Survivor: Island of the Idols – “I Don’t Know When You Spoke With Me”

Investigations into the whodunnit of Chelsea’s blindside were halted when the tribes were told by Jeff to drop their buffs. A tribe switch posed interesting scenarios for one tribe, and an all out war for another. Let’s see what the fifth episode had in store for the top 16!

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


The Lairo tribe pick a parcel where their new buff and tribe hides, awaiting its reveal.

With Chelsea’s elimination from the game leaving Dean both shocked and betrayed, the accused half of a showmance put on his detective hat to become ‘Detective Dean’ and figure out who started it all. He interrogates each Lairo tribe member, and no one’s willing to give up the name of the person who started the blindside train (which, to us as viewers, seemed like Missy (then again, a joint contribution with Aaron)). The case is still up in the air despite Dean’s efforts, but he’s determined to get to the bottom of it.

Jeff offers the old Vokai tribe to draw new buffs that will determine their new tribe.

The tribes head out to their first separate Reward Challenge where they learn it’s a special one for two reasons, the first of which being they are switching tribes. Each remaining player draws a new buff to determine their new tribes, and the breakdown is as follows:

On the new Vokai, it’s a 4-4 split, with Lauren, Tommy, Jason and Dan remaining on the tribe, and Aaron, Missy, Elizabeth and Elaine switching to the tribe.

On the new Lairo, it’s a 5-3 split in favour of Vokai, as Kellee, Noura, Jack, Jamal and Janet swap over, leaving Tom, Karishma and Dean still on the tribe.

This poses large questions for Vokai, as the opportunity of a rock draw may come into fruition given neither side may want to flip to the other. Whereas on Lairo, it’s up to the Vokai five to decide if they want to work together or shake it up and use the three Lairo to swing out a blindside.

Anyway, it’s on to the grueling Reward Challenge, where, in pairs, six castaways will travel down mounds of sand while tied by their legs and arms, using only their bodies to move up and down the hill. The final pair will solve a classic Survivor fire puzzle. What’s at stake? A trip to a massive Applebee’s restaurant-style feast. And they go CRAZY for it. As the Challenge begins, Vokai gets out to an early lead as Dan and Elizabeth make some ground over Tom and Janet. Tommy and Missy continue the trend, as they make some good distance to even make it to the third pairing in Lauren and Elaine before Dean and Jack even start for Lairo. Lauren and Elaine manage to make it to the end, turning it over to Jason and Aaron on the puzzle. But Dean and Jack were able to make some time, and Karishma and Noura are the final sand snaking pair. Karishma struggles hard, and it gets to the point where Noura is literally dragging Karishma to the end. Vokai has made so much time, but Kellee and Jamal do get to start the puzzle. Not for long however, as Jason places the final piece and Vokai claim the early victory for the new tribe.

Aaron and Jason work to complete the puzzle before the Lairo tribe during the Reward Challenge.
The new Vokai tribe toast to their first Reward Challenge victory together.

When Vokai rocks up to their Reward, it’s a moment of elation knowing they claimed what Jeff called was the biggest reward of the season. It does come across as one big commercial for Applebee’s, but fine, good on Survivor for the sponsor. Thoughts quickly roll around to the 4-4 numbers split on the tribe. Jason has his heart set out on bringing a Lairo member over, wanting to keep his four Vokai together. Elaine notices that her Lairo counterparts are having massive conversation with the others, and is a little worried they’re too early to trust them and what they sat at face value.

Over on the new Lairo, Karishma is still fuming with her old tribe members for trying to get her out, and to make matters worse, she’s shown she’s a weaker player after the performance in the Reward Challenge. Wanting to jump ship, she confides in Kellee about everything and pleads loyalty to her in exchange for another night on Fiji, getting rid of either Dean or Tom. In the water, Tom and Dean throw Karishma under the bus to the others because she’s the weakest player on the tribe. Janet tells Tom she and her other Vokai tribe members were shocked she stayed in the game, while Dean and Kellee find they have a mutual friend, of whom Dean dated for three years. This is a new level of trust that can establish, and who can forget that Patrick and Ali (Survivor: Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers castaways) literally were put on the same tribe after the former helped the latter move into a new home. Anyway, this isn’t so bad, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Kellee and Dean stuck together for a long while. Kellee explains to us that she believes the the three original Lairo members are at the mercy of the five Vokai, and she’s right, considering they’re not even trying to work together and make a move on one of them.

Karishma stands and wipes her face at the Lairo camp.

Later, Karishma is explaining to Jack and Janet the process of her arranged marriage, and how it was such an emotional and a rollercoaster of a ride for her. It’s a really touching story that opens people’s eyes about different cultures and the events surrounding things like arranged marriages. It’s Karishma’s fuel to keep going, and she wants to play this game with her new tribemates, seeing them as more understanding and valuable than her original tribe.

Back at Vokai, Elaine and Missy are wrestling for fun, with the boys and Elizabeth cheering them on. Aaron notices this as a good strategy, as getting people to like you is a fundamental aspect to the social game. Aaron’s working on that with Tommy, and a conversation about Aaron’s son-looking socks touches the parents that can relate to playing the game. The two do bond because they’re physical players, and hope to go into the merge together because of the imminent threats they’ll be. But they both acknowledge that they love each other’s group of four, seeing a struggle to decide who loses one first. Tommy wants Aaron to flip over, and Aaron talks with Missy about flipping over and eliminating either Elaine or Elizabeth, calling Lairo dead in the water. Missy’s keen on the idea, and is ready to flip over to the always-victorious purple tribe.

At the Immunity Challenge (yes, with no Island of the Idols visit), players will swim out to a ladder, climb, and jump off. They then must collect buoys as the remaining tribe members attempt to land the buoys in baskets. The tribes are pretty even, until Karishma takes on the ladder for Lairo, and struggles with the sheer speed the other Vokai members have. Dan laps Noura on the ladder as well, putting Vokai in an early lead against Lairo. Vokai work well together with the transportation of the buoys, as Lairo doesn’t seem to get any sort of a rhythm. Missy lands the first of three buoys for Vokai, as Lairo finally catches up so everyone else can shoot the buoys. Tommy lands a second buoy for Vokai, as Dean lands the first for Lairo. Tommy just misses another shot, where Dean gets another, making it a showdown between the boys to land the final buoy. The music intensifies, and Tommy lands the final buoy giving Vokai a victory and sending Lairo to Tribal Council for the first time as a new tribe.

The second portion of the Immunity Challenge, where the tribes must land three buoys into three baskets to seal the win.
Janet, Jack, Noura and Tom talk while standing/sitting around the Lairo campfire and shelter.

After losing the Immunity Challenge, Dean’s pretty down for being in the hero role for the tribe and losing, and it’s not making it any easier that he’s on the outs. He and Tom discuss the vote, and Dean believes if the Vokai five want to take out a threat it will be Dean, but if not it’ll be Karishma. They pitch to Jamal, and he agrees with them and us that Karishma’s a liability for the tribe. Karishma is playing the social game to ensure he stays for one more round, and tells three of the majority that she’ll vote either Tom or Dean, whoever they want. Janet and Tom talk, and while Janet thinks he can be an asset as a straight shooter, she’s worried he’ll flip back to the old Lairo at the merge. Elsewhere, Dean and Kellee discuss working together, but Kellee is hesitant because of his alluring charm into an alliance. She ultimately doesn’t want to bring him into the merge, apparently. Noura, Janet and Kellee discuss the bonds, trials and tribulations of who should go.

Noura lays out the multiple options at play, and while she reminds us she can not vote because she lost her next vote by losing the Island of the Idols challenge last episode, she does confirm her voice may sway her alliance to vote one way or another. She explains that Karishma is up there because of her weakness in Challenges, Dean’s on the chopping block for the opposite, as he is a physical threat, and while Tom may be likable, he’s not as much of an asset as it seems. A roll of the dice might just determine who walks away okay and who’s heading home.

The new Lairo tribe sit at Tribal Council where someone’s time with their newfound family will be cut short.

At Tribal Council, with Rob and Sandra finally gracing our screens with a spy bunker appearance, Jeff quizzes the tribe on the 5-3 dynamic that currently stands. Tom admits there wasn’t any crack to find within the Vokai five, and Janet explains her criteria lies in winning the next few Challenges to avoid Tribal Council. In another yet HILARIOUS Noura moment, Jeff begins to ask her a question and right overtop she just begins laughing. He asks her why, and she gives such a effortless answer that she asks Jeff not to forget his original question. I may have started not on the Noura train, but I’m happy to say I’ve bought my ticket. Dean talks about marketing, and wanting to be the sixth member of the Vokai gang. Janet calls him out for not speaking with her and failing to make a connection, whereas Karishma and Tom did make an effort to. Janet’s upset with Dean doing so with the other four of her alliance, and not her. And with a few more questions fired, it’s time to vote.

With Noura not voting, and the rest of the tribe deciding between the three Lairo members, Jeff returns with the urn calling for idols to be played. No one plays any, and in a surprise 5-2 vote, Tom is voted out of the game, with only him and Dean voting for Karishma.

The first Canadian to ever play Survivor, Tom is the fifth person voted out of the 39th season. as Jeff snuffs his torch at Tribal Council.


This was a good episode, although not amazing. And I think that’s clearly contributed to the blowout of Lairo and the obvious fact that it was down to either Dean, Tom or Karishma for the vote. Don’t get me wrong, I love tribe swaps and I can’t always wish for major blindsides every week. The Tom vote was a surprise, so I commend the editors for doing their best to keep it twisting and turning considering the boot edit was much more focused on Karishma or Dean.

I really, REALLY want to see the Vokai tribe go to Tribal Council, just to see this 4-4 showdown, and who might give in to working with the other tribe. Unfortunately, the sheer physicality of the tribe makes me believe it’s actually likely they keep winning every Challenge until the merge (or a third swap…). So what does that mean for Lairo? Well, there’s the obvious chance Dean and Karishma go next, and I’d bet Karishma’s the option they take just to give them a chance against Vokai. But with Jack and Jamal originally on opposing alliances to Janet, Kellee and Noura, maybe the girls team up, with or without Dean, to take out either of the two original Vokai men.

Not having the Island of the Idols appear did make it better to understand the tribe dynamics after the swap, although just gives a big question mark if you’re watching Survivor for the first time and not being able to place the theme with the show, and watching two randoms come into Tribal to give some commentary. Either way, this is still a pretty great season, not as good of a start as David vs Goliath, (jacket gate after all), but still good relationships and good strategy, so I see a bright future.


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.


LAUREN BECK may not have had much airtime tonight, but I’m keeping her up here because of last week’s iconic moment AND because I think she’s playing very, very well. She’s the only woman on her Vokai side of the tribe, and I think her and Tommy are tight enough to stick together, along with Dan as a third, and of course, Jason as the fourth. Although I’m not too certain on the tribe dynamics of Vokai before the swap, it did appear Lauren was tight with Kellee and Janet, so losing her female allies may not be super exciting for her. But Lauren’s proven she’s a social threat, and I think for sure she makes it to the merge, makes all kinds of subtle moves to make it far, and drops iconic one-liners every step of the way!


JASON LINDEN gave us an opening into his perspective of the tribe split, and considering how close Tommy, Lauren and Dan have seemed, I think it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Jason was okay with flipping over to Lairo to avoid a rock draw. But in his confessional, he was gung-ho for staying with his alliance and trying to get someone from Lairo to flip. Of course, this could be strategic editing because that’s the scenario that does play out, but I’ll take it at face value. Anyway, because of this, it shows that despite the poor start from the guy, Jason is still aware that staying with the devils you know instead of the devils you don’t is a much wiser decision. If he doesn’t back down, he’s in it to win it and I think he might be able to infiltrate his old tribe if they link back up in the future. He’s a smart player, and I love it.


KELLEE KIM had a prominent showing in this week’s episode, seeming to be a force for the decision to take out Tom and keep the Vokai five intact. Her consistent edit it just as good as Tommy’s, if not better, and her social game was shown to excel in both her interactions with Dean and Karishma. This in comparison to Janet, who was shown bonding with Tom yet voting him out anyway. This appears to give Kellee the appearance she holds more authority in the tribe, and will likely be a pivotal player in the next few episodes. She also has the idol for one more Tribal Council, so it’ll be interesting to see if she tries to use it in some capacity while she can, or if she’ll let it go and use it as a fake (or not at all) later in the game. If she’s not caught out for the impressive game she’s playing, I’m here for a Kellee win.


TOMMY SHEEHAN remains in the top five again and for many of the same reasons as Kellee. Despite the 4-4 split, we’re particularly chosen to see the interaction between Aaron and Tommy, and the bromance brewing there. I do believe he’ll convince Aaron, and probably Missy, to jump on over to their side. That’s if it’s even necessary. But because Tommy is still staying a consistently impressive player socially, physically and strategically, I think he’s a great pick to win the game, and if not, he’s a great addition to the cast after playing so well so early on. If Kellee’s the queen of Lairo, then Tommy’s the king of Vokai, so I’m looking forward to the future in store for him and whether he’ll be caught out as a big player sooner or much later.


DEAN KOWALSKI rounds out the five, since his delivery of lines in confessionals and overall charming attitude he gives to both players and viewers. He’s got an extremely likable interior, and I love the vengeance he’s seeking for Chelsea, so it’s only fair my love for her transcends to Dean. His little comments are hilarious, and I do think he’ll stay out of trouble within the tribe. He’s got Karishma as a half-shield, but given he’s connecting with the boys and Kellee, I think he’ll stick around. The Janet problem may hurt a little, and he really should have tried to connect with all five Vokai tribe members. But hopefully it’s just a red herring and he really will find his place within the alliance.

Just missing out this week, Missy, Elaine, Karishma and Jamal. All are great players for one reason or another, being strategy, hilarity, survivability and perceptibility, each respectively. LOL. As stated, I’m on board with Noura now because she’s absolutely TV gold! I do hope she stays in the game and does at least one move that’s just amazing. I’m also really liking Aaron and Elizabeth now, while Janet has fallen a little, and I’m not as sold as I once was. Jack is a little indifferent to me, and Dan’s not far behind him on the scale either.

That’s this week’s recap and review, sorry for the delay. It’s been a crazy week but we’ll be on schedule next week!

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This season of Survivor continues on 9Go! in Australia, 7:30pm, Thursday nights. Otherwise check your local TV guide.


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