5. Fiji (season 14) Rating: 8.0/10
If I had to pinpoint one season that got me interested in being apart of Survivor forums, it’s Fiji. I had already looked up articles about Survivor, but this is the one that motivated me to post on various message boards. Yes, I know how many people absolutely hate this season. I also know another major Survivor figure who claimed that for him, Fiji is the least memorable season of all-time, and that Survivor seasons become more memorable the further you move in either direction in the chronology. If I had to guess what made people hate the season it’d be the following:
Haves vs. Have-nots twist
Nineteen recruits and one applicant
The unmerge that ousted online fan favourite Michelle Yi from the game
Earl’s victory likely being obvious from the start
Lack of women in the second half of the season
Does that sound accurate for the online hate for it? The funniest thing about this is how much my dad and my uncle love this season. They’re completely unaware that anybody would hate it. My dad, who has the worst memory on the planet, can’t even recall 90% of contestant names despite seeing every episode of Survivor and always talking about it. He mixes up players with seasons interchangeably, and good luck if he even remembers a tribe name. In fact, I’d probably hail before him if he recalls a contestant name that was eliminated before day 36, and half of those he wouldn’t know.
But for Fiji? A couple months ago, he casually referenced the season and was able to name every player up until ANTHONY during the discussion. It wasn’t even a game of ‘name the boot order,’ he just talked about Fiji with my uncle and he got up to freakin’ Anthony. My jaw pretty much dropped. There is no way I can rank Fiji too low after my dad puts on a display like that.
One last note before we get into the lists: Borneo is the only season where I watched the finale outside of my parent’s house. Fiji, however, is the only other one that’s clear in my memory and stands alone. My sister made nachos for dinner, my brother’s girlfriend at the time was there for the first hour, my dad flipped out when Yau-Man was ousted, and we all laughed at Dreamz frustrating Jeff Probst at the reunion. There is one other note about the finale, but I’m saving that for the list. Also, none of the other Survivor finales I couldn’t even tell you what I ate or who all watched it with me. For some reason, Fiji sticks out quite clearly.
Things I hated about this season:
1) It’s a Final Three. For that alone I will never let it get higher than five. I was thinking maybe having this season rank three or four, but the fact it’s a Final Three irked me enough to drop its rating.
2) Enough twists for it to be an all-star. Almost every round had a game-changing twist for the first ten episodes. The year of Cook Islands and Fiji sure piled on the twists.
3) NINETEEN recruits. The only applicant ends up being med-evac’d before he even casts his first vote of the game. Sorry Papa Smurf. I’m sure you would’ve done really well in the game. More applicants would’ve been nice to see. Note how the recruit was the one to quit, but the applicant was the one who had to be med-evac’d.
4) Was the haves vs. have-nots twist really necessary? It was a one-time twist and I didn’t have a problem with it (which I’ll get to shortly), but why even risk to do something like that in season fourteen of a franchise? Just wondering.
5) The haves were given a bit too much. I’m sure they didn’t need beds or cutlery.
6) Liliana, Gary, Stacey…who are you guys anyway?
7) Cassandra = Not the most exciting personality cast in the history of the show.
8) They put in a memory challenge fourteen days into a game where one tribe has been extremely healthy and one tribe is hallucinating half the time. As close as it was, the memory challenge needed to be much earlier on for it to be remotely fair.
9) A bit predictable who would be victorious on day 39. Just a wee bit of suspense might’ve improved it.
10) The challenge roster wasn’t a ‘wow’ factor, but it didn’t make you disappointed in it either.
11) For anyone who lived in western Canada, you are likely waiting for me to mention the following. Right after Dreamz wins final immunity, the whole game comes down to whether Dreamz lets Yau-Man have the necklace and win the mil, or if it comes down to a tiebreaker between Yau and Cassandra. So we get to see the strategy after immunity, and then it cuts to commercial. One minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. Four minutes. Five minutes. After having experienced the season 5 premiere of 24 where we lost the lost five minutes because of a seven minute commercial, I knew exactly what was coming. I announced to my family that we wouldn’t be seeing the tribal council, but everyone flat out disagreed with me. ‘Oh no, they wouldn’t do that, they’ll show it’ I kept hearing. I sighed, and waited for the evidence to present itself. After a nine minute set of commercials, the finale comes back to everyone back at camp.
I still remember that little game of ‘who got kicked out’ and how shocked we were to find out Dreamz kept immunity and that the blasphemous action of Yau-Man’s ouster occurred. Especially when we found out Earl helped vote him out. My dad would be grumpy for the next two days as a result. He scowled to every little remark for the rest of the episode. Screw you Canwest for editing out the Tribal Council.
12) I can’t find anything else to complain about this season.
Things I love about Fiji:
1) Melissa McNulty quit. If she didn’t quit, we would be stuck with another pointless division by race where we’d see the tribes combine into two after a couple episodes anyway.
2) Nineteen contestants to start out. Fiji is the ONLY season to feature an odd number of players to start out. Even if it wasn’t intentional.
3) No double boot episodes. The first time this has occurred in a 16+ person season since All Stars.
4) The challenges didn’t have any jokes in it. All seemed fair and reasonable. That maze on day 37 was absolutely amazing.
5) The Misadvenutres of Kenward ‘Boo’ Bernis. He is the one-eyed, one-legged, one-armed, ACL tearing thicket-hiding freak of nature.
6) Haves vs. Have-nots would’ve been better ending at the switch. Cassandra, Stacey, and Boo being able to live in luxury for 22 days is no longer an intriguing twist, but rather just them on vacation.
7) The twist that the one person who helped the most around camp for the first three days ends up dividing the tribes rather than production. I love it when the players themselves get to decide their own fate.
8) After two seasons of horrendous rules for the hidden immunity idol, the producers finally listened to what we suggested back in Exile Island and got the rules somewhat balanced. It made the season start off on the right foot compared to a terrible season like Exile Island and a mediocre season like Cook Islands. Fiji was a breath of fresh air.
9) There were six clues in play before any of the idols were found. Even China and Exile Island only had four clues before people were finding idols, and those are two seasons that are exceptionally praised for it being well-hidden. Even the re-hidden idol in Fiji needed each of the four remaining clues before it was claimed. Besides, did you notice how difficult it is to claim an idol discreetly in your sleeping quarters, or the last idol that was at the summit of trees on the other side of the island? That’s an enormous area to search. The idol expired on day 37, and the idol that was re-hidden on night 24 wasn’t found until day 36 for something that the producers wanted to bank on for excitement. Now that’s true gameplay being placed ahead of production’s own interests. Now they’re just given to a member of each camp’s camera crew who decides to hand one over whenever they feel like it. Overall, Fiji’s setup was perfect.
10) The idol being used on day 37. My criticism of the idol is that you don’t have to be as good of a strategist if you’re forced to play it by day 36/final 6. That’s fewer opportunities to be blindsided. If it were up to me, people should be allowed to try and carry an idol to day 39 and trade it in for a jury vote. Just to see how risky and greedy the players would be if they had all the freedom and power in their own hands. No more “oh, you didn’t receive a clue, but you got it at the ‘idol here sign’ and it expires in two days. Guess you gotta play it tonight, eh?”
11) Every episode is solid for me. Not a dull episode in the whole season.
12) People rag on the Haves vs. Have-nots being extremely one-sided in terms of who had the advantage. I beg to differ. I identified this right when the twist was revealed.
a) There are two tribes of nine with one person at Exile. Whichever tribe with the worst camp goes to Tribal and votes someone out but gets a replacement regardless. Suddenly we’re at 9-9 even though Moto has the nice camp.
b) The bottle twist at the end of episode four. Whoever has the nice camp loses a member, and the people that have the worse camp is immune. Suddenly the numbers are that much closer regardless of who wins the challenge.
c) The tribe switchup. Whoever goes to Exile joins the losing tribe, which will most likely be the tribe that doesn’t have showers and beds and cutlery and a satellite hookup to watch the GameShow Network on their downtime. Suddenly having the camp advantage doesn’t matter once again.
d) If somebody in the end spent most of their time at the worse camp and goes up against somebody who spent 22 days living at the nice camp, who suddenly has the more compelling “come-from-behind-victory?” Yes, it’s the person with the worse camp.
So really, the nice camp was cursed from day three. It’s a neat idea for an ORG-based season of Survivor, but I understand how it doesn’t quite match the Survivor motif for some viewers. I appreciate the ORG shoutouts on TV, though.
13) Earl was my favourite player from day one, and he ended up winning. Can’t get angry about that.
14) Rocky bullies Anthony and is so happy to get rid of him. . .only to be voted out two days later. Poetic. Their relationship was fun to watch.
15) Mookie who wasn’t the most likeable guy all the way through ends up gaining our sympathy after being the only one to never live on Moto that made merge and never having an alliance that worked out his way. I felt bad at the end.
16) Stacey starts off as one of the biggest jerks, but redeems herself by pulling off one of the greatest strategic moves in Survivor history by the end of episode 10 and going out of the game on a good note.
17) Re-watching Fiji completely from Dreamz point of view. Extremely entertaining to see how the last 22 days of the game revolves around him.
18) Shaquilo, shalinguall, shaquary.
19) “Watch out Yau-Man for the boards in front of you as I fall off of this platfoooooooorm!” Ooof.
20) Lisi: “I’m winning immunity and I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it–” *ooof. Memory erased.*
21) Thanks to there being nineteen recruits, you see some old school style of voting splits on the Ravu tribe and Yau-Man pulling off an extremely unique car deal to end Fiji in a very distinct way.
22) Episode ten is incredible. Easily one of the top three episodes of all time.
23) Huge level of strategy when they first merged. I was so excited by not knowing what was going to happen because there was so many freakin’ deals.
24) Other seasons have a dull Final Tribal if it’s predictable. If you’re Fiji though, you can be predictable but still really entertaining and funny at the same time.
25) Dreamz’ strategizing techniques is so all over the place but quite good at the same time. Definitely intriguing to watch.
26) Lisi’s contradictory quotes in every episode. Her inability to grasp the game was comedic relief, especially when you know she goes home early enough to not make the game annoying.
27) The un-merge. Some people hate it, but it’s something I’ve always hoped Survivor would do. I liked the execution of it because it put all of the power in the players’ hands. The strategy of how Alex communicated who to vote for at Tribal is something we will likely never see again. It really tested how savvy of a Survivor player you were when thrown into a situation where you need to adapt immediately.
28) Mookie and Alex’s eliminations seemed predictable on paper, but the fact my favourite of the two Alex pulled off a great move of self-preservation by tricking Mookie, and Alex’s torch smuffing the next round was anything but set in stone.
29) The first season to have suspenseful idol usage thanks to episode 10 and episode 13. The first time where Yau-Man NEEDED to play his idol is probably the most suspenseful moment for hidden immunity idols simply because it was the first. I would rank Gary’s idol second because it occurred even before the vote happened, so it’s not like it was at the very end of the episode.
30) “You say askew I say ascoot…You say non-orthogonal I say not ninety degrees.”
31) Great cast overall. Even the early ousters were all likeable and interesting players too. Except maybe Liliana. Cause we didn’t get to know her at all.
32) Rocky’s failed alliance at the beginning with Erica and Jessica. Oh how things would change for Rocky.
33) Heavy strategizing from start to finish.
34) The idols are FINALLY not hidden at Exile. For the first time too. Made things much more fun.
35) I enjoyed it.
36) Fiji has its own cultural ‘feel’ thanks to the rewards, the overall visual appearance of the season, and the Fijian dancing competition.
37) Both camps are freakin’ huge!