Survivor One World’s intriguing immunity idol twist

Besides opening with both tribes living on the same beach, Survivor One World has another twist coming, and it involves the increasingly reviled hidden immunity idols: Anyone who finds one cannot keep it, but instead has to give it to someone else on the other tribe. That’s much more significant than last season’s idol change.

My first reaction was that this seems to take away some of the incentive for actually looking for and finding the thing: You want someone else on the other tribe to find it and give it to you, so you don’t want to look yourself. And if everyone plays that way, the idol will remain safely hidden under the usual giant flashing neon “IDOL HERE” sign and arrow.

On the other hand, there are likely to be more people who want to find it to use it as a weapon or tool. And because the idol has to go to someone on the other tribe, that could force cross-tribe alliances early in the game.

Stephen Fishbach calls this “a smart move by CBS that guarantees hot inter-tribal action.” But Gordon Holmes notes that “it could have huge pre-merge implications or it could be a dud.”

I’m more with Gordon here, because I don’t think it’s a guarantee, but it certainly could work. I think whether this succeeds or fails will be less about the twist itself and more about the dynamics in the tribes and between tribes. A particularly unified tribe could find it and decide to use it strategically, perhaps playing someone on the other tribe as a pawn; alternately, an individual could decide to find it, conceal it, and give it to someone secretly. I also hope someone constructs a fake idol and gives it to someone they dislike.

Update: Apparently, there’s a possibility that there will be tribe-specific idols and you only have to give away the other tribe’s idol if you find that. (Gordon Holmes updated his post to reflect that.) If that’s true, it will be disappointing, because that’s nowhere near as bold a twist.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.