Though she got on people’s nerves at times, Noura Salman’s three immunities and strategic streaks paired well with her convictions. Should she return to Survivor?
When you start paying attention to how Survivor edits its seasons with similar flows, you start to pick out favorites to win, favorites to enjoy a “journey” edit of self-accomplishment, and who will become a third-place finalist. Noura Salman embodied the personality-driven spot perfectly, providing a well-rounded character throughout the season.
What may have hindered Noura’s winning chances was starting out the game on the wrong foot, as well as continuing to balance her game on that foot. She started out thinking she knew how to do survival tasks better than anyone else, realizing her “Noura knows best” persona and riling her castaways up. That made her an easy target for the likes of Molly, Jamal, and Jack to target early.
However, several saw Noura as a number, with Kellee, Lauren, and Janet saving Noura in an attempt to blindside Molly et al. This gave Noura the time and space to settle down until she visited the Island of the Idols, failing Boston Rob and Sandra’s task to convince her tribe to let her be the sighted caller in a blindfold navigation Immunity Challenge.
Noura floated a few strategic ideas here and there heading into the tribe swap, including getting the women across the board on Lairo 2.0 to take out some of the men threats to her game, like Jamal and Jack, who wanted to get Noura out pre-swap. This made her more susceptible to want to vote out Jack as the final pre-merge player, throwing a vote his way as a backup strategy against a possible Dean idol, as suggested by Kellee. She even got Jamal to use his idol on her!
What hurt Noura’s ability to garner votes at the Final Tribal Council might have had to do with her extremely wild variance. Despite working with Kellee for that huge play on Jack, she threw her under the bus immediately. As unreliable as she was for those in power, it did mean she was able to work with more people in the game, as her flexibility proved to be important to her longevity.
After trying (and failing) to vote out Dan for his inappropriate behavior, Noura voted in the majority for the rest of the game. A part of the reason why she was in on the plan so often was that she won so many Immunity Challenges, securing the most in the season with three. She was undervalued by the majority, however, as being left out of the Loved Ones visit at the Final Eight gave Noura enough motive to make a plan to get out Tommy.
Noura’s unparalleled to overanalyze every move and be a true wild card meant others didn’t trust her, as Dean spilled the beans to Tommy at the Final Eight, thwarting Noura’s final chance to make a big move necessary to build a winning resume. With Dan being ejected at the Final Six, Noura saw Janet voted out at Final Five and won her seat at the Final Tribal Council with a Final Immunity Challenge win.
Though many seemed incapable of guiding Noura to do their tasks, Tommy was able to convince her to take him to the end and force Dean to take out Lauren in a fire-making challenge. At Final Tribal Council, Noura was incapable of proving to the jury that her moves were guided by a planned form of strategy, praising her challenge prowess and convictions before leaving her without a jury vote.
In a season filled with dreariness, cynicism, and darkness, Noura’s quirkiness made her one of the brighter, more optimistic characters of the season. Vote here in our straw poll to let us know if she should return in a future season.