Survivor Island of the Idols: Should Kellee Kim return?

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS 2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS 2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Kellee Kim came up with one of the more brilliant pre-merge moves in Survivor history. Should she get another shot at following through on her strategy?

It was hard not to root for Kellee Kim at all stages of her Survivor: Island of the Idols play. Those who play boldly tend to make a big splash, although Kellee’s early bonds allowed her to coast through most of the early game without trouble. It’s when she turned on her galaxy Wharton brain that she pulled off some really calculated stuff, even though the potential fallout of involving Noura in a secret plan backfired.

Kellee was, unfortunately, put in an awkward stance early in the game by defending her rights not to be touched unwantedly by a fellow Vokai castaway in a manner that wouldn’t create blowback. Thankfully, that wouldn’t be the case at the time, as she was able to rely on her relationships with the Vokai women in usurping power away from the Molly-led trio with Jack and Jamal by blindsiding them at the first Tribal Council.

The willingness to take risks and assess the information she had came from her visit to the Island of the Idols, as she was able to successfully reiterate knowledge about Sandra’s life in a test of knowledge and social acumen. She even managed to have Boston Rob extend the length of the Hidden Immunity Idol she would receive to her next three Tribal Councils, as well as limiting the number of correct answers needed from 4/5 to 3/5.

After swapping to Lairo 2.0 and establishing a bond with Dean through a mutual friend known outside of the game, her idol was burning a hole in her pocket right before the merge. With the last Tribal Council before the suspected merge coming, Kellee pulled off an astounding move by giving Dean her idol for him to use, voted for him to be eliminated, and convinced Dean and Noura to vote Jack. It would destabilize Jamal and Jack’s ability to work their way back at the merge while establishing a link with Dean and the option to go anywhere from the merge.

Unfortunately, trusting Noura was a dangerous game Kellee lost, as she ratted Kellee out before the merge. Fortunately, Kellee had the opportunity to search for another idol and found one before boating off to the merge and, once again, was able to find another. There she was at the merge with two idols. Nothing could go wrong if purely gameplay was involved.

The worst part of Survivor is that it pretends to be a microcosm of society when, at times, the game gets things entirely wrong. A shared concern for another castaway’s repeated unwanted touching turned from a moment of concern into a gameplay opportunity, as Lauren unwittingly had the correct information of Kellee wanting to vote out Missy with the incorrect motivation of Kellee wanting to make Missy feel closer to her.

From there, a domino reaction weaved a wicked web of half-truths, full lies, and other instances of using speculation or instances of reported unwanted contact as a means of directing or re-directing the vote, with Kellee ultimately becoming the victim. She trusted Lauren’s word that she was safe, so Kellee didn’t use one of her two idols. She paid the ultimate price, whereas a played idol would have removed her aggressor from the game entirely.

Next. Vote here: Should Kellee Kim return in a future Survivor season?. dark

Survivor doesn’t always give us what we want or what’s right, but it does bring a rounded view of its best and brightest castaways. Kellee Kim was an unbelievably entertaining and charming player who went for bold plays with optimism and determination. Vote here in our straw poll to let us know if she should get another shot playing this game in the future.