‘Survivor: Island Of The Idols’ Recap: “Just Go For It”

5 min


Well, here we are again. Just when it was starting to feel like this season of Survivor was getting back on track (or at least as much “on track” as it could at this point), we get a Survivor first. And not a fun first, either; far from it.

Dan Spilo became the first player to ever be ejected from the game. Not much detail was given, though. After Elaine is voted out, the show cuts to a scene the next morning at the tribe beach, an unusual moment that I’m sure had all viewers on edge. The moment was made even more unusual when we see Jeff Probst arrive at camp.

He tells the players, “Alright, so I need to share some news. So I just spoke privately with Dan and I want to update you guys. A decision has been made and Dan will not be returning to the game. He will not be coming back to camp. He won’t be on the jury. He’s gone.”

And that was it, save for a title card to end the episode, saying, “Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”

I mean, I don’t even know to say. This began in the premiere, when Kellee had to tell Dan to stop touching her. It continued, before (seemingly) reaching its ugly peak at the merge. I won’t rehash all that, but here’s my merge recap if you’re a glutton for punishment.

Probst and the rest of Survivor production staff had testimonials from Kellee Kim. And they did nothing. They had literal video evidence of Dan’s actions. And they did nothing.

Yeah, sure, it’s good that he’s gone now. But it shouldn’t have come to this. We don’t know what this incident entailed, and it would be unfair to speculate as to what it could be. But still, the fact remains. Dan’s victim count has risen by (at least) one. There was no reason for that to have happened. He should have been removed from the game long ago.

For those fans that follow the show on social media, be it media members or other players on Twitter, or Survivor Reddit, or anywhere else, this has been a mess of a season. It started out promisingly enough. And then this huge, dark cloud is cast over the show. And it just won’t go away.

Like so many others, I love this show. That’s why I choose to write about it. I want to have as much Survivor in my life as possible. Since starting my coverage in Ghost Island, it has brought my fandom to a new level. But this season, since the merge? That fun and joy has almost completely disappeared. There have been good moments, sure. But the Dan situation was always hanging around in the background, dragging everything down.

I’ve mentioned Dalton Ross at EW before, as he’s one of my favorite members of the Survivor media. He’s been an inspiration and role model for me in my time as a wannabe Survivor writer. We share some of the same thoughts, but he did a much better job at putting those thoughts to paper. You can read his recap here , or check out this tweet of his below, which does a great job and summing up how I’m sure many of us are feeling.

“This just sucks, plain and simple.” Not sure I could have put it any better myself.

Ross also has his weekly Q&A with Probst up already, where he asks him about the Dan situation.

For any positive takeaways, at least Dan won’t win the game, for whatever that’s worth. And at least we have the “rumored” (it’s happening) all winners season just around the corner. Even though that will supposedly have the terrible Edge of Extinction twist in play again, at least it’s a new fresh start for the show. Small consolations, but consolations nonetheless.

Okay, there’s still an episode recap to get to. And to be honest, I don’t feel up to writing too much about it. So I’ll try to hit on some quick points and get out of here.

Final Five Showdown?

Early in the episode Janet finds an idol, which can be used through the final five. With Dan now removed from the game, Janet would seemingly have a guaranteed spot in the final four…

Or she would, were it not for Dean’s time with Rob and Sandra. At the Island of the Idols, Dean was given a coin flip’s chance at an advantage. And that’s not a metaphor; we’re talking a literal coin flip. If he chooses to play (using that term loosely here) and wins, he gets his choice between an extra vote, an idol nullifier, and and immunity idol that has to be used at the next Tribal Council but can’t be used on himself.

Dean wins the coin flip and chooses the idol nullifier. So at the final five tribal, unless Janet wins immunity, she’s obviously going to play her idol. And unless Dean has just a colossally large brain fart, he’s going to use the nullifier. And since Dean and our dearly departed Elaine saw Janet with the idol, it’s all but a foregone conclusion that he will use it against Janet.

So I think that’s really all I’ve got for this one. The finale is next week, thank goodness. I usually do a finale preview the day or two before, but we’ll see if I’m feeling up to it this time around. At this point, I think I’m just ready for this season to be over.


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Matt Hambidge