by Martin Holmes and Ian Walker
DAMN MAN! 49!! MY BOOT EPISODE IS NUMBER 49 IN YOUR FREAKING LIST? IT SHOULD BE DAMN HIGHER, TOP TEN AT LEAST MAN. JUST BECAUSE DANNI WON AN IMPORTANT IMMUNITY CHALLENGE BY BUYING THAT DAMN ADVANTAGE AT THE DAMN AUCTION AND SAVED HERSELF RESULTING IN MY OUSTER, SHOULDN’T MEAN THIS EPISODE SHOULD BE KNOCKED DOWN TO NUMBER 49 MAN!! I MEAN, MY WIFE CAME OUT TO VISIT ME; IT WAS DAMN AWESOME MAN!! BUT MAN, STEPHENIE BETRAYED ME, MAN!! SHE TOLD ME AND MY WIFE SHE WAS GOING TO THE FINAL TWO WITH ME MAN!! I SAID IT ONCE, AND I’LL SAY IT AGAIN, I HOPE THEY GET BITTEN BY THOSE DAMN FREAKING CROCODILES MAN!! THEY’RE ALL SCUMBAGS MAN!!
At least that’s how Judd would describe the episode.
Similarly to Drew Christy, the fall of Judd Sergeant is one of the better “obvious blindside” episodes in Survivor history. Judd thought he had the game, with a great path to the end with his partner in crime Stephenie LaGrossa. The family visit this episode seemingly bonded the two of them even more, as Judd happily gave Steph a chance for her and her boyfriend to have some Mayan family time along with him and his wife (almost as good as eating 25 White Castle cheeseburgers).
Everything seemed to be going great in Judd’s world.
But Danni Boatwright had other plans. For maximum enjoyment, you should watch this episode from Danni’s perspective. Watching Judd obliviously throw his game away is fun, but it is the underdog story of Danni that is truly compelling. She starts by telling us she is on the chopping block after her last remaining ally was voted out the night before. But she remains hopeful and quietly confident: “This perfect little alliance is gonna have to start breaking up.”
The episode soon becomes Danni vs. the World.
The edit makes no attempt to hide what a monstrous two-headed beast Judd and Stephenie have become. Talking about farts and performing cartwheels around camp like two court jesters that have somehow ended up in power. Stephenie greedily takes money from Lydia Morales at the auction so she can bid on seeing her boyfriend and thereby depriving Lydia the chance to see her brother who she hasn’t seen for two years. They talk arrogantly back at camp about Danni’s lack of ability to win immunity.
The brashness of Judd and Stephenie is beautifully contrasted with Danni’s relaxed confidence. Keep focused on her throughout the auction. While everyone else is panicked and emotional and pooling money to bid on their loved ones, Danni just sits their happily chewing on her beef jerky that she won for a bargain $20.
This episode also marks the first time an immunity advantage was offered up in the Survivor auction, and Danni, as the last member of the minority alliance left, was savvy enough to snatch it up (for only $200! My how times have changed). Resulting in a clutch immunity win, Danni is able to work her relationships with Rafe Judkins and Lydia, to plant the seeds against Judd and to flip them to her cause. Seeing where the numbers are going, Stephenie is forced to go along with voting out one of the only people she could beat and effectively ending her game.
Steph’s loss is Danni’s gain, as they deliver the death blow to the Juddinator. The aforementioned “scumbags” line remains one of the greatest reactions to getting voted off in history and perfectly encapsulates Judd, a brash and volatile guy with absolutely no filter, making him not a great player but an awesome Survivor character.
The episode also demonstrates Danni’s savvy intuition and stellar social skills and reminds us what a great underdog winner she was.
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