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: “Hot Girl With A Grudge (Part 2)” (Episode 2)
Original Air Date: February 26, 2014
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Coming off a string of returnee-heavy seasons, Survivor: Cagayan proved to be the perfect palette cleanser, showing that an all-new cast of players could still deliver. While the season begins with a double episode, it’s really the second hour that kicks the season off with one of the biggest bangs of any premiere, and at the center of all the action is the infamous Luzon tribe.
Having been designated the Brains of the “Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty” battle that gives the season its theme, Luzon proves to be decidedly un-brain like in the first two challenges. They completely blow the challenge-ending puzzle, costing the tribe the first two victories. There were already tensions and disagreements over the first vote, where David Samson was sent home, and now they have to start scheming all over again.
Before we dive deeper into the Luzon madness, though, another player cements their legacy in this episode. Tony Vlachos of the Brawn tribe discovers his first hidden idol. Unwrapping the idol and trembling with anticipation, Tony utters his now-iconic line: “This is huge; I needed this!” This moment, combined with the construction of his first Spy Shack earlier in the episode, establishes the foundations of Tony’s incredible Survivor journey.
Back to Luzon, the target seems to be on J’Tia Taylor, who the rest of the tribe deems the weakest in challenges. Garrett Adelstein is more than on board with this plan, so much so that he takes on the role of tribe babysitter. He institutes a “no-side-conversation policy,” literally forcing the rest of his tribe to stay in the shelter and not wander off—with the intent of not letting J’Tia out of his sight. However, just like their efforts in the challenges, the Brains turn out to be brainless.
While the four other tribe members take a quick trip down to the beach, leaving J’Tia unattended back at camp, the Nuclear Engineer does her best Brandon Hantz impersonation by dumping out almost the entire supply of rice into the campfire. Anybody watching at home would surely bet that J’Tia would be sent home after this serious bit of tribe sabotage, and those people would be very wrong.
That’s because Garrett’s attempts at stifling strategy talk bothers his fellow tribemates, particularly the women. Tasha Fox is especially rankled, and she isn’t afraid to let Garrett know. As Tasha says in confessional, she came here to play Survivor, not whatever game (or lack of game) Garrett is trying to play. And so Tasha decides to take matters into her own hands, flipping the tables on the pro poker player.
Having established a decent relationship with J’Tia, Tasha turns to Kass McQuillen with the idea of keeping J’Tia and blindsiding Garrett instead. Kass had already been set-up as the swing vote, with J’Tia and Tasha on one side and Garrett and Spencer Bledsoe on the other. For Kass, it’s a tough decision. She can see the bad path the tribe is on, so sending J’Tia home is her first thought. But Garrett’s increasingly overbearing presence is making his vote-out an equally appealing option.
Garrett and Spencer follow Tasha and Kass around in an attempt to block any strategy talk, but at Tribal Council, it all becomes clear for Kass. Garrett puts his foot in his mouth one too many times, carelessly naming who and who isn’t in the alliance and not choosing his words carefully. And so, the first sign of Chaos Kass emerges as she decides to flip on the boys, keeping J’Tia and blindsiding Garrett.
It’s an especially embarrassing look on Garrett, who gets voted out with a hidden immunity idol in his pocket to boot. However, it makes for a shocking conclusion to one of the most chaotically entertaining premiere episodes in Survivor history. It’s an episode that kicks-off Cagayan in a massive way while also introducing some of the characters that will eventually become icons within the Survivor universe.
Check back tomorrow when we reveal which episode placed at number 20. You can check out the previous entries here.