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Previewing Tonight's Survivor: Island Of The Idols Finale

survivor-39-final-5-lauren-tommy-janet-dean-noura-1

Robert Voets/CBS

An ugly season of Survivor wraps up tonight. We have a two-hour season finale and then a one hour reunion show. The hour reunion show will be pre-taped in the afternoon for the first time in history after all the controversy this season. Dan, ejected last week, will not be attending and there are rumors that other contestants are also considering not going. Due to the gravity and awkwardness of this season’s events, it does make sense. You never know what can happen on live television, and I get why Survivor would like to have the option of taping it early. It does suck from a spoilers perspective, though. There will presumably still be a live audience. It just takes one rotten egg to spoil things for everyone. I hope they get locked in a room, and their phones are taken away. Can’t be too safe.

Before I preview tonight’s finale, last week’s events need to be addressed. The undercard was Elaine getting vote out after an emotional tribal council. Getting her out was the right move though, as she was a serious threat to win the game. But when tribal ends at just 8:55, you have to assume something is up. And something was certainly up. We see all the contestants, minus Dan, sitting at camp the next morning. Jeff Probst comes in to let them know that Dan has been removed from the game for more inappropriate behavior. A black screen popped up with the following message: “Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”

The theories and reports are running rampant about what actually happened. This is from People:

“Sources tell PEOPLE that the incident in question — which involved a member of the show’s production team — happened after an immunity challenge as Spilo and other contestants were getting into a boat to transport them back to the camp.

At one point, Spilo allegedly touched the female crew member’s leg. According to multiple sources, he insisted that the contact was inadvertent and accidental as he lost his balance while trying to get into the boat. At least one of the remaining contestants — 59-year-old lifeguard Janet Carbin — witnessed the incident.

But the show’s production team wasn’t convinced that the contact was merely incidental. After consulting with the show’s legal team, producers removed him from the show.”

Dan finally released his first public statement yesterday to People.

“I am deeply sorry for how my actions affected Kellee during the taping of this season of Survivor. After apologizing at the tribal council when I first learned that Kellee still felt uncomfortable, I want to make sure I do so again, clearly and unambiguously.”

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“I truly regret that anyone was made to feel uncomfortable by my behavior,” Spilo continues. “In my life, I have always tried to treat others with decency, integrity and kindness. I can only hope that my actions in the future can help me to make amends and show me to be the kind of father, husband, colleague and friend that I always aim to be.”

Too little, too late. Also strange that he only apologized to Kellee. She responded on Twitter.

I’ve heard that there are defamation lawsuits happening so who knows the truth or what will get out. But it’s safe to say that Dan has certainly lose the benefit of the doubt at this point. He proved to be inappropriate time and time again, and enough was enough. He has the dishonorable distinction of being the first player ever ejected from Survivor. Just an ugly chapter of Survivor all-around.

The show is getting a lot of heat for how they handled all this. Some is fair. Some is not. This was completely unprecedented, and Survivor had to make these decisions on the fly. When the original incidents were reported, it didn’t seem like any players thought he had to be removed immediately, and players like Missy and Elizabeth exaggerating things for gameplay certainly made things more confusing. I do think one mistake Survivor made was allowing Dan’s 13-year-old son to come out for the family visit. Getting his name and face out there when Dan was already revealed to have some incidents was a mistake. I’m sure life will be tough on that family for the foreseeable future, and that trip out there didn’t help.

Overall though, I think people need to put the pitchforks down a little bit in terms of Survivor and CBS. I really think they tried to make the right move every time along the way. They gave Dan a stern warning after the first incidents, and when there was another problem, they removed him. The only person we really should vilify is Dan. Still, this season will leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I’m sure Survivor is pumped they have the all-winners season coming in Season 40.

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Luckily, Dan is out of the game ahead of tonight’s finale, and we can hopefully just focus on gameplay. It seems like the Island Of The Idols will have a big impact on tonight’s episode. I just hope it’s not too over the top. Let’s do one last ranking of everyone’s chances to win heading into the finale.

Definitely Not Winning

5. Noura

She’s been a wildly entertaining player all season long. Some people hate her, but I don’t. I think her lunacy has added some lighthearted moments to an otherwise dark and heavy season. Now, she’s not a good player and won’t be able to get enough votes to win, but she was still a key part of the season. I expect her to make the Final 3 as a goat.

Probably Not Winning

4. Dean

Dean is another pleasant, likable guy. There’s times he shows some potential to be a threat. Then there’s times like last week where he thinks about telling everyone to vote for him so he can play his fake advantage. Luckily for Dean, that “advantage” could last be used at Final 6, so he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. He does still have the idol nullifier and seems to know Janet has the idol, so I wonder if he can properly utilize that. I give Dean a slight chance to win, but it’d be a pretty big upset. He doesn’t have a great resume or reputation, nor does he have a huge winner’s edit.

One Of Them Will Win

3. Janet

She has been the hero of this season both inside and outside the game. She was the most proactive during all the Dan allegations, feeling the need to protect the younger women on the tribe. The reports also seem to indicate that Janet was the one to report Dan for the final incident, although that’s unconfirmed. She also has a hero edit for other reasons. It’s very rare to see an older woman make such a deep run in this game. She has played an honorable game that’s been easy to root for. I think she might be too obvious of a winner, though. A fourth place finish might be my official prediction. But I can’t help but think of Sandra’s quote when Janet was leaving the Island Of The Idols. It really hyped her up and was a big winner moment. She also mentioned how we’re due for a woman winner, and that could be a fitting end to a season mired in all this #MeToo controversy.

2. Tommy

I’ve gone back and forth on these top two spots. I really think Tommy or Lauren will be the winner. Both have a really strong case. Tommy has had a ton of confessionals and some winner quotes. The winner edit is definitely evident with him maybe more than anyone. He escaped from all the Dan drama relatively clean. He’s a teacher who everyone loves. He’s got a girlfriend we met. He’s emotional and said winning is about more than the million. Blah Blah Blah. (Yes I’m still bitter that he’s a Tommy S from Long Island who made the show over me). I think him and Lauren are truly neck-and-neck….

1. Lauren

…But I’m giving the edge to Lauren. Everything we’ve seen really makes Tommy seem like the winner, but I just can’t get that Sandra quote out of my head about a woman winning. There’s a reason they left that in there. If Tommy wins tonight, then we can definitely pencil in a female winner for Season 40. But my gut says Lauren wins tonight. She’s played a strong game and can definitely get the votes to win if she makes it. I think it’s going to be a close vote no matter what.

Tonight will definitely be a weird vibe due to the circumstances. Hopefully, we just get an exciting finale with good gameplay and then can officially close this ugly chapter of Survivor.

We have our Barstool Christmas party tonight which just puts me in a real pickle. Ultimately, I won’t be able to watch the finale live. But I will just head out a little early and can start it late thanks to a YouTube TV login from Jeff D Lowe.

See you guys on the other side.