The 50 Best Survivor Episodes (No. 37)

“Then There Were Five”

South Pacific, Episode 14 (Air Date: December 14 2011)
by Ian Walker

This episode dives into some of the straight-up darkest stuff Survivor has ever seen, exploring new lengths some will go to win this game, even if they have to evoke the power of God to do it.

After wiping out the opposing Savaii alliance, the Upolu Five have reached the final five and now have to finally turn on each other, with the target setting squarely on Brandon Hantz’s back.

Despite all of the sudden outbursts and mood swings, several of the Upolus, namely Sophie Clarke, see the vulnerable and sweet kid that lies behind Brandon’s hard exterior, which makes him a serious jury threat. However, after pulling out a clutch victory at the next immunity challenge, Brandon appears to be fine, but now his best buddy Albert Destrade seems to be in the crosshairs.

Not wanting to see his pal go, however, Brandon announces to both Albert and his in-game mentor, Coach Ben Wade, his intentions to give up his immunity necklace to Albert, fully believing his two closest allies will have his back. What follows is a dubious yet fascinating sequence, as Coach reasons and pleads with the Lord Above about providing him with a name to write down other than Brandon’s in the event the young Hantz does give up his immunity, and Coach claiming he only sees one name over and over again: Brandon.


When the tribe sits down for tribal council, Brandon immediately gives up his immunity necklace to Albert. The proceeding Q and A remains one of the best tribal council sessions Jeff Probst has ever conducted. Brandon opens up about his history being both a member of a gang and the Hantz clan (is there a difference?), and in how he would do just about anything to gain love and acceptance from those groups and just how hard it’s been for him to achieve those things. While all of this is going down, the audience is left wondering whether Coach is really going to pull the trigger on young, naïve Brandon- and he does.

In one of the most chilling moments in Survivor history, Coach evokes the name of God as justification for voting out Brandon, and tells him on his way out “It’s God’s will, go win Redemption.” It’s perhaps the most dramatic act of Coach’s Survivor career, including his trip to Exile. It also cements Brandon as one of the most tragic figures in the show’s history, as just a young kid who so desperately wants to feel like he belongs to his Survivor family but ends up getting taking advantage of instead. It’s a defining moment for both this season and in the Hantz family legacy on Survivor.


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.

  • Marionete

    This season was disgusting and there was nothing enjoyable about this episode. I could tolerate the merge episode of SP being included, but this one is really unnecessary or at least it should’ve been ranked 50 .-. It really seems like the list started off a lot stronger than the way it’s going now.

    • José Zepeda

      I thought I was the only one seeing it.

    • Mohammed Dakhil

      155,000% AGREE!!! Why is this even on the list?? This season was the Worst

  • Ratchael

    If you have included this episode, I hope that you have at least included the final episode from South Pacific with all the Sophie-Ownage, cause it is much better than this one !!! 😀

    SOPHIERCE <3 <3 <3

  • Cole

    You have the air date wrong.

  • Tom

    Yeah SP is probably one of the worst series. Sure there are good, watchable moments as with any Survivor series, that’s why we’re all fans. Wouldn’t have put this anywhere near the top 50 myself! But everyone is entitled to their opinion. I also agree that the top 50 started with stronger episodes! I still enjoy coming here every day though! =)

  • colliepops

    Agreed. There’s a huge dip in quality; both in the episode selection and the writing; less depth, less analysis, fewer comparisons… From the first two articles to now; its a massive dip. And I don’t get how this latest episode made the grade above episodes from HvV, Cambodia or any other episode ranked so far…

    Love the site, and Edgic in particular, but what happened? Why dos it feel like the whole thing is way less thought out and a little rushed now?

  • Cymbalism

    Personally, I thought this was a great episode. A little uncomfortable, maybe, but it was a dramatic episode where all five of the remaining contestants played a part, and it was a fitting end to Brandon’s story, and a great example of why Coach lost the game.

    Brandon actually left South Pacific on a positive note, quite a bit different compared to his exit in Caramoan.