Almost a decade ago, Survivor Guatemala: The Mayan Empire debuted on our screens and 10 years later there's still plenty to appreciate about the 11th season when the game was arguably at it's toughest and the location still played a major role in the overall theme of the season. This week Kristan Knarr finds plenty to appreciate recapping her top 10 moments from Survivor Guatemala, including some moments that many have likely to forget. Will your favourite moments from the land of the Maya make the cut? Read on to find out!
10. Eating the Sacrificed Chicken
On day 37, a Mayan family visited the final four at camp. They performed a lengthy, meticulous ritual which involved the sacrificing of a chicken. Stephenie was commenting about wanting to eat the chicken since the moment it was brought to camp. She held off for awhile, but after returning from that day’s challenge, she finally decided to pull it out of the fire. Steph provided us with a loving “I mean, we can say a little prayer or something if you want to make you feel better…” before digging in. Rafe was the only one that refused to eat it. I always love this moment because it’s a dilemma we don’t really get to see on Survivor very often. Although I’m sure they could have survived without it, it kind of showed how desperate for food these women were 37 days into the game.
9. Cindy Continues the Car Curse
For the first time in Survivor history, the car curse was acknowledged and challenged. Cindy was given the option to keep a brand new car for herself or give each of the four remaining players a new car of their own. As we all know, Cindy took the car for herself and was the next person voted out. Was this because of her decision at the reward challenge or inevitable? I guess we’ll never really know.
8. Gary Plays the Hidden Immunity Idol
Of course the first hidden immunity idol to ever be found and played is memorable. However, I particularly love this moment because we, as viewers, weren’t aware that Gary had the idol. He was next on the chopping block and had been looking for the idol for hours, but we never actually saw him find it. I love that type of cliffhanger; it doesn’t happen much in Survivor. Nowadays, we have a dramatic search, followed by an excited or emotional scene of the idol-finder holding the idol while talking to the camera. This find, in addition to Amanda Kimmel’s in Micronesia a few seasons later, are two of my favorite idol plays in Survivor history. I wish we’d be left in the dark more often about who has idols to make tribal council a little bit more interesting.
7. Jamie can’t cut the Rope
Oh, poor Jamie. The episode 5 reward challenge consisted of multiple different tasks, most of which Jamie’s tribe never got to attempt. Brandon and Jamie chose to do the first part of the challenge for their respective tribes—cutting through two ropes with a sharp rock. Within seconds, Brandon was through his first rope. Jamie struggled. Brandon and Yaxhá ended up completing the entire challenge before Jamie could get through his second rope. I’m sure it was tough for Nakúm to watch and embarrassing for Jamie, but as a viewer, I found it fairly hilarious. Although many challenge blowouts aren’t typically the most entertaining viewing, this is one of my favourites.
6. Judd Lies About the Hidden Immunity Idol’s Location
Judd won the first-ever hidden immunity idol clue in the episode 9 reward challenge. It literally ends with “…nor directly on the ground.” Judd, being the most subtle man on Earth, reads the clue and then immediately walks over to a group of remaining players and tells them, “I will say something man…that thing is definitely, by far, on the ground.” I’m not sure where this ranks among dumbest lies in Survivor history, but if you’re going to lie about an idol being on the ground, make sure no one catches you later only looking in trees.
5. Bobby Jon and Jamie’s Rivalry Comes to a Head
Some rivalries are quite nasty, some are all in good fun, but Jamie and Bobby Jon’s was just humourous. They had a few moments where you could tell they didn’t particularly like each other, but it all blew up during the episode 6 reward challenge. Jamie celebrated after his team scored a point and then he and Bobby Jon proceeded to get centimeters from each other’s faces, screaming absolute nonsense at each other. I don’t really know what it accomplished for them, but it gave us as viewers a hilarious moment.
4. Margaret and Judd’s Final Argument
Both tribes went to tribal council in episode 6, but Nakúm’s outshined Yaxhá’s. We had previously seen a little bit of Margaret and Judd butting heads, but nothing could have prepared us for the television gold that we were shown at this tribal council. From “it’s not like we’re being bad sportsmanships at all” and “playing sports my whole life man, I wouldn’t consider myself a bad sportsmanship” to the variety of phrases Judd was able to drag out the letters AY-DEE-DEE in, this tribal council was amazing. Unfortunately, we lost Margaret and her rivalry with Judd that night.
3. Danni Wins
I’m a massive fan of Danni Boatwright and really respect her win. There are so many different ways to play and win this game; she chose a brilliant under-the-radar path to victory. Her tribe was down in numbers at the merge and her chances at winning seemed slim. However, she managed to make personal relationships with everyone and made herself appear unthreatening despite them knowing she could easily win in the end. At final five, we actually witnessed a conversation between Cindy and Stephenie where they both admitted that if they let Danni get to final tribal council, she would win. At that point they still had two chances to vote her out and didn’t. After a much needed final immunity challenge win, she then won over the jury and earned herself a million bucks. Honestly, if she attempted to make big, strategic moves, she likely would’ve been picked off soon after. She read the situation intelligently and played a beautiful, subtle game.
2. The Initial Trek
So this is more like half an episode than a moment, but how could I not include it? This is by far the most brutal way of getting the castaways to camp in the history of Survivor. An eleven mile race sounds tough enough as it is; realizing it’s really an intense trek through the jungles of Guatemala sounds insane. Between carrying supplies, the tripping and falling, fighting through the branches, the spiky branch falling on Blake, the vomiting, the muscle cramping, and having to wait through the night to finish the trek, this was absolutely brutal. Plus, arriving first just meant getting the slightly better camp, which didn’t seem to have a massive impact on the tribes. Some may argue that this challenge actually crossed a line and was too difficult, but either way, I still think this helped make the Guatemala premiere an amazing one.
1. Judd’s Blindside
When Judd was voted out by his own alliance, he didn’t have a massive blow up like some may have expected. However, his reaction was better than I ever could’ve imagined. Maybe my Guatemala love (and Judd love) makes me biased (okay, it definitely does), but this is my favourite exit from the game. Of course we were provided with some unintentionally humorous comments from Judd during tribal council, including “the only way you move on is somebody goes home—no hard feelings.” After Jeff announced that Judd would be the next member of the jury, we were given the best parting words ever: “Thanks guys. I hope you guys all get bit by a freakin’ crocodile. Scumbags.” I guess that “no hard feelings” thing didn’t really work out too well for Judd, but I mean damn, man, you just don’t blindside Judd, man.
Honorable mentions: literally every moment that Judd was on screen, including his premature evacuation from the canoe in the premiere and his return to camp after getting totally wasted during his reward. I mean, he could barely walk but still tried to move a tree.
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!
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