Final Thoughts on Survivor: Ghost Island

Text by: Cyndi Seidelman

After taking a few years off of watching Survivor, I got back into it with the start of Heroes Vs. Healers Vs. Hustlers i.e Season 35. I enjoyed that season for the most part, but a fire-making twist soured me on the show and helped bring down a good season to an ok season. Endings matter a lot on Survivor, and such was the case with Survivor: Ghost Island.

The Pre-merge had lots of storylines that it hardly had a dull moment, whether it was the feud between Chris Noble Vs. Domenick or the Lowly Lows of the Malolo tribe or even the living irritant like Bradley was. There was always something happening gameplay wise or just seeing how many times Malolo gets slaughtered in Immunity and Reward Challenges. It was what we wanted a pre-merge to be. But then we got to the post-merge and everything just went downhill fast.

For starters, the big feud was set around Chris Vs. Domenick. This was a battle that could have lasted the longest time because both Chris and Domenick had hidden Immunity Idols, not to mention Domenick was holding a Legacy Advantage in his pocket, which he promptly played at tribal. Chris, decides to go the route of a few others and doesn't play his idol and gets booted because of it. After that, it just became unbearable to watch with everybody being subservient to Dom and his partner in crime, Wendell. Anytime someone wants to do something about it and try to get rid of them, they were upended by someone blathering the plan to Dom and Wendell or just simply acting like dumbasses. Laurel did this a lot, blowing up Desiree's attempted coup and also convincing Donathan to keep the four of them strong against Kellyn's attempt. Kellyn gets put on here too, because she got so paranoid about the Malolos bouncing back and was tunnelvisioned on getting rid of Michael and not seeing that Dom and Wendell were running the show. By that time it was too late and she was gone in 7th place. Then we got Sebastian who had a double vote in his pocket that Kellyn misplaced when she double voted Laurel in a double Tribal that was another in a long line of lame twists this year. Sebastian had a double vote and was wanting to upend Dom or Wendell depending on who won  Immunity. Angela stooges him off to Dom and Dom does what he does best and cons Sebastian out of using that advantage and out of the game.

Before we get to the ending, we must talk about the titular twist this year in Ghost Island. It was Exile Island on Steroids and it was, in my eyes, an absolute bust. The "risk your vote for an advantage" factor was great, but it would have been better if it was done every episode. At least it wouldn't have left certain survivors high and dry like Stephanie with no ability to advance with a gigantic numbers advantage. Going there without any game being played happened more often than not, leaving out time that we could have gotten to know the survivors better, leading to certain players getting no airtime or confessionals like Sebastian and Candice. Essentially, Ghost Island was reliving all of Survivor's Past Mistakes and the second half was basically just that.

Despite all of this though, the ending might just be one of the best the show has ever had. It was essentially the Dom and Wendell hour with Laurel being the goatiest goat that's goated since Jeremy Collins' goats in Cambodia: Second Chance. The final tribal had everything happen with Donathan and Chris Nobel basically excoriating all of them for their play. After all of that, we wind up with a Survivor First: A 5-5 Tie in Final Tribal. With that happening, Laurel would wind up being the 11th Juror and casting the deciding vote for Wendell, who winds up looking like a goat early on to winning it all. I would say that Wendell earned his win here because he was a smooth operator on the entire thing, whereas Dom was quite abrasive at times, especially after Kellyn told him that Michael had to go.

In conclusion, Survivor: Ghost Island was a season that started strong, went to Nicaraguan levels of awful post-merge, but came good in the end. It's a middle of the road season that at least gave us a satisfying conclusion to what could have easily been the worst season since One World. Now, can we please stop picking on Erik Richenback already? He's suffered enough.

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