It’s Wednesday and the SURVIVOR OZ TOP TEN's return this week after a few weeks off as we brought you all the results from the Ozcars! This week is week one of a two week series, as host Ben Waterworth puts pen to paper to bring you the Top 10 Best Final Tribal Council Performances. Fifty-nine castaways, (some more than once), have had their say to persuade the Jury; some have been memorable, others forgettable but ten have stood out beyond the rest. Who would make your list? Read on as Ben reveals his and comment below with your thoughts!
So you’ve lasted thirty-nine days, made it through thick and thin and you find yourself with a seat at the Final Tribal Council with a bunch of Jury members staring you down. It’s up to you to sway them into writing your name down to help you walk away a millionaire, and what you say or do can be the difference between a fatter bank account and damaged pride. Over twenty-six seasons, fifty-nine people have faced the pressure test that is Final Tribal Council, and today I present to you the ten players who handled the pressure best and gave a performance that will be remembered forever. They might not have necessarily done enough to walk away the winner either, so read on and be prepared to see some choices that may surprise.
10. Amber Brkich – All-Stars
“I came into the game saying I knew it was going to be harder this time around because I’m playing with people I knew, rather than just strangers. I came out here to win a million dollars, and little did I know that all these bonuses came along with it. I think the reason I’m sitting here right now is luck, all of you guys for not voting me out and because of my alliance with Rob. I know you guys are probably sitting there with sore feelings; I know I did when I sat on the jury. But I want you all to know that I got out of this game what I wanted to do and I’m satisfied.”
All-Stars had one of, if not THE most bitter and spiteful Jury in the history of Survivor. There was no way you could avoid that. These people were close. They were friends. And lots of friendships were broken along the way. However the one person who many people thought didn’t deserve to be on All-Stars in the first place made it all the way to the end and had to stand up for her game. What was her game? Aligning with Rob, it helped her a great deal. And that was a huge selling point. And I for one have always been a staunch believer that she won more so on Rob being hated rather than Amber being deserving. But seeing her performance, there is hardly any remorse for the way she played. She openly admitted to playing Rob for strategy at the start before feelings developed. She didn’t know where things were going in that, and to her it was about the million. Each one of her answers seemed calculated, sincere and not said in a way that was purely to suck up and apologise. Had Rob answered the way Amber did, he would’ve won. But he didn’t, and Amber did.
9. Dawn Meehan – Caramoan
“The hardest part, I had to actually give myself permission to play the game, and be willing to use the things in my normal life when I build trust and friendships with people, I don’t exploit them. This is a game for a million dollars and if this was football I have to be willing to tackle.”
Dawn gave an amazing performance and one that was extremely underrated. The main focus was on her and the way she ‘backstabbed’ everyone along the way. Dawn summed it up perfectly at the start when she said she wanted to align herself with someone to go to the end with and to work alongside. That person was Cochran and he was just as much to blame as she was for everything that happened. Was it the fact Dawn was a woman that she bore the brunt of all the hate? The fact that she played the ‘mum’ card her first time around and people couldn’t accept that she played it so differently a second time? Who knows, but when you’re faced with a barrage of criticism, answer it straight up and even have the courage to remove a part of your body just to satisfy someone’s bruised ego, that shows guts and determination that seemingly won’t get any credit anytime soon. Until now.
8. Brian Heidik – Thailand
“Along the way you develop friends, but this is a game, and certain people had to go before others. Which sucked. But I dealt with it the best way I could. Vote from your hearts. That’s all I ask. I respect each one of you either way.”
When you’re a used car salesman, you’re used to schmoozing with people to get what you want. After thirty-nine days of schmoozing, scheming and going about his ‘business trip’, it all paid off for him as he walked away a millionaire. His performance in the Final Tribal Council essentially summed up his entire game; he was in control, had people under his little finger and did the best to calm people who got angry at him along the way. However, when the going got tough, and things started to go south, he was able to maintain a level of calm, keep his head and still walk away with the votes. Brian thought he had it easy in the end by implementing the first ever usage of the ‘goat strategy’, by taking along an ‘easy beat’ to the end who he assumed he would dominate. An honest an open account of his game, there were similarities to his Final Tribal Council performance with Chris Daugherty. The difference being that Chris had his ‘A game’ for the entire Final Tribal Council, where Brian only really stepped into it when things slowly turned against him. It worked though, and the master walked away a millionaire because of it.
7. Richard Hatch – Borneo
“For me it’s not about you deciding who the best person is. I don’t think you really know who I am. My approach to the game was one of strategy from the beginning. I came to play a game, and I was playing a game. There were a lot of sincere interactions, but no matter how sincere they were I don’t think anybody really knows who we are in only 39 days.”
The original master, Richard Hatch set the bar high when it came to so many elements of Survivor. One such element was his final performance in the Final Tribal Council. After Kelly kicked things off with a fairly resounding speech about getting to know her and voting for the ‘best person’, Richard threw her words out the window and spat on them with his opening words. Kelly by no means gave a terrible performance and it was probably one of the best Final Tribal Council in terms of an equal playing field. The difference is though when Richard Hatch has such a strong game behind him and knew what he was doing from Day One; it’s hard to fault him when it comes to a dominant end of game speech. Sure he won by only one vote, and you could argue that Greg and THAT number question played a part. But, if you are ever after a great learning curve for watching how to talk to the Jury, then start from the very beginning and watch how Richard works.
6. Danni Boatwright – Guatemala
“I was surprised that nobody really thought I was a threat because I do have a strong athletic background, and I knew that when it came to endurance challenges I couldn’t be stopped. I just hope at the end of all this, after everything is done we can have you guys come to Kansas and have some good barbecue and go to a ball game!”
What impresses me about Danni is that her Final Tribal Council performance really summed up her entire game. She didn’t give too much away about her strategy, she was nice and endearing enough for people to want to hear from her yet she showed a ruthless streak at times that really showed why she was a deserving winner. As a viewer, not seeing her be the most strategic player to ever play the game can be frustrating; many people have questioned her win. But given her strategy was to basically not tell anyone about her strategy, it worked a treat to get her all the way to the end. So much was the unknown quality of her game that there weren’t the hard hitting questions that faced her rival Stephenie, and there weren’t the big lies or untruths she had told during the game that she had to answer for. Danni also had a way of really connecting with those on the Jury and really showed that she had made connections with each of them and that is a hard thing to ignore. She sat there, showed off her beautiful smile, watched Stephenie self destruct and laughed her way to a million dollars. It was all part of the plan for Danni, and it worked a treat.
5. Jud “Fabio” Birza – Nicaragua
“Part of my strategy was to be myself to the fullest, be an open book. I knew I was in the clear a lot of the time when it came to the end, and I really needed to assert myself. I felt like I did that and winning three immunity challenges in a row was survival mode! I deserve to be in the final three, I played a stand up game. I don’t think I backstabbed any of you guys and I think I deserve a million dollars because I could have a lot of fun!”
Some people say that Fabio didn’t deserve to win and that he ‘lucked’ into the Final Tribal Council. I for one am not one of those people. Sure he was a goofball and sure he would’ve no doubt gone a lot earlier had he not gone on an Immunity streak, but when you say in episode one, “I’m going to win this game” and then give one of the most underrated Final Tribal Council performances of all time, it’s hard for me to see how he DIDN’T deserve to walk away a millionaire. He had the Jury laughing, he had the Jury connected with him, and he also had two guys either side of him who gave very ‘bipolar’ performances. The thing that always seemed to be brought up with Fabio was his Immunity streak, which was it. Nobody spoke about anything else, but he still managed to slip in references to what he did out there and still bring in the answer to pretty much the same question each time. Then, when he wasn’t getting asked essentially the same question, he wasn’t being asked anything at all. Which in a pressure cooker like the Final Tribal Council usually can be a good thing when the other two people on either side of you are getting such a grilling.
4. Courtney Yates – China
“Unlike these two people sitting next to me, I wasn’t a life long Survivor fan. No strategy, no idea what I was doing and every time I wasn’t voted out, I was surprised. Whether or not you like me personally, you have to give credit to the little girl who everyone thought would be gone in the first six days.”
China is such a unique season that each of the Final Three gave such memorable Final Tribal Council performances. The biggest surprise for me was the diminutive Courtney Yates. Struggling from the outset, the fact she made it to the end was a miracle in itself. But this pint sized battler showed fight, courage and stood up to her actions and very nearly upstaged another master sitting next to her. Had she been on any other season, she would’ve walked away a million dollars richer. But she wasn’t on any other season; she was on China. If you had of put money on the Final Three and who would do the best and who would do the worst, chances are you would’ve bet a large sum on Courtney walking away with the bronze medal. But she proved everyone wrong and very nearly proved to be the Sole Survivor because of it.
3. Chris Daugherty – Vanuatu
“I think I deserve to win as the sole Survivor for many reasons. I think besides not only being loyal to the alliances I made in the game, I think I overcome more odds than anybody. I was the last man standing against six women. I just think I deserve to win this game because of the odds I overcome.”
For years Chris has always been a close second behind Todd in the Final Tribal Council stakes, but given recent performances on recent seasons, he has to fall back one spot on this list. A true survivor in the way he was able to last in the game, Chris used every trick in the book to get to the end. Even when he was sitting on that bench in one of the most emotional Tribal Council’s in history, he still could play his magic. He manipulated the Jury into taking his side, he sounded sincere enough that people who he had hurt would still want to vote for him, and he was also able to stand up for his game in a way that people would take notice. Who can forget that emotional conversation with Julie? Even the strongest of people would’ve found it hard not to get a tear in their eye after that exchange. I can’t say enough just how much of a dishonour to Survivor it is that we have never seen him play again, and just maybe one day my dream will come true. All I can also hope for is another Final Tribal Council finish for Chris in a Final Three against the next two people. That I have to say is one big Survivor wet dream.
2. Denise Stapley – Philippines
“Let me start by telling all of you that the one thing I’m not going to do tonight is make any apologies for being apart of this final three. I’m not only proud to be here, but I truly believe I deserve to be here. I’ve been able to adapt and assimilate in not only one tribe, two tribes, but three tribes. At the end of the day, I’m the one sitting up here who has survived every single tribal council. And I’m still sitting here. I’ve outwitted many of you. I’ve outplayed many of you, and ultimately I did outlast all of you. And I believe I deserve the title of sole Survivor“
One word sums up Denise and her opening statement: BURN! That may be even more appropriate given her profession, but we’re not here to talk about sex. Her opening statement alone gives her a cheque and there is no denying just how forthcoming that statement was. Here is a woman who many people might’ve expected to just sit back and let Lisa and Skupin take the brunt of a lot of the bitterness, but no. She wasn’t just going to assume she had the victory. She put her foot down, proved why she was the best player that season and smacked it out of the park. You can’t survive every single Tribal Council without being deserving, and it was refreshing to see someone her age come through in a game that had been dominated by younger contestants for some time. It’s probably too early to really gauge just where Denise sits on the all time winners list, but I for one think she is easily in the top ten, and her final speech alone puts her ahead of many who came before her.
1. Todd Herzog – China
“I’m stoked to be here tonight and firstly I want to say thank you for being where you are and helping me to get to this spot in the game. I know I had to play a game where I had to lie, and I had to backstab and I had to hurt people that I care about. The main thing I can ask for tonight is that you can see the difference between my strategic game and the relations I actually built with you. Because the relations on a personal level; honest and real. The game level, the strategic level, is what I came here to do. I knew coming into the game that I wasn’t the most physical, but I knew that I could be the most strategic. And if I did that, I could get here. This is my dream come true! I’ve lived my dream and you guys have all been apart of it. I’m happy to answer all your questions, hear whatever you have to say about me. I’m ready for it. But I really do want to say thank you for helping me in the game. It means the world to me, so thanks.”
So great was Todd in his Final Tribal Council performance, that his entire opening speech deserves a transcript. It has everything. He essentially thanks the entire Jury for helping him dominate the game and get to the end. He then goes on to say that his plan all along was to stab everyone in the back, but by doing it as a friend. He continues to say that it was his dream to be there, and that by stepping over everyone with a smile, he achieved it. He also added the word ‘stoked’, which is probably the closest you will ever get to an Australian making the Final Tribal Council on Survivor. Todd wasn’t afraid to stand up to any move he did, and he owned every single person on the Jury. Particularly Jean-Robert, who’s facial expression still remains one of the most prized and stunning looks ever seen in the game, alongside James stating he was in ‘awe’ of just how good his answer was. That look sums up just how dominant Todd was, and if you haven’t seen just how masterful he was in that Final Tribal Council, then drop what you are doing right now and go and watch it. It is the perfect example of how to win a game of Survivor based purely on the final few hours of the game. Put him up against anyone, he would win. And I would put a lot of money on seeing Todd win another million dollars, doing a ‘Sandra’ and keeping the same strategy should he ever return for a second shot.
Honourable mentions: Sabrina Thompson (One World), Kim Spradlin (One World), Parvati Shallow (Micronesia), Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands), Sandra Diaz-Twine (Heroes vs. Villains), Chase Rice (Nicaragua), Matthew Von Ertfelda (Amazon), Jenna Morasca (Amazon), Benjamin ‘Coach’ Wade (South Pacific), Kelly Wiglesworth (Borneo), Susie Smith (Gabon)
Join me again next week as I bring you the polar opposite of this list: the Top Ten WORST Final Tribal Council Performances!
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!