[Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers from Episode 3 of Survivor: Ghost Island.]
An early tribe swap put the old Malolo tribe members in jeopardy, but some nifty maneuvering led to a shocking blindside as Ghost Island claimed its third victim.
As always in Survivor, fire represents your life, and so it does here in our recaps. Each week we'll be breaking down the episodes into moments and moves worthy of fire, and moments/moves that should be snuffed out. Also, make sure to read to the end of the recap for a special Survivor Brain Buster Trivia question!
Get to know the 20 members of the Malolo and Naviti tribes.
FIRE: A Welcome Tribe Swap
A season of Survivor without a tribe swap would be like Jeff Probst with no blue shirt. It just wouldn't feel right. Unless your dream is to see Probst on TV shirtless, which if so, there is an old episode of Two And Half Men that is right up your street. However, much like the overindulgence of hidden immunity idols and secret advantages, tribe swaps are popping up earlier and more often season after season. The constant switching up means we sometimes miss out on character development. It's hard enough to keep track of all the alliances and strategies as it is, but even more so when you don't know the players involved. Apparently, there is somebody called Chelsea on this season.
That said, a tribe swap can also provide a quick escape from predictability. After all, that's the reason the twist was originally introduced way back in Survivor: Africa, and that's the purpose it served here. Let's face it; the Malolo tribe was significantly weaker than the Naviti tribe and looked to be on a path to extinction. It becomes incredibly dull watching the same tribe lose again and again. The old switcheroo meant a reprieve for the orange tribe and also gave an opportunity to shift the dynamics of the game, even if the old Malolos ended up outnumbered on their new tribes.
The new tribes are as follows:
Naviti: Donathan, Libby, James, Laurel, Domenick, Angela, Chris, Morgan, and Wendell
Malolo: Stephanie, Jenna, Brendan, Michael, Kellyn, Bradley, Desiree, Sebastian, and this girl called Chelsea
Things looked peachy for the old Navitis, having a 5-4 advantage on both tribes. But if this episode taught us anything, it's that a false sense of security can have deadly consequences.
SNUFFED: Complainers Get Nothing
The former Naviti members who wound up at the Malolo camp were not happy with their humble new abode. They went from the penthouse to the outhouse, and I'm not talking about the 'Casa de Charmin' from Survivor: Panama, though I do hope that is one of the relics on Ghost Island. Kellyn compared her new dwellings to a friend's ugly baby, the kind you have to pretend is adorable. I hope for her sake she was simply recalling that Seinfeld episode and not talking from real life experience, otherwise all future godmother duties revoked.
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Bradley was the biggest moaner, unable to even enjoy the beauty of the Fijian sun rising over the ocean. He just wanted to be back at camp Naviti with its built-in living room and collection of plush pillows. All the whining rubbed the old Malolos the wrong way, especially Stephanie and Brendan, who remarked that they are, after all, on Survivor—it's not meant to be easy! But that just speaks to the power of numbers. Naviti might not have felt comfortable in their shelter, but they felt comfortable enough to air their grievances in public with no fear of repercussion. They displayed a cockiness that comes with having the majority.
However, while the Navitis sat around moaning, the former Malolos took the opportunity to go idol searching. Stephanie and Jenna took off one way, while Brendan and Michael paired off on their own expedition. Michael eventually stumbled upon one of the idols that James Clement was voted out with in his possession in Survivor: China. I say "stumbled upon," it's hard to miss an idol that is the size of a dinner plate. The 18-year-old real estate agent reminisced (can you reminisce at 18?) about being 8 years old at home watching James get blindsided with two idols in his bag. Having those two idols gave James a false sense of security, Michael recalled, but he will aim to reverse the curse.
SNUFFED: Talking Down
Another person rubbing people the wrong way this episode was Chris on the new Naviti tribe. Despite having the numbers, the male model was still gung-ho about taking out Domenick at the first opportunity. He chose to reveal this plan to Angela, the military veteran who had previously shed a tear at the tribe swap over the thought of her new "family" breaking up. For some reason, Chris thought this would be the right person to approach with the idea of taking out Domenick, one of their family. Angela didn't like the way Chris was talking "at" her, not with her, and didn't seem particularly enthused with the whole situation.
Don't get me wrong, Chris is right to distrust Domenick, but he has a tendency to push his agenda too forcefully, and it ends up distancing people. Again, it likely stems from a false sense of security, inspired by his early status as tribe leader. Libby was similarly annoyed when Chris spoke with the former Malolos about his Operation Remove Domenick strategy. Compare Chris's approach to that of Morgan, who quickly won Libby over with a wide smile and an easygoing charm. It felt like a back-and-forth conversation between two friends, not a dictator laying out their demands to a petrified servant. Not that things turned out particularly well for Morgan.
FIRE: An Emotional Ghost Island
Chris' domineering presence almost backfired in spectacular fashion this episode, for himself and Angela, who despite not agreeing with his plan, was perceived as his "right-hand man." Luckily for him, he was saved when Naviti lost the Immunity Challenge, and he was forced to go to Ghost Island, decided by a random rock draw when Malolo couldn't come to a consensus on who to send. Even though Chris saw his trip to Ghost Island as a waste—especially with no advantage on offer—it was actually a blessing in disguise. Not only did it free him from a possible execution, but it also gave him a chance to reflect and "recenter" himself. He had an emotional outpouring as he talked about his mother's battle with MS and how her fight and determination give him strength. It showed a different side of the otherwise cocky Chris—and another side of Ghost Island outside of the spooky relics and funky twists.
FIRE: A Malolo Takeover
With Chris spending the night on Ghost Island, resting his "big head on a big bed" in the words of Wendell, it meant the Naviti tribe was split down the middle, four and four. Angela told Wendell that she didn't want to go along with Chris's plan to vote out Domenick and would prefer to keep old Naviti strong, even if it meant forcing a tie and going to rocks. Wendell wasn't entirely buying Angela's story, and I'm sure the prospect of a rock draw didn't help matters. Here's where the trouble of guilty by association comes into play, because she even talked strategy with Chris, Angela was perceived as a potential enemy and therefore a viable boot option. Wendell, Domenick, and Morgan felt confident they could bring the old Malolo members aboard to vote out Angela.
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Then things got a little complicated. Domenick decided to pull another fake idol stunt, showing the Malolos the "Fugazi" idol he made last week, wrapped in a piece of Tree Mail parchment, and admitted that he did it to hoodwink Chris. He's like an annoying magician (is that an oxymoron?) that forces you to watch his terrible tricks. Domenick hoped that it would cement trust, and even went as far as swearing on his kids that he's on their side. But his move only served to make the old Malolos suspicious—as became a trend throughout this episode, the ex-Naviti members couldn't stop themselves from rubbing people the wrong way.
James sensed a Russell Hantz stench emanating from Domenick, and nobody wants that. He was worried about the fake idol being a cheap ploy to throw them off the scent of a real idol. James may not be the best swimmer, but his game reads are bang on the money! Rather than following orders and taking out Angela, James spotted an opening to make a big move. If Domenick and Wendell were telling the truth about voting for Angela, then that meant whoever the four Malolos voted for would automatically go home, and so why not take a shot at Morgan or Wendell?
I will admit I was skeptical about this move at first, much like Libby, who was concerned about sending home Morgan, a player with whom she'd just started building a friendship. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense, at least for the Malolos as a unit. Not only did they remove a Naviti number, but they exposed Domenick and Wendell in the process, who both voted for Angela at Tribal Council. Logic would dictate that that severs the relationship between those three former Navitis and will push Angela over to the Malolos. On top of that, Chris will be returning from Ghost Island, and even though his enemy Domenick is still standing, I'm sure he will be pleased to see that the Malolo four voted as a unit and spared Angela. It was a sneaky move that kept them safe, gave them the numbers, and expertly exploited the cracks on Naviti.
As for Morgan, she probably deserved better. Her kind-natured approach seemed like it would breed success. Especially the way she approached Libby and solidified that bond. She didn't particularly do anything wrong, other than perhaps feel too secure in her allies; "Don't trust the cute blonde," she warned as she left Tribal Council, referring to the lying Libby. Morgan paid the price for the mistakes of others. Or perhaps that damn Legacy Advantage truly is cursed, which isn't a good sign for Domenick, the person she willed it to upon her exit. The lesson learned here is to never get too comfortable in the game of Survivor.
Do you agree with the results?
Before I go, here is the Survivor Brain Buster Trivia question of the week. What season featured the latest tribe swap in Survivor history? And, for a bonus, what number day did the swap happen?
Post your answers in the comments below, and let me know your thoughts on the latest episode. Did Morgan deserve to go this early? Are Chris and Domenick coming on too strong? Do you think the Malolo move will give them control of the game?
Survivor: Ghost Island, Wednesdays, 8/7c, CBS