Survivor: Island of the Idols – “This Is Gonna Change My Game”

Persuasion, breakfast, fake advantages, and idol plays. Survivor 39 regained its footing after a rocky two weeks, and we couldn’t be any more thankful for the level of gameplay the castaways continue to throw at us.

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


Tommy, Dean and Elizabeth talk about the upcoming vote while standing near the shelter at their camp.

After blindsiding Aaron in a unanimous vote, Dean, Dan, Lauren, Noura and Janet are shocked to learn that Missy was also voted out in the second Tribal, with many believing Tommy would go home as both the odd-numbered man and original Vokai member. Nevertheless, Karishma and Elaine assert their decision to blindside one of the biggest threats, albeit equally keeping another threat still in the game, tied to his closest ally Lauren. Elizabeth has probably suffered the worst defeat from everyone left, as she no longer has any close allies and is feeling very much on the bottom.

Elizabeth stands at the Lumuwaku camp.

Lauren and Tommy meet on the beach in the morning, joined by Dean to discuss the next vote. Karishma’s still a clear and easy vote, although Dean points out that she has an ability to just survive and survive Tribal Councils until potentially the last one. He tells us that she’s the ultimate goat, and with Aaron and Missy gone, he sees himself as one of the next biggest threats to go. Lmao. Sure, Jan. The goat army (Noura and Karishma) must be shut down, but Tommy is still weary of Elizabeth because she just previously voted against him at the last Tribal Council.

Lauren sits on a chair at the Lumuwaku camp, listening to the conversations around her.

All of a sudden, a boat visits the beach asking everyone to unanimously agree on someone to visit the Island of the Idols. Karishma tells us she was ready to volunteer, but Lauren was quick to the punch and let the entire tribe know she wanted to go, and they obliged. She’s a little pissed about it, and the sass is heavy too. But I do think it’s a case of first come, first serve. Unfortunately for Karishma, Lauren spoke first. Both ladies visiting would have been ideal from a viewer standpoint, so hopefully Karishma visits soon.

Lauren arrives on the Island of the Idols with a cute excited run to Sandra (and Rob…. Although someone should tell Lauren he’s there too lol). We’re quick to the lesson where Rob explains it’s all about situational awareness. If she can predict who will win the next Immunity Challenge, she gets an idol valid for two Tribals, or her vote is gone. Lauren informs us that she has been extremely perceptive of the tribe thus far, and it has constantly been her strongest tool in the game. The challenge is endurance, but breakfast will be offered to those opting to sit out of potential safety. Lauren believes Dean, Dan, Janet and Karishma won’t be able to win or even decide to play. Noura and Elizabeth however are her options to probably winning, because of their proven physical performance. After some thinking, Rob sweetens the deal by allowing Lauren to back two people instead of one, and now the decision is much easier for Lauren as she can pick both Noura and Elizabeth as the likely winners, following her gut. Now Lauren plans to convince everyone else to sit out of the challenge, so only her two backed horses will compete in the Immunity Challenge.

The tribe listens to Lauren tell her story from the Island of the Idols.

Lauren returns from the Island of the Idols and tells the tribe that her visit enabled her to make the Challenge a food option one. She reveals the actual case to Tommy (bar mentioning Rob and Sandra), and the two agree they have to convince the entire tribe to sit out and eat the breakfast, except for Noura and Elizabeth. They talk about food all day, really hammering home that everyone should sit out and eat bacon etc.

After a commercial break, Dean is not entirely convinced that his Legacy Advantage is real, but will go with believing it’s real for the time being. Given that it can only be played at the final nine or six (still fake), Dean gets some paint and parchment to create his OWN fake Legacy Advantage, to play at the final nine. His thinking is that the others will deduct that it is fake and can vote for Dean at the final six, but he would play his actual advantage from Jamal (yes, still fake) at six and keeping him safe (except, it won’t, because it’s still fake). Quite a genius move by Dean quite honestly, if only his original piece of parchment was real. If there’s one thing Dean has brought us this season, it’s quality content. The sheer cluelessness by the guy all season is so unfortunate, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the real final three goat at this point.

Tommy, Dan, Karishma and Noura listen to Jeff explain the Immunity Challenge and breakfast twist.

We get to the Immunity Challenge, and as Jeff reveals the food before them, he’s ‘shocked’ to learn no one is screaming for the food. He learns that Lauren tipped everyone off about the breakfast decision from the Island of the Idols. Whether it’s an act by Jeff, I don’t know. The guy knows everything. But maybe it all happened too recently for Jeff to be informed by the other producers. I hope that’s the case. Otherwise it comes off a little cringey, especially when Jeff says, “you stole my thunder”. Eh, I digress.

Everyone takes a yellow and red rock, each designated to either eating or competing. Tommy, Dan, Lauren, Dean, Elaine and Janet all decide to eat. So luckily for Lauren, Noura and Elizabeth will compete as well. Oh, and Karishma didn’t stick to the status quo when she opts to compete too. What could have been simple, wasn’t, and I admire Karishma’s loyalty to competing in the Challenges, you know it really shows she might be capabl-… Uh oh. Karishma drops. Barely a minute into enduring in the Challenge, Karishma has no food and no safety. But Lauren gains an idol automatically, no matter who wins. Karishma really gets down on herself, and takes the failure quite harshly. As Jeff points out however, 30 Days can catch anyone off guard with the lackluster performance in physical competitions. Noura and Elizabeth are battling, and Noura prevails, winning her second Individual Immunity Challenge, and keeping Elizabeth vulnerable at Tribal Council.

Karishma, Noura and Elizabeth prepare to compete in the Individual Immunity Challenge, after deciding not to eat breakfast with the other six tribe members.
Karishma and Elizabeth discuss voting out Dan at the upcoming Tribal Council.

After returning to camp, Tommy and Lauren debate who they should target between Elizabeth and Karishma, weighing up potential challenge success and an easily beatable fellow tribemate. They consider splitting between the two in case one of them has an idol (and Karishma does). Elizabeth fears Karishma does indeed have an idol and that her vote could single handedly send her home. Noura grabs Karishma’s bag to debunk any idol conspiracy, and with Elizabeth, they conclude she doesn’t have an idol. Karishma and Dan talk on the hammock, and Dan tells her the vote is splitting between Elizabeth and Janet, adding that Karishma should vote Janet. Karishma leaves the conversation and talks with Elizabeth only metres away, telling her that Dan is calling the shots and is becoming too drunk with power. Lauren has now joined Dan at the hammock, and when they hear Dan’s name mentioned, Dan gets up and walks over confronting Karishma for saying his name. Karishma corrects him, saying they were talking about Janet (a lie). And I don’t know why Karishma would even have the conversation so close to Dan. Could they not have gone up and gone somewhere else?

Karishma wants to make a move against Dan, but decides she probably isn’t able to given that Elizabeth is the seemingly biggest target, therefore costing Karishma a possible ally. She’s got the idol in hand, but will we see it come out at Tribal or will yet another castaway walk home with an idol in their pocket?

At Tribal, Jeff quizzes the tribe on the 6 to 3 split in eating and competing in the challenge. Elizabeth and Karishma tell him they are both on the bottom, respectively, and needed Immunity to stay in the game. Noura on the other hand, believes she has a good footing in the game and wanted to step up and play so the tribe could eat. Talk about cracks and loyalty comes up, as always in a Survivor Tribal. We soon get to the vote, and all eyes are on Karishma.

Rob and Sandra are shocked to see Karishma play her idol and successfully save herself from elimination at Tribal Council.

When Jeff returns with the votes, Dean stands to play his fake, like his version of the already fake advantage for those playing at home, and Jeff reveals that it is fake and Dean is ‘disappointed’ with the outcome. Just before he reads the votes however, Karishma stands to guarantee herself another few days in the game, hoping this might be an opportunity to fill the trench that sees her on the opposite side of the numbers. Lauren is now prompted to play her own idol, wanting to ensure she stays safe today, and seeing tomorrow. Finally, after all of that, Karishma successfully negates 7 votes against her, and Janet and Elizabeth tie with 1 vote each, 1-1-7. The results of the revote confirm Elizabeth’s elimination in a 7-0 vote, and who would have believed that Karishma, Dean and Elaine would be the final three Lairo members in the game.


A really great episode delivered by Survivor tonight, much of that fuelled by Lauren, Dean and Karishma. We’re starting to see who might well and truly be end game and who is just a ticking time bomb waiting to get snuffed. A loved ones visit next week may change it all though, because as Probst has already teased, those that win, really happy, and those that lose… not so much.

Lauren, the queen, MVP! I feel like I was in the minority that saw Lauren’s social game from the early few episodes, but this episode was all about her incredible read on the tribe and ability to convince them to do something through a social rather than strategic method. She knew exactly the best bets to win the challenge, who would likely take food and/or lose the challenge itself. Plus lip-reading proved to be a real exceptional tool for her, as she was able to gather information from Karishma and Elizabeth’s conversation simply by reading what they were saying. I think Lauren’s doing a lot of the ground work in the Lauren-Tommy duo, although I somehow believe Tommy is probably 49% of the trust that goes into them. The two are extremely close, and there was no mention about the pair as a threat in this episode. Does that mean it comes up later? For everyone else’s sake, I hope so! But I don’t think it will. Anyway, a great episode for Lauren and seeing her receive credit for the great development of her game thus far.

The idol play, many question it. But when it’s only valid for two Tribals, I don’t blame Lauren for playing it. She knew the entire tribe was voting for Karishma, so taking a chance on Karishma voting her was too great a risk. Great move Lauren. Take the W.

Then there is Karishma who is continuing to surprise me with her gameplay. Idol play, great. Sticking to her competitive guns, great. But sometimes the way she describes events comes across as selfish. It’s hard to say. Is there a pity party for Karishma? If she’s being ousted by the tribe, then yeah I get it and she has a right to show some selfish qualities in confessionals (like saying Dan can’t tell her what to do). But in the edit, it doesn’t appear that Karishma is being pushed aside by the tribe. Missy, Dean and Noura seemed like the biggest voices against her, and Missy’s gone and Dean and Noura aren’t a majority. We still saw her interact with Elizabeth and Dan. She is able to have conversations with people. I don’t want to jump on it too much, because we’re watching one hour of three days. I love Karishma, I love how she’s playing. But some small decisions like throwing Dan under the bus only metres away, they just seem out of place for me.

Dean was our comedic relief in the episode and if his advantage was real then this plan would probably be really effective. But I’m living for a Jay moment at the final six, where he thinks he’s safe but is eliminated because the idol/advantage was fake. I certainly think Dean will make it to the final six, but I actually think he’ll also be at the Final Tribal, not scraping any votes. He’s just the real goat behind it all. Because Noura, as loud and proud as she is, seems to have a better handle of the people left in it, and I think people will admire Karishma’s tenacity throughout the entire season.

Dan and Janet, and I don’t think either have the edit to get to the end, nor do I think Dan has the game to win (behaviour aside). Janet however can win, but I think she’ll be targeted for her likability in these final stages. She is still pretty much on the bottom of the tribe, so it’s only a matter of time unless she can round up a new group to survive against the king and queen of Lumuwaku. Elaine, is my only choice other than Lauren and Tommy as likely winners. But I’ll throw it back to episode one and the talk about her being a big threat, so maybe we’ll see her downfall soon. It wouldn’t surprise me however if it was the story arc all along and she emerged as the champion of the season.


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.


JANET CARBIN was the hero we all needed three episodes ago. I’ll never forget it. We did see her really consider playing in the challenge versus eating, and unlike others (Dean), it was a real choice for her and I’m glad she really weighed it up because her neck was on the line. I do think it’s always important to compete, so considering it immensely was great to watch. I’d love to see Janet win. But if she can’t, she’s a great character to the season and an even greater human being. In this house we love Janet!


NOURA SALMAN remains in the top five this week, even in a more quieter appearance for the episode. Another Immunity win, and I don’t think people are looking at her as a threat although I think they should. I can see Noura making a great case at the Final Tribal, and she’s a likely bet to get there. One thing we haven’t seen much from Noura since getting to the merge is her social game. We did see her mend bridges with Jamal, although Jamal should be credited as well, despite being against each other at the first Tribal Council. But other than that, has Noura remained somewhat of a nuisance to the tribe or has her likability increased with her strategy too? Only time will tell.


TOMMY SHEEHAN really came in clutch for Lauren this week and solidified that their alliance is out in the long haul. We’re also still seeing him grab much screen time when decisions are made by other people. Lauren’s move, Tommy talks. Granted, he had much to do with it. But I think it’s extremely important to see that Tommy has great insight into what happens throughout the entire game. A hiccup last episode, but no target this week? Is he really the big threat as he appears? Honestly, if Janet, Noura, Karishma and Dan don’t revolt against the Lauren-Tommy duo, I don’t know if they’ve got a chance. Why do I discount Elaine and Dean? Because I feel like they’re pretty close to the big two and thus aren’t as likely to flip. And that’s credit to Lauren and Tommy. So if Tommy can even turn one of those guys over, he’s got nothing to worry about.


KARISHMA PATEL had a very impressive idol play, and given so many have gone unplayed, Karishma’s done well to evaluate her surroundings and realise she was the real target at Tribal and not Janet or Elizabeth as expected. Although she’s setting records. Kelley Wentworth was the last woman to successfully play an idol back in Season 31 (an 8-season, 4-year gap). And the record for most votes cast against someone is currently held at 19 by Laura Morett in Season 27, Karishma currently stands at 17. I think it’s very likely Karishma will pick up three more votes, but no we can’t call it just yet. However, if Karishma can indeed claim the new record, she would have done so without returning to the game, as Laura did win a Redemption Island duel to return and was thus voted out with a plurality of votes twice. Here’s to Karishma achieving some incredible accomplishments!


LAUREN BECK my personal best for last. As stated, she’s the MVP. Between her sheer excitement to see Sandra, exceptional read on her fellow tribemates, and staying safe than sorry at Tribal, Lauren really covered a lot of aspects in the episode. Much of why she remains in the top five was mentioned in the ‘Review’ portion of this post, but I truly commend Lauren on being such a valuable social player to the game. If she manages to win the season, she might be one of the best social winners we’ve seen. It’s about time people started realising Lauren’s playing a really great social and strategic game. Maybe she can pick up an Immunity win to really seal the deal. But it is clear Lauren doesn’t need them. She’s not on anyone’s radar. Which may see that she is targeted sooner than expected. Fingers crossed it works out for her.

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Survivor: Island of the Idols continues in Australia on 9Go! at 7:30pm on Thursday.


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