Survivor Island of the Idols episode 5 recap: 1-2-Switch

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

The tribes are swapped, and comfortable strangleholds have been turned upside down. Our Survivor: Island of the Idols episode 5 recap covers what went down.

Overconfidence can be a problem and a power in Survivor; it all depends on who has your back and who’s the one in front of the proverbial gun. Missy pulled off a huge power move in Island of the Idols episode 4, taking out the showmance by reverse-engineering a name that wouldn’t break up the foundation of Lairo. By taking out Chelsea at the last minute, however, it produced a feeling of unease for Elaine and Elizabeth.

Uncertainty was a great theme transitioning into episode 5, as Dean felt like he “got got.” That sent him into Detective Dean Kowalski mode as he started to question Elaine, Elizabeth, Aaron and, ultimately, Missy. It was a brash approach, as he basically told Missy he’s out for revenge (basically), and that might be a storyline to come back to after the merge.

Before we jump too far ahead, day 12 brought about the tribe swap, with players like Elaine feeling on the outs before even touching a buff. Lauren felt uncertain in starting over again from scratch, and those fears were fairly founded. Here are the new tribes as of Survivor: Island of the Idols episode 5.

Lairo Tribe

  • Noura Salman
  • Kellee Kim
  • Jamal Shipman
  • Jack Nichting
  • Janet Carbin
  • Tom Laidlaw
  • Dean Kowalski
  • Karishma Patel

Vokai Tribe

  • Dan Spilo
  • Jason Linden
  • Tommy Sheehan
  • Lauren Beck
  • Aaron Meredith
  • Missy Byrd
  • Elizabeth Beisel
  • Elaine Stott

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With new tribes formed, we had a classic Reward Challenge with players bound to one another in duos. Two players per tribe crawled their way up and down mounds of sand in three relays, with a fourth station solving a 3D puzzle. Applebees’ cold drinks and made-to-microwave (allegedly) food was the prize for the winning tribe.

Dan and Elaine were at the front of Vokai, with Missy and Tommy in the middle and Elaine and Lauren, as Jason and Aaron worked on the puzzle. Dean and Elaine struggled to lead Lairo, Jack and Janet held their own, but Noura’s commands to Karishma slowed their progress in the end. Kellee and Jamal had no chance to make up time on the puzzle, as NuVokai dominated the challenge from start to finish.

Missy established the mood of Lairo heading into the reward, feasting on W’s instead of taking the L time and time again. While Tommy saw the merits of victory and celebrating it with the continued success he’s had, Elaine was a lot more wary about the possibility of being flipped on, as old Vokai seemed to be a tight four compared to Missy’s outright distaste for Lairo.

Over at NuLairo, Karishma flipped like a pancake immediately, telling Kellee that Dean and Tom were a tight duo and that she received votes at every Tribal Council but the first. Meanwhile, Kellee and Dean bonded over an external relationship they didn’t have knowledge of (apparently) in Dean’s long-term ex-girlfriend, giving Kellee both pause and options going forward.

I really love the personal, transformative moments on Survivor like we saw with Karishma, as her ability to open up about arranged marriages is something that we literally could never have heard before a change in casting, as she is the first Indian woman to represent her community. Though her longevity in the game is questionable, her heart and determination to learn more about herself are without doubt.

One of the earlier Survivor: Island of the Idols secret scenes alluded to Missy and Elaine wrasslin’, so it’s glad to see that move pulled out once more for the full show. That forced Aaron to communicate and bond with Tommy for gameplay reasons like he’s Spencer Bledsoe 3.0, as he used his socks with his son’s face to get him closer to Tommy, who look to be boys going forward.

The Immunity Challenge press photos gave away the fact there would be two tribes in the first place, as well as the fact the first part of the challenge saw tribes climb up a ladder, jump into the water, release three buoys and have two players on each tribe carry them across balance beams. In the end, players needed to sink three baskets to secure immunity.

It made sense that Elizabeth was the first to cross the water towards the ladder, just as it did for her to be the one to dive down and unlock the buoys. She also led the buoy transfer with Dan, leading to a huge lead for Missy as she started to shoot baskets. However, as Lairo slowly crawled back, Tommy had to take over shots for Vokai, as Dean caught up in baskets. Tommy finally sunk the third shot to break a 2-2 tie, winning it for Vokai.

This put Dean, Tom, and Karishma in a tough spot, although Karishma was hoping her “anybody but me” approach would have the old Vokai members of Lairo in her corner. However, even Dean and Tom were throwing her under the bus, willing to go forward with the hopes of making the merge.

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In effect, the majority on Lairo had an embarrassment of riches and options heading into Survivor: Island of the Idols episode 5’s Tribal Council. Janet was interested in potentially taking out Tom because of his straightforward tribalistic thinking. Kellee saw how much Dean makes you want to work with him as a future liability, as that could be her future downfall.

It was honestly an attempt to make it look like it was anybody but Karishma heading into Tribal Council, which seems like craziness in retrospect. The old Vokai members were holding auditions for players not to be voted out, as Jeff Probst mentioned, and it was up to Dean, Karishma and Tom each to sell themselves on why they should stay.

Holes were poked into each of their arguments, as Dean defended his inability to have talks with everybody (especially Janet) with the fact that Karishma owes somebody big time on old Lairo for still being in the game. However, Noura hinting that either Dean’s well-rounded approach or Tom’s strong-but-slow strength could help propel them going forward.

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In all honesty, it made no sense why everybody but Tom and Karishma voted for Tom (Noura excluded since she had no vote), and it’s a problem that hasn’t been an ongoing issue in Survivor: Island of the Idols. However, the fact that we didn’t see Boston Rob and Sandra until Tribal Council yet we have no reasonable explanation for Tom going home other than one Janet confessional and a hint from Noura shows a lack of episodic storytelling.