The Survivor: Island of the Idols finale picks up after Dean Kowalski, Lauren Beck, Janet Carbin, Tommy Sheehan and Noura Salman learn that Dan Spilo has been ejected from the game. All five players find out that they’re headed to the Island of the Idols, where they’re greeted by Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine. Rob and Sandra give the finalists their massive shelter for the final three days, as well as special edition buffs and a feast of food.
Of course, Island of the Idols always comes with a lesson, and Tommy is first to realize that there must be some sort of hint on the buff. He notices a machete drawn on the fabric, and then sees a mysteriously-placed machete at camp, which is atop a coconut that’s colored pink inside. Next, Tommy finds a pink-colored board at camp, which leads him to the next clue — a symbol that looks like the letter H. He enlists Dean to help him figure out what this could all mean, but Dean acts totally uninterested.
Without Tommy knowing, Dean goes off to solve the clues on his own, and finds a hidden immunity idol, which he keeps to himself! Janet also has an immunity idol in her pocket, but let’s not forget…Dean has an idol nullifier, too. At the immunity/reward challenge, the players have to create a rope ladder, climb it, unlock a bag of balls, then maneuver the balls through a maze. Dean is victorious at the challenge, and he chooses to take Noura with him on the food reward, despite their former feud.
At the reward, Noura promises to take Dean to the final three if she wins the next immunity challenge. They make a plan to vote Janet out, since she’s so well-liked by the jury. Meanwhile, Janet wants to vote Lauren out, and comes up with a plan for everyone to vote for her, and then she’ll use her idol and use her vote for Lauren. She and Tommy promise each other a spot in the final three if one of them wins the next immunity challenge, but Tommy is also aligned with Lauren, and fills her in on the plan.
Tommy and Lauren try to convince Dean to use his idol nullifier so Janet’s idol can’t be used, but Dean is equally as worried about Lauren as he is about Janet in the game. So, the decision is in his hands about how the vote will go down. At tribal, Janet plays her idol, but Dean plays his nullifier against her. Janet’s idol does not count, and with four votes against her, she’s sent home.
Back at camp, Tommy, like Dean previously, does his best to win Noura over. Both guys don’t view her as a jury threat, and want to sit beside her at the end, so they want to make sure she takes them if she wins immunity. At the challenge, the players have to hold up a platform, and build the phrase ‘Island of the Idols’ out of letter blocks on top of it. Noura wins the challenge, guaranteeing herself a spot in the final three, as well as the ability to choose who will sit beside her — and which other two players will have to build fire for the third spot.
Noura reveals that she’s choosing Tommy for the final three, and sending Dean and Lauren to make fire. She views Lauren as a jury threat, and she thinks Dean is on fire in the game right now. Meanwhile, Tommy helped get her through several votes in the game, so she wants to honor him. Tommy decides to put most of his effort toward helping Dean make fire — he thinks he’ll split the jury votes with Lauren if she’s sitting beside him in the final three, but he thinks he can beat Dean.
Dean ends up winning the fire making challenge, and after doing so, he makes sure to add another notch to his resume by letting the jury know that he hadn’t ever made fire until the morning of this tribal.
At the final tribal council, Noura defends her ability to get super close to various players in the game. Meanwhile, Tommy points out how he stayed neutral in the game and didn’t make enemies, while Dean makes it clear that he was always honest, rather than being fake and pretending he was playing with everyone, like he claims Tommy did. Then, Noura puts Tommy on the spot by exposing the fact that he helped Dean learn to make fire at the final four.
A jury member, Jamal, points out that Dean had a harder job getting to the final three than Tommy did, so why should Tommy be rewarded? Tommy sticks up for himself, though, and explains that that was all part of his strategy — to get Noura to worry SO much about going against Lauren…that she wasn’t worried about going against him, even though he was a threat. Finally, it’s Dean’s turn to brag about how much he outplayed Tommy — he found advantages, immunity idols AND won challenges….which are all things that Tommy didn’t do.
Things get a bit (amicably) heated between Dean and Tommy, as they fight it out in front of the jury to prove that they deserve to win. Members of the jury all weigh in and converse with each other as they make their decisions on the spot. Eventually, Dean does get called out by the jury, though — he says that he made a point to never make a final three deal during the game, but later, he references final three deals that he made.
All three players give solid conclusions, and it’s time to vote. Lauren votes for Tommy, and Aaron votes for Dean, but the rest of the votes remain hidden. Back at the reunion show, Jeff reads the votes: Tommy, Dean, Tommy, Dean, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, and Tommy…and that’s enough: TOMMY IS THE WINNER!