Survivor: The Island of the Idols theme is just another ploy for more twists

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

Instead of the Island of the Idols twist giving mentors the chance to teach practical Survivor lessons, it’s just a cover story for pumping in more idols and advantages.

Most seasons of Survivor have a central theme that often brings a slight twist to the game. It’s nice to switch things up, but more often than not these themes can affect the end result of the season. Look no further than Edge of Extinction. Thankfully the Island of the Idols twist hasn’t exerted that same level of influence on this season. It’s been fun watching Boston Rob and Sandra back on our television screens, especially during each Tribal Council.

With all that being said, Island of the Idols has felt more like an opportunity for production to roll out more twists as opposed to actually teaching these first-time castaways important lessons. That’s not to say the mentors aren’t doing their jobs. It’s clear that they’re doing all they can to help them complete their tests in the best way possible.

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Sandra securing Kellee’s hair idol, and Boston Rob giving Jamal ideas for his blank piece of paper are great examples of the mentors being on the castaways’ side. However, their helpfulness doesn’t change the fact that most of these lessons aren’t teaching these players anything they don’t already know.

Besides Elizabeth’s fire-making lesson, there hasn’t been a lot of focus on specific or practical skills. Jamal’s visit was a perfect example of this. When in Survivor are you not expected to grab an advantage whenever you see one. The lesson he was given to not trust things that seem too good to be true is incredibly surface level and nothing groundbreaking.

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The same was true with Lauren’s visit to the Island of the Idols. Her lesson was on situational awareness, but what skills did it help her build? She already had a great social network within this game to begin with, and if anything, she was forced to use up some of that mileage by pushing for people to eat instead of participating in the Immunity Challenge. Is it a cool idea to have Lauren predict who will win Immunity for a chance to win an idol? For sure, but does it actually teach her anything practical?

We do have to keep in mind that we are just seeing small segments from the Island of the Idols visits. I’m sure there’s plenty of more conversations and helpful tips from Boston Rob and Sandra that didn’t make the edit. That said, I can’t ignore the fact these tests and lessons are done primarily for entertainment purposes to try to captivate the audience as opposed to actually teaching practical Fijian lessons to these castaways. It truly feels like production came up with some of the tests first and then tried to find a way to connect a legitimate lesson to it later.

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Island of the Idols is already tied with Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers for the most Hidden Immunity Idols in play in one season, and there’s still three episodes remaining! If we learned anything from this twist so far, it’s that the Survivor production team isn’t afraid to find more and more ways to jam in as many twists, advantages, and idols as possible.