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A Survivor gets caught in a lie death spiral

A Survivor gets caught in a lie death spiral
Desiree Afuye during Survivor Ghost Island's third episode. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

Desiree’s plan to blow up the blah game play of Survivor Ghost Island was still covered in embryonic fluid when she was betrayed, and then tried to save herself by spinning in circles so fast she opened up a wormhole and transported herself to the Survivor Ghost Island jury.

Desiree’s lies were brazen and bold, and I was rooting for her, if watching her with my mouth open in awe counts as rooting. It was a jolt of complexity and intrigue this season needed—and will need again next week, since her exit leaves us back where we started.

The simplified version (of something that shouldn’t be simplified more than it probably already was) went like this: Desiree, recognizing she was at the bottom of the Naviti alliance, suggested joining with someone named Chelsea and original Malolo to turn on the original Navitis, especially Kellyn, who she decided was particularly dangerous.

But thanks to the damn tribe swap, Laurel felt closer to Domenick and Wendell, so she told them about Des’ plan. Then Dom told Kellyn, who just couldn’t believe her BFFs Des and someone named Chelsea would do this to her.

Des couldn’t believe Laurel would turn on her, and angrily but quietly confronted Laurel in front of the Malolos.

She was admitting to being caught turning on her alliance, so when Wendell walked in, she switched mid-confrontation. Des turned her confrontation of Laurel into pretending that she never wanted to align with Malolo to begin with.

Laurel was like ? the Malolos were like ? and I was like ?.

Des kept compounding her lies, all the way into and right through Tribal Council. “I never once said that I felt that I was on the bottom,” she insisted, and seemed believable. But since it was everyone else against her, the lie didn’t hold.

“This plan was so good!” Des told us after being voted out, and I agree. It was the most interesting and complicated strategy of the season, and came full circle in a completely unpredictable way.

While this was a joy to watch, it was also a disappointing outcome, because the original plan would have been so much more interesting than even Malolo turn on a potential ally (though, of course, Des had also turned on them, essentially calling them all liars in her attempt to protect her lie).

And Desiree teased us during her exit confessional, saying “Kellyn was just the first” and adding, “I had plans and Laurel messed it all up.”

Yes, Laurel did. But Des was awesome about the whole thing. “I gave it my all,” she said, and I appreciate her for that.

A Survivor challenge locks women in cages

The reward challenge split the tribe into two teams and then locked the women in cages so men could rescue them.

It’s unclear if that was something host Jeff Probst required or that they decided to do on their own.

At the very least, this didn’t look good, and was totally unnecessary—any of those players could have helped paddle a boat to the floating cages, and I don’t think the boats needed testicles to function.

Meanwhile, women have won all three individual immunity challenges, which Jeff Probst announced with a touch more amazement than was necessary.

Dom joined the girls are doing somewhat whaaaaaaa club when he learned of Des’ plan from Laurel.

“Oh my god,” he said. “Apparently some of the Naviti girls decided that they want to take control of their fate, and flip on some of the big threats in the game.” He then referred to them as “these weaker players,” meaning the “Naviti girls.”

Being shocked that his original tribemates and allies were turning on him is understandable; dismissing them as “weaker” “girls” who would dare “take control of their fate” was grosser than anything the Survivors had to eat last week.

The doors to the world’s lamest casino finally open

With the plan to turn on Naviti crushed by Laurel and Desiree, Michael seemed like the target, again, so he and Donathan went idol hunting. And Donathan found an idol—well, half of one. It was the half of the Survivor Kaoh Rong super idol that Scott had but couldn’t play because Tai turned on him and refused to play his half of the idol. Donathan was given a clue to find the other half, which was under the shelter floor, and he retrieved it with an assist from the other Malolos.

Because Survivor Ghost Island can’t bring back a twist from the past without changing it, or keep its made-up stories straight (What happened to idols gaining power as they languished around the island?), the combined idol is no longer a super idol, but now just a regular idol. Still, Donathan has an idol.

It was the only new advantage introduced this episode, though Ghost Island actually allowed Angela to play a game, and she did, confident she could throw away her vote because “original Naviti has the numbers.” (Oh, how amazing it would have been if her thrown-away vote was the deciding one. Alas.)

Although Ghost Island has made its game of chance easier, Angela lost.

At this point, the Ghost Island scenes are such a shoulder-shrug of pointlessness that it’s a good time to get some water or do some laundry.

One part of its lameness I haven’t mentioned is how the tribes and now teams have been reluctant to actually send someone to Ghost Island, instead deferring to a random rock draw. It’s not (yet?) being used strategically, kind of like this season, which is sitting around waiting for something to happen to it.

Desiree tried. Next week, the producers try with a double-elimination Tribal Council.


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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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