Survivor seasons: How Survivor Island of the Idols changed the game


From the first-ever ejection, to some impressive old school gameplay, there were a few negative and positive ways Island of the Idols changed the game of Survivor.

Nearly every season of Survivor plays a role in evolving this great game. Island of the Idols was no different. It turned out to be a season like no other for several reasons, but not all of them are negative. Island of the Idols featured a solid cast composed of both smart players and charismatic characters that helped to cushion the blow of the gut-wrenching situation the plagued the season. There’s a lot to take away from season 39, so we boiled it down to three ways Island of the Idols impacts Survivor moving forward.

1) The need for production to be proactive

It’s easy for us viewers, sitting on our sofas in a comfortable environment to point fingers at who is to blame for the incidents that happened in Island of the Idols. The one major takeaway that sprouted from Dan’s inappropriate behavior is the need for production to be far more proactive when a situation like this begins to arise.

This is so crucial because, in a game where the castaways are trained to not trust what other people say, it’s up to the producers behind the show to draw the line. Until production acts, the game is still on because the players don’t have a complete understanding of what exactly is going on. If more precautions were in place, Dan would have been removed earlier and this problem might not have been as big as it was.

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This difficult series of events is already impacting future seasons as Kellee and Jeff worked together to create several new policies and provisions to help prevent situations like this from happening again. Only time will tell how dedicated the producers are to these new procedures, but one thing’s for certain: production must take the initiative when signs of an issue appear, or else this show could be in real jeopardy.

2) Old school gameplay can still win Survivor

There were a record-breaking 12 Hidden Immunity Idols in season 39 and plenty of advantages that the Island of the Idols had to offer, but the winner didn’t need any of that. It’s astounding that in a season where twists and advantages were more prevalent than ever, the Sole Survivor thrived on solely his own power.

Instead of finding idols or winning immunities, Tommy got through each Tribal Council with his strong social game. By making genuine connections with most of the castaways he played with, Tommy was able to blind everyone from the great performance he was pulling off. He didn’t even need to visit the Island of the Idols for the mentors’ advice in order to dominate his season.

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Island of the Idols confirms that the social game isn’t dead. Finding idols like Ben Driebergen and Rick Devens isn’t the only way for someone to develop a winning resume that can get them to the end. This season has taught us to never underestimate the power of the social game because gaining information through personal relationships can be more powerful than idols and advantages.

3) The strategy behind the fire-making twist reaches a new level

Island of the Idols is the fifth season to adopt the Final Four fire-making challenge. In Edge of Extinction, we watched Chris Underwood take on Dom’s idea of giving up Individual Immunity to beat the biggest threat at fire. This season featured two subtle but significant strategies behind the Final Four twist.

With the Final Five now acting as the last time the castaways can vote someone out, people who are strong at making fire are starting to get targeted before the Final Four. If Dan wasn’t removed, there’s a good chance Janet would have gone at six, thanks to her exceptional ability to start a fire. Instead, Dean nullified her idol at five, doing everything in his power to prevent Janet from getting in that fire challenge.

We also saw Tommy employ a unique strategy, becoming the first player to be brought to the Final Three and still win. Tommy pulled this off thanks to his strong bond with Noura. What really sealed the deal was when Tommy decided to pull Noura aside and discuss her plans prior to the Final Four Immunity Challenge.

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Being able to convince someone to give them a seat at Final Tribal Council when they are actually the biggest threat might be even more amazing than making a fire. This season did suffer because of Dan’s actions, but there were several little strategies and new ideas along the way that made Island of the Idols another critical step in Survivor‘s evolution.