'Survivor: Island of the Idols' premieres with Ronnie Bardah voted out after Elizabeth Beisel learns big lesson from Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/26/2019
Survivor: Island of the Idols premiered with the Lairo tribe voting out Ronnie Bardah after Elizabeth Beisel learned a game-changing lesson from idols Rob "Boston Rob" Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine during Wednesday night's premiere episode of Season 39 on CBS.
Ronnie, a 35-year-old pro poker player from Brockton, MA, who currently resides in Henderson, NV, was voted out by his Lairo tribe on Night 3 of the game in a 9-2 vote instead of Vince Moua, a 27-year-old admissions counselor from Merced, CA, who currently resides in Palo Alto, CA.
Elizabeth was unable to vote as a consequence for taking a risk on the Island of the Idols.
"I was blindsided pretty hard. I did not expect that. I thought I was contributing to my tribe, and it just sucks," Ronnie said following his ouster.
"It's pretty embarrassing to be voted out first. It's going to be a big disappointment to the poker world and to myself, but hey, I made some mistakes. And in the game of poker, you've got to learn from your mistakes. Coming onSurvivor definitely wasn't just about the money. A million dollars is great, but you can't put a price on an experience like this."
The Survivorbroadcast began with the Lairo and Vokai tribes taking speed boats to their respective beaches, where they immediately began to build their shelters. They did not even meet face-to-face with host Jeff Probst.
Everyone quickly discovered the season would have an "Island of Idols" twist, but no one knew what that meant.
As previously announced,Survivor's 39th season will feature former Survivorwinners Boston Rob and Sandra as mentors.
Boston Rob and Sandra, who have played over 200 days of Survivorcombined, will not be competing for the money. Instead, they'll share their knowledge of the game and strategy with the new castaways on the Island of the Idols to help them get a step closer to achieving their goal.
Players will be selected to visit the special island in various ways throughout the season.
"Every player who visits will be instructed in a difference facet of Survivor and then be given an opportunity to test what they've learned for a chance to win an advantage," Jeff explained in a voiceover at the beginning of the premiere.
But the players may risk losing something very important in the process.
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The Lairo tribe is comprised of Ronnie; Vince; Elizabeth, a 26-year-old Olympic medalist from Saunderstown, RI; Missy Byrd, a 24-year-old Air Force veteran from Decatur, GA, who currently resides in Tacoma, WA; Dean Kowalski, a 28-year-old tech salesman from Westfield, NJ, who currently resides in New York, NY; Tom Laidlaw, a 60-year-old former NHL hockey player from Ontario, Canada, who currently resides in Greenwich, CT; Aaron Meredith, a 36-year-old gym owner from Uncasville, CT, who currently resides in Warwick, RI; Karishma Patel, a 37-year-old personal injury lawyer from Philadelphia, PA, who currently resides in Houston, TX; Elaine Stott, a 41-year-old factory worker from Woodbine, KY, who currently resides in Rockholds, KY; and Chelsea Walker, a 26-year-old digital content creator from Marlton, NJ, who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
The Vokai tribe is made up of Lauren Beck, a 28-year-old nanny from Bakersfield, CA, and Rochester Hills, MI, who currently resides in Glendale, CA; Molly Byman, a 27-year-old law student from Boston, MA, who currently resides in Durham, NC; Janet Carbin, a 59-year-old chief lifeguard from Neptune, NJ, who currently resides in Palm Bay, FL; Kellee Kim, a 29-year-old MBA student from Costa Mesa, CA, who currently resides in Philadelphia, PA; Jason Linden, a 32-year-old personal injury lawyer from New York, NY; Jack Nichting, a 23-year-old graduate student from Newport News, VA, who currently resides in Harrisonburg, VA; Noura Salman, a 36-year-old entrepreneur from London, UK, and Bethesda, MD, who currently resides in North Potomac, MD; Tommy Sheehan, a 26-year-old 4th grade teacher from Bayville, NY, who currently resides in Long Beach, NY; Jamal Shipman, a 33-year-old college administrator from Jersey City, NJ, who currently resides in Providence, RI; and Dan Spilo, a 48-year-old talent manager from New York, NY, who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
The Lairo tribe featured several athletes, including Tom, a former pro hocker player and Elizabeth, an Olympic medalist in swimming.
Missy shared she once suffered from a brain tumor and almost died, but the tumor ultimately disappeared and she was given new life.
Over at Vokai, the tribe all got along great at first. Janet also quickly proved herself and her worth to the tribe by starting fire. She didn't want to become an early target just because of her age.
Meanwhile, at Lairo, Vince surprised his tribe by being a master with tools. He's a well-educated man with a history of working hard considering his family were refugees.
Vince, Elaine and Tom quickly became friends and allies, but the rest of their tribe noticed they were gone for a while.
An alliance of seven was therefore formed against the three, and Vince, Elaine and Tom became targets right off the bat on Day 1.
Jason was then shown disappearing at the Vokai tribe, as he went off looking for an idol since that's the theme of the new season for about 35-40 minutes. Dan said Jason had made a classic Survivor mistake and it would be impossible for him to recover and dig himself out of that grave.
Jack and Tommy also grew close, and Tommy said he had done a great job of making one-on-one connections. An alliance of six, including Molly, appeared to form.
Although Jason was clearly on the outs, Noura liked Jason and felt like she could trust him, so she warned him the tribe was targeting him and "perception is reality."
At Lairo's camp, the ladies decided to stick together and form an all-female alliance. They were tired of women getting voted out early in the game, and Missy appeared to spearhead the pact.
On Day 2, Kellee vented about how she was a germophone and Dan was just too touchy-feely for her liking. He rested his head on her legs and offered to give her a back massage.
"He makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable, and I don't think he realizes it," Kellee said in a confessional. "His lack of spatial awareness... and for me being a girl... like, I don't want your sweaty body on me at all!"
Molly was taken aback by Dan as well, saying he didn't understand the concept of personal space.
Molly tried to be delicate about the situation, but Janet felt the girls needed to say how they felt. Kellee therefore talked to Dan about her issue with him, but she felt his behavior would hurt him in the game in the long run.
Over at the Lairo tribe, Ronnie could tell Elaine was super likeable and fun, and he acknowledged everyone seemed to like her.
"I like Elaine, but that can be dangerous. Because somebody like Elaine from a town in-the-middle-of-nowhere Kentucky who's had hardship her whole life and works in a factory, sounds like the clear winner to me," Ronnie told the cameras.
Ronnie began viewing Elaine as a threat, saying he needed to get rid of her as soon as possible. However, he wanted to make Elaine feel safe, and Elaine told him that she'd stay real with him as long as he stayed real with her.
Elaine told Ronnie that she trusted him 100 percent, but she told the cameras she knew in her gut "he's a weasel." Elaine felt Ronnie actually had to go and guns were drawn.
On Day 3, the two tribes gathered and met Jeff for the season's first Immunity Challenge, which required each tribe to race up and down an obstacle, drop a bridge, cross the bridge, climb to the top of a tower and solve a massive village puzzle.
The first tribe to finish would win immunity as well as Reward in the form of flint to make fire.
Lairo started the puzzle in the lead, with Dean, Chelsea and Vince working on it. Over at Vokai, Molly, Noura and Jamal were working on the puzzle.
However, Vokai hustled as a team and managed to finish the giant puzzle long before Lairo, who found themselves at a standstill with the puzzle.
"Lairo is starting over now on their second hut. Lairo is dead in the water as Vokai continues to inch towards victory one hut at a time -- one of the biggest blowouts ever in a first challenge on Survivor. It's not even close!" Jeff yelled.
Vokai ended up winning the challenge, and so Lairo would be forced to vote a player out of the game.
Lairo, as the losing tribe, then learned they must send a person to the Island of the Idols. They randomly picked out Elizabeth's name from a bag, and she had no idea what to expect. Elizabeth tried to remain optimistic, but she didn't know what she was going to walk into.
Elizabeth learns from Boston Rob and Sandra
When Elizabeth arrived on a mystery beach via boat on Day 3, she saw two massive statues of Boston Rob and Sandra. She said they're two of the best players to ever play the game, and then Elizabeth met the idols in person.
Elizabeth was starstruck at the sight of these two legends, and then Boston Rob explained how the Island of the Idols was going to work. Rob said he and Sandra understood every component of the game and they'd share their knowledge with her to use at her own free will.
Rob and Sandra learned Elizabeth's tribe had yet to make fire and so they couldn't cook any fish they'd catch, and so Rob thought it would make sense to teach Elizabeth how to make fire with flint since her tribe would receive flint after going to Tribal Council.
Rob and Sandra said everything on the Island of the Idols was a lesson.
After much practice, Elizabeth ultimately learned how to make fire with wood, flint and air, and she was thrilled.
Elizabeth was then given an opportunity to test what she had learned to get an advantage. There were two fire-making stations. If Elizabeth made fire first, she'd earn an Immunity Idol good for her next two Tribal Councils.
However, if she lost, she'd lose her vote for that night's Tribal Council.
"Are you confident enough to take the risk or will you play it safe and return to camp?" Rob asked.
Elizabeth felt pretty safe in her alliance back at camp, so Rob wondered if her vote would really even matter that night. Elizabeth had a tough decision to make and needed some time to make it.
Elizabeth knew it would be very hard to win against Rob, but the competitor in her wanted to go for it.
Meanwhile, Elaine, Vince and Tom on the Lairo tribe discussed with Chelsea whom to vote out first. They thought they had six votes to vote out Ronnie, but Vince worried his name was on the chopping block because he had failed to help solve the puzzle.
But Ronnie thought he could gather six people as well and threw out Elaine name. Dean acknowledged Elaine was "a social butterfly," but Karishma was torn since she had become friends with Elaine.
Vince warned Elaine that Ronnie had brought up her name, but she was going to do everything in her power to stay.
Elizabeth was then shown deciding to compete against Rob in fire.
"She took the first offer not even thinking to question if I might have something in my back pocket. I was prepared to up the ante, but like every new Survivor player, they bite at the first opportunity," Rob told the cameras.
Sandra coached Elizabeth as she attempted to make fire, but Rob got it going in no time and won the faceoff. Rob said Elizabeth had learned a lesson because it was ridiculous to go against him when he had made hundreds of fire.
"Survivor is full of pitfalls like this. Sometimes, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is," Rob shared with Elizabeth. "So unfortunately tonight, you have no vote going into Tribal Council."
Elizabeth, however, learned a skill and also realized she must trust her gut. Rob said Elizabeth never should have challenged him and she shouldn't jump at every opportunity going forward.
Elizabeth then got to choose another person from the opposing tribe to visit the Island of the Idols. She picked a name out of a bag -- but didn't see it -- and then headed back to her camp.
Elizabeth admitted she had made a foolish mistake, and she hoped it wouldn't ruin her game.
Elaine told Ronnie's alliance that she would do anything to save herself and there was no direction in which she wouldn't vote.
Elaine said she didn't understand why she was being targeted, so Aaron flat out explained that everyone loved her and she was too nice and had formed connections so easily. But Elaine fought for her spot to stay and agreed to vote out Vince in order to save herself.
Aaron wasn't sure whether he should vote out Vince or Elaine.
When Elizabeth returned to her camp, she lied about what she had experienced on the Island of the Idols, going with her gut. Elizabeth said she could smash one of three urns on a private beach but she lost the game.
Aaron told Elizabeth in private Vince was the vote but other people wanted Elaine and Ronnie as well. Elizabeth didn't tell anyone she had lost her vote.
Survivor: Island of the Idols - Night 3 Tribal Council
At Tribal Council that night for the Lairo tribe, Rob and Sandra watched from a distance but no one could see them.
Elaine admitted she worried about going home that night because everyone enjoyed being around her, but Elaine asked everyone to give her a chance. Elaine pointed out there was a lot of game left to play before making the Final 2.
Ronnie said they should keep the tribe strong and getting rid of a strong guy early would be the wrong move to make.
Elaine cried at Tribal Council and said she was "devastated." It had taken a lot for her to get on Survivor, and Elaine couldn't possibly imagine being the first person voted out.
"I wanted the show to build me up when it wanted to tear me down. And if I go home tonight, it's going to be heartbreaking, but at the same time, it's the best thing in the world that's happened to me," Elaine shared.
Ronnie said he had a story of his own, having worked numerous odd jobs throughout his life. Ronnie said he could relate to Elaine because he had also been through some hardships in his life.
The tribe didn't want to vote someone out they cared for, but it seemed some individuals were ready to play a ruthless vote.
It then became time to vote, and after the dust settled, Jeff read them aloud in the following order: Vince, Ronnie, Vince, Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie, and Ronnie.
Ronnie appeared completely shocked and blindsided.
"Take care, guys," Ronnie told the group on his way out. "Wow!"