Ultimate Survivor Tribal Council Bracket – Blindsides Division Round Two

No upsets in this region last round, which is a little surprising for a bunch of blindsides. Maybe we just need to make them feel secure before we bury the knife in their backs.

Click to see the full-size graphic.

Voting criteria:

  • You decide what makes a Tribal worthy of your vote. Was it your favourite? The best? Most memorable? Most dramatic? It’s up to you. We’ve organized them by theme, but you’re under no obligation to pick the best blindside tribal to represent the Blindsides bracket.
  • Tribal Council is defined as everything that happened in episode from when the tribe gets to Tribal Council through to the Final Words of the eliminated contestant. Things that didn’t make the air were out of bounds for consideration when putting the list together.
  • For Final Tribal Councils, the reveal of the winner is out of bounds (except for the first Final Tribal). This takes place at a different time and place and is aired on a different episode.

Voting ends on Tuesday, March 22nd.

1. Fall of the Horsemen vs 8. Dreamz Keeps Immunity

The fall of the Horsemen – Fiji, episode 10 “It’s A Turtle”

Over the summer, I wrote just under 2000 words describing how awesome this tribal council was and how influential it was to the history of the show. I theorized then what I’ll put into practice now – all I need to do is post this gif:

Read more about this moment in our 30 from 30 series.

Dreams keeps immunity – Fiji, episode 14 “You’ve Got That Puzzled Look”

Dreamz has been understandably vilified in the Survivor community, given that he was instrumental in the ouster of one of the most beloved figures in the history of the game. I could never be that angry with him, as his struggle with the decisions of the game were so evident – especially in this tribal council. He was a young man from a VERY different socio-economic background from those in the game around him and in the history of the show. That’s what governed his decision-making, particularly the one that lead him down this path. Someone was offering him a free car, not out of the goodness of his heart, but because they wanted something and knew his need was a card to be played. And you could see that he WANTED to do it. But he also wanted to stay in the game. Because a million dollars is a lot of money to anyone, but most especially him. Hell, the extra four figures for lasting longer in the game was real money to him. So there was real drama in this tribal: what would Dreamz do? Would Yau-Man survive, and thus win? And once he makes his decision? Then we get an Earl reaction only surpassed by the GIF above.

I just won Survivor.
I just won Survivor.

1. The Fall of the Horsemen vs. 8. Dreamz keeps the necklace

  • 1. The Fall of the Horsemen (75% Votes)
  • 8. Dreamz keeps the necklace (25% Votes)

Total Voters: 327

Loading ... Loading ...

4. Tyson Votes Himself Out vs 5. James Goes Home with Two Idols

Tyson votes himself out – Heroes vs. Villains, episode 6 “Banana Etiquette”


No matter how many times I think about this, I can never justify it. Erik giving up his necklace? I can justify it (it’s not a good justification, but still). JT and the love letter to Russell? I can justify it. The tribal it’s competing with? I can justify it. But Tyson screwing up the vote split to get rid of Russell or Parvati and instead leading to his own demise? I… just… can’t. Even if you believe Russell is just voting for Parvati anyway, then your vote doesn’t matter. If you think Russell is playing his idol for himself, then your vote doesn’t matter. The only thing Tyson switching his vote to Parvati could possibly accomplish is exactly what it did. But damned if it wasn’t memorable. So memorable that it almost overshadows the other highlight of the Tribal Council: Russell playing his idol to save Parvati. That’s a lot of drama for one segment of television.

James goes home with two idols – China, episode 11 “Ready to Bite the Apple”

Now, I can only justify this a bit. Because not playing one of two idols at one of the three tribals remaining you can play them at? Bad idea jeans. (Obviously the slight justification is that he was clearly hoping to play them on his way to the end. So there’s a logic there, even if it’s flawed). Of course, one of the best things about pre-banana etiquette James is that after falling victim to one of the most epic blindsides ever and making one of the biggest mistakes ever, he takes it in stride and delivers self-effacing final words. He really was one of the best jury members ever.

Read more about this moment in our 30 from 30 series.

4. Tyson votes himself out vs. 5. James goes home with two idols

  • 4. Tyson votes himself out (61% Votes)
  • 5. James goes home with two idols (39% Votes)

Total Voters: 337

Loading ... Loading ...

2. The Black Widows Blindside Ozzy vs 7. Amanda Plays an Unknown Idol

The Black Widows blindside Ozzy – Micronesia, episode 10 “I Promise”

I’m the site’s Micronesia curmudgeon who single-handedly lowers its spot in our season ranking. My basic argument is that it’s unprecedented series of dramatic Tribal Councils were more a feature of the extreme power imbalance between Fans and Favourites than it was a genuine feat of strategic play. Basically, Micronesia was the Harlem Globetrotters vs the Washington Generals. But this tribal council? GLORIOUS. Because the Black Widow Brigade taking down Ozzy is at least in theory them taking down someone on their level. That is until they prove that Ozzy is so not on their level. Vote for this for the reaction shots of the vote reveal alone.

Read more about this moment in our 30 from 30 series.

Amanda plays an unknown idol – Micronesia, episode 12 “I’m Gonna Fix Her”

Who was the fourth Black Widow? Was it finalist Amanda, who joined reluctantly and had to play an idol we didn’t even know she had to stave off being eaten by her own? Or was it Alexis, the one who fell victim to Amanda’s play, and thus was outlasted by the Widows’ most spectacular victim? It’s tempting to say that Alexis was the Pete Best of the group, leaving before they recorded their masterpiece. But her heart was more into it than Amanda’s ever was.

2. Black Widows blindside Ozzy vs. 7. Amanda plays an unknown idol

  • 2. Black Widows blindside Ozzy (67% Votes)
  • 7. Amanda plays an unknown idol (33% Votes)

Total Voters: 328

Loading ... Loading ...

3. The Pagonging Begins vs 6. Natalie Anderson Puts on a Show

The Pagonging begins – Borneo, episode 7 “The Merger”

If you haven’t watched this one in awhile, you really should. Over the summer, I even made the argument that the very concept of Survivor strategy was born in this tribal council. This is when the power of an alliance defeated the concept of “worthiness”. This is when the blindside was born. This began the strategy of picking off your opponents one-by-one and gave it its name. Historically, it’s hard to beat. But it’s also pretty great from an entertainment standpoint: the bizarre clash of styles between Pagong still fighting over petty squabbles vs the business-like approach of Tagi is fascinating. And when Gretchen realizes it’s her? One of the great elimination reactions of all-time.

Read more about this moment in our 30 from 30 series.


Natalie Anderson puts on a show – San Juan Del Sur, episode 14 “This Is My Time”

Natalie probably would’ve won without this bit of grandstanding. She had the relationships, and wasn’t really in danger of losing to Baylor or being voted out. I think it was a good play to improve her margins by eliminating the THREAT of being voted out by the mother/daughter team, but it might not have been necessary. But as a piece of theatre? Particularly one for the only audience that mattered (the jury)? PHENOMENAL. She probably didn’t need the boost, but it certainly didn’t hurt to clinch the admiration of the jury. Our admiration was a nice little bonus.

3. The Pagonging begins vs. 6. Natalie Anderson puts on a show

  • 6. Natalie Anderson puts on a show (61% Votes)
  • 3. The Pagonging begins (39% Votes)

Total Voters: 330

Loading ... Loading ...

The Rest of the Bracket

Click to see the full-size graphic.

Strategic Bracket

Theatrics Bracket

Historic Bracket