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: “I Wanna See If I Can Make A Deal” (Episode 13)
Original Air Date: May 10, 2007
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Popular opinion tends to disregard Survivor: Fiji as lackluster. Perhaps this should be reevaluated because, for all of its flaws, this underrated season continuously delivers on hilarious hijinks, life lessons, and strategic maneuvers. “I Wanna See If I Can Make A Deal” has all of this, along with the distinction of being the first time an idol is played correctly and, of course, the infamous car deal.
Before they were spy shacks, Boo Bernis was crafting his own hideout by the water well. Boo hopes to listen in on his competitors to determine if he’s in danger. Cut to all of the remaining players at camp, who don’t need a water well to confirm that Boo is very much the next target. They know he’s a challenge threat, and Earl Cole even suggests he may have an idol (despite knowing that Yau-Man Chan has it). For his part, Yau-Man’s loving that the game now relies more heavily on strategy and “sneaky” conversation. And boy, does this episode prove him right.
Tree mail makes it obvious that the upcoming Reward is the car challenge—a once-a-season event in the game’s early years. Dreamz Herd is the only one of the Final 6 who doesn’t have a car, and winning it could really change his life. Unfortunately, Dreamz, Earl, and Cassandra Franklin are out in the first round. Yau-Man wins the truck in the second part, and that should be the end of it. But before Jeff Probst sends everyone away, Yau-Man interrupts with the titular statement, “I wanna see if I can make a deal.”
After Dreamz reaffirms his need for a car, Yau-Man pitches him a deal that will shake the season to its core. The offer? Yau-Man gives Dreamz the car, and if both make the Final 4 and Dreamz wins Immunity, then he hands Immunity to Yau-Man. Dreamz gets to keep the car no matter what, even if he goes back on his word. With few options available, Dreamz accepts Yau-Man’s terms and his place in the reward with Stacy Kimball and Boo.
Having given up the reward and sent himself to Exile, Yau-Man continues to show his strategic prowess. He receives the third clue to the hidden idol, which he plans to share with Earl later. More important than the clue is his decision to give Dreamz the car, a deal we’ve never seen anything like in Survivor. On a personal level, Yau-Man feels good about this decision, but this wasn’t a gift given simply out of the kindness of his heart. This was a deal, which implies that there is something in it for him too.
You see, Yau-Man’s biggest fear at the Final 4 is that Dreamz will win the Immunity challenge and then vote him out. He needed to find a way to take Dreamz out of the picture while securing his own spot in the Final 3. Through this deal, Yau-Man effectively gets a free pass at the Final 4 while also getting rid of Dreamz. In other words, Yau-Man made this deal knowing that Dreamz would be voted out if he follows through with it.
Meanwhile, Dreamz, Stacy, and Boo go on their reward in Dreamz’s new truck to a local Fijian school. It’s one of the more sentimental rewards, and it clearly means a lot to Dreamz. He relates to the kids, comparing how they both just got a “step-up” in life; Dreamz gets the truck, they get their school supplies. It’s a lovely little moment away from the madness of the game.
However, as happy as the reward makes Dreamz, there is still a game to be played, and he’s catching on to Yau-Man’s plan. Yes, it was nice of Yau-Man to give him the car, but what does he gain from it? Dreamz comes to the same conclusions that Yau-Man did. He knows that if he follows through with this deal, he’ll be the one going home. For his own game’s sake, he needs to prevent that from happening. So, he comes up with the perfect solution… get Yau-Man out before the Final 4, thereby making their deal null and void.
After the reward, Dreamz brings his thoughts to Cassandra, suggesting that it would be best to take Yau-Man out before their initial target, Boo. The choice between Boo and Yau-Man becomes much easier after Boo wins Immunity. Now that they can’t take the easiest route and vote off the challenge threat, it’s the perfect time for a blindside.
Dreamz knows that with the way things are going, himself, Cassandra, Earl, and Yau-Man are set to be the Final 4. But, if Yau-Man goes this round, then Stacy takes his spot. Not only does this mean that Dreamz won’t have to honor the deal, but it also increases his overall chances of reaching the end. Cassandra also likes the blindside Yau-Man plan, and they’re easily able to convince Boo and Stacy to join them. There’s only one rule: don’t tell Earl, who secures an idol for himself this episode after comparing notes with Yau-Man about their respective Exile trips.
As far as Earl and Yau-Man are concerned, Stacy is the one on the chopping block. Yau-Man believes that he’s in tune with everything going on but is aware others see him as a threat. He heads to Tribal with “bad vibes” and an idol in his pocket, leaving the players and viewers to wonder: will Yau-Man be blindsided, or will Stacy become the first player to ever be idoled out of the game?
The car deal is discussed at Tribal, and Dreamz reaffirms that he plans to keep his end of the bargain. Yau-Man also expects him to, though he’s aware that this puts a bigger target on his back. When idols come up, Boo says that it doesn’t matter who has it, but Cassandra disagrees, rightfully pointing out that idols are critical to the endgame. It’s interesting to note that this is the first season the idol has been used in its current format, and so far, no idols have been used successfully. Little did we know then the importance idols would serve in future seasons, or even at this Tribal.
In what I can only assume is a lapse in judgment, Stacy says that she thinks tonight will be a split vote, tipping off Earl and Yau-Man to what’s been going on. Sure enough, when Jeff asks if anyone wishes to play an idol, Yau-Man does just that, saving himself and negating four votes. The remaining two votes are for Stacy, solidifying herself in Survivor history as the first person to ever be voted out by a successful idol play.
“I Wanna See If I Can Make A Deal” is the thunder before the lightning. With the finale in sight, there is one predominating question hanging over everyone’s heads (okay, besides who will win) …what will happen with the car deal? Now, we know how this story ends, and we know that we never see the car reward challenge after this season. Nonetheless, the car deal adds to the intricacies of Fiji and Survivor as a whole. It’s a game-changing move with a game-changing conclusion, one that emphasizes the importance of self-preservation in a ruthless game of strategy.
Check back tomorrow when we reveal which episode placed at number 43. You can check out the previous entries here.