The 50 Best Survivor Episodes (No. 38)

“All Hell Breaks Loose”

Samoa, Episode 8 (Air Date: November 5 2009)
by Ian Walker

Survivor merge episodes come in all sorts of flavors, but the merge of Survivor: Samoa comes in some of the most delicious flavors of all: crazy and unpredictable. From the outset, though, it doesn’t appear that way.

The dominant Galu tribe comes into the merge with eight people against the lowly Foa Foa Four, so it seems like a Pagonging is in order for the little tribe that really couldn’t. However, instability abounded in the Galu group. Galu was a tribe who had only attended tribal council once before the merge, and almost the entire tribe came into the merge with their Galu guns cocked and ready to fire. But it’s the tribe’s own itchy trigger finger that causes to shoot itself in the foot.

Right in the middle of the action is Erik Cardona, the man who will see his torch snuffed by episode’s end. This is where the crazy comes in, as Erik’s demise is caused by some of the most break-neck, last minute scrambling in the history of the game, constituted by a number of factors, the first of which coming from Erik himself. Erik had already been a heavily cocky guy before the merge occurred and his behavior hadn’t gotten any better since. That brazen attitude would come back to bite him as he bossed around the Foa Foas by telling them who to vote for, which they did not take kindly too at all and made them want to vote him out even more.

Erik’s off-putting attitude got the wheels turning in the Foa Foa people’s heads, and led to some savvy gameplay from the underdogs. Natalie White especially seized this opportunity, scurrying around the camp talking to any Galus she could find, painting Erik as the bad apple of the tribe who betrayed them all and needed to go. This conversation caught like wildfire because soon everybody not named Erik (save for poor Shambo) was planning on writing down Erik.

The most ironic part of all was that Russell Hantz, who had been flashing his precious hidden immunity idol to anybody with eyes with the hope of grabbing some new allies, had nothing at all to do with this plan- he even wastes his hidden immunity idol at tribal council. It was mostly all Natalie, a key point on her resume for the eventual Final Tribal Council.


While Erik’s behavior can certainly be blamed for his ouster, he also fell victim to some genuine miscommunication. Erik was aligned with the Galu member with the itchiest trigger finger, John Fincher, and he was the one who initially floated a potential hit on another Galu after listening to one of Russell’s crazy-eyed pitches. Reluctant to go along with the plan, Erik signed off on it to appease his alliance mates, thereby setting the first domino that would eventually lead to his demise.

Erik left the game bleeding Galu purple, unfairly painted with the disloyalty brush despite being a company man and being unwaveringly loyal to his tribemates. His loss comes as a true gut punch, especially because he had a hidden immunity idol in his pocket, setting up a wild post-merge game and the first step in the downfall of the Galu tribe.


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 was the one episode where I saw Natalie make a move. This proves she wasn’t 100% terrible

    • José Zepeda

      I have to agree with that.
      She actually wasn’t that much of a goat and truthfully, she was the best from f3. Simply because Russell was such a mean peep and the other one just did ANY THING in all the entire game.

      • Cole

        Ignorance is bliss, Jose. At least in your case.

  • von

    i read dave ball’s ama and he said that by the time natalie approached them, galu had decided that they’re voting out erik AND it was dave’s idea in the first place.

    • Wagner

      Funny how Dave Ball gives Dave Ball credit for the Erik blindside.

  • Red

    I knew this episode would make the list