'Survivor Ghost Island' Episode 9: Food For Thought (RECAP)

Martin Holmes
Spoiler Alert

Photo: CBS

[Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers from Episode 9 of Survivor: Ghost Island.]

A stomach-churning episode of Survivor gives the remaining castaways plenty to chew on, both figuratively and literally, as another player is sent to the jury.

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!

FIRE: Angela the Sea Slug Slugger

Yes, this episode contained lots of strategizing and the first successful idol play of the season, but the image imprinted in all of our minds right now is Angela regurgitating a sea slug. Imagine the Alien chestburster scene but via the mouth instead of the sternum. That's right; it was the return of a Survivor classic, the gross food eating challenge. It's always great to see Survivor paying homage to its very first season - even if this particular challenge does make me feel queasy. I'm such a picky eater that even eating rice would be a struggle, let alone fish eyes and beetle larvae. I would definitely be taking the Wendell immediate tap-out approach.

Angela, however, took to the challenge with the gusto of a professional hot dog eating competitor. The army veteran has been a somewhat subdued presence throughout the season so far, but she came to life here as she chowed down on a selection of Survivor delicacies, absolutely demolishing the competition. Clearly the old 'dance while you eat' technique is the winning formula here — if only Gervase knew that some 18 years ago.

SNUFFED: Angela the Pot Stirrer

Less convincing were Angela's actions back at camp, where she decided to turn down Michael's offer to the join the old Malolos and instead tarnished his name to anyone within earshot. When Michael told her that she couldn't trust Naviti because they left her out of the Chris vote, he was speaking the truth, even if he had ulterior motives for telling her. The fact is, Michael needed Angela, and that gave Angela power, which she could have used to make herself a vital component within the Malolo alliance. But she chose to run back to her shady Naviti tribemates and confess everything that Michael told her, in the hopes of painting a target on his back.

Angela has always had this misguided loyalty to her original Navitis despite being frequently left outside of the vote. And it's not as if Angela doesn't recognize that she is on the outskirts of the alliance - it's one of the reasons she gave for her lack of enthusiasm. She talked about wanting to step up and gain some power, which she could have done by joining an alliance with fewer members and more room to maneuver to the top. Instead, she spent her energy on riling up Naviti against Michael, who was already an obvious target for that group regardless. And while the majority of votes went towards Michael at Tribal Council, I'm not sure what Angela gained in the long run, other than the distrust of Michael, who saved himself with an idol.

FIRE: This is not an F**king Stick

Finally, a curse has been reversed. The infamous f**ing stick has been absolved of all former misdeeds — somewhere Jason Siska is weeping tears of joy. Michael became the first person this season to correctly play an advantage, though he made a valiant effort back in the early Malolo days with the cursed James Clement relic. Here though, he utilized the power successfully, recognizing that his name was on the chopping block, he played the idol on himself and blocked the majority of votes. It meant losing a Malolo ally, Libby, in the process, but honestly, how much help was she to Michael in reality?

Michael's plan heading into Tribal Council was to take advantage of the Naviti alliance's vote-split (they were splitting the votes between Michael and Libby) and have all five former Malolos vote for Wendell. It was an appetizing suggestion, especially as Wendell continues to become more dangerous a player by the day. The problem with the proposal was that Donathan and Laurel are part of a Final Four pact with Wendell and Domenick. Those cross-tribal relationships muddied the waters, though Laurel and Donathan didn't take the decision lightly, they hashed it out and weighed up their options. Donathan felt like voting with Malolo could be beneficial to them in the future, while Laurel was unsure whether this was the right time to make a move. Ultimately, they stuck with the majority, forcing Michael to save himself.

SNUFFED: Wendell's Worries

It's always difficult to grasp the full dynamics of a tribe in a condensed 42-minute episode, but I believe Wendell was in more danger than he realized at this particular vote. I'm not sure he knew just how much Donathan and Laurel were considering voting him out. Wendell is a strong player, both physically and socially, but he's also a bit of a worrier, and that led to him overplaying his hand in this episode. He picked up on some non-verbal cues which caused him to believe Laurel was having doubts about their alliance, so in order to secure her loyalty, he told her that Domenick and himself have idols.

Photo: CBS

While Laurel gave her commitment to the alliance to Wendell's face, in confessional, she shared her reservations. The knowledge of Wendell having this idol — and only just telling her about it — didn't make her feel more comfortable, it made her question her trust for the charismatic furniture maker. If they were supposedly ride-or-die allies to the end, then why was she left in the dark about the idol until now? And coming so soon after finding out about Domenick's Legacy Advantage at the previous Tribal certainly didn't help matters. Furthermore, knowing that Wendell and Domenick are both loaded up with advantages makes them way too powerful.

Laurel didn't make a move against her allies this time, which was probably the right move, as her relationships with everyone else besides Donathan are untested. She will need to ride the wave with Wendell and Domenick a little longer until a few of the old purple buff-wearers start to disappear. But it seems inevitable that Laurel will eventually take a shot at Wendell — she won't be able to get the nagging thought of Wendell's idol out of her head, and that's his fault for his paranoid oversharing. The longer she leaves him in the game the more powerful he becomes and Laurel is smart enough to recognize that, one would hope.

Extra Flames

- We say goodbye to Libby, a player who never quite fulfilled the promise of her hype. The other castaways spoke about her as if she was this dangerous strategic mastermind, but we never really saw that for ourselves, and even Libby herself questioned why the others kept voting for her.

- Wendell and Laurel absolutely smashed that slingshot reward challenge. Those tacos were well-deserved!

- Jenna's trip to Ghost Island had to be the most underwhelming of the season so far. She didn't receive a game to play nor a tear-filled confessional, which is usually the Ghost Island consolation prize when there is no advantage on offer.

- Domenick wisely decided to take a step back this week after making a big song and dance during the Chris vote. Definitely smart gameplay, though Tribal Council is far less boisterous.

- "Sebastian high every time." Even Jeff Probst can see that Sebastian looks constantly stoned out of his mind.

Before I go, here is the Survivor Brain Buster Trivia question of the week: In Survivor: Marquesas, Boston Rob lost the food eating challenge for his tribe, but what was the name of the delicacy he unable to keep down?

Post your answers in the comments below, and let us know your thoughts on the latest episode. Did you enjoy the return of the gross food challenge? Are you going to have nightmares about sea slugs? Did Laurel and Donathan make the right choice to stick with Wendell and Domenick?

Survivor: Ghost Island, Wednesdays, 8/7c, CBS

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