The 50 Best Survivor Episodes (No. 32)


“Nothing Tastes Better Than $500”

Gabon, Episode 10 (Air Date: November 20 2008)
by Martin Holmes and Ian Walker

Some of the more popular seasons amongst the internet crowd can best be described as train wrecks. The ones where the game goes off the rails, and it’s up to the best or most likable player to take control of the train and guide it into the station by the end of the season for the win.

Then there’s Survivor: Gabon, the season where the train goes so far off the rails that the train completely crashes, leaving the people standing at the end intact largely by pure luck and coincidence. Amongst this season-long high-speed wreckage is this episode, where the people attempting to drive the train carelessly and hilariously push the cranky old man off the carriage.

Randy Bailey, the grumpiest curmudgeon the show has ever seen, suffers one of the most humiliating exits in history, but what makes his dismissal as delicious as it is is how much of a bang he goes out with.

Firmly placed in the minority after the previous vote, Randy starts the episode heading off to the Survivor auction, and things start off pretty well. He immediately puts $180 down for a couple of beers and later another $280 for a covered plate of spaghetti and a glass of wine, happily getting drunk as the proceedings move along. After a couple more items, Randy decides to be nice for once and pops for a mystery item, which turns out to be a plate of cookies, to share with the entire tribe, and that’s where things get a little tense. Jessica “Sugar” Kiper, his nemesis, swindles Randy out of his own cookie after Randy extends an olive branch by offering said cookie to Sugar, by giving it away to fellow tribemate Matty Whitmore.

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Survivor has had some memorable auctions, one of which we talked about in entry #47, but this one in Gabon is up there with the all-time best. Not only do we have the whole cookie conundrum but there is the hilarious moment of Susie Smith and the bath. Susie outbids Randy for a chance to take a soak in a tub- refusing Randy’s “I bid $100 to bathe her if she wins” offer. Susie then has to awkwardly take that bath naked in front of the entire tribe. What makes it even funnier is that she’s only in the tub for a few minutes before she’s all “I’m done. It’s too hot”- way before the auction is even half way over. It’s just another comical moment on top of an already ridiculous auction.


Side-note: During the auction, Kenny Hoang wins the opportunity to steal someone else’s money by sending that person to Exile, and he chooses to send Bob Crowley. While Bob was never particularly engaging as a character, his scenes on Exile in this episode are magnificent. He decides to take a trek up the hilly mountains and drink in the scenery around him; this allows the Survivor crew to show off some stunning cinematography that highlights the beauty and grandeur of Gabon.

Returning to camp after the auction, Randy is rightly pissed off. Having reached his boiling point with just about everybody in the tribe, Randy finds his solution in Operation Strongarm, which involves him doing what he does best: being a grumpy a**hole.

There is a great moment early in the episode, where Randy and Corrine Kaplan discuss their options going forward, and Corinne suggests “Shutting it down.” Randy’s response? “Yeah, shutting it down… but also continuing to be an a**hole.” Randy’s plan is to draw all the votes to him, and then his (alleged) good buddy Bob will hand over his hidden immunity idol, and Randy and his allies will send one of the majority out of the game.

Part one of the plan is a success. Randy is as surly as ever, handing out random “F*** Yous” and giggling as he tells Matty “you whored out”, and just generally not caring whatsoever about the consequences. There’s just one problem with the second part: Bob’s idol is an expertly crafted fake idol, and he’s in cahoots with Sugar, who convinces Bob to hand Randy the fake idol just for sh*ts and giggles.

It is scary to think just how dangerous a player Sugar could have been had she taken the game at all seriously and played to win rather than to satisfy her ego and desire to embarrass the people she deemed “evil.” Her ability to control Bob is rather masterful, but it gains her nothing in the long-run. Instead, her goal was just to make Randy look foolish, and that’s exactly what happens.

Randy confidently plays the idol at tribal council, Sugar bursts with laughter when Randy learns he’s not safe, and the self-proclaimed “King of Gabon” is voted out. Randy’s fuming face in his final words provide an excellent capper to one of the best sendoffs in the history of the show, perfectly capturing his cranky essence as he’s embarrassingly sent on his way.

Side-note: Survivor: Gabon has some of the best voting confessionals of all-time, and there are at least three of them in this episode alone. Randy’s vote for Susie: “This vote isn’t strategic, it’s strictly personal.” Sugar’s vote for Randy: “You are a disgusting, old, hot-headed, chauvinistic, alcoholic bigot, and you need to grow up before you die alone. Loser!” And of course, last but not least, Crystal Cox’s vote for Randy that was so loud the entire tribe, production staff, and sleeping elephants of Gabon could hear it:



[Credit to and Charles Paolo Amado for GIFS]

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.

  • Zachary Chong

    How is this #32? This is my all-time favorite episode of Survivor!!!

  • Dutch

    This is absolutely hillarious. Sugar really was a mess but this move was so funny. Randy got owned. Corrine’s face was also priceless.

  • Tom

    Greeeeeat episode! Glad to see some Gabon love. Much better on a rewatch (which I did recently). I’d love to see Crystal, Kenny, Matty just to name a few, back for another season (Sugar & Randy’s stint in HvV was a bit worthless, but Corinne not making the jury in Caramoan was just not fair)!

  • Al

    This is way too low for a classic, unforgettable episode. This episode alone cemented Sugar, Crystal, Randy, Corrine, etc. legacies as fan-favorites and veterans. Survivor at its best.

  • Veneceos

    I love this episode so much

  • Ota

    I liked Randy so much!!!! Great bitter guy!

  • Erin

    I hated Gabon. It had it’s moments. This definitely being one of them, but overall…just not a great season.