'Survivor Ghost Island' Episode 13: Going Rogue (RECAP)
[Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers from Episode 13 of Survivor: Ghost Island.]
One castaway almost gets himself voted out after his frustrations cause him to go rogue, but Survivor: Ghost Island's predictability ultimately saves him from a painful torch snuffing.
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.
SNUFFED: Donathan Blows Things Up
I want to preface this by saying I completely understand Donathan's frustration. The exasperation he displayed in tonight's episode regarding Domenick and Wendell's death grip on the game echoes the feelings of many viewers watching at home. And if us armchair castaways find it aggravating to watch, imagine how much it must suck to be playing Survivor and being powerless to stop the obvious threat. In that sense, I get why Donathan broke rank and started speaking his mind.
That said, it doesn't excuse Donathan's actions and the fact he almost tanked his game. The Kentucky native was right that sticking in the middle wasn't going to get him to the end and now was the time to make a move against the dominant duo of Domenick and Wendell. The Final 7 is the prime opportunity to remove a huge threat before the numbers become too lopsided to do anything. But Survivor is a game that requires tact and stealthy maneuvering — once someone catches wind of your plans, you've basically put yourself in the firing line.
Donathan's approach started well. He did his best to convince long-term ally Laurel that now was the time to take a shot. He then privately reached out to Kellyn — essentially a lone wolf after her own blindside attempt blew up last week — and suggested working together to take out one of the strong guys. Kellyn was, of course, more than willing to go along with Donathan's idea. Donathan even told her, "You can't go blurt this to Wendell and Dom," recognizing the need for covertness.
Then he proceeded to ignore his own advice by intentionally stirring up trouble at camp and causing distrust. He goaded Wendell about how he wouldn't be able to beat Domenick at the end and should the two of them make it to Final Tribal Council, Donathan would vote for Dom. He told the power couple that he already sees himself on the jury. When Domenick asked if that meant he's given up on the plan of making it to the Final 3 with them, Donathan replied, "I just don't know where I stand right now."
This roguish behavior set off alarm bells for both Domenick and Wendell, who were surprised Donathan had gone from the "sweet kid" to "I'm gonna slit your throat with a credit card" in a matter of what to them felt like minutes. "I smell a big move in the air," Domenick said, sensing that Donathan was on the turn. Those feelings were further amped up when Donathan interrogated the pair about a note Domenick had transferred to Wendell's bag. Again, I get Donathan's annoyance, but at this point, he was playing right into their hands.
Had Donathan chilled and kept his plotting behind the scenes then perhaps he could have pulled something off. At the very least he wouldn't have received votes at Tribal Council and ended up in a tied-voted predicament. Even if Laurel was stonewalling him on the move, he might have been able to work out an arrangement with Kellyn, Angela, and Sebastian. But acting out like he did tipped off Domenick and Wendell and made it even harder to penetrate that seemingly unbreakable alliance.
FIRE: Goodwill Reward
Taking a break from the strategy for a second, it was a pleasant surprise to the see the return of the goodwill reward. The rewards have become pretty monotonous in recent seasons. There are only so many times you can listen to Jeff Probst shamelessly plug Outback Steakhouse or watch players excitedly down mouthfuls of coleslaw. I miss the rewards that incorporate the culture and local community of the country which is hosting Survivor.
Seeing Domenick, Wendell, and Laurel get to act as goodwill ambassadors for Survivor and deliver supplies to a local Fijian school was a welcome change of pace. It wasn't quite up there with Ethan and Lex bartering with goats in an African village or Shane bumming a smoke off a Panamanian teenager, but it was still fun to see the pure glee on Domenick's face as he ran around with kids hanging off his back. Also, Laurel putting that poor woman on the spot when she asked her who she thought would win was awkwardly amusing.
SNUFFED: Ghost Island Recycling
Ghost Island is certainly doing its part for the environment, as we're at the stage where it's no longer just advantages from past seasons being reused, but ones that we've already seen on this very season! Seriously, what was up with that? Sebastian won the game of luck and received the Steal A Vote from Survivor: Game Changers, the same thing that Kellyn won earlier in the season and misplayed. And the advantage hadn't even gained a new power — it was still the Extra Vote.
Are you telling me the producers couldn't find any other past season artifacts to use? There are even other Extra Vote/Vote Steal advantages if they were so insistent on using that particular relic. What about Stephen Fishbach's from Survivor: Cambodia? Or Dan Foley's from Worlds Apart? Actually, forget the latter, that would mean we'd have to suffer through a Dan Foley flashback and nobody wants to see that.
Honestly, though, Ghost Island has become a real bust of a twist.
FIRE: Probst Makes The Right Call
There was a bit of tension after the Immunity Challenge regarding who officially won between Laurel and Wendell. Probst called the victory for Laurel, and then Wendell calmly protested that he'd actually finished first; he just didn't call out. "Well, you gotta call it," Probst explained. “Wendell, you understand, right? Because a puzzle’s not done until you tell me.”
Here's how I saw it, Wendell HAD completed his slide puzzle first, but it seemed as if he was still double-checking it. Meanwhile, Laurel finished hers and yelled for Probst. And even if Wendell was done, just waiting and hoping for Probst to notice and come over is somewhat shortsighted. Though, as the players themselves discussed at Tribal, the game has taken a physical and mental toll on them all, so I'll forgive the lapse of judgment here. Luckily, Wendell is a cool and collected kind of fellow, so he didn't kick up a fuss and instead showed his respect to Laurel. And, looking back, it could have been this moment that saved his skin at tonight's vote.
SNUFFED: Laurel Stays Put
Last week, I gave Laurel the benefit of the doubt. I understood her dilemma and why she was cautious about flipping on Domenick and Wendell. Choosing to abandon trusted allies to throw in her lot with Kellyn, Angela and Chelsea was a risk. As Laurel herself pointed out, while she had a better chance of beating those players in the end, trusting them to get her there was another thing entirely. It made sense, but it also showed us where Laurel's head is at in this game. She is playing to get to the end, not to win.
If there was ever a time to make a move then tonight was that time. Laurel had immunity, so there was no way a potential idol play could blow back on her. Also, with Chelsea out of the picture, it should have made it much more appealing to jump over to Kellyn and Angela. Rather than Laurel and Donathan putting themselves in a 3-vs-2 situation, which would have been the case had they jumped ship last week, they'd now be 2-vs-2 with a much better shot at winning immunity. That's clearly the path Donathan wanted to take, but still, Laurel wouldn't budge.
During the reward, she promised Domenick and Wendell that she was with them to the Final 3, even though in confessional she said she was willing to cut their throats. But Laurel has shown time and time again that she doesn't have that cutthroat style of gameplay in her — she didn't want to blindside Wendell because she'd feel bad taking him out after the Immunity Challenge mishap. It's a testament to the strength of Domenick's and Wendell's social games that they've got Laurel this hooked.
There are three more Tribals before the Final 3 and I don't see a way to get rid of Domenick and Wendell anymore. At least not the both of them. They both have idols which are good until the Final 5 Tribal and then there is the controversial fire-making Final 4 twist which was introduced last season and will still be in effect this go around. Laurel is aware of all of this (the players were told pre-season about the fire-making twist) and so should have known this was the Tribal to strike. Her inaction tells me that she is happy to settle for third place. It reminds me of Tasha in Survivor: Cambodia who refused to turn on her Final 3 pact with Jeremy and Spencer despite her chances of beating them being increasingly low (she didn't receive a single vote nor did Spencer to be fair). Unless Laurel has a major trick left up her sleeve, I see a similar fate heading her way next week.
- Not much to say about Kellyn's exit. It was expected, if not this vote then the next. She was in a dominant position pre-merge where she managed to keep her Naviti soldiers in line. Unfortunately, once the merge hit, it took her too long to snap of that Naviti-strong mindset and by the time she changed her path it was too late.
- I rarely talk about the challenges themselves as it's not a part of the show that particularly interests me, but this week's spool-rolling Reward Challenge was neat.
- "I like that they called me a pirate" – Sebastian quote of the week.
- Next week is the season finale and it appears to be a two horse race between Domenick and Wendell. I can't see anyone else winning at this point. We've come this far that the ideal conclusion is both men sitting at Final Tribal Council and giving us a tightly contested final vote - something which we haven't seen for many seasons.
Let us know your thoughts on the latest episode in the comments below. Did Donathan cost himself the game? Will Laurel ever make a move against Domenick or Wendell? Who do you think will win in next week's two-hour season finale?
Survivor: Ghost Island, Wednesdays, 8/7c, CBS