The week is in the middle which means it’s time for our weekly SURVIVOR OZ TOP TEN, this week brought to you by Nick Chester! There is no arguing that Redemption Island is often considered the worst season of Survivor, and usually brings with it a certain level of debate and controversy when it comes to the super fans of the show. But from such a ‘bad’ season, can there honestly be ‘good’ moments? Nick argues there can be, and he presents to you today ten moments that perhaps should be taken into account when ranking Redemption Island on your ‘best seasons’ list next time around.
Often maligned as the worst season of Survivor ever, Redemption Island certainly gets treated as the ‘red headed stepchild’ of the Survivor family. In fact, it was voted by Survivor Oz listeners as the worst season of all time. Whilst there is no denying that some of this criticism is warranted, to say it is the worst season ever is, I feel, a bit of a stretch. Here are ten reasons why Redemption Island is not the worst of all time, and in many ways, is actually quite good!
10. Boston Rob brings the funny
One of Survivor’s best narrators and confessional-cutters, Rob was in blistering form in Redemption Island. Highlights include anything to do with looking for the hidden immunity idol (from finding the clue due to ‘Phillip’s fat ass” to complaining about how useless the clue was to leading Grant on a wild goose chase to throwing a clue in a volcano), and mocking Phillip relentlessly (‘Let this be a lesson- Government jobs: Stressful!’). Whilst many complained this season was shown almost solely from Rob’s viewpoint, you can see why. In the end, any season with such a great comedian can’t be too bad!
9. The ‘anti-bitter’ jury
It is a fairly compelling argument that the jury really had no option but to give their votes to Boston Rob. But given that he had made most of the big moves, you could expect that a “bitter jury” would award the game to Natalie, just out of spite for Rob. In fact, Rob won convincingly, and jurors and arguably even Natalie and Phillip themselves helped make a case for him. For those that like to see jurors put aside personal feelings and truly vote for the best player, this was a good result.
8. The destruction of Hantz
Love him or hate him, seeing Russell voted out of Survivor for the first time was memorable. Time has faded it a little bit, but Russell, Stephanie and Krista had Julie wavering about possibly joining them (at least that how it was presented to the viewer). This made it pretty suspenseful about whether or not Mr Hantz would actually get the boot. In the end, he went and in a blaze of glory. Great TV.
7. Duels are a bigger reward
Challenges for me are an essential part of the game for deciding who goes to Tribal Council, and that’s it. Less is best. I don’t need to see two tribes playing ten pin for a pizza. There’s no tension in it and I really don’t care who wins or loses. Replace that with a duel, and suddenly something is on the line. I care more about who wins and who loses, even if the challenge isn’t that great (cough *shuffleboard* cough). The biggest mistake was having multiple people compete, meaning you didn’t have to win, but just not come last. But then, how was this any different to tribal challenges in Cook Islands, All-Stars and Philippines?
6. Redemption Island
OK, hear me out. I know what you were thinking. Biggest fail in Survivor production ever. This massive “twist” to the game really had no impact and was a complete dud from start to finish. You obviously forgot the Medallion of Power? Whilst I agree it’s hard to defend Redemption Island, I like a challenge, so here goes. Survivor stays fresh by trying new twists to keep the game new and interesting. Whilst Redemption Island didn’t work out as well as it could have, it offered some great possibilities and had to factor into voting, even if it wasn’t shown. I remember thinking what an error it was to blindside Matt (the first time) as he was a good candidate to come back from Redemption Island and really mess with Rob’s plans. That should have worked if Matt had a clue what he was doing. Similarly, if Grant had returned to the game instead of Andrea, he may have had more influence than her over Natalie and Ashley (and maybe even Phillip) and could have made the end game much more interesting. I also don’t accept that it messes with the basic concept of Survivor. The same could be said for any twist, from tribal swaps to hidden immunity idols. This makes the game less “pure” but ultimately, if changes were never made, we never would have got to 22 seasons as it is. Ultimately the twist didn’t work, but it didn’t ruin the season either.
5. Matt Elrod, a.k.a ‘Captain Face palm’
Any good season of Survivor needs a loveable idiot who throws their chances of winning in the trash by making a bonehead move. Step forward, Mr Elrod, you filled this role perfectly. After fighting his way back into the game through Redemption Island, Matt had the most perfect reason to flip on his tribe. They didn’t just think about voting him out – they did it! Any rational player would turn on these people in a heartbeat, but Matt sticks with his group, but not after a heart to heart with Rob. Matt then preceded to get knife #2 embedded in his back and summed it up best himself, saying he’s “not very good at this game”. He’s basically Ice Cream Scooper Erik’s younger, dumber brother.
4. The Specialist
Love him or hate him, Phillip was one of the most memorable characters in Survivor history. I get how people who watch the show for strategy would get annoyed with someone solely there for entertainment, but he brought a much needed splash of excitement to a somewhat flat cast. The “wardrobe” choices were interesting and the finding feathers/channelling his dead relatives/taking on the personality of his tattoos was just wacky. But there were times when you could relate with Phillip. When he was stuck as the only worker on a tribe full of relatively lazy people, it would be hard for most people not to react. Phillip just reacted in glorious ways that made for interesting TV to say the least. There was never any doubt he would return for a future season. And bonus points for “Stealth-R-Us”, the only alliance that sounds like a department store.
3. The first three episodes
In fact, the madness that is the start of this season doesn’t end with that first tribal council. It’s easy to forget that this predictable season had one of the most unpredictable starts. I would go as far to say that the first 3 episodes are amongst the very strongest starts to any season of Survivor. Often a season will take a few episodes to really get going, but Redemption Island hit the ground running. Within these three episodes you get: crazy Tribal Council at episode 1, blindside in episode 2, then the throwing of a challenge and the elimination of a survivor legend in episode 3. The fact that things become so predictable following this makes the start seem even more crazy.
2. Episode 1 Tribal Council
Usually, the first vote is a mundane affair, the person going home is obvious due to costing the team the challenge, or just not fitting in with the group. Day 3 on Redemption Island was ridiculously complicated, given the fact that no one person really screwed up the challenge, Phillip was an obvious loose cannon and Kristina had the idol and foolishly told Phillip about it. Tribal Council then descends to Phillip’s out of control rant (thank god he was seeking treatment for that dry mouth), and Rob attempting to blackmail Christina out of her idol.
1. Survivor 101 by Professor Robert Mariano
Yes, the scales were tipped wildly in his favour. He had 3 seasons worth of experience under his belt, and a favourable impression from players not hugely familiar with the game. But there is no doubt that Rob gave a performance that was as close to perfect as possible. He controlled the game from the start, not through overt intimidation but by making strong connections with every player that made them feel important and central to Rob’s plans. He let his other tribe mates make the social mistakes, found and controlled the hidden immunity idol, and ultimately won a bunch of challenges to ensure he took 2 goats to the end with him. Love him or hate him, you have to give him credit.
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!