Survivor: Island of the Idols

Finale: Mama, Look at Me Now

By Kim Hollis & David Mumpower

December 21, 2019

A bad tribal council but a win nonetheless.

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Previously on Survivor, an unending series of nightmares continued, as the worst season in the history of the show - consensus opinion, not ours - sunk to a new low. A relatively innocuous elimination of Elaine was followed by a surprising Probst announcement the morning after the vote. The host revealed that Dan had violated his zero tolerance policy, so Survivor booted him. It only took 17 incidents!

Don’t worry, though! Survivor has done the right thing! They’ve been completely transparent about what Dan did, offered sincere apologies to all the victims, and then tirelessly discussed the matter publicly.

Oh, wait. They did the opposite of that. Probst did a disingenuous interview where he said the previous statements were all he would make. The show lawyered up, and Dan decided to turn even further heel by releasing a statement. In it, he claimed that he made a sincere apology to Kellee at Tribal Council, almost as if he forgot that the cameras recorded and showed him talking smack to her moments after her elimination.

Hey, you don’t get to the top of the Hollywood food chain without being a dishonest prick. Well, Tom Hanks did, but we don’t count him.

How did Survivor collapse so completely? Early in 2018, the show fired its longtime casting director, a transparent move that allowed Probst to consolidate power behind the scenes. Karmic retribution is harsh, swift, fair, and kind of grabby.

CBS has spent the last two years firing executives and cutting huge checks due to corporate harassment at the highest levels. One of the networks biggest stars, Michael Weatherly, got busted sexually harassing actress/BOP fave Eliza Dushku, and the network punished him by renewing his show. This issue is systemic, bordering on incestuous. To wit, the other staple of CBS reality television, Big Brother, has a host (Julie Chen) who is married to Leslie Moonves, who was forced out as CEO because it turns out he’s at least as bad as Harvey Weinstein, if not worse. During live broadcasts of that show, Chen voiced her support for her husband as if he were some kind of victim.

In the current environment at CBS, the uncomfortable situation that evolved on Survivor seems inevitable with a bit of hindsight. Also, there’s a show tonight. If Janet doesn’t win, the situation is only going to get worse for CBS, and we do think Probst’s days as host will end in May.

Also, tonight’s reunion show was pre-recorded because they’re cowards.

P.S. The funniest thing would be if Noura won. She is 17 kinds of crazy and thereby the most fitting torch bearer for this season, the one where it all fell apart.

Tonight’s pre-taped event starts with Probst interviewing Sandra and Rob, two past contestants people like. Sandra is wearing a Game of Thrones-style tiara, and we’re left rooting for dragonfire.

It’s Day 36 in hell. Rob and Sandra are talking again. We’re starting to wonder if they even show the contestants.The two of them kindly do some math for us. They explain that with five players remaining, only three can make it to the final. Tell us if we’re going too fast.

A boat arrives and a gentleman hands the final five a note. They are instructed to grab their belongings and get on the boat. Tommy is the only person out of the group who hasn’t been to the Island of the Idols, so he’s incredibly nervous.

We should mention that Tommy, Janet, and Lauren are most deserving of a win. David feels pretty strongly that it’s Tommy, while Kim believes any of the three are fine. We’re both rooting for Janet, of course, since she’s NOT a monster.

When Tommy approaches Rob and Sandra, she asks him his name, as if she doesn’t know his social security number and mother’s maiden name. The two Super Survivors tell the contestants that they will be living in the shelter they had built. They also give them “Special Edition Island of the Idols” buff to commemorate this very special occasion.

Rob and Sandra leave. This show sucks.

But wait! Rob says that if they’ve been paying attention, they’ll realize that they wouldn’t leave them without one final lesson. Did any of these dummies pay attention?

Despite having sworn to NEVER EVER work with Dean again, Noura talks with him about whether it makes more sense to eliminate Janet or Lauren. Dean suggests that Janet is the better option.

Noura says in confessional that she wants to vote for Dean, though. It’s a no-brainer.

Meanwhile, Tommy is scrutinizing the buffs that Rob and Sandra gave to them. He realizes that there’s a machete on them where an immunity idol usually “lives.” He starts focusing in on machetes around camp, and finds one that is stuck within a coconut. When he opens it, he finds that it is pink, which is baffling.

Tommy shares this info with Dean, mainly because he’s color blind and needs help understanding what color it is. He pretty quickly realizes this is a terrible choice, because Dean is a lazy sack of crap. So, Tommy wanders around camp by himself until he finds a red plank. He lifts it up and finds a symbol that looks like the letter “H.”

Stupidly, he enlists Dean’s help again. Dean says he needs to poop.

To be fair, Dean does admit that TOmmy shouldn’t have told him about what he found. He recognizes that perhaps there’s a swing that looks like the H. Tommy is digging under some wood that might be in the right configuration, but Dean sees the symbol on a piece of wood. He takes his opportunity to quickly pry it open and discovers yet ANOTHER Immunity Idol.

We really want a season completely free of hidden Immunity Idols.

Speaking of Immunity, it’s Probst time. Today’s challenge requires contestants to retrieve rope rugs that they’ll use to climb a tower, where they have to maneuver some balls up a pole. It’s less dirty than it sounds. At the top of the pole, they have to navigate a maze to get the balls into a designated spot.

In addition to Immunity, winner gets reward, including steak and/or vegetarian options.

Tommy and Dean take the lead, with the women not far behind them. Tommy spends too much time watching Dean, which keeps them even. Honestly, they’re all about even at the maze, with Tommy, Janet, and Noura all landing their ball in the closest hole.

Dean takes a different approach. He goes for the farther ball, because the near one seems much easier. He misses twice, though, allowing Janet and Tommy to get back in the game. In the end, though, Dean’s approach was the right one. He wins, and he’s guaranteed Final Four.

He also gets to choose one person to have lunch with him, and claims he loves stoic Noura and wants to eat with her because they’ve had past issues and he wants to resolve them.

Lauren sourly comments that she thinks it’s just jury management.

Problem is, Dean now has TWO idols AND an idol nullifier. He’s basically going to be able to choose his final three. What he does with it is up to him.

To Dean’s credit, his selection of Noura proves to be super smart. She totally loves every moment of it. She thinks he’s cute, charming, adorable, wonderful, and dreamy. He makes a pact to go to the final two with her, which means that Dean now has such a pact with both Noura and Tommy.

At the same time, Tommy and Janet are scheming. Janet ALSO has an immunity idol, which she must play at the next Tribal Council. The two of them plan to put their votes on Lauren. Janet’s thinking about what she is going to say to the jury. She tells Tommy she’s going with him to the end, but Tommy’s “number one” is Lauren.

Tommy wants Dean to use his idol nullifier here, sending Janet home. Dean’s not so sure. He thinks it’s better to get rid of Lauren now and then Janet at the next vote.

He’s totally managing his jury plans, and we have to give him a bit of credit for it. Also, he recognizes that if he gets rid of Lauren, Tommy has to align with Dean.

Tommy freaks out a little. He thinks Dean is sneaky. He’s right.

Tribal Council happens. Tommy has to explain math to Dean. He should have been paying attention to Rob & Sandra’s explanation earlier.


Obviously, this vote is up to Dean, which is kind of irritating given how dopey he is. He chooses to nullify Janet, which means that the fan favorite is going home. On the jury, Aaron notes that it came down to the fire challenge - no one wants to go up against her.

If Dean wins another Immunity Challenge, he’s choosing at least one of his final two.

This is how bad it is for Survivor. After Janet’s elimination, CBS breaks in with the news that Trump has been impeached, thereby boosting the spirits of 54 percent of the population according to polling.

Dean practices fire. We’re confused - is his idol no good?

For Tommy’s part, he tries to convince Noura that he has no idea how to make fire. He also tells her that Dean said there’s no way he’d take Noura to the final. She kind of doesn’t believe Tommy, or she doesn’t want to. She watches Dean doing yoga. His flexing is very convincing.

Probst again. The Immunity Challenge requires them to stack blocks that spell “Island of the Idols” on a very wobbly shelf. “It may be the biggest challenge of the season,” Probst speculates. Maybe they can have Rob and Sandra come back to give us more math lessons.

This is yet another super boring one to recap, but Dean and Noura figure it out pretty well. They both spell out Island, but Dean’s letter “E” falls off of the word “the.” Noura smiles evilly.

As he tries to hustle to catch up with Noura, Dan knocks off most of his letters. She locks it into place and Wins! Immunity!

She does a cartwheel and acts, well, Noura-like. But she’s going to the final. We’re close to having the perfect champion for this season.

Tommy is rightfully scared, because Noura is… unpredictable. Impetuous. Flighty. Noura announces that she would like to chill out by swimming and taking a break. Then, she will tell them her plans.

“Brevity’s not my strong suit,” she says, before going on to blah blah blah blah blah about each one of the three people remaining in the game besides her.

Eventually, she gets around to telling Lauren that she’s going to build fire against Dean. Lauren cries. “I haven’t made fire the whole time I’ve been here.”

Meanwhile, Dean says, “I hope she thinks I’m super good at it, because I haven’t made fire in my life.”

(So, yes, the idol from Rob/Sandra was useless to Dean.)

Tommy decides that for purposes of jury management, he needs to help both Lauren and Dean learn how to make fire. Noura tries to talk to Lauren, but Lauren’s not having it.

Noura is not doing anything for the purposes of jury management.

At Tribal Council, most of the jury members smirk when they see that Noura is the one with immunity. You know how you know it’s the worst season ever? Probst tells Noura to “walk us through” her thought process over her decision. It’s too annoying to recap.

Dean and Lauren go to make fire. In all seriousness, why bother showing us the whole Immunity Idol-finding process earlier? It didn’t even matter.

Both Dean and Lauren kind of suck at fire, but at some point, Janet says, “He’s got it.? She would know. But Lauren is close, at least. Dean uses a bit too much husk, and Probst kind of hints that he needs a different strategy. He figures it out and eventually gets it burning enough to win the challenge and send Lauren to the jury. Then, Dean tells everyone that Tommy totally played Noura by saying he doesn’t know how to build a fire. Dummy.

So, Tommy is about to win Survivor. Seriously. Do we even need to watch this final Tribal Council?

We definitely COULD fast forward through the useless Day 39 segment if we weren’t at live TV. That’s cool. The Young Bucks are wrestling in a tag team match against SCU, so we’ll just watch that for a minute instead. Someday, ask Kim about the time she told Young Buck Matt Jackson she loved him at the Atlanta airport.

Tribal Council starts with a discussion of “Outwit.” Jack speaks! Remember Jack? It’s okay if you don’t. He tells the group that they are undecided.

Scorpio Sky cinches Nick Jackson back on the dragon sleeper. Matt comes in and eventually tosses Frankie Kazarian into Scorp and Nick to break it up.

Dean talks about his awesome moves. Noura talks about mnemonic devices that she created, and then goes on to illustrate by telling us about them. They are not mnemonic devices.

Scorpio Sky does the TKO and finishes with the SCU Later, pinning Matt Jackson and making Kim sad. (It’s okay, because Scorpio Sky is cool, too.) Dark Order comes out to the ring and the lights go out. The creepers jump in the ring to destroy both SCU AND the Young Bucks. Kenny Omega runs in to help the good guys. So does Christopher Daniels, Cody Rhodes, and Dustin Rhodes!

The creepers seem to be multiplying. (If you’re wondering, the creepers are the minions for Dark Order.)

Stu Grayson pulls out some masks and hands them to Evil Uno. Alex Reynolds and John Silver are now part of AEW.

Back to Tribal Council. Noura is saying Noura things. The jury wants to understand her strategy, but they don’t. Kellee and Missy try to throw her a lifeline. She’s too erratic.

Tommy tells a good story. Too good, perhaps. He allows himself to be painted as a double dealer. Round to Dean.

The next question - is there a line you won’t cross? Noura says she doesn’t want to do something she’ll regret. Tommy never wanted to bully anyone. Dean has to think, because he had no lines. Kellee tells Dean she doesn’t “get” him.

“I’m just go-with-the-flow, chill Dean,” he answers.

Jamal tells Noura that he understood her reasoning behind sending Lauren to make fire. But he doesn’t understand why she brought Tommy to the final with her. She doesn’t understand the question, talking about why she brought Dean for some reason.

Jamal also asks Tommy if Dean doesn’t have the better story. Tommy starts talking with his hands. Even though he never had an idol, he “outplayed” everyone.

Dean decides to prove how good he is at the game by holding up the “advantage” Jamal gave him. Jamal informs him that it was a fake.

These final three contestants are like Sideshow Bob in a room full of rakes.

BUT Dean pulls out the idol that he tricked Tommy into giving him.

The jury is turning on Tommy hard. If he had such a great social game, then how did he misread this group so badly?

But oopsie, Dean bad previously said that the one ethical line he wouldn’t cross was a promise for the Final Three. It thunders and pours on everyone. He says he had deals with Elizabeth and Elaine to the Final Three. They yell at him. This is a BITTER jury. He probably just talked himself out of some votes.

Hurry up, Survivor. It’s past Kim’s bedtime.

Lauren votes for Tommy. Aaron votes for Dean. That’s all we see. At the fake live show, Probst will read the votes.

None for Noura. Two for Dean. The rest for Tommy. Blurgh. Best-case scenario, we suppose.

Eff you, Survivor. We hate you, Probst. Do better, CBS.



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