Surviving Twenty-Two – A Diary of the Good in Redemption Island


Widely regarded as the worst Survivor season of all time, Redemption Island is frequently talked about as a season that lacks any redeeming qualities whatsoever but is that statement too harsh? In today's feature article Noah Groves puts each episode of season twenty-two under the microscope as he attempts to pull out the positives from each one. Read on to find out what hidden gems Survivor Redemption Island possesses!

“Always look on the bright side of life”-Monty Python, 1979.


Ahh Redemption Island, considered by most fans to be the arse end season of Survivor, the black hole, the abyss. This off-season I tasked myself with the seemingly impossible, to re watch season 22 and see if it is as bad as everybody remembers. What follows is a diary of what I found to be the good, the net positive within Redemption Island. I am well aware that the negatives outweigh anything positive about the season but so much has already been written and discussed about why this season sucks. Because I like to be different I won’t be discussing the bad. So sit back and read an episode by episode guide of Redemption Island that is (hopefully) more entertaining than the season itself!

Episode One-You’re Looking at the New Leader of Your Tribe:

For all the crap it receives, Redemption Island actually starts out surprisingly strong. Perhaps this is overshadowed by the negativity and legacy of the season or maybe few people have actually bothered to re watch it. The intro is reminiscent of The Australian Outback with Jeff in a military plane doing his classic Jeff opening statement surrounded with the players. A series of confessionals introduce us to much of the cast and gives us some sort of focus on these people before Rob and Russell take centre stage. In fact Rob and Russell really do take a backseat through most of the premiere, each having their moments but not stealing the airtime. There is an old school feel as the tribes bond while building shelters, albeit with a hammer and nails. We are introduced to The Specialist with the infamous job title “Former Federal Agent?” and the short lived alliance of Phillip, Francesca and Kristina is formed. Speaking of Kristina she really is a highlight of the episode. Starting the game aggressively by finding the idol and targeting Boston Rob. Yes that’s right Boston Rob could well have been voted out in week one of this season. Everything Kristina worked for came to a halt in an explosive and entertaining first tribal council where Phillip blew up all of their plans and paved the way for (spoiler alert!) Boston Rob’s win. Oh and we also get the often repeated ‘Francesqua’ line…I wonder if Phillip ever did get that treatment for his dry throat? A strong way to start out the season but I guess it is only downhill from here…


Episode Two-You Own My Vote:

This episode Rob and Russell take the forefront. The best thing to come from this episode is Russell vs Ralph on Zapatera. To set the scene, Russell is caught taking the clue to the hidden immunity idol from the reward that they won. Ralph confronts him and an argument breaks out in which Ralph becomes one of the few people to ever stand up to our favourite villain. It should be noted at this point that Ralph actually was in possession of the idol at the time and as he revealed in his Survivor Oz interview, had found it without the cameras filming him. This lead to him having to act out finding it for the story. That’s right, Ralph who humbly stated in episode one “It is time for a dumbass to win this game,” had to put on an Oscar winning performance. With that knowledge in mind I encourage you to go back and watch the scene for one of the biggest cases of unintentional humour in Survivor history. It should also be noted that this episode gave us Phillip hunting crabs which spawned THAT picture that has been talked about for years.

Episode Three-Keep Hope Alive:

In a very Russell centric episode, the challenges are the most positive takeaway. We get to see the first ever Redemption Island duel. It is a classic makeshift stick, key collecting challenge with two of the season’s biggest characters so far, Matt and Francesca going head to head. Redemption Island gets off to a strong start with an extremely close result which could have went either way. In the end Francesqua became the first boot…I wonder whatever happened to her. The immunity challenge is a bizarre one that has been used on several occasions. Two tribe mates are tied to a huge rotating structure, having their heads dunked in water as they swallow enough to fill up a tube. Even though the Zapatera tribe threw the challenge it is still entertaining plus we get an extremely rare glance of what happens during the “I will give you a moment too strategize” that Jeff Probst says so often in the show.

Oh yeah, and Russell Hantz gets his torch snuffed for the first time ever.


Episode Four-Don’t You Work for Me:

Here it comes, the downfall of Russell Hantz. We were still in a time of Russell fever and now, much too many fans delight, he was gone. The guy who had Amanda Kimmeled his way through back to back seasons is now season twenty two’s second boot. Russell goes out with tears, claiming he will never play the game again. This Redemption Island scene is also a nice precursor to Blood vs Water duels in which Russell makes his mark on the game by divulging all the Zapatera secrets to Phillip and Kristina. This turns into a fiery argument in which Ralph foolishly reveals he has the hidden immunity idol, realising his mistakes and gives the hilarious line “I faked you.” Phillip Shepherd gets in on the action saying it was his job to catch liars and that Ralph was lying to him. An all-around entertaining duel and the end of Russell Hantz’s legacy in Survivor. So far anyway.

Episode Five-We Hate Our Tribe:

When Boston Rob and Grant are away at a duel we get some nice character development and gameplay talk from Andrea. She is struggling to fit in with the girls and feels isolated after Matt was blindsided. There is a nice discussion between her and Phillip where it is shown that Phillip is also thinking in gameplay mode and contemplates getting rid of Boston Rob down the line; unfortunately this is never elaborated on. None the less it is a nice precursor to the Andrea and Phillip of Caramoan four seasons later. There is also another pre challenge strategizing moment like episode 3. It is a shame they didn’t show more of these in later seasons as it is fascinating to watch. Other than that, nothing to see here…

Episode Six-Their Red Headed Stepchild:

Let’s talk Stephanie Valencia for a minute. I was extremely disappointed to not see her make it to the final cast of Survivor: Cambodia-Second Chance. She truly is a highlight in this season. Stephanie may not have been the most competent player but she has a strong personality and that really is something in Redemption Island. She was sexy and sassy and entertaining to watch. In theory siding with Russell could have brought her to the win and when he was voted out she didn’t give up. She managed to convince David to switch sides and turn on the main six to vote Sarita out. Unfortunately she was unsuccessful and was voted out of the tribe. Stephanie was an entertaining character who could have really shaken things up at the merge. Let’s hope Stephanie gets that second chance sometime in the future. Storms a coming!


Episode Seven-It Don’t Take a Smart One:

The highlight of this episode is probably when Jeff asks Ralph a question in which he replies “I disagree.” The crispy rice scene is hilarious in that everything Phillip says is true and the thought of Boston Rob getting voted out over rice is amazing. Less talk and more action Phillip! I guess the challenges were ok too. Yeah this really is one of the worst episodes in Survivor history.

Episode Eight-This Game Respects Big Moves:

The merge episode is one of the stronger ones of this season. It isn’t an all-time great merge episode but it does have some things going for it. Matt re-joining the game adds the first bit of mystery or surprise since his vote out. Every vote out up until this point was painstakingly obvious and who would be sitting at the merge could almost be predicted from episode three. Mike plays hard in attempting to swing Matt over to Zapatera and getting Andrea on their side too. Rob does the same and tries to ensure Ometepe stays strong. Matt confesses to Andrea that he wants to blindside Boston Rob, hence the episode title. Andrea is conflicted and annoyed at Matt and begins to turn on her showmance. Natalie Tenerreli dominates and wins the first individual immunity challenge; a challenge which contains Probst quotes such as “Steve’s balls have been glued to his disc.” It all leads up to an entertaining tribal council where Phillip gets mad at David Murphy and Matt, the one guy who should have been safe this week is cruelly blindsided once again by Boston Rob, this time with the help of Andrea. It is like a lesser version of Sarah Lacina’s vote out in Survivor: Cagayan. Back to Redemption Island as Matt competes for his third chance in the game. A fun episode!

Episode Nine-The Buddy System:

This double boot episode goes by much faster than some of the previous episodes. This is the birth of Phillip’s feather (which Ralph hilariously makes fun of) sent through a premonition Phillip had of his great grandfather Jessup Harry and the Stealth R Us organization goes public. Mike becomes the first causality of Zapatera as he joins Matt at Redemption Island. I feel like Mike is an underrated character and player. Had Zapatera gained the numbers at the merge, he probably would have been the winner of the season. He was likeable, had an understanding of the game and had some entertaining confessionals. As for David…well let’s just leave that one there.

Survivor: Redemption Island

Episode Ten-Rice Wars:

This is the infamous crazy Phillip episode where a fight about rice turns into a fight about race. The whole thing is uncomfortable viewing and took things to the next level. However it is a great tribal council where Jeff Probst plays counsellor and tries to resolve the issue. Probst really deserves more credit for his job and the way he handles the situation makes for great television. Phillip telling Jeff not to interrupt him and asking if Jeff knows what it is like to be a woman adds some laughs to the whole thing, one of the best tribal councils of the season. Julie hiding Phillips shorts is amazing as well, what a shame she owned up to it in the end.

Episode Eleven-A Mystery Package:

This is the second time there is a truel at Redemption Island. This is a precursor to Blood vs Water and proves to be much more interesting than the duels. Julie is eliminated here. I have always liked Julie and felt like she could have been a bigger character or fan favourite on any other season but this one. At tribal council there is an All Stars reference by Steve and Jeff brings up Lex Van Den Berg which is exciting. This also sparks the end of the Zapatera tribe after a double boot twist. No more Pagonging left in the season.


Episode Twelve-You Mangled my Nets:

“Boston Rob literally carrying his family on his back!!!”- Jeff Probst, 2011.

Ok as much as we all like to make fun of this quote, it is actually a pretty epic challenge. Probably the best challenge of the season. It was huge, the result was close and we had a return case of Boston Rob crybabyitis. Outside of this, Andrea becomes the first Ometepe casualty in another sleepy episode.

Episode Thirteen-Too Close for Comfort:

Ralph is a highlight of Redemption Island who gave the season a much needed comical side. Ralph was the go to guy for entertainment this season and never failed to deliver. From his opening line “maybe it is time for a dumbass to win this game” through to his “I faked you” after accidently telling the other tribe he had the immunity idol and of course his trademark rooster cry. Some of Ralphs tribal council votes included ‘Stifinie’, ‘Ressel’, ‘Philite’, ‘Krasta’ and the all-important vote for the million dollars ‘Phile.’ Unfortunately we will probably never Ralph play the game again but I am the sole person campaigning for this to happen! Truly one of the few highlights to come from this season and an amazing character.

Episode Fourteen-Seems Like a No Brainer:

I’ve never been shy in saying that I am not a fan of Boston Rob but there is no denying that he played a strong game. If there is one take away from re watching Redemption Island is that you get to see one of the strongest winning games in play. Rob played hard and played to win, learning from his past mistakes in the game. Kim Spradlin often gets grief for winning against a bunch of bad players but those One Worlders are All Stars compared this cast. Rob’s game was strong but it was against zero competition, a huge part of what makes this season so despised. As for the rest of the finale, it certainly isn’t the worst episode of the season. Andrea trumped Redemption Island veteran to return to the game while Ashley goes on to win immunity before being blindsided at the final four. The final tribal council, while blatantly obvious that Rob would win was still entertaining. Phillip in poncho and feather back chatting the entire jury and sharing a moment with Ralph is a highlight.


Episode Fifteen-Reunion:

A pretty stock standard reunion show to end up the season. A bunch of the players are talked to, Rob gets his moment to discuss his win, Amber makes an appearance. The usual “is Phillip really a special agent?” type questions are asked, capped off with a South Pacific preview. A bland but familiar way to put the final nail in Redemption Island.


Yeah this season still sucks. Re watching it on the lookout for the positives and just accepting it for what it is makes the experience more enjoyable but at the end of the day this isn’t quality Survivor. While it isn’t fantastic I do think a certain quote applies here, something about pizza I think? Some people refuse to even watch this one again and hate it with a passion but I can still see some enjoyment out of it. Unlike seasons such as Nicaragua and Fiji which have aged well over time and gained some respect, Redemption Island will always be at the bottom of the totem pole. However there is one season that trumps it as even worse, a season that would follow directly after twenty two…

clip_image012Is Redemption Island unfairly hated? What are your favourite moments from the season? Comment below to let us know your thoughts!



About Survivor Oz (2110 Articles)
Australia's Only 'Survivor' Radio Show! Tuesdays from 2PM AEST

37 Comments on Surviving Twenty-Two – A Diary of the Good in Redemption Island

  1. Jasion Thomp // July 20, 2015 at 1:33 pm // Reply

    RI is a least better than OW SP and caramoan and I’m glad mike got a little credit as a good player in survivor and Ralph as a character as well I think if the editing was better this season zapatera would be a fun tribe to watch, Krista was a failed Natalie white and David I feel is a bottom 20 contestant on terms of likeably but everyone else was at least remotely entertaining and I definitely liked have Kristina go further

    • feistyboy35 // July 20, 2015 at 11:59 pm // Reply

      I agree it is better than One World (maybe). Not South Pacific for sure. Caramoan I hated but it was atleast entertaining, even if in a sadistic grotesque way at times, and had a way better group of players than Redemption did.

      • I think One World is worse but only because I had the displeasure of watching it live. I never watch Redemption Island live, only on video.

  2. Al Presser // July 20, 2015 at 6:12 pm // Reply

    Still think south pacific was worse. At least rob was entertaining. Coach an Ozzy plus Brandon hantz Cochran Whitney and kieth were unbearable to watch.

    There are some very underrated players in RI. One I think is Grant. I know it won’t happen but Id like to see him come back

    • feistyboy35 // July 20, 2015 at 11:54 pm // Reply

      Grant was major fucked over by Rob. Rob knew Grant would beat him easily in a jury vote so screwed him over. His edit ended up making him appear like he was nothing too after Rob blindsided him since Rob was treated like a hero and they didnt want anyone to be upset with Rob.

      • Marty Connors // July 21, 2015 at 7:33 am //

        Rob would probably lose a jury vote to anyone else except maybe Ashley. What he did to Grant shows the horrible human being he is though.

    • Beth Anders // July 22, 2015 at 8:34 am // Reply

      Poor Grant. 😦 Boston Rob cost him the million dollars when he was supposed to be his best buddy, and I dont think he is even being considered to return.

  3. The worst episode in survivor history was seeing the king of survivor voted out be a thrown comp. The whole survivor community was hoping for a 3rd season for Russell hantz domination but in the end it was not meant to be.

    Most dominate player in survivor history should have won twice stupid emotional jurors.

    • I just rewatched Samoa and HvV. I completely agree with you. Russell should have won Samoa!!! Though I did gain some respect for her. The Erik voteout was her move and that’s what started the Foa Foa ball rolling.

      But, in HvV the jury did get it wrong, but Parvati was who should have won that season. Russell’s social game was so bad in HvV (much worse than his social game in Samoa, IMO) and Parvati made some HUGE moves too (two idol play, anyone?!) .. plus Parv was THE underdog from the start.

      • Anonymous // July 21, 2015 at 4:02 am //

        *When I say ” I did gain some respect for her”, I am talking about Natalie

    • Sackeshi, Every juror is emotional and the edit gave the majority of the screentime to Russell Hantz or Shambo. A strategic game does not equate to victory. Having people like/respect you equates to victory. Natalie won because she gotten people to like her. Russell never did interact with his fellow castaways. Not having screentime does not make Natalie undeserving.

      • She ADMITTED to the jury that she road Russell coattail and played UTR and non aggressive.

        The jury refused to even consider (besides the good sports shambo and john) Russell as a chance to win. They were so bitter. They were mad that he played with a stile that was unheard of before him and is the rule book for modern survivor

      • feistyboy35 // July 22, 2015 at 11:07 am //

        Survivor is atleast 50% a social game. How can you be a great player and ever win if your social game is garbage. Even people like Grant Mattos, Brett Clouser, John Carroll, Malcom Freberg, and Andrea Boehlke I would consider better than Russell even though they didnt make the finals, since their social games were easily good enough to win (which is why the others were too scared to let them make the finals) while Russell’s is so terrible he could never win.

      • There is no straight up way survivor. Every winner was different and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Natalie used what was best for her and played the game to her strengths. Those strengths was making friends with people. Russell didn’t really watched the show while Natalie did. Russell was hated by the jury to be considered. No one was going to reward him for being an asshole, strategic game be damned. Shambo didn’t experience any overt jerkishness from Russell and John was Russell’s friend. This thread has from quotes from interviews that show how the jury think he is egotistical.

    • feistyboy35 // July 22, 2015 at 11:05 am // Reply

      Russell aint king of nothing. He is one of the most overrated Survivors ever.

      It is funny how people dragged to the end as huge goats (eg- Natalie Tenerelli, Sherri Biethmann) are seen as a joke (which I agree on), yet someone like Russell whose allies let him think he is in control so they can go to the finals and win over him as their goat is seen as great somehow. Please.

      • It must be the editing. Russell’s debut was the point of editing giving one certain player of the airtime

      • Um he controlled almost every vote he was in and got out of seemingly impossible situations. He can’t help that people were bitter at his skill. He told everyone he was the best to their face and backed it up. If you can’t handle the truth get off of the island

      • He makes people hate him with that kind of Brutal Honesty and stop blaming the jury for not giving Russell the win. They are humans who had to live with Russell without any necessities for 3-37 days. In post game interviews, no one liked had anything positive to say about him except John, who had similar personalities.

    • RB Liljestrom // July 23, 2015 at 1:47 am // Reply

      Sackeshe I totally agree about the worst episode. Might be a tie with SJDS Jon and Jacklyn fight and silent treatment episode. I loved Russell and was pulling for him everytime he played. However, in retrospect he was horrible at jury management and the social game. How many votes did he receive in 2 FTC? 2! He was so bad at the social game he took Parvati down with him. I never liked her anyways so I was good with that. The dude is toxic. You can’t put someone on the jury with a chip on their shoulder. RI will always be a bottom 5 just for the fact that Rob was allowed to manipulate the newbies and run the game. At least Russell’s tribe had the sense to dump his ass. RI is going to be hard to beat as the worst season. It’s a matter of taste and totally subjective. I’ve enjoyed them all. Some just less than the others. It all depends how I relate to the character types.

      • feistyboy35 // July 23, 2015 at 7:21 am //

        In fairness Rob’s idiot tribe didnt want to get rid of him since everyone except Phillip and Natalie knew (or atleast thought) they could beat Rob in a jury vote. Those not named Phillip and Natalie were just stupid for not realizing Rob would be thinking the exact same thing and take the 2 obvious goats to the end instead.

        Rob actually benefited from never being close to the biggest jury threat. It made him less of a target.

    • Sackeshi, there was worst episodes. Like the double quit and Brandon’s meltdown

  4. south pacific was infinitely better than RI….

  5. Good job, Noah, but RI is still the worst season ever. And to all those that say South Pacific is nearly as bad, or worse, GO REWATCH IT NOW. My 11th favorite season ever.

  6. Marty Connors // July 21, 2015 at 7:30 am // Reply

    I diagree with Noah that Mike wins if Zapatera gains the numbers. The others would wisely know they couldnt beat him in a jury vote and vote him out. Notice how the 3 most unlikeable players of the whole game and the more likely Ometepes like Grant, Matt, and Andrea were gone before the F4? Exactly same would happen had the Zaps gained control. Nobody would be stupid enough to let Mike or Matt reach the end.

    • Ozlet Noah // July 21, 2015 at 9:04 am // Reply

      Yeah that makes sense but who would be responsible for his downfall? Would Ralph really get together to blindside Mike?

      • Marty Connors // July 22, 2015 at 12:53 am //

        I think David, Julie, Steve would orchestrate his vote off. If neccessary pulling in the last Ometepes. I think if all those wanted it Ralph would go for it too.

        David was smart and would know he would never beat Mike in a jury vote. Julie badly needed the money and would realize the same. Steve loved Mike, but was also smart. Remember he is the one who wanted his friend Grant he would become the next Lex if he stuck with Rob.

      • Ozlet Noah // July 22, 2015 at 8:38 am //

        David wasn’t smart…he just liked to think he was.

  7. Marty Connors // July 21, 2015 at 7:32 am // Reply

    Sorry I meant notice how the 3 most unlikeable players of the whole season- Rob, Natalie T. Phillip were at the end. Those 3 all knew they could only win vs each other. Mike and Matt would be axed for being too likeable just a Grant and Andrea were on the Ometepe side.

    • Beth Anders // July 22, 2015 at 8:35 am // Reply

      The final 3 were the worst in history. Natalie Tenerelli and Phillip Sheppard are embarassing to the show, let alone to be in the finals. I cant believe they brought Phillip back. Yuck.

  8. How do people say South Pacific is worse than Redemption island? I personally enjoy South Pacific, and despise Redemption Island.

  9. I’d just like to thank you, Noah, for writing a positive critique of a season like this one. Across the entire internet, really, everybody just wants to write about what’s bad about things (especially when they can have a lot of people agreeing with them, like bashing this season), and to see someone trying to pull out the positives was really quite refreshing. I’d love to see more like this, where you try and talk about what’s good about Survivor seasons rather than about what’s bad.

  10. I’m more willing to watch RI over One World without the need for filling in Survivor Wiki Pages. RI did had a acceptable pre-merge complete with Russell’s elimination from the game. One World’s was a dull and dreary as its post merge, even If I haven’t watched it in years

    • feistyboy35 // July 23, 2015 at 7:26 am // Reply

      What we can all agree is Seasons 22 to 26 were the worst stretch in Survivor history. Only 25 was a good or even decent season amongst those. The other 4 were pretty gross. 22 and 24 have to be the 2 worst ever. Just scary bad.

      One World vs Redemption? Hard to say. Post merge Redemption Island was the worst. Pre merge One World was by far the worst. Atleast you didnt know who was going home each episode and who Kim would choose to take to the end. Redemption Island you pretty much knew who would go home each episode despite the editing trying to create fake drama and make it seem Phillip vs Andrea was debated by Rob and Grant, Natalie vs Grant being debated by Rob, Ashley vs Phillip being debated by Rob and Natalie, you could tell each time just by how it was edited it was bull and the choice had already been made. One World you didnt know who was going home each episode. Redemption though did atleast have some drama to see if someone like Grant, Mike, or Ashley could win the immunities to get to the end, foil Rob’s plans to go to the end with 2 huge goats for an easy win, and possibly beat him, where One World you knew it didnt matter who made the end, nobody was ever beating Kim. So hard to say.

  11. I actually did enjoy a bit Redemption Island, but probably only due to Matt (and to a lesser extent, Andrea). Seeing him fight his way and getting through many emotions made the season catchy, hoping to see him succeed all the way to the final episodes.
    Many seem to forget how despite not voting against Grant at the merge and defiling himself, he was really respected by everyone who went in the duels with him (even Russell spoke highly of him, a thing that he almost never done to anyone in 3 seasons). Despite being voted out twice, no one really had anything against him, and they just followed Rob’s crusade against him.
    It’s too bad that the merge time was a critical moment that could have changed the power to Zapatera, Matt and even Andrea and would have made the season much more enjoyable.

    • Yeah, if only Matthew didn’t go Honor over Reason at the last minute, condemning him to Redemption Island again, dragging Andrea and Zapatera with him.

      • Martin Conroy // July 28, 2015 at 10:57 am //

        Yeah Matt ruined the season by not flipping there. For that alone I hate him intensely even if otherwise he seems ok enough. I also have no idea why they were voting against Grant and not Rob there, but it didnt matter since dummies Matt and Andrea didnt switch.

        Andrea mentions she thought Grant also really had her back, and that is one reason she was fine voting out Matt to save Grant. Yet he was the one to orchestrate her blindside (even more than Rob). Then Rob would orchestrate Grant’s own blindside next right after. Oh the irony.

        Mike and Matt also had a ridiculous jury advantage due to all their time on Redemption Island. For that reason I am glad neither got to the end for an easy win. Granted anyone on the jury would have beaten Rob except Phillip and Natalie. Probably even freaking Ashley would have.

    • Martin Conroy // July 28, 2015 at 10:58 am // Reply

      I also hated his over the top bible worship. I think one reason he nearly won Fan Favorite, despite Rob’s delusional huge cult worshipping fan club, is that the U.S is so hardcore Christianity brainwashed today (not that is anything wrong with Christianity, just the in-your-face promotion of it).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: