Survivor: Ghost Island Recap

Episode 1, Part 1: Can You Reverse The Curse?

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

March 6, 2018

Least valuable player.

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Previously on Survivor, Jim Van Nest wrote this regular recap, saving us the aggravation of having to do so. Alas, there’s no such luck this season, as Jim is off parenting his college boys. Suffice to say that we were THRILLED about this turn of events, and we’re confident that Survivor won’t have any scummy people we hate this season. Please don’t crush our hopes before the season even begins.

The theme this season is Ghost Island, which makes us hope that the winning alliance this year is the Scooby Gang. The show begins by highlighting some previously crippling mistakes, like the time that the ice cream guy gave his hidden immunity idol to a hot woman and the time the undertaker (not The Undertaker) got eliminated despite holding two immunity idols. They’re setting the bar really high for this year, aren’t they?

As always, the show begins with a bunch of people acting shocked that a challenge starts the instant they get off the boat. Why does Survivor never cast people who have watched Survivor? Also, one guy looks like Bob Ross. We’re going to be crushed if he can’t paint.

Probst immediately puts both teams on the spot. They must choose captains to lead them on a challenge. Something called the Malolo tribe picks Brendan, who informs us that he is a coach and gym teacher. So, if the first Survivor challenge is bombardment, they’re in business. On the other tribe, an extremely tan guy named Chris is the people’s choice.

Each captain must choose one person to do the physical part of a challenge and another person to do a puzzle. Brendan chooses Knoxville’s own Michael Yerger for the physical portion, and a woman named Laurel for the puzzle. The latter choice makes Bob Ross shake his head. Clearly he’s great at Fluffy Clouds and puzzles!

Chris’s tribe is called Naviti, and he picks a guy named Sebastian for the physical challenge. Sebastian’s reaction is basically, “Yay! You noticed me!” Then, his selection for the puzzle is NOT Morgan, because she ducks and says, “NO!” Instead, he chooses Desiree, who laments her position. She is terrible at puzzles.

So, in this challenge, there are a few things up for grabs. Rice, a fishing kit, etc. The tribe that wins will also get some tools that will help make it easier to set up their camp. Also, they receive flint and 20 eggs.

A nifty little twist comes in. Probst will flip over a bottle with sand in it (an hourglass, but not). If one of the captains perceives that their team will not win, they can keep their fishing gear by forfeiting the challenge.

Michael and Sebastian are fairly evenly matched. Both are young guys with a lot of energy. By their third lap around the obstacle course, they’re both basically dead. But they get puzzle pieces back to the women responsible for solving them.

Even though Michael was a bit behind, Laurel is able to open and start her puzzle first. She starts to get a rhythm, which Chris on the other team notices. Desiree just isn’t good at this slide puzzle at all. So, Chris decides to stop the challenge in order to save Naviti’s fishing gear.

Obviously, Malolo is thrilled. Naviti, of course, isn’t so sure about Chris’s choice. When Jeff asks who would make a different choice, a “truth teller” named Domenick says that he wouldn’t have made the same choice. (He would have cost his team fishing gear.) Basically, Dom put Chris up as captain and acted like he agreed with the decision, but then turned on the guy when Probst questioned them about it.

“This is the best tribe ever,” says a Malolo tribe member who will not remember having made that claim in a few days.

“Wow, there’s a lot of abs here,” says Bob Ross. He’s got a bit of discomfort about being a beta male amongst so many alphas.

Soon, we meet Donathan, who asks Laurel if she’s married. She thinks that he’s flirting with her and immediately puts him in the friend zone with a reply of, “Uh, I have a boyfriend.” Of course, this is a total misread, because Donathan is gay. He hails from eastern Kentucky, and he’s actually really excited to befriend Laurel because she is African American. Where he’s from, he doesn’t have the opportunity to get to know many diverse personalities, and he figures Survivor gives him a chance to finally do so.

This is such a genuine, kind sentiment. We’re rooting for Donathan.

“You’re a fisherman and your name is Sebastian. You’re Sea Bass,” says Dom, angling to be the schoolyard bully. He follows that up by commenting on Sebastian’s abs, which are indeed ripped. Dom was fat once and lost some weight, and it’s clearly causing some insecurities to arise.

Chris and Sebastian go off together to bond. They’re both Florida guys. They both lobster in the Florida Keys. The both hang out in the Bahamas. It’s basically love at first sight.

For his part, Chris recognizes that Dom is not his friend. So, in the Naviti tribe, we have two dueling alphas already. How delightful.

We get the shenanigans music, because while washing his face in the ocean, Bob Ross (real name Jacob) loses his shoes as they are washed out to sea. He immediately gets paranoid, because he and Donathan are the only “non-pretty” people on the tribe.

So, he instantly goes off by himself to explore and look for an idol. Everyone knows exactly what he’s doing, but they don’t go after him. They definitely feel like Bob Ross is playing WAY to hard at this early stage.

His tribemates note that they’re going to go look for some yams, and they leave him on his own. So what does Bob Ross do? He thinks there might be a clue in the rice, so he pours it into his dirty sock to see what he can find. Nothing is there. “That was stupid,” he says. Yes, yes, it was. And gross.


Wendell, a former law student at Penn, decided that his real life’s passion was designing and building furniture. So, that’s what he does. He immediately bonds with Dom, a construction guy who he identifies with.

When Sebastian goes to Wendell to ask if Dom shouldn’t be the first boot, Wendell tells him, “NO.” Wendell immediately goes to Dom and tells him this tidbit of info, which makes Dom blame Chris, because Chris is his enemy. Sebastian’s not alpha enough to do battle with.

With that, it’s time for a Probst sighting and our first Immunity Challenge of the new season. Tribes have to run across a bridge to retrieve some ropes, which they will use to pull a sled full of Tetris style puzzle pieces. After all of the pieces are obtained, they’ll put it together, of course.

Immunity is at stake, of course, but Naviti is also playing for flint if they win. Also, one person from the losing tribe will be sent to Ghost Island.

Right out of the gate, Naviti gets started strong. They really work well together, and they are moving their sled well before Malolo can get theirs going. And then, Malolo drops several on the ground.

Naviti gets their first set, and Malolo is a little ways behind them. Naviti seems to have a lot more energy, and the two alpha guys seem to want to prove that they’re team MVP.

So, what you really need to know here is that Kellyn is an absolute beast of a puzzle solver. She knows EXACTLY where the pieces need to go.

Meanwhile over at Malolo’s puzzle, Donathan also knows exactly what needs to happen; however, he isn’t part of the puzzle making team. He totally gets that the colors need to match, but Gonzalez shuts him up and then leads the team astray.

Naviti wins easily.

After the loss, Bob Ross (Jacob) says that he knows that his tribe is the best one ever! So, that means he gets sent to Ghost Island by the other team, because he cannot be voted out. They know full well that he’d be the first boot, because he is annoying AF.

Obviously, Malolo is disheartened by this turn of events. They planned to get rid of Jacob, but now they’ll have to send home a strong player or Donathan (who is probably stronger than they think).

At Ghost Island, Jacob sees a bunch of past relics from Survivor seasons past. He sees instructions to “smash the urn,” which then sends him to a new clue. It’s a game of chance. If he wins, he’ll gain some sort of advantage in the game. If he loses, he will not be able to vote at the next Tribal Council.

He takes the chance and finds a key to unlock a chest with a Secret Advantage. It’s the authentic Legacy Advantage from Game Changers, which Sierra found but told Sarah about, leading to her own demise. So, Jacob must will the advantage to someone on the other tribe. He chooses Morgan, because she’s spunky, she has energy, and he thinks she will make it to the merge. (Basically, he thinks she’s cute.) Also, he hopes that she might think fondly of him if they both make the merge.

Back at Malolo, Gonzalez starts talking about the puzzle solution, basically saying exactly the strategy that Donathan had been discussing when she told him to shut up during the challenge.

Gonzalez reveals herself as a pretty big jerk as she talks about Donathan’s weakness. It’s not a good look for her, because her tribe mates are basically considering either Donathan or Gonzalez for the vote.

At Tribal Council, Gonzalez continues to make friends and influence people as she calls Jacob “special.” Yes, he’s weird. But it’s sure not the diplomatic thing to say during Tribal Council. So, Probst quickly seizes on the fact that if Jacob isn’t going home tonight, Donathan is the smallest guy remaining, so he must be in danger tonight.

Gonzalez claims to be awesome at puzzles and wishes she had been on the puzzle-making team. (Hint: they still would have gotten killed in the challenge… perhaps worse.)

After Michael indicates that any person who missed a conversation might be in trouble tonight, Gonzalez freaks out. She goes and starts whispering to all of the guys, and then the guys start whispering to the girls. Donathan is excluded, and he even leans away a little bit while they talk.

Nonetheless, Gonzalez, who had hoped to be one of Survivor’s great supervillains, instead goes home as the first boot. “Sad,” she says as she departs, but it looks like the tribe saw through her and even probably felt her toxicity. It was the right call. Donathan is one of those guys who will work with you to the merge and beyond.



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