November 22, 2017 at 09:00 PM EST


TV Show
run date
Jeff Probst
Current Status
In Season

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you are all getting ready to stuff your faces full of stuffing. Because with apologies to Brussels sprouts, potatoes (sweet or mashed), cranberry sauce (traditional or canned), and even the damn turkey — it’s allllllllll about the stuffing. And to be clear, when I say it is all about the stuffing, I mean the food, not stuffing idols down your pants, like Ryan.

So please be thankful for stuffing. And be thankful for family — even those family members that drive you bonkers and may have forced you into reading this recap as a temporary respite from all the dysfunctional drama. And, as always, be thankful for Survivor. The Survivor gods have smiled upon us — providing 35 seasons of incredible televised drama. (Well, 34 seasons, plus Survivor: Nicaragua.) How lucky are we to have a show that can continue to delight and deliver after so many years? Pretty damn lucky.

I’m always thankful for Survivor, so in my annual Turkey Day recap tradition, let’s recount everything I am thankful for when it comes to this most recent episode.

I Am Thankful for Large Ladders in the Ocean
For the most part, the reward challenge involved elements we have seen a million times before. Dive down to get a key, use the keys to unlock a chest, then throw balls into baskets. But there was one new wrinkle, and a pretty bitchin’ one at that, as players had to climb up a big ladder and then leap off into the water below. There was nothing particularly difficult or dangerous about it, but damn if it didn’t look fun. I was immediately jealous.

That’s the thing. I probably love challenges that torture and humiliate contestants more than anyone, but there also is just a simple element of fun and adventure that can translate from screen to couch, and that’s what this stupid ladder did. And how badass was JP jumping straight down and not resurfacing before getting the key at the bottom of the red team’s buoy? Rumor has it he also dropped his bathing suit and hopped around on the ocean floor while he was down there to prove to the scuba cameraman that he did not have a hidden immunity idol.

That helped lead the red team to their reward, which was a feast on a shockingly Cochran-free luxury yacht. Of course, Joe was more interested in finding an idol clue, which included carving up the cake in front of everyone and tossing around pillows willy-nilly without a trace of stealth or subtlety whatsoever. While he was doing this, I can only assume that Cole was off licking every single square inch of the boat.

As for the losers, Probst told them to “swim on back to camp,” which, frankly, seems like a hell of a swim. (At least it would be if a boat did not motor on into frame after filming was complete to pick them up and then take them back.)

Watch Fan Forum: Survivor on People TV here, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

I Am Thankful for Shared Secrets That Backfire
Memo to all future Survivor players: People talk. You should always assume that anything you tell anyone will be shared. Ryan may end up learning this lesson the hard way. It began when he told Devon, “I have an idol in my pants.” This didn’t bug me so much, as he has been rock solid with Devon since day 1 and Devon never blabbed about the advantage Ryan told him about, so he could be trusted.

But then, a day later, Ryan couldn’t help himself, also blabbing to Ben that “the idol’s in my pants.” This begs a few questions. First off, why won’t Ryan take the idol out of his pants? Has he been eating, sleeping, swimming and competing with an idol in his pants this whole time? It seems a bit excessive, no? Like, put it in your bag or go bury it already. You don’t need to keep it in your pants — unless you’re trying to impress the ladies, I suppose.

Also, why tell Ben? What does that get you? I don’t see the tactical advantage of doing this, and the tactical disadvantage was made painfully clear when Ben — after promising Ryan, “I’m not going to say anything to anyone about this” — went and told Devon. What was interesting was how fast Devon then turned on Ryan even though Ryan never bad-mouthed Devon, made any other alliance, or even really snuck behind his back.

If I were Devon, I would have at least first gone and asked Ryan if he had told anyone else about the idol and see what he said. Well, that’s not entirely true. If I were Devon, first of all I would just spend a lot of time being psyched that I now looked like Devon and would probably try to go find a mirror of some sort to go check myself out. Then I would ask Ryan if he had told anyone else about the idol. And I would gauge his reaction. If he said, “No, just you,” then I would know he could not be trusted. But if he said, “Oh, man. I’m so dumb. I just blurted it out to Ben without thinking,” or, “You know, I was talking to Ben and thought it might help solidify his position with us so I told him,” then I wouldn’t have a huge problem with it.

Devon may have jumped the gun on jumping ship, but the possible fissure between the two Hustlers could make for a more interesting final run here. (Recap continues on page 2)

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