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. 26 – Rafe Judkins (Guatemala)
Survivor is not a nice game, as the fanbase knows, which makes it especially surprising that Rafe Judkins was able to do so well playing it. Rafe was a guy who was genuinely concerned with being nice and looking like a good man, so much so that he had real anxiety about being aligned with the “Axis of Evil” because of what that said about his character.
Rafe, a big fan of the show himself, was able to navigate through the game extremely well by using his nice guy personality to form some key relationships, along with a couple of crucial challenge wins as well. He may not have liked the cutthroat nature of the game, but Rafe was able to execute a couple of the main blindsides that put him within reach of winning.
The biggest strength of Rafe’s game was how he was able to turn Stephenie LaGrossa into his personal goat. In his majority alliance, there were some loud and irritating figures, namely Jamie Newton and Judd Sergeant, who would have been great people to sit next to at the end of the game. The only problem was, those people were closer to Stephenie than they were to Rafe.
So, when the time was right, Rafe carefully picked his spots to vote those guys out, axing Jamie at the Final 8 and Judd at the Final 6, slowly taking away Stephenie’s goats until Rafe was Stephenie’s best option.
The Judd boot was especially important because Danni Boatwright, the last person from the minority alliance, had won immunity that round. Since the merge, Rafe had slowly been building a strong bond with Danni, and she soon became another option Rafe could consider in the future.
That relationship with Danni proved especially pivotal at the Final 4 when Rafe was faced with his biggest choice in the game: vote out either Danni or Lydia Morales, and this is where Rafe’s superfan mindset may have gotten the best of him.
While Lydia had been a pretty weak challenge competitor up to that point, Rafe was worried that she could pull out a freak win in the final Immunity challenge like women in her age group had done in the past. Plus, Rafe had won four Immunity challenges himself, and probably fancied himself the favorite to win the last one, so he made the decision to vote out Lydia, thinking that he or Stephenie could beat Danni in the final challenge.
But that didn’t end up happening. Danni emerged victorious in the final Immunity challenge and, exhibiting the nice guy streak he had during the whole game, Rafe relinquished Danni from the Final Two promise they had made between them, after witnessing a sobbing Stephenie who was distraught from losing herself.
That act of kindness helped to seal Rafe’s fate, as Danni eventually chose to vote him out and send him off into the Day 38 Club. That moment is emblematic of Rafe’s entire game, having the right strategic instincts but lacking a real killer instinct to make the tough calls, and ultimately, it’s what cost him.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.