Archive | May, 2018

“My pockets are loaded.” Survivor: Ghost Island season finale recap

23 May

We begin in a studio in Los Angeles seeing the players in their civilian clothes. Personally I don’t like this because it breaks the mood, especially when they show us the people who are still in the game.

Domenick and Wendell discuss whom to target, and it looks like it’s Sebastian. Why not Angela, given that several women from the purple tribe are on the jury? Well, Wendell says Sebastian has played a clean, fair game and everyone loves him.

We see an aerial view of a very cool maze in the form of a skull. Jeff Probst tells us it’s the biggest maze ever on Survivor. Wendell wins the immunity and also a steak reward. He gets to pick two people to join him and chooses Sebastian (repaying a prior reward) and Angela who hasn’t been on many rewards. To me he is already pandering to potential jurors. Laurel rolls her eyes, and she hates the idea of her competition in future challenges getting to fuel up with some food. She tells us “the gloves are off” as far as dealing with Wendell and Domenick … the problem is, she says that every episode!

Wendell is immune, so Donathan, Angela, and Sebastian decided to vote Domenick. The beauty of it is, Sebastian has an extra vote so they don’t even need Laurel to join in to make it work. Of course, they need to make sure Domenick doesn’t play his idol, and they correctly assume he only has one.

So this scheme has a chance if Domenick gets lulled into a false sense of security. It’s really the only slim chance for Sebastian, Donathan, or Angela to win the game. Well unfortunately, the moment Domenick gets Angela alone, she immediately says “I can tell you something, and I probably shouldn’t since it’s gonna f*** up my game …” and immediately reveals the entire plan. Domenick tells us, thank goodness Angela has “diarrhea of the mouth.” This is the woman who did psychological warfare for the army? Just absolutely awful.

At least they can still force Domenick to play his idol even though he knows about the plan. So this is actually kind of exciting.

At tribal council, Donathan tries to act like he’s definitely going home but Domenick dismisses that as so much acting. Domenick announces “My pockets are loaded … I got gear” and whips out two idols (apparently anyway). And he hands the fake one to Jeff Probst, pretending it’s real, whereupon …. Probst says nothing! What?

The votes are cast, and Probst asks if anyone wants to play an idol. Then Domenick reads the rest of the instructions which he didn’t read before, revealing that it’s fake, and Probst then confirms “any votes cast for Domenick will count.”

There is only one vote for Domenick (by Donathan), one for Donathan (by Sebastian), and the other four are for Sebastian.

So if Donathan, Sebastian, and Angela had stuck to their plan Domenick would have been voted out 4-3. But you can see why they didn’t, since Probst essentially went along with Domenick’s lie, instead of exposing it as a player could reasonably expect him to! Also puzzling: Sebastian said earlier that this was the last round his extra vote could be used, yet he didn’t use it. In this case two votes on Donathan wouldn’t have ended up making a difference, but what did Sebastian have to lose?

Now we come to what are surely the lowest stakes in a final five challenge ever. For all intents and purposes, there is nothing at stake: Domenick and Wendell can both play idols this round, the last round in which they can do so. So they’re locks for the final four and nobody else is any threat to win the game, so who cares who wins the challenge? The challenge ends with a pyramid puzzle that is only four pieces to put together, and Wendell wins. Boring!

Since Wendell has the immunity necklace, he can give the idol to someone else to curry favor with the jury in some way. And he does end up giving it to Laurel. Meanwhile, Domenick plays his idol on himself as expected, and Donathan is voted out.

On Day 38 we’re back to the beach that has been used over and over (and for that matter last season’s final challenge was here too). The players must balance on a wobbly beam while using a long pole to stack balls. Probst tells them about the firemaking challenge to make the final three, and the players all just nod, so it’s obviously something they were briefed about before. Wendell looks like he’s about to win but his stack tips over, and Domenick wins.

Everyone is sent to Ghost Island, the twist I keep forgetting even exists. The obvious choice would seem to be to take Angela to the finals and let athletic Laurel battle Wendell in the fire challenge. But then we find out Laurel is terrible at making fire.

Domenick has to choose an urn from a prior season to use as the voting urn, and while contemplating that he comes up with a plan: he can give up his immunity and participate himself in the firemaking challenge against Wendell. This is without a doubt the stupidest idea I have ever heard. He can’t be serious, can he?

Finally Domenick does choose Angela to make fire against Wendell. Wendell says at Tribal Council that he’s confident as long as he sits at the seat with the purple flag, his only worry is if he’s at the seat with the orange flag. Probst says by random draw, Wendell will be at the orange flag. But then Angela simply offers to switch with him! To say this has not been a strong episode for Angela is an understatement.

Nor do I seriously ever think Angela has a chance to win this challenge, and she comes nowhere close to doing so. Personally I have never found these fire challenges to be as dramatic as the producers seem to think they are.

The final tribal council doesn’t even start until the third hour which is supposed to be the reunion show. One thing we find out is that some jurors were outraged at Domenick’s fake idol move. Why are they mad at him, they should be mad at Probst!

Overall tribal council seems a pretty close battle between the top two, and the votes we are shown confirm that. Michael votes Domenick, as does Chris. Sebastian votes Wendell, as does Kellyn.

Jeff Probst gets the voting urn, and this is the moment where he always says everyone has to wait to find out the results. Instead, he simply announces “I’ll read the votes,” as the players’ jaws drop.

After eight votes are read it’s tied 4-4 between Domenick and Wendell, and they each get one more vote making it 5-5. For the first time ever, we have a tie. And the tiebreaker is that Laurel, the third finalist, becomes a jury member and has to cast the deciding vote. The moment that is announced, you can tell by Domenick’s expression that he knows he’s screwed, and Wendell’s expression is the opposite.

Probst does save that last vote for the LA reunion, and it is soon confirmed that Wendell is the winner.

Looks like the days of Probst checking in with many of the show’s players on the reunion show are over (he used to check in on every single one). Michael is the only player he’s particularly interested in this time, though a couple others are heard from briefly.

We find out that next season will be called David vs. Goliath, and Kevin Hart shows up to kill the last 10 minutes or so by plugging his new show.

I’ll be back in a little while with final thoughts on the season.



“Stay with the hammock plan.” Survivor: Ghost Island May 16 2018 recap

16 May

Laurel tells us at the start of the episode that she can’t beat Domenick and Wendell at the end, so she needs to make a move. And Donathan agrees about the making-a-move part.

The reward challenge is very cool, and though it shares some principles with previous challenges ,I don’t think it has ever been run in this form. Large spools need to be rolled down a sliding course, with more spools being added over time, and when a spool reaches the end of the course it must be carried up a flight of stairs back to the top. It is almost like one of the Labors of Hercules, very grueling. Which is why I have no idea why anyone is trying to win it! To explain: the reward is bringing local schoolkids school supplies, sporting goods, and the like. While I think it’s absolutely wonderful that Survivor is doing this, the kids are getting their gifts regardless, so why expend incredible amounts of energy just to be the one in the Santa Claus role? Well, Dom and Wendell don’t see it that way. They try their best and win, picking Laurel to join them and Sebastian to go to Ghost Island.

When Sebastian arrives, he gets to play a game. He has to  risk his vote at the next Tribal Council, but the odds have improved to 3 out of 4. He does win the game and wins an advantage, namely … the extra vote Kellyn just used a couple of episodes ago! And she didn’t use it successfully, though I wouldn’t classify her decision as a terrible one.

Meanwhile, Laurel enjoys the reward with Domenick and Wendell but insists to us that she wants to “cut their throats.”

Meanwhile, Donathan decides to do some troublemaking. He tells Wendell that if Wendell and Domenick are in the finals, he (Donathan) is voting for Domenick. Wendell points out that this would be motivation for Domenick to put Donathan on the jury. Domenick is incredulous at the whole conversation and notes that Donathan is “goin’ kamikaze on us.”

The immunity challenge is nothing new: place some stairs to climb a tower, then solve a slide puzzle. Lots of players get to the puzzle at the end around the same time, though Probst avers “Angela is out of it.” But Probst tells us how Wendell is in the zone and on a roll, and we see Wendell solve the puzzle and raise his arms in an “I’m awesome” type movement. But a second later Laurel tells Probst she has it, and Probst races over to declare Laurel the winner! Wendell points out he was done first, but Probst says that calling him over to say one is finished is part of the rules of the game (I don’t believe this has ever been stated on the show before). Probst, sensing potential drama, asks Wendell if he wants to protest this, but Wendell demurs. Errr, are you sure that’s a good idea, Wendell?

But now Laurel tells us it would be tough for her to vote Wendell out at this juncture, that just wouldn’t be sporting. It looks like everyone wants to vote Kellyn out, but there are still 21 minutes left in the show. And we soon hear Donathan say “If y’all are actually going to blindside me tonight, just let me know,” which of course by the very definition of a blindside is impossible.

Wendell tells us he has a fake idol ready to go, but to make it believable he needs the note that went with one of Domenick’s idols (by the way we hear nothing about Domenick’s own fake idol for now). Domenick rummages in his bag and gives Wendell the note. Donathan sees this and loudly inquires what’s going on. Then after a while Donathan announces he’s “going for broke,” goes to find Kellyn, and tells her people are voting for him. Which by the way seems the worst possible strategy since it would benefit Kellyn to encourage this! But Donathan is just determined to make a scene, Abi-Maria style. And now Sebastian says, why don’t we just vote Donathan out?

At tribal council, Donathan continues his antics, and the other players and the jury members alike can just shake their heads. Domenick calmly tells others, “Stay with the hammock plan.” The votes are read, and there’s one vote for Domenick, three for Donathan and three for Kellyn, time for a revote. Angela goes up to revote and seems to be agonizing over the decision, which can’t make Kellyn feel good! Soon the third Kellyn vote is read and she’s out of the game. As noted previously, I found Kellyn pretty annoying during the season, but she’s quite a good sport in her final remarks.

Then we see what the votes were, at least in the first round.

Kellyn votes: Domenick, Wendell, Laurel

Donathan votes: Angela, Kellyn, Sebastian

Domenick vote: …. Donathan!

So in other words, if instead of a vote for Domenick which no one joined him for Donathan would have just voted Kellyn, he could have avoided a tie. Ultimately the result was the same, but it just shows that Donathan has lost his mind.

With Kellyn out of the game we’re down to three contenders to win, though the only way I can see Laurel winning is if neither Domenick nor Wendell is sitting next to her at the end. And there is a zero percent chance that Donathan, Angela, and Sebastian will be the final three so I don’t need to allow for that possibility!

contenders: 1. Wendell, 2. Domenick, 3. Laurel

no chance: Donathan, Angela, Sebastian

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Chris (Angela), Libby (Laurel), Desiree (Angela), Jenna (Laurel), Michael (Wendell), Chelsea (Angela), Kellyn (Wendell)

“Things are shakin’ up.” Survivor: Ghost Island May 9, 2018 recap

11 May

An extra vote was played at the last tribal council, and unlike when this happened last season, this time the players noticed there was an extra vote played, and Kellyn admits she’s the one who played it.

We go right to the reward challenge after that, and find out this is the “loved ones” episode for the season. I was no huge fan of these before, and less so since last season when Jeff Probst decided he needs to start putting words in players’ mouths to make sure he elicits every last bit of emotion possible. For example, Laurel’s brother has scarcely said hello when Probst wants to know, “Is he the rock?”

Once we finally get to the challenge, Sebastian wins it, and he picks Domenick and then Wendell to join him on the reward. He gets to pick one more and chooses Donathan. Then Sebastian also has to decide who goes to Ghost Island. Probst reveals that whoever goes there is guaranteed to get an advantage, and Sebastian can choose to go himself, though anyone who does it cannot go to the reward feast. Sebastian says he doesn’t want to go and asks if any of the other guys want to. Domenick says he doesn’t but Wendell says he does.

It is tough to fathom how anybody would pass up a guaranteed advantage. I think you see why Sebastian is on my “no chance to win” list below. Although in Domenick’s case, his wife seems so fiery that she looks like she would bury a knife between her husband’s ribs if he didn’t take her to the reward!

Wendell gets his advantage, and it is the advantage Malcolm got in the final episode of Survivor: Philippines, namely a challenge do-over, and in fact the challenge is going to be the same one Malcolm participated in back then. You have to hold a stick with a little groove in it and balance the ball in that groove. Wendell even gets a stick and ball to practice with. We are reminded that the advantage didn’t help Malcolm as he still lost the challenge and then was voted out (though you’ll recall if he hadn’t been so honest with Denise, he wouldn’t have been ousted). And the show also mentioned Malcolm never reached the final four again, to the chagrin of his legion of fans including me!

At the reward feast, Domenick tells Donathan’s aunt that the two of them are solid to the end, but Donathan tells us he wants to make a big move. And unsurprisingly, the four women back at camp (Kellyn, Chelsea, Angela, and Laurel) are talking about pulling in Donathan and voting Domenick or Wendell out. They seem to take it for granted that Sebastian is voting with Domenick and Wendell, even though we have not been shown anything this season to indicate those guys are tight, other than Sebastian’s choices for the reward challenge a few minutes earlier.

At the reward challenge, the advantage doesn’t help Wendell any more than it helped Malcolm, and Domenick outlasts Chelsea to win.

When we return to the camp of the merged tribe (which we find out is called Lavita), Wendell tells Domenick he wants to target Chelsea. At first I’m surprised by that choice, but Chelsea, her lackluster personality notwithstanding, has won two challenges and almost won the one on this episode, whereas Kellyn was the first one out this time and Angela, while looking athletic, only seems dangerous if called to eat disgusting food.

Meanwhile, the girls, including Laurel, are talking about voting out Wendell, and Wendell says he’s not getting good vibes from Laurel. Laurel tells us she thinks she can beat the other women at the end, but can she trust them enough to take her to the end?

Tribal Council begins with Donathan announcing “Things are shakin’ up at Naviti now!” and Wendell is suddenly on high alert. Surely the women’s hearts sank when they heard this, as the idea was to lull Wendell into a false sense of security. Instead we get the Ghost Island equivalent to the infamous “stick to the plan.”

The votes are cast, and Jeff Probst asks for any idols. The camera lingers on a pensive Wendell … who decided to do nothing. Uh-oh. The votes are read and … Chelsea is voted out. Wow, Wendell had a great read on Laurel, or had ice water in his veins, or both.

contenders: 1. Wendell, 2. Domenick, 3. Kellyn, 4. Laurel

no chance: Donathan, Angela, Sebastian

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Chris (Angela), Libby (Laurel), Desiree (Angela), Jenna (Laurel), Michael (Wendell), Chelsea (Kellyn)


“Everybody received votes.” Survivor: Ghost Island May 2 2018 recap

2 May

As expected, the episode begins with everyone discussing the Desiree vote that just happened. There is one humorous note: as usual when someone rattles off a bunch of names on a reality show, the producers show a brief shot of each person as his or her name is mentioned. When someone says Wendell, the shot they show is of Wendell standing with his pants unzipped and reaching around inside his pants. Okayyyy….

We also hear both Laurel and Kellyn say the game is going great for them. Interesting.

Domenick goes idol-hunting and finds a coconut with a marking on it. When he cracks it open, what does he find but the fake idol David made and Jay found in Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X.  We see a replay of Jay realizing that he was snookered — the kid was really a good sport.

Now, this fake idol (unlike the stick seen earlier in the season) has not gained any powers in the ensuing years. Domenick is told it can only be used to try to fool others. Domenick plants it near a trail (much like David did on his season) and mulls over whether he should try to target a specific person to fool.

At the reward challenge, Jeff Probst reveals a twist: this is actually an immunity challenge to be played between two randomly-drawn teams of five, simultaneously. The player who lasts longest in each group wins an immunity, and each group of five will have its own mini-tribal council! Whichever group lasts longer gets to go to tribal council second, as there may be some advantage to be gained by seeing who the first group voted out. And Ghost Island is out of the picture this week (I doubt many viewers shed any tears about that).

A great twist, right? Only one thing can ruin it: a random draw that goes horribly wrong. And boy, does it. One tribe is Michael, Laurel, Domenick, Wendell, and Kellyn, the only five people who I said in last week’s blog have a chance to win the game. The other tribe is Chelsea, Sebastian, Angela, Jenna, and Donathan, the five who I said have no chance to win the game. I believe this is the first-ever all-goats tribe on Survivor!

The competitions are won by Chelsea, whose group will go to the council first, then Domenick. In Chelsea’s group you have to think it will either be Jenna or Donathan voted out, probably Jenna.

Back at camp, Michael asks Donathan if he can borrow his idol for an hour just so he can pretend he, Michael, has an idol (remember, the two will be in separate groups of five later). Donathan says no because this could blow up his own plans.

Michael decides to just bluff it. Taking Kellyn aside, he asks if he can trust her 100% and says “I know you’re not gonna tell me no.” It’s a great line — who ever says “no, you can’t trust me?” Michael tells Kellyn he has an idol, and she believes it. So much so that she decides she’s going to vote for Laurel. Wendell alerts Laurel of this and Laurel says she’ll vote Kellyn. At this point I have some hope that the very annoying Kellyn will be gone, until she reminds us that she has an extra-vote advantage she can use.

Time to look at the goats, who by the way are not just the worst players left but also the most boring players left! If these were the final five of a season, the producers would be polishing their seppuku swords as we speak. Anyway, Chelsea, Sebastian, and Angela want to vote Jenna, so they want her to think the target’s Donathan. So Jenna really hopes Donathan doesn’t play his idol. But after a while he tells her he will play the idol for her, and they should vote Sebastian. Jenna tells us viewers she lied to Donathan about both liking him and not planning to vote for him (ouch), and Donathan tells us his decision isn’t as firm as he led Jenna to believe.

At Tribal Council, Jenna says right at the start that she knows she’s going home, and that she’s ready to vote. Even Jeff Probst can’t manufacture any drama here, and soon says “This may be the fewest questions I’ve ever asked at a tribal council.” Donathan actually does get up to play his idol, but on himself, and he wastes it because all the votes are for Jenna, except of course her own. Jeff Probst snuffs Jenna’s torch and tells her … she can walk right over to the jury and take a seat! And he has no dramatic line for the exiting tribe other than “Your work here is done.” That’s nicer than “beat it, goats.”

Time for the main event, and as the players file in, no one looks the least bit surprised to see Jenna on the jury. Nothing much happens besides stating the obvious, though Domenick and Wendell have a long bout of whispering near the end, possibly a last-ditch discussion about whether Michael is bluffing about an idol.

The votes are read. Kellyn … Wendell…. Laurel … Michael … Michael … “one vote left,” says Probst. Not one player seems to wonder why there would be one vote left with five votes read and five people sitting there, though a couple of jurors do find it odd.

That last vote is for … Laurel, which makes it 2 votes each for Michael and Laurel. On the re-vote, Michael is ousted unanimously.

Probst does have final words for this group, noting “Everybody who could receive votes, received votes.” And we see later that Kellyn’s two votes were for Laurel, Wendell and Domenick voted Michael, Laurel voted Kellyn, and Michael voted Wendell.

Which was a huge error by Michael — if he had just voted Laurel, she would have gone home on the first vote! Naturally, he didn’t know Kellyn had an extra vote, but a fan like him should know that when you and someone else are on the chopping block, you should always cast your vote for the other person, as you never know when it might actually be meaningful.

contenders: 1. Domenick, 2. Wendell, 3. Kellyn, 4. Laurel

no chance: Donathan, Chelsea, Angela, Sebastian

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Chris (Angela), Libby (Laurel), Desiree (Chelsea), Jenna (Laurel), Michael (Wendell)