Plus: Where this season ranks in terms of the best Survivor installments ever

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 28, 2015 at 01:19 AM EST
Robert Voets/CBS


S20 E13
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It’s that time of the season, people. I always take some time after the penultimate episode to re-rank all the Survivor seasons and place the current installment in its proper slot. Heroes vs Villains has been great, but how great? Stay tuned to find out. Okay, so let’s get right to last night’s shenanigans so we can then get to the new updated rankings. The episode began with the Yin Yang tribe (worst tribe name ever, by the way) returning from a shocking Tribal Council and feeling that…

Colby: ”Reed! Reed! You freakin’ dumbass!”

Me: ”Uhhhh, Colby, what are you doing here and who are you yelling at?”

Colby: ”Oh, hey. Sorry, it’s my idiot of a brother. He’s just so infuriating that I wanted to make sure all your readers knew what a MORON he is.”

Me: ”I don’t know, Colby. He seemed like a decent…”

Colby: ”Decent? Decent? Did you see him try to catch the water I was throwing at him? That wasn’t decent. It was pathetic!”

Me: ”Well, I don’t know how to say this, my man, but you haven’t exactly been a ‘challenge dominator’ this season yourself, so…”

Colby: ”Did you just use air quotes to mock my performance in the challenges?! Did you just use air quotes?! Well let me tell you something: As awful as I have been — and yes, I have been awful — my brother is, like, a million times worse. YOU HEAR ME, REED! YOU SUCK! YOU TOTALLY COST ME A CHANCE TO GET SOME EXTRA AIR TIME PROMOTING THE PALM PRE FROM SPRINT! IT’S A WONDERFUL SMART PHONE, REED! A WONDERFUL SMART PHONE! BUT BECAUSE OF YOU, INSTEAD WE HAD TO HEAR THAT FROM FREAKIN’ PARVATI!”

Me: ”Okay, I think he gets it Colby. You know, this is your brother we’re talking about.”

Colby: ”Yeah, the brother from another planet. Planet Sucksville! He was sent there on the Battlestar Sucktacula by Admiral… uhhhhhh, Admiral Suckisucks!”

Me: ”I think we’re done here. Can I get back to my recap now?”

Colby: ”Only if you promise not to point out that I only lasted 15 seconds in the immunity challenge.”

Me: ”I can’t do that.”

Colby: ”Fine. But please make sure to check out my new website.”

Sorry about that. Now where was I? Oh, right, Yin Yang coming back from Tribal Council. It was at this moment that Parvati proved why she has played this season better than anyone else. After being betrayed by Russell (who voted out Danielle), she commented to Jerri that, ”Russell’s the biggest villain this game has ever seen.” But did that mean she’d turn on her former alliance-mate? Nope. Because she realized that if Rupert or Colby make it to the end, they’ll win. She wasn’t playing with her heart. She was playing with her head. It’s easy to dismiss Parvati as a mere flirt, because, well, she flirts so damn well and enjoys sticking clues into her underwear. But she is also super smart and has been kicking tail in challenges as well. If you’re looking for the best overall performer this season, you’re looking at Parvati Shallow. She truly has become a triple threat, excelling in the social, strategic, and physical elements of the game. And maybe her mom will now like me a little better for writing that.

NEXT: Yeesh, Rupert

Another reason to dig Parvati? She may not have realized it, but she rocked a pretty dead-on Electric Company impersonation when she informed the rest of the tribe that they had Tree Mail by shouting ”Hey, you guyyyyyyyyys!” (Me = obsessed with the old Electric Company Spider-Man skits.) And look, it’s Tree Mail from the fine folks at Sprint! And a new Palm Pre! ”There’s like a million applications,” Parvati conveniently informed us. (Colby: ”Hey, that’s my line!”). The contestants got to see videos from their loved ones informing them that they would meet up at the challenge, leading to Rupert’s awkward declaration that, ”I cannot wait to get out there, maybe touch my wife.” (I’m just going to pause for the cause for a minute to let that image sink in.)

Annnnnnnnnd we’re back. The reward challenge began with the typical montage of castaways enjoying tearful reunions with their loved ones. Even Probst got a little misty when Sandra explained how her uncle Fernando stayed with her dying mother until the last minute. Not me, though, because I am a heartless monster. What I did like about that exchange, however, was the way Sandra was completely sobbing one second, and then said ”all right” and did a complete 180, throwing her game face back on. Loved that, even though it was relatively pointless seeing as Sandra has about as much a chance of winning a challenge as Captain Kangaroo does. And Captain Kangaroo died six years ago.

The challenge itself involved contestants scooping water into a pail and then tossing the water to their loved ones, who had to catch it and fill a bucket. The highlights involved Russell’s wife Melanie spitting into her bucket (every loogie counts!), Rupert’s wife Laura squeezing the water from her shirt, Colby completely melting down at his brother who just traveled approximately 30 hours to be with him, and our second awkward declaration of the evening when Uncle Fernando said, ”Sandra, try to wet me.” (Hey, take from that what you will. I just report the facts, people.)

In the end, Jerri won and Sandra ”wetted” Uncle Fernando. But Jerri again faltered where so many others have before her: in the selection of whom to bring along with her for her little reward getaway. First she picked Parvati (and since I am already in hot water with her mother I am going to respectfully choose to abstain from making any sort of joke involving Parvati and the presence of ”blowholes”), and then she picked Sandra — leaving a very angry Russell back with the boys. ”She’s in trouble now,” Russell said. ”She screwed up. That was a terrible strategic move. All three girls? Good thing I got rid of Danielle last night, partner.”

He’s right that it was a bad call on Jerri’s part. Rule #1 of any reward getaway is to bring along the person you either need to convince you’re still tight with or need to keep from conspiring with others behind your back. In this instance, Russell was both of those things. And sure enough, the next thing you know Russell was off making a final three pact with former arch-enemy Rupert and brother-hating Colby. Never make an insecure player with a happy trigger finger feel slighted, and never let them out of your sights. That sounds like an awful tag line from a Michael Bay movie, but it’s true.

NEXT: Are you with me or against me?

Meanwhile, over on the island of Savaii the gang was enjoying watching an old man toss coconuts into the blowhole to watch them shoot up into the air — the same old man that tried to shake me down for money when I was there.Damn you, cagey coconut-tossing old man! And there was Parvati once again happy to play corporate pitchwoman, informing us that, ”The best part was that Jerri had that Sprint phone with her.” You mean the Palm Pre from Sprint with all those ”million applications”? Awesome!

Once the women returned to camp, they were treated to Rupert insisting on making as much noise as possible, choosing the middle of the night as the best time to tend to the firewood. Jerri declared that, ”I have never in my life seen anybody that inconsiderate. I don’t know if it’s incredible cockiness or complete stupidity. I’m leaning more toward stupidity, quite frankly.” Your words! Not mine!

Hey, let’s go to the immunity challenge! And guess what? The time it took me type that last sentence is longer than Colby Donaldson was able to last in the entire competition. What a weird season for Colby. He’s made it all the way to the final five, yet I would argue has been an even bigger disappointment than during his All-Stars debacle. He has gone from challenge hero to complete zero, and had seemed mostly uninterested in the game (like when he was more concerned with watching Treasure Island than looking for the hidden immunity idol clue). Maybe next time he should bring his brother Reed along to play seeing as his presence was the only thing to fire Colby up all damn season. (And even that was completely embarrassing.)

Sandra, of course, was the next to go in the endurance competition (which had the contestants using both hands to hold up some poles). Once again, it came down to Rupert and Parvati, and once again Parvati won, and once again I am going to abstain from making any jokes about Parvati being used to handling long poles. (It’s just so damn easy, though!)

Parvati’s victory seemed to seal Rupert’s fate, but we still got some fireworks back at camp when Sandra told Rupert to get rid of Russell. Rupert then went straight over and told the toothless wonder, leading Russell to confront Sandra by asking ”Are you with me or are you against me?” Sandra’s response: ”I’m against you, Russell.” (Unfortunately, she backpedaled a bit after that, but it was still hilarious.)

But Sandra wasn’t done amusing us. At Tribal Council she punctuated her vote for old pal Rupert by adding, ”I’ll write your name again and if I’m up there in the final three, you’ll still give me the million dollar vote.” Then, she popped up like a rocket when Probst inquired if anyone had a hidden immunity idol they wanted to play, asking, ”Should I let you finish?” After being informed that there was ”no need,” sassy Sandra explained that ”I wasn’t going to play the idol, but because I got mixed feelings here this Tribal Council I would hate to go home with the idol in my bra.” As would the idol, I’m guessing.

NEXT: Weighing the odds for the final five

Alas, Rupert was finally voted out, giving Russell one last silent stare down (reminiscent of Big Tom’s long angry look at Boston Rob at All-Stars) on his way out. It was a stare down that said, ”I’m mad at you because I trusted you, then you lied to me and I called you a disgusting, terrible human being, but then you wanted to be my friend again, so I trusted you again, and now I’m going home because of it. I really should be mad at myself instead, but it is a hell of a lot of easier to be mad at you so I am going to stare at you for approximately three more seconds and then I am going to go make sure I have plenty of clean tie-dye shirts for the final Tribal Councils.”

So that leaves us with five people left. Here’s how I sort their chances. Colby is a waste of space and suddenly can’t win a challenge to save his life. So he’s a goner. Russell played extremely well for the majority of this game but hurt himself immensely by turning on his own tribe at the end. It doesn’t really matter, though. He was never going to get any votes anyway. I still stand by my assertion that Russell was robbed in Samoa. He stuck with his final four all the way to the end and almost single-handedly decimated a tribe of twice his size along the way. But he wasn’t quite as good here. And unlike Samoa, which had no other half-decent players, Heroes vs Villains has Parvati, who really has played the best all-around game. Before the season began she (along with Cirie) was the player most contestants told me they were worried about. You saw it on the show from day one: ”We need to get rid of Parvati,” several people kept saying. And yet she is still there. Remarkable.

Sandra has played a solid game (as long as you don’t count her lameness in challenges). Her move to sell a paranoid Russell on getting rid of Coach was huge, as was keeping the last hidden immunity idol out of anyone else’s hands. I get the feeling Sandra is well liked on the Heroes side, or at least more well liked than any of the other Villains. That makes her a dangerous person to bring to the end, but I’m not sure the others realize that. Jerri? She’s been a follower the entire season and has no real signature move to point to. What’s her argument to the jury? Then again, an argument of ”I’m not Russell or Parvati” could be enough.

NEXT: Let the ranking begin!

You thought we were done. But you thought wrong! It’s time for my updated Survivor season rankings, from first to worst. Where does the current season fall? Read on and find out.

1. Survivor: Borneo (Winner: Richard Hatch)

Think back to when this show first came on the air — and how we had never seen anything like it. Nothing will never be able to duplicate that sense of wonder and excitement…

2. Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites (Winner: Parvati Shallow)

…although this one came damn close. It wasn’t just the most insane four-episode-run in Survivor history (with Ozzy, Jason, and Erik all getting blindsided, and then Amanda pulling out one last hidden immunity idol). It was also great characters (Chet and Joel are the 21st-century odd couple) and the perfect mix of solid and stupid gameplay.

3. Survivor: Heroes vs Villains (Winner: ???)

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) that we simply didn’t need to see again. The fresh blood of Micronesia keeps that season one slot higher.

4. Survivor: Amazon (Winner: Jenna Morasca)

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

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Survivor: Samoa (Winner: Natalie White)

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.

8. 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!!!

9. 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.

10. Survivor: Australian Outback (Winner: Tina Wesson)

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

NEXT: Numbers 11-20

11. Survivor: China (Winner: Todd Herzog)

Really good cast. Kinda blah location.

12. Survivor: Tocantins (Winner: J.T.)

Okay, you may roll your eyes at Coach. But imagine for a second this season without him. Bo-ring! His unintentional comedy single-handedly lifts 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?

13. Survivor: All-Stars (Winner: Amber Brkich)

Overall, 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?)

14. Survivor: Panama (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.

15. Survivor: Gabon (Winner: Bob Crowley)

It got a bit 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.

16. Survivor: Africa (Winner: Ethan Zohn)

Some great challenges. Not that much else was great.

17. 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.

18. Survivor: Vanuatu (Winner: Chris Daugherty)

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

19. 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.

20. Survivor: Fiji (Winner: Earl Cole)

The season that we shall never speak of again. With the exception of Yau-Man and Earl, a true bummer of a cast, and the ”Haves Vs. Have-Nots” twist was perhaps the worst creative decision in Survivor history — after the ”Outcasts.”

Okay, that’s how I rank all 20 seasons. What about you? And where do you put Heroes vs. Villains? Finally, whom are you pulling for to win on Sunday? Hit the message boards and let us know. Until then, make sure to see what the host has to say about this latest episode over on Jeff Probst’s blog, and click on the video player below for an exclusive deleted scene as well as a pep talk that Rupert recorded before the game to cheer himself up in the event he was voted out. And for all the Survivor scoop sent directly to you, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.

[Sorry, video not available]

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