Unless you have an inability to do process of elimination, you know what’s ranked at the top. But in case you don’t, I’ll put in the additional dots anyway. . .
1. Pearl Islands (season 7) Rating: 9/10
A near-perfect season from start to finish. The first season where Survivor introduced twists on a consistent basis, and all twists except for one didn’t twist the game too much, but it stayed true to the integrity of the game. You also have one of the best strategic casts in Survivor history, some of the craziest moves ever made, enough drama to keep you entertained, and enough hilarious actions and dialogue to keep you laughing/ROFLcoptering. Sorry, that was my best attempt at integrating 4chan lingo into a Survivor ranking. Anyways, let’s not waste time. I’ll get into the specifics immediately.
Things I didn’t like about this season:
1) Lil makes Final Two. The scoutmaster. Who cried all the time. Who was voted out on day 9. Makes freakin’. Final. Two. HOW???? WHY???? Rupert should yell at her to ‘GET IN MY BELLY’ to become the permanent fan favourite in Survivor. Any Outcast who gets into Final Two with a non-Outcaster made day 39 a foregone conclusion. Although I was in a pro-Sandra pocket of the world at the time, so seeing Sandra win was enjoyable.
2) The producers incorporating the Outcasts twist. If Drake beat the outcasts on day 19, only Burton would’ve came back to replace Osten. But the fact two tribes who only intermingled through Rupert would be even in numbers, and mix in with two people who have been out for seven to ten days made this a huge factor to the end of this game. They aren’t deemed worthy of winning because, well, nobody wants to see somebody skip ten days of Survivor (on the other hand, apparently skipping fourteen days and then skipping another fifteen and sharing your religious beliefs is an exception to the rule) and go on to win the game. Unfortunately Survivor ushers in a MUCH WORSE adaptation of this twist fifteen seasons later.
3) Michelle baffles her tribe as well as the audience by not throwing the gross drink challenge causing the beloved Drakes to lose immunity. I think I would have had the same reaction as Fairplay did to Michelle’s ego. Surprisingly, nobody has attempted this strategy since then. I guess that’s what happens when it’s all recruits who don’t watch Survivor enough to know you have a good chance this challenge will come up and the tiebreaker is the exact same every time. It would have been neat to see this Trojan UpChucking Horse play out.
4) Skinny Ryan gets picked on. I had big expectations for Skinny Ryan. The fact he was voted out before Osten on his tribe was a letdown. Yeah, he wasn’t the strategic mastermind we all thought he’d be, but if you look at the personalities of the other Morgans, it is very evident Ryan would never fit in. He would have never been able to integrate himself into the main clique. At least he wasn’t the big social fail like Jeanne or Sherea who were in the bottom of their original tribes and their new tribes in the same episode. Then there was a tease that he had a one-in-three shot for him to come back into the game, but his opportunity of being considered a diamond in the rough is lost forever when he throws a vote for the one player who needed that very vote to break the tie.
5) The village twist is never used again.
6) The treasure twist only appears in All Stars then gone for good. It made rewards interesting pre-merge. Come to think of it, treasure twist gave birth to the hidden immunity idols.
7) Feeding Rupert’s image leads him to exaggerate his personality progressively worse throughout his next two appearances.
8) The first season where multiple players get a more toned down edit (See Michelle, Trish, Christa, and Darrah.) I would take P.I.’s style of editing over the current seasons any day though. None of them are remotely close to a Liliana, Purple Kelly, Natalie Bolton, Rick, Whitney, and Keith.
9) Skinny Ryan’s classic case of snot pouring out of his nose in the first reward challenge.
Things I liked about this season:
1) The village twist where players buy their own supplies. To this day it is the best opening to any season in Survivor history. It is one that even the online community cannot improve nor replicate. Osten sold his clothes thinking his booty shorts will be good enough. Rupert happens to be on the one season in twenty-four — twenty-four seasons!! Where he had the opportunity to steal shoes.
2) Every single person in the cast. Seriously. All of them are awesome.
3) Every single episode. Seriously. All of them are awesome.
4) Production realized the Outcasts twist was a bit too much, thus they stayed away from going too crazy with the game’s format until the introduction of the Final Three.
5) It’s the only season where a tribe wins all immunities in the first half, which happens to be my favourite tribe, followed by my least favourite tribe winning every immunity in the second half. This is great storytelling.
6) Osten and Pelican — the great comedic duo.
7) Shawn losing the spear. This led to an over-the-top celebration by Rupert as he finds the spear. Was that a pelican that flies into the air from Rupert’s shouting?
8) Ironic claims throughout the season.
FAIRPLAY: I guarantee Sandra won’t be Final Four, and I bet a mil she won’t be the Final One!
BURTON (weeks after he was voted out for leading the tribe to throw an immunity challenge): Christa, why did you throw out the fish? You can’t sabotage the tribe!
OSTEN: You get dehydrated. Then you have to go home. But I don’t want to go home.
9) Speaking of which, Sandra throwing out the fish was amazing. After our beloved hero falls, Sandra dumps out the fish and becomes the first player to blatantly make her own tribe a living hell for everyone. Sorry Russell, but Sandra started this trend.
10) Morgan dwindles down to pretty much nothing while Drake has everything. It was the most interesting contrasts in camp life. This even exceeds the disparity between the two camps in Palau. With Morgan, they didn’t have any food, their shelter was looted, and they had zero knowledge of defending their camp against the tide.
11) The treasure twist. Every reward involved taking an item from the other tribe and receiving a clue to a loot on your own beach. This made rewards infinitely interesting. It’s beyond me why this was ditched after All-Stars and hasn’t been revived for eight years with the exception of Tocantins’ episode four reward. It results in everyone giving intriguing reactions to when they see the loot is not the greatest, and how the tribes hate each other more as a result.
12) I’ll own up that the Outcasts twist likely made P.I. the epic second half that it wouldn’t have been if the Outcasts were non-existent.
13) The greatest second half in Survivor history. Rupert, Tijuana, Christa, Burton, Darrah, Fairplay, Lil, then Sandra are your boot order. Do you know how insane that is considering the tribes never switched pre-merge and that the three factions were extraordinarily tight? The biggest blindsides in succession and the constant changes in alliances makes this very entertaining and a great source of studying Survivor strategy.
14) This is the first season after the Rob Cesternino tutorial of how to play Survivor. Thus fifteen out of sixteen are extremely well-versed in how to play this game. Can you guess the one who I left out?
15) Sandra, who had about a 1000:1 odds of winning prior to the season, gets through the entire season without receiving a single vote, winning an individual challenge, and leading any dominating alliance. She adds in verbal abuse of her opponents and ultimately gets respected for it. Only Vecepia or Earl would overall have the best shot at having more wins if they have the opportunity to play again and again. We need All Winners to happen!
16) That look Rupert gives Osten in the third immunity challenge when Jeff says “Did you ever consider Darrah or Michelle would want down?” It’s a subtle thing, but my brother and sister catch onto it every time I give P.I. a re-watch.
17) Sandra slaughtering Morgan’s shelter palm frond by palm frond during a loot.
18) Fairplay is drunk at Tribal Council. There isn’t any fan fic that could get away with a player being drunk while being the swing vote in a key situation. Hilarious.
19) Fairplay’s whole pro wrestling persona. I am happy nobody has tried to copycat it since. Everything contributed to his pro wrestling character. The F and the Y. That stupid Jeff Jarrett-like walk in some challenges or when he runs to vote at TC regardless of intoxication. Or most of his comments when his votes were shown at Tribal Council.
20) Fairplay’s voting confessionals. “F— you!” and “Mr. Andrew, Mr. Savage…DIG IT?!” and “’I’m hardcore, I’m hardcore’….Have a nice day!”
21) Such a great theme song. It’s right up there with Africa, Thailand, and China. This season was inspired from top to bottom.
22) The overall pirate theme breathes new life into production. They keep up the theme of the whole season from day one to day thirty-nine. Production was truly enjoying themselves. This is why the challenges were incredible this season.
23) “I can get loud too, what the f—!”
24) “Shawn’s back looks like the moon in reverse!”
25) “Gimme my money, gimme my money!” — Tijuana in her annoying voice.
26) “I have yet to see Jon wash a dish or clean a fish.”
27) Everyone giving up rewards to each other. This not only tightens bonds between Rupert and others, but it also leads to monumental betrayals.
28) The Pearl Islands was the most aesthetically pleasing place Survivor had ever been to until Palau. It was naturally made for Survivor to be played there. Except during rainy season as we saw with the excessive rain in All Stars.
29) The most new songs added to the Survivor soundtrack since Australia or Africa. You can’t go wrong with pirate-themed music for fourteen episodes. Better than Australia’s special effects with the digeridoo or whatever those bloody things are called.
30) “WHO THE HELL VOTED FOR ME, JON?! WHO THE HELL VOTED FOR ME??? YOU STARTED THIS S—, YOU MOTHERF—ER!”
The fact Rupert runs for governor this year makes this quote about ten times funnier than when it initially aired. And even then the exchange was hilarious.
31) Two words: Dead. Grandma.
32) Thunder D’s acting is really bad when he breaks the news. Not as bad as Ozzy’s acting on Redemption Island, though. That’s in a league of its own.
33) Outcasts twist is a much better alternative to RI.
How to succeed on RI: You meet a player where it’s ‘one of us wins and one of us goes home no matter what’. Thus, the only thing these two do is play in a challenge. They have nothing else to do or worry about. There isn’t any risk to any information you share because either you die or the other dies.
How to succeed as an Outcast: You have meagre rations. You have to defeat at least one tribe to have a chance of being back in the game. Thus, multiple people could come back in, one person could come back in, or nobody comes back in depending on challenge results. You always have to be on edge. In addition, re-entry is not a fixed outcome like in R.I. You have to earn a shot for any of the six to come back in the game.
Would Outcasts be controversial if Drake and Morgan smoke them? Probably not. If they beat only one tribe? Barely. But because the outcome of them beating both Drake and Morgan occur, we are suddenly told to hate this twist.
Once Outcasts win the challenge, there is a whole new Survivor-like element that doesn’t happen in Redemption Island. In fact, this is my biggest issue with R.I. The six outcasts were forced to strategize and have their own Tribal Council to decide which two of six would be put back into the game. Burton is successful by catching on that he needs to promise each of the other five that he would protect them. Lil on the other hand annoyed the others too much that she was successful in returning to the game too.
What did you have to do to get back in the game during the RI seasons? Win a few carnival games and you’re guaranteed to re-enter? And make friends with someone who you didn’t vote out as they enter the jury house? R.I. people are given such an easy path to potentially win that everyone else in the game will ALWAYS vote them out the first round they don’t have immunity. That’s why Andrea, Matt, Ozzy 4.0, and Ozzy 5.0 never had a chance. Burton and Lil in contrast survived several eliminations without winning immunity.