The early hype surrounding the 36th season of Survivor was mixed. The theme is Ghost Island. No one really knew what we could expect.
It was going to be used similarly to Exile Island – where castaways are exiled from their tribe and sometimes they can find Hidden Immunity Idols, but they lose the ability to bond with their tribe. But because host Jeff Probst kept billing it as a graveyard for bad decisions and promos hinted that previous idols and advantages were going to come into play, fans knew that this would be a heavily twisted season.
Sure enough, that was the case. Survivor plays out in a very simple way. In this case two tribes of ten compete in challenges to get rewards and immunity. The losing tribe goes to tribal council where they vote out one of their own. This time, however, one of the losing tribe members is safe. They go to Ghost Island while the rest of their tribe eats one of their own.
Malolo (Orange) lost the first Immunity Challenge after winning the first Reward Challenge. They were riding high until Naviti (Purple) proved they were the far (and I mean faaaaar) superior team once they got to bond. Naviti sent super fan Jacob to Ghost Island while the rest of the Malolo tribe had to figure out who to send home.
Jacob was the best person who could possibly be sent to Ghost Island for a casual fan. He explained all of the relics that decorated the island from previous seasons. He was a terrific narrator for that moment. He also perfectly laid out the mechanics of being sent to Ghost Island. There are a row of urns you must break (this has to be done in order so it seems everything is predetermined and produces can’t change their mind depending on who is sent). Each urn will reveal whether or not a castaway can play a game of chance to win an idol or advantage or if they are just out of luck.
Jacob got lucky and eventually got Sierra/Sarah’s Legacy Advantage from Game Changers. The trick though was that he had to will it to a member on the opposite tribe. He selected Morgan. Meanwhile, he was wondering who would be sent home.
The Malolo tribe basically has two easy targets due to physical weakness. Jacob was safely tucked away on Ghost Island, but Donathan was the other easy option. He’s a thin, but doughy gay man from Eastern Kentucky. His “hick” twang and personality are so endearing. He’s never been out of the country and rarely has interacted with anyone who wasn’t white. He quickly bonds with Laurel, a black woman who used to be a college volleyball player.
However, some of the tribe knew they could use him as a vote because he was just happy to be there. That’s exactly what happened. Stephanie targeted Gonzales, a spicy Latina who was bossy during the challenge they lost and seems to be playing a little too hard. She eventually got landslide voted out 8-1 (she voted for Donathan and Jacob didn’t vote). After the game we texted via Instagram and she said there was a lot they didn’t show and she was afraid to check Reddit because of how savage the fans can be.
What about Naviti on this first voting cycle? Basically, Domenick is a loud mouthed construction worker who is rubbing some people wrong. Namely Chris, a model from NYC with roots in Florida. He bonded with a laid back bro named Sebastian. He’s the second coming of fan favorite Ozzy. Both Wendell and Kellyn were highlighted as well, but not too much. They both talked about their personal lives going through transitions, which hopefully means they will stick around a little bit and the producers want fans to care about them enough to be excited to see them deep in the merge.
That’s because how the next Reward and Immunity Challenge, which was combined, went out. Again, the Naviti tribe dominated. It came down to James, a Harvard graduate and former track star, wasn’t able to dive down. Donathan gave up and sat on the dock during this, but was convinced to dive back down and try to unleash a buoy. It finally happened, but was too late.
He got a hero edit showing how he overcame his weakness and is strong enough on the inside. It basically hinted he wasn’t going home, which turned out to be true because he was sent to Ghost Island. Unfortunately, there was no game of chance for him. So the best thing that came out of it was being immune from Tribal Council.
Jacob, who came back before the reward, lied to his tribe saying he only found a Hidden Immunity Idol on Ghost Island and even showed them a fake idol he made. No one believed it though because he didn’t have the parchment that came from it. It set up an easy demise for him to be sent home second, but not before he told Stephanie that Morgan has the Legacy Advantage. Who knows how that will play out?
Because Malolo went to Tribal twice in the course of the premiere, we don’t really know too much about Naviti. As previously mentioned, I think they’re setting up a potential clash between Domenick and Chris. Dom (I’m shortening it from now on) did find an idol, but showed Chris a fake one after lying about it. Chris knows something fishy is going on. Other than those two, the majority of the tribe was invisible. I don’t think I heard Angela’s voice. I barely remember Chelsea and Bradley. I am confident in saying they will not win. Now, how far they will go remains to be seen.
Malolo on the other hand got a lot of juicy tidbits revealed. The power players are definitely Stephanie and PE coach Brendan. He’s the oldest on the tribe but is in peak physical shape. He has some faults that were shown, but will definitely be a player. As for Donathan? He might be able to weasel his way deep into the merge because no one expects anything from him.
Adam’s Four Tiers of Win Probability:
High: Dom, Wendell, Kellyn, Donathan, Brendan, Stephanie
Medium: Sebastian, Michael, Chris, Desiree, Morgan, James, Laurel
Low: Angela, Bradley, Chelsea, Jenna, Libby
Out: Gonzales, Jacob