‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’: How Do the Immunity Idol Pairs Work?

For Survivor 40: Winners at War, executive producer Jeff Probst and his team have included a few new features, including a type of currency, fire tokens, and immunity idol pairs.

While other previous idols have had twists where they’re more powerful paired together, every idol this season requires the finder to give half of it to another contestant before it’s fully activated. How do the pairs work, and is there a way contestants could be devious with them?

Kim Spradlin
Kim Spradlin | Robert Voets

Who has an immunity idol so far in ‘Survivor 40’?

After San Juan del Sur champ Natalie Anderson arrived at the Edge of Extinction, she found a clue to an immunity idol that had power for three tribal councils. Because it has no value at the Edge, she sold it to two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine for one fire token.

Philippines champ Denise Stapley, with the help of Ben Driebergen, found a hidden immunity idol at the Sele tribe. Per the directions, she had to give another player half of the idol before sundown to activate it.

Denise initially wanted to use it to pull in Parvati Shallow. But Adam Klein advised her against it, and she gave it to him. He then returned it the following day, and she explained she now possessed a fully activated hidden immunity idol in a confessional.

One World Sole Survivor Kim Spradlin-Wolfe located the advantage on the Dakal tribe and gave the other half to Sophie Clarke, as she had no other alliances but trusted the South Pacific champ.

Even though Sophie implied Kim made a mistake by giving her half, she returned it before they switched tribes. The South Pacific winner swapped in the minority alongside Sarah Lacina to a new tribe, Yara, with former Sele tribemates Boston Rob Mariano, Adam, and Ben.

When the entire tribe embarked on an idol hunt, Sophie found it and trusted Sarah Lacina with the other half. The Game Changers champ gave it back before Tribal Council, as they weren’t sure what would happen. But neither ladies used their advantages.

Because the idol pairs with those specific instructions are new this season, many viewers didn’t understand how they worked.

How do the immunity idol pairs work?

When Sophie found her idol, the camera showed her holding up the letter and reading the instructions. This allowed viewers to read the note, as well. It explained the finder “must give one-half to another player by sundown.” And they can “restore” the idol’s “power by pairing it back with its original half, or any other identical half, regardless of color.”

Therefore, there is no specified amount of time the halves need to be apart to activate, as one can give it back right before Tribal Council. Additionally, it does not state that the other person must return the half.

One Reddit user pointed out the castaway can be devious with the idol pairs. For example, Sophie could have kept Kim’s half and then given “half to Sarah and not ask for it back to ‘build trust.’”

Therefore, Sarah would think Sophie only had a half when the South Pacific champ actually had a full (because of Kim’s). Will viewers see this type of strategy come into play this season?

Watch Survivor 40: Winners at War Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS to find out.