It’s Wednesday, and, as always, we are pleased to bring you another Survivor Oz Top Ten for your viewing pleasure. This week, Ozlet Heather Smith’s dreams come true as she gets to share with you an article she has dedicated entirely to her favourite season of Survivor, (yep, you guessed it), Guatemala. Heather lists her top ten reasons for why this underrated season deserves more credit from Survivor fans. Do you agree with her points, or do you still think this is a terrible season? Leave your comments below and tell us what you think!
I’m sure that everyone already knows, Guatemala is my favourite season. As I’ve said on my interview, I try to not be discouraged that Guatemala never seems to be as loved as other seasons. However, I do agree that this season needs more love, so today I shall say my top ten reasons why it needs more love.
10.The Mayan Theme
“For thirty-nine days you will live amongst these ruins, just like the Maya did” – Jeff Probst
One of the most underrated aspects of seasons has to be whether or not the time has been put into constructing some kind of theme around it. In Guatemala, not only the location itself was used, but the deep meaning of the Maya was
drawn from it. The spirit of the location was really brought to life during this season. For one, an authentic ruin was used as the Nakúm and Xhakúm campsite. The Tribal Council set was a ruin as well, referencing the Maya love for human sacrifice. They were given tools to use that the Maya lived on and even ate the same mostly corn diet that the Maya did. The best example of this was the group of Mayans that meet the Final Four and preformed a sacrifice to their gods right outside of the temple.
The presence of a theme to a season really brings a location to life. Not only that they used the local stories they involved the castaways in the traditions and the culture of the Ancient Mayans. The soundtrack is filled with influences from the region as well. The producers really did an amazing job constructing a theme based on the two thousand years of history on the Mayans and it really brought that extra something to the season that recent seasons seem to lack.
9. Stephenie Crashing and Burning
“If this doesn’t show me where your loyalties lie, you are sadly mistaken” – Stephenie
It’s pretty hard to ignore that Guatemala brought back the last two Ulong members back in Stephenie and Bobby Jon. Stephenie was already well known and very popular from her past season as the last Ulong member standing that made it further that she should have. She was gifted a second chance in being a returning player on a tribe of eight newbies. Seen as kind of a celebrity amongst her fellow tribe mates, Stephenie was finally able to get a taste of power in the Merge.
However, one thing that did happen with Stephenie is that the heroic image that she obtained in Palau was deconstructed to a more negative side. She was seen as whiny and greedy, but she was also given more of a character development this season as she struggles to prove that she was so much better than what happened in her last season. It gave the season a strong character to root against, or even for those who like the type of archetype that Stephenie held in the season. Either way, love her or hate her, she provided the conflict needed that gives any season a great base.
8. The Tough Conditions of the Season
“I think it was just one of those reality checks, you know a scorpion can sting, a snake can bite any one of us” – Margaret
Guatemala is one of the toughest seasons Survivor has done, with the temperature regularly over a hundred degrees, injuries, and dangerous animals like crocodiles that prevented the castaways from swimming. One example of just how tough this season was is first boot, Jim Lynch, who tore his bicep on the first Immunity Challenge and also asked to be voted out because of it. For those people who love seeing the contestants suffer, well Guatemala is a great season to start with, and it all started with the eleven mile hike.
Guatemala’s location meant that no one could jump into the water in an amazing opening like in Palau or Marquesas. Instead they decided to do something that was present in other seasons, but they turned the difficulty up to eleven, which was in the form of an eleven mile race to the better of the two camps. It was grueling and lasted for a whole day. While Nakúm won the challenge, it took a huge toll on the health of four of their male tribe members. The eleven mile hike challenge has to be the most intense challenge Survivor has ever had. No other challenge lasted as long, or resulted in as many castaways falling ill. Although no one ended up medivac-ed due to the challenge or because of anything other than an assisted vote out, its toughness was still felt throughout the season.
7. Amy’s Ankle Story
“My ankle would have to be falling off before I ever quit, might be a little painful but it’ll be fine”- Amy
One thing that really is lacking in most current seasons is that the prevalent storylines in the season only really centre on contestants that make the Merge. I’m not talking about something that shows up in one episode – that is not a storyline – but something that is present in multiple episodes, and it’s something we have lost in current seasons. Guatemala gave Blake, Margaret, Brian and Amy something like a storyline despite them not making the Merge. One of my personal favourite storylines was the underdog edit that Amy received due to the fact of an ankle injury the she sustained during the third Immunity Challenge.
What people sometimes forget with Amy’s ankle story was the fact that Palau was so fresh in the audience’s mind, a season where a twenty-one year old personal trainer quit because of a twisted ankle. A season later we have someone just over twice his age power through an ankle, refusing to quit, becoming a definite force in challenges (like the rock challenge), and determined to not be a liability, ensuring that she was perfectly fine whenever Jeff would bring it up. Contrary to popular believe, she was never voted out because of her ankle, but rather because of being on the wrong side of the numbers and Danni probably wanting the stronger men to go into the uneven Merge to further her own chances. Even though this storyline was simple, didn’t have much to do with the game, and it involved someone that didn’t make it to the Merge, we don’t really see something like this span multiple episodes of a season. Plus, Amy ranked twenty-third in our Best Pre-Merge Players category for the Ozcars and she was asked about a second chance, just in case my word isn’t golden.
6. Bobby Jon and Jamie
“I thought it was about to go to blows, you know? Just Southern people. We’re crazy and we know it.”- Jamie
I’ve singled out this moment already on the first top ten that I did, but the more hilarious moments a season has, the more you gain on a re-watch. The showdown between Bobby Jon and Jamie was part of the biggest storyline as well. It was a recurring motif until Bobby Jon was voted out, but it started because of Bobby Jon finally wining challenges. Then Jamie gets mad and screams at him. Then it goes back and forth and so on.
One of the reasons I loved this feud so much (it was number one to refresh some of your minds), was because it was used to focus on the intensity of the season and the rivalry between the two tribes. They later mended the friendship in a perfect conclusion when Jamie calms down with his arrogance. It was a season long storyline that didn’t necessarily bring a lot to the game strategy-wise, but it was a funny storyline with a happy ending that brought more to the season than “who’s going next and why”.
5. Brian Corridan
“You may be the golden boy, but I’m platinum”- Brian
As I said above, Guatemala had great pre-merge moments and characters. If a season doesn’t have great pre-merge characters why even have a pre-merge? Brian’s name is usually brought up when talking about players that were screwed by a Tribe Switch, or maybe as a contestant that would have been a dangerous force if they had made the Merge. Either way, Brian’s name usually comes up when talking about pre-merge contestants that could use a second chance, and considering that he was a smart player in Guatemala, why not?
Brian was probably best known for being on the wrong side of the Tribe Switch just because everyone thought that he had the most tribe pride. The reason he was screwed was because his two allies, Lydia and Jamie, both got switched, leaving him stuck with Amy and Gary, two people he didn’t have an alliance with at all. Despite this, he made the most of what he had and memorably played “Bait Blake” as a way to get Blake to annoy Danni and Bobby Jon enough for them to boot Blake over Brian. However, this was a short lived victory for Brian, as he was blindsided at the next Tribal Council as he thought that Amy and Gary would go along with a plan to split the votes to vote out Bobby Jon. If anything, Brian is a popular choice in the question of “who is the best pre-merge player”, as well as helping cement Guatemala’s pre-merge into the memorable phase that it was to its fans.
4. Gary “Hawkins” Hogeboom
“Watch him be retired and like a multimillionaire. I’ll kill him! I’ll fricken kill him”- Amy
Gary Hogeboom is pretty well known for a few things. He usually comes up in trivia for being the first person to find the Hidden Immunity Idol without a clue. However, Gary was also a professional quarterback in the eighties, but he didn’t want to openly tell anyone this. After all, professional athletes are usually associated with making money in amounts where they don’t need the million dollar prize. In that case, Gary thought of a plan. He was going to make up a name and not mention that he was in the NFL. He told everyone that his name was “Gary Hawkins” and that his job was a landscaper.
Unfortunately for him, his plan ran into a Kansas sportscaster-sized problem. While at first on opposite tribes, Danni recognised Gary and told Brian in the second Immunity Challenge just who he was. This didn’t faze him though! He denied everything, even when the Tribe Switch happened and Danni asked Gary directly about his past. While this never affected his spot in the game, this made for fun moments. Gary didn’t have anyone fooled for a moment, especially Danni. This wasn’t just a Danni and Gary moment either, Amy got into the fun saying that she would “beat him down” if she found out he was lying. This was really just another goofy storyline that really never left pre-merge, but it was an extremely funny storyline that brought personality out of everyone involved and certainly a highlight of the season.
3. Tribal Council Moments
“I’ll think about you guys when I look at the stars through the sunroof of my new car!” – Cindy
“Blindsided. NICE! Now that’s how you vote someone out!” – Jamie
“Thanks guys, hope you get bitten by a fricken crocodile… Scumbags” – Judd
It’s a common misconception that a vote out needs to end in a blindside in order for that Tribal Council to be amazing. True, Guatemala had those too, but the season had great Tribal Councils where it was predictable, but they still mixed it up by having great moments happen at the Tribal Councils. This kept fans on their toes throughout the season, proving that the episode isn’t over until the credits roll.
There are quite a few examples of just what I’m talking about in Guatemala. For starters, remember the verbal battle between Judd and Margaret? What about that one time where Jamie and Bobby Jon argued at the first Tribal Council following the Merge? If you rather prefer blindsides, what about when Jamie went out in a blindside and told his remaining tribe mates, “that’s how you vote someone out!” The very next Tribal Council had Gary outing Judd’s Idol lie and telling everyone that “they can all get Stephenie’s autograph after the show”. In the very next one was Judd’s memorable blindside and calling everyone in the game a “scumbag”. Finally, the next two Tribal Councils had Cindy’s line about her newly won car and Jeff’s reaction to Danni, Stephenie and Lydia eating the sacrificial chicken. I don’t know about you guys, but this sounds like an amazing string of Tribal Councils to me and without stuffing eight different blindsides down our throats.
“The other problem with Judd is that he has a problem with recall” – Margaret
What every season needs is someone that brings the laughs and Judd is the man for the job, man. Judd was loud, offensive, rude and butchered the English language whenever he opened his mouth. But damn, this man was great entertainment. I’ll have to say that Judd is one of those castaways that you might need a re-watch to fully enjoy, however I encourage it greatly. While Judd was never that much remarkable in the game play department, who really cares about that when he’s bringing so many laughs to the season?
Judd was defiantly a villain of his season. He lied, he flipped on Brooke and Margaret, he was annoying towards his fellow tribe mates and he was betrayed by the “scumbags” he thought he could trust the most. We got moments that include telling everyone that the Idol is “by far” on the ground and accusing Margaret of saying that he had “AYE-DEE-DEE”. Plus, who could forget all of the “mans” and “damns” that peppered his dialogue throughout the season. Love him or hate him, Judd was a character that turned Guatemala into such a fun season.
1. Danni’s Underdog Story
“It’s funny, the longer you stick around, the more problems you can cause so more doors will open for you.” – Danni
One thing that you can’t say about Guatemala is that the winner was predicable. Danni’s claw to victory is an underrated win that really never gets mentions amongst the greats of Survivor. As I’ve said before, I enjoy the winners that didn’t have the luxury of a major alliance. It makes for a more unpredictable season more often than not and it pains me to see her in the bottom ten in our Best Winners Category in the 2013 Ozcars, as her win was something that she fought for against the odds. In my opinion, she deserves better, just like her season deserves better.
Danni’s journey to her six to one victory is more than “she beat Stephenie”. People more often than not just jump to the “bitter Jury” card to explain why she won. However, it is much more than that. Danni was someone that was running her alliance into every plan that was made. She made choices that would save her in the long run, like getting rid of Blake to gain the trust of Amy and Gary, then voting out Amy to go into the Merge with three strong males that would get targeted before her. When it was just her against five, she made bonds with Lydia, Stephenie and most importantly Rafe, and to ensure that she would stick around three more days, she bought an advantage that won Immunity. By then, she didn’t have to worry much as Rafe and Stephenie cannibalized their own alliance to bring her into the Final Three, where she won the important Final Immunity Challenge and brought Stephenie to a Jury filled with Danni’s old allies and people that Stephenie had backstabbed. This gave her the six to one victory over Stephenie, a combination of smart game play and great social skills.
While I’m sure that both Guatemala and Danni would remain neglected to the overall viewing public despite my efforts, I genuinely hope that people will give the season and its winner another look to see that it is a “hidden gem”. It’s much better than what Jeff Probst or Dalton Ross give it credit for and so much more entertaining than what people give it credit for. However, for the time being I’ll say that Danni winning Guatemala capped off the end to a fun, harsh, and unpredictable season filled to the brim with moments that aren’t “dull”. So, re-watch the season today to find out just why someone like me loves it so much!
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!