Survivor: Ghost Island

Survivor: Ghost Island — “Can You Define the Word ‘Curse’?”

Logan Saunders recaps episodes 1 & 2 of Survivor: Ghost Island ahead of episode 3.




























“I wanna give individual immunity to Natalie.”

“This is NOT a hidden immunity idol.”

“I have two idols; I guess I should have played them.”

“One bad decision can haunt you forever.”

So. . .the worst decisions are all based on events at Tribal Council?


But aren’t some of the worst decisions in history not even based on events that happened at Tribal Council?

What about FBI Joe Del Campos eating a bunch of meat after being vegetarian for twenty years, and being med evac’d on day 35? Couldn’t someone dig up preserved meat in the sand with a note saying “Can you eat this at a reasonable pace to redeem Joe Del Campos and REVERSE. THE. CURSE.”

Or have a firepit with the peeled skin of Michael Skupin near it with ‘can you blow on this fire without inhaling the smoke and REVERSE. THE. CURSE.”

Or redo the third immunity challenge from Survivor: Thailand that Sook Jai threw which disrupted the stranglehold on this game, and whoever opts to throw it has to rally back in subsequent rounds and REVERSE. THE. CURSE.

Survivor is about far too many things than random events that happen at Tribal Council.

But here we are. A season based on additional talismans, hidden immunity idols, and advantages at Tribal Council that are mostly hidden immunity idols and extra votes.

This season is going to be a mess. It’s much easier to blog about a season when you know you it will be over-saturated with so many twists that you know you can’t take it seriously. Luck will be a bigger factor than ever this season.

We now cut back to more highlights.

“It’s just an f–king stick.”

Oh, my word. We’re going to have the actual stick to come back. Maybe it will have a frowny face this time rather than a smiley face?



For the first time since Survivor: Samoa, there are no pre-arranged themes in terms of how the tribes are split. Age, gender, profession, personality, or returnees.

Jacob, the superfan blogger from Inside Survivor, is the first to start cussing after being notified of Ghost Island. How fitting.

None of the players introduce themselves to Probst. We go straight into electing a leader. We really are going back to Samoa in terms of twists.

As I predicted, Brendan is elected to be the leader of Malolo.

And as I not predicted, Chris Noble is elected the leader of Naviti.

Probst instructs Brendan to pick somebody who can handle the physical part. He picks the Not-18-Year-Old Michael Yerger.

Probst then instructs to pick somebody who can handle a puzzle. Brendan picks Laurel Johnson.

Chris picks Not Sebastian a.k.a. Not Ozzy or Joe to do the physical part. Now it’s time to pick somebody to do the puzzle–


Somebody really doesn’t want to stand out on the first day amongst a group of twenty people. She is more than happy to fade.

Chris picks Desiree. Perhaps because of her really short blonde hair that she might be a hairstylist or something and therefore is good at puzzles, but Desiree immediately lets us know this is not the case.

NOTE: I always love this for a day one challenge. I am fascinated what people pick up about each other based on almost no information, or what we project onto others based on their appearance.

Let’s review:

a) Both tribes pick a leader who is White, fit, and appears to be in their 30s (go ahead and take the compliment, Brendan)

b) Both leaders picked their most athletic looking young White male on the tribe to do the physical part of the challenge

c) Both leaders picked their minority female to do the puzzle

Both tribes have a similar line of thinking just minutes into the game. Trying to counter each other strategically should be a fun game this season if everyone has the same mindset.


First person race through a series of obstacles to dig up keys then puzzle solver uses three keys to open a puzzle and solve a slide puzzle.

And yes, I still suck at slide puzzles.

What’s the reward? We’ll find out soon enough.

A pot, a machete, and much less rice than any previous season of Survivor. Nick Brown would be dead. However, there is also an extensive fishing kit.

The winning tribe will receive a massive shelter building kit courtesy of Lenscrafters.

The losing tribe loses their fishing kit.

When the puzzle starts, Probst will release a sand timer. If the leader thinks their puzzle solver is on a path to defeat, they can forfeit the challenge and preserve their fishing kit. However, this allows the other tribe to win twenty eggs and fire in the form of flint.

It’s a lot for the average viewer to take in all at once if they don’t have PVR and pause to absorb all of this information.

For some reason, we see a Dream Teamer pour sugar on their slide puzzle before pulling it out.

Survivors Ready. . .Go!

Sebastian and Michael start digging. One of the women tells Sebastian to dig deep. Minutes out of the gate and we have a Probst-ism.

After two keys, both tribes are in a virtually identical position. This is going to come down to the puzzle. Nobody is going to have a substantial lead in the physical portion. Both guys are exhausted during their third trip. Sebastian slows down but Michael is even slower. Regardless, Sebastian’s lead must have been less than thirty seconds.

Desiree unlocks the puzzle; the sand timer has begun. Seconds later, the stand timer begins for Laurel.

Brendan and Chris are like two guys watching a tennis match as they keep looking back and forth between both puzzles. Brendan is coaching Laurel. This guy is such a freakin’ leader.

The sand is seconds away from being empty. Chris is nervous; he forfeits the puzzle as the tiles fall to the ground.

Malolo wins the first challenge of the game by DEFAULT! The two sweetest words in the English language.

Probst asks Chris about his decision to quit. He thinks it was worth it to preserve the fishing gear.

Domenick says aloud that he would have played this situation differently from Chris. Our first bit of conflict of the season and Chris is already involved. That doesn’t surprise me.

Malolo goes to camp happy while Domenick is pissed about Malolo’s advantage.




LAUREL: This is like the best tribe ever.

Let’s keep that in mind.

We are brought into the fold about Mike’s lie where he is pretending to be a twenty-three-year-old real estate agent.

Jacob notes the plethora of abs on his beach.

Because Malolo has two Stephanies, Stephanie Gonzalez joins Sarah Dawson in the club of women who go by their last name. She says she ain’t your average girly girl–she grew up in Puerto Rico with horses and sh-t.

GONZALEZ: They have seen nothing yet.

And neither will I.

Donathan and Laurel walk together. He explains that he lives in Kentucky where it “kinda peaks”. I didn’t know there was a peak in Kentucky. It’s funny because he tells Laurel about the peak in Kentucky as if it is common knowledge.

DONATHAN: Where I’m from it’s mainly Caucasian. I’ve never had an African-American friend. . .I want to get to know people I would never know before. Like James.

He also says there aren’t any gay men like he is in eastern Kentucky. No gay people, no African-Americans, and no Asian-Americans. This is going to be a fun experience for Donathan.




Sebastian introduces himself as a fisherman; Chris introduces himself as the man from “the city of dreams”. Geez. He is such an early year.

Kellyn reminds us of her “heck of a year” from her pre-season interviews as she talks about being married, divorced, and finished grad school.

Domenick asks Sebastian if his friends call him Sea Bass.

SEBASTIAN: I don’t know.


OK, Domenick.

Domenick starts complimenting Sebastian’s ten-pack on his stomach. What’s with Jacob and Domenick obsessing over abs on the first day?

Domenick tells his tribe that he puts on weight when he looks at pizza and that he used to weigh 270 pounds.

DOMENICK: Like, I was so heavy that I was featured on a TLC reality show.

Nah, just kidding. Domenick goes full-on Dr. Phil weight loss story about doing it for his family, and how they only let him do Survivor for him to “bring home the bacon”.

What’s with his family’s obsession with food?

Chris asks Sebastian if he was named after Sebastian Inlet. They have a Florida connection. Morgan, Domenick, and Wendell note Sea Bass and Chris are walking alone with their abs.

SEBASTIAN: When Chris started telling me all of this stuff about Florida, I was immediately attracted to him. Both lobster fishermen, going to the Bahamas and back. We’re like kids in a candy shop picking out what kind of gummies we want.

Wow. This bromance hit the ground running! I was not expecting that gummy analogy. Sebastian and Chris are not winning this game. Chris wants to eliminate Domenick when they go to Tribal Council.




Jacob takes off his shoes in order to wash his feet. The tide comes in and sweeps away his shoes. At least he didn’t give up as many articles of clothing as Osten did.

Jacob notes the pretty people are going to gang up on him and Donathan. We cut to Jacob talking to James and Donathan about the existence of an idol.

JACOB: I’m going to go exploring.

Way to be subtle about idol hunting.

JACOB: I’m surprised has followed me yet.

Wow. Day two and his tribe is not giving him any credibility AT ALL.

The rest of the tribe has a huddle. Brendan tells everyone that the good vibes are keeping them tight and that Jacob is interfering with the vibes. They instead look for yams rather than idols.

Jacob returns to camp.

JACOB: I have watched every season since I was four.

I wonder what four-year-old Jacob would think about Final Threes, Ben Bombs, and that F4 fire tiebreaker. Would he be shouting “THIS IS INTERFERING WITH THE INTEGRITY OF THE GAME!”

Jacob empties out the rice for a clue. Nothing in there.



Wendell talks about his furniture background with Desiree. His father loved doing furniture too. He is constructing a lobster trap. We are reminded of his transition from law school to dropping out to furniture designing and is very fond of Domenick’s construction background.

Wendell and Sebastian talk about their first target.

SEBASTIAN: Unless someone is just horribly horrible at the challenges, I don’t know, I guess Dom.

WENDELL: Well, I like him. Keep thinking. We’ll figure it out.

Sebastian may or may not want to shift his target to Wendell. Clearly, they’re not on the same page.

Wendell, Brendan, and Domenick talk about Sebastian’s proposal to knock Domenick out. Dom is confident Sebastian only got this idea from Chris, and that Chris needs to be dealt with. Chris being a first boot is not surprising me whatsoever.


Race across a net bridge, work together to retrieve two bags of rope, then use those ropes to pull a sled full of heavy puzzle pieces. The puzzle pieces form the traditional cube puzzle. The first tribe to complete the puzzle wins immunity.

Probst unveils the tribal immunity idol. Libby is happy to see it. We also learn somebody from the losing tribe will be the first person ever to visit Ghost Island.

Survivors ready. . .Go! Chris trips at the end of the net bridge in front of Wendell. Both guys go down, but couldn’t give less of a damn about it.

Chelsea and Morgan untie both bags.

Libby and Donathan untie both bags. Libby was the very last person to untie.

Half of the puzzle pieces can fit in the sled. They are heavy enough to break Jeff Varner’s toes.

Both tribes are pulling their sled, but Malolo’s pieces fall out of the sled. Naviti completes their first trip. Malolo completes their first trip probably two or three minutes later.

Naviti is working on their second trip. Both tribes are absolutely exhausted before they start pulling again. Chris is very very red. It’s like what happens to those early UFC fighters who have too much muscle.

Naviti is done their second trip. Malolo is done about two minutes later.

Probst says Kelly is barking out instructions. She is jumping around all excited as she puts in pieces. She is definitely the early leading puzzle solver.

Gonzalez stops fellow Stephanie from barking out instructs for Malolo as she directs the tribe.

Naviti solves the puzzle quickly. Kellyn goes NUTS. She is like that Jonah Hill meme. Naviti receives fire and an idol.

Jacob is asked about the loss.

JACOB: We’re still one of the best tribes of all time. One loss does not mean a history of losses. We’ll come back from this. . .there’s never been a tribe as cohesive as this.

What a cheerleader.

Probst tells Naviti they will be picking somebody to go to Ghost Island who will obviously be immune.

They pick Jacob because he has been talking trash. Jacob says it was all a trap and baited them into giving him immunity.

Jenna says that Jacob was the obvious target and now everyone is scrambling for a backup plan.




I wish editors would have CGI’d the boat driver out to make it truly a Ghost Ship taking Jacob to Ghost Island. Oh well.

Jacob sees the original Survivor tribal immunity idols and the snuffers. He is very excited.

 There is a row of thirteen urns. One for each round leading up to the finale.

Jacob opens an urn.



Jacob walks up to a slope to a small clearing. Want to play a game?


There are two bamboo chutes. One will contain a key to unlock a secret advantage. Jacob decides to risk it. He chooses the chute with the key.

JACOB: Holy f–k.

Jacob wins the game of luck; he would be a great contestant on Endurance.

The secret advantage is not one to keep. It is Sierra’s Legacy Idol from Game Changers. She told Sarah of its existence on day 30 and Sarah blindsided her.

“Because of its poor execution, this Legacy Idol has lost its power.”

Ummm. . .didn’t Sarah use it on day 36?!

Jacob is assigning the Legacy Idol to Morgan because she looks spunky and therefore will make the merge.

JACOB: I have to believe that I can use this thing correctly and reverse the curse.

Take a drink for every time the phrase ‘reverse the curse’ is used. I don’t think producers know what a curse is.

Also, why are there Easter Island heads at the entrance to Ghost Island?

Gonzalez rounds everyone up to remind them of what went wrong in the challenge. Donathan thinks Gonzalez will go after the weak, and pitches that Gonzalez shut everybody up to Stephanie and another female who hasn’t received any airtime.

Gonzalez tells Jenna and Brendan that Donathan must go. Going after the obvious fan favorite on day 3? Not wise, Gonzalez.

Stephanie Johnson, who has the best hair ever, knows the first vote will set the tone of the game. Her, Laurel, Libby, and Jenna discuss the vote. Stephanie is convinced Donathan will be a servant who can be nurtured as opposed to Gonzalez who is VERY independent.

MICHAEL: She’s a really strong player.

STEPHANIE: She is, but is she?

Stephanie saying a lot without saying anything at all.

STEPHANIE: Donathan works harder than her.

MICHAEL: Uhhh. . .

Michael is not feeling good that Gonzalez, one of the strongest players on their tribe, is the opening target. He thinks this could screw them long term because of how good she is overall.



Gonzalez is asked about the excitement surrounding Ghost Island. She hopes Jacob will report what goes on out there but knows he’ll be digging for idols out there.

GONZALEZ: Jacob is a little. . .special.

Care to elaborate, Gonzalez?

Donathan is worried about the vote being about him due to being physically incompetent. We now jump into his Kentucky background of not having any life experience.

Probst brings up Gonzalez being involved with the puzzles from the sidelines. She says she is a master puzzle solver. Brendan says they hadn’t learned that about her within the first three days.

Jenna and Michael talk about how the main conversation determined who was the target, and how alliances haven’t formed yet. Gonzalez shifts her body to look at Michael. She is concerned and whispers to each player to ensure she is solid with everyone.

PROBST: Stephanie, is this making you nervous right now?


Stephanie Johnson is a much bigger badass than I ever thought she was going to be pre-season. Donathan is not included in the whispers amongst everyone. Eventually, it’s time to vote.

Donathan writes Gonzalez.

Gonzales writes Donathan.

The other seven votes remain a mystery.

FIRST VOTE: DONATHAN (with other drawings included)





Gonzalez does not look impressed.


Yes, it was spelled with an ‘S’.

Gonzalez has a mock tear roll down her face.


The tribe has spoken.


She does not receive any official final words. Sad.

Donathan is saved. Exit interviews determine the main conversation happened while she was recording a confessional, and she said ‘one lion, seven sheep’ to Brendan while exiting TC. Read into that what you will.




No Malolo post-TC reaction. Domenick can’t sleep. He finds an idol with the camera following him as the only source of light. It is so dark he can’t read the note until. . .




Domenick finds the second hidden immunity idol of the game. It’s Andrea’s idol from Survivor: Caramoan and was the first female to be blindsided with one. Domenick swears to REVERSE. THE. CURSE.

Bradley, Morgan, and Domenick talk about idols likely being available at Ghost Island. Morgan plays with her bikini as she contemplated if she should be sending strong people to Ghost Island.

Morgan walks away to see the Legacy Idol in her bag.

MORGAN: It’s the same one. I am touching it.

Yes, she is touching the same package that was in the back of Sierra’s unwashed jeans for over a month. What a prize.




Jacob decides that he will tell everyone about Ghost Island but replace the Legacy Idol with his own Fake Hidden Immunity Idol.

JACOB: I am telling the whole truth except that one little detail will save my life.




Brendan is chewing sea cucumbers. Jacob returns.

DONATHAN: Hey! It’s Jacob!

Note how nobody else is cheering.

JACOB: The truth about me is I have some damn good deception skills.

Let’s see, Jake.

Jacob pulls out his hidden immunity idol from his rice-filled sock. Hopefully, no one noticed the rice coming out of it.

BRENDAN: Do you have the ‘Congratulations, you have a hidden immunity idol’ note?

JACOB: No, I left it on Ghost Island.

Brendan points out to Michael, Stephanie, Libby, and Jenna about how there is no way the Survivor nerd doesn’t bring back the note with him.

In other news, you need to make fake notes as well as fake idols nowadays to lure people.

Stephanie realizes this could be a great opportunity to take a weakened Jacob under her wing and use him.




It’s the tribe of Domenick and nine others thus far. He demonstrates his power squatting skills. He pulls Chris aside that they need to play together.

DOMENICK: I think you’re awesome.

Chris may or may not buy that.

Chris asks Domenick if he has the idol.

DOMENICK: No one has even looked.

Chris may or may not buy that.

Domenick creates a fake idol with the paperwork of his real idol. Between Samoa and Kaoh Rong, we didn’t have any fake idols. Now they’re making a huge resurgence. My god.

Domenick shows Chris the fake idol with the note.

CHRIS: Something about it is off.

Chris may or may not buy Dom’s fake idol.

He goes on to say Domenick is still his biggest target.





Naviti giggles when they hear Gonzalez has been voted out. I don’t know why.

They’ll race through a series of obstacles, release two sets of buoys, gather all of the marked buoys to the finish where the remaining players will shoot them into a basket.

The first tribe to score all eight buoys into a basket wins immunity.

They’re also playing reward in the form of chairs, pillows, hammocks, and blankets. Once again, a loser will be immune by being sent to Ghost Island.

Angela, the silent and oldest contestant in the cast is sitting out. It’s the first time her name has been mentioned all season. I expect her gone by episode 3 or 4.

Bradley and Morgan are getting through the course faster than Michael and Libby. Libby’s

weightlifting is not paying off. Morgan quickly releases the buoys. Michael does so for Mayolo.

Sea Bass and Chelsea preserve the lead. Donathan and James are getting further behind. Sea Bass has the buoys released.

Chris jumps in to dive through the course on his own. Donathan is refusing to help with releasing the buoys. James breathes deep and can barely dive a foot. He is NOWHERE near the post to release the buoys.

Meanwhile, Chris is throwing over the marked buoys easily to the platform. James is doing worse than Ibrehem is with diving into the water. Mayolo asks Donathan to dive in as he keeps refusing. Even James begs and pleads with Donathan.

While Donathan hesitates, Desiree lands a ball in the basket. She fixes her top in between shots.

PROBST: This is about personal achievement. You can do this. Commit and go!

Probst wants this challenge to not be a blowout. Donathan dives in and releases the buoys.

Oh yeah, Desiree lands a second basket.

Stephanie is now in the water. Her bikini bottom is falling off as Desiree has three balls in the basket. Now four. Wendell takes over to get five.

Stephanie makes up time as she throws the buoys onto the platform.

Wendell lands number six and seven. He passes the final ball to Desiree.

Brendan is shooting for Mayolo and his form of casually tossing with his left hand is HORRIBLE. He isn’t shooting it like a basketball at all.

Desiree lands the final ball. Immunity is theirs. Desiree snags it.

Probst goes into talk show mode as Donathan is happy about his accomplishment.

Jacob smirks thinking it will be him again. He rolls his eyes when he hears they will be sending Donathan.

JACOB (flat): Bye buddy.

Naviti including a Bradley cannonball jumps into the water.

Jacob wants to take control of the game with his fake hidden immunity idol.




Donathan hopes Ghost Island will give him a great reward.



So much for that. Since when did Survivor hire the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld to write tree mail for them?

Donathan goes on about growing his confidence and how he is here to win. Son, ain’t nobody letting you get anywhere near a jury.




James apologizes and apologizes for his “pathetic” immunity challenge. I think James’ performance was one of pure panic.

Brendan bitches about James’ performance to Michael and Stephanie but still wants Jacob out. He says they need to split their votes between Jake and James. During this conversation, Brendan poses his shorts being at pube level. It’s hilarious.

Stephanie works her charm on Jacob.

STEPHANIE: I have wanted to work with you since the beginning of the game, and we sleep by each other.

Replace one word in that sentence and Stephanie’s relationship with Jacob is identical to Chrissy and Ryan’s.

Jacob intends to target Michael and knows he can get Laurel and James on his side to join them to oust Michael. He is so smitten by Stephanie that he does let her know the idol was fake. Jacob takes it a step further with telling her who has the Legacy Idol.

STEPHANIE: We’re a very unlikely couple.

So unlikely that it’s almost as if it isn’t even real.

JACOB: Beauty and the Beast.

STEPHANIE: Hahahaha!

Wow. Stephanie is really buttering Jacob up.

Steph and Jenna talk. They realize Jacob will do anything for them. Jenna doesn’t want Jacob to stay because she finds Jacob too annoying to be around and isn’t smart.

Laurel is worried a clique has formed without her. She, James, and Jacob are aligned.

Brendan, Libby, and Michael have a conversation elsewhere.

BRENDAN: They are talking to Jacob to help us pull the double cross. . .or they’re pulling the double-double cross.

. . .Or just a double cross on you.






James says as an athlete the worst thing you can do is let the team down. Jacob is quizzed about Ghost Island. James refers to it as “information imbalance,” and Probst falls in love with the phrase.

PROBST: Is this still the best tribe ever?

JACOB: Absolutely. I am 100 percent certain that these are some of the best people to ever be on Survivor.

Jenna claims alliances are shifting; Jacob agrees and is more about the relationships than before (even though those relationships is what kicked out Gonzalez).

Generic alliance talk and Brendan dismissing physical strength as being valued anymore in Survivor. Tribal Councils are going on for too long.

Brendan whispers to Michael that he believes they are being set up.

It’s time to vote. Jacob writes Mike.

JACOB: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen more.

And we’ve got one gut–we need to listen to that more.

Everyone votes.









Four is enough.


The tribe has spoken.

I can’t help but think about Mario Lanza’s Funny 115 entry about Max Dawson and how producers cast superfans to humiliate them. Jacob is joining that list.

PROBST: Something has to change fast for Survivor’s greatest tribe.

Since when did Malolo change their name to Koror?

Next Time on Survivor: Tribes are not punished for who they vote off at Tribal Council as we have two new tribes at the start of episode three! And Ghost Island is back into play.

I feel for both Gonzalez and Jacob. Gonzalez gave up a lot to go on Survivor and didn’t exactly get an experience that equals out the opportunities and events that she missed out at home. Jacob’s superfan dreams of the past eighteen years coming down to only appearing in a two-hour season premiere shattered him. He wouldn’t be the first one to go through that.

James’ stock has gone way down. He apologized for that performance the best way he could and tried to fade as much as possible. You still can’t ignore his abs. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a true strategic contender to win, though.

Stephanie was definitely the star of the episode. Her social skills and charm are incredible. I hope this swap doesn’t screw her over.

Angela’s name was uttered once, Chelsea’s name was uttered once, and Libby’s name was uttered two or three times by Probst. I expect all three of them will be eliminated soon.

Upon a re-watch of the episode, I didn’t realize how much content Jenna had. She doesn’t have much of a personality on-screen, but clearly, she has to be important in some capacity.

As noted by others, this was a VERY male dominated two hours. Domenick, Chris, Sebastian, Michael, Brendan, Jacob, Donathan, James, and Stephanie were all main characters with Wendell, Desiree, Gonzalez, Jenna, Morgan, Laurel, and Kellyn being in the background.

The only invisible male was Bradley.

I should note I also underestimated Kellyn. She was in the first half but not the second half which might be a big sign down the road.

Jacob has the record for most confessionals for a second boot ever out of all 36 seasons. I hope that fact alone cheers him up from a run that was beyond disappointing for him.

There really isn’t much to analyze gameplay wise. The idol-fake idol bluff to gain someone’s trust occurred on both tribes, the two most independent thinkers on Mayolo were ousted as they didn’t penetrate any of the group dynamics, and that was it.

All three challenges were solid. Yeah, the whole fishing gear dilemma was a bit much in the first ten minutes of the season when the audience is trying to figure out twenty new people, but hey, I’d prefer that over two fake idols and two real idols in the first six days of the game.

I don’t know why a tribe swap is necessary as Mayolo has a really interesting dynamic as they no longer have any obvious targets to go home, and Naviti would have had a bloodbath at their first TC as Domenick and Chris are aiming to take each other out.

I won’t be surprised if Domenick and Chris swap together to ensure this storyline is over earlier rather than later.

P.S. Do producers know what the definition of a curse is? Maybe they should just say ‘that random thing which wasn’t used correctly that one time.’

OK, maybe it isn’t quite as catchy.

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