This recap contains spoilers.
Bayville born-and-bred Tommy Sheehan took the $1 million grand prize on “Survivor: Island of the Idols,” the 39th season of CBS’ jungle-survival competition.
The Long Beach resident, a fourth grade math and science teacher at Floral Park-Bellerose Union Free School in Floral Park, outlasted runner-up Dean Kowalski, a 28-year-old New York City technology salesman, and third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers, respectively, Noura Salman, Lauren Beck and Janet Carbin for the $1 million grand prize on Wednesday’s finale.
He recounted during the competition’s taped post-show analysis that he didn’t “want to get too cocky” as he kept advancing in the contest, receiving some good-natured ribbing from the rest of the castaways.
Sheehan, 26, had faced trouble early on. His good detective work uncovered obscure clues on the island, but in attempting to form an alliance with the slick Kowalski, he gave away enough information that Kowalski could unearth a hidden Immunity Idol. Later, Kowalski won the episode’s first challenge — one involving collecting lengths of rope to form a ladder, and climbing up to a tilting board in which the contestants had to roll two balls to a resting indent. That put Kowalski in the top four and gave him a second Immunity Idol.
Sheehan and Carbin had formed a connection during their 37 days on the island — “Tommy and the mommy” — but Sheehan put strategy first and betrayed their promised alliance. Carbin, a 59-year-old Florida chief lifeguard, was perceived as one of the most likable and capable challengers, and, as such, a formidable threat. “Janet is my ‘Survivor’ mom. We are super close and we have this extreme bond,” he told the camera. “She has a huge part of my heart. ... But sadly, I really need her out of this game.” Partly through his machinations, she was voted off, coming in fifth.
Sheehan fared badly in the next challenge, involving letter blocks that had to be placed on a highly wobbly mechanism in order to spell out a phrase. But when Salman won, guaranteeing her a spot in the final three and allowing her to choose one of the others for that trio, she picked Sheehan. That put Beck and Kowalski in the traditional finale fire-making challenge; Kowalski won, placing Beck in fourth place.
Following questions from the jury of previously eliminated players, Sheehan won the final vote.
The post-show analysis also addressed Hollywood agent Dan Spilo’s ejection in the penultimate week of the show and gave contestant Kellee Kim — who had complained about Spilo’s alleged inappropriate behavior to the show’s producers — free range to talk about how she felt the show handled the controversy.
Kim, 29, said she didn’t want the show to be tainted by negativity but, through tears, added that by speaking up she was happy to have been part of a move toward change on the reality-TV show.