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.
Season: The Amazon
Episode: “Sour Grapes” (Episode 12)
Original Air Date: May 1, 2003
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Survivor: The Amazon has an incredible cast of characters and some strong players, but this episode, deep into the merge, is all about what Rob Cesternino wants. Having just pulled off the Alex Bell blindside, the biggest one-man power shift Survivor had ever seen, Rob is now firmly in control, and this episode sees him at the height of his powers.
Rob is, as he dubs himself, a “mercenary,” having scraped together all of the bottom-feeders and sold each of them dreams of the Final 2. In his mind, his former allies-turned-enemies, Jenna Morasca and Heidi Strobel, are the next two to go, thus giving him the pick of the litter when selecting his endgame opponent. Rob’s path to victory is clear, that is until this episode tosses a giant ol’ boulder right in the middle of that path. That boulder’s name is Christy Smith.
After being tormented by Jenna and Heidi all season long, Christy is finally in a position of power over them, and she absolutely relishes it. In fact, Christy is even giddier than Rob about voting out this pair of “mean girls.” That’s what makes it such a surprise that she even considers Jenna and Heidi’s pitch about aligning with them to oust one of the guys at the next Tribal Council. It’s especially maddening as the pitch itself isn’t particularly that strong.
If Christy flips to Jenna and Heidi at this point, all it would do is force a tie at the next Tribal, which could end up putting herself in danger of being eliminated. And yet, this risk might be worth it just for a chance to get rid of Rob, who just established himself as the clear frontrunner to win it all. The smell of that big stack of money is enough for Christy to seriously consider aligning with her arch-rivals to make this ballsy move.
Meanwhile, Rob attempts to patch things over with Jenna and Heidi, who are furious at him for voting out Alex. While Matthew von Ertfelda is away at an Amazonian tribal village with his mother, having won the loved one’s challenge, Rob suggests to the girls voting out Matt next due to his threat level. This after Matt initially sacrifices his loved one visit to give everyone else theirs (though he still gets his own visit due to his act of chivalry). Rob even tells Jenna he’ll take her to the Final 2. But Jenna isn’t buying it.
Jenna doesn’t have to worry too much, though, as she later wins the Immunity challenge, securing her safety for the night. With this, Rob lobbies for Heidi to be voted out. However, Christy is still hemming and hawing about what to do, which stresses Rob out. Frustrated with Christy and not wanting to take any chances, Rob decides for drastic action and follows up his previous big move with another, this time taking out the source of his problems.
Despite having just thoroughly betrayed Jenna and Heidi and caused further distrust with his obviously fake “let’s vote out Matt plan,” Rob desperately turns to his former allies once again. He wants to strike up a truce, just long enough to vote Christy out of the game. After all, there is no love lost between Christy and Heidi & Jenna, and so it’s a much easier plan for them to jump on board with. It’s a delicious turn of events, as all parties involved have no issues throwing Christy under the bus toward a cruel fate.
Before Christy meets said fate, a Survivor first is witnessed, as Jenna bestows the Immunity necklace onto her BFF, Heidi. The reasons for doing so are still kind of unclear, other than being an act of friendship and a sign that Jenna is confident in the vote. There are much splashier moments involving handing over Immunity necklaces in future seasons! Anyway, after that interlude, the hammer finally comes down on Christy, sending her out of the game shocked and confused.
It’s hard to watch Christy’s came come crashing down so spectacularly, but she brought it on herself with all her wafflin’. She famously berates her “evil stepsisters” in her final words, claiming neither will ever win the million. It’s a fitting end for Christy, a player with a lot of ups and downs; who always wore her heart on her sleeve. She proved that people with disabilities can certainly handle the elements and pressures of Survivor. But a good dose of strategy is still needed to come away victorious.
Check back tomorrow when we reveal which episode placed at number 45. You can check out the previous entries here.