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. 8 – Lex van den Berghe (Africa)
Part rock-and-roll rebel, part sympathetic father-figure, Lex van den Berghe played Survivor: Africa with his heart on his sleeve. Immediately establishing himself as a leader, Lex stepped into the game wanting to play hard and play honestly.
That approach was put to the test, even during this early era of Survivor, as Lex’s desire to be straight-up with people got in the way of playing a successful strategic game. Despite those shortcomings, Lex’s gusto and drive for the game made sure he was almost always driving the action, dealing with the consequences as the season went along.
Lex’s style of play proved so problematic at times that it almost got him voted out. During the merge vote, Lex received two votes cast against him; one from the person the tribe just sent home, which he expected, and another that he did not see coming.
Those stray votes set Lex on the warpath determined to smoke out the snake in his midst and send them out of the game. In his gut, he knew who it was; Kelly Goldsmith, an original tribemate whose relationship with Lex had grown strained. Turned out, unbeknownst to him, Lex and his gut were wrong, but the damage was done.
Kelly was so turned off by Lex’s witch hunt that she flipped to the other side and led the charge to get him out. It was only by the grace of Lex flipping one of the opposition that he avoided going home by a 5-4 vote at the final nine.
After that vote, instead of pulling back after flirting with disaster, Lex continued to play all out, dominating in the challenges and calling all of the shots, making no attempt to curb his aggressive style. However, amidst that aggressiveness, Lex was never arrogant or villainous like other people who have found themselves in that role.
Look no further than at the final five, when he won a reward where he got to deliver a truck full of medical supplies to a nearby hospital. A moment like that is designed to pull at the heartstrings, but it’s helped because Lex, naturally effusive with his emotions, was genuinely moved by all of the good work the hospital was doing and ruminated about how fortunate he was in his life. It’s a moment very few people, let alone Survivor players, ever get to experience, and Lex injected it full of sincerity.
That combination of empathy and rock-and-roll style is what made Lex one of the breakout stars of the season, and ultimately what caused his demise. Upon losing the final Immunity challenge, there was no denying how dominant a presence Lex was and, despite his gruff and paranoia, how well-liked he was, which made him a huge endgame threat.
So, he was voted out on Day 38, leaving the game with the same exuberance he had when he first set foot on the plains of Africa.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.