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.
And so Tom becomes the latest victim of the tribe swap. It’s always tough navigating that first post-swap vote when you’re down in numbers, but I feel like—from what we were shown—Tom could have done a little more to save himself.
There was a lot of talk at Tribal Council about “self-preservation.” It was up to the three old Lairos to pitch themselves to the ex-Vokais. I feel like Tom didn’t sell himself enough, especially compared to Dean and Karishma.
As soon as the tribes swapped, Karishma practically gave Kellee a minute-by-minute breakdown of everything that happened on old Lairo since Day 1. She made it extremely clear that she was ready to flip and pledge her loyalty to old Vokai. And on top of that, she worked on her social game by opening up emotionally to her new tribemates—the whole scene about arranged marriages was a genuinely touching moment, even if I did think for a second Karishma was about to say she wanted a divorce on national television!
Dean, likewise, made it apparent he was done with his old tribe and more than happy to hitch himself to a new wagon. It obviously helped that he found a shared connection with Kellee via a real-life mutual friend (it’s always crazy when that kind of thing happens—what are the chances?!).
Tom, on the other hand, didn’t push. Yes, we saw him socializing with his new tribemates, but we never saw him guaranteeing loyalty in the long-term. And Janet wisely picked up on that. While she appreciated that Tom was a straight-shooter, she recognized his old school approach to the game and his tribal mentality. There was every chance that Tom would flip back to his ex-Lairos at a merge.
When it came down to it, trust and loyalty trumped challenge liability—so Noura will just have to get used to dragging Karishma face-first through the sand.
Detective Dean Kowalski
It was fun seeing Dean turn into Detective Burt Macklin for a few minutes tonight.
Seriously, Detective Kowalski is a badass name for a cop. Although, I’m not sure Dean has a future in law enforcement. When he was ruling out suspects in the Chelsea blindside, he said this during his considerations: “It can’t be Chelsea because she got voted out.” If that’s your starting point then… yeesh.
Keeping on Dean for a second, it’s interesting that he was left out of the Tom vote. I want to know if he knew about the vote and just voted with Tom as some kind of farewell solidarity. Or if he was completely blindsided. If it’s the latter, then Karishma’s stock really rises because it shows the old Vokai has put her way above Dean in terms of trust.
Smackdown In Fiji
I’m enjoying this little side story of Elaine wrestling her tribemates. First, it was the suplexes in the ocean; now Rob Van Dam taunts and camp-side grappling with Missy. Tommy was a crooked ref though, no way Missy’s shoulders were down for that three count.
Also, not to get too Edgic over here, but I could definitely see this scene as foreshadowing of an actual in-game clash between Elaine and Missy.
Orange is Dead
This next bit ties into that previously mentioned premonition. Dean and Karishma weren’t the only ex-Lairos feeling froggy this episode. Over on new Vokai, which ended up with an even 4 vs. 4 split, Aaron and Missy were more than ready to dye their orange buffs purple.
I guess we should have anticipated this given how willing those two are to cut the throats of their allies. Aaron quickly got to work in forming a deal with Tommy, which would theoretically take them both to the merge. But for that to happen, he had to show a willingness to snipe one of his old Lairos (should they lose Immunity). Both Aaron and Missy were firmly on board with that plan.
It’s not a terrible move—as we’ve seen, the early bird gets the worm. But this scenario is a little different to Karishma and Dean on the new Lairo tribe, where they were significantly outnumbered. The new Vokai is even right now, and so there is no pressure to rock the boat. I worry Aaron and Missy are being too hasty. While it could work in their favor, it could also paint them as rash, unpredictable players who are too quick to turn on their allies. That isn’t always appealing. Nothing is stopping Tommy turning around and telling Elaine and Elizabeth what Aaron said.
Other Bits & Pieces
-No Island of the Idols segment this week, though we did get a Reward Challenge. Actually, now I’m thinking about it, Sandra probably refused to partake this week due to them replacing her beloved Outback reward with Applebees.
-We did still get Rob and Sandra’s commentary at Tribal, however, which is one of the better aspects of the IOI twist. I’m particularly enjoying how Rob keeps being undermined by the edit. “Dean is gone,” he exclaimed. Wrong. What’s the betting that Lairo now go on a winning streak after Rob said they’re never winning another challenge?
-Jack making Tommy smell his old, sweaty, stinking buff was such a small but appreciated moment. Very brotherly.