again, her instincts to NOT trust Dom are solid…you’ve got to give her that.
Voted out this week: Jenna Bowman and Michael Yerger
Won Immunity: Dom (first individual win and first for a male contestant this season!), Chelsea (2nd overall win)
Tribal Council #1 Vote: Donathan plays his hidden Idol on himself. 3 – Jenna (Donathan, Chelsea, Sebastian), 1 – Sebastian (Jenna), 1 – Donathan (did not count, Angela)
Tribal Council #2 Vote 1: No Idols were played, Kellyn played her double-vote advantage. 2 – Michael (Dom, Wendell), 2 – Laurel (Kellyn Vote #1, Kellyn Vote #2), 1 – Wendell (Michael), 1 – Kellyn (Laurel)
Tribal Council #2 Vote 2: 3 – Michael (Kellyn, Dom, Wendell)
Next Week’s Episode: As we could have predicted, the “Naviti Strong” alliance is about to finally blow up. But bring your tissues as well, because next week will also be the famed “Loved Ones” episode. I’m not crying, you’re crying!
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 both Michael Yerger and Jenna Bowman. I also encourage you to check out my weekly movie reviews (like “Tully” 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? DID DONATHAN MAKE THE RIGHT MOVES TONIGHT? FINAL THOUGHTS ON MICHAEL?
Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe