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: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
Episode: “Not Going To Roll Over and Die” (Episode 12)
Broadcast Date: December 6, 2017
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It’s a testament to the strength of this episode that it makes the list despite featuring arguably the worst challenge in Survivor history—even calling it a challenge is generous. Of course, I’m talking about the “rock draw” at the family visit, which is less of a challenge and more a cure for insomnia. However, that isn’t enough to detract from the episode as a whole, which sees relationships crumble, alliances blow-up, an eventful Tribal Council, and one of the best idol plays the game has ever seen.
“Not Going to Roll Over and Die” is the first episode where Ben Driebergen‘s secret spy operation is out in the open. And the revelation of Ben’s double-dealing has immediate repercussions. His friendship with Chrissy Hofbeck, formed in the early days of the Heroes tribe, is completely torn apart, the betrayal leaving wounds too deep to heal. Now at loggerheads, the pair seek vengeance on each other throughout the episode. Firstly, Chrissy wins the loved one’s “challenge” and denies Ben the chance to spend time with his wife. Later, in an act of revenge, Ben plants a fake idol for Chrissy to find. It’s such a dramatic breakdown of a relationship that seemed so tight early on.
The Ben and Chrissy battle looks set to come to a head at that night’s Tribal Council, that is until Ben overhears his own Rogue Knights alliance potentially plotting his blindside. Fuelled by paranoia, Ben decides to target Lauren Rimmer, setting off a chaotic chain of events. In an ironic twist, Ben now needed Chrissy back on his side to help pull off the vote. Chrissy is understandably unsure given everything that has happened and shares her reluctance with Dr. Mike Zahalsky. With the Lauren vote seeming unlikely, Mike decides to spill Ben’s plan to Ashley Nolan and Devon Pinto, hoping to flip the target onto Ben. Devon warns Lauren she is in danger, and then, in a somewhat baffling move, Lauren gives half of her idol to Mike in an effort to build trust.
This scattered mess of secret-spilling and unpredictability continues at Tribal. Eventually, everyone lays their cards (and others’ cards) on the table. Ben tells everybody about Lauren’s idol and extra vote. Lauren busts Ben’s balls about his plan to trick Chrissy with a fake idol. And, in the wildest moment of the night, an erratic Dr. Mike throws half of Lauren’s idol in the fire, effectively killing any chance of it being used. This kickstarts a mad scramble. Much like the scene in Game Changers a season earlier when Malcolm Freberg was booted, the castaways get up from their seats and start whispering plans back-and-forth. In a crazy turn of events, Chrissy ends up trying to convince Mike to KEEP Ben and vote out Lauren.
However, in the end, none of this matters, as the only vote that counts comes from the only person smart enough to keep a secret. After initially posing with a fake idol, Ben pulls out a real idol and plays it for himself, becoming the first person to successfully negate a unanimous vote in Survivor history. Ben’s sole vote for Lauren is enough to send her packing, leaving the rest of the tribe and the jurors in shock. While Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers becomes too reliant on advantages in the home-stretch, there is no denying this episode makes for entertaining chaos.
Check back on Monday when we reveal which episode placed at number 77. You can check out the previous entries here.