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Season 36: Episode 1 - Can You Reverse the Curse?: Part 1
Posted on Mar 1, 2018 12:00am


Jeff Probst, the host, reminds us that past players have been voted out because of bad decisions they have made in the game. For example, James went home with two idols in his possession on SURVIVOR: CHINA. This season twenty Americans will try to avoid making these same mistakes as they begin an adventure on the islands of Fiji that will forever change their lives. Jeff reveals that this season there will be a twist in the form of Ghost Island, which is a graveyard for bad SURVIVOR decisions over the prior 35 seasons. For the first time ever, the actual idols and advantages that were fatally misplayed in previous seasons will be brought back. This group of new players will be given the chance to reverse the curse of these haunted SURVIVOR relics or they may face the same fate. After 39 days, only one person will remain to claim the million-dollar prize.

The castaways have already been separated into two tribes of ten. Each tribe arrives on the beach in a separate boat. Jeff welcomes them to season 36 of SURVIVOR: GHOST ISLAND.

The orange Malolo tribe is made up of:
Brendan Shapiro, a 41-year old Physical Education Teacher from Herndon, VA
Donathan Hurley, a 26-year old Caregiver from Kimper, KY
Jacob Derwin, a 22-year old Music Teacher from Brooklyn, NY
James Lim, a 24-year old Business Analyst from New York, NY
Jenna Bowman, a 23-year old Advertising Account Executive from Venice Beach, CA
Laurel Johnson, a 29-year old Financial Consultant from Minneapolis, MN
Libby Vincek, a 24-year old Social Media Strategist from Houston, TX
Michael Yerger, an 18-year old Real Estate Agent from Los Angeles, CA
Stephanie Gonzalez, a 26-year old Graphic Sales from Ocala, FL
Stephanie Johnson, a 34-year old Yoga Instructor from Chicago, IL

The purple Naviti tribe is made up of:
Angela Perkins, a 42-year old Army Veteran from Cincinnati, OH
Bradley Kleihege, a 26-year old Law Student from Los Angeles, CA
Chelsea Townsend, a 24-year old EMT/Pro Cheerleader from Los Angeles, CA
Chris Noble, a 27-year old Model from Brooklyn, NY
Desiree Afuye, a 21-year old Student from Brooklyn, NY
Domenick Abbate, a 38-year old Construction Supervisor from Nesconset, NY
Kellyn Bechtold, a 31- year old Career Counselor from Denver, CO
Morgan Ricke, a 29-year old Marine Animal Trainer from Orlando, FL
Sebastian Noel, a 22-year old Fishing Guide from Satellite Beach, FL
Wendall Holland, a 33-year old Furniture Company Owner from Philadelphia, PA

The castaways are shocked when Jeff informs them that this season they will have the opportunity to reverse the curse of some of the worst decisions in SURVIVOR history. Kellyn admits, "My probably biggest fear out here is making bad decisions, because we've seen it so many times throughout SURVIVOR." Everyone is surprised to learn that many of them will get the chance to go to Ghost Island where they will be surrounded by reminders that making the right decision at the right time is crucial in this game. Jeff then asks each tribe to make their first big decision by choosing one person to represent their tribe. The Malolo tribe chooses Brendan Shapiro. Brendan comments, "As a teacher and a coach, I'm relied on for a lot of things and I know something big is at stake. So, if I can help us win it, I want to win it." The Naviti tribe picks Chris Noble to lead their tribe. Jeff asks Brendan and Chris to pick two people from their tribes to participate in a challenge. Brendan picks Michael for the physical part and Laurel to solve a puzzle from his Malolo tribe. Chris picks Sebastian for the physical part and Desiree to solve a puzzle from his Naviti tribe. Desiree is nervous about being chosen to participate in the challenge. She explains, "Puzzles are not my strong suit."

Jeff then explains the rules of the challenge. The first person will race through a series of obstacles to dig up keys. Once a tribe has all three keys, the puzzle solver will use those keys to unlock and then solve the puzzle. The first person to finish wins a fishing kit and a shelter building kit for their tribe. The losing tribe forfeits their fishing kit. Jeff then tells them about a twist in the challenge. When the puzzle starts, he will start a sand timer. If at any point, before the sand runs out any one of the leaders thinks their puzzle maker is not going to win, they can forfeit the game. By forfeiting the game, they will make sure their tribe keeps their fishing gear. The penalty for forfeiting the game is that the other tribe will be given a basket full of eggs and a flint to make fire.

The challenge begins and Michael and Sebastian race through two obstacles to dig up their first keys and return them to the start. They are dead even as they dig up and return their second keys to the start. Then the fatigue starts setting in and they slow down. Sebastian returns his third key before Michael. So, Desiree gets to start unlocking the Naviti puzzle first. Michael brings in Malolo's third key, so Laurel can unlock their puzzle. As soon as Desiree gets her puzzle unlocked and starts working on it, Jeff starts the sand timer. Laurel unlocks her puzzle shortly after this. Chris and Brendan are keeping a close eye on both Laurel and Desiree to see who looks like they will finish their puzzle first. Both ladies are furiously moving the pieces around on their slide puzzles to try and solve them as quickly as possible. As the sand timer approaches the end, Chris decides to forfeit the challenge for his Naviti tribe, to make sure they keep the fishing gear. So, Malolo automatically wins the first challenge along with twenty eggs, flint, fishing gear and a shelter building kit. Domenick is not happy that Chris forfeited the challenge for his Naviti tribe. Jeff sends everyone off with maps to their tribe camps. Domenick remarks, "One bad decision can ruin your game and right out of the gate, Chris made the wrong decision."


The Malolo tribe walks into their camp and celebrates their win at the first challenge. They introduce themselves to each other. Michael tells his tribemates that he is 23 years old. He reveals, "I'm actually 18 years old and I'm not going to tell anybody my age on the show, strictly because I think it kills credibility right off the bat." Next, the Malolo tribe gets to work setting up their camp and building their shelter. Stephanie Gonzalez picks up the machete and starts chopping fronds off a palm tree. She admits, "Something like this, the bugs, the ants, the spiders, it doesn't really faze me because I grew up in Puerto Rico. So, I'm in a good spot." Donathan and Laurel take a walk together to gather supplies, which gives them a chance to talk. Donathan tells Laurel that he is a gay man from eastern Kentucky that has neither traveled much nor had exposure to many different types of people. He admits, "My main goal out here, besides winning the game is to get to know people that I would never know before." Donathan tells Laurel that he likes her and would like to work with her in the game. Laurel agrees. Donathan is hoping to make friends which many of his tribe mates, which will help him stay in the game.


Over at the Naviti tribe, they are also introducing themselves to one another. Kellyn reveals that she has recently made a lot of changes in her life in order to live the life she wants to live rather than the life others think she should. She comments, "I'm a huge fan of SURVIVOR and I made it. It's going to be an insane journey." With his experience as a Construction Supervisor, Domenick directs his tribemates on how to build the shelter. As the tribe works together to set up camp, Domenick reveals to them that he changed his life to live more responsibly now that he has kids and a family to support. He admits, "Leaving my wife and three kids behind has been difficult from the second I left the house, but my wife and kids gave me their blessing." Domenick hopes to bring home the million-dollar prize to them. Chris and Sebastian feel an instant bond when they realize they are both from Florida. Chris suggests that they work together in the game to make sure they get to the merge. They both agree that Domenick should be the first one they get out, since he is most likely to go after the two of them. Chris admits, "There are red flags with Domenick." He has felt uncomfortable with Domenick ever since he criticized Chris for forfeiting the challenge.


The next day at Malolo begins with Jacob's shoes being washed out by the tide. Jacob already feels at a disadvantage for being one of the weaker and less athletic guys on Malolo. He admits, "I'm a little afraid that all of these pretty people are going to gang up on me at some point in the future if we don't win immunity." Jacob asks Donathan and James if they think an idol is hidden around camp. Both of them think that it is likely there is one. Jacob then tells them he is going to go exploring and leaves camp. He doesn't want to raise his tribe mates' suspicions by being away from camp, but Jacob also feels at risk in the game. So, Jacob searches around the island for a hidden immunity idol. Meanwhile, back at camp James is spreading the word that Jacob is out idol hunting, which makes everyone feel uncomfortable with Jacob. James comments, "You don't want to be the person to stand out for any reason in the early stages of the game." Later when the rest of the tribe leaves camp to search for food, Jacob volunteers to stay behind and work on the fire. Alone in camp, Jacob dumps the rice into his dirty sock to see if an idol or clue is hidden in the rice container. He is a lifelong SURVIVOR fan, so Jacob is anxious to get any advantages to help his chances in the game. Unfortunately, he finds no clue or idol in the rice. Jacob admits, "I would be devastated if I were out first. So, hopefully they think that I'm not being too suspicious, but I think I already screwed myself."


The Naviti tribe is putting finishing touches on their shelter. Wendell is building a crab trap. He went to a top ten law school, but then decided to follow his passion and become a furniture designer. Wendell admits, "I am more than I appear." Domenick compliments Wendell on the crab trap he is building. Wendell gets a good vibe from Domenick and hopes to work with him on SURVIVOR. Later, Wendell asks Sebastian whom he would vote for if they have to go to Tribal Council. Sebastian recommends they vote out Domenick. Wendell tells Sebastian that he actually likes Domenick and encourages him to think of other options. Next, Wendell tells Domenick that Sebastian told him that Domenick's name is being tossed around for the first person to be voted out. Domenick is not happy to hear this and suspects that Chris is the one that first threw out his name. Domenick comments, "I'm here to play the game as well and he's got a big battle ahead of him if he thinks he's going to roll right in and just vote me out."


Jeff Probst welcomes the Malolo and Naviti tribes to the first immunity challenge. Jeff describes the challenge to them. They will race across a net bridge. They will then work together to retrieve two hanging bags of rope. They will use those ropes to pull a sled filled with giant puzzle pieces. Once they have all the puzzle pieces, they will use them to solve a cube puzzle. The first tribe to finish wins immunity. Jeff uncovers the immunity idol and explains that the tribe that wins that idol will be safe from the next Tribal Council. The losing tribe will have one of its members be the first person voted out of SURVIVOR: GHOST ISLAND. In addition, because Naviti does not yet have fire, they are playing for fire in the form of flint. Finally, Jeff tells them that Ghost Island is in play. So, someone from the losing tribe will be the first to visit Ghost Island.

The challenge begins and both tribes quickly race up their net bridges. Next, each tribe lifts their lightest members up on their shoulders to untie their two bags of ropes. Chelsea and Morgan make quick work of the knots and get the Naviti bags freed first, which puts them in the lead. Malolo is not far behind though. Next, they have to attach the ropes to their sleds and get three large puzzle pieces in the sleds. Now all ten members of each tribe have to work together to pull the heavy sled loaded with puzzle pieces along the track. Once they get the first three pieces moved, they have to pull the sled back and retrieve the final three pieces. Everyone is getting tired as they expend a lot of energy to get the job done. Naviti maintains their lead as they are the first to move all of their puzzle pieces. Now Bradley, Wendell, Domenick and Kellyn start putting the Naviti cube puzzle together. Jacob, Michael, Laurel and James are the puzzle builders for Malolo. In the end, Naviti gets their puzzle put together first, which wins them immunity and flint for fire. Jacob assures Jeff that although they just lost, Malolo is one of the best tribes of all time. Jeff asks Naviti to choose one person from Malolo to go to Ghost Island. That person will not go to Tribal Council and therefore cannot be voted out of the game. The Naviti tribe decides to send Jacob to Ghost Island. Jacob is happy that Naviti chose him to go to Ghost Island. Jeff instructs Jacob to hop on the boat, which will take him to Ghost Island. He then reminds Malolo that they will join him tonight at Tribal Council, where one of them will be the first one voted out of SURVIVOR: GHOST ISLAND. Jenna admits, "Jacob being on Ghost Island definitely screws us a little bit, because that's who we would probably have voted out tonight."


The boat drops Jacob off on Ghost Island. He comments, "I think there's got to be something here that's going to help me. That's why I tried to get here in the first place." Jacob is surprised to see that Ghost Island is filled with SURVIVOR relics, such as the tribe immunity idol from SURVIVOR: CHINA. As a fan, he is also delighted to see all the snuffers from prior seasons that are hanging from a shelter he finds just off the beach. Next, he finds a row of urns and a sign that tells him to smash one of the urns. Jacobs smashes an urn and finds a piece of paper inside which reads: GAME ON. FOLLOW THE FIRE. So, he follows a path on the island which is lined with a row of lit tiki torches. It leads him to a table with instructions to play a game of chance. If he is willing to risk his next vote at Tribal Council, he has the chance to win a secret advantage. There are three bamboo shoots on the table. The one in the middle has a lock on it. He is guessing that one of the bamboo shoots on either side of the one in the middle has the key in it to unlock the one in the middle. Jacob says, "If I pick right, I'll get the advantage and if I pick wrong, I get nothing and I lose my vote." He decides to take the risk and open the bamboo shoot on the left. He is happy to see that it contains the key to unlock the middle bamboo shoot. Jacobs opens the middle bamboo shoot and pulls out the authentic Legacy Advantage from SURVIVOR: GAME CHANGERS. Sierra found the Legacy Advantage on day 1, but foolishly told Sarah about it on day 30. Sarah then got Sierra voted out, so Sierra would will her the advantage. A note attached to the Legacy Advantage tells Jacob that he can restore the power that the advantage lost when Sierra misplayed it by willing it to someone on the Naviti tribe. If he chooses wisely, then this could be the beginning of a new alliance with someone on the Naviti tribe. If he chooses poorly, he could end up like Sierra. Jacob decides to will the Legacy Advantage to Morgan, because he feels she has good energy and would make a good ally. He admits, "I have to believe that I can use this thing correctly and reverse the curse."


Meanwhile at Malolo, the tribe is talking about how they could have done better in the challenge. Gonzalez suggests that they could have laid out the puzzle pieces better, so they could have clearly seen their colors and pattern. Donathan is frustrated when he hears her say this, because that was his idea at the challenge. He admits, "You know me, I'm probably the weakest person on my tribe, but I don't want that target on me. So, I'm going to tell my tribe mates that Gonzalez should be the target." Donathan tells James, Libby and Stephanie that Gonzalez stole his idea about the puzzle after she had told him to quit talking at the challenge. Gonzalez, Brendan, and Jenna also discuss the vote. Gonzalez recommends they vote out Donathan, because he is the weakest player on the tribe. She admits, "It kind of crushes you in a sense, because he really does have a great heart." Later, Stephanie, Laurel, Jenna, Michael and Libby talks strategy. Stephanie comments, "Being a super fan of the show, I know the first vote sets the tone for the entire game." Stephanie feels that although Donathan is weaker than Gonzalez, he will be easier to work with in the future. The group discusses their options. Stephanie prefers they vote out Gonzalez, because she is a bigger strategic threat. Michael feels they should vote out Donathan, because he is physically weaker. He admits, "With this being Ghost Island, I feel like it's a double whammy. If you make a bad decision, I think that will haunt me for life."


Jeff Probst welcomes the Malolo tribe to Tribal Council and instructs them to light their torches. He tells them that this is part of the ritual of Tribal Council, because in this game fire represents their life. When their fire is gone, so are they. Jeff asks Stephanie why she is smiling. She is just appreciating the whole Tribal Council experience, but she knows that this is serious business. Gonzalez wonders what Jacob will experience on Ghost Island. She suspects he is out there looking for idols, because he is special. Jenna agrees that Jacob does not worry about putting a target on his back by spending so much time away from camp looking for idols. Without being able to vote out Jacob tonight, Laurel points out that the tribe is focused on keeping the tribe strong with this vote. She prefers to keep the tribe physically strong, so they have a better chance of winning challenges. Donathan admits that he is nervous tonight since he is one of the weaker guys. Stephanie points out that there are different types of strength to consider including strategic and social strength. Gonzalez wishes that she could have been one of the people putting the puzzle together today, because she is good at it. Brendan admits that they are just getting to know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Jenna and Michael both feel that tight alliances have not formed yet but will likely be shaped based on the vote tonight. Gonzalez feels uncomfortable, so she gets up and individually checks in with Brendan and Michael to make sure they are still voting for Donathan tonight. This starts a chain of people whispering to one another. Jeff points out that no one is talking to Donathan. Gonzalez sits back down. Jeff then calls for the Malolo tribe to cast their votes. Before Jeff reveals the votes, he asks if anyone would like to play an immunity idol. No idol is played. Jeff reveals the first six votes. Donathan receives one vote. Gonzalez receives five votes, which is enough. So, Stephanie Gonzalez, a 26-year old Graphic Salesperson from Ocala, FL is the first person voted out of SURVIVOR: GHOST ISLAND.