Did Survivor: Edge of Extinction have too many Hidden Immunity Idols?

The age of idols and advantages continues as Survivor: Edge of Extinction ranks second all-time for the most idol finds in a season.

In this era of Survivor, we have to come to grips with the fact that every season is going to be filled with twists. Season 38 not only featured the Edge of Extinction twist, but it accompanied that with several advantages and eight Hidden Immunity Idols. Did production totally overdo it this season?

Started off at a great pace

Similar to David vs. Goliath, it took all the way past the merge before an idol was played. Production planted an idol at both camps, and one at the site of the expansion tribe. None of them seemed exceedingly easy to find, which is a good sign.

There were three castaways with idols coming into the merge. That included Rick’s unique idol which he received in his bag after winning his way back from the Edge of Extinction. I was surprised but relieved that production wisely didn’t plant a merge idol this time.

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The idol with two halves was a brilliant idea

Devens’ idol came with an intriguing twist: it cannot be used at the first Tribal Council back in the game! Instead, half of it must be given to another player. If both castaways survive the Tribal Council, the idol will regain its power, as long as the two halves are put together.

This added hitch forces the returning player to survive their first vote back without the power of an idol or advantage. As a result, this is a twist that induces conversations and spices up social interactions. So far, this is my favorite new iteration of the idol and would love to see it return every once in a while.

Advantagegeddon returns

Through thirteen episodes, we only saw one correct idol play, and one incorrect play. The finale doubled that amount, as four of them were played in two Tribal Councils, bringing back memories of Game Changers’ Final Six. While Lauren found hers at the start of the season, the other three were either found in the finale or the episode prior.

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This dramatically impacted the game as the majority of the season was driven by social and strategic play up until the finale. Then it turned into a scavenger hunt making Devens impenetrable. I’m not saying that Devens doesn’t deserve credit for his record-breaking amount of idols.

However, the later production replants an idol, the more power it has. Chris reentered the game at the Final Six, so as long as he survived the first vote and gave the idol half to the right person, he could guarantee his spot at the fire-making challenge.

One way production could prevent these types of situations would be by not replenishing idols after the Final Seven. This forces the castaways to either hold onto their idols or to rely on their social and strategic games to run the tables.

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Survivor: Edge of Extinction was second to only Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers for most idols in a season. In reality, they’re basically tied for first since one of season 35’s nine idols was only eligible for the first Tribal Council. We’ll have to see how this pans out, but with a theme like Island of the Idols, this trend is bound to continue.

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