Another Top Ten coming your way today, as Ozlet Noah Groves takes a look back at what made Survivor: Cagayan so successful. Following on from his ‘Top Ten Things to Look Forward To On Survivor: Cagayan’, Noah looks at the ten things that made the twenty-eighth season so fantastic! Don’t agree? Something missing? Make sure you let us know your thoughts by commenting below!
One day before the premier of Survivor: Cagayan, a Top Ten article that I wrote was released. Titled ‘Top Ten Things to Look Forward to in Cagayan,’ I counted down all the promising things that the new season could present us with. It is only appropriate now to count down just what was awesome and what was successful in the twenty-eighth season. Some of the entries here also appeared in the original article, while there is also a host of unexpected things that made the season so fun to watch. What a wild ride it has been through this season and it is time for closure. Look out for a ‘Top 10 things to look forward to in San Juan Del Sur’ article closer to the premiere date!
10. Funny Moments
This season was littered with hilarious and amusing moments that added to its greatness. Be it one of the funniest things to ever occur in Survivor, Tony’s llama comment and the subsequent Tribal or Trish’s man confession, Kass’ dry humour in confessionals, Woo’s intimate moment with the ribs at the Auction, J’Tia’s antics, Garrett being attacked by a spider at Tribal, the Beauty tribe arguing about how eggs are produced by chickens… the list goes on. What makes the funny moments in this season successful and fun, is how subtle they were and that they were never in your face. Compare this to Caramoan, where we were constantly bombarded with Phillip funnies or Cochran’s comedic confessionals, both feeling forced and almost taking the enjoyment out of it. Cagayan works so well on the fact that we are rewarded with these small but extremely amusing moments intersected with strategy, conflicts and challenges.
9. Cops R Us
The Tony and Sarah relationship was initially an entry I included in my original pre-season article and the expectation certainly paid off! The Cops R Us storyline dominated the pre-merge phase of the game and came to an epic conclusion which would further determine the rest of the game. The Cops R Us saga started at the beginning of the game as Sarah, the out and proud cop, correctly identified Tony as a fellow member of the force. She tried to out him and eventually he confessed the truth to her. What made all of this so intriguing was the way in which the two very different personalities interacted and presented themselves. Sarah was straight up and attempted to honour her status as a police officer. On the other hand was Tony, who would lie and never hesitate to swear on his badge to progress further in to the game. Sarah and Tony both agreed “two cops in the finals” until the Cops R Us initiation was split up at a Tribe Switch. Both individuals made new friends and allies and the future of the alliance was unclear. This all paid off in the Merge episode, where, the cops were now going head to head and thanks to Chaos Kass, Sarah became the losing cop, and of course, appropriately enough, Tony went on to become victorious. The decision to put two cops on one tribe by the producers certainly worked and provided a strong storyline for the season.
8. Tasha’s Immunity Run
It was so easy to root for Tasha in the game and just as easy to see why she was so popular. She was smart, strong, sassy and just plain awesome! Most people predicted Tasha would go far into the game until Kass’ flip shifted the game. From here on in Tasha became the underdog who would be in danger to go home every week. Except for out of nowhere, Tash revealed how dominant she was, winning Individual Immunity after Individual Immunity. She became the biggest challenge threat in the game. Week after week the nervous viewers were on the edge of their seats cheering on Tasha to keep winning. In the end she won three challenges and was just one off from tying the continuous record for a female with Borneo’s Kelly Wiglesworth. Tasha also became the first African-American competitor to win three individual challenges. Latasha Fox was one of the most popular contestants of recent history and many are dying to see her play again and bring her ownage back for another season. Tasha rocks!
7. The Female Contestants
There has been a string of great female players and characters in recent years of Survivor. Kim Spradlin, R.C., Abi-Maria and Ciera, just to name a few. But Cagayan, unlike the respective seasons of the previous players listed, had something special in its female cast. Every female player this season has been memorable in their own right and collectively this just may be the best group of nine female players we have ever seen. Not to take anything away from the male players, of which there were many greats, but Cagayan had a super strong list of females. Just look at the first female out of the game, J’Tia. J’Tia was a massive character who had a huge fan base, surviving a vote despite pouring almost all of the tribe’s rice out. Lindsey was the quitter of the season and was memorable for her alternativeness and conflict with Trish. Sarah received a huge edit for being the first member of the Jury and is on a list of contestants Jeff Probst wants to see play again. Many people pre-season believed Morgan would just be a pretty face in the game but went on to have the highest amount of confessionals in the first episode and gave us memorable and typical ‘beauty’ quotes. Tasha, as explained above, was a force to be reckoned with and dominated the challenges. Trish unexpectedly became a strategically player in the game and had one of the largest fan bases in the game, and last but no least Kass. She became one of the biggest villains in Survivor history, who will be touched on later in the article. The female presence in the season was fantastic and hopefully kicks off a trend for future seasons.
6. Chaos Kass
Seriously, who thought that Kassandra McQuillan would go on to become one of the biggest characters of this season? I will be the first to admit that I was not a fan of Kass in the game and that I thought she was a bad player, but it can’t be denied just how much she brought to the season and was responsible for it being so good. Kass initially seemed like the loveable older mother but rose from the ashes and became one of the biggest villains in Survivor history. Her controversial flipping move was one of the worst moves in Survivor history, but also singlehandedly gave us one of the best Tribal Council’s and moments in the show. You know someone who names themselves ‘Chaos Kass’ is going to be causing trouble and it was her who was the butt of most of the entertaining conflicts in the season. She fought with Morgan, she fought with Trish, she fought with Tony and fought with Sarah. Kass’ confessionals were often filled with dry humour and absurd analogies and nicknames. Take, “wild skeleton, blue eyed banshee” that she titled Trish with at Tribal Council. Right before she ousted her as “super bitch” and flipped her the bird as Trish left the game. Love her or hate her, (most agree with the latter), Kass is a part of what made this season so entertaining and was responsible for a major power shift and the eventual outcome of the game. Chaos Kass McQuillan is sure to play Survivor for a second time, whether you like it or not!
5. The Merge Episode
This was easily the best episode of the season and had fans buzzing after it was over. Many were in disbelief after the vote out and the internet was on fire discussing the episode. At this point of the game, Sarah was the swing vote between the two alliances and was in the position to swing the game however she deemed fit. That’s why everyone was in shock when Sarah was voted out and Chaos Kass, the flipper, was born. It is extremely rare in Survivor that the swing vote is voted out of the game and even rarer when it is someone who had such a large edit like Sarah. This is Survivor at its best. So many alternatives of how the game could have gone, equal editing between everyone and an epic Tribal Council in which Tony proudly pulled out his Idol prompting the opposing alliance to think quick and vote for “the other one.” At first it seemed like Tony had outplayed them with the Idol play, then it seemed like the Appari alliance had outplayed the Solana’s with “the other one” plan. That was all until the revealing of the votes in which Kass, who the Aparri’s thought was loyal, flipped and shifted the entirety of the game. This episode is representative of the excitement and freshness that we often saw throughout the game and is one of the all-time best episodes of Survivor.
Similar to Kass, love him or hate him, Tony is a big part of what made this season so successful and entertaining. Tony was responsible or part of almost every single blindside or vote out in the game. His aggressive game play earned him the moniker ‘a likeable Russell Hantz’ by the fans. Tony played hard and fast, made risky moves and most importantly, always had fun while doing it. Right off the bat Tony was creating his #spyshack and finding Idols galore. He tried to oust Jeremiah from the game by giving him a fake Idol clue, had his bag of tricks, tricked LJ into saying he would vote for Woo and used his Tyler Perry Idol by making up his own rules. Throughout all of his antics and fights with Kass, Tony always had a smile on his face and who could forget his classic llama quote to Kass, which just may be one of the funniest things to ever happen on Survivor. Tony was an over the top and strong player who had a part in almost every memorable moment in the season and should be credited with making it such an enjoyable season to watch. So scoff down a slice of pizza in one bite and rejoice at just how unique and entertaining Tony was in the game!
Cagayan stands out compared to other recent seasons post Heroes vs. Villains in its editing. Sure there were some players who had more air time than others and by the end of the season it was heavily focused on Tony and Spencer. But in comparison this season is fresh and successful at portraying fleshed out characters and spread confessionals. Even those characters we saw less of, such as Cliff, Lindsey, Alexis and Jeremiah still felt as if we knew who they were and what their game plan was. We got to see players such as Sarah who received twenty-six confessionals despite being the first member of the Jury. No one was blatantly ignored unlike seasons such as Blood vs. Water where we barely heard from Katie, Caleb and Gervase, or Caramoan where nearly all of the Fans tribe was ignored from the edit. A spread and equal edit makes all the difference in a season and is an attribute that made Cagayan stand out. The viewer’s felt like they got to know all the players and that many of them had a chance of winning the game. Let’s hope that Blood vs. Water 2 continues the trend of equal, (to an extent), editing.
2. Blindsides and Unpredictability
Survivor: Cagayan was blindside central and full of unpredictable moments. Viewers were kept on the edge of their seats and just when something seemed like it would go one way, the game would shift on its head. Rarely was a vote predictable or boring. Few people thought that David Samson would be gone from the game so early and fewer believed Garrett would be the second player voted out. Following those votes, it seemed as if Spencer would be next to go, but instead, J’Tia suffered the #blindside treatment. After the Tribe Switch, Jefra and LJ were on the bottom of the new tribe against five of the Brawns. Despite this, Cliff was sent home and Lindsey quit thereafter. After the Merge, a Kass flip blindsided not only Sarah and the Appari alliance but also the viewers at home. In one of the biggest blindsides of the season, the strong six majority alliance broke their bond and LJ, (the predicted winner by many fans), was voted out. Jefra would receive a similar treatment and Trish after her. The constant shifting and unpredictable nature of this season added to the enjoyment of watching and prevented any Pagonging or a drawn out, predictable post-merge.
1. All Newbies and All Awesome Cast
This was the number one entry in my original article and having all newbies totally paid off for the season. Just imagine how much would have changed if three returnees were on this season. The editing would have been all out of whack and we would have missed out on three contestants from this cast… and let’s face it, there isn’t too many people we could spare! Having a complete cast of new contestants gives the season a refreshing feel, a motif that frequently comes up when discussing Cagayan. Coming off three returnee seasons in a row, having all new contestants almost felt like a twist in its self and every Survivor fan welcomed it. But it isn’t just the fact that it is new contestants that made Cagayan so good. The eighteen individuals who competed in this season are all memorable in their own right and is one of the best casts Survivor has ever seen. We had big characters, subtle characters, crazy characters, skilful players and a slew of ethnicities and ages. There are so many players from this season that the viewers and Jeff Probst want to see play for a second time and it wouldn’t be unrealistic to assume we will see that happen. This cast of all newbies has been so successful that Probst has even confirmed that season twenty-nine and thirty will both feature all new players. This season has been such an awesome experience watching and ultimately it all comes down to the cast that made it so great. It remains to be seen if the all newbie buzz will be as successful in these subsequent seasons but it seems that, for the time being, both fans and production are loving the return to classic style casting!
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!