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: Edge of Extinction
Episode: “It’s Like The Worst Cocktail Party Ever (Part 1)” (Episode 5)
Broadcast Date: March 20, 2019
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Survivor: Edge of Extinction is certainly not winning any awards when it comes to the best overall seasons. It’s an awkward, frustrating, game-breaking season with a terrible twist and a shark-jumping ending. However, it does have at least one bonafide classic episode that comes early in the season.
“It’s Like The Worst Cocktail Party Ever” is a highly-entertaining double feature that follows the pre-merge tribe swap. While both parts of the episode are enjoyable in their own right, we’re focusing specifically on Part 1 here, which delivers shock and jubilation in equal measure. It’s an episode that sees the culmination of two short-term storylines, one with a feelgood ending and the other a damn near Shakespearean tragedy.
First up is the come-from-behind Immunity challenge win from the “lesser” Lesu tribe. Down-and-out underdogs from the start, David Wright, Lauren O’Connell, Kelley Wentworth, and Dan “Wardog” DaSilva look to be on the end of yet another devastating challenge loss and subsequent Tribal Council date with Jeff Probst. However, like the Mighty Ducks, this ragtag group somehow pulls off a miraculous come-from-behind victory (well, second place victory, but it still counts). The look of pure happiness and relief on this foursome’s faces is a joy to behold.
The rest of the episode centers around the new Mana tribe’s masterful hoodwinking of three-time Survivor player Aubry Bracco. As our recapper Austin Smith described it at the time, it’s like watching “a trainwreck in slow motion towards Aubry’s brutal and self-described embarrassing blindside.” Armed with an idol and an extra vote gifted from the Edge, Aubry looks to be sitting pretty. However, she underestimates her crafty tribemates, falling into a trap laid by a stone-cold Victoria Baamonde.
What makes this episode a standout is that the edit chooses to focus entirely on Aubry’s perspective. While the audience knows what is about to happen, Aubry remains blissfully unaware, like an unsuspecting horror movie victim walking straight into the killer’s trap. There’s nothing we can do to warn Aubry as Victoria, Eric Hafemann, and Gavin Whitson plot her downfall behind the scenes. She even acknowledges how her “overthinking personality” tells her danger could be ahead. But she ignores those warning signs based on her overactive mind getting her into trouble in the past.
Putting misplaced trust in a fake alliance with Victoria, Aubry heads into Tribal Council with faith in her new tribemates, believing chicken savior Wendy Diaz to be the target. She is then completely bamboozled when Jeff starts reading the votes. “You guys are good,” says Aubry as she grabs her torch, a nod of respect to her opponents, who pull off a beautifully executed blindside, proving that even Survivor veterans can be outplayed by rookies.
Check back on Monday when we reveal which episode placed at number 86. You can check out the previous entries here.