Survivor: Jamal Shipman got screwed by the Island of the Idols

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Losing your vote because you grabbed an advantage is painful enough, but what that advantage entailed hurt Jamal’s position in Survivor even more.

It’s nice being able to watch Boston Rob and Sandra on our televisions again, especially seeing their reactions at Tribal Council. That said, the justification for them being there as mentors has grown weaker and weaker. Instead of helping the castaways out, the last few lessons and tests have been far less practical and far more theatrical. This trend continued into the merge episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols.

While Jamal and Karishma were talking, they spotted this note hanging from a string. It literally read “You found me, I’m yours”. Obviously Jamal picked it up, because when do you ever find an advantage on the island that hurts you? The note made Jamal aware of the fact that he would be going straight to the Island of the Idols.

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Once in the company with Boston Rob and Sandra, Jamal opened up his “advantage” to find out that he lost his vote! That leads us to the question, what is the point of this lesson? Should castaways from now on be cautious when looking for idols and advantages? Did production really set up this entire plan just to drive home the obvious point that some things are too good to be true?

These Survivor greats must have far more practical expertise and knowledge to share with these castaways than extremely vague advice about not being naïve. It does feel unfair that everyone else who was sent to Island of the Idols was warned about losing their vote if they took part in their test. Instead, Jamal lost his vote immediately for simply picking up a note that production planted.

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But wait, it gets even worse! This lesson is about sabotage, so apparently production is allowed to sabotage someone’s game but play it off as Jamal’s fault. The funniest part of this visit was when Rob and Sandra gave Jamal a piece of paper and a pencil. Watching his puzzled reactions to this ridiculous advantage was priceless!

Now there is a chance the mentors had an alternative plan if Jamal said he didn’t want this sabotaging kit, but I can never blame a castaway for not bargaining. These contestants are going weeks without being able to fully trust anyone, and then they get sent to a separate island with two all-time Survivor greats who say they’re here to help. Of course, you’re not going to know that they actually have better offers waiting if you decide to bargain!

Out of all people, Jamal was clearly on the chopping block after being on the outs from the previous Tribal Council. Going to Island of the Idols guaranteed he was going to get at least some votes headed his way. He needed something that could actually be of use to him, but instead, he got a blank piece of paper.

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It’s true that the way Jamal handled his blank piece of paper turned out to be a bad idea, but it doesn’t change the fact that this meaningless Island of the Idols visit put him in an even worse position. Although he was already in danger of getting voted out, it’s sad to see a player get screwed by a production twist, especially when he was trying to bring much needed perspective to the Dan issue.