Survivor: Island Of The Idols Episode 11 Recap: Bringing Home The Bacon

Well there is sure a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my family, I thankful for my son. I’m thankful that my Thanksgiving tradition includes going down to the Detroit Lions tailgate in downtown, but does not include actually going into the game. And I’m thankful that this week’s episode of Survivor gave us a break from the recent controversies that have surrounded this entire season, and that it didn’t contain any real “life lessons” or “learning moments.” Yes, although no one is forgetting about the ugliness that had been the past few weeks of the show, it was a nice switch-up for the show to feel “normal” again, where folks get bit by chickens, make dumb moves, or play fake advantages, and we can focus our attention on the game itself.

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.


Survivor: Island Of The Idols Episode 11 Recap: Bringing Home The Bacon

Circling back to last week for just a moment, if you did miss the return of the FilmSurvivor Podcast, I urge you to check it out. I was joined by US Weekly‘s Mara Reinstein, who covers Survivor and who is often invited out to Fiji as part of the “elite” Survivor press that gets to attend and interview the casts. We talked all about the recent Survivor controversies (which I’m assuming you are all aware of by now), including Jeff Probst‘s near non-response that followed last week’s episode. It’s worth a listen.

Also a quick shout out to former Survivor contestant Erik Reichenbach: Happy Birthday man! Ever since Stephen Fishbach‘s Survivor Blog at People went away, Erik has been exclusively showcasing his Survivor artwork here on this blog at RealityTea. But with Wednesday being Erik’s birthday and with it being Thanksgiving, there won’t be any new art for this week. Don’t worry, Erik’s art will be featured again next week. Remember you can always find and even purchase Erik’s amazing Survivor (and non-Survivor) art at

Survivor: Island Of The Idols Episode 11 Recap: Bringing Home The Bacon

Now let’s dig in, shall we? Tonight’s episode of Survivor was dominated by Karishma, a player that I find myself rooting for as the underdog but constantly annoyed by her gameplay. I try to find compassion for those that get picked on or bullied, and Karishma has certainly been on the receiving end of lots of direct orders during her time in the game. As many players said tonight, she’s somehow still in the game despite nearly leaving or being targeted several other times. Tonight finally seemed to be the night that everyone decided to get together and vote her out, but a hidden Immunity Idol gives Karishma another three days. So while it was “successfully played,” I’m not sure it was optimally played…instead of shifting the game in Karishma’s direction, it instead seems to have just gotten her through one vote. So what else could Karishma have done?

Before we get to that, I must say that this episode was quite frustrating to watch from a storytelling standpoint. At one point it seemed, per Dan, that the votes were going to be split between Karishma and Elizabeth, but as we saw, this was not the case. We saw Dan go back and ask that his alliance vote out Karishma after he got annoyed with her, but it wasn’t clearly portrayed to the viewers if this is what made seven people put their vote on Karishma. Worse, what the hell was that vote reveal at the end of the show? Instead of showing the voting results that really mattered from the first round of voting, they instead decided to show everyone’s re-vote. We already knew from the way Jeff read the re-votes that they unanimously voted out Elizabeth over Janet at that point! But I – and I’m assuming everybody out there- really wants to know who put the one vote on Elizabeth and who put the one vote on Janet to force the tie in the first place!

Survivor: Island Of The Idols Episode 11 Recap: Bringing Home The Bacon

With some deductive reasoning however, we can assume that if Karishma had voted for Janet originally, she’d most likely vote for her again during the re-vote. That probably means that Karishma voted for Elizabeth and then Elizabeth voted for Janet. Why? Elizabeth was probably told it was a split vote between Karishma and Janet, and the others probably had her vote for Janet on the off-chance that Karishma would have an Idol (she did). But if this is all really true, wouldn’t Karishma had created a lot more chaos by putting her vote on pretty much anyone else higher up the totem pole and not on Elizabeth? Like, if Karishma really voted for Elizabeth, wouldn’t it have been better for her game to have forced the rest of the tribe to do a re-vote between Janet and literally anybody else other than Elizabeth?

Not taking anything away from Karishma – she’s still in this game past Day 30 – but not only was her vote a strange one, I also think she didn’t maximize her Idol usage. She is shown talking game with Elizabeth right in front of Dan and Lauren…why not go somewhere where, I don’t know, people can’t read your lips or overhear you name drop. Had she gotten together with Elizabeth, who was also feeling like she was on the bottom of everything, Karishma could have used her Idol to really take out a big player in this game, like a Janet, or a Tommy. So yes, she correctly used her Idol and stays another three days in this game, but I just get the sense that there were many better options for Karishma, had she been able to execute any of them.

These criticisms aside, after playing the Idol correctly on herself tonight, Karishma unbelievably became the first female to correctly play a hidden Immunity Idol at Tribal since Kelley Wentworth did it during Season 31, Survivor: Second Chance…Karishma also now has survived 17 votes against her, just two shy of Laura Morett‘s single-season record of 19. If nothing else, she’s resilient.

Survivor: Island Of The Idols Episode 11 Recap: Bringing Home The Bacon

And how about Lauren working herself an Idol and then playing it? I did enjoy her trip out to the Island of the Idols this week, and it was cemented into our heads once again just how close her and Tommy are in the game. She entrusted him with the truth of her experience, and together they did an amazing job to stack the odds in their favor during the Immunity Challenge. And I have no problem whatsoever with Lauren playing her Idol…the thing was only good for two Tribals anyways, and the minute that the Karishma plan was out the window, Lauren’t game might have very well been in jeopardy. It didn’t end up blocking any votes, but that doesn’t mean it was a dumb move…Lauren hasn’t come this far to just throw her game away on the unpredictability of Karishma.

…And a quick word on Queen Sandra: Talk about having your status as an Idol get taken down a few notches…could you have imagined if she had been medically evacuated from the game, from Island of the Idols…after suffering a chicken bite? That would have been a terrible way to go. Glad she recovered and moved on fearlessly from the attack…Sandra after all, is no chicken…

Survivor: Island Of The Idols Episode 11 Recap: Bringing Home The Bacon

It wouldn’t be right to leave this week without mentioning the “game-within-a-game” that Dean seems to be playing with himself. So he has a fake Legacy Advantage, gifted to him by Jamal for no good reason that he can think of, and his bright idea is to make a forgery of the forgery? Had this Legacy Advantage actually been real, there is actually some logic behind what Dean was trying to do: He of course knew that this fugazi Advantage would not work tonight, but what happens is that now the rest of the tribe doesn’t think he has anymore advantages. When we get to six, where Dean could have played the advantage, no one would know or expect him to have it. Had it been real, this actually wasn’t a bad move. But because we know that it’s a fake, a hilarious seed has just been planted, giving us all a big reason to root for Dean to make Final Six.

Survivor: Island Of The Idols Episode 11 Recap: Bringing Home The Bacon

Episode Take-Away: It was nice that the show was able to focus on the game at hand, and not get tangled up in any of the ugly controversies that have tainted this season so far on the whole. With just eight left in the game – and with there being just TWO more episodes left leading into the two-hour Survivor Finale on December 18th – the duo of Lauren and Tommy grows more and more dangerous. It doesn’t appear that anyone else in the game is perceiving them to be a deadly duo, and with each passing Tribal it will become harder and harder to remove one of them from the game.

We have Karishma who is clearly scratching and clawing her way back into relevancy in the eyes of the jury, but she has more than a long way to go. You have Noura – once maybe perceived as a member of the “goat army” – who is slowly “Wigglesworth“-ing her way into the end-game discussion…are you telling me that if Noura wins like six Immunity Challenges and lands in Final Three that she wouldn’t be able to land any winning votes? I think she’s a major dark horse at this point. Let’s not even consider Dan winning the game (shutters), and Dean just has no real footing and nothing on his resume that will make others vote for him to win it all. If you’re looking for someone to swing in and take this game away from Tommy or Lauren, you’re down to Janet and Elaine…both very viable winners. Elaine could be the sneakiest of them all, she’s clearly the most likable and has yet to make herself standout as a threat. Will the “loyalty to her core alliance” end up being her saving grace or will it be what costs her the game when she gives a bit too much loyalty to someone else?

Calling it as of now, I feel like the rest of the tribe knows for certain that Elaine and Janet can’t make the Final Three or they would very well win…and their both unlikely to win their way there via Immunity Challenges. Unless we see some sort of an aggressive shift in the game against them, I think this thing is gearing up to be a legitimate fight to the finish between platonic power couple Tommy and Lauren. You heard it hear first!

Survivor: Island Of The Idols Episode 11 Recap: Bringing Home The Bacon

Voted out this week: Elizabeth

Won Immunity: Noura (2)

Vote: Dean plays a fake Legacy Advantage. Karishma plays an Idol on herself. Lauren plays an Idol on herself. 7 – Karishma (all votes nullified by Immunity Idol, but votes are not revealed on TV), 1 – Janet (vote not revealed on TV), 1 – Elizabeth (vote not revealed on TV).

Re-Vote: A re-vote is held between Janet and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is unanimously voted out, 7-0.

Next Week’s Episode: The Loved Ones challenge? Already? Wow, I guess it will be December soon, even though it’s hard to believe there is just three weeks left of Survivor this season! We’re on pace for a Final Six to be in the game headed into the Finale, with one more contestant being shed next week.

Hey everybody: Thank you for reading and your continued support, and I hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s do this again next week!

Quick Note! I appreciate that you are reading this recap! Those that have followed me also know that I am also 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 the 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]