Airdate: September 21, 2011 Boot: Christine Shields Markoski Quote: “It’s gonna go one of two ways. It’s either gonna be Coach Wade duped once again on Survivor or it’s gonna be redemption for the Hantz family. I hope it’s the latter.” – Benjamin “Coach” Wade Rating: 5 + Tier D (2) = 7
From the first season all the way to Winners at War, one of the few constants in Survivor has been the producers’ willingness to fabricate sexual tension for the sake of a good storyline.
For contestants like Colleen and Greg in Borneo, it was a matter of dialing up some playful flirtation and oddly phrased metaphors about snapping a kitten’s neck. In the case of Wendell and Michele in Winners at War, who had in fact kicked it before the game, the editors spun Michele into a scorned ex-lover holding a grudge that A) was allegedly presented in a way overblown fashion, and B) never actually paid off from a dramatic standpoint.
Airdate: November 24, 2005 Boot: Gary Hogeboom Quote: “There’s a winner and a loser in this game, and if you’re going to be jealous then you’re an idiot.” – Stephenie LaGrossa Rating: 8 + Tier D (2) = 10
“It just feels like all is right in Survivor world.”
“It is…just for a minute.”
Guatemala remains a truly monumental yet simultaneously neglected chapter in Survivor history. It introduced the inarguably most impactful twist the show has ever seen in the hidden immunity idol, paired new and returning contestants together for the first time, and might stand as the single greatest example of the power of editing, which I’ll get to a minute.
Airdate: November 27, 2013
Boot: Vytas Baskauskas (eliminated from Redemption Island); Caleb Bankston
Quote: “Teenage mom. Hellraiser. She can look you in the eye and lie better than anybody.” – Tyson Apostle, on Ciera Rating: 7 + Tier C (3) = 10
Moms are supposed to be the most trustworthy people in our lives. They know us better than anyone else. They’re the first people we turn to when we need comfort. And they lead the family band with a bassist who’s a couple decades away from leaving Jonny Fairplay in such unbearable pain that he will ask to be voted out three days into Survivor: Micronesia.
I like “Come on Get Happy” as much as the next guy, but I’d rather have had a second full season of Fairplay, thank you very much.
But moms can be ruthless. And when they team up, you’d better be on high alert. That’s the takeaway from this solid but unremarkable episode of Blood vs. Water. Despite my unwavering belief that structures like Redemption Island and Edge of Extinction have no place in Survivor and automatically worsen a season, I have to say my favorite part of this episode is when Laura joins Tina and Vytas on the loser beach. As Tina nervously worries that her daughter Katie had just gotten voted out, Laura coos, “Mom?” It’s not until they’re about to hug that Tina realizes it’s actually her fellow mother using the secret code word that moms use to suss out one another. It’s cute. And yet when I Continue reading “Blood vs. Water Episode 11: Gloves Come Off”→
Airdate: December 9, 2015
Boot: Abi-Maria Gomes
Quote: “If people would’ve asked me, ‘You know, hey, where’s Keith been for the last 30 days? Is he sitting in a temple in Cambodia or [did] he just get off the shuttle back from Mars?’ Well, they’d say, ‘Oh, he just got back from Mars cause he damn sure ain’t in Cambodia.’ That’s how amazing this is.” – Keith Nale Rating: 6 + Tier C (3) = 9
While nobody in their right mind could ever classify Cambodia as “old-school” Survivor–it’s often considered the precursor to if not the start of the convoluted, advantage-heavy modern version of the show–the quote highlighted above inadvertently reveals two factors that separate it from the seasons that followed: Continue reading “Cambodia Episode 13: Villains Have More Fun”→
Airdate: October 24, 2002
Boot: Robb Zbacnik
Quote: “Trust is instilled early. And if it’s fucked up early then it’s fucked up forever.” – Robb Zbacnik Rating: 7 + Tier D (2) = 9
For better or worse, the portion of my brain that once acted as a Survivor encyclopedia has…well, let’s go ahead and use Jeff Probst’s favorite word and say “evolved.” I still can place a name and face on just about every contestant and I remember the biggest events of each season, but there are certain storylines and episodic details that I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint, even from the early seasons that I watched ad nauseum. Due to its longtime lack of DVD availability and status as the first “bad” season of Survivor, Thailand is one that just barely exists in my memory. Like, if someone were to ask me to Continue reading “Thailand Episode 6: The Power of One”→
Airdate: November 19, 2009
Boot: Laura Morett
Quote: “It’s continually impressive and bordering on annoying how pathetic the analytical skills of the Galu tribe are.” – John Fincher Rating: 7 + Tier E (1) = 8
Frustrating. That’s the only word to describe this episode. It’s not bad. It’s relatively interesting and entertaining, at least for a Samoa episode. But it’s frustrating. And here are the top nine reasons why, in chronological order: Continue reading “Samoa Episode 10: The Day of Reckoning”→
Airdate: April 17, 2008
Boot: Ozzy Lusth
Quote: “Just because you’ve gotten on everybody’s nerves don’t mean a donut is going to make it better. You really can’t expect to appease everybody over a donut. So if you tempt somebody with a donut and they say, ‘Oh yeah, sure,’ they might just have wanted a damn donut.” – James Clement Rating: 10 + Tier B (4) = 14
Airdate: May 6, 2004
Boot: Tom Buchanan
Quote: “Pony ride’s over. You’re welcome for carrying you this far.” – “Boston Rob” Mariano’s unrevealed vote at Tribal Council Rating: 7 + Tier C (3) = 10
What’s with all the penultimate episodes from early seasons now? This is the third of the last four entries featuring one, and the second consecutive episode I’m reviewing in which Big Tom’s trustworthiness is questioned and he loses both of the exact same challenges (a ‘second chance’ competition with elements of past challenges and a word search). Man, say what you will about the guy being hard to understand and perhaps a bit backwards in his attitude towards women and minorities, but he is remarkably consistent in Final 5 episodes.
On paper, this is the last round of the game in which Rob and Amber’s love affair/empire/reign of terror (pick one or all three) is in danger of ending, because they’re at a 3-2 numbers disadvantage. However, maybe it’s just because I know the outcome, but at no point does it really feel like Jenna, Rupert, and Tom will do the math and team up. Sure, they’re aware that they could do it, but the idea seems more of a passing fancy. Any doubt that Rob and Amber are safe is gone when Continue reading “All-Stars Episode 15: The Instigator”→
Airdate: January 2, 2002
Boot: Teresa “T-Bird” Cooper
Quote: “It’s completely gone to cutthroat mode. And if I think that Tom, I think that he’s in a situation where he’s about to screw me over and stab me in the back, I’ll cut his throat.” – Lex van den Berghe Rating: 6 + Tier A (5) = 11