Warning! The following contains spoilers for Survivor: Island of the Idols' penultimate episode. Read at your own risk!
Survivor: Island of the Idols initially made waves for its inclusion of Boston Rob and Sandra, but this season will more than likely be remembered for its unexpected blindsides and controversies. The game has featured a lot of surprising exits so far, though none were as surprising as the penultimate episode's announcement that Dan Spilo was the first player in Survivor history to be officially ejected from the game. In the time since the episode aired, host Jeff Probst and former contestant Kellee Kim have spoken out about one of the show's biggest controversies.
For those unaware, this story started a few weeks ago when Kellee Kim first raised concerns about inappropriate touching from Dan Spilo. Jeff Probst and the producers decided to handle the issue in a way that wouldn't compromise the integrity of the game, which only resulted in more confusion and problems. Spilo was issued an official warning at the time, unbeknownst to the rest of the competitors, but the most recent episode revealed Dan was completely removed following an off-camera incident with a production crew member, though the details of what went down are unclear.
Survivor fans want answers, but Jeff Probst couldn't speak to everything, saying it was a matter of privacy. Still, here's what he revealed in an interview following the episode.
I’ve endeavored to be as forthcoming as possible with you regarding everything that has happened this season. In this situation, out of respect for privacy and confidentiality, I can’t say anymore...It has been an unprecedented season. Complex social issues were woven into the game in a way we have never seen before. With our contestants’ welfare at the forefront, we have spent a lot of time discussing every layer of the situation with human resources, diversity and inclusion representatives, show therapists, lawyers, publicists, and standards and practices. We all worked diligently throughout the entire process to make the right decisions and portray an accurate depiction of what took place. We have learned a lot and it will inform our process moving forward.
The matter of privacy not only meant that Survivor: Island of the Idols viewers were denied explicit details of the incident, but remaining competitors were also not informed of the details behind Dan's removal at all. In addition to that, the sensitive nature of the situation convinced Survivor producers to pre-tape its reunion and finale, which is yet another first in the show's long history, and one that speaks volumes about the severity of the situation.
Dan Spilo's eventual ejection from Survivor: Island of the Idols was bittersweet for contestant Kellee Kim, who first raised concerns about his behavior. Kim released a statement on Twitter following the episode, and shared with fans how she was feeling after seeing Dan's removal.
Tonight, On CBS Survivor, Dan Spilo was kicked off the show for, once again, inappropriate touching. While Dan's dismissal has validated the concerns that I raised from the beginning of this season, I wish that no one else had to be subjected to this type of behavior. CBS and Survivor were on notice of Dan's behavior from the very first days of the game. And, as Survivor fans know, shortly after I spoke up on camera, I was voted off the show. Since then, I've accepted genuine, heartfelt apologies from fellow castaways, but I've continued to feel disappointed by how this pattern of behavior was allowed to occur for so long. While I wish many things had gone differently, I'm glad that my decision to speak up made a difference. What is most important to me now is how all of us--CBS, Survivor, other organizations, and all of us as individuals-- decide to learn from this story and commit to take action. Lastly, I am grateful to the many people who have reached out to me over the last few weeks to share their own stories and messages of solidarity. These messages, of feeling supported and believed, have been an incredible gift. Thank you.
As she mentioned in her statement, Kellee Kim was voted out shortly after she raised concerns about Dan Spilo's behavior. As her elimination episode showed, the game got mixed with a serious situation, and contestants Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel ended up making it clear to Spilo and others that Kim was the person who spoke out about the inappropriate behavior. The incident essentially influenced others who didn't have the full story to make the call to vote her out, and Dan remained in the game until just short of the finale.
As Jeff Probst said when all this first went down, it's a tricky situation. Now, on the heels of this recent news, some Survivor viewers are feeling that Kellee Kim was both vindicated and unfairly voted off so early, while Dan Spilo was ultimately removed for the exact incidents she had alerted the crew about towards the very start of the season.
Kellee Kim won't get a re-entry to the game as an apology or anything, though one could make an argument she should get another chance in the future. Repeat contestants aren't rare on Survivor, and given the unprecedented nature of this situation, it would be a show of good faith by Jeff Probst and CBS to extend an invitation to Kim to have another chance to compete at a later date, assuming she is willing.
As of writing the explicit details of Dan Spilo's ejection are unclear. Spilo's ejection reportedly came after an immunity challenge on a boat back with a crew member. Jeff Probst told EW that Spilo was upset when he was told about his ejection, but that he was later understanding about why removal went down. It is unclear whether or not Spilo will be present at the reunion show.
The Survivor: Island of the Idols finale airs on CBS Wednesday, December 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Stick with CinemaBlend for all the updates on the aftermath of the competition, and for a look at what's happening in the world of television and movies.