Let's be honest here: Noura Salman may not be long for this game, but already, four episodes into Survivor: Island of the Idols, she is one of the greatest "train wreck" characters of all time. Ebullient, erratic and just downright entertaining in every sense of the word, Noura is a uniquely captivating presence whose every on-screen appearance is its own coup de foudre.
While there is no one like Noura in Survivor history, her inclusion on the season does follow a similar casting pattern. Cut from the cloth of a Phillip Sheppard, an Abi-Maria Gomes and, perhaps most recognizably, a Debbie Wanner, Noura is the type of character who has no shot to win but will inevitably embroil her tribe in a tornado of disorder by the simple nature of being her one-of-a-kind self. The inability to holster some of her more grating tendencies may seem like a self-destructive recipe for an early exit, but many a wild-card has advanced deep in this game. Debbie made the merge both times out, Abi-Maria nudged her way into the top seven in each of her ultimately futile attempts and former federal agent(?) Phillip once pleaded his case for a million dollars and even earned one vote (shout-out to Ralph Kiser). So that leaves us fervent Noura stans in a prediction predicament; will this mercurial entrepreneur coast to the final three by virtue of her social and strategic shortcomings? Or will her life expectancy in the game be more similar to that of a Natalie Cole, the vexing David vs. Goliath pre-merge boot?
Regardless of how much more Noura we are graced with, the latest episode showed why we should be thankful she's here in the first place. Noura's visit to Island of the Idols was a sure bet for comedy gold, and certainly, Boston Rob and Sandra's persuasion lecture over watermelon chunks delivered on that front. But the moments immediately beforehand and afterward were arguably even more hilarious.
The tactful editing leading up to Noura volunteering herself as tribute to IOI, as well as her insistence on being the caller in the immunity challenge upon her return from the mysterious island, built up to one of the funniest payoffs seen on this show in quite a while. When the Vokais huddled to decide who would sit out the challenge, the dysfunctional battalion didn't skip a beat; the tribe's zestful yoga instructor was unanimously directed to nama-stay on the sidelines.
Noura didn't earn the adoration of her original tribe, and it's likely whichever new group she swaps into next week will be reluctant to accept all her quirks with open arms. But the same eccentricities that irritate those in Noura's orbit on the beach give a large majority of Survivor fans reason to hope she doesn't leave Fiji anytime soon. After this latest episode, however, it's fair to wonder just how much more-a of Noura we're going to get.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.