Survivor in 2016

Best Move

What were the Best Moves of Survivor in 2016?

This week and next, we’re making end-of-year lists to celebrate the best moments of Survivor in 2016. The Inside Survivor team, including former two-time player Shirin Oskooi, discussed and debated the options and separately nominated four choices in each category. We then tallied those votes to determine the final four nominations for each category.

Here are our four nominations for Best Move of Survivor in 2016. Readers can vote below for their favorite.


“Aubry sways Tai”
Survivor: Kaôh Rōng, Episode 10, April 20, 2016

“At this point, the guys are in a really strong position but I feel like I have some kind of connection with Tai.” That little hint of a bond between Aubry Bracco and Tai Trang was the catalyst that destroyed the games of Kyle Jason and Scot Pollard and propelled Aubry and Tai to the final three of Kaôh Rōng. We touched on this briefly in our write-up for “I’m Not Here to Make Good Friends” in our Best Episode category, but Aubry’s handling of Tai was beautiful, appealing to his human spirit and swaying him away from the forces of darkness. She wasn’t forceful or demanding; instead, she put the game in Tai’s hands, making him believe, rightly or wrongly, that the move was in his best interest just as much as her own. “I’m relying on you… I want you to be comfortable, this is your game, and you’re making a big move,” Aubry told him. It was expert social manipulation that resulted in the ouster of Scot, the removal of an idol (and therefore the Super Idol too), and bought Aubry the loyalty of Tai for the duration of the game.


“Michelle flips multiple votes and saves Figgy”
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, Episode 2, September 28, 2016

It was the first time the Millennials tribe went to tribal council, and it was by no means a run of the mill vote. On paper, it should have been easy, Taylor Stocker and Jessica “Figgy” Figueroa had become obvious targets due to their out-in-the-open showmance and all eyes were on Figgy as the next to go – well, all eyes except for Michelle Schubert’s.

Usually, this early in the game, players are just happy their name isn’t in the firing line and will quickly roll over rather than challenging the majority. But upon learning that Figgy was in trouble, Michelle jumped into action. She named the alternative target (Mari Takahashi), she tasked Jay with the mission of getting Figgy and Michaela Bradshaw to kiss and make-up, and she softly persuaded Will Wahl to come over to her side. But even with a majority, she wasn’t satisfied to rest on her laurels. “It’s scary to me because I’m not sure we have the numbers… so I might have to try to pull strings at tribal council to make sure I have the numbers and get what I want.” Michelle used the fear and trepidation caused by tribal council to pull the strings of Hannah Shapiro, bagging herself a contingency vote just in case something went awry. She essentially flipped four votes (Jay was originally planning to vote Figgy), saved her ally, and delivered the season’s first major blindside in a truly masterful performance.


“David uses idol on Jessica”
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, Episode 4, October 12, 2016

Another early pre-merge vote and another player unwilling to play from the backfoot. There was a lot of head-scratching over David Wright’s decision to use his idol on Jessica Lewis back when this episode aired, I’m sure I was one of those people unsure about the move. But this moment was really what changed David’s game and solidified him as one of the season’s star strategists and biggest threats.

Up until this point, David had been an outsider on Gen X beach, his only real ally was Ken McNickle, and the rest of his tribe saw him as a sketchy, paranoid oddball. By playing his idol on Jessica (the only idol played correctly in Millennials vs. Gen X), not only did he save her but he bought her undying loyalty (came in handy at the rock draw!), assured himself the Gen X majority (although the tribe swap made that irrelevant), and most importantly, changed his perception. David went from the guy scared by the sound of wood being chopped to a ballsy player willing to make Big Movez™ and stick his own neck on the line for his allies. This momentum carried him all the way to Day 38, one tribal council away from taking home the million dollars.


“Michele votes Neal off the jury”
Survivor: Kaôh Rōng, Episode 14, May 18, 2016

The first two moves on this list included good old-fashioned social manipulation and persuasion, whereas the last two are about correctly utilizing game advantages. Both have their merits and can make or break a player. The power to remove someone from the jury was a controversial twist introduced in the season finale of Kaôh Rōng and won by Michele Fitzgerald. Deciding who to remove was a decision that would clearly have a huge effect on the jury and final tribal council. Michele wisely weighed up the pros and cons of each juror; she asked the thoughts of Aubry Bracco and Tai Trang in an effort to get a read on her opponents and where their heads were at regarding jury perception.

Michele correctly surmised that Aubry was her biggest threat, and while removing Joe Del Campo (a guaranteed Aubry vote) was the obvious choice, she instead took out Neal Gottlieb. By removing Neal, Michele would not only benefit by eliminating an Aubry vote, but she’d get rid of someone who would actively be campaigning for Aubry. While it’s unlikely that Neal would have swayed any votes toward Aubry, he might have delivered a scathing speech toward Michele and thrown her off her game thereby negatively affecting her final tribal performance. Neal’s reaction and response to Michele upon getting voted out proved she made the right decision and she went on to win the million dollars 5 votes to 2.

Honorable Mentions: Adam decides not to play advantage/gives it to Jay (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, Episode 12), Jay and Will blindside Michaela (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, Episode 7), Cydney gathers troops and blindsides Nick (Survivor: Kaôh Rōng, Episode 8).


What was the Best Move of Survivor in 2016? Vote below:

The poll closes Saturday, December 31, 2016.

Check back tomorrow when we will reveal the nominations for Best/Worst Probst Moment. Vote on the other categories, including Best Episode and Funniest Moment, here.

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

21 responses to “Best Move”

  1. This move by Aubrey really reminded me cirie’s gameplay. Can’t wait to see those two play together and whether they target each other or align

    • We all know Cirie Fields has an incredible overall view of the game and knows how to use tactics to employ her strategy. Everyone that played Heroes and Villains knew it too, and cut her off quickly.

      When “Game Changers” evolves, it’ll be interesting to see how many players still know Cirie to be an assassin (and architect of the Black Widow Brigade). One of two things will happen… players like Aubry and Zeke will bond to her prowess to get deep into the game, or players like Aubry and Zeke will rapidly seek to terminate her as a threat.

  2. I have to vote for the Mari vote mainly for the fact that it had the longest impact. Aurbys vote was deep into the Merge so it only altered the end game, Michelle voting Neal off only changed one vote. David using the idol was used early in the game was early as well but it still was done later then Michelle’s move. Had Michelle not flipped the votes, Adam wouldn’t have flipped on the millennials at the swap, Michaela wouldn’t have been blindsided as the tribes would be completely different. I guess you could say the same about David idoling jessics but I think flipping the votes is more rewarding then using the idol to negate the votes. Flipping needs more work to be done.

    • I think I have to agree that the Mari vote was “a big move”.
      Hannah caught incredible amounts of shit for taking so long to vote but it was a pivotal move. It happens at the first vote and it decides who is on what side of the line drawn in the sand.
      Having said that, Aubry’s social game with Tai was gorgeous. She played him… she did the same thing with Scot in a direct confrontation where Scot thought he was going to dictate terms with Aubry and she quickly responds with,
      “I smell what you’re stepping in”.

      Effing brilliant way to chop Scot off at the knees, without the dum bass even knowing it at the time.

  3. Once again biggest move not on there. Micaela getting voted out can fit so many categories.
    But this time I agree that the options were good moves. Except David idoling Jessica

        • You’re kidding right? That move didn’t GET him sixth, the move was AWUFL for his game. He got 6th with no control over who was going home, which means he got there because other people chose not to vote him out until 6th. Your whole argument that it is a big move is based off of Michaela “probably” flipping on him when there is NOTHING to support that. The move was AWFUL. If there was a worst move of the year that one may be in contention.

          • No they didn’t vote for him out of idol fear. And your whole argument is that she wouldn’t have flipped. And there is evidence that she would. She was happy when Figgy left and her rock thing left out Taylor and Michelle Jays loyal allies. As soon as she would have seen that he is close to them she would have flipped. And saving Bret and Sunday got him a little loyalty. I believe I even read on here that Sunday was giving him a little info.
            And I think they might do a worst move list as well.

          • 1. no I am not basing it off of the assumption she wouldn’t flip, because since he DID vote her out he had NO power in the game after. It doesn’t matter that they kept him in because of fear of him having an idol, he was kept in because OTHER people chose to keep him in aka he had NO POWER after he voted out an ally to keep two people who voted out his two closes allies once merge hit.

            2. She would have voted with him against a GenXer 100%. She wouldn’t have flipped on Jay, she would have tried to get him to flip on Michelle/Taylor. But at that point he could use those 2 and Will to have majority over Michaela/Hannah/Adam.

            By voting out Michaela he lost 1 ally to being voted out (Michaela) and another because she lost trust in him (Hannah) to gain a little trust from two people (Sunday/Brett) who immediately voted out his two closest allies (Taylor/Michelle).

            So yes, his move to vote out Michaela was AWFUL when he made it and took any control he may have had in the game instantly out of his hands.

          • I don’t think she would have voted with him. I think she would have turned on him fast cause she knows he has an idol she would have screwed him over so fast he would have been like “oops should have cut her when I had the chance”

  4. LOL, this should be a runaway win for Michele! It was the perfect move and won her the season… and it’s currently in last place. SMH

    • Noooo…
      The final voting shows Neal’s vote was irrelevant.
      Survivor Insider should have never even presented this as something important.

      Complete and utter incompetence on their part.

      • You’re looking at it totally wrong. Neal was a highly articulate, convincing player. Leaving him on the Jury would have allowed him to try and convince the others that might have been waffling to change to Aubry. And he totally would have. It wasn’t about his one vote, it was about the others. Michele won with that move.

  5. I’m very surprised not to see David’s successful fake idol play! (not even in honorable mentions? now c’mon guys..)

  6. Can’t vote for Michelle. It was the right move, but terribly executed. Way too soon to be flipping votes so visibly – you are just painting huge target on yourself for future votes. Just ask Shirin on Second Chances.

    Michele’s move to remove Neal from the jury was the correct call, but hardly a difficult one. And based on Nick’s post game interview on RHAP, Neal had no sway over the jury, he was probably doing more harm to Aubry’s chances there. Even better call would probably be to remove Nick, who also wasn’t going to vote for her, but had a little bit more influence. In the end, it didn’t really matter at all, who she picked, so hardly worthy of the title of Best move of 2016.

    So for me, it comes down to David’s idol play or Aubry swaying Tai. And I need to give it to Aubry, because the way she did was perfect and if she didn’t do it, she was voted out at the next tribal council. She used the information, that Julia wants to flush his idol to gain his trust and continued to further it in the next days and offered him exactly what he needed to get him on her side. David’s idol play was a great chess move, but also pretty risky one, that could backfire in some scenarios. and he did much more than that to get him as far as he did, so it is impossible to point to this as his definitive move.

  7. I personally would picked moment were in 33 they flushed out jay idiol and got rid Brett biggest ally in sunny I thought that was brilliant game move specially jay been one strongest players was vital to get rid his idol at that stage in the game

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