Happy Wednesday S'ozers, this week Ozlet Patrick from the great state of Connecticut makes his Top 1o debut with reasons why Fiji needs more appreciation. Survivor Fiji is commonly known as one of the least popular seasons in the history of the show, due to the dreaded “haves vs. have nots” twist, a heavily recruited cast and a supposedly unlikeable cast to boot. While the season has its flaws, there are many reasons Fiji needs more love, so read on for the top 10 reasons why.
10. The First Immunity Challenge
It is a popular opinion that the haves vs. have nots twist is one of the least successful twists in the history of the show, and I can even begin by stating that it was not the most successful twist. However, there is at least one positive that the twist brought, and that was the importance of the first immunity challenge. After spending the first few days as one large group and constructing a luxurious shelter, the tribes were separated into two tribes, playing for immunity and the crucial reward of getting to live at what turned out to be Moto beach. Not only were the stakes higher than ever, the challenge was such a nail biter, with the two tribes alternating the lead, until Moto pulled away at the puzzle phase.
We all know how this affected the season: Moto winning every challenge with the exception of the one they had to surrender in order to keep their camp. It wouldn’t be Survivor Oz if we didn’t ask, what if? What would the season have been like if Ravu had pulled off the win in this incredibly close challenge? It only adds another dimension to this important challenge.
9. The ‘So You Think You Can Meke?’ Challenge
One of the most missed aspects from older school Survivor is utilizing the culture of the location, and the show certainly did so in this reward challenge from the eighth episode in which the two tribes would square off in a Meke (traditional Fijian dance) competition, and they were even provided local Fijians to help them practice.
Before the challenge preparation even begins, we are treated to Yau Man volunteering to sit out, saying he couldn’t keep a beat if his life depended on it, Earl being overly enthusiastic about being the leader, as well as him poking fun at Boo’s inability, as a white guy, to dance. Moto went on to win the challenge thanks to the strong performance from Earl. The challenge was so fun, unique and even a bit bizarre, and it is a real shame they don’t have similar challenges in more recent seasons.
8. A Diverse Cast
Survivor caused a great deal of controversy in Cook Islands when they divided the tribes by race, in an effort to bring more diversity to the show. A highly debated rumor is that the same intentions were in place for Fiji, but were scrapped once Melissa dropped out prior to the start of the game, but that claim has been disputed. However, if that were the case, it would have made sense.
The cast is extremely diverse, with multiple representations of Caucasians, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latin Americans. Some may not view this as very important, but the show was in desperate need of diversity after seasons like Guatemala, in which there were no African Americans and seventeen out of the eighteen castaways were Caucasian. It was great for the show to have a diverse cast, and especially to see an all African American final three, leading to only the second African American winner in the show’s history, and there has yet to be one since.
7. Dramatic Camp Life
It is often forgotten that the original premise of the show was a various number of strangers living together on an island, working together to survive. As the show has progressed, strategy is more prevalent at camp as opposed to seeing how the players survive and interact with one another. Fiji’s case is perhaps one of the most interesting scenarios in the history of the show. With the haves vs. have nots twist, one tribe would be living in luxury, barely having to survive at all. On the other hand, the other tribe would have virtually nothing, and it was one of the most difficult times any tribe had ever had on the show. Watching the Ravu tribe struggle with starvation and dehydration was truly gripping television. It was truly one of the most brutal struggles the show has ever witnessed.
On top of this, the lack of nutrients tested the tribe’s emotions, causing lots of conflict and drama, such as Rocky’s nicotine withdrawals, his berating of poor Anthony and more antics which will be elaborated on shortly. Even though Moto did not have to do much surviving, more like thriving according to Boo, there was still a fair share of drama and memorable moments at Moto beach, such as Boo almost killing himself in hilarious accidents, Lisi and Stacy being bitches to Cassandra and Dreamz, and Papa Smurf’s evacuation. The season had a strong focus on how the tribes lived at camp, something that is now often overlooked.
6. Yau-Man Chan – ‘Nuff Said
One of the reasons Fiji is disliked as a season is due to the cast being supposedly unlikeable. However, even those who believe that to be true can acknowledge not only the most likeable player of the season, but perhaps one of the most likeable players of all time, and that is Yau-Man. According to Survivor stereotype, Yau-Man could or should have been the first person voted off. He was an older man, who, based on appearance, could have been viewed as weak, but he managed to avoid that due to his strong work ethic and his likeability. From that point on, he graced our screens with his polite, happy-go-lucky personality as well as his keen strategy, something that was unexpected. He formed a close bond with Earl early and the two were quite the pair.
Yau-Man was strategic beyond what had been known to the show previously: he had to get the tribe away from camp to find the hidden immunity idol and had the idea to craft and plant a fake one, which was a first for the show (at least on air). If all of that wasn’t surprising enough, he was also an above-average physical player, winning multiple individual challenges. He struck the truck deal with Dreamz, which will be addressed, leveraging a reward for a chance to further himself in the game.
After this, he sensed he was in trouble, playing his idol at the perfect time, saving himself from elimination, and then aiding his ally Earl in finding the next one. Yau-Man is such a unique player. Not only was he a strategic and a physical player, but he was also such a likeable character, providing a breath of fresh air for the season. It was a shame to see him go so early in Micronesia and I will always hold out hope that he will return to our screens someday!
5. The Hidden Immunity Idol Mechanism
The hidden immunity idol: it has become such a huge staple in the show. It is so interesting to look back at Fiji, only the fourth season it was in existence. Prior to the season, there had been multiple formats surrounding the idol. In its first appearance in Guatemala, it was to be used prior to votes being cast, acting similar to the immunity necklace. They changed the format for Panama and Cook Islands, allowing the idol to be played after the votes were read, acting as essentially, a get out of jail free card. This idol has been deemed too powerful amongst fans, and is the main detriment towards Yul Kwon’s game.
Entering Fiji, the producers once again changed the way idols would be used: the idol would have to be played after the votes were cast, but before they were read, forcing the holder to have to guess their fate, and this is the format that we still have today. Not only has this been the most successful format the twist has seen, there is more to how well the idol was executed in the season. Clues for the idol were to be received at Exile Island, but unlike the previous two seasons, the idol was hidden at camp. This makes the idol more difficult to find, particularly because the idol was hidden so close to camp. It has been hidden at camp before, but usually is disguised and in plain sight, as seen in China and the Philippines, but these idols were very difficult to find, being forced to have a practically empty camp in order to do so. Also, we have seen many instances in which there are so many idols, but in this season, there were only two to begin with: one at each camp, with another one appearing after the merge.
I am personally not a fan of the hidden immunity idol, but the execution in this season may have been the best of the entire series and set the precedent for future seasons.
4. The Ill Fated Car Deal
Every season of Survivor, whether good or bad, has its signature moment: the moment that is most attributed to that season, and the answer for Fiji is an obvious one: the car deal struck between Yau-Man and Dreamz. In the first thirteen seasons of the show, the player who won the car reward had never won the game, tabbed as the car curse. When Yau-Man won the truck, he offered it to Dreamz, who desperately needed one, and in return, should both of them be at the final four, and Dreamz had immunity, he would give it to Yau-Man. Dreamz agreed to this. After an unsuccessful attempt at blindsiding Yau-Man at the next tribal council, both players were in the final four, and at an epic immunity challenge, Dreamz won.
At tribal, Dreamz reneged on his deal, keeping his immunity necklace, and Yau-Man, the likely winner of the season, was voted out. Not only was this extremely dramatic and controversial, it was so ahead of its time. It was so unexpected and strategic that it forced the car challenge to disappear, in order to avoid future deals. Nowadays, players leverage certain aspects of the game in order to advance their own and this moment does not receive the credit in starting that trend. Though Dreamz was absolutely crushed by the jury for doing so, and it has been deemed a dumb move on the part of Yau-Man, it is one of the most memorable moments in the history of the show.
3. The Great Earl Cole
One of the biggest mysteries in Survivor to me is why Earl Cole is not respected as a great winner. It could be due to the lack of respect towards the season, but Earl is truly a brilliant player and winner of Survivor and is one of the most underrated in each of those categories. Many also claim Earl was boring. Compared to some of the massive, in your face characters and winners the show has seen, Earl can be seen as boring. However, a player does not have to be a noisemaker in order to be entertaining and make for good TV. Earl is such an interesting player to watch. He provided stellar insight throughout the entire season, and was a very strong narrator. He was sharp, and had a dry sense of humor, and it was truly compelling to watch the season unfold from his point of view.
Another aspect of his game that was so impressive was that he was never in trouble. The only time he received a vote against him was a throwaway from Rita in the third tribal council. This is bizarre because Earl was in great physical shape, charismatic and well liked, as well as the leader of the controlling alliance, but no one ever seemed to want to target him. He was extremely loyal to his closest ally Yau-Man, but knew it was time to cut him loose at the final four when he knew he could not beat him.
He was an excellent strategic player, had a strong social presence, and though he did not win a single individual immunity, was still a physical threat. He is an all around great player and deserves immense amounts of respect. I highly suggest listening to his interview for great, further insight on his game.
2. Many Funny Moments
One criteria that is often used to determine if a season is bad is if the season is boring, with a lack of entertainment. Fiji is far from falling under this category. I will even go as far to say that it is one of, if not the funniest season in the history of Survivor, with classic moments such as: Yau-Man opening the box after the strong men failed to do so, Dreamz’s attempt at a soliloquy, Boo’s various injuries at camp, Rocky wanting to call Jeff on the Jeff phone, Dreamz not trying to point any fingers, Rocky suggesting he and Edgardo make out, randomly getting naked and wearing a bikini top, everyone falling at the slip, slide and score challenge, the Meke challenge, the reactions of the four horsemen upon their downfall, and Lisi’s epic face plant.
And all of those moments are topped off with what is the greatest instance of slapstick comedy in the history of the show, and that is Michelle falling off of the caller’s platform. There are just so many moments that you just can’t help but laugh at each and every time.
1. The Fall of The Four Horsemen
It is a true shame that this is not considered one of the greatest moves and moments in the history of the show. There was an alliance of four: Alex, Mookie, Edgardo and Dreamz, who labeled themselves as the “four horsemen.” They dominated through the tribal stage and even had an immunity idol in their possession. Following the merge, a wrinkled formed in their plan when Dreamz informed the other alliance of the idol. When Alex and Mookie caught wind of this, they continuously swapped the idol between the two of them in an effort to throw off the alliance on who would be playing the idol. They were also under the belief that Dreamz and Stacy were with them, when they were clearly not.
When the alliance of Earl, Cassandra, Yau-Man, Boo and Stacy were discussing their plans, it was Stacy Kimball of all people that came up with the brilliant alternative: if they are suspecting the vote between Alex and Mookie, why not vote Edgardo, who would likely not have the idol used on him. At tribal council, a very cocky Alex played his idol. When the first vote for Edgardo was revealed, the looks of over-confidence shift straight to shock, and it is pure gold. Four more votes say Edgardo and he is blindsided, leaving Alex, Mookie, Edgardo and even Dreamz (who voted for Mookie) shocked!
The strategy of voting for the third option instead of splitting votes is brilliant, and has really only been utilized once more, in Cagayan, to no prevail. If this strategy was employed more often, it immediately diffuses idol paranoia and potentially causes idols to be wasted. Watching the four horsemen fall from grace is great viewing every time. This is not only the greatest moment of Survivor Fiji, but one of the greatest moments in the history of Survivor.
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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