There will be at least 14 episodes of Survivor: Island of the Idols action, as CBS has confirmed the finale date will come on Wednesday, December 18.
Due to the nature of leap years, the show airing twice a year, the show switching from Thursdays to Wednesdays, and the ever-changing nature of the CBS lineup, the finale date for Survivor has changed from season to season. This year, it looked possible that the finale could have come on Wednesday, December 25, seeing how the show is on track to have six contestants for that date.
Thankfully, you won’t have to fight family commitments for the holidays and watching the greatest reality competition program on the market, as CBS has announced the Survivor: Island of the Idols finale will air on Wednesday, December 18. This means that the merge will likely occur at the Final 13 next week, as the two-hour episode will likely cover two eliminations.
Still, if that’s the case, the numbers are still a bit off. If, after next week’s episode, we have 11 contestants (two castaways heading to Ponderosa in two separate Tribal Councils) and one castaway eliminated per week in between, we should have seven castaways for the finale. The show has never had seven finalists on finale night, and I doubt they would start with a season that has visits to the Island of the Idols with Boston Rob and Sandra.
To me, this means one of two things will happen in the month between the double episode and the finale. The most preferable option is another double episode with two eliminations in the span of two hours, bringing us down to a Final Six finale on December 18. The least preferable option is Survivor: Island of the Idols has a squished episode with two Tribal Councils in one hour.
Those episodes are less preferable because they typically feature underedited castaways and gloss over the reasoning for the end of their journeys. Will Wahl and Sunday Burquest were such victims of that fate (more so the latter, as Will had a miniature two-episode arc) in Millenials vs. Gen X, as were Andrea Boehlke and Michaela Bradshaw in Game Changers, and the last two returnees in Edge of Extinction, David Wright and Kelley Wentworth.
There is the third, unlikely option of split Tribal Councils seen in Ghost Island, which sent Jenna Bowman and Michael Yerger home in smaller groups of five within the same hour. If we can’t get another two-hour block of Survivor before the two-hour finale, that option is a fair compromise only to see how it changes the dynamics of Island of the Idols strategy and gameplay.