'Survivor: Ghost Island' recap: Reverse the curse

I started off my 10 bazillion-word Survivor premiere recap last week explaining how I don’t believe in ghosts or other supernatural beings, because I am not an idiot. I have to be honest about something else: I also don’t believe in curses. Curses, jinxes, superstitions — it’s all a load of Hong Kong Phooey if you ask me. And I say this as someone who has not watched ANY of the sports teams he roots for win a championship of any sort this entire millennium. I just don’t buy into that nonsense. Even the fact that I have not correctly picked a Survivor winner in over 20 seasons can be chalked up more to failure as a reality TV prognosticator than any sort of mystical mumbo-jumbo. That said, maybe there is something to this Legacy Advantage curse.

First, Sierra gets voted out with it as soon as she tells someone else about it in Game Changers. Then, Jacob finds it on Ghost Island and is immediately voted out. And then the person he gave it to, Morgan, is also immediately voted out after receiving it at her first Tribal Council as well. I suppose all of this is conveniently ignoring the fact that Sarah went on to WIN Game Changers after using it, but still, this particular twist is off to a shaky start for whoever possesses it in season 36.

And its new possessor, Dom, looks to be on shaky ground after the old Malolo folks refused to go along with the plan to vote off Angela and instead took out a much bigger target in Morgan. That was a “shots fired” moment and definitely makes things a lot more fascinating heading back to the Naviti camp. Think about it: Once Chris returns from Ghost Island you will have four original Naviti and four original Malolo. However, it is far from that simple.

Angela had rebuffed Chris’ attempt to get rid of Dom, sticking with her original Naviti…only to watch them all try to vote her out. But the Malolo folks did not go along with the plan. So what happens now? Do Dom and Wendell try to find a way to reconcile with Chris and Angela to force a 4-4 showdown? Do Chris and Angela jump ship to Malolo and become a minority in their new alliance? Or do Dom and Wendell tell the Malolos, “Hey, we told you the truth and stuck to the plan and voted for Angela — that proves you can trust us,” and hope that their new overlords deem Chris the shadier person who must be eliminated next?

And if you are the former Malolos, what do you do? On one hand, Dom and Wendell did what they said, so maybe you should feel better aligning with them. Then again, you just screwed them over, so there could be a decent chance they could be out for revenge at some point. Chris is more of a wild card, but you can go to Noble when he gets back and say, “See, we said we were with you and we proved it by voting out one of Dom’s allies.”

That’s probably the direction I would go, and the one they will as well. I don’t think Angela and Chris are nearly as game savvy as Wendell and Dom, so by siding with them, you now have a new six-person alliance with the clear majority of four in it, and the two people not in your core four (Angela, Chris) are a lot less likely to find a way to flip it, so you can manipulate them more easily. It’s why what Malolo did in ousting Morgan instead of Angela was a tactically smart move.

God, I can’t tell you how much I want Naviti to lose the next immunity challenge RIGHT NOW just so I can find out what happens. Patience has never been my virtue, let’s just say. But we can’t look forward too much to next week’s episode. We’ve still got to recap all the inanity and insanity that went down this week. So let’s do that right now.

Drop Your Buffs
The episode begins with the Malolo tribe licking their wounds after their second straight Tribal Council. James continues to take the heat for his epic challenge failure, while Stephanie is sick of the tribe’s competitive ineptitude. “It’s time to win,” she announced. “I’m done losing.”

But fear not, oh Queen of All That Is Neon, because since we are down to 18 players, that is often when Survivor producers like to reshuffle the deck. And as if the number itself is not enough of a clue that it is about to happen, it then becomes plainly obvious when Probst asks each tribe how they’re getting along. So as soon as Libby talks about how Malolo is still “growing into that best tribe ever” — which I suppose is possible if the only other competition for that title is Ulong — and as soon as Bradley brags about how strong Naviti is, and as soon as Probst notes that “it sounds like both tribes are feeling really good,” we know what comes next. Drop. Your. Buffs.

Tribe switcheroo time, people! But instead of expanding to three tribes — which the show often likes to do at 18 — we’re sticking with two. I actually wondered before the season if they would wait until 17 to do the tribe switch and have eight people pick Naviti buffs, eight pick Malolo, and one pick a Ghost Island one (Collectors Alert: rarest buff ever!) that would send them there immediately…but they didn’t, so I don’t know why I am bothering telling you that now. I guess I just thought it would be cool if they made up a singular black Ghost Island buff. Anyhow, they don’t, so let’s take a gander at the new tribes.

NEW NAVITI
Donathan
Libby
Laurel
James
Dom
Chris
Angela
Wendell
Morgan

NEW MALOLO
Jenna
Stephanie
Brendan
Michael
Desiree
Sea Bass
Kellyn
Bradley
Chelsea

Both tribes have five former Naviti and four former Malolo, which has to make the Naviti majority happy on both sides. Kellyn even tells us how she’s “excited to open new treasure boxes of love,” which I’m pretty sure is the dirtiest thing anyone has ever said on this show that did not involve balls and poles at a challenge. Let’s check out the new tribe beaches to see what’s what. (Recap continues on next page)

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