On the ninth episode of the 38th season of “Survivor,” host Jeff Probst dubbed the tribal council as one of the “craziest” ever as the remaining 11 castaways revealed secrets and shifted alliances in front of the cameras as paranoia and confusion reigned. That is until the majority decided to vote out Julia Carter, after her giggle outburst and acknowledgement that she was in league with veteran player Kelley Wentworth — maybe. Also not helping? Her shouting, “Shut up, Wardog!”
But I was less intrigued by the actual vote than returnee David Wright‘s new analogy about whether a player is a leader making big moves or a follower that will eventually be targeted. On the previous episode, David suggested that everyone has to decide if they want to be a pilot or a passenger in the game — with the pilots being winners.
Wardog picked up on that idea early in this week’s episode, musing aloud, “Was I just a passenger on their plane? Or was I a passenger on our plane?”
But David then came up with a fresh analogy at tribal, one inspired by a call of nature that just might have been the highlight of the show. “This morning in the water I spotted this huge school of minnows,” he said. “Eventually a shark came through and ate a bunch of them.” He then aligned a reconstituted multi-member Kama tribe with the shark and the munched little fishies with the dwindled Lesu tribe. When Probst asked about his insight, David admitted it came to him “when I was taking a poop.” That led fellow outsider Rick Devens to humorously declare, “I might be the poop.”
As much as “Survivor” relies on shifting ties, blindsides, physical feats and mental breakdowns, I always appreciate the spontaneous moments that happen when players are denied food, shelter, clean clothes and shower facilities. David’s survival-of-the fittest speech not only made me laugh. It got me thinking about the very first time that a player stopped the show with a similar metaphorical reference.
That would be Sue Hawk‘s “snakes and rats’ speech on the first season of “Survivor” that premiered in 2000. The fourth-place finisher gave an angry monologue for the ages at the final tribal council, comparing Richard Hatch to a snake and Kelly Wiglesworth to a rat. You can watch the 3 minute, 36 second video above to get a full taste of Hawk’s wrath after she felt Kelly sneakily betrayed her. But below is the meat of the matter in her closing statement:
“I plead to the jury tonight to think a little bit about the island that we have been on. This island is pretty much full of only two things: snakes and rats. And in the end of Mother Nature, we have Richard the snake, who knowingly went after prey, and Kelly, who turned into the rat that ran around like the rats do on this island, trying to run from the snake. I feel we owe it to the island’s spirits that we have learned to come to know to let it be in the end the way that Mother Nature intended it to be. For the snake to eat the rat.”
Hawk’s mordant tone suggests the pressure put on those who were the pioneers of a reality contest that would kick off a golden age of such competitions and continues to this day. Meanwhile, David’s revelation is more light-hearted and in keeping with what has become a TV tradition. Take this poll and tell us whether you prefer sharks and minnows or snakes and rats as a symbol of what life is like on “Survivor.” Tells us if you have another memorable tribal council speech that you prefer in the comments below.