Well that was an intense one! This week’s episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols was perhaps the best episode of the season thus far, with strategic game-play right from the get-go, a daring attempt for an advantage that took place during an Immunity Challenge, and a nail-biter of a Tribal Council that was unpredictable and exciting. As Survivor is also known as the world’s greatest social experiment, it also featured a very important scene of understanding that acted as a learning moment not only for the one involved, but for all of us watching at home as well.
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 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.
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It’s never fun to watch one tribe dominate an entire season, so it was very refreshing to see the Orange Tribe come from behind and pull off the win at this week’s Immunity Challenge. It set us up to finally see a tribe of 4-on-4 square-off against one another, being that they are made up equally of the original tribe members. What was revealed was how fragile some of these original tribe alliances are, as Elaine was immediately targeted without much friction from her fellow original tribe mates. As Survivor is a game that takes a tremendous amount of luck to go along with all of the necessary skills, Elaine proved to have some incredible luck, or you could say the “Survivor Gods” were smiling on her. Being on the outs of her tribe (without knowing that she was) most likely led to her sitting out the Reward Challenge, which in turn led her to the Island of the Idols, which of course led her on a path to get her “block-a-vote” advantage that ultimately saved her game.
Is everybody loving Elaine? I sure am. She’s funny and entertaining, down-to-Earth, and like Sandra said tonight, she’s the type of player that just could win it all. And having a great cast is a HUGE part of what makes these Tribal Councils matter…it’s so much more fun when we care about the people whose games are on the line. So in really liking Elaine, I was personally ecstatic to learn that Aaron ended up sticking with his original tribe mates, despite lying and holding the line with the other tribe up to the very last second.
But there were some signs that Aaron was going to stay true. Earlier in the episode, it did seem like Aaron was the one who brought up Elaine‘s name as the person to target, and he did. He also was pretty straight-forward in his confessionals on the subject. But a telling part of the episode was that after Elaine told him about her block-a-vote advantage, we never saw Aaron spill the beans with this info to the other side of the tribe. You’d think if he was a full-fledged turncoat, he’d let the other tribe know Elaine’s exact plans, but he didn’t. I picked up on this, and it was my only hope that Elaine was going to stay safe.
But was Aaron‘s call to keep Elaine a good move, or was it an error in judgment? Time will tell, but it’s pretty clear that even if he does plan on rocking the boat eventually, he ultimately decided that now was not the correct time to do so.
Aaron‘s decision of course led to the demise of Jason, who was probably the smartest person to target. They still could use Tommy in the challenges, and although Lauren looked upset – no, devastated – by the outcome at Tribal, Missy and Elizabeth did have a relationship with her that might still be salvageable. Dan, like Karishma last week, probably doesn’t represent the biggest immediate threat, so therefore Jason was the only choice.
What I really liked about this episode though from the standpoint of an audience member, is the fragility of all of the major alliances. Again, there’s nothing more boring than watching a large, tight-knit alliance dominate the game from week to week. To know that the alliances that seem to be running the show so far have some cracks and weaknesses, and would be willing to throw each other under the bus at the drop of a hat? That’s great for TV, and hopefully will lead to more and more shocking, surprising, and electric Tribal Councils down the stretch.
Episode Take-Away: Other than once again feeling annoyed by the presence of Boston Rob and Sandra (whom I both LOVE, just not in this capacity), the other stand-out portion of tonight’s episode dealt with Jamal and Jack. Survivor is a microcosm of society, and this was a great example of subconscious white privilege at work…however the true lesson came in how both Jamal and Jack reacted to the situation. Jack clearly didn’t mean any harm, but that’s part of the problem with privilege: Having no intent is not the same as doing no damage. And while Jamal was clearly and rightfully offended, he took his time to communicate to Jack why this was, and Jack took the time to learn from Jamal’s words. In the end, both of them walked away with a better understanding of the situation and each other, and the audience was left with a great example of how people in the real world should try to communicate with one another. This is just one of many reasons why Survivor is still the greatest Reality TV show on the planet, as I’m quite sure no other Reality Show can encapsulate real issues and provide teachable moments quite like this show can and does on a consistent basis.
Voted out this week: Jason
Won Immunity: Orange Tribe
Vote: Elaine played her “block-a-vote” advantage to block Jason‘s vote. No Idols were played. 4 – Jason (Elaine, Elizabeth, Missy, Aaron), 3 – Elaine (Dan, Tommy, Lauren).
Next Week’s Episode: It looks like the tribe win over at Orange this week is going to pay-off big next week…as the “bottom-feeders,” given a bit of extra time to strategize, look to form a mutiny against those on the top…also as we reach the halfway-point of the season (already??), we will take a look at each of the remaining contestants and assess their chances of winning it all.
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TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS EPISODE? DID AARON MAKE THE RIGHT MOVE IN KEEPING ELAINE? AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS SEASON?
Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell