The 50 Best Survivor Episodes (No. 25)

“Perilous Scramble”

Panama – Exile Island, Episode 12 (Air Date: April 27 2006)
by Ian Walker

It takes a special kind of Survivor player to have any kind of long-lasting impact on the game, especially past the early days of the show. You have the originators, like Richard Hatch, Sue Hawk, Jerri Manthey, Colby Donaldson just to name a few. Then there are people like Rob Cesternino and Jonny Fairplay who come along a couple of seasons later to shake things up. While the show continued to churn out big, memorable characters in the time after All-Stars, the number of historically impactful players are few and far between.

Cirie Fields is one of those players.

Showing couch potatoes everywhere that they can get off the sofa to play Survivor, Cirie establishes herself in Survivor: Exile Island as a legitimate player with a natural skill for the game, in addition to having a very vibrant and likable personality. It’s here in this episode where she leaves her first real strategic mark in the game, with her famous 3-2-1 voting plan at the final six.


Knowing full well that she’s not the kind of player who can rely on winning that final immunity challenge, Cirie figures she has to be brought to the final tribal council by another player. Standing in her way is Courtney Marit, the poser that most everybody else wants to take to the end, occupying the role that Cirie covets; so she sets about snatching that spot for herself.

First, she rounds up her troops, pulling Danielle DiLorenzo and Aras Baskauskas to her side to vote off Courtney. Next, she lets Danielle play along with Courtney and Terry Dietz, both of whom believed the three of them had just formed a new alliance with Danielle to take out Aras. Shane Powers, the last part of the equation, was left on a thinking chair all on his own with his intention to vote for Danielle.

Coordinating all of these moving parts of the plan could easily flummox most players, but Cirie isn’t most players. She is the woman who convinced her little tribe of four, way back in the first episode, to keep her, a person with a self-diagnosed phobia of leaves, over the “lumberjack lady.” From the beginning, Cirie knew that the key to the game was the building of social relationships, something she proved to be so good at that by the time of this final six round – everybody in the game trusted her. Through all of this subtle manipulation, making sure all of the parts were in place, Cirie’s 3-2-1 plan went off without a hitch, sending Courtney home and putting Cirie, Aras, and Danielle in the driver’s seat.

And while Cirie was busy building her strategic legacy this episode, Shane was busy adding to his legacy in a much different way. Having already proved to be one of the most outrageous characters the show had ever seen, Shane decided to take it up a notch with his kookiest moment so far, the infamous wooden blackberry. Simply put, Shane finds a piece of wood that looks like his Blackberry and uses it to call and email with his son back home. While a way of humanizing Shane, showing his desire of communicating with his son, it also showed just how ADD psycho boy Shane had become, as he crazily admits to “communicating with people not on this island” in a confessional.


Spotlighting these two characters in such an integral way push this episode to be the season’s very best.


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Ian, from Chicago, Illinois, graduated with a Communications major and an English minor and is now navigating adult life the best he can. He has been a fan of Survivor since Pearl Islands aired when he was 11 years old, back when liking Rupert was actually cool.

  • Dutch

    This really was a genius move on Ciries part. She really thought outside the box and maneuvered her way into that position. Cirie is such a likable player. Sweet and charming but smart and cunning.

  • Bap

    You made me want to watch that season again. Cirie is awesome. I’m currently rewatching Fans vs Faves and that reminded me of how much I liked her.

    • Bap

      Note: Her ‘heated’ arguments with Penner in FvF are gold too.

  • Erin

    Love love love Cirie!!! One of the most least likely Survivor players and one of the best, ever. I only wish she had won, Aras is one of the worst winners.