Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 13 Recap: The Middle Man

Finding yourself stuck in the middle of a bad situation? Discovering that your best chance to win the game is now behind you? If you have either or both of these symptoms, you are probably Donathan on Survivor: Ghost Island. Not afraid to drop “truth bombs” all over the place, one of them finally blew up in his face, but is the damage done irreparable?

So many questions and I’ll try to provide some answers. 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 13 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 13 Recap: The Middle Man

Well, the story of this season is shaping up to be the decisions – or indecision, rather – of Laurel (do you hear Laurel or Yanny? Oh don’t get me started). I had mentioned on this very column several weeks ago that I thought Laurel was best positioning herself to win Survivor…but as it turns out, being in “position” is different than taking action, and taking action is what – most of the time – is rewarded by a Survivor jury. Last week, I titled the recap “This Decision Is Everything,” and I believe now even more strongly that when this season is all said and done, people can look back to that moment in the game – Episode 12 – as the best chance that others could have taken control of their own games. As it stands, Laurel is just completely loyal and content to go to the end with Dom and Wendell…it’s coming across as a classic case of “heart vs. mind,” where we see glimpses of Laurel’s brain telling her that she needs to move against the boys, but where her heart seems to be prevailing.

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 13 Recap: The Middle Man

If she were using her head, she would have realized last week that she needed to take Wendell out (since Dom had Immunity, the choice was simple). Moving into this week, we saw Laurel once again flirting with the idea of a “big move,” but she ultimately decided to “stick to the plan” and ride things out with Dom and Wendell. To the power-duo’s credit, they are doing all the right things to keep Laurel feeling special, and taking her on reward with them without hesitation spoke volumes. At the Fijian village feast, we saw them openly discussing Laurel’s chances of winning – where she would just hope to pick up some votes left-over after the jury splits their votes between Dom and Wendell – and at the time it appeared like she was just laughing and playing along. Turns out, this scenario is precisely Laurel’s only chance of winning the game now, but her inaction this season won’t be enough to gather enough to seriously threaten either Wendell or Dom’s chances…a fact that they are both aware of and counting on.

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 13 Recap: The Middle Man

Which brings us to Donathan, the man in the middle of it all. He’s been a fan-favorite and an underdog worth rooting for all season, and he continues to entertain and to give this season timely injections of drama. Seriously, where would this season be without Donathan? Think of it as you will, it’s better because of his inclusion. As it’s being portrayed, Donathan has been the more eager half of his alliance, opposite Laurel, who just doesn’t seem to want to rock the boat. Donathan seems constantly interested in blowing the boat out of the water. And while his intentions to “mix things up” are valid, things didn’t quite go as planned this week. What I love about Survivor and this situation is that Dom and Wendell had no plans WHATSOEVER to take Donathan to Final Three with them, yet when Donathan bluntly tells them that he is destined to be on the jury, the guys act all offended. Puh-lease! You can’t fault the guy for “not being loyal” or “acting weird” when you know that the truth is you are going to cut his throat at some point along the way! Dom and Wendell acted all high-and-mighty after Donathan’s blunt statements, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Now, whether or not what Donathan says is the “truth” (which it is: He again has no shot at Final Three with Dom and Wendell), Donathan does have control of what he says and who he says it to, and trying to “pit Dom and Wendell against each other” may not have been his best course of action. What Donathan is failing to realize (and what is now too late to do anything about) is that Donathan is playing an individual game. Yes, Laurel is his closest ally, but if she disagreed with moves that Donathan had wanted to make, he needed to either fight harder to get her onboard with what he wanted, or he should have explored options that might benefit himself that didn’t include Laurel. Donathan has been playing the game too closely associated with Laurel, and ultimately it appears that Laurel is the one that gets to call the shots. How terrible will it be, if/when Donathan were to lose the game, that he would chalk it up to Laurel’s overall inaction?

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 13 Recap: The Middle Man

All of this, and we haven’t even mentioned Kellyn yet. She was a strong player this season but just wasn’t quite able to go toe-to-toe with Dom and Wendell. She did have some allies on the jury, so she needed to go from the guys’ perspective, but it’s too bad that she wasn’t able to mount any sort of serious last-minute threat.

Elsewhere this week, good ole “Sea Bass” (Sebastian) got to go to Ghost Island, and he scored himself an extra vote, which will surely come in handy. While we seem to have seen a fair amount from Sebastian throughout the season, we rarely have been shown him thinking strategically, or about the game at all, so that was a nice little portion to witness tonight. Sebastian’s real motives – or his ideal Final Three – have not been revealed to the audience, but it’s being played like he too, plans to go to the end with the power duo of Dom and Wendell. Is that everyone’s strategy? And is there any logic to that thought-pattern?

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 13 Recap: The Middle Man

All will be revealed to us as Survivor: Ghost Island, Season 36 (!!!), officially wraps up next Wednesday, May 23rd, with the two-hour Finale and Live Reunion Show to follow. We are down to six, and with Dom and Wendell still possessing Idols, and now with Sebastian having a second, secret vote, it will be hard to predict how this one will shake out. But here’s a solid prediction you can put your money behind: Angela will not be named Sole Survivor.

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 13 Recap: The Middle Man

Episode Take-Away: All in all, I have liked how the show has continued to be exciting and pretty unpredictable this season…that’s not always the case. It is always annoying and frustrating when the audience is shown a power couple early on, only to have everyone else in the game act completely oblivious to it. Why haven’t others taken their shot? Should we not be wondering who among the others will be going to Final Three and start shifting our minds towards debating who will win between Dom and Wendell? The glorious thing about Survivor is that no matter what happens, or what relationships and/or alliances form during the 39 days, there is only one winner. So ultimately, for either Dom or Wendell, one of them had made a terrible decision to stick with the other if they’re trying to come out as the winner of the million bucks.

Also, I thought it was very interesting that Wendell actually won Immunity this week, only to not raise his hand in time, so that Laurel ended up with the necklace. How terrible would that have been, had Wendell gone home after that whole situation? Yikes man.

Voted out this week: Kellyn Bechtold

Won Immunity: Laurel (1st Individual Immunity Win)

Vote: No Idols or advantages played. 3 – Kellyn (Dom, Laurel, Wendell), 3 – Donathan (Kellyn, Sebastian, Angela), 1 – Dom (Donathan)

Re-vote: Kellyn and Donathan unable to vote. 4 – Kellyn, 1 – Donathan (the re-votes were not revealed as to who voted for who)

Survivor: Ghost Island Episode 13 Recap: The Middle Man

Next Week’s Episode: It’s the two-hour Season Finale of Survivor: Ghost Island! Followed by the one-hour Live Reunion Show where either Dom, Wendell, Donathan, Laurel, Angela or Sebastian will be named the Sole Survivor and will receive a check for one million dollars. The Live Reunion Show will also give us a look at Season 37 (!) of Survivor that has been officially renewed for next Fall and is set to air once again on Wednesday nights. Don’t miss it, and then make sure to check back here for my full Finale Recap and MEGA-SIZED Podcast where I’ll be bringing you my final round of exit interviews with everyone left in the game! Shortly after the Finale, I’ll also be releasing my updated lists of Survivor Seasons and All-Time winners…where does Ghost Island fall for you, and who would be the most deserving winner of Season 36?

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 Kellyn Bechtold. I also encourage you to check out my weekly movie reviews (like “Deadpool 2″ and “Book Club” 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