Grading the Thrown Challenges of Survivor

In the most recent episode of Survivor, Escameca decided to throw the immunity challenge. Like all thrown challenges, this caused some debate amongst the Survivor community- despite thrown challenges happening so frequently on the show that John and Andy are tired of discussing it. So I will instead, by evaluating thrown challenges of the past.

Survivor: Africa – Ethan gets rid of Silas

In the first real twist in Survivor history, a tribe swap separates Ethan from his main alliance of Lex and Big Tom, leaving him and the other original Boran members with Silas, Teresa, and Frank. Since Teresa and Frank hated Silas, just like the rest of America, they were able to all agree to throw the next challenge. As a result, Lex and Big Tom made it to the merge and the final four with Ethan.

Intent: A
There was no real resistance to the plan (although I’m sure Silas wouldn’t have been a fan) and keeping your alliance safe is generally good strategy. Plus it’s hard to argue with the results, considering Boran made up the final four.

Execution: A
A puzzle challenge with large, cumbersome pieces is pretty easy to throw. It also helps when almost the entire tribe is in on the plan. The original target was voted out and there were no negative consequences down the line.

Survivor: Cook Islands – Ozzy doesn’t love Billy

Billy was quickly seen as the weak link of Aitutaki, which lead to Ozzy wanting Billy to be voted out first in their tribe. Which is reasonable. But apparently Ozzy is an impatient man, and he wanted Billy gone immediately. With J.P. agreeing to sit out, and Cristina and Cecelia’s reluctant compliance, Ozzy threw the challenge and Billy was voted off. After declaring his love for Candice, of course.

“I fell in love in this game.”

Intent: F

Throwing the second immunity challenge to get rid of someone who’s…bad in challenges? Especially with tribes of 5, even an obvious non-fan like Ozzy should have figured the contestants wouldn’t have stayed segregated forever.

Execution: B
Well, they sure threw the challenge and voted off Billy. Docked grade for making it so obvious, which in theory can affect other players’ views and as such should be avoided.

Survivor: China – Peih-Gee and Jaime laugh their way to Tribal Council

After one of the worst twist ideas in Survivor, each tribe ended up with the two “strongest warriors” from the other tribe, meaning that those strong players were now in the minority on their new tribes. Zhan Hu only had five members compared to Fei Long’s seven, but Jaime and Peih-Gee had an idea that could fix that.

Challenges are, like, hard. Sorry James!

Intent: A+
Similar strategy to Africa, with the added bonus that their tribe was handed the opportunity to get rid of the strongest members of the opposition while evening out the original tribal numbers before the merge.

Execution: C-

If for no other reason than destroying their own edits on the show after giggling their way through the challenge and making it way too obvious, coupled with not following through during the following challenge. Of course, that likely would have backfired (assuming that even a less-obvious challenge throwing still leads to Todd giving James an idol), but still. In theory, people!

Survivor: Cagayan – Sarah doesn’t trust Uncle Cliffy

After Tony convinced Sarah that Cliff wanted her out, Sarah decided that the best option was to get rid of Cliff as soon as possible. Since Brawn had yet to lose an immunity challenge, she teamed up with Trish and took matters into her own hands.

Intent: C
Even if Tony had been telling the truth, Cliff only had a maximum of two people (Lindsay and Woo) on his side. While being concerned that someone would go to his side in fear of having to draw rocks could be understandable, Sarah also felt comfortable discussing her challenge-throwing idea with Woo, so she probably could have gotten him to vote with her if the target was Lindsay instead of Cliff. Finally, before Tony got in her ear, Sarah was more on the Cliff/Lindsay/Woo side than the Tony/Trish side. So maybe she should’ve thought about if it even made sense for Cliff to target her before trying (key word here) to throw a challenge.

Ohhh, right!
Ohhh, right!

Execution: F
As soon as Sarah and Trish saw there was a basketball element to the challenge, they really should have just abandoned their plan. There was just no way Uncle Cliffy was losing the basketball challenge.

Survivior: San Juan Del Sur – Drewchebag

Does this even need an intro? Come on, we all remember what happened.

badass drew

Intent: F
Again, throwing a challenge before the lines in the sand have been drawn just makes no sense. Kelley Wentworth may have seen every episode, but she’s no Max Dawson. And at risk of creating fan fiction, I wouldn’t be surprised if Drew’s real beef with Kelley was that she wasn’t havin’ it.

Execution: F
Sure, he threw the challenge successfully. But his immediate (and delicious) ouster makes for an automatic F.