Survivor Island of the Idols finale: Can Tommy Sheehan win the game?

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

Countless times, people have protected Tommy from blindsides. Can he use his social game to create an old-school win in Survivor: Island of the Idols?

There are five people who are still left in the game as of the end of Survivor: Island of the Idols’ Day 36. Four of them have visited the Island of the Idols. Three of them have won at least one individual Immunity Challenge. Three players have possessed an advantage in the game at one time or another. Only one player has completely avoided all of those aspects combined, proving to have the rawest Survivor game imaginable.

Tommy Sheehan has made it to Day 36 with nothing but his own gameplay. Is that enough to build a resume capable of winning Survivor: Island of the Idols?

Tommy’s chances of making Final Tribal

All Tommy has to do to make it to the Final Four fire-making challenge (at the very least) is to stay safe at the Final Five. As he is finally dragged to the Island of the Idols for the season’s final test (and, perhaps, an Immunity Challenge in the process), there are players who everyone can see would get universal votes to win.

I’d argue the biggest perceived threats to win the game (by people still in the game) are Janet, followed by maybe Lauren ahead of Tommy. However, Lauren is seemingly more loyal to Tommy while he is ready to vote her out, and Tommy has everyone else in the game coming to him with information like blindsides and who has which advantages.

Tommy is an information broker holding all of the cards; it really seems like he can at least make it to the Final Four. In that scenario, it would likely be Janet or Lauren voted out at the Final Five (Janet going home via Dean’s Idol Nullifier, in that case), meaning one or the other would also remain.

If either Lauren or Janet remains at the Final Four, I have to believe they are the targets. Tommy would probably only be picked by Dean to go to the Final Tribal Council, but Lauren or Janet would be unlikely to be made safe at the Final Four by anybody. Dan’s long-overdue removal from the game has given Tommy the clearest path possible to the end. However, odds say he has to win the Final Immunity Challenge or make a fire to get there.

Tommy’s chances of receiving votes at Final Tribal

When it comes to reading the show’s edit to determine a winner, I think that there’s nobody that comes close to having a reasonable winner’s story shown than Tommy Sheehan. Yes, I said that about Rick Devens heading into the finale, but we don’t have the Edge of Extinction twist to ruin both the core tenets of the game nor edgic as a whole.

Practically, however, you have to consider all scenarios just in case this season’s just messed up in all facets, not just through mismanaging their castaways. Tommy’s hardest jury fight comes by sitting beside both Lauren and Janet at the end of the game, but that would suggest one of Noura or Dean are targeted at the Final Five over a slew of others.

I think only in that nightmare scenario (for Tommy) would not get the majority of votes at the Final Tribal Council. Aaron, Elaine, Dean, maybe Karishma, and maybe one other would vote for him, but maybe’s don’t build confidence.

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I’d argue the second-worst scenario for Tommy would be Janet and one other, not Lauren, mostly due to the historical record of men getting the lion’s share of credit for making moves in a male-female core duo (even know we’ve seen evidence the opposite is true in Island of the Idols). Janet would likely bag Kellee, Jamal, Jack, and Karishma’s votes as a general baseline.

In most scenarios, however, I think Tommy is the winner of Survivor: Island of the Idols due to an unabashedly pure social game where he placated everybody’s concerns, gathered information, and used that information at the opportune times. Sure, he could have been voted off once and blindsided another, but having others throw their games away for his builds to his social capital.

He’s also just generally liked among the castaways, as plenty of players have left the game saying nothing but good things about him. He has no enemies outside of, potentially, Missy (with Elizabeth likely to vote alongside her), and even she seems like the player to reward good gameplay in kind.

If Tommy can be the only player not to visit the Island of the Idols and be gifted an advantage while making it to the end, he will have officially won the game without guidance compared to the four other potential winners beside him. That’s a hell of a shiny factoid to present at the end of the game.


In my eyes, it’s either Tommy or Lauren who becomes the Sole Survivor of Island of the Idols. The edit leans towards Tommy heavily, and the fact that we’ve seen him bailed out by others throwing away their games to protect his will showcase his efficacy in the social game.

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He has played the purest old-school game in a season filled with new-school twists and powers. A Tommy Sheehan win should be the ultimate admonishment of the modern direction Survivor has been heading since before arriving indefinitely in Fiji, so finger’s crossed that the message shines through.