Remember when I said in last episode’s review for Survivor: Ghost Island that Malolo needed a miracle? Yeah, things didn’t change. Even after a second tribe swap, the orange tribe continued their string of bad luck with another Tribal Council visit. This tribe is going down as one of the worst performing groups in Survivor history. And, to make matters worse, the tribe has had an alternating roster of players, so their performance can’t be blamed on a bad launch placement. Malolo will never overthrow Survivor: Palau’s Ulong as the worst tribe ever (that tribe lost EVERYONE before the merge), but they’re definitely earning their place in infamy if they can’t turn it around.
Whenever Survivor deviates away from the standard two tribe dynamic, the results can be hit-or-miss. The obvious downside is that many of the players don’t get the attention they deserve in the episodes, so by the time we make it to the merge or they’re voted out, they’re practically strangers. We’ve seen this before in the likes of Survivor: Cagayan. The upside is that certain castaways who were in major danger got a new chance at winning. When it came to the second tribe swap in Survivor: Ghost Island, players like Jenna benefited by being placed in a new group; she could make new relationships while still retaining the alliances that followed her to her new group. While her chances of winning are still low, this move will no doubt help her get farther.
Domenick and Chris were two other players who benefited from the move. Before the tribe swap, they were at each other’s throats ready to start a war and see which castaway would survive in the end. Now that they’ve been separated, they can focus on their own games and build relationships to push themselves further. If they get voted out before the merge, their elimination will be all on them. Right now, Domenick is faring better between the two. His new tribe liked him more and could see themselves working with him in the future. Chris, on the other hand, needs to make sure he keeps winning immunity challenges; his tribemates were already thinking about blindsiding him at the next vote if they got sent to Tribal Council. He needs to learn when to stay quiet until the merge; Laurel was not playing his game and would easily vote him out.
The blindfold challenge is a standard Survivor game that can leave castaways bruised and shaken. This type of challenge is a favorite because it’s tough to complete and the players earn their victory by having to listen to each other. After all the shouting, it’s easy to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the players. For example, Wendall has short-sighted memory and Domenick is a headstrong person who jumps into situations. What really stood out in this season’s version was having the caller direct their tribe to solve a puzzle. Puzzles are hard enough to finish, but having to lead someone to match designs and openings could almost be impossible if not done right. Desiree felt horrible for letting her tribe down, but the chances of winning were tough for anyone.
Why didn’t the Ghost Island twist happen during this round? With three tribes being created, now would’ve been the perfect time to maroon someone at the off-shore island. Not sending someone was a missed opportunity to truly utilize the island for what it was supposed to be. It’s still too early for the twist to be eliminated as we’ve only had four people go. Hopefully this isn’t a Big Brother situation where the twist gets slowly phased out without any explanation or reasoning.
Malolo was stuck in an interesting predicament going into the Tribal Council. The tribe consisted of two original Malolo members (James and Michael) and three original Naviti members (Desiree, Angela and Kellyn). However, Angela felt betrayed by her old tribe, especially since Naviti tried to vote her off the week that Morgan went home. If James and Michael were going to have any chance at staying, they would need to get her on their side. We didn’t see much footage of their campaigning, so it seemed like the decision had already been made up. The original Naviti members are going to continue systematically voting out the Malolo members.
James being voted out was not the big blindside he kept proclaiming. In a group of five where you’re part of the outsiders, you essentially have a 50/50 chance of getting the vote. Unless Angela (or Kellyn or Desiree) promised the guys their vote, the odds were that one of them would be going. James had to have known the vote was between him and Michael; him getting all four votes was more surprising than his elimination. And, if we’re being direct here, the group made the better choice by keeping Michael over him. Michael was stronger in challenges and he could swim; James already faltered in the past.
“Fate Is the Homie” continued the same narrative trend that has been happening throughout Survivor: Ghost Island. While the twist shook things up and the challenge was fun to watch, the end result felt pretty standard by comparison. Malolo started the week at the bottom and they ended it by being at the bottom yet again. We can only hope that next week their luck turns around or that someone switches sides. The last thing we’d want is to spend several more weeks expecting to see only Malolo members get the boot. We need unexpected drama.