Survivor Island of the Idols episode 13 recap: Seven circles of hell

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Loyalty means nothing in this game, especially if it means keeping somebody can beat you. Survivor: Island of the Idols episode 13 focused on that topic. Mostly.

For weeks, if not months, Tommy has been the hear apparent to the Survivor: Island of the Idols throne. With so many game players, strategists, heartwarming characters, and beautiful trainwrecks leaving the game, it seems like nobody could come between him and the million. Nobody except Lauren.

Tommy returned from Tribal Council angry with Noura’s betrayal, the latter of which was still trying to throw Dean under the bus. I don’t blame Noura for being upset, especially since he’s proven multiple times to be untrustworthy, but hiking his shoes on the tribe flag because he can’t reach them is weak tea. You gotta go full Sandra burning Russell’s hat, or you do go in at all, in my book.

Elaine got scared and played an idol at the previous Tribal Council, so she and Dean got up early in the morning to go on an idol hunt. Elaine required a group to find her first idol, but Janet found hers on her own, drawing on that experience once again to find her second Hidden Immunity Idol. At the Final Seven, that is a huge leg up, especially when numbers are dwindling.

Unfortunately, just like everybody else in this game, Janet had to go and give away part of her game to Tommy, with the two talking about the idol and going over their options. That short window allowed Detective Dean to get on the case, spotting their conversation and rationalizing that Janet found the idol. That would, surprisingly, become important not too much later on.

Despite Noura twirling in circles, Elaine knows that she can beat anybody else in the game; thus, she is the primary target over Noura. That got her spinning her tires immediately, going to Lauren and pitching the idea that Tommy will want to force her to make fire at the Final Four and posited the idea of flipping the script

Lauren brought her concerns to Tommy, who reassured his closest ally was acting like a “jealous girlfriend” and flipping out about nothing. In reality, it was an attempt to assuage Lauren’s concerns as he planned to take out his biggest jury threat whenever possible. The “jealous girlfriend” comment wasn’t necessary and marked one of the few moments where he didn’t look like the golden god.

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All good plans can’t stand the ultimate Survivor test; a season theme that comes in an out of the game. Dean was the latest to arrive, as Boston Rob and Sandra had to evoke their strongest poker faces as he revealed his fake Legacy Advantage plan. Making a fake of an advantage (that is fake already) is hilarious, but, as the winners noted, he is thinking hard within a game for thinkers.

Jury management was the test on the Island of the Idols, which seemed legitimately too early at the Final Seven. Even worse was that it wasn’t a lesson on how to weave a personal growth arc or how to win friends and influence people; it was putting your vote on the line for either an idol to play on someone else at Final Six, an extra vote, or an Idol Nullifier.

If you’re like me and thinking, “Hey, a 50/50 chance at an advantage isn’t a great way to learn about jury management,” you’re not alone. Regardless, Dean put himself on the line and came out victorious, earning an Idol Nullifier. Now all he has to do is not screw things up by playing his own game.

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He arrived back at camp to tell a lie to everyone and tell the truth to the Vokai majority of Tommy, Lauren, and Dan. He gave them his information in hopes of building up his resume and showing game awareness to others, but all it did was prove to Tommy that Dean is not a goat but a game-player, and he might need to be taken out of the game before the end.

The Immunity Challenge was a series of obstacles on the same track where they competed to get back from the Edge of Extinction. Unspooling, balancing, crawling, and puzzle-solving granted the Final Seven winner a one-in-six shot at a million dollars. Literally, none of that mattered until the puzzle section, as once again, the physical stuff was window dressing.

Though he had caused Lairo to visit Tribal Councils early on in the season, Dean’s late-game push couldn’t be more evident with a clutch Immunity Challenge win here, as he was able to form the words necessary to stay safe and push forward another day in the game.

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Elaine seemed to be salty that Dean won his first Immunity Challenge, yet she didn’t mope in place. She relied on her tight relationship with Lauren (where was this in the edit, editors?) to push getting Noura out instead. That’s when Lauren talked to Janet about possibly shifting the vote to Noura, with Lauren positing it as her opportunity to make a big move.

In what world that would have been a big move, I’m not sure, but it seems like a distraction confessional just to give us the possibility of someone other than Elaine going home tonight, which she did. This part of our recap has been dragging because it seems pointless to wax poetic about Elaine’s difficult journey and the realizations she’s experienced through the game of Survivor because it will only make what happens at the end of the episode worse.

After Elaine and another voted for Noura and everybody else threw their votes onto Elaine, we got the piece of news I had been dreading wouldn’t come true, but did; Jeff Probst came up to the tribe on Day 36 to tell others that Dan had been removed from the game, with a splash at the end of the episode stating, “Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”

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We cannot and will not speculate what that is until we have answers from production, but it does legitimize my thoughts from the merge; Dan Spilo should have been removed from the game a long time ago. For anybody to have gone through that hardship, been voted out for speaking up, had their truths delegitimized and lied to by others for gameplay, and for production to be so vague about what happened with Dan is a travesty, and the further we leave this season behind, the better.