Love. It’s something we all crave. In life, and in Survivor. And that’s why the Loved Ones visit is so special for the contestants that manage to make it to that point in the game. Here’s the review about the week full of tears, blow ups, and so much more.
SPOILER ALERT! This recap and review will contain spoilers about the latest episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
No flash forwards, no after-Tribal wrap up. Straight to the Reward Challenge we go, which Jeff announces as a milestone in the game, the Loved Ones Challenge. It is well and truly time for some love, and in order, the loved ones and their Survivor counterparts are as follows: Lauren and her husband Matt, Tommy and his girlfriend Nicole, Karishma and her husband Drew, Noura and her sister Lana, Janet and her husband John, Dean and his mom Laurie, Dan and his son (the youngest person to ever appear on Survivor at 13) Ryan, and finally Elaine and her girlfriend Tanya. (Apologies to any misspellings of loved ones’ names. I tried lol).
Each moment is truly beautiful and tear-jerking (for some, and for me). There’s no point diving into each one since the theme is relatively similar for each, but for each of these players, this moment is what they’ve been waiting for. It’s been a long journey and I’ll touch more on why it’s so special in the review. The challenge asks the players to compete in pairs, where they are tethered to another player, must maneuver through obstacles and then land a sandbag on a disc. In a rather iconic and unique moment, Noura’s sister Lana is visually impaired and Jeff offers to take her, ‘shotgun’ and follow him out to where he narrates the challenge, closer to the players and therefore able to see her sister Noura. Wow. A really cute yet small moment from the episode. Great TV.
During the Reward Challenge, Dan and Noura compete together, Tommy and Janet are a pair, Dean and Elaine another, and Lauren and Karishma as the final pair, who bring up the rear for the majority of the challenge. Dean and Elaine are the first to attempt to land the sanbag, but are quickly caught up by Tommy and Janet. Both pairs try to land the bag over and over, as Karishma and Lauren and Dan and Noura join them to really be in it. Tommy and Janet manage to land the sandbag however, winning the Reward Challenge and more time with their Loved Ones.
The pair is then asked to select two more players to join the two on the reward, leaving four back at camp without any more love. They choose Dan first, and then Lauren. A noticeable four-person majority from Vokai, with the three original Lairo and outsider of Vokai Noura left without the reward trip. But I’m not the only one that notices this, these four are quick to realise the very-telling decision by the Reward Challenge winners.
At the family visit, the four talk about who should be voted out next, and agree that Elaine is a physical threat and thus should be the next target. But Lauren talks through the numbers, with Noura being firmly on her side and thus the fifth person to join the vote. Meanwhile, Noura talks to the other three challenge losers about the noticeable neglect of her joining her ‘alliance’ on the reward. In a rather funny moment, Noura says, and I quote, “I am, in a way the Karishma, but I’m actually enjoyable to be around, I’m funny, I’m providing…” I’m sure there was no direct malice intent by Noura, but I couldn’t help but laugh at how she compared her to Karishma, citing herself as the ‘better Karishma’. Just. Perfect.
Also, we see a fading montage of Noura talking to the group, as if it’s gone on for hours. And I don’t deny that’s a real possibility. Noura’s talking non-stop, even fast forwarding to the future (as per the episode quote for the review), and it reminds a lot of us of why we love Noura. Back to the conversation though, Elaine explains to Noura that she’s their bitch and that something needs to shake up if the four want to open up a crack in the main alliance. Noura confirms with them that she’s in with them until the end, and Dean even describes it as music to his ears. They all identify Lauren as a big threat, being a sociable and jury threat, and attached to Tommy as a powerful duo. The four then hunt for a hidden immunity idol, and it’s Elaine who happens to stumble across it and claim the idol as her own.
At the Immunity Challenge, the tribe must compete in another endurance test, where the player must stand on a small perch, trying to stabilize a ball against a piece of wood. The winner earns a spot in the top seven, sounds great right? As the challenge begins, Dean immediately struggles and drops his ball first. Closely followed are Tommy and Noura. Janet loses her footing and takes a hard fall, also injuring her foot in the process, not too serious though. Karishma drops next (much to the amusement of Dan who quietly speaks “yes” to her elimination), and it’s Lauren, Dan and Elaine left in the Immunity Challenge. Dan looks away for a moment, and he drops out. After 15 minutes, Lauren and Elaine are fighting for the necklace and we start to see Lauren really get the shakes and struggle to maintain both her ball on the wood and her balance. Lauren tries to breathe through it, and as tears roll down her face, it really gets to her as she shakes violently to maintain the ball against the wood. Out of nowhere however, Elaine drops her ball and Lauren does manage to pick up her first Individual Immunity, right when she probably needs it. I have to say though, I understand this was all filmed months in advance, but I spoke this into existence. I wrote Lauren winning Immunity to round out the trifecta of a Survivor game (social, strategic and physical), and here she is with the win. I take 0.1% of the win ownership. Lol.
Back at camp, the four Vokai + defected Noura are planning to vote out Elaine, splitting the vote between her and Karishma. Noura still feels on the bottom however and she knows it’s extremely risky trying to go with the four any further because she won’t make it any further than 5th place. Noura then explains the Vokai plan to Elaine and Karishma, and they theorise that the four of them (inclusive of Dean) can vote whoever they want and win the vote 4-2-2, because the Vokai alliance is splitting. They decide to take a shot against Tommy, but Elaine is a little reserved because she believes Noura is a ‘fruitloop’ who may not stick to the plan.
Noura talks with Dean about the numbers and the plan, and she’s getting REAL confused about the numbers and Dean explains that she’s a loose cannon and he’s weary of putting his faith in her because she can be so unpredictable. The Vokai four talk about Noura and whether she will flip, and Tommy explains that without Noura the whole alliance is vulnerable to crumbling. It’s go big or go home time, and Tribal Council looks to be promising.
At Tribal Council, Jeff doesn’t have to do much talking because despite the episode gearing towards Noura being unpredictable and making a massive crazy move, its DEAN who whispers to Tommy, almost right off the bat, that the four are targeting him and that he’s not with them. He tells Tommy he’s getting three votes, and now it’s really paranoia city as Tommy relays the problem to his alliance. It quickly gets back to Noura, who tells Dan they can not trust Dean. Tommy then gets up to talk to Noura, and they question Noura on why she didn’t tell them the plan sooner. Noura then speaks unspoken, and explains that Dean is untrustworthy and the three were targeting Tommy. She also exposes Elaine’s idol, and now there’s a lot of back and forth between everyone. Elaine says she was retailiting to her being thrown as the target. Quickly, Noura is working on damage control as the Vokai four realise Noura has been caught in a lie.
Speaking of being caught in a lie, Rob explains to Sandra (yes they’re still here) that Noura is trying to talk out of her lie. When Sandra’s literally sitting right there watching the whole thing unfold herself. WTF Rob? If this season has brought something it’s these hilarious and iconic moments literally all season long.
Back to the Tribal events, Karishma is just sitting in her seat and staying quiet the entire time. She pipes up a little. But she doesn’t get up. She doesn’t jump to talk to people. Does she wanna stay? I can’t see how it’s logical to not talk to anyone. Her name is potentially on the line! She’s already in the split vote! After it quietens down, Jeff asks Noura how she feels after instigating the whole fiasco. But Noura quickly reminds him that it was Dean who instigated it all, not her. Rightfully so. How did Jeff mess that up? Seems odd for him to call out Noura when it seemed obvious to be Dean but okay. Sure. Good on Noura for speaking the truth.
After the tribe votes, Elaine gets up to play her idol, understandable amongst the confusion that was this Tribal Council. It wasn’t needed though, as in a surprising turn of events, Karishma is voted out of the game 5-3, with three votes on Noura. Once again to the delight of Dan who feels the need to fist pump and celebrate when she’s voted out. What is with this guy?
Let’s look at the obvious. Dean. Why? Dean’s bought himself a ticket into Tommy’s main alliance. He’s probably sitting in the final three too. But WTF was this? He’s not playing to win, he’s playing to get further and that’s gonna cost him. As always, I’d love to be proven wrong but damn this just seemed like a colossal mistake for what was otherwise the perfect move. Tommy going? It would have completely shaken up the game and yes, the goat army would have well and truly risen with Dean in a very favourable position. I actually think this solidifies Lauren’s, Tommy’s and Janet’s chances of winning. Because they now have the numbers, they now have better gameplay, and I think Noura and Dean barely stand a chance now. Noura’s got a lot of damage control and now I think it’s going to be near impossible to get to the end because now both sides can’t trust her. And Dean’s just made a bad call in his gameplay that won’t help him any.
If Noura manages to find someone to trust her again and then make it to the end, I can see a big heroic finish where she comes full circle. But this whole fiasco hasn’t helped her earn much for the future. And it’s all Dean’s fault! I’m not happy about it.
Congrats to Lauren on her first Immunity win. A really great victory for her and just something great to add to her resume. But OMG she was targeted for being a threat? It seems like hiding as she did is no longer. Lauren needs to watch her back, and considering she gave a confessional explaining she didn’t think she needed the necklace, I’m worried for her.
Karishma. I’m gonna miss her. She was a really interesting character and a unique presence to the season. But was her undoing not speaking up at Tribal, like, almost at all? Why didn’t she get up and say something? Secure her spot? My only thinking why it doesn’t matter is that, if they’re keeping Noura, worried about Elaine’s idol, and trust Dean, she’s the only option. But maybe she could have advocated for Noura more. Promised anything and everything? I’m not sure. Too little too late. I personally just couldn’t imagine just sitting there and then find out I’m eliminated only moments later. That’d suck! Fight for your game! Anyway. It’s hard to really tell unless you’re out there. But I so think she should have tried something.
What the hell is going on with Dan? Granted, the moment with his kid was really amazing and just great but why does this guy have to celebrate when Karishma loses the challenge or is voted out? He did that with Kellee too. Like, no, dude. I didn’t like this guy when the season started, inappropriate behaviour or not. But it’s not like he’s even earning any good graces from me. I just don’t get it. My patience is wearing thin. Unfortunately.
Now the Loved Ones visit. I was always under the impression it was an episode that the very vast majority of people love but I’ve been reading a bit of hate for the episode lately. Why? It’s because people “can’t stand” when the players get really hysterical with their emotions and love for their Loved One counterpart. It’s being compared to war and when a veteran leaves/returns home. First of all, this is NOT anything like war or armed service. So I think it’s really inconsiderate to compare the two. But also, do people not get what Survivor is? In some arguments, people explain that it’s just three weeks away from home. But if you’re a bloody fan of the show, shouldn’t you know that Survivor is a show where people have no food, no shelter, bad hygiene, an inability to have any trust with anyone PLUS SO MUCH MORE. It’s not a three week vacation! How could anyone be so ignorant and arrogant to say it’s annoying when players act so emotionally to seeing someone they love and trust?
I just think that’s such a low blow and a sign of someone who isn’t a true fan of the game of Survivor. Additionally, I think it’s something that can only be understood if it’s lived. Even I can’t speak from the sheer experience of the stressful and emotionally taxing game, but I get why they are really emotional. I’m actually angry writing this. I didn’t think I’d care so much. But I feel I have a right to defend these players against the hate for their own emotions. If you’re gonna hate on someone for literally showing that they love someone else, what the hell is wrong with you? Is there even a little humanity into the situation? I think people should think twice before they just write something so hateful. Also, regardless of whether we consider the situation the Survivor players in and how hard it is for them. Why does it matter? Who are we to decide if someone’s emotions are acceptable or not? Just because someone cries a lot when they see someone, and you wouldn’t, doesn’t mean they’re wrong for acting that way!
Congrats to you if you’d be a stronger person out in those conditions who doesn’t cry when you see your partner/child/parent etc. What do you want, a medal? Stop hating on someone else’s own personal experience and emotions. It’s got bad taste and it’s a really crappy representation of you and how you deal/talk about other people. I don’t mean to offend, don’t get me wrong, but I am firmly on the camp that the Loved Ones visit is a beautiful and iconic episode of the Survivor experience. I’m sure 99% of previous players will agree with me. And I’m really against someone who hates the Loved Ones episode BECAUSE of the emotion. As I said, some people really don’t get Survivor.
So, as always, let’s learn to love each other for who we are. Stop hating on someone for their own emotions and decisions. Our world would be a better place with a positive attitude, but I guess this’ll often fall on deaf ears.
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.
TOMMY SHEEHAN he survived! Props to his great social game for getting Dean to abandon an otherwise solid strategic plan for him. Tommy is a great social player but I am still waiting for the big kick. The big event that makes me go, yeah, he’s a truly great player. It’s coming. I can feel it. But damn Tommy is great. The relationship with Lauren might be costly though. We already saw it a reason to target him before. So it’ll be interesting just how and if he’ll survive the game with his perceived more sociable and strategic partner in crime Lauren.
LAUREN BECK speaking of Lauren, here she is the Immunity queen! Really. Way to dig deep in that challenge and survive it. She did round out what I think are points for each aspect of gameplay. But now she is being targeted for it. I think her clock is ticking. And thankfully we’re nearing the end so she might escape the impending elimination but it’ll be a tough road. We’ve seen Lauren become quite emotional, so if people start turning against her, is it possible she crumbles under the pressure? I’m gonna say no, because I do think she can dig deep when necessary, as we saw this week. If she can maintain her close allies, maybe she’ll survive. But she’s the biggest threat and people know it. Here’s hoping it’s not over just as it’s getting good.
JANET CARBIN is starting to slip in my winning picks. Her gameplay isn’t excelling compared to others, BUT she’s still probably the most likable player left. So I can imagine the jury rewarding her the win simply for that. She’ll stay in the top five simply because of the two I left out. And I still love Janet, don’t get me wrong! But I just don’t think she’ll win the game. Unfortunately. I think she’ll be targeted. And soon. But good on her for working her way back into the majority with Lauren, Tommy and Dan. I just think it’s a matter of time before her elimination. It might even be what saves our next entrant.
NOURA SALMAN why did Dean have to do us like that Noura? You were doing so well! You had the right mindset in taking out the top because you were on the bottom, you had a great plan and were with it despite everyone thinking you wouldn’t. But that Dean. It’s on him but unfortunately I think Noura is really going to struggle after this. Good news? She’s capable of winning Immunity. But if she loses will anyone trust her to go along with the vote? I see a glimmer, and that’s because nobody trusts her that she’s now a free agent. Perhaps she’ll be used as a good fourth number to progress one stage further. And maybe she makes it to the end. I think it’s a very difficult road there though. I’m hoping something changes. I need some good justice for Noura. This episode was a disaster, and it’s not even her bloody fault.
ELAINE STOTT may have wasted an idol but I don’t blame her after the events of Tribal. Much like Janet though, she’s a huge jury threat. And those Lairo guys are going to love her at the Final Tribal if she’s there. I do think she’ll get targeted soon so maybe she’ll have a few tricks up her sleeve. She found an idol once, maybe she can do it again? Being on the bottom though, it doesn’t look great for her. But she’s shown she’s capable of great strategic gameplay, much to some people’s surprise. So I’m loving the Elaine that’s been introduced to us this season. If she can pull out a win, I’ll be well and truly surprised and thankful for a great finish. Odds say it ain’t happening though…
Only two episodes to go, who will be eliminated next week?
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