Did Survivor: David vs. Goliath have too many Hidden Immunity Idols?

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Survivor: David vs. Goliath saw the second most Hidden Immunity Idols in one season! Is it finally time for production to tone it down?

Seven Hidden Immunity Idols were found in Survivor: David vs. Goliath. That is just two shy of the record set in season 35, Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, as nine were found, but only seven were played. Although there were a lot of idols this season, it didn’t feel nearly as flooded as season 35 for one particular reason.

The cast knew how to hold onto an idol. For the first time in five seasons, a Hidden Immunity Idol was not played before the merge. We went through eight straight eliminations and six Tribal Councils without seeing any idols played! This season didn’t feel bogged down by idols and advantages because we waited so long before watching any in action.

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The credit goes to the awesome cast of David vs. Goliath. They were able to hold onto their idols until they were in serious danger. The fact that no castaway went to the jury with an idol in their pocket is pretty impressive. That led to the next eight Tribal Councils being jam-packed with idols and advantages, giving this top ten season a strategic side on top of its strong social gameplay.

For the most part, the way production controlled the flow of the idols in David vs. Goliath made sense. One hidden at each camp, one at the camp of the expansion tribe, and putting any idols that were used back into play. The only idol I didn’t understand was the one Angelina discovered after the Final Five Reward Challenge. I’ve always found it a little unfair for a castaway to find an idol when it’s the last time you can use it. It seems fairer for production to stop planting new idols in the game by the Final Six.

The number of idols should match the level of gameplay. Even though we saw the second most idols ever used in a season, it corresponded with the high skill level of these contestants. We just don’t get to experience a complete cast of great players often on Survivor. Other than all returning player seasons, I can only put Tocantins, Cagayan, Millennials vs. Gen X and now David vs. Goliath in the category of a solid, all-around cast.

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For typical seasons that have only a couple of big threats like in Ghost Island and Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, it almost feels like production is hiding more idols to save those players specifically. So although the seven Hidden Immunity Idols in David vs. Goliath worked fairly well, it wouldn’t suit every Survivor season.