Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 2 Recap: The Need For Speed

As host Jeff Probst stated during tonight’s Tribal Council, the game of Survivor really has a way of revealing the core of a person. And after 39 seasons, it also has a way of showing how some players can just never quite overcome repeating the same pitfalls, even though they’ve seen countless others make the same mistakes time and time again, season after season. It’s hard to believe, for example, that a player would have the gall (and the balls) to go to Tribal Council so confident that he wouldn’t even pack his belongings (as one contestant did tonight). Or that a player would think that this game hasn’t sped up to the point where “petal to the metal” is sometimes not fast enough.

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 Premiere Episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols. If you have not and don’t want to be spoiled, please come back later! It’s important to add that while we WILL hit on all of the important developments of the episode, this is not a linear “blow-by-blow” recap. It is more of a discussion and reaction of what we just witnessed together.


Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 2 Recap: The Need For Speed

So we’ve made it through Episode 2, and I have some thoughts! First and foremost, I’m still liking the season and think that it has potential, and I also feel reassured that we’re hanging out with a very solid, likable cast. The idea that Molly would be the first person voted out of her tribe is just stunning, but it’s a great example of just how this game has evolved, and continues to evolve. Molly – as someone in the episode pointed out – was basically “Parvati 2.o,” but in the game of Survivor, lightning rarely strikes twice (unless you’re Queen Sandra! Boom!). The “Parvati” game worked when it worked, but the game has evolved past her, and now players are able to identify contestants like her early on. It’s the same reason why Russell Hantz was voted out early his last time in the game and could never possibly play the game again, and why new styles of players continue to keep rising to the top and winning the game. Molly was too much like Parvati, meaning that she was the complete package and could have been a great winner…which is exactly why she had to go first.

Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 2 Recap: The Need For Speed

This coup exposed some strengths and weaknesses of some other players as well. Jamal and Jack are the most affected by Molly‘s blindside (not counting Molly of course), but while Jack just came across as being out-of-the-loop on the vote, Jamal came across as arrogantly unaware. He described Survivor as a “slow burn” and also didn’t pack a bag to go to Tribal? I think that in today’s game, you MUST pack your bag, even if you are 100% confident you’re not going anywhere. The perception of not packing one alone is reason for scrutiny, and by the way, if you’re 100% confident of ANYTHING in Survivor than you should DEFINITELY pack your bag, because that probably means that you’re next.

The whole blindside was shown to be orchestrated by Lauren, who is definitely one of the ones in the “likable” department thus far. Voting out “easy votes” is sooooooo Survivor from like five years ago. Instead of seeing Noura and Jason as the odd-ones-out, she saw them as an opportunity to take out someone who is much more dangerous. It worked. How this affects Tommy remains to be seen, as he was portrayed as being torn between who to vote for.

Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 2 Recap: The Need For Speed

Of course, one of the players that was highlighted this episode was Kellee, who was chosen by Elizabeth (at random) to go to the Island of the Idols this week. I must admit, my excitement level for this twist has gone down dramatically this week.  I’m still open to giving it a chance, but here’s the deal: It seems the show will be dedicating one entire block to the “Island of the Idols” during each episode. That’s a lot of valuable time NOT being spent with this new cast, and not growing closer to those that are actually in the game. On the flip-side, it DOES work to showcase one player per episode, in this episode’s case, Kellee. We got to learn a lot about her, and we also got to see her win the game’s first advantage to come out of this twist. After tonight’s Tribal, she can still use her Idol at either of the next two Tribal Councils that she attends.

Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 2 Recap: The Need For Speed

And while I am not an Idol-hater (and there are many) and I actually like the chaos that hidden Immunity Idols create in the game, I’m not sure that I like valuable minutes of each episode getting gobbled away by Rob and Sandra, as they teach generic lessons to these new players as if they are not new contestants, but rather newborns. Like, so far they’ve told us we need to know how to make fire (duh) and that you should listen when people are talking to you (double duh). Are these really inside-secrets? Ancient, forgotten wisdom? Does anybody deserve to be playing this game at all if they don’t know you need to listen and you need to know how to make a fire?

Speaking of Idols, perhaps an important note about this episode is that it proves to us that there will be potentially several Idols in play at once, maybe more than ever, and that they all won’t originate from The Island of the Idols. We know that now because Chelsea just stumbled across one while gathering firewood, and this to me sort of dilutes the Island of the Idols twist even further. If I know that I can get Idols out in the wilderness just by dedicating time and looking around, why in the heck would I ever choose to risk losing my vote at Tribal at the Island of the Idols?

Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 2 Recap: The Need For Speed

Chelsea is a part of the major power-players that have emerged thus far through two episodes: The girls-alliance on the Orange Tribe. Along with Chelsea, there’s Missy, who just seems like an awesome player, and who has also been edited as such so far. Her “he needs to stop crying, this is Survivor,” was one of my favorite lines of the episode. It was in regard to Aaron, and Missy is absolutely correct: If Aaron wants to have any future in this game, he’s going to need to start living in the present.

Random thought: When did stripping off all of your clothes to prove you don’t have an Immunity Idol become a thing? We saw it happen twice tonight, once when Kellee returned from the Island of the Idols, and then again at Tribal with Jason. Dudes, we believe you. No need to get naked about it.

Random thought number two: We were once again “Dean-less” through the 2nd episode, but not only did Dean not get a confessional – again – but was he even shown? Like seriously, did we get even a flash of his face? Is there a reason he’s being edited out of the show? Does anyone know that he’s out there? Is he really out there, or am I just imagining him? Other people see Dean is in the game, right, I didn’t dream him up?

As Michie said all season on Big Brother 21, and as Dan repeated tonight, this is chess not checkers. These players better realize that there is only one speed in Survivor, and that speed is to be going faster than the rest of your opponents. While you’re talking about a “slow burn,” your torch is going to get “quickly snuffed” if you aren’t careful.

Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 2 Recap: The Need For Speed

Episode Take-Away: I liked that through two episodes, we’ve seen each tribe at Tribal Council…nothing throws a season of Survivor off the rails like one tribe dominating early challenges. But that being said, I felt like the Island of the Idols twist is starting to lose its appeal…already. I’d rather have seen more hot yoga sessions with Noura, or gotten to know the mysterious and elusive Dean, as opposed to hear about Sandra‘s dogs. Two episodes in and two Idols in play…things can get really fun in a few more weeks if more and more Idols are introduced.

Voted out this week: Molly

Won Immunity: Orange Tribe

Vote: No advantages or Idols were played. 5 – Molly (Dan, Lauren, Tommy, Jason, Noura), 2 – Jason (Jack, Jamal), 1 – Noura (Molly)

Survivor: Island of the Idols Episode 2 Recap: The Need For Speed

Next Week’s Episode: There will be blood? Also the Island of the Idols leads to a late-night raid on the opposing tribe’s camp? Now we’re talkin’!

Quick Note! I appreciate that you are reading this recap! Those that have followed me also know that I am a RottenTomatoes-approved film critic, and I encourage you to check out my weekly movie reviews as I am the film critic and Executive Producer of the TV show, “Movie Show Plus,” the #1-rated local program in my Detroit-market (episodes are also available online at the website, 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/David M. Russell