Survivor season 35: Joe Mena’s idol rules prove Ben broke the rules

Joe Mena on Twitter
Joe Mena on Twitter /

While Ben Driebergen was going to the play the Immunity Idol anyway, Joe Mena’s recent tweet showed he broke the rules in getting Ashley out of Survivor.

Something not a lot of people know about reality television is that production usually holds the right to overwrite the rules as players know it in judgment calls. For example, if a player does something that’s technically not against the rules but goes against the spirit of them, a host or producer can decide to disallow a move. For Survivor season 35, it looks like Jeff Probst made a judgment call based on the rules of the Hidden Immunity Idol.

In preparation for making his own Survivor shadow box, Joe Mena from Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers showed off a few items and memorabilia from his season to his Twitter followers. In addition to pieces of tree mail that he collected (doubling down on the proof we had that tree mail isn’t totally abandoned – just not shown), we got to see firsthand exactly what the season’s Hidden Immunity Idol rules state.

For the record, the most pertinent part of the Hidden Immunity Idol rules state (bold emphasis mine), “If you intend to use the idol for yourself or someone else, you must do so after all of the votes have been cast, but before the votes are read.” As such, when Ben Driebergen took out his idol at Tribal Council in episode 13 and Devon said he was bluffing, Ben playing the idol early broke the rules of the game. More importantly, Jeff Probst and production let it happen.

More from Heroes Vs Healers Vs Hustlers

Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with the results of Survivor season 35, Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers; Ben was always going to play that idol anyway, and it doesn’t change anything other than the timing of his play. However, by doing so, he’s fundamentally broken the dynamics of bluffing a working idol, and Jeff Probst focusing more on big movez instead of thinking of the long-term effects puts us in a pickle.

By allowing this, players who make a fake idol can’t show it at Tribal Council, as the tribe can now force the player to play their idol early in order to know if they’re bluffing. That removes the effectiveness of a fake idol kit offered as a reward from just a season prior during Game Changers. Furthermore, even if you wanted to have a real idol, show it early, don’t play it, have the tribe think it’s fake and play it for real after the votes have been cast, all you’re doing is deliberately antagonizing the opposition, growing an even bigger target on the back.

Next: Survivor Winners: Ranking All 34 Sole Survivors By Season

Even though it seems to be a relatively minor aspect of Survivor season 35, without addressing and enforcing the rules to explicitly prohibit that kind of behavior, Hidden Immunity Idol play will effectively be more streamlined going forward.