‘Survivor’ Hall of Famer Rob Cesternino’s Top Three Tribal Councils


2012 'Survivor' Hall of Famer Rob Cesternino (CBS)

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The “Survivor” Hall of Fame is proud to have 2012 inductee Rob Cesternino as a part of the Executive Voting Committee. As a member of this exclusive committee, Rob (along with Host Jeff Probst, Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, and other “Survivor” luminaries) will nominate his three favorite Tribal Councils.

Then, from Monday, December 8, 2014 at 10 am ET through Friday December 12, 2014 at 5 pm ET, the top three Tribal Councils will be chosen by a fan vote.

Editor’s Note: If you are missing out on Rob Cesternino’s “Rob Has a Podcast,” you are missing out on the best non-wrestling podcast on the Internet.

Rob Cesternino’s “Survivor” Hall of Fame Nominations…

It’s once again an honor to be included in this year’s proceedings for the “Survivor” Hall of Fame.  While there have been a plethora of amazing Tribal Councils in the storied history of “Survivor” – I’m going to focus exclusively on moments from the first couple of seasons.  I suspect you’ll get plenty of coverage from the recent seasons but I want to make sure that classic “Survivor” is well represented in the Hall of Fame.

“Survivor: Borneo” – Final Tribal Council (Snakes & Rats)

“But if I would ever pass you along in life and you are laying there, dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water.  I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you with no ill regrets”

Sue Hawk’s speech at the final Tribal Council is a transcendent moment not only in the history of “Survivor” but also in the history of television.  It’s a moment where tens of millions of people could tell you where they were at the exact moment that she said it.  It’s amazing, it’s insane and it’s everything that we love about “Survivor.”

When I was in college, we forgot to pay the cable bill and our TV service was shut off.  I had a VHS tape of the finale of the first “Survivor” and we watched it over and over.  At one point, I had Sue’s whole speech committed to memory.  I got to play with Sue Hawk on “Survivor: All-Stars” and asked her about it every chance I got.  In a related story, she voted me off the first chance she got, but I’d like to think she’d still give me a drink of water if I was lying on the road, dying of thirst with vultures circling.

“Survivor: The Australian Outback” – Episode 7 Tribal Council (Jeff Varner Gets Screwed)

Back in 2001, people wondered if “Survivor” could do it again when the show launched its second season “Survivor: The Australian Outback.”  This time around, the players had seen the game before and both the Kucha and Okagor tribes knew they had to come in to the merge with numbers.  After Mike Skupin got burned in the fire, Kucha and Okagor came in to the merge with five members each.  Following an all-day immunity challenge, the merged tribe went to Tribal Council completely divided.

Each original tribe voted in unison with Kucha putting all their votes on Colby and the former Okagor members voting for Jeff Varner.  At this time in “Survivor,” a tie was broken based on previous votes and Jeff had a vote cast against him at the first Tribal Council by Debb Eaton.  Smartly, Tina Wesson asked Kucha member, Kimmi Kappenberg, about who Debb voted for and Kimmi revealed it was Jeff.  Tina filed that piece of information in her pocket and targeted Varner for the first vote after the merge.

After the tribes got to a stalemate at five votes a piece, Jeff Probst asked Colby and Varner to reveal their previous votes.  Colby had none and Jeff had one (that he knew of).  It was enough and Jeff Varner became the first player voted out after the merge.  This one vote sealed the game for Okagor as they controlled the numbers and picked off the rest of the Kucha tribe over the course of the season.  Props to Tina, Colby, and the rest of the Okagors but it was a great loss to lose Jeff Varner, who I think is one of the great underrated players.

“Survivor: Marquesas” – Episode 13 Final Four Tribal Council (The Purple Rock)

All through “Survivor: The Australian Outback” and “Survivor: Africa,” the prospect of a tie vote loomed over the game.  After this one Tribal Council, “Survivor” players would never think of tie votes in the same way.  In “Survivor: Marquesas,” they were down to only four players by Day 37 with Neleh and Paschal joined as a tight two, Kathy as the third member of their alliance and Vecepia on the outside looking in.  After Vecepia won immunity at Final 4, Neleh and Paschal realized the vote should be for Kathy and Kathy did too.

Kathy asked the now immune Vecepia to vote with her.  With nothing to lose, Vecepia agreed to work with her.  For Kathy, the strategy makes all the sense in the world.  Since Vee has immunity, and Paschal and Neleh won’t vote for one another, Kathy will be voted out of the tribe.  Kathy is willing to join Vee and risk her 100% chance of being voted out of the game in exchange for a 66.66% percent chance of STAYING in the game by picking a yellow rock.

For Paschal and Neleh, either of them could have guaranteed their own safety in the game by offering to join Vee and Kathy in voting the other one out.  Obviously, Neleh or Paschal don’t want to do that because of their friendship so instead they will gamble on the 33% chance that Kathy pulls the purple rock out of the bag.  Furthermore, if their gamble is correct and Kathy pulls the yellow rock, they’ll control the votes heading in to a final 3 vs. Vecepia.

Jeff instructed the three rock-pullers to take a rock out of the bag one at a time without looking at it.  He would have them all open their palm simultaneously for the results.  Neleh went first, then Kathy and finally Paschal.  “That feels like Purple, Jeff”, Paschal joked as he took his rock out of the bag.  However, Paschal soon found out that the purple rock was not a joke.  After 37 days, Paschal was voted out by picking the wrong colored rock.

The purple rock was a transformative moment in the game that would change the way players play going forward.  Sure, we’ll still have ties at the final four in a few seasons but other than the 2-2 stalemate, no vote will go to rocks again for another 23 seasons!  Ultimately, the fear of getting Paschal’ed (with all due respect to Katie Collins) will usually get one of the players to flip and avoid the purple rock scenario entirely.  It’s because of this, I think this Tribal Council deserves a place in the “Survivor” Hall of Fame.

Follow the “Survivor” Hall of Fame on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-the-minute updates and Tribal Council nominations.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter at @gordonholmes.

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