Spoilers ahead on the Survivor Season 39 episode that aired Wednesday, December 4, 2019 on CBS.
The Survivor loved ones episode is always emotional for castaways, and often for viewers, but Jeff Probst? Occasionally even the host also gets choked up over the loved ones visit. For Survivor: Island of the Idols, aka Season 39, one visit definitely got to him the most: Karishma Patel's reunion with her husband.
There's a lot of baggage that went into the reunion -- stuff Karishma's husband wouldn't hear about until after she went home or the season aired. But still. The loved ones reunion was super emotional for Karishma and marked a turning point for her own relationship.
Here's how Jeff Probst described his feeling about that loved ones visit to EW:
Hands down the pair that moved me the most was Karishma and her husband. That moment illustrated as well as any moment ever has the incredible emotional toll this game can have on a player. Karishma has been a fish out of water from the minute she landed on the beach. She let us inside her legitimate concern that playing Survivor would force her to do things that might be seen as questionable from the Indian community, but she did them anyway. She has been on the outs nearly the entire game, yet she never gave up. And the sequence of events in the middle of the jungle when she found an idol and found incredible clarity about her marriage was one of the most powerful of the season. Then only days later, her husband is there with her on the beach in Fiji. When she fell into his arms, you could feel the security of his embrace, which allowed her to release all the emotion she has been forced to hold inside. I can’t ever recall a loved one visit quite like that one.
Not every Survivor fan loves the loved ones visit, and certainly not every fan loves Karishma. She was voted out in this week's (anticlimactic) episode, and before that she was a polarizing figure on Survivor Season 39. She felt bullied and was certainly on the outs with the majority. But some fans found her whiny and got tired of her tears and complaints. They also felt sorry for her husband when she admitted, early in the season, that she felt pressured to get married and had doubts about it.
But later in the season, shortly before her husband arrived for the loved ones visit, Karishma had a revelation about her marriage and felt closer to her husband than before.
After Karishma was voted out, she talked to EW about her reunion with her husband earlier in that episode:
This journey was an opportunity for me to learn about myself and what love really means to me. When I saw my husband, I saw a love that’s more powerful than I ever could imagine. That’s the love of being accepted for who you are. I’m going to go home with that feeling in my heart for the rest of my life.
Karishma also clarified her comments about her husband from earlier in Survivor: Island of the Idols:
In the show, a large focus of it was my relationship with my husband because I mentioned early on in the season when I was having a really vulnerable moment with Janet and Jack and we were just talking about, you know, our families and our struggles in life. I just unloaded and I opened my heart and I let them in to know that one of the biggest struggles that I’ve ever had in my life was with feeling like a burden to my family for taking so long to get married. And with that came not an arranged marriage. I absolutely have to fix that misconception. I am not in any semblance of arranged marriage. I think that term is just such a buzz word that people tacked onto it. But what I was actually getting at is because I felt so much pressure from my parents and my culture and my society, I probably got married a little sooner than I normally would have.
Karishma said she got married quickly, but it was her own decision and she's happy to have made that choice:
But you know, you get that five-year itch where you think, 'Well, you know, let me take a step back, let me evaluate everything in my life through a lens.' And what the game taught me is that: Okay, this was absolutely the best decision I ever made, to marry this man, be it after two months of dating or two years of dating. I got lucky and I was blessed to have been introduced to somebody like him who will never ever let me fall, who will always support me, who let me go on this journey. Gosh, who let me leave for like two months to go out and live a dream like this!
Karishma said she came home from Survivor with amazing new perspective. She now feels like she has everything she will ever need. Good for her.
Honestly, this week's episode of Survivor was frustrating since it looked like they might finally take out one of the bigger targets. Instead, after Dean decided to hand his whole game to Tommy, the group just went for the easy vote for Karishma, something they have almost done for weeks now.
Survivor 39 hasn't been one of my favorite seasons -- I wouldn't rank it high on this list, and not just because of the Kellee and Dan mess -- and it's really wasted bringing back Boston Rob and Sandra. But at least it's winding down and Survivor: Winners at War, aka Season 40, is coming soon this winter 2020.
Survivor: Island of the Idols has "Just Go For It" airing Wednesday, December 11, then the two-hour season finale and reunion special on December 18 on CBS. Keep up with everything premiering in early 2020 with our handy TV schedule.