Survivor: Island of the Idols

Episode 4 – Instant Reactions

Quick thoughts and feelings on tonight’s episode…

Photo: CBS

Welcome to Instant Reactions, a new weekly feature where I’ll be giving my immediate thoughts on the latest episode. These are unedited, unfiltered feelings on the episode, mostly written during the commercial breaks.

Chelsea Dagger

Okay, I’ve just finished the episode, and I’m having a hard time piecing this vote together. What the hell happened that caused Chelsea to be the boot here? It surely can’t just be the fear of a potential showmance with Dean? Can it?

Here’s what is confusing me. All episode, Karishma seemed like the easy vote… rightly or wrongly, that is what was presented to us. We saw pretty much the entire tribe agreeing that Karishma was the next one out. Then Aaron started to worry about Dean and Chelsea getting close, and coupled with multiple poor challenge performances, Dean ended up in the hot-seat (and it was nice to see the young guy being called out for underperforming for a change).

Okay, so far, I can make sense of that. Then Elizabeth got cold feet about taking Dean out, and she found that Elaine felt the same way. In their mind, at least Dean contributed to life at camp, something they couldn’t say for Karishma. Right… so the vote is back on Karishma, right? No, wait, Chelsea?


When did it go from “Karishma is the easy next vote” to “no one wants to see Dean OR Karishma go”? Missy sold it as if nobody could agree to either vote, and I don’t think that was explained in the episode at all. I kind of get why Missy wanted to keep Karishma, because she clearly thinks she has her in her back pocket. But that still doesn’t make sense why she (and the rest of the women) would then target Chelsea—a member of the women’s alliance which we’ve heard about ad nauseum for the past four weeks. Why not vote out Tom? Or the “sneaky” Aaron? Was the Dean & Chelsea duo really that threatening? It came out nowhere.

Not to harp on it, but I do think this is a fault of the Island of the Idols twist eating up such a significant chunk of each episode. Lairo barely received any screen-time before the Immunity Challenge because we were over on flashback island. I think even an extra 5-8 minutes could have helped flesh out the dynamics a little more.

It sucks for Chelsea, a self-confessed superfan who appeared to be in a solid group and who clearly had no idea the shot was coming her way—she left with an idol in her pocket just like Vince last week! But as we’re told over and over, “perception is reality” in Survivor, and even Chelsea herself alluded to those that sleep together in the shelter are perceived as an alliance.


I’m not sure this is a good move for Missy, either. She obviously has a lot of sway on the Lairo tribe, but she underestimates Karishma. She said she has Karishma’s vote on lock, but calling her out at Tribal is hardly going to warm someone towards you. The first chance Karishma gets to flip, she will (and that could be next week given the tribe swap), and Missy could well be the one she flips on. Props to Karishma for that “chaos is a ladder” quote too.

History Lessons

The Island of the Idols was in pure flashback mode this week. Poor Erik must have PTSD for the number of times Survivor has rolled out his Immunity Necklace blunder. I hope he’s at least receiving royalty checks.

As for the rest, this felt to me like a refresher for the upcoming all-winners season. The choices of clip seemed intentional, right? Parvati… Yul… Amber. It was like saying, “hey, casuals, remember these people? You’ll be seeing them soon.”

Look, I like that Survivor acknowledges its past and has this history that now goes back almost 20 years. But it’s also frustrating when there are 20 new castaways that we could be spending this time getting to know. How do you build up new history-making moments when you’re so stuck in the past? As a wrestling fan, it reminds me of current WWE, which is so reliant on “legends” that it struggles to build new stars for the future.

Noura World

Oooh boy. Noura continues to blow my mind. You know, there was a brief moment in this episode where I thought she’d actually come up with a flash of brilliance—that lasted about as long as it took her to agree to the IOI test.

So Noura’s Island of the Idols lesson was all about “the art of persuasion,” and her test was to convince her tribe to let her be the caller in the upcoming blindfold Immunity Challenge. Okay. Got it.

When Noura came back to camp and said that she earned a tribe advantage that would allow them to know the upcoming challenge in advance, I was momentarily impressed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was something tangible that was just about believable.

Then she kept talking. And talking… and talking. She told the tribe that for her to reveal the details, they all had to agree then and there that she would take a specific role in the challenge—this despite them having no idea at this point what the challenge entailed. Anyway, she bulldozed them into agreeing before revealing that it’s a blindfold challenge, and she would be the caller. She then proceeded to demonstrate her calling “skills” and basically sent her tribemates on a collision course with the nearest trees.

This lie made no sense. And it’s frustrating because if she just stuck to her original lie—that she won info on what the challenge was—I think she could have pulled it off. Then she could have actually just tried to sell herself as to why she should be the caller. All this about how they had to agree to give her a specific role and whatever was overcomplicated and quite clearly the ramblings of a mad person.

It was all worthwhile, though, for the moment where Vokai ended up sitting Noura out. After all that! NOURA SAT OUT OF THE CHALLENGE. You couldn’t make this s**t up! So she didn’t even receive her advantage (a vote blocker) and instead will lose her vote at the next Tribal she attends.

Other Bits & Pieces

-Jamal got his hands on an idol while the rest of his tribe went rafting, or, in Jason’s case, on an afternoon stroll in the jungle. Where WAS Jason going? Why wasn’t anyone suspicious this time about him walking off into the jungle alone? Why did he only come back with one piece of wood? THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS WE NEED ANSWERING!

Anyway, Jamal used the time wisely to bag himself an idol—and he didn’t even have to do any dumb test. There was some nice personal stuff here also, which gave us a more rounded impression of Jamal. A man building himself back up after a broken relationship and trying to live in the moment. However, idols appear to be cursed so far this season, so I worry for Jamal.

-There’s another idol holder on Vokai too—Kellee. She was worried about Noura’s IOI visit potentially exposing her lie… thankfully, Noura’s nonsense completely threw any suspicion off of Kellee. The “smashing urns” lie is seeming better by the minute.

-An impressive performance by Jason in the Immunity Challenge. He kept his calm and led his tribe to victory. He’s really made quite the turnaround from where he was back in the first three days. He’s no longer a target and appears to be meshing in quite well.

-“Of course I know who you guys are!” Noura exlaimed as she approached Rob and Sandra. It sounded about as convincing as her IOI lie.

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

15 responses to “Episode 4 – Instant Reactions”

  1. I hated this episode tbh. The Chelsea blindside was ridiculous, it made more sense to get rid of at least 5 people before her. IOI was boring. Noura has definitely overstayed her welcome with her neuroticism and is no longer fun, even though it was cringily amusing to watch her lie badly. They made it look like Missy’s a bully and Vokai is almost non-existent. Also, no talk about how the amazing women’s alliance literally disappeared.. Thank god for the tribe swap next episode to get some new dynamics because I’m very over these ones.

      • When there’s 17 people left in the game, I would think about getting to the merge (or swap) with safe numbers, than who’s a winner threat.. As a matter of fact, I think the way you put it is exactly how someone’s who’s overtly cocky (Like Missy) would think. I’m so up in my high horse I have to start looking at who I’ll be sitting next to 28 days from now. Too early! Chelsea was more of a number to her than Karishma will ever be. Also, Tom, Elizabeth and Elaine looked more like potential winners than Chelsea. I totally your point, I just don’t think it was due then 🙂

  2. According to Dalton Ross, going for a walk is apparently code for production asking them to go do their confessionals. So that is probs what Jason was off doing.

  3. We got two crappy characters in the game. Karisma and Noura. On the beach or in real life, they suck life out of life (and episodes.)
    They give us viewers the creeps. Neither is built for Survivor nor good TV. Until they are gone, episodes will be tough to watch.
    In the meantime, Chelsea is gone. Congrats to Missy for eliminating a potential winner.
    Like last week, the viewers got an artificial blindside because the edit skipped the pertinent part of the scramble before Tribal Council. It happened again this week.
    Keep confusing us with crappy edits and the real blindside will be us not watching the show.

    • I actually think Karishma is one of the best casting choices survivor has made in ages. She’s such a beautifully complex character who feels so out of place due to her cultural background ands upbringing. Sure, she isn’t as athletic as everyone else, but that’s just what makes her so fascinating to watch, how she fights everyday to survive. I think it’s time for a tribe swap and for Karishma to make some real bonds. I thought that the way the episode was edited, made Missy look like a bully. She kept talking about how she has Karishma in her back pocket and called her out very harshly at Tribal with Tom agreeing to the statements. Karisham countered with a simple but very meaningful quote and I respect her so so much for being able to stay calm in this situation because knowing myself I would have gotten so angry and caused a tantrum.

      I feel like the episodes have been very focused on Karishma lately and even though Karisham didn’t have a very significant role to play in this episode, other than being one of the options for being voted out, somehow she was still very present in the episode. She’s definitely starting to get an underdog edit and i hope that after a tribe swap she can start becoming a more savvy player and I’d LOVE to see her turn on Missy and serve Karma on a cold platter. I really do hope that Karishma’s edit means that she’ll stay for the long-term because I, personally, look forward every week just to see more of her.

  4. This move makes no sense. I think Missy was just too eager to make a move sometimes the easy vote is the smart one.

    • No it made sense if she wants to keep around POC so she and Aaron don’t end up the outsiders. I mean they were trying to vote off the Asian Americans first on that tribe.

  5. Loved the Noura twist. She didn’t get to be the caller or even play!! It was great!! Jason did an excellent job and led his tribe to victory. Can you imagine what would have happened with Noura as caller instead? Lol

  6. Not sure why the IOI twist is so widely derided. I think it is fun and interesting, and we get to see the spectrum of approaches the contestants take, some clearly awestruck to the point their basic thoughts are muddled, some laser-focused, of those some focus on the right things and some, like Noura, get carried away by the moment. Fair point on the time suck, but they have chiseled other time out of the episodes (credits, “previously,” etc.) so it isn’t a 1 for 1 trade off.

    The Chelsea vote was smart in the same way as the Molly vote. The intelligent and sociable 20-something female is an archetype that for some reason Survivor tribes find threatening and almost menacing. This might be contributing to the male-heavy winners roster of recent seasons. Preemptive strikes. I wouldn’t want to sit against someone like them in F3. You knew there was going to be a blindside as soon as Dean talked about how there wouldn’t be – at that point I thought it would be him. Then at TC you saw five or so shifty-eyed looks not including Chelsea, and she wondering if she should use the idol when Jeff prompted them. I knew when they looked around after a blindside comment it was probably her. Sandra’s reaction to Chelsea was pure gold.

    I thought that was one of the best episodes in a while, despite Noura’s antics. The editing was interesting and clever, the straightforward Karishma boot edit was hyperbolic, and the trend is entrenched these days, if you’re on the bottom, you might just stick around until the alphas are all dead.

  7. With all the pre-season hype I was sure a woman was going to win this season, but I feel like it’s not going to happen again based on the edit. Think Elizabeth has the best edit out of the women, but Tommy & Jack are outstripping her by quite a bit. Would be higher on Kellee if her intro didn’t come so late in the premiere (and feel so circumstantial)

  8. Shout-out to Martin for calling out WWE and their use of ‘legends’… like enough already with that shit!

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