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. 25 – Terry Deitz (Panama)
There are many underdog challenge beasts in the Day 38 Club, but when it comes to people who have really fought to stay in the game with their backs against the wall, nobody comes close to Terry Deitz.
One of only six people in history to win five individual Immunity challenges in a single season, Terry is the epitome of a “challenge beast.” Every single one of those wins was “do or die,” because the moment Terry didn’t have the Immunity necklace, he was immediately in danger. And so he just kept winning, propelling himself round after round solely based on his challenge wins.
Except, he wasn’t truly at risk once he lost Immunity because he had extra protection in the form of a hidden immunity idol; this was back in the early days when the idol could be played after the votes were read. Terry essentially had a ticking time bomb in his pocket. Whenever he lost a challenge, he could just lob that bomb at whoever he wanted if the majority all voted for him, so this made him doubly hard to get out of the game.
As he watched his allies get voted out one by one, Terry never relinquished his idol to another person, knowing it gave him one more out if he didn’t win the necklace. That strategy paid off, in a sense; the first time Terry didn’t win immunity was at the Final 4, the last time he could have played his idol, so nobody even bothered to vote for him because they all knew he was 100% protected.
It’s a good thing that Terry could rely on various forms of Immunity to keep him safe because his social game wouldn’t have been much help. He was pretty bad in trying to negotiate any deals with the majority alliance to protect himself.
Also, his competitive drive caused him to be very cocky at times, making him an irritating person to live with and creating a lot of tension around camp. Because of his attitude and poor social game, the majority alliance never made any attempt to include him in their plans.
Still, despite some of his prickly qualities, Terry seemed like a decent enough guy. He was well-liked enough that, nine years later, he was voted in by the fans to compete on the Second Chance season, and with good reason. Terry was incredibly fun to root for, mostly because nobody had been able to run the table at the challenges from an underdog position like he had up until that point.
Unfortunately, he just couldn’t win that last one and met his end on Day 38. After his season, Survivor switched from a Final 2 to a Final 3; while it probably wasn’t solely because of Terry, the show was sick of the Terry-types going out in third place. So, if Terry’s place in the Day 38 Club is being the last, old-school third place finisher, that’s a pretty respectable place to be.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.