With their introduction in season 11, hidden immunity idols have had a major impact on the game of Survivor. When played correctly, idols can be one of the most powerful tools in a player's arsenal but sometimes counterfeits can bring just as much drama and a whole lot more humour to the table. In today's top 10, Ozlet Jarrod Loobeek takes a look at the best fake hidden immunity idols in terms of design, excitement and impact on the game. Read on to find out which fakes proved to be just as interesting as the genuine article.
10. San Juan del Sur
If you’re going to make up a lie about possessing two hidden immunity idols it seems only logical that you’d create at least one fake idol to add some legitimacy to your claim and that’s exactly what Val did in San Juan del Sur. While Val’s fake idol didn’t make it into the main show, the secret scene of her showing a fake idol to Jaclyn makes her lie seem slightly less ludicrous. Perhaps she even showed it to other players too as a means of getting them to split the vote, which did end up happening. While not the worst fake idol in the history of the show, Val’s fake looks fairly unconvincing and just barely survived to make it into the bonus material of the season.
A fake idol that had little impact on the game, Taj’s feather and bead design came to be as of means of hiding her own discovery of the real hidden immunity idol. Knowing Joe would be returning from Exile Island with all the clues to the idol’s location, Taj sprung into action and hid the fake shown above at the Jalapao tree mail. Joe was quick to find the fake idol and for a while it looked like we might see a false idol played for the fourth season in a row when he contemplated using it to save his closest ally Sydney. Unfortunately for the audience the hype was all for nothing as Joe kept the idol for himself and took it home with him when he was medically evacuated the next round. In terms of believability this fake is right up there and probably could have fooled even the smartest of players.
The first of two idols in this list used as bargaining chips, Dale was resourceful in trying to disguise a medallion found on the Coyopa tribe well as the hidden immunity idol. In a last ditch effort to save himself after winding up on the outs post-swap, Dale approached Jon with a deal to give him the “idol” provided he wasn’t voted out at the next tribal council. While like many of the fake idols in this list the move didn’t pay off, points have to be given to Dale for simply using an idol like object already put in place as part of the art decoration of the season and not having to make a fake idol from scratch.
Cambodia was perhaps the season where fake idols had the greatest chance of deception due to productions decision to make each hidden immunity idol look different throughout the course of the game. At the final 5 with Spencer, Jeremy and Tasha looking like an unbreakable trio, Kelley Wentworth (already immune from winning the challenge) took matters into her own hands and designed a very convincing fake idol for her sole remaining ally Keith. Unfortunately for the viewers, Keith really bungled the whole fake idol situation (to be fair in part due to Jeremy’s good gameplay) and in typical Keith Nale fashion refused to reveal the idol at tribal council in fear of looking cheesy on his way out of the game. The highlight of this fake idol extends beyond Kelley Wentworth’s pained looks and prompting at tribal council to Ponderosa where Keith himself is seemingly not 100% sure if the idol is fake or not. Anything that gives Keith more airtime is a bonus in my book and it seems somewhat fitting that he saved himself with an idol in his first season while a fake idol was part of his downfall in Cambodia.
Sometimes the threat of having an idol can be just as powerful as possessing the genuine article and this was never more apparent than in Heroes vs. Villains. After Candice flipped on the Heroes it looked like Rupert and Colby were sitting ducks, however after an idol clue was revealed at the end of the immunity challenge, Rupert cleverly planted a piece of coral in his pocket in an attempt to trick the villains into thinking he found the idol. While lacking the finesse of other fake idols in this list, mimicking the shape of the idol was a stroke of genius in a season where two idols had already been played and their appearance was known. Ultimately Rupert’s ploy paid off, spreading enough paranoia amongst the Villains to prompt them to split the votes allowing himself and Colby to flop their votes on Candice and send her packing.
5. Worlds Apart
When Joey Amazing steps up to try his hand at fake idol making, you know he’s going to excel. When Joe’s challenge run came to an end in Worlds Apart he wasn’t going down without a fight and it made perfect sense for the jewellery designer to try and craft something to get himself out of trouble. If this list was purely based on looks Joe’s fake idol may very well take the cake but its usefulness failed to live up to its aesthetic distinction. Rather than reveal the fake idol at tribal council to try and create panic about the vote, Joe attempted to give it to Mike in order to broker a deal. Unfortunately for Joe, Mike was already in possession of a genuine hidden immunity idol and as such fairly sure that the idol Joe is offering is fake. While Mike hinted that he may change the vote if the idol is indeed real, events take the predictable route. Mike plays the fake idol on Will to no affect and Joe is sent home in a fairly straightforward vote.
Although like so many fake idols Yau-Man’s creation in Fiji didn’t impact the season, it cracks the top half of this list as it was the first fake idol ever made. Despite never being found, Yau’s idol inspired many a fake idol in later seasons and is responsible for a whole new level of Survivor strategy. Who knows how long it would have been till we’d witnessed fake idols if it weren’t for Fiji. Ozzy references Yau-Man’s fake idol in Micronesia so we could have missed out on the whole stick debacle if we hadn’t seen this fake two seasons earlier. In terms of fake idols this is definitely one of the more poorly constructed ones but given how relatively new idols were it probably would have fooled people if it were found.
The first fake idol ever played in Survivor, you can’t blame Jaime for trying to save herself by playing the incorrect wooden tile. After searching through James’ bag, Jaime was quick to discover the two hidden immunity idols in his possession and notice that there was a tile that matched the idols laying around camp. While Jaime is painted like an idiot by the edit, her conclusions were fairly logical and it’s perhaps a little unfair how much of a mockery is made of her. The definite highlight of Jaime’s fake idol play is the reactions of the other players. James gets his wish he’s been talking about for two episodes and he’s positively giddy that the fake idol is played, meanwhile Jean-Robert (who is completely out of the loop about idols in the game) is absolutely sweating throughout the whole ordeal, convinced that he’s now going to be the one going home. In typical Probst fashion he does a great job of drawing out the suspense before introducing his now standard practice of tossing fake idols into the fire.
Making not one but two very convincing fake idols during his time in the game, Bob was the fake idol King of Gabon. While his second and arguably better crafted idol failed to have a major impact on the game, his first creation played a vital role in one of the funniest tribal councils of the season. At the final eight it was clear that Bob, Corinne and Randy were on the outs and one of them would be the next to go. To help build stronger bonds in the game, Bob agreed to Sugar’s idea to give his fake idol to Randy in order to humiliate him at tribal council. Skip ahead to tribal council and the whole act plays out. We get that memorable voting confessional from Crystal before Randy plays Bob’s fake idol while his tribemates try in vain to control their laughter throughout the whole affair. As well as being exceptionally well crafted, the fake idols in Gabon add some major interest during the ‘pagonging’ stage of the game, providing plenty of humour and player blindsides during their residence in the game.
Was it ever in doubt? Snagging the top spot is the most memorable fake idol the show has ever seen. Undoubtedly the most rudimental counterfeit ever made, Ozzy’s hand crafted stick with a face on it from Micronesia has achieved legendary status over the years. While other castaways could be forgiven for falling for fake immunity idols, Jason’s gullibility to believe this stick was a real hidden immunity idol was nothing short of incredible. An entire chunk of Eliza’s boot episode is dedicated to the fake idol and even though “it’s a fucking stick” is the most memorable part of the exchange there are a multitude of other just as funny moments like Eliza storming past the tribe to confront Jason on the beach, that really make the scene work. Words really can’t do this fake idol justice so here’s some footage from the episode showing its journey.
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!
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