Over the coming months, Inside Survivor is undertaking its biggest list ranking yet, as we count down the 100 best episodes of Survivor ever. As always with these kinds of lists, it’s entirely subjective, and we’re sure many fans will have different opinions. This is simply Inside Survivor’s ranking. Join us each weekday for a new entry.
Episode: “It’s a Turtle?!” (Episode 10)
Original Air Date: April 19, 2007
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Survivor: Fiji doesn’t have the best reputation amongst the wider Survivor fanbase. That’s likely due to the recruit-heavy cast and the flawed Haves vs. Have-Nots twist that leads to a lot of predictable episodes early on. But none of that ultimately matters. Fiji should be held in higher esteem if only for this episode alone, which delivers arguably the greatest blindside in the show’s history.
The fall of the Four Horsemen is one of the most exciting vote-offs ever. It’s both a turning point in the game and the perfect comeuppance for the characters the audience had been rooting against. An alliance of super-cocky bros who think they’re running things never plays well at home, and to have their butts handed to them so harshly and unexpectedly creates a delicious outcome. And it all comes about thanks to one of the most erratic yet fascinating players the game has ever seen.
Andria “Dreamz” Herd is caught in the middle of two alliances. He had spent the last few days with his new Four Horsemen alliance, consisting of Mookie Lee, Alex Angarita, and Edgardo Rivera. Having merged down in numbers, the foursome were confident they could pull the people they needed to give them the majority. However, thanks to the merging of the two tribes, Dreamz was reunited with his first ally in the game, Cassandra Franklin, who had joined forces with Earl Cole and Yau-Man Chan.
Unsure about some of the numbers within their own group, Earl and Yau-Man are now hoping that Cassandra can pull Dreamz over to their side, just to give them some extra protection. But, while lobbying for his loyalty, it is evident Dreamz doesn’t know which way he wants to go. And so, Dreamz decides to go both ways and play double agent, which, for the Four Horsemen, seems like an okay idea. They’re still on the outs, so having a mole feeding them information could only be a benefit.
But there’s a problem. Mookie lets slip to Dreamz that the other three Horsemen had found an idol. You see, the original plan was not to tell Dreamz about the idol because, well, they felt Dreamz wasn’t on the same intellectual level as they were (again, these were such nice guys). But Mookie makes the call to tell Dreamz about it, which doesn’t sit well with Alex or Edgardo. They knew, from the moment that Mookie blabbed, that this could be a decision that comes back to bite them, and it does. Hard.
That’s because, just days later, Dreamz spills the idol info to Earl and Cassandra. A lot of credit should go to Earl here, as he smoothly puts the pressure on Dreamz to confess his loyalty to his side—a trait that’s representative of the fantastic game Earl plays all season. Earl’s side is now armed with the knowledge that Mookie is in possession of an idol, info that will come in very handy at the next Tribal Council.
Dreamz’s double-dealings only increase in the lead-up to the next vote, resulting in some crazy pre-vote scrambling. Seeing Alex as the strongest Horseman, Earl and co decide to target him first and include Dreamz in on the plan. Dreamz, being a dutiful Horseman, relays this back to the other three guys. Upon hearing this news, Mookie agrees to hand over his idol to Alex, hoping to blindside Earl, the man they’re all convinced has the idol on the other side (though, unbeknownst to them, he doesn’t have it.)
Once the Horsemen’s objective is decided, Dreamz runs back to the other side to spill the idol transfer plan, which prompts Earl’s group to target Mookie instead. The incredible part throughout all of this is that Dreamz doesn’t get caught in any of his double-dipping. And that’s because both sides believe that Dreamz is playing on behalf of their best interests. Unfortunately for the Horsemen, Dreamz is about to hand them a rude awakening.
The remarkable part of all of this strategic back-and-forth, though, is that both sides devise the same plan to topple the other. Edgardo, the most sensible of the Horsemen, deduces that the best method is to vote for the person least likely to have the idol—a now common ploy in modern Survivor. He convinces his bros to cast their votes for Cassandra, believing it to be the surest way to get a hit on the other alliance.
Meanwhile, in Earl’s group, the same idea comes from Stacy Kimball, an overlooked and underrated player in the season. Stacy basically has the same thinking as Edgardo and suggests that the alliance vote for the person least likely to expect it, which, in this case, is Edgardo himself. Earl is immediately down with the plan, but he has one extremely important condition: do not tell Dreamz.
With all the plans in place, what unfolds at Tribal is spectacular television. When Jeff Probst calls for any idols to be played, Alex stands up and plays his, confident that his plan would work. And when the first three Cassandra votes come in, the faces of Alex, Mookie, and Edgardo are full of smug satisfaction, so pleased with themselves that their master plan is coming to fruition. Then the Edgardo votes appear. Suddenly, the Horsemen faces drop, while Earl and Yau-Man are all smiles.
In the end, Edgardo’s torch is snuffed, Alex and Mookie’s games are blown to pieces, and Dreamz establishes himself as one of the most unpredictable players ever on Survivor. It’s hard for one moment to make up for a season’s worth of dullness, but this one makes the Fiji experience worthwhile, providing a genuinely epic blindside that is still watchable to this day.
Check back tomorrow when we reveal which episode placed at number 11. You can check out the previous entries here.