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‘Survivor: Ghost Island’ Premiere Recap

The castaways of Survivor’s 36th season were given no introduction and no moment to adjust to the humidity of Fiji when Probst forced them to make a major decision. Only minutes after hitting the beaches of Mamanuca Islands, the Malolo and Naviti tribes were forced to choose a leader, with Chris being chosen for Naviti and Brendan for Malolo.

The first challenge is a difficult one, pitting two players from each tribe in a game of mental and physical endurance. With the threat of losing fishing gear looming over him, Naviti tribe leader Chris, decides to forfeit the game, causing a rift between him and Domenick.


Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

As the tribe members get to know one another, the heart of Survivor starts to come into play. As Chris tries to win over Sebastian, Domenick, who was quite disapproving of Chris’ decision to forfeit the challenge and lose Naviti building tools, learns of Chris’s attempt at turning Sebastian in his favor.

Back in Malolo, Jacob stirs some feathers as he leaves in search of the coveted immunity idol. The mood at Malolo is certainly lighter, but viewers get a taste of just how sneaky Jacob will be when he stays behind as the tribe searches for food. While ostensibly searching for the idol, he empties half of the tribe’s rice into his sock. To no avail.

With alliances starting to come together in Naviti and Malolo, the tribes are summoned for the first immunity challenge.

Welcome to Ghost Island

Despite having an advantage going into the immunity challenge, Malolo misses an opportunity to beat Naviti again. The punishment? A trip to a tribal council and the loss of a tribe member. Things get interesting when Probst prompts Naviti to pick a Malolo member to be sent to Ghost Island and have immunity.

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

The first to make the trip to the lonely island is Jacob, who dodges a bullet as Malolo was prepped and ready to vote him off. In the wake of his absence, Malolo struggles to pick a sacrifice, landing on either the kind-hearted but small Donathan or Gonzalez.

While the tribe bounces ideas off of one another, Jacob is off exploring the mysterious island. There, he finds relics from Survivors’ past and a chance to earn an advantage, the Legacy Advantage from Survivor: Game Changers. He does succeed in obtaining the advantage, but will it do him any good? Safe from the first tribal council, this two-hour premiere puts two castaways at risk.

The first to go isn’t him, however, and Malolo’s decision to choose Gonzalez over Donathan is revealed at the council. For fans of Donathan, seeing Gonzalez’s name pulled out was likely refreshing considering her attempt at squaring away votes immediately before the vote.

The Second Tribal Council

The thrill of Ghost Island continues under cover of night, as a paranoid Domenick scours the island in search of a hidden idol. In his search, he uncovers the same immunity that Andrea Boehlke failed to use to her advantage during Survivor: Caramoan. As the New York construction worker revels in his find, Jacob schemes a means of tricking his tribe into thinking he found an immunity idol on Ghost Island and will play it at the next council. Malolo, however, doesn’t buy it as there’s no note accompanying his find.

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

In Naviti, Domenick pulls some Jacob-level deception on Chris by showing a fake idol he created. Once again, viewers are treated to the reality of Survivor and the schemes that either get people to the end or immediately voted off.

Domenick has nothing to worry about, however, as Naviti once again dominates Malolo at the next immunity challenge after James and Donathan struggle during the water challenge. You can almost hear Jacob’s heart hit the floor when Naviti sends Donathan to Ghost Island, guaranteeing him immunity. Donathan's time on Ghost Island allows him to reflect on how to move forward, but as he immediately finds, he isn't given the opportunity to play for an advantage.

In the leadup to the tribal council, Jacob reveals the truth of the fake idol to Stephanie, who passes the information around. At the end of the second tribal council, Jacob’s flame is extinguished despite James's shortcomings at the immunity challenge. Down two tribe members, Malolo enters into the second episode of Survivor needing to rethink its strategy and pinpoint its weaknesses.