It's always fun to see a family visit on Survivor as it's a great opportunity to see what makes the Survivors tick and it can be a great way to invest emotionally in their storylines. One of the highlights of such visits is when the contestants have to run a challenge with their loved one for either immunity or reward. These challenges provide plenty of emotional and humourous moments and in some cases can even be incredibly awkward as the drive to win causes arguments between the pairs. In today's top 10 Ozlet Jarrod Loobeek brings you his list of the best challenges where castaways competed alongside their loved ones. Read on to find out if your favourite makes it to the top 10!
Of all the loved one challenges this stands out as one of the most emotional. There’s something that’s extra charming given the castaways can’t physically see their loved ones but they are still just as excited to exchange a few words via an internet chat room. While the content of the challenge itself isn’t all that thrilling, it’s interesting to see the contestants loved ones have to answer Survival trivia, an area that’s usually reserved for the players themselves. The whole outback internet café could have been incredibly lame but it’s handled really well and the raw emotions of the challenge are enough to squeak it into the top 10.
9. Cook Islands
The Cook Islands loved one’s challenge is a really well put together task with the players having to fetch water and throw it to their partner while blindfolded. Given the blindfolded nature of the task, this challenge is great for seeing loved ones get absolutely soaked and later using it to their advantage as the women ring out their clothes and fair to try and raise their flag the fastest. This challenge gets bonus points for being a really tight affair with the lead changing many times throughout with Parvati and her father stealing the win from Jonathan and his wife in the last few seconds of the race. Not up to the standard of humour of challenges further up this last but a solid entry none the less.
The Africa challenge is cool because it feels like it directly follows on and improves from the Australian Outback iteration of the Loved One challenge. Instead of interacting via chat this time the players have pre-recorded videos from their families which makes the experience feel even more powerful. This challenge is a real mix of emotion and humour as we see the importance of family to the players left in the game while also seeing their frustration at their disconnect on a series of answers. While the lead changes a few times throughout the questions certain players like T-bird don’t seem to have a hope of winning as they fail to get a match for many of the opening questions. Ethan and his mother are particularly out of sync which leads to the great line where Ethan jokes that she thinks he hasn’t done anything worthwhile or memorable since high school. This challenge has a great balance of sadness mixed with uplifting moments and it helps to paint the contestants in a more personable light.
7. One World
Before the challenge even begins we get perhaps one of the wackiest loved ones scenes ever from Kat and her Cousin Robby which sets the tone for the fun challenge and the interesting decisions that will come afterwards. Working together to make their way through a course all the while untangling themselves from the rope they are attached to, the challenge quickly becomes a three horse race between Kat and her cousin, Kim and her sister and Chelsea and her dad. Once again we have Sabrina struggling to compete in a challenge and it’s hilarious to watch her and her brother struggle to navigate even the first couple of metres of the course. In the end Kat and her crazy cousin narrowly pull out the win before Kat shocks everyone by selecting Kim and Alicia to join her on reward over the more sentimental choices Tarzan and his wife and Christina and her dad. Overall this is a tough challenge that really requires the contestants and their loved ones to work together and communicate really well to navigate the course.
While not the most complex challenge, the Philippines loved ones challenge is hotly contested from start to finish and comes right down to the wire. The impressive thing about this challenge is how well the loved ones compete, with strong performances by everybody bar Abi-Maria’s mother Vera. While Vera’s challenge skills are Abi’s loss, they’re really the viewers gain as the pair provide plenty of highlights with Vera shouting out orders to a clearly frustrated Abi. Carter’s mother Bianca proves she can hang with the best of them as she tears through the challenge and puts their team in the driver’s seat. Not to be outdone, Malcolm and his brother as well as the Skupins take things up a gear and draw level with one stick left to knock over. Ultimately Miles wins the challenge for himself and Malcolm resulting in a jubilant celebration as the brothers collapse in a heap. It’s a challenge surrounded by emotions and many of these pairs could quite easily hold their own on a Blood vs. Water season in terms of physicality and entertainment.
In a repeat of the family visit challenge in Cook Islands things are simplified slightly with the players no longer blindfolded as they collect water from the ocean. This challenge is a real standout simply because of the interactions between the players and their loved ones. There’s subtle funny moments throughout the challenge like Sandra telling her uncle to try and lean across to steal Russell’s water when he throws it but the major highlight is the argument that breaks out between Colby and his brother Reid. After just a few back and forth trips to the ocean, the anger starts to sink in as Colby vents his frustration at his brother Reid and his inability to catch the water being thrown at him. The argument becomes so comical that even Jeff chimes in with a little dig at Colby about how he’s been the same way the entire season. Like so many of these challenges there’s a tense finish with Jerri and her sister winning but all that is eclipsed by how hilarious Colby’s frustration at the game is, which is on show from start to finish.
Eating challenges have always been a real highlight of Survivor and the All-Stars challenge pulls out all the stops and delivers an exception gross food challenge. Unlike other editions where players simply have to get and keep down the food, the All-Star loved one challenge is an elimination style affair from start to finish. From grubs to Farfaru (Boston Rob’s face when it’s revealed is classic) we get some great call backs to past seasons and there’s a great cast of characters amongst the loved ones competing. This is a brutal challenge and even features Jenna’s brother getting disqualified after mishearing the rules and taking a drink of water before finishing one of the round. In typical country boy fashion Tom’s son Bo shrugs off every item thrown at him and he downs the final round in a second flat. I’d loved to see this challenge return for the family visit in a future season!
Not only is the Thailand Loved One challenge difficult, it also has plenty of funny moments sprinkled throughout its duration. While this challenge has an identical reward to Marquesas just a season before (winner gets to spend a night at camp with the castaways), its importance and intensity is heightened by the fact that the contestants can’t give their loved ones a hug when they lose the challenge. With the stakes so high, every loved one gives the challenge their all eating ants, water bugs, grubs, tarantulas and scorpions. The many highlights of the challenge include: Brian’s wife CC not even attempting to complete the second round, Jan telling her son Jeff not to laugh and Helen’s constantly chastising her husband Jim anytime it looked like he’d fail to keep the food down or was eating too slowly.
Nowadays most Loved One challenges are exclusively for reward but back in the earlier seasons player’s were frequently paired up with their visitor to compete for immunity. While in the interest of fairness it’s good that Survivor has moved away from this, this facet plays a huge part in the storyline of Vanuatu. In what seems like a do or die challenge for Chris, the contestants have to direct their blindfolded partners to a series of bags containing pieces before they can complete a puzzle for immunity. This challenge is intense with the desperation clear on Chris’s face and in his voice as he directs his fiancee Lorie to the bags out on the course trying to catch up with Ami and her partner who are in the lead. The puzzle section is where things get interesting as Chris expresses the importance of the challenge to Lorie letting her know that he’ll be headed home if they lose. When Ami completes the puzzle first it’s Lorie and Chris’s devastation at losing that ends up saving Chris from the vote at the next tribal council. Far from just having a massive impact on the game, this challenge also has its lighthearted moments. You’ve got Leann who sees how far behind she is and gives up mid challenge, Twila ripping her blindfold off her son’s head after he takes too long and Julie’s friend Justin barreling into Chris and Lorie’s puzzle stand. This challenge is not only entertaining to watch but it has a huge impact of the game which is why it makes it to #2 on the list.
A huge moment in the history of the show, the Pearl Islands Loved Ones challenge is the reason for Jonny Fairplay’s infamy as we meet Thunder D and witness the dead grandma lie. If that moment isn’t enough to convince you that this challenge deserves the top spot, it’s also a great progression of the question and answer challenges we saw in Australian Outback and Africa where now the challenge is being conducted face to face. Add in the walk the plank theme and the fact that the players dictate who gets the best reward of the season and you’ve got a recipe for a great challenge. The grandma lie is at the forefront of the challenge and immediately we have Sandra targeting Thunder D to the horror of her tribe mates. Despite the outcome of the challenge being a bit of a foregone conclusion this challenge remains interesting and it’s great to see how well the Survivors and their loved ones truly know each other. A truly iconic challenge in a truly iconic season.
Honourable Mentions: Caramoan and China.
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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