Survivor: Island of the Idols – “Chaos Is A Ladder”

The art of persuasion was at hand this week, as one castaway had to make the careful and calculated decision to convince their tribe about a significant position in the Challenge. So did it work? Let’s have a look.

SPOILER ALERT! This recap and review will contain spoilers about the latest episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols.

EPISODE 4 RECAP

Kellee, Lauren and Noura laugh together while laying on the beach at the Vokai camp.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

With a successful flush of Vince’s idol, and ousting of him from the game, Lairo returns to camp from Tribal Council in relatively good spirits. Karishma says she has no hard feelings towards the tribe for splitting the votes between her and Vince, in case he played the idol, but in a confessional reveals that she knows the tribe assumes she’s expendable and easy to take out next. Aaron understands this mentality, and believes he’s calling the shots on the Lairo tribe now. On his radar, Dean and Chelsea, who he believes are too close and becoming a potential power couple.

Chelsea stands on the Lairo beach.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

In the morning, Elaine jokes about Dean and Chelsea getting together, and Chelsea adds to the joke by saying that sleeping next to each other means they are a duo (ironically). She confirms to Elaine she’s not here for a showmance, but Aaron and Missy are jumping the gun on removing the snuggly connection the two are forming. For Missy, she wants to team up with Aaron to take out Dean, keeping the women’s alliance intact, and eliminating any power duo possible.

On Vokai, Jamal is still a little shaken at being left out from the Molly blindside. He seizes the opportunity while everyone is away from camp to hunt for the idol, and after explaining how he needs to be intune with his surroundings, the music becomes nice and intense and low and behold, Jamal clinches the Vokai hidden immunity idol. Good for Jamal to be able to find it so late in the game (yeah we might be 9 days in, but that’s plenty of time to find it), and possibly use it to secure his future in the season.

Janet, Tommy, Lauren and Kellee talk about something seemingly serious in the Vokai camp.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

A boat arrives to the tribe, and this time, they all must agree on someone to visit the Island of the Idols, unless they can’t, and it’s back to random drawing. Why Vince didn’t do the random thing confuses me. Sure, I prefer leaving it up to the tribe. But why not have this the whole time, I don’t get the sudden changes out of the blue for no apparent reason. Anyway, Jason, Lauren, Jamal and Tommy all tell us in confessionals why it’s such a risky move to visit the Island, putting a target on their back and exposing their game. The entire tribe seems to be uneasy about the decision, but Noura pipes up and says, “I would go”. Immediate cut to her on the boat, proving the volunteer was selected unanimously, and creating a lovely contrast between the people who seem to have their head wrapped around the game, and Noura, who’s so careless in her decisions, is comically ironic.

Noura screams with excitement while visiting the Island of the Idols with Rob and Sandra.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

As Noura arrives and meets with Rob and Sandra, she receives a warm welcome with a quick watermelon snack. In another HILARIOUS IoI moment, Rob actually offers watermelon to Noura to which she SCREAMS with excitement and delight, as the camera cuts to a flock of birds on the beach instantly flying away. The editors are having fun with this season, and we’re all extremely thankful for it. Regardless, Rob and Sandra tell Noura her test this week is about persuasion, as she must convince the tribe to make her the pivotal caller in the Immunity Challenge, in exchange for a vote blocker. If she does fit into the role, score, she can block someone’s vote. If not, she loses her vote at the next Tribal Council. Without a second thought, Noura jumps on the deal and is confident she truly can convince her tribe to slot her into the best role.

Noura returns to Vokai, ready to share her story and convince her tribe she’s got this down. She tells the tribe an insane lie that not even I can keep up with entirely. Saying everyone needs to agree on her choosing her role in the Challenge, right here and right now, to offer up some information about the Challenge to everyone. Everyone’s hazy, but agree she can choose what her role will be. She then says she will be the caller to the tribe, as everyone else is blindfolded, and she can guide them through the Challenge course. She even practices with the tribe, quite terribly, as Dan bumps into a tree and everyone just isn’t comfortable with her skills. It’s just an utter comical disaster.

Both tribes arrive at the Immunity Challenge, ready to take on the much-hyped test for safety. Jeff explains the Challenge, adding that the caller must also guide a puzzle solver to solve the puzzle, blindfolded. Jeff then asks Vokai who they want to sit-out because they have an extra tribe member. And almost INSTANTLY, Lauren turns to the tribe and says, “Noura”. The entire tribe has just TURNED on Noura, and she’s shocked they’ve made the call. Does she identify it as instant betrayal? It doesn’t appear so. Jason is then nominated as caller, as is Elizabeth for Lairo. Vokai earns an early lead as Jason sends all tribe members out at the same time, but Elizabeth focuses on sending them each out separately to focus on one point at one time. With the sizeable lead, Jason then guides the tribe to the next portion of the Challenge, finally getting to the puzzle. Lairo eventually gets there as well, as Jason guides Kellee on the puzzle for Vokai, and Elizabeth guides Aaron on the puzzle for Lairo. Jason remains calm during this phase, and when he notices a mistake in what seems like the completed puzzle, he guides Kellee to amend it. Elizabeth works quickly with Aaron, and when all pieces are down the entire tribe celebrates astoundly thinking they won. But it’s wrong, and they’re back to work. But no sooner said, Jason and Kellee get their puzzle right and Vokai wins their third Immunity for the season, sending Lairo to their third Tribal Council.

Lairo and Vokai compete in the fourth Immunity Challenge, as Elaine and Tom pull on the rope releasing a giant bucket of water over them.
IMAGE: CBS

After another upsetting loss, Karishma is aware she’s probably firmly on the chopping block because of the lack of connections she has with anyone on her tribe. Missy wants to keep Karishma secure for now, wanting her as an extra vote since she’ll go with anything at this point. Chelsea expresses the disbelief Karishma may have an idol, reminding the viewers she has the idol, and that her relationships are what will keep her in the game.

Elizabeth, Elaine, Aaron and Karishma (behind Aaron) lift the raft up and walk along the beach.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

Aaron is after Dean, knowing he’s got a potentially great resume, hasn’t helped in Challenges, and is getting too close to Chelsea. Missy is in on the plan. But Elizabeth isn’t happy with Karishma staying longer than Dean, and wants to see her go out the game. Elizabeth and Elaine discuss this, and they are not keen on the idea despite Missy being on board with it. Knowing they need the two girls to pull it off, Elizabeth then talks to Aaron and Missy about them not being on board, worrying about alienating Chelsea and Tom. Missy tries to hatch a new plan, and that’s blindsiding Chelsea instead, because Dean is too scary. The girls are still together (What? With Chelsea gone?), the three guys are shields, and Karishma is still expendable. Elaine talks about the vote drawing a line in the sand, and it’s just absolute chaos even heading to Tribal Council.

Lairo attends their third Tribal Council of the season, where someone is sure to be voted out.
IMAGE: CBS

At Tribal Council, I can’t wrap my head around what’s happening. Karishma talks to Jeff about the contingency plan last Tribal, and likely falling in it again tonight. Chelsea and Dean talk about seeds of doubt and the likely possibility Karishma can stay if everyone else is shooting somewhere else. Elizabeth talks about the multiple plans at hand tonight, and sometimes the last plan is the one that people go with. Missy compares it to Russian Roulette, and that it might shoot someone unexpected. After Karishma says this is great to hear, Missy shuts it down by saying she shouldn’t feel secure because she’s still not playing to a high enough level on par with everyone else. “Yeps” and “Good jobs” are tossed after Missy’s statement, and it’s disheartening to hear Karishma being talked about in this way. She then explains that vote chaos might be a ladder to climb out of her trench.

After voting, Jeff then returns with the urn and asks for idols. With no one raising their hand, he reads the votes. The first two land on Karishma, but the next subsequent ones fall on Chelsea, who becomes the fourth person voted out of Survivor: Island of the Idols, leaving the game with an idol, back-to-back with Vince, and probably devastated that years of being so close to getting on comes to this. And I’m heartbroken too.

Chelsea’s dream comes to an end as she is blindsided by her tribe and voted out, leading Jeff to snuff her torch, signifying her game is over.
IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

REVIEW

Before I delve into the episode as a whole, I have to reflect on this Tribal Council. I don’t get how Chelsea received the brunt of this blindside. First of all, there’s the girls alliance. That includes Chelsea, not Dean. Second of all, it’s not like Aaron was after Chelsea, he was gung ho for Dean, showing he’s not trying to keep the men in, and is happy to keep Chelsea around. How the hell did Elaine and Elizabeth not feel comfortable with Dean going, but Chelsea they said, “yeah, alright”. It’s MIND BOGGLING.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the blindside on the duo. But considering how powerful Chelsea seemed compared to Dean in everyone’s numbers, it can only make me question that Dean must have tighter connections than what we’ve been shown, quite possibly extensively with Elaine and Elizabeth. Call me biased, because I LOVED Chelsea. And it’s not that I don’t like Dean, because he’s awesome too. But I simply don’t get how Chelsea’s the one people went with, and not Dean. It was a good blindside nonetheless and with a tribe swap imminent, I can’t wait to see if Lairo self destructs with everyone kind of pissed off with everyone within the last couple of Tribals.

Missy is proving to be a pivotal player. Even Aaron has managed to crawl out from under the hole he was in. They’re big players within the game, and the target never shifted to either of them (edit-wise at least) when Elaine and Elizabeth caught wind of the plan to blindside Chelsea or Dean. That’s usually how blindsides are divided. Either it’s a person or group of people pitching it to the swings, and the swings are oso against the idea they flip the outsiders of the planned blindside against the plotters, sending one of them home (in this case Elaine and Elizabeth getting Dean and Chelsea to vote Missy or Aaron), or the swings try to stop the blindside from happening but stick with the plotters, either giving in (as they did) or keeping the script on the main target (Karishma). Clearly, despite the split idea of either Dean or Chelsea, Elaine and Elizabeth were still more comfortable with Aaron and Missy staying than EITHER Dean or Chelsea.

So maybe the girls succumbed to pressure, and I can’t quite analyse if this was the better move for them. What I do think is possible is that if they did try and flip it against Missy or Aaron for wanting to betray Chelsea and Dean, the latter two might feel obligated to owe Elaine and Elizabeth and could become quite loyal to them. In this case, Missy and Aaron have points next to their names, pulling off the move and still sitting in the driver’s seats. Objectively, Missy and Aaron came out better with this one.

Looking at Vokai, Noura is losing it. She’s literally insane and this episode turned it from just annoying to me to literally loving the excellent television. She’s just great to watch. Has she got a chance to win? No way. But thank you Probst for casting her! Lauren, Kellee and Tommy I would say are in the best spots, they’re great players and are moving socially efficiently. Jason, Dan and Janet are probably next down the line. With Jack and Jamal probably not in the most enviable position (although major props to Jamal for grabbing the idol). But with a tribe swap next episode, it all might change for better or for worse.

MATTHEW’S TOP FIVE

This season, I will put together a personal top five based on the episode that aired each week. I aim to consider all factors, like physicality, strategy, social game, likeability, and visibility. They are not ranked in order, and encompass all information gathered, from pre-season press, to previous episodes and the most recent episode.

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

KELLEE KIM is killing it! Her social awareness is incredible and she’s probably sitting in the best spot in the whole game because of her ability to bond with tribe mates AND the idol she holds in her back pocket. She’s got an extremely likeable personality and attitude, and it’s not coming across as entitled or cocky. So she’s really analysing every moment that passes through Vokai. I’ve enjoyed what she’s given us so far, and I can only see Kellee going very far in this game, becoming a key player in key Tribal Councils.

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

MISSY BYRD while Chelsea leaving is just devastating because she was so awesome, Missy really brought it this episode. She saw the blindside needed to happen, it seemed fine. and then she’s told it isn’t going to happen. Rather than rolling over to letting Karishma go, she still stuck to what she wanted and moved the target just from Dean to Chelsea. She’s got a connection with Aaron, securing her allegiance with him and the girls. The only little downside? Her speaking up at Tribal against Karishma trying to speak about ruling over chaos. It just seemed unnecessary. Let Karishma think whatever she wants, let her go on a tangent if she wants. Don’t shut her down, you might need her. Other than that, she’s killing it. Good luck Missy.

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

JASON LINDEN is still sitting okay on the Vokai totem poll. I’m not entirely sure where he is exactly since we have only had one Vokai Tribal Council. But his performance in the Challenge proves that he can stay calm under pressure, probably both competitively and strategically at camp. He’s level-headed, and has proven he can analyse situations and think carefully about them (a call back to when he told Kellee what to do at the Island of the Idols in Ep. 2). If he manages to sit on a good position in the next tribe, I see him either making a big move in a secure way, or finding some close loyal allies that’ll benefit him at the merge. He’s playing very, very well each week. And I’m here for it.

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

LAUREN BECK if not for the fact she’s an excellent player that’s strategically and socially sound in the game. The immediate, “Noura” when asked to sit someone out at the Challenge was just too iconic to not earn a spot in the top five. I hope we see more of Lauren, because while I can identify she’s playing well, it’s not as overt as Tommy, Kellee or Missy. It’s hidden (like Victoria in Edge of Extinction). That’s probably great news for Lauren the player but when it comes to rounding a top five it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Lauren is here. Either way, she’s a legend who needs more screen time and is slaying the game.

IMAGE: ROBERT VOETS/CBS

TOMMY SHEEHAN can’t be left out of this top five! Combine all the words from Lauren and Kellee and we’ve got Tommy. He’s so strategically good at manipulating relationships yet forming meaningful foundations with all of them. His expressed interest in working with Jamal and Jack shows he’s adaptable and able to connect with people he may have wronged in the past. I’m really impressed that it appears so easy to Tommy, although I’m sure it wasn’t. It wasn’t a major week for the guy, but he was still seen and sits in a great position as a player. Here’s hoping he comes out of the tribe swap A-Okay.

Honourable mentions go to Jamal, Karishma and Dean. Despite Karishma and Dean probably not sitting too pretty right now, they’re personally likeable so they see a high-end sitting this week. Elaine, Janet and Jack are still good in my books. And this week saw massive shifts in my attitude towards Aaron, Elizabeth and Noura, who all showed some great likeable qualities that haven’t kept me unsure about my feelings towards them anymore. Tom we barely saw much of, so he doesn’t rank high, and unfortunately Dan still sees the bottom as he couldn’t make it out of the unsure category this week.

Another review down, I’ll see y’all next week!

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The 39th season of Survivor continues in Australia on 9Go! at 7:30pm, Thursdays! Otherwise check your local TV Guides.


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