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. 33 – Denise Martin (China)
One of the best things about Survivor is watching people venture outside their comfort zones on an adventure they’d never experience anywhere else. Denise Martin stands as an excellent example of that, and with good reason.
The blue-collar lunch lady with a mullet, Denise always seemed to have an awe-struck look on her face every other scene she was in. She got to experience some of the coolest reward excursions ever in China. Between visits to both a Shaolin Temple and the Great Wall of China, and winning the family visit reward, Denise had a Survivor journey unlike any other.
While Denise was having a great time experiencing Survivor, she wasn’t that successful at playing the game. Not one for making moves herself, Denise was the perfect pawn for the dominant alliance of Todd Herzog and Amanda Kimmel, who clearly relegated her to the bottom of their group.
The problem with that was Denise, despite knowing she was on the bottom, would often complain about her position but not do anything about it due to a misplaced sense of loyalty. And the refusal to change her path proved especially pivotal at the Final Six.
Faced with either jumping to the other side and forcing a tie or sticking with the alliance that would most likely vote her out in fourth place, Denise stuck with the alliance… and they voted her out in fourth place.
In addition to not being a very proactive game-player, Denise got a little whiny towards the end of the season, playing up her blue-collar background as a reason why she deserved to win the money.
That kind of thing usually doesn’t play well with the viewers, because the sympathy that someone tries to create by playing up a “sob story” often results in opposite types of feelings. Look no further than the controversy surrounding Denise at the China reunion, which certainly didn’t bring the sympathetic attention that she was hoping.
Despite the slightly sanctimonious attitude that Denise had throughout the season, she did seem like a very genuine “everyman” kind of person, and it was enjoyable to watch her experience Survivor. She just didn’t have that killer instinct that most people need to win the game, which is a good lesson to learn from the couch but a tough one to experience in the game.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.