Survivor Season 39 Island of the Idols Premiere Recap and Live Blog

The 90-minute premiere of Survivor: Island of the Idols airs tonight on CBS. Read a live recap and join the discussion here.

Tonight is the premiere of the 39th season of Survivor. This season’s twist invites two former Survivor champions to serve as mentors to a new group of castaways: Queen Sandra Diaz-Twine and Boston Rob Mariano.  Sandra is the only two-time Survivor winner (Pearl Islands and Heroes vs. Villains). Rob has competed on Survivor four times, winning Redemption Island. Neither Sandra nor Rob will be eligible to compete for the million dollars this time around. They will not be participating in challenges or casting votes at tribal council. Their role is to serve as mentors while living on the eponymous Island of the Idols.

As castaways are sent to the Island of the Idols, Sandra and Rob will tempt them with possible advantages. They will be tested to see if they learned what Sandra and Rob tried to teach them. If they succeed, then they will earn an advantage. If they fail, then there could be a consequence. “Which ones will rise to the moment?” a Jeff Probst voice-over asks. “And which ones will fall victim to the lessons learned? And who will have what it takes to outwit, outplay, and outlast all the rest to claim the million-dollar prize?” And we see Jeff Probst standing out a flying helicopter as he delivers the familiar line: “39 days. 20 people. 1 Survivor.”

It’s time to meet the new castaways! They make their way onto their respective camps on boats, wondering where Jeff Probst is. Unlike previous seasons, Jeff is not there to greet them for the marooning. We see the Lairo tribe arrive at their camp and get to know each other. They’re all excited to meet each other. Elizabeth reveals to her tribe members that she is a former Olympic swimmer. In her confessional, Missy talks about having a brain tumor. Luckily, the tumor is completely gone. She wants to be the Sole Survivor of the season.

At the Vokai tribe, Lauren is intrigued by the theme of the season: Island of the Idols. She’s wondering if there is an island with hidden immunity idols. The tribe stands in a circle and introduces themselves. Molly notes how everyone seems excited to be there and get to work. Janet, a chief lifeguard, is worried about being the first one voted out due to her older age. She wants to show her worth, so she makes fire with just bamboo. The tribe cheers Janet for making fire for them.

Back at the Lairo tribe, Tom is impressed with Vince and Elaine. While the three of them are collecting firewood, Tom proposes an alliance among the three of them. However, while they are away, the other seven tribe members notice their absence. They decide to form a majority alliance of seven people right there on the spot with Tom, Vince, and Elaine as the outsiders.

At the Vokai tribe, Jason says in a confessional that he would be dumb to not search for a hidden immunity idol. The name of the season is Island of the Idols, after all. However, the tribe members are getting suspicious of Jason’s absence. They noticed he wandered off, most likely hunting for a hidden immunity idol. As a result, the tribe suggests voting him out first. In his confessional, Dan admits his plan was to have the tribe immediately agree on a first target that wasn’t him. He’s confident Jason will be the first one voted out from their tribe.

Jack is the youngest person on the Vokai tribe. He believes this will help him out due to his playful demeanor. However, he wants other people on his side. He gets to work building allies. Soon enough, an alliance of Jack, Molly, Tommy, Dan, Lauren, and Kellee forms. They are standing around in a circle and agree to work together. They also agree they like Jamal, too. Tommy, a fourth grade teacher, says in a confessional that he is glad that people are coming to him and want to align with him. He believes building one-on-one relationships with people will aid him in the game. Meanwhile, Noura lets Jason know that he’s a target for idol hunting. Jason is mortified, but he thanks Noura for the heads up. In his confessional, Jason says being the first one voted out will be a nightmare.

Missy likes the other women on the Lairo tribe. She wants to form an all-female alliance, and they all agree to it as they stand around in a circle. Missy also lets Elaine know that the tribe was already discussing targeting her, Vince, and Tom. Elaine is concerned, but she’s thankful that Missy let her know her name was already being thrown out.

Kellee says she is a germaphobe in a confessional, so she’s bothered by how touchy Dan is. We see Dan lay his head on Kellee’s leg, and she says in her confessional that she didn’t like that at all. Molly is also uncomfortable with Dan being too touchy with people. Later, Kellee has a conversation about it with Dan. Kellee believes the talk went well, but she still thinks Dan will hurt himself in the game. Meanwhile, we hear a confessional from Ronnie. He wants to get rid of Elaine as soon as possible since he sees her as a threat to win the game due to her background. However, he tries to pretend to want to align with her. Elaine sees right through Ronnie, and she says in a confessional that she is gunning for Ronnie to be voted out.

It’s Day 3 and time for the first challenge of the season. The tribe finally greets Jeff, and he officially welcomes them to the 39th season of Survivor. Jeff asks them their thoughts for the first 48 hours. Elaine jokes that their feelings were hurt for Jeff not greeting them. Chelsea says there is paranoia over the theme Idol of the Idols. Afterwards, Jeff tells them the rules for the immunity idol. They will have to go through a series of obstacles and go up a platform to solve a puzzle. The first tribe to solve their puzzle will win immunity and fire in the form of flint.

The challenge begins with the tribes going up a net and then down a slide. The tribes are even as Dean and Janet untie knots for grappling hooks for their respective tribes. Janet is the first to have her grappling hook land on a ring. The tribe pulls the rope of the grappling hook to release a bridge. Vokai is now in the lead as Dean must switch out with Ronnie. Ronnie lands the grappling hook, and they can now go over the bridge after it’s been released. Afterwards, both tribes are pulling themselves up a slanted wall to get up to the puzzle atop the platform. Lairo is now in the lead as Vokai struggles getting their tribe members up the platform. Eventually, all tribe members get atop the platform with three tribe members working on the puzzle for their respective tribes. Dean, Vince, and Chelsea work on the puzzle for Lairo; Jamal, Noura, and Molly work on the puzzle for Vokai. Dean, Vince, and Chelsea fall behind after seemingly making a mistake. They must start over on a portion, allowing Vokai to catch up. Lairo is now dismantling their puzzle to find their mistake as Vokai nears completing the puzzle. Vokai is the first to solve the puzzle. Vokai wins immunity!

After Vokai walks away, Jeff tells Lairo that one of them will be the first to visit Island of the Idols. He hands a bag of names to Eliane to randomly draw from. All of their names are in there, and Elaine draws Elizabeth’s name. Elizabeth will go to the Island of the Idols. Jeff tells her that she will return in time for tribal council. In her confessional, Elizabeth admits she is nervous about going to the Island of the Idols. She fears she will have a target on her back, and she doesn’t want to miss out on the strategy talks that will occur before tribal council.

Elizabeth arrives at the Island of the Idols. She gets off a boat and makes her way down the shore until she sees two giant statues of Sandra and Rob. As she nears the statues, out walk Sandra and Rob. Elizabeth is very excited to meet them. Afterwards, Rob and Sandra let Elizabeth know that they are not competing for the million dollars. They are there to mentor them. The first lesson they want to teach Elizabeth is how to create fire. They say this will make her more valuable to her tribe members. Elizabeth manages to build a fire of her own with guidance from Sandra. She’s happy to learn this skill. However, there is a twist waiting for Elizabeth. Rob tells her that Elizabeth can go head-to-head in a fire-making challenge against him. If she wins, then she will win an immunity idol that will be good for the next two tribal councils. However, if she loses against Rob, then she will lose her vote at the upcoming tribal council. She also has the choice to walk away from the challenge and simply return to camp. Elizabeth is torn what to do.

Meanwhile, back at Lairo, Vince is worried about his name being on the chopping block. He wants to rally votes against Ronnie instead. However, a group of people that includes Ronnie approaches Vince about voting together to vote out Elaine. In her confessional, Karishma is torn what to do. She recognizes how Elaine could be a threat, but she already made a promise to Elaine. Vince lets Elaine know that her name is on the chopping block, but Vince and Tom tell her she’ll be okay. Elaine is crying in a confessional. She doesn’t want to be the first one voted out.

Back at the Island of the Idols, Elizabeth goes ahead and competes against Rob in the fire-making challenge. The challenge begins, and Sandra urges Elizabeth on and tells her to not pay attention to what Rob is doing. Nonetheless, Rob manages to win the challenge as his fire burns through his rope first. As a result, Elizabeth will not be allowed to vote at tonight’s tribal council. Before she leaves, Elizabeth is instructed to draw a random name from a bag. This will determine which person from the other tribe will be the next to visit the Island of the Idols. She draws a name, but she is not allowed to see which name she picked. Afterwards, she makes her way back to the Lairo camp.

Ronnie and Aaron are still leading the charge to vote out Elaine. Therefore, Elaine goes up to the both of them and asks why is she the target. She says she is willing to vote for anyone as long as it is not her. They tell her that she’s too likable and will be a big threat. However, they ask her if she’d be willing to vote out Vince. She tells them that she will vote out Vince. Later, Elizabeth returns to camp. She also decides to lie about the Island of the Idols. Instead of telling them about Sandra and Rob, she comes up with a story about urns with a possible advantage. She says she did not pick an urn with an advantage. Later, Elizabeth learns about Ronnie and Aaron wanting to vote out Elaine or Vince tonight.

It’s time for tribal council. All the Lairo tribe members grab a torch and dip it into the fire to light them. Unbeknownst to them, Sandra and Rob are observing tribal council from up above in a covered tree house. Jeff begins the discussion by asking about the first couple of days. Elaine said she clicked with everybody, but candidly tells Jeff that she is a target because of that. Karishma admits to Jeff that that is the case tonight. Elaine asks them why target her over a hypothetical Final 3 scenario when the game is just beginning. Jeff asks Ronnie his thoughts, and he says they should keep the tribe strong. He doesn’t want one of the bigger guys to be voted out first. Elaine breaks down in tears as she says she is devastated at possibly being the first one voted out. She says she wanted the show to build her up, not tear her down. She says regardless what happens, being on Survivor is the best thing to have happened to her. Jeff asks Ronnie his thoughts on her emotional plea, and Ronnie says he can relate to Elaine’s struggles with jobs. However, Ronnie rambles on and on about multiple jobs he’s had throughout his life. Vince says they all have a story, and he also breaks down in tears. He says it will be hard to go against Elaine, but the game is brutal in nature. Aaron says it will always be hard to vote somebody out. Up in the tree house, Rob whispers to Sandra if it’s ever been hard to vote someone out. “F*** no!” Sandra whispers back. “I vote you out and that’s it.” Afterwards, it’s time for the vote.

Jeff reads the votes. The first vote is for…









Ronnie is the first person voted out of Survivor: Island of the Idols.

Ronnie is clearly blindsided as he gets his torch snuffed and walks away.

And that wraps up tonight’s premiere of Survivor: Island of the Idols. Thanks for reading, post your thoughts in the comment section below, and come back next week for another live recap.

About Steven Curtis 562 Articles
Steven is a graduate of the University of West Florida with a bachelor's degree in communication arts. He enjoys watching reality competition shows, such as American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race.