“Survivor: Island of the Idols” Finale Recap: Teacher’s Strike?

“Survivor: Island of the Idols” (CBS)
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Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Island of the Idols”

Last Week: Fun things that we love about our favorite show happened, then Dan was removed from the game because of something that occurred off camera that wasn’t adequately explained. 39 Days, 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog Alright, let’s check out the tribe as it currently stands. The Lumuwaku Tribe
  • Dean, 28 – Tech Sales
  • Janet, 59 – Chief Lifeguard
  • Lauren, 28 – Nanny
  • Noura, 36 – Entrepreneur
  • Tommy, 26 – 4th-Grade Teacher
Rob and Sandra Recap The finale kicks off with Rob and Sandra telling us important nuggets of information like, “Only three of them will make it to the end,” and “only one of them will win the million dollars.” Well said. Rob is also very thankful for all the show has given him. Sandra is thankful for the money. Quick Aside: No joke about this show giving Rob everything. You youngsters may not know this, but CBS literally broadcast Rob’s wedding. Movin’ on Up A boat arrives at Lamawaku beach with news that they’re making a permanent move to the Island of the Idols. When they arrive, Rob gives them a speech that hints at “gifts” in this game if you’re open to it. Rob and Sandra then hand over the keys to the shelter and new buffs and call it a season. I can’t say I can blame them for leaving as soon as they can. The final five is loving their new digs. And what’s not to love? There are beds, hammocks, a swing, tons of fruit, a roof, you name it. Rob and Sandra’s Gift Tommy thinks it’s very odd that he was given a new buff at final five. Yes, that is odd. Sure enough, he notices that the new buff features a machete in the logo where the old buff did not. He starts looking around for machetes and finds one buried in a coconut. He cracks it open to discover that it’s red. He realizes he needs to look for something else that is red, but that’s going to be difficult because Tommy is colorblind. What?! Did we know that? Tommy decides to bring Dean in on his plan, but Dean doesn’t seem that interested. Eventually Tommy finds a second clue underneath a red board. Once again he shows it to Dean and once again Dean seems bored by all of this. CUT TO: Dean was totally faking. He’s desperately trying to find this advantage before Tommy. He realizes that the second clue points to the swing. He goes there and manages to find an immunity idol without Tommy realizing. Sneaky sneaky… Another Quick Aside: What a fun little idol hunt. So much better than the I-looked-in-a-stump-and-found-a-blue-package variety. Immunity Challenge Time: The players will use a pole to release ropes. They’ll then use the ropes to create a rope ladder. From there, they’ll have to maneuver a bag of balls up a puzzle ladder. The first person to get the balls in place on a table maze will win immunity and a steak dinner (or a vegetarian alternative). Result: Dean (aka DK Chillin’) wins immunity. He decides to take Noura with him on the reward. Before we head off to commercial, Dean points out that he has immunity, a hidden immunity idol,  four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and an idol nullifier. Yikes. Pre-Tribal Politicking Noura tells us that she feels like the reward meal is sort of a date. It’s adorable. She asks Dean if he’s ever dated a crazy girl, which is kind of endearing that she thinks of herself that way. Like I said, Noura is probably a blast to hang out with and a nightmare to play “Survivor” with. Eventually, the duo makes a final-two deal. As for the vote, everyone is afraid of Janet. Not only is she popular with the jury, but she’s also the best fire maker on the tribe. Aaaaand…she has an immunity idol. Janet’s plan is to get everyone to vote for her and she’ll vote for Lauren. The only counter to that is Dean’s idol blocker. Tribal Time Janet admits that she has a reputation for being the “fire lady.” I assume that’s because she burnt a cheesy pita in the office kitchen. Anyone? And…uh…that’s about it other than Dean making a coin flip analogy. He’s good at those coin flips. Voting Time: Janet votes for Lauren, Tommy votes for Janet, and the rest of the votes are secret. JPro tallies and returns. He asks if anyone wants to play an idol and…Janet does…for herself. Buuuut…there’s an idol nullifier…and it’s been played on Janet. You just got DK Chilled… Alright, we’ve got one vote for Lauren, two votes for Janet, and the sixteenth person voted out of “Survivor: Island of the Idols” and the fortieth member of the jury is…Janet. Immunity Challenge: The players will have to balance letters on a weird, wobbly platform. The first person to get all of their tiles in place will win immunity. Result: Noura wins her third immunity. It didn’t look like it was even close. Pre-Tribal Politicking OK, this is amazing. Lauren, Tommy, and Dean are desperate to know Noura’s decision, but she insists on doing some swimming first. Then, when she finally gets around to telling them, she decides to read them a full dissertation before revealing her choice. It’s hilarious to watch, but I think I would have lost my mind if I were in their shoes. Anywho, she’s going to have Lauren and Dean make fire. Tommy, who has convinced Noura that he is bad at making fire but is actually quite good at it, gives moral support to Lauren and actual fire-making advice to Dean. Noura takes a totally different approach where she hangs out with Lauren and actively tries to piss her off. It gets so heated at one point that Noura threatens to hide the machete so Lauren can’t practice making fire. Tribal Time Lauren and Noura get into it once again. Noura explains that she considers Lauren to be a giant threat and Dean’s the most likely person to take her out. Easy-peasy. Fire-Making Challenge: The first person to build a fire large enough to burn through a rope will be the last member of the final three. Result: Lauren gets a fire going, but Dean pulls off the win. Afterwards, Dean tells the jury that he had never made fire before that day and that Tommy had played Noura. Jack points out that it’s more like Tommy played Dean. Touché. Pre-Tribal Pontificating Dean thinks that Noura is a longshot, so it’s more of a final two deal. He even refers to himself and Tommy as “Magic vs. Bird.” That’s the sports analogy he went with? Is he 50? Tommy agrees with this assessment, so he’s concentrating his efforts on getting Noura to insult Dean during her speech. Tribal Time It looks like it’s going to come down to Tommy 39-day social game vs. Dean’s abundance of advantages vs. Noura’s quirky disruption. The Outwit Round Before things get underway, Jack lets them know that a lot of votes are still up in the air. Yeah, that’s what the jury always says. Dean says his strategy was to not be the loudest, smartest, or most athletic person AKA DK Chillin’ strategy. Noura admits to not being a mega “Survivor” fan. Then…her answer gets confusing and trails off. When she compares her game to dating, the jury turns on her. Drink every time Noura says “date.” Finally, Tommy says that it was important for him to make connections with everyone so people would feel comfortable talking to him. He also tried to play in the middle. When asked who he was most loyal to, Tommy said it was Lauren. Immediately, Noura throws him under the bus by saying that Tommy taught Dean how to make fire. Dean said that Tommy wanted to work with everyone, but eventually had to get rid of them, whereas he only talked strategy with people he was going to work with. Tommy responds to this by accusing Dean of riding coattails. Tommy then admitted that he kept Janet and Elaine around as social shields. When Jamal asked what social lines they were unwilling to cross, Noura said she didn’t want to make a move she would later regret. Tommy said he was fine lying, cheating, or stealing, but that he would never bully anyone. Dean then claims that he wouldn’t lie about taking someone to the end. Later, this totally blows up Dean’s face as Karishma and others say that he made that promise to them. This is not a good look. The Outplay Round Jamal kicks this part off by asking Noura why she brought Tommy to the end. Noura claims that she’d have a better shot beating Tommy than Lauren. Jamal then brings up the fact that Tommy is trying to set a “Survivor” first by winning from the position of the person who is taken to the end by the final four challenge winner. Tommy says that if you want the season to be about who won the fire challenge, then vote for Dean. Tommy thinks that immunity challenges and idols are curses because they put targets on your back. He also points out that he was able to win rewards. Missy wonders if he didn’t respect the physical or advantage game enough. This opens the door for Dean to list the fifty advantages he received. Jamal is even impressed with what he did with the fake legacy advantage. Tommy claims those aren’t moves, he just got gifts from the island. The Outlast Round Tommy closes his argument by saying that he has played since day one, captained big moves, and made relationships with everyone. Noura feels like she was true to herself and that she’s a player that you’ve never seen before. And finally, Dean thinks he’s been responsible for the jaw-dropping moments that “Survivor” fans love. My Take: I think it’s clear that Noura isn’t going to win this thing. Tommy and Dean both had strong arguments, but the fact that Dean said he wouldn’t break a final-three deal and the jurors disagreed is probably too much for him to overcome. Voting Time: Lauren votes for Tommy, Aaron votes for Dean, and the rest of the votes are secret. JPro tallies and returns and we’re off to (pre-recorded) Los Angeles. Alright, we’ve got one vote for Tommy, one vote for Dean, one vote for Tommy, one vote for Dean, three votes for Tommy, and the winner of “Survivor: Island of the Idols” is…Tommy. Very well deserved. Oh…the irony that the winner never went to the Island of the Idols. Hilarious. Verdict: I’ve been struggling with what to say about this season. And this is where I am right now (your mileage may vary). I’m never going to be able to rave about the lovable antics of people like Elaine, Noura, or Dean… I’m never going to be able to be impressed by the strategic minds of people like Kellee, Tommy, and Lauren… I’m never going to be able to be moved by the strength of character of people like Jamal, Jack, and Janet… …without thinking of the mess that Dan started and production wasn’t prepared to finish. Yesterday, CBS laid out the groundwork for how they intend to handle these situations going forward. It seems like a good start. Hopefully it can curtail any such future in-game events and send a message about what kind of conduct is acceptable. But honestly, for the first time ever, I’m really looking forward to a break from “Survivor.” Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes