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. 35 – Sundra Oakley (Cook Islands)
The comeback of the Aitu 4 in Cook Islands is one of the most exciting underdog stories in Survivor history. Left for dead when a mutiny left their group an unassuming four while staring down a seemingly tough-to-beat eight-person tribe, the Aitus proved small but mighty.
This foursome of Becky Lee, Ozzy Lusth, Sundra Oakley, and Yul Kwon powered through the game thanks to Ozzy’s challenge prowess in the pre-merge and the strategic skill of Yul after the merge. Together, they whittled down the competition, ultimately becoming the final four players remaining in the game.
While Ozzy and Yul received most of the plaudits and air-time throughout the season, Sundra and Becky shouldn’t be totally slept on. These two ladies also helped propel the group through the game by being strategic sounding boards and keeping spirits upbeat.
However, when it was time to send one of them out to become the final member of the jury, in the first Final 3 in Survivor history, the Aitu 4 decided to let fate decide rather than group consensus. With Yul and Ozzy both having some form of immunity, a tie was forced between Becky and Sundra, making them participate in a fire-making challenge to reach Day 39.
All of this long preamble is to say that both Sundra and Becky were lovely people who were loyal to their alliance but were mostly interchangeable in the overall narrative of the season. Becky was more connected to Yul than Sundra was to Ozzy, but that’s the only slight difference between them.
Circumstances were such that a challenge ultimately decided who stayed and who left, and oh boy, what a challenge it was. The Final 4 fire-making tiebreaker in Cook Islands lives on in Survivor lore for how completely inept both Sundra and Becky were at building fire.
Armed with both flint and matches, the two women managed nary an ember for over an hour and a half, with this “showdown” ending only because Sundra ran out of matches, essentially making her the loser by default. Becky eventually got a fire started and “earned” her spot in the Final 3, sending Sundra out of the game.
To her credit, Sundra took her exit with the same smile and sunny disposition she had for the entire game. She seemed like a sweet and pleasant person to be around. It was, ultimately, just a grandiose coin flip that caused her to leave the game on Day 38, rather than advancing to Day 39 to lose to Yul or Ozzy.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.