Survivor recap: Idol Thoughts

Tony wins the food auction advantage and uses it to find his third hidden immunity idol of the game. Plus: Is the super idol too super?
Ep. 10 | Aired Apr 30, 2014

HURRICANE TONY You never know which way the wind is blowing when Tony is around, especially if it gets a gentle redirect from Spencer


Okay, I promised I would offer my thoughts on the Tyler Perry super idol that was uncovered by Tony last week and I am a man of my word and shall offer those thoughts now. But first, a brief history lesson for you Survivor newcomers. When the hidden immunity idol was originally introduced in Survivor: Guatemala (season 11) and located by my Dallas Cowboys arch-nemesis Gary Hogeboom, it had to be played before the votes were even cast. That was cool, but it could have been cooler. So the producers tweaked it, as they are wont to do. The next two seasons — Panama and Cook Islands — the idol could be played after the votes were cast and read. Yul rode the threat of this power all the way to victory in Cook Islands. Too powerful, producers decided. And many fans agreed. So much like Goldilocks trying all the beds and chairs and porridge until it was juuuuuuuust right, the producers tinkered with it one more time, and in Survivor: Fiji introduced an idol that would be played after the votes were cast but before they were read. And that is how the idols have been played ever since.

Now, I didn’t see it, but apparently in some TVGN season preview Jeff Probst mentioned how the idea of this new idol with special powers — which are actually the same powers the idol had back in Panama and Cook Islands — came via a suggestion from celebrity chum and Survivor fan Tyler Perry. That’s not surprising: people (like me, I should add) bombard Probst with suggestions all the time for ways to improve the show or other twists to add. (Apparently I am the reason there were no puzzles in Caramoan, and also inspired Probst to reconsider ditching memory contests, although I am still fighting in vain to get my hidden-idol-at-a-challenge proposal through.)

So what do I think of them re-introducing this super-powered idol? Well, I basically think the producers got it right the last time by getting rid of it. The way Yul used that idol as leverage was masterful and fun to watch, but it was too much power in the hands of one person. There’s a reason the producers downgraded it and I think their instincts were right then. The problem here is also compounded by having the idol this time come into play so late in the game. If they were going to add the super idol back in, they should have done it at the start of the season where there would be enough numbers to flush it out early. Having Tony locate it so late isn’t really fair.

Now, I’m not jumping up and down screaming about it. It’s not like the guy happened to have a clue to the super idol fall out of his napkin or something. This was not mere chance nor luck that gave Tony the idol. He went out searching for it on his own and found it on his own. (I certainly never saw Jefra scouring for it.) In my book, Tony deserves to be rewarded for that. But this reward is a little too great for my taste. So going forward I think they should go back to the regular idol. They’ve tested it a bunch of different ways, and I think the way it’s been for the past 15 seasons works the best. I’m sure many of you agree and disagree and look forward to hearing your thoughts about it in the comments.

But wait, what does hostmaster general Jeff Probst have to say about why they brought the super idol back? I asked him about that and the new auction advantage twist as well in this week’s Q&A. You will definitely want to check that out. And don’t you dare forget about our exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, which can be found in the video player below. We’ll also have our InsideTV Podcast interview with Jefra on Thursday, so come back for that, and for more Survivor scoop you can follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Like the new/old Tyler Perry idol? Dig or dread the auction twist? And who deserves the win this season: Tony, Spencer, Tasha, or someone else? Hit the message boards to let us know and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!

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