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'Survivor: Kaoh Rong' recap: 'With Me or Not With Me'

Posted on

CBS

Survivor

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
32
run date:
05/31/00
performer:
Jeff Probst
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Reality TV

Wow. And you thought #SevereGastrointestinalDistress was bad! Call this one the anti-Fishbach. While our good pal Mr. Poopy Pants couldn’t stop going to the bathroom last season, Joe had the exact opposite problem this week on Survivor and couldn’t start. A victim of his own self-inflicted Steakocalypse, Joe began residing in the Constipation Station and simply could not move out.

I’ve gone on and on in recaps before about how all contestants should practice moderation on food rewards due to the havoc the sudden influx of grub can have on a starving system, but they never listen. And sometimes they must then pay the price, be it in the form of stomach pain, vomiting, and, yes, #SevereGastrointestinalDistress. But Joe’s bill came in another form — the fact that he could not eject any of those 8,749 beef kebabs.

Not since the Bruce Kanegai era have we seen someone suffer so much from the inability to — in the immortal words of Kanegai — “pass a deuce.” As bad as Fishbach’s situation appeared, this end of the spectrum (no pun intended) looked even worse. Medical tried to help. It didn’t work, and Joe had to be pulled from the game. In the cruelest of all cruel Survivor twists, Joe had just finally won an individual challenge, and it was the challenge reward he earned that ultimately did him in. Brutal. Absolutely brutal.

Brutal for him and brutal for us, because it meant the third medical evacuation this season, and the second evacuation that denied us getting to see a crucial Tribal Council vote (the first being right after the merge when Neal was taken out due to an infection in his knee; that first post-merge Tribal vote is always among the most pivotal and we never got it).

RELATED: Ranking Every Season of Survivor

I have to give Joe credit. He wasn’t the most dynamic personality, and probably got less screen time than Mark the Chicken. But watching him give it his all for 34 days in perhaps the toughest Survivor conditions ever was inspiring. I hope like hell I’m in half as good shape as that guy is when I’m over 70. The dude certainly earned my respect, if not my ever-lasting interest.

But let’s recap in graphic detail exactly how it got to this point. Well, maybe not graphic detail considering the circumstances of his evacuation, but you catch my drift. And I’ll try to breeze through it as quickly as possible because it is that time of the season where I present my newly updated Survivor season rankings. Where will the annoyingly accented Kaôh Rōng fall? You’ll have to read on to find out.

And to those of you new to these recaps asking “Why are you ranking the season now instead of after the finale?” the reason is that my finale recap is always waaaaaaaay too long as it is, so I do it here instead while reserving the right to raise or drop the ranking depending on what happens in the finale. Last season’s Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance went from 8 to 5 after the last episode, so it can happen.

So anyway, you have that to look forward to (and argue against) a little bit later, but for now let’s take this penultimate episode from the very top. We begin with a humbled Tai trying to figure out why he was left out of the loop on the Michele vote. Even though he was basically dictating before Tribal Council that everyone get rid of Michele, now Tai claims he is upset because, “we always listen to each other.”

Michele finds that comment curious because Tai has turned on alliances three times already. But the person Tai is really upset with is Aubry, so he finally has his night-vision chat with her, where she explains how everyone did not like the way he was giving orders (with everyone equaling Cydney). “I’m confused. Are you with me or are you not with me?” asks Tai, to which Aubry replies. “I’m confused.”

WHAT?!? No, don’t say you are confused. Say you are with him! If somebody — ANYBODY — ever asks if you are with them, you say yes. Because if you are not with them, you are against them, and that means they are against you and working to get you out. I honestly don’t understand her response here. This is just a weird conversation all-around between Tai and Aubry and either something was lost in the editing or she is doing a terrible job of calming a person she just betrayed at Tribal Council.

NEXT: A reward challenge twist![pagebreak]

Let’s move on the reward challenge so we can all watch Jeff Probst look at his feet. He welcomes in the players and tells them today’s contest will have them racing into the jungle to retrieve three bags of sandbags off a wooden ladder that they must then launch into targets. First to get a bag into each of the five targets wins. (There is another twist to the rules, which we will get into in a second.) The winner will be taken to a Survivor spa to enjoy a bath, massage, and massive constipation. Worth playing for?

The competition begins, and Cyndey and Aubry take an early lead. But they only hit one target from their first bag, so they run back to get bag number two. And then Aubry begins to pull away. She goes up 3-2 after the second bag, and then hits her fourth target from bag number three. But then, like Sundra running out of matches at a Tribal Council tiebreaker, Aubry has no more bags to throw. She’s run out. No problem! She can just run out and grab the ones she missed on and throw those again like in every other Survivor challenge, right? Wrong.

In a clever twist, the contestants in this contest have only been given a certain number of bags to throw. So if you run out of bags, you’re out. Your only hope is that everyone else runs out of bags as well, and then everyone gets to replenish to start tossing again. Jeff Probst has a very interesting take on this challenge that surprised me, and I encourage you to read it in our weekly Q&A, but I’ll just say this: I like it, and here’s why.

So many challenges are just people racing to do something as quickly as possible, but by introducing the rule that you could be out if you run out of things to throw, that places more emphasis and tension on every single throw they make. And then there is the tension to see if others will drop out as well as their supply of bags begins to dwindle. It just adds a different level of tension that we don’t often see on the show.

Indeed, others do begin to also run out of throwing bags. Cydney runs out, then Tai, then Michele. That leaves only Joe. Now, Joe did not start this challenge in the most auspicious manner. Not only was he way behind (which is to be expected at his age), but at one point Joe almost pulled a Fishbach and scored a point for another player. But now he’s the only one left, and he has all the time in the world. He makes like Gervase and walks slow and low is the tempo through the jungle to retrieve his third and final bag.

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It takes Joe roughly three Aubry pirouettes to return, and when he does, he must hit the two farthest away targets to claim victory. He lands one and then it comes down to his very last bag. If he misses, everyone gets back in the game. But in a moment clearly guided by the hands of the invisible Survivor gods who favor us with their flair for the dramatic, Joe hits his very last target with his very last bag, leading to an assault of smooching among the entire contestant pool. Seriously, there has not been this much kissing on Survivor since Ozzy and Amanda’s swapped spit was captured by a secret jungle cam.

What’s with all the smooching? Tai definitely appears to be the one with the loosest lips, as the Kissing Bandit set the tone for the season with his stolen Caleb kiss early on. But lately everyone has been making like a Family Feud-era Richard Dawson and getting in on the act. It’s clearly only a matter of time before the remaining contestants attempt to outdo the Big Brother pool orgy from season 9 (a.k.a. Writer’s Strike Spring Edition — that’s the one where champion Adam used his $500,000 winnings to fund an oxycodone ring with fellow contestant Matt, and no, I am not making that up. And to think that people wonder why I watch Big Brother.)

NEXT: Tai flip-flops back and forth yet again[pagebreak]

In any event, enough with the drugs and pool orgies — Joe now needs to pick whom to come with him on his prostate-from-hell reward! Winning challenges where you have to choose people to leave behind are always tricky. That’s why I have always advocated throwing them. How many times have we seen bruised feelings just because someone was not selected to go on a reward? Even though you can control who stays and who goes, the potential negatives of people left behind conspiring against you and holding a grudge that could last all the way into final Tribal Council voting are just too large. It’s better to just stay out of it and let someone else take that risk.

As for Joe, do you really think he is going to make his choice based on strategy? Hell no! He picks his bestie Aubry, and then she tells him to choose Cydney to complete their threesome (which was actually smart because Cydney is totally the type of person to hold a grudge. You even look at someone else for too long and she assumes you are going behind her back.)

But this also serves to let Tai and Michele know the tribe pecking order and where they stand in it — at the bottom. The two awkwardly attempt to make peace back at camp, with Tai explaining that he has no chemistry with Michele because she is… too attractive? See, this is the brutal discrimination that beautiful people face each and every day, and frankly, it is simply uncalled for. But if Michele is too beautiful for another member of the Beauty tribe, how in the name of yellow bikinis are we supposed to get the word out that beautiful people are just like you and me! Beautiful people are people, too! That’s why they are called beautiful people!

But that chemistry chasm created by Michele’s absurd attractiveness is set aside as Tai gives the island Aphrodite a deep tissue massage while Mark looks on from the side with jealousy raging in his little chicken heart. Tai tells us he’s actually open to working with Michele because he feels betrayed by Aubry. Another example of the danger of leaving someone behind.

Meanwhile, there are morsels of strategy being devoured in between massive bites of beef at the Survivor spa getaway. But as Joe goes on and on about what non-threats he and Cydney are, Aubry begins to think the opposite and that Cydney could be tough to beat at the end due to her performing well in challenges, having made some moves and “to a degree, she’s more likeable.” (I’m kind of dying to see Aubry’s likability pie graph and/or flowchart.) It’s kind of odd that it took Joe’s inadvertent reverse psychology to make Aubry realize that Cyndey is indeed a potentially formidable foe at the end, but there it is.

Cut to Aubry making amends with Tai back at camp, telling him that Cydney needs to go, and Tai breaking down into tears at their happy happy joy joy reunion. This is always the point in the game when some people start acting a little wacky. The long grueling journey has taken a toll on players and you see more and more emotional outbursts — whether it be anger, annoyance, or tears. The time is ripe for a #SurvivorBreakdown, is what I’m saying.

Cydney sees Aubry and Tai walking back with the water and she thinks they look a bit too chummy. Cydney is kind of fascinating in his way, because she often comes off as vaguely paranoid, but then she always ends up being right. Nick was getting too close to Scot and Jason, and Aubry and Tai did just renew their alliance. How does she know? Does she have the best social instincts of all-time or does she just suspect everyone and they are only showing the times when she is actually right? Beats me, but Cydney goes and forges a back-up plan with Michele, just in case.

Speaking of things backing up, let’s check in on Joe’s bowels! Joe’s in a bad spot. He can’t go to the bathroom and the pressure on his bladder hurts like crazy. Unlike Darnell, who could seemingly poop on demand and in front of captive audience, Joe’s attempts at aqua-dumping are proving futile. Dr. Joe of the Survivor medical team comes to check him out and tells his patient that he can damage his kidneys if the constipation continues.

NEXT: Sizing up the final four[pagebreak]

As the show goes to a commercial, our deepest suspicion is confirmed: It’s way too late in the hour to show both a challenge and a Tribal Council. It’s clear Joe is going to get pulled from the game when the show comes back from the break. And that is precisely what happens. After his condition does not improve, Joe begins saying his goodbyes. Eventually the doctor returns, and this time with Probst, who does a nice job of pointing out how not only did Joe survive the elements for 34 days, but he had to do it while socializing with people close to and over 50 years younger than him. That’s an accomplishment in itself. (KIDS THESE DAYS!!!)

Joe’s evacuation means a few things:

1) Tai never played his idol, which is no longer allowed to be used.

2) Not only did Tai not play that idol, but while all three hidden immunity idols were found this season, not a single one was played. Neal brought his with him when he was medically evacuated, Scot took Jason’s with him when he was blindsided, and Tai never had to play his. Zero idols played this season.

3) Three medical evacuations in one season is a new record. Yay… I guess?

4) Aubry lost her two biggest allies due to evacs, which is just terrible luck. But Aubry has been on the receiving end of some good luck as well and still should be considered the frontrunner at this point.

5) With only four folks left, it has to be a final two at this point, so let’s pause for the cause and take a moment to enjoy the return of the vastly superior final Tribal Council format.

As for the final four tribemates, it is certainly not the most electric bunch in Survivor history and there are no epic showdowns looming. However, with the exception of Michele — who seems perfectly charming but has made zero noteworthy moves all game — everyone in the group has something they can point to showing why they are deserving of the million dollars. So while it may not be our finest final four ever, it’s certainly not the worst either. (Could this be foreshadowing for my season ranking?)

If I had to award my million dollar vote right now, it would be for Aubry, who was been strong in challenges, and played a solid game, flipping Tai at a critical juncture. But I also can’t escape the feeling that a lot of us have been trying to will Aubry into being a great player, and that she may not have actually played as top notch a game as we so desperately want to give her credit for. Has she played a good game? Absolutely. A great one? Unclear.

Tai made a lot of moves, but he also came off wishy-washy and a bit all over the place in terms of those moves, and I’m not sure how well that will play with the jury. Cydney has been solid throughout. I have no beef with Cydney’s game at all, and she flexed her proverbial muscle (as opposed to her literal muscles, which are in constant flex mode) last week by securing Jason’s exit instead of Michele’s. Again, she’s played well. But like the others, she hasn’t knocked my strategic socks off. And while Michele has talked an excellent game, she hasn’t actually done anything except not piss people off to warrant a million dollars. But who knows? With this group, maybe that will be enough. We will find out soon enough.

To hear more from our interview with Survivor’s Joe Del Campo, subscribe and listen to the latest episode of our InsideTV podcast. (New episode posted below). To send a question to the InsideTV Podcast team, follow us on Twitter @InsideTVPodcast. And to hear more interviews and television discussion and debate, check out Entertainment Weekly Radio on SiriusXM, channel 105.

But before we can crown the winner, it is time for our updated season rankings. Where will Survivor: Kaôh Rōng fall? Read on to find out.

NEXT: Let the Survivor season rankings begin![pagebreak]

SURVIVOR SEASON-BY SEASON RANKINGS

(From best to worst)

1. (Tie) Survivor: Borneo

(Winner: Richard Hatch)

and Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites

(Winner: Parvati Shallow)

I’ve gone back and forth with these two over the years. After Micronesia aired, I named it the best Survivor season ever. Upon reflection, while I still considered it the most enjoyable, I also worried I was understating the impact of the first season, which became a national phenomenon. (Yes, Borneo now seems dated and tame by comparison, but it’s the biggest game changer in the past 20 years of television.) So then I returned that to the #1 spot. If I wanted to watch one season again, it would be Micronesia. If you ask me which is the most important season, well, obviously it’s Borneo. So instead of constantly flipping them, they can simply share the top spot… until I change my mind again.

3. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

(Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)

The Russell vs. Boston Rob feud made for the best pre-merge run of episodes ever. And the greatness just kept on coming. Filled with huge memorable moments like Tyson voting himself off, J.T. giving Russell his immunity idol, and Parvati handing out two immunity idols at one Tribal Council. Loses a few points for having so many three-timers, though, including a few (Amanda, James) we simply didn’t need to see again. I know many people would consider this #1, but it’s all returnees. For me, the fresh blood of Micronesia keeps that season higher.

4. Survivor: Cagayan

(Winner: Tony Vlachos)

Quite simply, the best Survivor season ever with all new players since the very first one (which is only better by the fact that it was the very first one). It was an intoxicating mix of terrific and terrible gameplay in which the big personalities (Tony, Spencer, Kass) weren’t just personalities — they actually were there to play the game. (Maybe not well at all times, but at least they were playing.) The casting was killer, the challenges were solid, the boot order was completely unpredictable, and the creative twists worked (although I was not a fan of the return of the post-votes read idol; thankfully that never came into play). The fact that Woo inexplicably brought Tony to the end with him added one last great “WHAT THE HELL?!?” moment to a truly intoxicating season.

5. Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance

(Winner: Jeremy Collins)

The first thing to note about Cambodia is how well all the production twists turned out. Letting fans vote in the cast? Brilliant. Hiding idols at challenges? I think you all know how I feel about that. Tempting people to quit an immunity challenge for a mystery vote steal advantage? Loved it. All the tribe switcheroos? They played out to perfection. The Survivor producers always throw a bunch of twists out there. Usually some work and some don’t. This season, they all paid dividends.

I also appreciated how hard the bulk of the cast was playing. Usually you get a small handful of big time gamers. This season you only had a handful that weren’t going hard (which granted, is somewhat a function of returning player seasons in general). Another plus: The votes were completely unpredictable from week to week, leading to some truly crazy Tribals. Sure, the challenges were a bit blah, but still, a rousing and triumphant success.

6. Survivor: Amazon

(Winner: Jenna Morasca)

Probably the most unpredictable season ever from week to week. Some people hate on Jenna as a winner, but she won challenges and played an effective social game.

7. Survivor: Pearl Islands

(Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)

Rupert stealing shoes. Fairplay getting drunk at Tribal Council. Osten sucking at everything. It was all delicious. Loses points, though, for the awful Outcasts twist, which also led to a disappointing final two (Lil? Seriously?).

8. Survivor: Palau

(Winner: Tom Westman)

I loved watching one tribe decimate the other, culminating with Stephenie becoming a tribe of one. And the challenges may have been Survivor’s best ever. What’s interesting about Palau is that we basically all knew Tom would win from episode 1, but it was still gripping nonetheless.

NEXT: More season rankings (9-15)[pagebreak]

9. Survivor: Blood vs. Water

(Winner: Tyson Apostol)

The returning contestants playing with/against their loved ones twist added new dimensions and forced players — and us — to think about the strategic elements of the game in an entirely new way. And for strategy nerds like myself, it was like opening a brand new Christmas present each and every week as new layers were revealed.

And although I am certainly no fan of the Redemption Island twist due to the fact that it neuters the show’s most dramatic moment (the vote-off), it is undeniable that the RI element is what led to many of the intriguing strategic decisions of whom to vote out and why. (However, I still can’t figure out why they went with three person duels — a.k.a. truels — and they definitely should have stopped RI at the merge.) Yes, the challenges were a letdown and there was a bit of a lull just after the merge, but all in all, this was a super solid season from top to bottom and a nice change of pace.

10. Survivor: Philippines

(Winner: Denise Stapley)

This season was all about one thing: casting, casting, casting. When you look back on what happened, while there were a lot of shake-ups with the voting, there weren’t a whole lot of jaw-on-the-floor shocking moments. So why is it so high? Because the casting and storylines that developed gave us people to root for and against — something every great Survivor season needs. And the fact that Philippines had such a strong final four — Denise, Malcolm, Lisa, Skupin — also doesn’t hurt.

11. Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites

(Winner: John Cochran)

A tale of two seasons this was, and I can already hear people yelling that I am putting it too high. But hear me out first before you Russell any feathers. If I was grading this solely on pre-merge episodes, this would be waaaay down the list due to the emphasis on big personalities (Shamar, Brandon, Phillip) as opposed to big gameplay. It was flat-out grating. But everything post-merge was spectacular. I can’t remember a time when there were so many moves and countermoves so late in the season. The same way it is more important for a sports team to play well in the second half of a game as opposed to the first, a great season needs to build momentum, and Caramoan definitely did that with six fantastic episodes in a row.

It’s much more important to finish strong than to start strong, so I definitely put more weight and emphasis on post-merge episodes when doing the rankings, and this season made a remarkable comeback. Also, don’t overlook how great the bevy of water challenges was. Should I push it down in the rankings due to the lackluster Reunion show that followed? Perhaps. Kind of not sure how much I should take that live show into consideration when ranking what happened out on the island.

12. Survivor: Samoa

(Winner: Natalie White)

I like this season a lot more than most people, but Russell’s controlling of the game (especially post-merge when his side was down 8-4) was truly a work of art. Evil genius art. He was robbed in the end, though, in the most controversial jury decision ever.

13. Survivor: Marquesas

(Winner: Vecepia Towery)

An underrated season that saw the first totem pole shake-up: where people on the bottom got together to overthrow those on the top. Yes, it was a weak final two, but it also had a woman peeing on a guy’s hand. Plus: Purple rock!!!

14. Survivor: China

(Winner: Todd Herzog)

I’ve always loved this season. It featured a really good cast stuck in a really bad location. Todd completely owned that final Tribal Council. That’s how you win a million dollars.

15. Survivor: Cook Islands

(Winner: Yul Kwon)

What a difference a mutiny makes. It was listless until that fateful moment when Candice and Penner stepped off the mat. Then we finally had underdogs to root for. The Tribal Council fire-making tiebreaker between Sundra and Becky may be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Plus, just look at all the great first-time contestants (Parvati, Penner, Ozzy, Yul). Mutineers must die!

NEXT: The Survivor season rankings continue (16-24)[pagebreak]

16. Survivor: Kaôh Rōng

(Winner: ????????)

This feels right, smack dab in the middle. Not one of the best seasons ever; not one of the worst. Working in this season’s favor has been the sheer unpredictability from week to week in terms of who was aligned with whom and what would happen at Tribal Council. That’s always exciting. Working against this season is the fact that there simply were not enough transcendent players in the cast. Talking to fellow fans of the show, I did not find a lot of passion or hardcore rooting interest for any of the folks that made it far in the game (especially after Tai sabotaged the tribe by putting out the fire). That’s a problem.

While the reward challenge that caused three players to collapse was certainly riveting (and scary as hell) to watch, it also robbed us of one of the most charismatic contestants in Beast Mode Cowboy, which was a shame. The other medical evacuations (Neal and Joe) meant we were denied chances to see how those pivotal votes would have gone down, and the challenges in general were at times too heavily reliant on balancing.

All that said, there were legitimate moments of glory — like when Tai turned on Scot and Jason — that elevated the proceedings and turned this season into a solid, if unspectacular, entry. As always, this could move up or down a bit depending on what happens in the finale. For instance, if Mark the Chicken wins, this thing goes straight to number one.

17. Survivor: Australian Outback

(Winner: Tina Wesson)

An overrated season in my book. Probst loves it. I didn’t. Solid but unspectacular. Pretty predictable boot order as well. Dude did burn his hands off, though.

18. Survivor: South Pacific

(Winner: Sophie Clarke)

Here’s another one that I like more than most people, which is curious considering how much it has in common with the season that aired directly before it, which I didn’t like: the same twist of two returning players, Redemption Island, the predictable vote-offs, no real water challenges, etc… But there is one thing I really did dig about this season, and that is the cast. I was invested in the players and their fates — the ones I wanted to do well, and not so well. Plus, this season gave us three signature moments: Ozzy volunteering to go to Redemption, Cochran flipping, and Brandon giving away his immunity.

19. Survivor: Tocantins

(Winner: J.T. Thomas)

Okay, you may roll your eyes at Coach 1.0. But imagine for a second this season without him. Bo-ring! His unintentional comedy single-handedly lifted this into the middle of the pack. Seriously, other than Tyson getting blindsided, were there any memorable moments that didn’t involve the Steven Seagal wannabe?

20. Survivor: All-Stars

(Winner: Amber Brkich)

Overall, a bit of a letdown, but man, were there some hate-fueled fireworks at those final few Tribal Councils. Plus: Best. Reunion Show. Ever. (Remember Jerri getting literally booed off the stage?)

21. Survivor: Worlds Apart

(Winner: Mike Holloway)

The main problem, of course, was that there were not enough people to root for. Worlds Apart got somewhat hijacked by an assault of offensive comments to and about women by some of the male characters. It’s too bad because there was actually some interesting gameplay — mostly thanks to Mike. And there were some big moments at the last few Tribal Councils as well. This season has moved around a bunch for me. It started off middle-of-the-pack, went WAY down during all that Dan and Will ugliness, but slowly crept back up after that.

22. Survivor: Panama — Exile Island

(Winner: Aras Baskauskas)

Ah, just writing the word Panama gets me daydreaming about Survivor Sally and her intoxicating knee socks. Terry was robbed on a final challenge that may or may not have been completely fair. Another unmemorable final two. Shane Powers should have been brought back for Heroes vs. Villains. And the Second Chance season, for that matter.

23. Survivor: Gabon

(Winner: Bob Crowley)

It got better near the end, but it was still a case of too little, too late. The fact that so many unworthy players went so far is simply too damning.

24. Survivor: Redemption Island

(Winner: Boston Rob Mariano)

The first three episodes were dynamite, but then the fuse blew out. It certainly was entertaining at times watching Rob strategize (the most dominant showing ever) and Phillip philosophize (the craziest showing ever), just not very dramatic. Most of the vote-offs were clearly telegraphed and the Redemption Island twist sucked the life out of Survivor’s signature moment — the vote-off.

NEXT: The rest of the rankings and an exclusive deleted scene[pagebreak]

25. Survivor: Africa

(Winner: Ethan Zohn)

Some great challenges. Not that much else was great.

26. Survivor: Guatemala

(Winner: Danni Boatwright)

One of the more unlikable casts so far. (Remember Judd? Jamie? Stephenie’s evil twin?) Rafe was good for a few laughs, though. Especially on rope obstacles.

27. Survivor: Vanuatu

(Winner: Chris Daugherty)

I don’t blame producers: The battle of the sexes worked well the first time around.

28. Survivor: San Juan del Sur

(Winner: Natalie Anderson)

The cast was for the most part boring if not boorish, and when you look back on this season, does any one big moment even stand out? Anything? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? I will say there were a few strong post-merge episodes, and it definitely got better over the last few weeks thanks to Natalie’s strong play. That counts for something. This is not a season that inspires anger or rage, just apathy, which is maybe the worst indictment of all.

29. Survivor: One World

(Winner: Kim Spradlin)

Look, I have total respect for Kim’s game. Like Tom in Palau and Rob in Redemption Island, she excelled strategically, socially, and physically. Unfortunately, that is really the only good thing I can say about this season. And that’s too bad, because I do think the “One World” concept was a solid one. But, man, what a thoroughly uninspiring cast. Colton was more a horrible human being than a classic villain, and the rest of the players were mostly either completely forgettable or people you wish you could forget. I worry I am being generous by putting it even this high, but out of respect for Kim, it goes here.

30. Survivor: Thailand

(Winner: Brian Heidik)

The fake merge and brutal last challenge — where the final three had to hold coins between their fingers in a crazy painful pose — keep this dud out of the bottom spot. Barely.

31. Survivor: Fiji

(Winner: Earl Cole)

With the exception of Yau-Man and Earl, a true bummer of a cast, and the “Haves Vs. Have-Nots” twist was one of the worst creative decisions in Survivor history. Speaking of awful creative decisions…

32. Survivor: Nicaragua

(Winner: Jud “Fabio” Birza)

It’s at the bottom for a few reasons. 1) Splitting the tribes up by age and the Medallion of Power were both enormous flops. 2.) Like One WorldThailand, and FijiNicaragua had just too many unlikable players. 3) Two people quitting with only 11 days left. 4) No big memorable moments. Even Thailand had the fake merge and Fiji had the big Yau-Man/Dreamz free car deal gone bad, but what was Nicaragua’s signature moment? Unfortunately, it was people quitting, and that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Okay, so there we have it. I put Survivor: Kaôh Rōng at number 16 out of 32. Feel free to weigh in on the message boards on where you would put it. But before you do that, make sure to check out an exclusive deleted scene from the episode below. You can also get the Hostmaster General’s comments on the medical evacuation and his surprising take on the challenge in our weekly Q&A. I’ll be speaking to Joe on EW Morning Live (SiriusXM, Channel 105) Thursday morning and you can read/listen to that here as well. And for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Okay, so now you can go tell me how much you disagree with my rankings or share your thoughts on the episode itself. Hit the message boards, and I’ll be back next week with an overstuffed scoop of the finale/reunion crispy!

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