Survivor: Island of the Idols took an emotional turn on Wednesday night when five women accused a male contestant, Dan Spilo, of inappropriate behavior. During the two-hour episode, contestants Kellee Kim and Missy Byrd discussed their negative experiences with Dan, who they claim exhibited a “pattern” of inappropriate touching that continued even after he was asked to stop. After a particularly intense confessional from Kellee, a producer stepped in to address the situation. According to Survivor Reddit, this is “the first time ever” that a producer has inserted themselves into the action while the cameras were rolling, but given the situation with Dan, the change in procedure seems appropriate.
During Wednesday’s episode of Survivor, “We Made It to the Merge,” the two tribes finally merged, giving many contestants a chance to meet for the first time. Two such contestants were Kellee — she previously confronted Dan about his inappropriate behavior during the season premiere — and Missy, who discussed new instances of unwanted touching in a lengthy conversation. “When I first got here, Dan was super kind and super helpful. But then one night, the hands were wandering,” said Missy. “Was he doing that with Elizabeth, too?” asked Kellee. “With everybody,” replied Missy.
In her confessional, Kellee revealed that she’s repeatedly asked Dan to stop touching her, yet he continues to do so. “This isn’t just one person,” she said, getting emotional. “It’s a fucking pattern. It’s a pattern. It takes five people to be like, man, the way I’m feeling about this is actually real. It’s not in my head. I’m not overreacting to it. He’s literally done these things to five different women in this game. That sucks. That totally, totally sucks.”
As Kellee began to cry, a producer spoke up from behind the camera. “You know, if there are issues to the point where things need to happen, come to me and I will make sure that stops,” they said, breaking the fourth wall. “I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable … I just want to make sure. This is not like — it’s not OK.”
According to Survivor Reddit, the move is unprecedented: “Dan was such a creep that Survivor producers literally had to step in and be shown on the episode for the first time ever,” the account tweeted on Wednesday night.
— Survivor Reddit (@Survivor_Reddit) November 14, 2019
After Missy and Kellee’s conversation, Survivor added a title card addressing the situation. “The following morning the producers met with all the players, both as a group and individually,” the card read. “They were cautioned about personal boundaries and reminded that producers are available to them at all times. Based on the outcome of those discussions, the game continued. In addition, producers met privately with Dan, at which time he was issued a warning for his behavior. Producers continue to monitor the situation.”
While Kellee felt “disrespected” and “disgusted” by Dan, she still wanted to win the game, so she hatched a plot to eliminate Missy. Missy figured it out ahead of time, and she formed another coalition to vote out Kellee. She was successful: Kellee was sent to the jury alongside Janet, who voted to eliminate Dan out of solidarity with his accusers. The Janet vs. Dan plot line was a major focal point of the rest of the episode, which saw Janet repeatedly stand up for her convictions even though she may lose because of it.
At the end of the episode, the tribe voted out Jamal, who bravely stood up for the women earlier that night. “You believe women if they choose to bring that up because it’s difficult enough to do that in and of itself,” he said. “We have a responsibility to hear women, listen to women, and believe women when they’re ready to tell their stories.”
Survivor airs every Wednesday at 8/7c on CBS. Watch the most recent episode on CBS All Access.
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