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: “You Call, We’ll Haul” (Episode 8)
Original Air Date: November 11, 2015
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A tuk-tuk ride along the beautiful Cambodian shoreline, more flipped birds than you can shake a Bayon branch at, and an idol play for the ages. This is the episode that shot Cambodia into the upper echelon of Survivor seasons, going from a pretty good all-star season to a pretty damn great all-star season. And it all starts with Kelley Wentworth.
Wentworth was the ultimate Second Chance story, after barely having a story her first season in San Juan Del Sur. Refusing to be a bit-part character this second go-around, Wentworth was determined to make her mark on the Survivor franchise. She came into this season ready to play big and bold, best exemplified in her daring snatch of a hidden immunity idol in the middle of an ongoing challenge—a Survivor first.
Unfortunately, that bold play hadn’t yielded a power position, and here at the Final 12, she finds herself in a very familiar position—at the bottom of the pecking order. With her “Witches Coven” alliance in tow, Wentworth is looking for any crack she can wedge herself into, hoping that somebody will jump over to her to make a big power move and shake up the game. But nobody is budging.
A big move is brewing, however, just without Wentworth. In fact, there is a couple of potential power plays floating around the island. Firstly, Stephen Fishbach is still hoping to take out Joe Anglim, the amazing white whale to Stephen’s Captain Ahab. Stephen has been gunning for Joe for a while now, and he thinks this might be the opportunity to finally make it happen, and he discusses the idea with Ciera Eastin.
Ciera has her own ideas, though, and during a reward trip, she highlights the need to break-up the foursome of Stephen, Andrew Savage, Jeremy Collins, and Tasha Fox, an idea that Joe is at least considering. For a brief moment, it looks like an underdog uprising is on the agenda.
Side-note: This reward trip gives us the sheer joy of watching Keith Nale driving a tuk-tuk. Sorry, all of you “stick to the plan” fans, this is the definitive Keith moment. From the first utterance of “to-to” to him cruising along the beach with his fellow castaways, it’s all further proof that Keith is one of the most genuine, enjoyable human beings not just in the history of Survivor but in the history of mankind.
Meanwhile, back at camp, Stephen continues to push his “let’s blindside Joe” agenda to Jeremy, Tasha, and Spencer Bledsoe, with the plan being that if Joe loses the next Immunity challenge, they take him out. The problem with this is that Savage overhears Stephen’s plan and later rats him out to Joe, only spurring Joe on to fight even harder in the upcoming Immunity challenge.
The great Savage-Fishbach conflict of 2015 goes right back to the season premiere. Savage had declared war on all “wimpy little non-leaders” and wanted Stephen gone. And when Joe wins Immunity, Savage has his chance to turn the tide against Stephen, recruiting Joe and Kelly Wiglesworth towards his cause. This is fantastic news for Wentworth and the Coven, that is until Jeremy squashes the plan and reverts back to targeting someone in the minority.
That’s where everything stands heading into Tribal Council, with the crosshairs off of Stephen and back on the three witches. Wentworth laments how nobody wants to make a move with her, with Ciera backing her up, arguing that nobody wants to make a “big move.” Everyone else just politely nods, almost patronizingly, thinking that Wentworth is about to go home.
However, when it’s time to read the votes, Wentworth doesn’t go home. Instead, she whips out her hidden idol that she’s held onto since the first episode and hands it over to Jeff Probst, sending shockwaves through the other players and the viewers watching at home. “You know what, Jeff, I may be on the bottom,” Wentworth says, “but I’m not ready to go home yet.”
There are at least four or five “wows” and some literal jaw-drops as she confidently swaggers back to her seat and proceeds to watch “Wentworth” vote after “Wentworth” vote bounce off of her, resulting in the most votes ever voided by an idol. When the first non-Wentworth vote is flipped over and revealed to say “Savage,” it’s the perfect capper to an instant classic moment, as Wentworth achieves full badass status and Savage receives the comeuppance that was coming to him.
The victim of the idol play being Savage is too perfect. Throughout Cambodia, Savage had descended into caricature, always preaching about morals and integrity while displaying a real lack of self-awareness. His tantrums and pouting made him a great villain to root against. That he is eliminated again due to a game twist—albeit this time a well-established twist—just like in Pearl Islands, only makes the moment that much sweeter. And Savage’s middle-finger to Abi-Maria Gomes after her sarcastic “You made the jury!” is a glorious closing to a top-notch episode.
Check back tomorrow when we reveal which episode placed at number 24. You can check out the previous entries here.