The 36th season of Survivor is finally here, and it started off with a bang! This season, I’ll be giving you a TLDW (Too long didn’t watch) condensed recap of the episode in addition to my Top 5 Takeaways. If you haven’t read up on the Survivors yet, you NEED to go read my first impressions of the cast. It will help you to follow along! It’s already late due to the 2-hour premiere so let’s get started!
First Hour TLDW
So we are introduced to our reward challenge immediately when the tribes have to pick two leaders. Of course they pick the beefiest guys they can: Malolo chooses Brendan the hot teacher dad while Naviti picks Versace model Chris. Here’s the twist though: while the others compete in the puzzle, the leaders of each tribe can choose to forfeit the win if they think the other tribe is going to beat them before time runs out. Chris ends up forfeiting, giving the enemy tribe an even greater reward. On the plus side, he ends up still gaining a smaller reward for his tribe. Questionable decision, but of course our resident big mouth, Domenik, publicly shames Chris for his decision. He says he’s a “can’t help that he’s a truth-teller” which means he’s a total liar. Obviously Naviti goes back to camp and Chris is pissed that Domenik threw him under the bus. A rivalry is instantly born.
We get scenes of Donathan on Mololo meeting different people for the first time of his life. He’s never had African-American friends like Laurel or “exotic” friends like James. He literally needs subtitles. He admits that obviously he can’t find another gay man in Kentucky. That’s the most relatable thing I’ve heard someone say so far in 2018. Speaking of other people who might be socially challenged on Mololo, Jacob decides to double down on his already perceived physical weakness by searching for an idol on day 2. While he gives a confessional about not acting suspicious, EVERYONE sits in a circle criticizing his suspicious behavior.
Back on Naviti, we are amazed by Wendell’s resourcefulness. Not only is he a trendy freelance furniture designer, but he also knows how to create traps for crabs. The tribe praises him. Sebastian with the groovy man bun tells Wendell that Domenik needs to leave first, but Wendell rats him out. Instead of everyone blaming Sebastian, they correctly assume that Chris has put a bug in Sebastian’s ear. The rivalry rages on between Chris and Domenik.
We finally get to our first immunity challenge. The have to untie some bags. Guess what’s in them? Puzzle pieces. Guess what you have to do with them? Place them in a heavy ass cart and drag it several yards away then complete the puzzle. Classic. Naviti ends up winning. This season, immunity winners will get to send someone to Ghost Island to stay overnight, essentially saving them from their tribe’s impending tribal council. They choose Jacob who breathes a sigh of relief.
Ghost Island is SO FUCKING COOL! Multiple idols and relics of Survivor past are littered everywhere at the meager camp site. Jacob ends up receiving the Legacy Advantage that Sierra failed to use correctly from Survivor Game Changers. The theme this season is amazing. I love these flashbacks. Jacob gives the advantage to Morgan from Naviti.
Back at Mololo, Gonzales lies to everyone about how good at puzzles she was. It was actually Donathan’s idea how to go about the challenge, but she told him to shut up in the heat of the moment. Gonzales ends up targeting Donathan while Stephenie with the crazy colored pants seeks this opportunity to gain an ally by trying to save him. Her wild hair in confessionals is distracting. All of the girls minus Gonzales strategize on who to boot. Why is Gonzales not there? Michael says they should keep Gonzales for her strength.
At tribal council, they debate over keeping tribal strength or getting rid of threats. Right before the votes are called on, Gonzales gets out of her seat and starts whispering in everyone’s ears to make sure they are voting for Donathan. The DRAMA! It’s only day 3. Really girl? She ends up being blindsided unanimously.
Second Hour TLDW
Domenik finds an idol simply from searching on the 3rd night. He says: “I can’t believe I found an idol in the dark!” and the viewers at home think the same. Whose job is it to hide idols? Morgan then finds out that she’s received the Legacy Advantage from Jacob. She’s elated. Her enthusiasm for the game is so infectious. She’s so cute! She admits that she’ll need a stapler to keep her big mouth from spilling the beans on her advantage. I want to FedEx her a stapler right now, because I know she obviously won’t keep it a secret.
Jacob decides to double down on his over-playing this season by creating a fake idol. He’s a self-proclaimed expert at deceiving his tribemates and decides he’s going to lie to them as soon as he gets back to camp. He starts off his charade with “You gotta believe me here.” When he tells the tribe, Brendan asks for the accompanying note to his idol to which Jacob says he forgot it at Ghost Island. Baby, Brendan wanted RECEIPTS!!! Jacob thinks everyone believes him while Brendan rallies the tribe to ensure that they will target him at the next tribal because duh.
Speaking of over-playing, Chris and Domenik are having a man-to-man conversation to smooth things over. Chris asks Domenik if he has the idol point blank. Please go watch this scene again, because that question just about breaks Domenik’s entire face. He of course lies. But wait, 5 minutes later Domenik decides to show him a FAKE idol along with his REAL idol’s note. Does this make sense to you? Me neither. Chris doesn’t trust that Domenik’s intentions are pure and continues his vow to get rid of him. I hate that Domenik is making me favor Chris in this rivalry.
I think Survivor has just quit trying to make interesting and unique immunity challenges for the first few episodes. The survivors have to swim a short distance then dive deep into the water to retrieve locked-up buoys which they have to shoot into a basket. Simple enough? Yes, except James ends up costing Mololo a lot of time, because he can’t dive deep enough for the buoys. Donathan doesn’t even attempt trying to dive until his tribe literally has to beg him. Naviti has over half their buoys in at this point. Donanthan finally builds up enough confidence to dive. He succeeds! The emotional triumph is short-live as Naviti wins immediately after and sends Donathan to Ghost Island.
At Ghost Island, Donathan lets us know how much he’s ready to prove to the world and himself by playing this game. Strangely enough, there is no advantage or game for Donathan to play. This is weird. What determines who gets advantages on Ghost Island? Heaven forbid! We don’t need Big Brother levels of production intervention here. Don’t touch my Survivor!
Back at Mololo, the scrambling begins. James is dealing with the loss really hard. He mentions his Korean upbringing and how he doesn’t handle failure easily. It’s really hard to see him beat himself up like this. I know Asian communities can have an extremely high expectation of success from their children. Stephenie sees this vote as yet another opportunity to manipulate an outsider. She meets with Jacob and easily gets him to spill information regarding his true advantage. This is the lady with the crazy hair and the rainbow colored tights is good. Really good.
We see the formation of groups before Tribal Council. We have the pretty clique of Brendan/Michael/Libby. We have floaters (better grab a life vest) in Stephenie/Jenna and then the rest are on the outside. Michael is the target of the bottom feeders, while the majority seeks to split votes between Jacob and James.
We get to Tribal Council, and Brendan’s instincts are telling him that Stephenie and Jenna are double crossing him. James says that he hates himself for losing the challenge. Jacob taunts how strong his relationships are with others, and that he’s been focusing on that despite being a neurotic person. Brendan says that the days of the strong being kept early on are over. He’s not wrong about that, but the vote ends up in his favor, because Jacob receives the majority of votes with James receiving 2 and Michael getting 1.
CHO’S TOP TAKEAWAYS
Ask the right questions!
In this episode, we saw two great instances of Survivors asking the right questions. The first with Brendan asking Jacob where his immunity idol note was to accompany his idol. Of course, Jacob couldn’t provide a note, but gave the excuse that he forgot it on Ghost Island. That was enough information to confirm that Jacob was not to be trusted. Brendan has proven to be very perceptive. Additionally, Chris asked Domenik point blank if he had the idol. Because this is such an aggressive question to ask, it caught Domenik off guard which led him to making a stupid mistake of returning to Chris with a fake idol. In Survivor, you usually see people just nodding and listening, but sometimes it’s important to ask the right question.
Stephanie’s Eagerness To Play
Stephanie is definitely playing an opportunistic game. In both Tribal Councils, she flirted with the idea of aggressively saving a player that was disenfranchised. In the first case, she saved Donathan from Gonzales’ sights. In the second instance, she aligned herself with Jacob just enough to gain all the information she could before dispatching of him. What a scammer. She’s definitely a power player that I enjoy watching as of right now.
Revisiting The Past
I can’t be the only one that is instantly in love with all the flashbacks that we’re getting to past season contestants and the horrible mistakes they made! The way they have designed ghost Island is pretty stellar. I tend to love when they isolate players on islands. Think of Exile and Redemption Islands of past. So far how does this one compare? What are your thoughts on the theme this season and how they’re incorporating them?
Donathan From The Great State of Kentucky
I am loving Donathan’s character so far. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say he’s a fish out of water, but I’m definitely rooting for him to have as many personal victories as possible while he’s on the show. From meeting people of different walks to trying things he never thought he would, I think he has the potential to dramatically change his level of confidence. That being said, if the premiere is any indicator of what’s to come, he won’t have an easy time.
Jeff’s Dermatologist Is Amazing
Can someone refer me to Jeff Probst’ dermatologist? He’s look great this season. He looks great every season. It’s been 18 years. I forget how old he is, but he gets good work done obviously, and I’m watching the show in HD!
There’s so much more we can talk about, but that’s it for me y’all! Do check out my twitter for my LIVE-reactions every Wednesday in addition to my recaps here on the site. What did you think about the premiere? Were you happy with Gonzales and Jacob being voted off? Did I leave out any particular moments that you want to highlight? If so, do comment below so that we can discuss it all!