Survivor: Island of the Idols, week three

Jack seemed almost happy to have been blindsided. Maybe he sees it as a Survivor rite of passage? Maybe he’s just starstruck? Jamal doesn’t share his whimsy in any event. The two are on the outs, and they know it, but there’s still a lightning rod in camp named Noura that is constantly hounding everyone to do chores. There’s some discussion about how this is still an easy vote, but Jamal tries to shake things up by pitching a Dan vote to Janet. I’m not sure his case made a lot of sense to me, but Janet dutifully took it to Tommy, and Tommy mulled it over. I don’t think it made much sense to Tommy either. He wondered about it in a confessional, saying that even if the move did make sense, he doesn’t want to make Jamal’s power moves for him. Which is pretty much what a Jamal-orchestrated lobby against Dan would be doing.

I think Jamal just wants to be in control of the game. He knows he’s relatively safe in the short term and he knows his tribe has at least one really easy vote should they lose again, but he’s not in control of that scenario and he doesn’t like it. Here’s the deal, Jamal. You’re on a good tribe that shook you out of your Day One aliance. You’re one of the big strong dudes on that tribe. Why not just coast for a while? You seemed weirdly proud of “playing in first gear” last episode, why not just leave it there? Focus on getting to the merge with numbers and then start the left field power plays, yeah?

Over at Lairo, the editors whipped up a few rapid-fire moments that set me against Karishma. Karishma complains in a confessional about being an outsider in her tribe because she’s an old Indian lady, but she’s not actually that old (30-something, I think she said?) and there’s no indication anyone actually cares she’s Indian. She complains that she’s not being true to her culture by romping around a paradise island in her underwear, and oh boy won’t her conservative Indian community back home be shocked to see her. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this sort of argument, and I never find it endearing. Listen up folks, on Survivor people are going to see your boobs. You are going to prance around in your underwear, not because you’re a sultry tart, but because it’s a hundred degrees out there and everything is wet all the time. You are going to lie to people. You are going to be mean sometimes. You are going to tolerate dispicable behavior you never would at your home or your work or your school. You are going to poop in a hole and you are going to celebrate when you get a tarp and the nine people on the other tribe have to sit shivering in misery.

Getting good with all of that is a prerequisite to playing this game, as far as I’m concerned. At this point, 39 seasons in, I don’t buy that anyone is shocked to come onto the island and learn that, hey, maybe Mother and Father wouldn’t approve of my choices. So I was already kind of feeling like Karishma decided to be a mopey victim before stepping off the boat, and then she cut herself.

Nobody likes to cut themselves. And I’m not saying Karishma did it in purpose. And it did look like a serious cut. Serious enough to call the medical team over and bind up her hand. What upset her is that while she was bleeding out on the ground, none of her tribemates fawned over her injury. Nobody rocked her in their lap and stroked her hair and told her everything was going to be okay. Her response to this callousness was along the lines of “everyone on this tribe is dead to me”.

I wonder how many times medical has to be called over in a typical Survivor season. I expect probably several times per tribe, and I suspect most of these injuries are of the bumps-n-bruises variety that don’t merit screentime. Karishma’s cut was a little gross, but medical bound it up and she wasn’t airlifted out. She got the attention she needed, but it wasn’t the attention she wanted, which to her just confirms this fantasy she’s concocted that her tribe hates old Indian ladies.

The boat shows up to whisk Vince off to the Island of the Idols, leaving the remaining eight Lairo members standing there marveling at his exit. Dean immediately — as in, the split second Vince is out of earshot — talks about a plan to flush a possible Vince immunity idol by splitting the vote. This was really funny, because all of his tribemates were standing right there, so who was he planning to split a Vince vote with? He realized his error almost immediately, but the camera still did a zoom in on Karishma, so it turned into a fun little moment after all.

Vince immediately breaks down and starts crying when he realizes he’s sitting on a beach with Sandra and Rob. Once he composes himself they lay on the challenge: they want him to sneak into Vokai’s camp at night and steal fire. The lesson is something about staying calm under pressure, but I immediately saw an ulterior motive here: would there have been any benefit to Vince getting caught on purpose for a chance to pow-wow with Vokai this far away from a merge situation? We see a few moments where Vokai members are twisting and turning in the night, and the rain has put out their fire in any event, so Vince fills his canteen up with ash from their fire pit and calls it a win. Vince goes home with an idol.

I did note that Rob didn’t have Vince pull a Vokai name out of a bag before he went home. I wonder if that means Idol Island is going to twist next week. Perhaps there will be a grand reveal about the true nature of the island to all the players? Perhaps the reward challenge will be the idols visiting a camp and giving a group lesson this time? Or maybe the editors just figured we know how the bag o’ names works at this point and didn’t feel like showing it again?

I noted also that there was no confrontation between Vince and Elizabeth. Remember, Elizabeth came back from Idol Island with a kooky story about broken urns. Vince knows she lied. Elizabeth knows Vince knows she lied. This is an interaction that could land anywhere from conflict to cooperation, but just… nothing. Hmm.

The Immunity Challenge was another obstacle course ending with a puzzle. Once again, Lairo gets a big lead over Vokai, but once again, Vokai makes it up by blasting through their puzzle. Karishma was the butt monkey here, and the way she approached this puzzle made me wonder if she knew what a puzzle was or whether it was good to eat. This was not a level 10 brainteaser here, this was a ten-piece jigsaw with huge wooden blocks for pieces. Vokai takes their prizes home, and Lairo resumes scrabbling.

I had a lot of trouble following Lairo’s scheming from this point. There’s apparently still a women’s alliance (that Karishma is part of? or not?), and still a plot to split to vote to flush Vince’s (possible?) idol, even though it would hurt his allies (?) if he didn’t have one. Vince wants to join the girl’s alliance to get rid of Tom, Chelsea wants to bring Vince along with them… it was all a bit of a cluster and it left me with the impression that Lairo doesn’t have a better grasp on their alliances and loyalties that I do.

The crowning moment was Vince berating Karishma about giving him a name. He knows that she knows she’s on the chopping block, but she remains steadfast and won’t say anyone in particular. I don’t think this interaction makes sense for either player, but I think I see where they’re coming from. Vince wants Karishma to do some grown-up Survivor playing, and Karishma wants to not cause a scene the very night she’s in danger.

Or maybe not. If Karishma really didn’t want a big Mean Girl spotlight shined on her, she really should have kept her mouth shut at Tribal Council. Tom accused her of being terrible at puzzles (which, yeah, let’s be fair). Her response is that she’s the mightiest person to every play this game, that her strength and fortitude have untold depths, and she’s just about to break away and show everyone what Old Indian Superwoman can do… if only they’d give her the chance. She spent no small amount of time throwing shade on the other Lairo women for no clear reason I can figure. These are her allies, right? What’s the point of all this?

Probst closes Tribal Council out by asking a few people if what had been said tonight has influenced their decision. Everyone wants to just get on with it. Karishma then says “one sec Jeff” and whispers something into Elizabeth’s ear. Tom insists this is just an act, we never get to hear what it was Karishma said (I will be watching the opening Lairo confessionals very closely next week), and Vince sits on his idol.

There wasn’t a split vote and Karishma wasn’t in danger. It was a landslide for Vince. For the second time this episode, Vince goes home with an idol.

Probst gives the team props: “You may suck at puzzles, but you’re great at blindsides!”

That gave me an idea. Maybe while Vince was waterboarding Karishma for a name, her smart move would be something like “As soon as you left Dean came up with a plan to split the vote. It’s between you and me. Let’s work to get some numbers and vote off Dean.” That’d have been a good move, at least.

I’m hoping this whole Karishma-as-victim plotline is just something the editors have cobbled together, and she’s not actually like that. Either way, though, I already grow weary of it. If Karishma squeaks through the merge and doesn’t change her behavior at all, I think we’re in for a long season.

Who’s gonna win?
Vokai seems solid and I still think Tommy is the most solid player on the purple tribe.

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