The season finale of Survivor: Island of the Idols airs tonight on CBS. Read a live recap and join the discussion here.
Tonight, after a season of controversy, we will find out who wins Survivor: Island of the Idols. Only five castaways remain, and one of them will claim the title of Sole Survivor and walk away with the million dollar prize. Will it be Tommy, Lauren, Dean, Janet, or Noura? Let’s find out!
First we see Jeff greeting us from a studio in Los Angeles. He chats with Sandra and Rob about Survivor before the episode begins on the morning of Day 36 at Island of the Idols. Rob and Sandra have a heart-to-heart conversation about Survivor. He says he is thankful for Survivor since he has a wife and children because of Survivor (he married fellow castaway Amber after the first All-Star season). Sandra says she found happiness too in the money she’s won from the game (she’s the only two-time winner). Back at the camp, the final five castaways see a boat approaching them. Once it arrives, they learn they must take their personal belongings and get on the boat. They realize they are on their way to the Island of the Idols.
Tommy is the only one who hasn’t been to the Island of the Idols yet, and he’s excited to see Sandra and Rob. Rob tells the Final 5 that there is still a lot of game left to play. He also informs them that they will spend the rest of their time in the game at Island of the Idols. They also get new Island of the Idols buffs. In her confessional, Sandra says any of the remaining five can win the game. She says may the best man or woman win. Rob and Sandra get on a boat and depart Island of the Idols. In his confessional, Rob says that there is still one last lesson left. He wonders which one will be able to spot it.
The final five enjoy their time in their new shelter with some food. They are all excited, and Janet says she is guaranteed Final 4 thanks to her hidden immunity idol. She talks to Tommy, and she mentions their alliance “Tommy and the mommy.” Meanwhile, Dean and Noura talk game away from the rest of the tribe. They agree that Janet is a big threat due to how lovable she is. However, in her confessional, Noura says she wants to get rid of Dean next. She says he’s like an ex that won’t go away.
Meanwhile, Tommy wonders why they were given new buffs since that has never happened at the Final 5 portion of the game before. He examines his new buff and notices that there is an image of a machete. He looks around at the machetes, and he sees one machete is already inside a coconut. He opens the coconut and sees that it’s colored inside. However, Tommy is colorblind and needs help deciphering it. He tells Dean about it, but Dean doesn’t seem too interested. Tommy ends up finding the second clue, which is a marked symbol underneath a red wooden panel on a walkway. Tommy tells him about the second clue, but Dean still acts disinterested. While Tommy is still looking around for another clue, Dean spots the symbol next to a swing. Dean manages to retrieve the hidden immunity idol from the bamboo and pockets the idol. He has no plans to tell Tommy about the idol, and he’s amused that Tommy is still looking around for the idol.
It’s time for the immunity challenge. They will have to go through an obstacle course and complete a table maze puzzle. Along with immunity, the winner will win a food reward. The challenge begins, and everyone starts out well collecting their ropes. Tommy and Dean take an early lead as they get to the second stage, which is using their ropes to build a ladder to go up a platform. Tommy and Dean remain even on the next stage as they try to maneuver a ring up a wooden ladder. Attached to the ring is a bag of balls. Tommy and Dean are still even as they get to the final stage of the puzzle, which is maneuvering two balls on a table maze. Right behind them is Noura, and she’s the third to get to the table maze. Tommy is the first to land a ball on his table maze as Janet and Noura join them at the final portion of the challenge. Janet lands her first ball, meaning it’s a tie between Tommy and Janet at the moment. However, Dean is right behind him as he lands his first ball. Lauren lands her first ball too, making it a tighter challenge. Noura is the only one who has yet to land a ball. Dean is the first to land two balls. Dean wins immunity! Dean is allowed to pick one person to enjoy a meal with him. Janet asks to be picked since she hasn’t eaten as much as the others, but he picks Noura. In her confessional, Lauren says that Dean already had his mind made up and is just trying to do jury management with Noura.
Dean and Noura enjoy their reward, and Noura thanks Dean. She admits she saw Dean as a boy, but now she sees him as a man. As they’re eating, Noura says the meal felt like a date. In his confessional, Dean says he wants to sit with Noura in the Final 3. The two of them then make a pact to bring each other to the Final 3. They also agree to target Janet next. In his confessional, Dean says he’s glad to have a Final 2 deal with both Noura and Tommy. In her confessional, Noura says she’s aware that Dean is just buttering her up, but she doesn’t blame him since he’s just doing what is best for his game. Meanwhile, Janet and Tommy talk game. She wants to play her hidden immunity idol and vote for Lauren. She is confident that her idol will be enough to send Lauren out of the game. Janet also promises Tommy that she’ll take him to the Final 3. However, in his confessional, Tommy says that he needs Janet out of the game. He says it’s heartbreaking since he and Janet have formed a very close bond as “Tommy and the mommy.” However, Janet is the best at making fire, so he says this is the time she has to be voted out. Later, Tommy reveals to Lauren what Janet is planning. He also talks to Dean and tells him that Janet has an idol. He suggests Dean uses the Idol Nullifier to prevent Janet from saving herself with her idol. In his confessional, Dean says it’s up to him on whom gets voted out tonight. He is aware that Tommy and Lauren are very close and wonders if they should be split up. However, he doesn’t want to compete against Janet in a potential fire-making challenge either. Whatever he decides, he knows someone will be shocked as both Lauren and Janet are feeling confident tonight.
It’s Night 37 and time for tribal council. Jeff asks Dean if he’s relieved since he has immunity again, but Dean says his mind never stops running with so many scenarios. Lauren says there was pandemonium after the challenge as everyone was scrambling to save themselves. Jeff asks about the upcoming fire-making challenge, and Lauren says that Janet is the best at making fire. Janet is aware of her reputation as the “fire lady,” and she says she is fine with it. Noura adds that what matters is the jury’s perspective. It all comes down to what they think. Tommy agrees, and he says their perspectives of each other can change too. He compares it to teaching. He says when he grades tests, he has one rubric. However, every member of the jury has a different rubric, and he says they all have to try to read their minds. Dean adds how they all already have an idea of which two they want to sit next to in the Final 3. Afterwards, it’s time for the vote.
Before Jeff reads the votes, Janet plays her hidden immunity idol on herself. However, after she presents her idol to Jeff, Jeff pulls out the Idol Nullifier from the urn. He reveals Janet’s name has been written on the Idol Nullifier, meaning Janet’s idol has no power.
Jeff reads the votes. The first vote is for…
Janet is voted out and the ninth member of the jury.
We return to the studio audience, and Jeff chats with Janet. He calls her one of the most beloved and popular women to play the game. He says she has inspired people of all ages that they can do anything. Janet gets emotional talking about the fan mail she has received. The audience cheers for Janet as we go to another commercial break.
On Day 38, Tommy pleads his case to Noura about taking each other to the Final 3. In his confessional, he says pleading his case before the challenge will seem more sincere than after the challenge. Tommy also reveals to Noura that Dean has told him about Dean and Noura’s Final 3 agreement and that Dean may not have been sincere about taking her. In her confessional, Noura is pleased to have these offers coming her way. She says she can be a people pleaser in her real life, but she needs to be selfish in this game. As she weighs her options between Tommy and Dean, she catches sight of Dean stretching on the beach and gets distracted.
Next, it’s time for the final immunity challenge. They must stack letter blocks on a very wobbly table. The first to correctly stack their blocks (spelling out “Island of the Idols”) will win immunity. In addition, the winner gets to choose one person to bring with him or her to the Final 3. The other two will be forced to compete in a fire-making challenge. The winner will advance to the Final 3. The loser will be the final member of the jury. The challenge begins, and everyone struggles as they all drop their letter blocks. Letters continue to drop as they can’t figure out how to operate the mechanism to keep the table steady. However, Dean is the first one to spell out a word. Noura is right behind him as she spells out “Island,” too. Dean and Noura each spell out a second word, but Dean drops a letter. Noura is now in the lead as she spells out “Island of the” before anyone else. She just needs to spell out “Idols” to win the challenge. Lauren and Tommy, meanwhile, are still struggling as they continuously drops their letter blocks. Noura spells out all the words as Dean drops more letters. Noura wins immunity!
The castaways return to camp. Tommy is worried since Noura has all the power, and she’s prone to changing her mind. Noura tells Dean, Tommy, and Lauren that she wants them all to relax and enjoy their time together before she tells them her decision. However, they are eager to know the decision right away. Noura says Lauren is her #1 and will be a friend in real life. She calls Dean beautiful and gives kudos for his calm demeanor. She says Tommy is a loyal and incredible person. Finally, she tells Lauren she is going to the fire-making challenge since she’s a big threat in the eye of everyone. Lauren asks who will she be competing against as she breaks down in tears. Noura says Tommy told her he’s not good at making fire and that she’s still in the game thanks to Tommy. She concludes that Dean’s game has improved a lot in these last few days. He’s coming in hot, so she says Dean will be in the fire-making challenge against Lauren. Noura will be bringing Tommy with her to the Final 3. After this conversation, Lauren walks away crying. She says she hasn’t made fire during her time in the game, but she gets to work practicing. Dean also gets to work on practicing making fire. As Lauren is practicing, Tommy gives her some tips. In his confessional, Tommy admits he wants whomever becomes the final juror to vote for him to win. However, he’d rather sit next to Dean in the Final 3. We next see Tommy give Dean tips on making fire, and he gives him more helpful advice. Meanwhile, Noura approaches Lauren while she is practicing. She says they can talk if she wants. Lauren is still feeling down, and she asks why is Noura putting her in this position if she’s her #1. Noura says that Lauren at least has the opportunity to practice and she should be humble. Lauren is irked by this comment, and the two of them start arguing. Noura says that she could hide the machetes from Lauren if she wants, and Lauren tells Noura to go away. In her confessional, Lauren says she will use this as fuel to succeed in the fire-making challenge.
It’s Night 38 and time for tribal council. Jeff begins the discussion by asking Noura if she had any time for reflection today. Noura says it’s “everything” to have made it to the Final 3. She also recounts how she gave the news to the others about her decision. However, she notices Lauren’s expression, and she calls her out for being snarky. Noura says she would be dumb to take Lauren to the Final 3 since Lauren is a big threat to win. Lauren says that she will never stop fighting for her life in the game, so she won’t apologize for being combative today. Jeff asks who will Lauren be competing against, and Noura says it will be Dean. She explains that she believes Dean is good enough to beat Lauren in a fire-making challenge. Dean says he’s not surprised by Noura’s decision. When he found out, he went to work on practicing. Afterwards, it’s time for the fire-making challenge. Dean is the first one to get a flame, but Lauren manages to get fire, too. Jeff says both players are pretty even, but there is still a long way from the rope. Dean’s flame increases and starts to burn through the rope. Dean’s rope snaps in two. Dean wins the challenge and will be in the Final 3. Lauren is eliminated and the final member of the jury. Dean says that he never built fire until today and that Tommy played Noura, which the jury hears. Before she leaves, Jeff asks Lauren about her time on the show. Lauren is emotional as she discusses learning to believe in herself. Afterwards, she gets her torch snuffed and walks away.
Jeff talks to Lauren in the studio. Lauren has been dreaming of playing Survivor since she was seven years old. Lauren is proud of the game she has played. She says that if she can do it, then anyone else can, too.
On the morning of Day 39, the Final 3 celebrate making it to the end of the game without getting voted out. Noura is proud of herself, and Tommy feels fired up to have the chance of winning a million dollars. In his confessional, he says he believes he can conquer anything. In his confessional, Dean is proud of himself. He doesn’t think Noura has a chance to win the game, and he believes it will be a showdown between Tommy and himself. In his confessional, Tommy also believes it will be between Dean and himself. However, he says that Noura should not be underestimated. Noura later talks to Tommy, and she says they need to shut down Dean’s game. She says Dean was just a lackey in the game. However, in her confessional, she is aware that both Tommy and Dean are feeling confident and are counting her out. She says she played the game “the Noura way.” She thinks her games deserves kudos, too.
It’s Night 39 and time for Final Tribal Council. The jury will vote to decide whom should win the game: Tommy, Noura, or Dean. The discussion begins with the Outwit portion of the game, which is about social relationships. Jack says they are all undecided about whom to vote for. He says they all should be genuine in their answers. Kellee says she wants to hear about their strategies. Dean says his goal was to be underestimated and figure out who to work with. He says he got an idol from Kellee to stay in the game, and that’s because of his social game. Noura says she’s not the typical Survivor fan, and she says her goal was to not be annoying, lazy, or untrustworthy. She says she observed everyone to “navigate and understand.” Elaine interrupts her, saying she doesn’t believe Noura had a strategy. She says Noura just played emotionally. Noura says she wants to get to know people, but the jury interrupts again and wants to know her strategic moves. Kellee defends her by saying that everybody makes emotional decisions in the game, but Lauren says Noura is not answering the question. Tommy says his goal was to build social relationships and not stay only Vokai strong. He wanted to build relationships with everybody. Lauren asks Tommy who was he closest to in the game, and he says it was Lauren. Noura and Dean call Tommy out. They say that Tommy didn’t give as much fire-making tips to Lauren as he did to Dean. Dean says Tommy aligned with everybody, but he stayed loyal to the people he worked with. Janet asks Tommy when did he start thinking of backstabbing her, and he says he was thinking about it around Final 8. He says he would’ve loved to sit in the end with Janet, but she was too big of a threat. He says he kept Janet and Elaine around as social shields. Jamal next asks about what lines were they unwilling to cross. Tommy says he would lie, cheat, and steal, but he wouldn’t ever bully anyone. Dean says he didn’t really think about it. Kellee says she doesn’t really understand Dean, while she feels like she has a good idea about who Tommy and Noura are. Dean says he’s just an easygoing and optimistic guy. Jamal asks Noura about her thought process. Why did she bring Tommy instead of Dean? Noura says Dean was the better choice to compete against Lauren. Jamal says that she still brought Tommy, someone that could be a threat. Tommy says that he managed to spin it in a way to paint himself as someone unable to build fire. They discuss immunity idols and immunity necklaces next. Tommy says he didn’t need advantages thanks to his social game. Dean says he found advantages, and he pulls out Jamal’s fake Legacy Advantage. Jamal reveals that that advantage he gave Dean is a fake, but he still gives kudos on how Dean didn’t need to play it. Dean next pulls out the immunity idol he found, calling Tommy out about hunting for it, too. Tommy tries to downplay Dean finding advantages and say that he didn’t do anything with them to build social bonds, but Aaron advises that Tommy shouldn’t do that. Dean says that Tommy can have the social game, but he outplayed everyone. However, Karishma calls out Dean for forming fake Final 2 alliances with people too, so he can’t hold that against Tommy either. In their final pleas, Tommy says that he built social bonds with people and made moves without needing any advantages. Noura says she is a wildcard who played her own game. Dean says he played with his back against the wall, but he still made it to the end without needing to play any of his advantages. After this, it’s time for the final vote.
We see Lauren vote for Tommy and Aaron vote for Dean. But who is the winner?
We return to the studio in Los Angeles. Jeff walks onto the stage with the voting urn in his hands. Before he reads the votes, he thanks the castaways for another great season of Survivor. He congratulates Tommy, Noura, and Dean for making it to the end.
The first vote is for…
TOMMY SHEEHAN WINS SURVIVOR: ISLAND OF THE IDOLS!
Before the reunion show, we see how each juror voted. Aaron and Elizabeth voted for Dean; everyone else voted for Tommy. Jeff asks Tommy to walk them through his game. Tommy says he felt like a kingpin with people coming to him with information. Jeff asks Sandra her thoughts, and she said getting people to reveal information is a skill Tommy must’ve had before the game. She didn’t understand why she told Dean about the Idol clue, but she said he didn’t need to go to the Island of the Idols to succeed. Rob adds how everybody who visited the Island of the Idols said that Tommy was their #1 ally. Next Jeff gives Dean props on a great game in the “fourth quarter.” Dean says the game strips you of everything, but he’s proud of how he’s done. Jeff talks to Noura next about how she was perceived. She says if you follow the herd, then you’ll never be heard. She says it’s okay to be a peacock and everyone should just be themselves. Next Jeff talks to Elaine and he asks if she got what she wanted from Survivor. Elaine says she got so much more than the million dollars from playing the game. Jeff talks to Karishma next, and he asks about seeing her husband at the loved ones’ visit. Karishma says she wasn’t prepared for how tough the social game is, and she said that hug from her husband was something she needed more than food. She says people should focus on what they do have instead of what they do not have. Next, Jeff mentions the scene early in the season when Jack called Jamal’s buff a durag. Jack is not present for the reunion show, though. Jamal says that he and Jack are roommates now and formed a real friendship. He says that due to that friendship, they were able to have a tough conversation. Afterwards, Jeff reveals recording artist Sia has chosen to gift three castaways money from her own pocket. Sia has given $15,000 to Jamal, $100,000 to Elaine, and $100,000 to Janet.
The discussion turns to the controversy of Dan’s unwanted touching of Kellee. Jeff admits that they could’ve done better on how they handled the situation. He says moving forward, they will do better. He talks to Kellee and gives her the floor to talk. She says she’s nervous since she feels a lot of pressure to speak about sexual harassment. She says the hardest thing was how she didn’t feel supported or believed when Dan remained in the game after she spoke up about his unwanted touching. Jeff says he feels like they made the right call, but he says CBS has learned how to be better moving forward. Kellee says she didn’t want her Survivor experience to be defined by this, but she hopes at least this will bring change. She believes CBS and Survivor can do better.
Before the show ends, we see a preview for next season. Season 40 is called Winners At War and will feature a cast of all former Survivor winners. The cast includes Sandra, Rob, Amber, Parvati, Kim, Tony, Adam, Natalie A., Ethan, Tyson, Danni, Sophie, Jeremy, Ben, Michele, Wendell, Yul, Denise, Nick, and Sarah. A Jeff voice-over calls this the most anticipated season ever and reveals the winner of this season will win $2 million.
And that wraps up tonight’s finale of Survivor: Island of the Idols. Thanks for reading, post your thoughts in comment section below, and come back in February for Survivor: Winners At War.