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: One World
Episode: “It’s Gonna Be Chaos” (Episode 12)
Originally Aired: May 2, 2012
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Survivor: One World is not a great season, as evidenced in our recent Best Seasons countdown. However, it does have one certified classic episode deep into the season. While the cast of One World isn’t the most fun group to spend time with, “It’s Gonna Be Chaos” delivers in three key areas: emotion, humor, and a good old fashioned blindside. If at least half the season was at the standard of this episode, One World would be remembered in much higher regard.
There are two main reasons this episode stands out. Firstly, it has one of the sweetest family visit moments in all of Survivor history when Greg “Tarzan” Smith, he of nominal aphasia and known bug collector, declares his “quantum entanglement” with his wife, Terri. For all of Tarzan’s goofiness—and suspect authenticity of said goofiness—there’s no question that this moment is 100% genuine. Here, he’s just a man who really loves his wife with a passion and is not afraid of getting down on one knee and yelling it to the heavens.
Speaking of the family visit, there is a funny moment beforehand where Alicia Rosa and Sabrina Thompson return from Tree Mail carrying a box branded with the Sprint logo (the show’s sponsor at the time). Alicia and Sabrina attempt to psych-out their fellow tribemates by pretending it’s just a regular challenge Tree Mail at first. Then they excitedly reveal the box, expecting a big reaction, except nobody knows what it is because Alicia is shaking the box so damn hard, and everyone just stands there looking confused.
The second reason this episode makes the countdown is that it’s the point in the season where the sheer brilliance of Kim Spradlin’s game really begins to shine. With Troyzan Robertson booted from the island, the cool and confident Kim looks poised to take control of the game and ride it out to an easy win. But a new threat is starting to emerge as we head into the final stretch, and her name is Alicia. Except that Alicia doesn’t realize that she’s a threat, or, perhaps, more importantly, she doesn’t realize how big a threat Kim is.
All that time spent talking down to Christina Cha and indulging in Tarzan’s neologisms has bared serious fruit for Alicia, as she’s cultivated better relationships with those two than Kim has. And along with her gal pal Kat Edorsson, this foursome could quite easily take over the game if they put their minds to it. But, while initially wanting to target Sabrina, Alicia later decides she wants to take out Kat. Why would Alicia vote out an entirely agreeable ally? For the delicious irony that Kat has now been deemed too annoying and immature for her own good.
Kat is one of the more entertaining parts of One World. She’s a quirky character with a weird likability factor. But she’s also an odd specimen, and this episode sees her at her oddest. The moment she gets on all fours and crawls towards her cousin at the family reward challenge is simultaneously hilarious and creepy. “Kat’s the person that would have a show like ‘How the Million Dollars Ruined My Life’ and in a year she doesn’t know where she spent the money,” Kim says in perhaps the coldest comment of the season.
Kim’s point is that Kat makes bad decisions, like choosing to take Alicia and Kim on reward rather than others who perhaps were more deserving. “I’m just gonna eat my cake and get drunk!” Kat reasons. Despite her delusions and lack of self-awareness, it’s hard to hate Kat. She has the naïvety and enthusiasm of Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad. There is a well-meaning person in there somewhere; it’s just hidden behind her immaturity. Her line after losing Immunity to Kim sums up her mindstate quite nicely: “To lose to someone who is 28 years old! How embarrassing is that?!”
The thing is, though, Kat has friends on the jury, and there is certainly a chance she could “do a Fabio” and pull out the surprise win at the end. So, when Alicia broaches the idea of eliminating her, it falls right into Kim’s lap. Although, it must be noted that Kim is still on the “vote Sabrina” bandwagon for a while until Chelsea Meissner talks her round. But by letting Alicia dig her own grave by getting rid of one of her closest allies, Kim not only removes a potential jury threat, but she strengthens her lock on the game by removing any possible uprising from Alicia’s group.
All of this sets up one of the biggest blindsides that Survivor has ever seen. Sometimes, even with the best and most memorable blindsides, the voted out player has an almost sixth sense that they could be on the chopping block. That’s not the case here. Kat remains completely oblivious throughout. “Sabrina has no idea her ass is on the line,” she gloats before Tribal Council. “That’s why a blindside is so great. It’s amazing how we control the show. This game is our game.”
Even at Tribal, when her tribemates call out her selfishness, Kat is still wholly unaware. “Is this whole Tribal Council about me?” she asks. “I had no idea this was going to happen.” With zero clue that things have turned, Kat is giddy to get to the vote. “If it is going to be a blindside, it’s going to be pretty funny and, like, exciting,” she giggles. “Blindsides are always fun and exciting!” But they’re not so fun when you’re on the other end of them, as Kat is here when she’s eliminated 6-1. “I left before Christina and Tarzan! Are you kidding? I’m so embarrassed,” she cries in her final words confessional. What’s that word Kat would say? Oh, yeah. Touché.
Check back tomorrow when we reveal which episode placed at number 66. You can check out the previous entries here.