Hooray! It’s Wednesday! Want another SURVIVOR OZ TOP TEN? Well, here you go. This week, Ozlet Rileigh Marshall has listed ten of her favourite Final Immunity Challenges from past seasons. We have seen 25 Final Immunity Challenges and each one has delivered its own memorable moments, both good and bad. But which ones have earned a spot in this week’s top ten? The big question in the final few episodes of ‘Survivor: Caramoan’ is whether the Final Immunity Challenge will live up to some of the more memorable ones in season’s past. What challenges made the list? You’ll have to read on to find out!
The Final Immunity Challenge is the most important challenge of any season. The winner is not only guaranteed a place in the finals, but they also get to choose who they sit next to when they face the Jury at the Final Tribal Council. With stakes at an all time high, the Final Immunity Challenge is always one to look forward to, though some seasons have lived up to the anticipation more than others. Some have delivered epic, hour-long showdowns, while others have been condemned for being boring or intrinsically unfair. Each has been memorable for their own reasons and here are my top ten.
10. Cook Islands
This challenge stands out for a few reasons. It was certainly unique in its design and the setting was one to be marvelled at. Additionally, it marked the first time that four people were to compete in the Final Immunity Challenge and three would go on to take part in the final Tribal Council. Ozzy, Becky, Sundra and Yul were required to stand on a small perch in the water, releasing sections of the perch every 15 minutes until they were left standing on a section that was less than half the size of a postcard. With Yul already safe due to his Hidden Immunity Idol, it was Ozzy that had the most on the line during this challenge, though you’d have a tough time seeing it. He looked cool as a cucumber, even mentioning his itchy nether regions, and after a number of spectacular recoveries, he managed to outlast the other three and win Immunity.
Although this challenge may have seemed a bit underwhelming at first, it turned out to be surprisingly intense and actually rather exciting to watch. It involved the final three, J.T., Stephen and Erinn, with one hand tied behind their back, placing a ball in a spiralling metal chute and catching it when it came out the other end. Basically all that was involved was a bit of concentration and some hand-eye coordination. However, the surprise element of strategy came into play when the contestants were instructed to add another ball to the track every few minutes. Timing suddenly became crucial, with the contestants having to quickly determine how to space the balls so that they would have the maximum amount of time to react when the balls came out the other end. Once four balls came into play, all this intensified and any lapse in concentration became disastrous. It ended in a showdown between J.T. and Stephen, but ultimately, it was Stephen who dropped the ball (yeah, I said it) and J.T. was awarded the final Immunity.
This was one of the more intriguing hands-on-the-idol final Immunity challenges. It started off simple enough, with the final three, Vecepia, Neleh and Kathy, required to hold on to the idol for as long as they could. At the beginning of the challenge, Neleh was assumed to have the most at stake, as Vecepia and Kathy had recently formed an alliance together. All three women lasted a commendable four and a half hours, until a seemingly harmless comment by Neleh about Kathy’s blouse threw Kathy off her balance and she was suddenly out of the challenge. Almost immediately, Vecepia made a shocking proposal to let Neleh win if she agreed to take her to the finals. It was one of the most unapologetic acts of betrayal seen in the game, and it also marked the first time that the concept of making a deal during the Final Immunity Challenge had been brought up. The deal was accepted by Neleh, and Kathy was voted out at the next Tribal Council. It was this surprising turn of events that garner Marquesas a spot in this top ten.
The concept of this challenge was fairly uninspiring; the contestants were simply required to balance on a raft in the sea for as long as possible. However, it was most memorable for the interaction that went on during the challenge between three of the biggest characters of the season. First, there was Sandra, who continued her dismal performance record by being the first one out, lasting only fifteen minutes into the challenge. Then there was Jonny Fairplay, hilariously trying to explain the concept of a deal to Lil while expressing little faith in his own ability to win the challenge. Finally, there was the scoutmaster herself, who decided to ignore Jon and teach him the value of aerobics instead. This was all overseen by a very amused Jeff and it made for a very entertaining Final Immunity Challenge, which Lil ultimately won fair and square.
It was the carnival game that ultimately cost Brett a million dollars. With the Jury almost entirely filled by former Galu members, Brett was one more Immunity win away from achieving a landslide victory, and the Foa Foa members knew it. This led to an incredibly intense Final Immunity Challenge in which the final four, Brett, Russell, Natalie and Mick, had to balance a wooden statue on top of a pole, adding pieces to the pole at regular intervals to make it harder to balance. Of course, it came down to a showdown between Russell and Brett, with their poles now seven feet high and the pressure surmounting. Brett ultimately watched a million dollars slip away when his statue fell from the pole. Some people say the result was predictable, given the strong improbability of Brett making it to the finals with that ridiculous edit, but I still believe it was one of the most exciting and suspense-filled final Immunity challenges we have seen.
Although this Final Immunity Challenge has been criticised for being unfair, the design flaw that led to this unexpected bias is also what made it so wildly entertaining. The challenge involved the Final Three, Danni, Stephanie and Rafe, balancing on a small rotating platform using the aid of two ropes. After the first hour, they were required to release one of the ropes. Almost immediately, each one of them lost their balance; however, with the rules stating that they were not out until their feet touched the ground, they proceeded to dangle from the ropes, frantically trying to reposition their feet back onto their platform. They all managed to stabilise themselves by leaning against the post beside them, and it is fair to say that a completely different Immunity Challenge than the one originally intended had now begun. After letting go of their final rope and relinquishing their ability to use their hands, Rafe absent-mindedly touched the post behind him and was the first to be eliminated. Danni’s tallness gave her a significant advantage and she breezed through the remainder of the challenge, looking downright comfortable, while the shorter Stephanie struggled in pain, sliding further down her post until she could no longer hold on. The challenge continued to be memorable right down to the end, when Danni comforted a tearful Stephanie rather than celebrate her win, and Rafe released Danni from her promise to take him to the Final Two and was subsequently voted out at the next Tribal Council.
In contrast to Guatemala, this was a challenge that was well conceived but that played out much less dramatically than perhaps the producers expected. Deep within a cave, amongst hundreds of lit candles, in 41°C heat, the Final Three, Brian, Clay and Jan, were instructed to place six coins between their fingers and assume a traditional Thai stance within the confines of a golden frame, with the goal of lasting the longest in that position without letting the money slip both literally and metaphorically through their fingers. Now, isn’t that description alone enough to earn it a top five spot? The pain felt by the contestants soon became obvious, as Clay and Jan’s legs started to visibly tremble in discomfort, so it was not surprising that the challenge was over in just twelve minutes. Although it came to a rather underwhelming end, with Brian predictably lasting the longest and winning Immunity, this was certainly made up for by the spectacular design and setting of this challenge, which sets it apart from many other Final Immunity Challenges.
Of course, it would be inconceivable not to include the original Final Immunity Challenge in this list. It undeniably set the tone for future seasons, marking the first of many endurance-based Final Immunity Challenges. As a model for subsequent “hand-on-the-idol” challenges seen in Africa, Marquesas and All-Stars, the Final Three, Rich, Kelly and Rudy, were required to keep one hand on the Immunity Idol for as long as they could. Unlike future seasons, however, the Borneo contestants were able to move their feet during this challenge and they were even tempted to quit with… orange slices? Really? Two and a half hours in, Rich memorably stepped down from the challenge, leaving his fate in the hands of his competitors in the hope that either one of them would take him to the finals. It was just another example of the kind of crazy but brilliant strategy that only a man who knew the game before the game knew itself could pull off. Four hours in and a sudden lapse in concentration effectively cost Rudy a million dollars, as Kelly claimed victory and ultimately decided to take Rich to the Final Two.
I ranked this challenge so high not for its design, but for how it played out, ending in one of the closest and most dramatic finishes to any challenge in the history of Survivor. It involved the Final Four, Russell, Parvati, Sandra and Jerri, navigating their way, blindfolded, through a maze to retrieve four necklaces, before finding their way back to collect the Final Immunity Necklace. It came to a nail-biting finish between Russell, Parvati and Jerri, as they edged their way, neck-and-neck, towards Immunity at the end of the course (Sandra was typically nowhere close to winning at this point). Russell reached the necklace first by mere inches and, after removing their blindfolds, Parvati and Jerri realised just how close they both had come to guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Final Three. This wasn’t your classic Final Immunity Challenge by any means, but I still believe it deserves its place at number two purely because of how memorable it was.
It was the longest challenge in Survivor history, lasting eleven hours and fifty five minutes, with an ending that no one expected. The challenge was straightforward, requiring the Final Three, Tom, Ian and Katie, to hang on to a buoy for as long as possible. With the sea relatively calm that day, winning was basically a matter of staying awake, resulting in an epic battle between Ian and Tom that lasted well into the night; long after Katie had dropped out voluntarily. As they approached the twelfth hour, in a bid to restore his friendship with Tom and Katie, Ian made a bewildering proposal to step down if Tom agreed to take Katie to the Final Two. The deal was made and Tom won Immunity, compliantly voting out Ian at an impromptu Tribal Council held at the challenge. Palau deserves top honours, not because it’s one of my favourite seasons and featured two of my favourite players, but because it essentially epitomised what the Final Immunity Challenge should be; completely unbiased and based purely on willpower. It was also, quite literally, the endurance challenge to end all endurance challenges, as we have never really seen another one like it (all future endurance-based Final Immunity Challenges have had some kind of added difficulty as time went on). In my opinion, until we see a challenge that goes for longer than twelve hours, Palau’s Final Immunity challenge will probably never be topped.
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!