The last person to leave the game, the person so close to the end they can taste the money but has their opportunity to plead their case taken away at the very last moment. That person becomes ingrained in their respective season as the final recipient of “The Tribe Has Spoken” and earns a place in a very special group in Survivor history: The Day 38 Club.
Inside Survivor contributor Ian Walker continues the countdown of the updated and revised Day 38 Club rankings. The list takes into account the strength of a player’s game, character, and the power of their story.
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No. 24 – Holly Hoffman (Nicaragua)
Holly Hoffman had a rough first few days in Nicaragua. Seemingly overwhelmed by the stress and relentless nature of the game, Holly was ready to quit on Day 5. If she had quit, it would have been a real shame, denying the audience of the great transformation that Holly went through, going from the “manic mom” to a serious strategic player.
Along the way, Holly developed the confidence she seemed to lack during her early days, moving through the game with a conviction evocative of a strong Survivor gamer. Alas, her game might have developed a little too well, as her torch was snuffed, and she became a member of the Day 38 Club.
During that early period, not only did Holly want to quit, she was exhibiting some seriously erratic behavior. Most notably, she took Dan Lembo’s $1600 alligator shoes, filled them up with wet sand, and dropped them in the ocean, which is one of the nuttiest things that has ever happened on Survivor.
After that incident, Holly knew she needed some help, so she turned to professional pep-talker Jimmy Johnson, who was able to pump her up and convince her not to quit. Coach Jimmy’s words seemed to do the trick as Holly’s whole attitude changed. The crazed looks of panic and desperation were gone and replaced with focus and determination; Holly was ready to wheel and deal, and she would prove to be pretty good at it.
Shortly after the merge, it became apparent that Holly had the most ties out of anyone, as she connected with both the younger and older people of the tribe. These connections gave her the ammunition she needed to take a shot at the biggest threat in the game at Final 10, Brenda Lowe. Despite the fact that one of her main allies, Chase Rice, was incredibly wishy-washy and still somewhat lusting after Brenda, Holly was like a general commanding her troops and successfully took the shot, sending Brenda out of the game. With that move, Holly cemented herself as a power player in control of her alliance.
Not only did Holly’s strategic game start to strengthen, but her respect amongst the tribe was also at an all-time high. This connection proved especially valuable after the Brenda vote during the infamous double quit, when NaOnka Mixon and Kelly Shinn decided they wanted out of the game. Having experienced her own troubled times, Holly drew upon those experiences and gave a pep-talk to Purple Kelly, much like how Coach Jimmy was able to do for Holly at the beginning of the game.
Seeing such a clear level of growth is always an exciting thing on Survivor, and Holly demonstrating just how far she came by being the person encouraging others not to quit definitely was one of the best moments of the season.
That positive attitude looked like it was going to carry Holly all the way Day 39. Unfortunately for her, a player outside of her alliance in Jud “Fabio” Birza got hot at just the right time, winning the last three Immunity challenges. Fabio’s victory meant Holly’s defeat, as her alliance cast her aside as the biggest threat on Day 38.
Although she didn’t win, Holly’s arc remains one of the best growth narratives ever on the show, which is not a bad consolation prize.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.