Jamal Shipman was a profound orator and a great ally, losing his vote for finding paper taking him to the Island of the Idols. Should he return to Survivor?
There are times throughout Survivor where a major event that takes the focus of the edit overshadows unrealized injustices. Jamal Shipman was voted out in the back half of one of the show’s most grim episodes as darkness overtook the season’s direction, but an Island of the Idols “test” proved that even thing strictly related to gameplay were unfair.
Jamal started out the game in an early position of strength, serving as King to Molly’s Queen and Jack’s … Jack. That trio seemed poised to run the gamut on Vokai, but thanks to a timely lesson from the island mentors and a number of game-aware players making a fair assessment, Kellee, Lauren, and Janet made a play to shake up the game, voting out Molly.
That blindside caught Jamal literally and figuratively sleeping, as he went the opposite direction that Jack went in scrambling (and finding) an idol and trying to point to Dan as an untrustworthy character. It would be the first in a series of times where people didn’t want to hear the truth, as enough time had passed where Lairo would continuously lose Immunity Challenges, and we’d arrive at the tribe swap.
It was at Lairo 2.0 where Jamal’s true character shone. He shared an important message about microaggressions in a way that didn’t condemn, but embolden his relationship with Jack. On the flip side, before Kellee made her excellent idol play, he got push back for his concerns of an all-women’s alliance, tastefully laying out his strategy while also deferring to, and empowering, the Lairo women.
Unfortunately, that Tribal Council saw Kellee taking out his closest ally, Jack, voted out, his idol wasted on Noura, and Jamal entering the merge with few friends and fewer options. He and Noura tried to target Dan once again for a variety of reasons, including character, but Kellee ended up being the primary target, further alienating himself from the majority of the tribe.
He thought he had been given a lifeline by grabbing a piece of paper dangling from a tree, telling him to go to the Island of the Idols. That “test” ended up immediately stealing his vote, although he had the “opportunity” to make a fake advantage with a piece of paper and a pencil to give to someone else, making him look sketchy and giving him a huge target on his back for going to the Island of the Idols.
Paired with already being on the outs, Jamal was immediately voted out. However, even in facing defeat, he was able to poignantly stand up for victims and those who share stories or accusations of sexual misconduct, harassment, or assault by reminding detractors that their truths aren’t the only truths, and just because they didn’t see it happen, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Jamal was the only player in the entire season who could only negatively produce a net loss in win potential in being tested by his mentors. Vote here in our straw poll if you think he should be given a better opportunity with a different Survivor season theme as a returning player in the future.