Survivor Island of the Idols report card: Grading the Lairo tribe so far

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

It’s hard not to grade Survivor: Island of the Idols’ Lairo tribe on a curve, as this orange tribe outperformed its counterparts but dropped some balls.

Orange tribes being cursed is a fairly new phenomenon. It’s not even new to Survivor seasons, as the first in the current stint, Millennials vs. Gen X, saw Vanua hold strong through the merge and the eventual winner. Three of the past four seasons (Ghost Island, David vs. Goliath, Island of the Idols) have had orange tribes, and each of those seasons has seen the orange tribe flounder in the pre-merge.

Just one of those seasons saw an orange tribe player go onto win, and they needed to win the final three Immunity Challenges to do so. Will Lairo fare better heading into the merge?

Leaders leading leaders

One thing I’ve consistently brought up in discussions about Survivor: Island of the Idols is how hard the players are playing at all times. Lairo is a tribe with many of the Type-A personalities boomers love to pretend is a relevant idea in 2019, but does come up in gameplay of how the tribe operates.

It started with Ronnie Bardah, who wanted to get Elaine out for being a Day 39 threat … on Day 3. Aaron then saw the women of Lairo forming a kinship and tried to rally the men in opposition only to immediately vote out Vince for the potential of having an idol (he did). Facing a showmance between Chelsea and Dean (and Elaine and Elizabeth wanting to keep Dean), Missy bent over backward to shut it down by arranging a last-second blindside of ally Chelsea to make it work.

Whether it’s on the original tribe or those swapped onto Vokai 2.0, Lairo is filled with players playing as hard as possible at every opportunity, managing a tight balance of power, and doing whatever it takes to take control of a group filled with people who want to take that stranglehold. Though it might be an admonishment now, having strong convictions will make for a strong group.

Squandering advantages (and using one no-brainer)

Island of the Idols has been a revolving door of (timed) advantages, held back by performing a test based on Survivor skills. Two members of Lairo won an advantage, while Elizabeth Beisel failed her first test in trying to make a fire faster than four-time player Boston Rob.

Both players who found (or earned) a Hidden Immunity Idol for Lairo were voted out with that idol unused, with Vince having to sneak into the Vokai camp at night to bring back part of their fire to the Island of the Idols. He was voted out immediately despite the men promising to stick together earlier that episode.

Chelsea’s idol was found at her camp and had a much longer shelf life, extended beyond the merge and closer to the eventual finale night. However, she wasn’t able to reasonably use it due to Missy blindsiding her in a last-minute effort. Only Elaine was able to use an earned power to benefit herself or her group, and it came with a suspiciously timed visit to the Island of the Idols and only worked to block a vote at a time when it became the most effective to do so.

Heading into the merge, however, Lairo is down in numbers and has no idols, advantages, or powers to return the balance of power.

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Eating their own (then standing strong)

The first few votes at the merge typically involve the tribe with the majority numbers targeting the lesser tribe or, in three-tribe seasons, the lesser two tribes joining up to target the majority. With the merge here, we already have a case of a player willing to abandon their original tribe. Karishma seems to want to work with Vokai since nobody rushed to her aid when she was seeking attention from medical professionals; she’s even relished in voting out Dean three times (each unsuccessfully).

Ironically, the leaders of Lairo had had to work together out of circumstance, specifically when Elaine presented the opportunity to force an original Vokai member to be voted out on the first Vokai 2.0 Tribal Council. However, Aaron had wavered before she received this power, going so far as to align with Tommy and Lauren to flip on his original tribe.

With the merge arriving, we’re more likely to see a dissolution of Lairo and the power players doing what they need to stay ahead of the curb. However, I cannot see anybody but Missy Byrd or Elaine pulling that off at this time. As Missy put it, Lairo is dead.

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The best of Lairo

  • Plenty of players with strong convictions
  • Down just one member ahead of the merge

The worst of Lairo

  • Poor challenge performers overall
  • Lack of loyalty to even their tightest alliance members
  • No powers available to protect Lairo players from elimination
  • Players openly seeking to flip at the merge

Lairo started out as a bumbling mess but found a modicum of success based on sticking together at one vote. However, the reason why original tribe numbers are so close to even at the merge isn’t their own doing, and they have nothing right now to stop a Pagonging but the two or three people at the top playing a loyalist game (one they’re not interested in right now).. Island of the Idols. . Lairo Tribe. C

With two eliminations happening later tonight, it will be interesting to see how the legacy of the Lairo and Vokai tribes will continue heading into the Survivor: Island of the Idols merge.