“It’s A Turtle?!”
by Ian Walker
Survivor: Fiji is commonly regarded as one of the worst seasons of Survivor, and with good reason. The cast was made up almost entirely of recruits, a lot of the players were unlikable and the season’s central theme, the haves vs. have-nots twist, led to some very predictable episodes. But all of that shouldn’t matter. Fiji should be regarded, if not one of the greats, then one of the better seasons of Survivor, all for one simple reason: this season has arguably the greatest blindside in the history of the show.
Andria “Dreamz” Herd was caught in the middle of two alliances. He had spent the last few days in the game with his new Four Horsemen alliance, consisting of Mookie Lee, Alex Angarita, and Edgardo Rivera. Having merged down in numbers, the four of them were confident that they could pull the people they needed to give them the majority. However, thanks to the merging of the two tribes, Dreamz was reunited with his first ally from the beginning in the game, Cassandra Franklin, who, in their time away, had hooked up with Earl Cole and Yau-Man Chan.
Unsure about some of the numbers in their own group, Earl and Yau had hoped Cassandra could pull Dreamz back to their side, just to give them some extra protection. While lobbying for his loyalty, it was evident Dreamz didn’t know which way he wanted to go, so he decided to go both ways and play double agent.
For the Four Horsemen, this seemed like an okay idea. Since they were still on the outs, having a mole feeding them information could only be a benefit. Except, there was one problem; Mookie let it slip to Dreamz that the other three horsemen had found a hidden immunity idol. You see, the original plan was not to tell Dreamz about the idol because, well, they felt Dreamz wasn’t on the same intellectual level as they were, to put it nicely. But Mookie made the call to tell Dreamz about it, which did not sit well with Alex or Edgardo. They knew, from the moment that Mookie blabbed, that this could be a decision that comes back to bite them, and it did. Hard.
That’s because, just days later, Dreamz spilled the idol info to Earl and Cassandra. A lot of credit should go to Earl at that moment, as he smoothly put the pressure on Dreamz to confess his loyalty to his side, a trait that’s representative of the great game Earl played all season. Then again, this was Dreamz he was talking too, so it wasn’t that hard. Regardless, Earl’s side was now armed with the knowledge that Mookie was in possession of an idol, info that would come in handy at the next tribal council.
Dreamz’s double dealings only increased in the lead-up before the next vote, resulting in one of the craziest pre-vote scrambling sequences in history. Seeing Alex as the strongest horseman, Earl, and his side, decided to target him first and included Dreamz in on the plan. Dreamz, being a dutiful Horseman, relayed this back to the other three guys. Upon hearing this news, Mookie agreed to hand over his immunity idol to Alex, hoping to blindside Earl, the man they were all convinced had the idol on the other side (even though, unbeknownst to them, he didn’t have it.)
Once that plan had been decided, Dreamz ran back to Earl’s group to spill the idol transfer plan, which prompted Earl’s group to target Mookie instead. The amazing part throughout all of this is that Dreamz didn’t get caught because both sides believed that Dreamz was playing on behalf of their best interests. Unfortunately for the Horsemen, Dreamz was about to hand them a rude awakening.
The remarkable part of all of the strategy of the episode, though, is that both sides devised the same plan to topple the other side. Edgardo, the most sensible of the Horsemen, deduced that the best plan is to vote for the person least likely to have the idol, a ploy commonly used in more recent seasons of Survivor. He convinced his bros to cast their votes for Cassandra, believing it to be the surest way to get a hit on the other alliance. Meanwhile, in Earl’s group, Stacy Kimball put forward basically the same idea and suggested that the alliance vote Edgardo. Earl was immediately down with the plan, with one condition: do not tell Dreamz.
With all of the plans in place, what unfolded at tribal council can only be described as spectacular television. When Jeff Probst called for any idols to be played, Alex stood up and played his, confident that his plan would work. When the first three Cassandra votes came in, the faces of Alex, Mookie and Edgardo were full of smug satisfaction, so pleased with themselves that their great plan was coming to fruition. Then the Edgardo votes appeared. The Horseman’s faces dropped, while Earl and Yau-Man were all smiles. My description really doesn’t do the moment justice, just watch and see the awesomeness unfold for yourself:
In the end, Edgardo’s torch was snuffed, Alex and Mookie’s games were blown to pieces, and Dreamz established himself as one of the most unpredictable people to ever play Survivor. It’s hard for one moment to make up for a season’s worth of dullness, but this moment makes the Survivor: Fiji experience worthwhile, providing a truly epic blindside that is supremely watchable again and again.
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[Credit to http://survivoraddict.tumblr.com/ and @charlesamado07 for GIFS]
This is the greatest Survivor episode ever. Or this or the Randy’s fake idol episode. Not sure.
Miss Alli wrote the DEFINITIVE recap of this “chasing that face-falling moment”: http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2015/02/25/388951222/not-just-eating-bugs-for-money-a-story-of-survivor-and-strategy
Fiji really has a lot going for it. This is the undisputed highlight, but most of the post-merge is very good, and even the the pre-merge has some memorable characters.
The horseman story-line alone is excellent television. Who doesn’t want to see cocksure frat-bros get knocked down seven or eight pegs?
I just loved how when Jeff started to read the votes, every single person on the bench looked smug. And then comes the first Edgardo-vote and the look on Alex’s face… On of the best tribals ever, and one of the best episodes ever. Fiji is very underrated season because of that stupid haves and have-nots twist.
Great episode, deserves to be ranked, just not sure if it should be this high.
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