“Survivor: Island of the Idols” Premiere Recap – When You Play with Fire…

“Survivor: Island of the Idols” (CBS)

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Set Your DVR to Record “Survivor: Island of the Idols”

We kick things off with “Survivor” Hall of Famers “Boston” Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine telling us that school is in session. They’re gonna learn these newbs how to do Survivory things like burn hats, recover from crybaby-itis, and carry your family literally (but really figuratively) on your back.

Oh, there are new players on this season too. Two boats, full of ten players each, are jetting off to their tribe beaches. Maroonings are so spring of 2019.

Finally, Jeff Probst…while dangling out of a friggin’ helicopter…says something about…

39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Jeez…be careful, buddy! You’re a father.

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Lairo Tribe (wearing orange)

  • Aaron, 36 – Gym Owner
  • Chelsea, 26 – Digital Content Creator
  • Dean, 28 – Tech Sales
  • Elaine, 41 – Factory Worker
  • Elizabeth, 26 – Olympic Medalist
  • Karishma, 37 – Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Missy, 24 – Air Force Veteran
  • Ronnie, 35 – Pro Poker Player
  • Tom, 60 – Former NHL Player
  • Vince, 27 – Admissions Counselor

The Vokai Tribe (wearing purple)

  • Dan, 48 – Talent Manager
  • Jack, 23 – Graduate Student
  • Jamal, 33 – College Administrator
  • Janet, 59 – Chief Lifeguard
  • Jason, 32 – Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Kellee, 29 – MBA Student
  • Lauren, 28 – Nanny
  • Molly, 27 – Law Student
  • Noura, 36 – Entrepreneur 
  • Tommy, 26 – 4th-Grade Teacher

Landing on Lairo Beach

The group is greeted by their tribe flag which gives them a hint toward the season’s theme; “Island of the Idols.” Chelsea, and I’m assuming everyone else, takes this to mean that immunity idols will play a big role. I immediately would have assumed there was an island with two comically large busts of reality TV stars. But, I’ve been doing this a while.

During a getting-to-know-you montage, we learn that Karishma is from India, Tom is a former NHL player, and Elizabeth is an Olympic swimmer.

Oh…oh Elizabeth…I might have kept that fact under my buff for a while.

We also get to know Missy a little better. She has an amazing background where she had to leave the military due to a brain tumor. It cost her the ability to walk and talk and she almost died. However, she was able to defeat it through medication and now she’s looking to be the “Soul” Survivor. I also might have a dust problem in my living room.

Gimme a minute…

Landing on Vokai Beach

Lauren is trying to figure out what this whole “Island of the Idols” business means. She can’t quite figure it out, but she’s pretty sure it will be cool. Well…we’ll see, Lauren.

In other news, Janet is out to prove that voting the older woman out of the tribe early would be a mistake because this older lady is a rockstar when it comes to making fire. Way to be, Janet.

Fun Fact: My mother’s name is Janet, and her biggest pet peeve is people who go on “Survivor” who don’t know how to make fire. She’s also paranoid about irons being left on.

Strategically, it looks like Jack and Tommy are a pair. With Tommy making the rounds and trying to make genuine connections with all of his tribemates. He even confesses to Lauren that he hopes to propose to his girlfriend this year. Oh…hopefully he intended to do that before October.

Rookie Mistakes

Early on it looks like Vince, Tom, and Elaine are going to form some kind of alliance. However, this is not lost on the other seven members of their tribe.

Meanwhile, over at Lairo, Jason is caught spending too much time looking for immunity idols. Noura tips him off that the others think he’s shifty, but the damage has already been done.

Also, Dan is way too touchy-feely with Kellee and Molly. Fortunately, Dan and Kellee were able to talk it out in a civilized manner.

I know they give them DVD sets of “Survivor” to watch before they send them out there. How do these same goof-ups keep happening? All we were missing was someone putting their game on the line to protect a chicken.

Too Likable, Too Early

Over at Lairo, aside from the previously mentioned Elaine/Tom/Vince alliance, Elaine is also working on putting together an all-female force. Add that to the fact that she seems to be the life of the party around camp, and you have a recipe for putting a target on your back.

And who’s aiming at that target? Ronnie the poker player.

He takes her aside and gives her a passionate speech as to why they should work together and…I don’t buy it. Too much, too fast.

Elaine doesn’t buy it either. She thinks he’s a weasel.

Immunity Challenge Time: The players will race across an obstacle course and then up a platform. The first tribe to complete the village-shaped puzzle at the top of the platform will win immunity and flint.

Quick Aside: The puzzle kind of looks like the “Survivor: Gabon” Tribal Council set.

Another Quick Aside: The obstacles are so intense that people are flopping and flying everywhere in a violent manner. Good thing there are two personal injury attorneys in the cast.

Result: Vokai wins immunity by a mile. It wasn’t even close.

After Vokai is sent home, Probst tells Lairo that they’ll have to send someone to the “Island of the Idols.” A random draw is held and Elizabeth wins. She will be back in time for Tribal.

Yikes, I’d be freaking out if I was separated from my people before the first Tribal Council.

The Island of the Idols

Elizabeth is rightly shocked by the appearance of “Survivor” legends “Boston” Rob and Sandra. Rob breaks down the rules that the idols aren’t allowed to vote or participate in the game. Hopefully, it stays that way.

The first lesson is a tutorial on how to build a fire. And it…is…boring.

Rob walks her through it and is able to start a fire in about five seconds. Elizabeth gives it a go and is eventually able to figure it out.

Once she’s comfortable with her skills, Rob challenges her to a duel. If she can beat him, she’ll get an idol that’s good for her next two Tribals. But, if she loses it’ll cost her her next vote.

Um…she just saw Rob start a fire in no time.

Honestly, I’d see if I could get him to the throw the challenge. He has no horse in this race. It’s not like he can trade her vote for a sandwich.

Anywho, for some insanely insane reason, she decides to take him up on this challenge. And Rob immediately lets us know that it was a mistake that she didn’t try to negotiate with him!

Island of the Idols Challenge: The first person to build a fire big enough to burn through a rope will win.

Result: Rob decimated her. But, he spins it as a lesson in knowing your limits.

Maybe next time she can play LeBron James in a game of HORSE.

Pre-Tribal Politicking

Vince, Elaine, Tom, and Chelsea are targeting Ronnie, while Karishma, Missy, Ronnie, Dean, and Aaron are throwing out Elaine’s name.

However, Karishma is torn because her first alliance was the all-woman quintet.

Elaine is understandably freaked out, so she tells Ronnie’s crew that she’ll vote for Vince if that’ll save her skin.

When Elizabeth returns to camp, she tells everyone that she played a game for a chance to win an idol but lost. She doesn’t mention losing her vote or “Boston” Rob and Sandra.

Wait, why lie? It’s going to come out eventually that they’re out there.

She chats with everyone, Aaron tells her the vote is Vince. Missy tells her the vote is Ronnie.

Tribal Time

Ha! Rob and Sandra get to watch the proceedings from a little closet. Tribal takes a long time to film. I wonder if they’re crammed in there for the full two hours?

It’s confirmed that Elaine is in trouble due to being too likable. She gets very emotional when faced with the possibility of being the first person out.

Ronnie lists the many jobs he’s done. It’s like he’s auditioning for the role of Debbie Wanner in “Survivor: Game Changers” the movie.

Vince also gets emotional when discussing his uncertainty with his place in the tribe.

Also, am I the only person seeing this…

Voting Time: No votes are shown.

J-Pro tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Vince, one vote for Ronnie, one vote for Vince, four votes for Ronnie, and the first person eliminated from “Survivor: Island of the Idols” is…Ronnie.

Verdict: I really like this cast. And, I think they did a good job introducing us to a lot of them this week. I found the fire-making portion of the Island of the Idols kinda boring, but I have faith that the lessons will pick up in the future. And, anything that puts more Sandra in my life can’t be that bad.

  • Tom: Tom’s alliance buddies were freaking out left and right and he was there calming them down and trying to set them straight. He’s going to be a force.
  • Missy, Chelsea, and Karishma: I don’t know if this trio discussed their moves, but they’re smartly playing both sides of the tribe. It’s way too early to get caught up in a dispute and they seemed to handle it just right.
  • Jack and Tommy: Just some bros being bros with everyone. High fives.
  • Janet: There’s a very fine line between, “Hey guys, I’m useful” and “Hey guys, I’m a threat.” It looks like Janet walked that line perfectly.
  • Kellee: You had a problem with a tribemate and were able to discuss it in a manner that put both of you at ease. It sounds simple, but we know it isn’t. Well done.
  • Noura: I think there’s a real art to being the person the person on the bottom relies on (we saw Missy doing this too). Approaching Jason was a good move as long as others didn’t see you doing it.
  • Elaine: It’s hard to grade you this low, because it feels like your crime was being too likable. Hopefully you can learn from this and adjust your strategy.
  • Vince: Paranoia is a major thing people underestimate in the game. It’s getting the best of you.
  • Dan and Jason: You both got off on the wrong foot, but you’ll have time to right the ship.
  • Elizabeth: I don’t understand why you lied about Rob and Sandra when you know it’ll come out. And, I REALLY don’t know why you’d challenge Rob to a fire challenge.
  • Aaron: Everybody who was allowed to vote voted against your boy except for you. That’s bad news.
  • Drew, Jamal, Lauren, Molly: I can’t give you full credit if you don’t show your work.


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Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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