This Week in Survivor History

Great Scott!  Throughout this season of Survivor, I’ll be going back in time to explore some of the most memorable, influential, and funniest moments in the show’s history.  These may include great strategic moves, tribal councils, challenges, med-evacs, or anything else that makes Survivor the greatest reality TV show of aaalllllllll tiiiiiiime!  Just a quick note, only even numbered seasons took place from the months of February-May.  Therefore, some really memorable seasons like Africa, Pearl Islands, and China, won’t be covered during Cagayan.  Anyway, let’s power up the Survivor DeLorean to 1.21 jigawatts, hit 88 mph, and start off… This Week in Survivor History!


March 1st, 2001 (13 years ago this Saturday):

Before Mike Skupin was called an idiot and a moron by Abi-Maria Gomes on Survivor: Philippines, he was one of the most popular contestants on the Survivor’s second season, the Australian Outback.  He was the Kucha tribe’s unofficial leader, clashed with RHAP favorite Debb Eaton, and killed a pig with a makeshift spear.  I was 10 years old at the time, and always point to him as the first Survivor contestant I really ever rooted for.

Skupin looked like one of the favorites to win, but this all changed in the pre-merge episode with the scream heard round the world.

Off camera, he passed out due to smoke inhalation and fell in the fire, terribly burning the skin on his hands.  He yelled out in pain and ran into the river.  One of the most memorable visuals in survivor history occurred when he took his hands out of that river, and the burnt skin just floated, hanging off his hands.  When Elisabeth Hasselbeck (at the time, Elisabeth Filarski) saw it, she blamed little known Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama.  This was, however, edited out.

Not only was this the show’s first ever med-evac, it put to sleep any doubts of the reality of Survivor.  Jeff Probst claimed on his RHAP interview last year that executive producer Mark Burnett was visibly ecstatic when he heard the news of the injury on his walkie-talkie.  Part of Survivor’s original popularity can be attributed to this moment 13 years ago.  It’s also interesting to note that Probst didn’t come to Kucha’s camp for the med-evac.  I can’t remember another evacuation in which he wasn’t there.

Mike Skupin can currently be found posting ridiculous questions on his Facebook page every day.


February 28th, 2003 (11 years ago this Friday):


Shot down by the women of the Amazon.

Survivor: Amazon was the first season to split tribes by gender, and the reward challenge on the third episode was the first real opportunity for interaction between the men and the women.  The challenge involved matching concealed items with those of members on the opposite tribe.  Some of the men took the opportunity to flirt with Jenna, Heidi, and Shawna (aka the cute girls alliance), while the women took the opportunity to actually win reward.

The men started off well, getting three matches before the women had one.  However, they started making mistakes such as RHAP fan favorite Dan Lue asking Heidi if she had conditioner right after it had already been revealed that she didn’t have the item.  Jeff called him out, saying that he just wanted a chance to talk to Heidi.  These blunders allowed the women to pull away and win reward, and Dan Lue was actually voted out at the end of this episode.

This challenge put a spotlight on the father of RHAP, Rob Cesternino.  When he couldn’t match an item with Heidi, he joked that he was being shot down by another woman.  After Jeff sarcastically asked if Rob’s wit usually worked with women, Jenna claimed that they talk about him all the time at camp.  Jeanne even started the challenge by referring to him as the ‘smiley guy’.  Better than the Rob that Sucks.

One of my favorite instances of Survivor foreshadowing also occurred during this challenge.  Jenna told Jeff that she wasn’t showing anything today but maybe she would tomorrow.  It’s too bad peanut butter or chocolate weren’t in the box.


February 23rd, 2006 (8 years ago this Sunday)



On Survivor: Panama, Terry Deitz found the Hidden Immunity Idol on Exile Island.  Normally this wouldn’t be all that memorable due to the fact that so many idols have been found since they were introduced in Guatemala.  However, based on the rule change in place for Survivor: Cagayan, Terry’s idol is relevant to the upcoming season.

On Terry’s season, an idol could be played after the votes were read, saving whoever used it.  This was the rule for Panama and Cook Islands, making the holders of the idols on these seasons (Terry and Yul Kwon respectively) very powerful.  The rule made it impossible for someone to go home holding the idol, a fate shared by contestants such as Ozzy, James, and Andrea.  Even if Terry didn’t win so many individual immunity challenges, he would have been almost invincible up until the final 4 due to the inability to blindside him.  Personally I’m against going back to this rule, but it will be very interesting to see how it plays out in Cagayan.


Memorable Firsts:

  • Boston Rob’s first episode (February 28th, 2002 – Survivor: Marquesas)


Memorable Boots:

  • Richard Hatch ‘bamboozled’ (February 26th, 2004 – Survivor: All Stars)
  • Matt Elrod sent to Redemption Island… for the first time (February 23rd, 2011 – Survivor: Redemption Island)
  • Matt ‘The Rooster’ Quinlan (February 29th, 2012 – Survivor: One World)
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