Survivor Rewatch: Borneo Season 1, Episode 5

Updated: May 15

With two seasons of Survivor now available on Netflix, I decided to revisit Survivor: Cagayan, even though I am working my way through Survivor: Borneo at the same time. During my rewatch, one particular moment from Cagayan stood out to me. When the group decides to vote out Morgan, it isn't due to her strategic mind or challenge prowess. No, Tony and the group target her because she is lazy around camp. It's an old school way of thinking that you don't often see represented in modern-day Survivor.

In the show's earliest iterations, an individual's contributions around camp defined as much of their standing in the game as their strategic decision making. Though this aspect of Survivor doesn't receive as much attention as it once did, camp dynamics contribute to strong tribe morale, or a lack thereof.

Ironically, the first episode of Borneo I watched after the Morgan vote detailed this very issue. Fifteen days into Borneo, life at camp is beginning to take its toll on both the Tagi and Pagong tribes, though for very different reasons.

On Pagong, the tribe's spirits are down overall after losing back to back challenges and voting out another member. On top of this, their camp is in a state of disarray. The dwindling numbers and depravity of basic necessities are clearly starting to impact tribe morale.

Only Greg seems to thrive in this element as he slowly slips into a leadership position. His use of humor to diffuse difficult situations has been a reoccurring theme throughout the early portion of Borneo. As a result, Greg made himself a valuable asset to the tribe, one they turn to in times of need. He is the group leader, even if he doesn't want to be.

Greg does his best to separate himself from the tribe by sleeping in the jungle. He enjoys nesting like a "bachelor bird," though Colleen frequently joins him in his makeshift sleeping bag. Interestingly, the tribe sees the love connection but isn't worried about the power the duo carries. That type of relationship would be dead on arrival in today's Survivor.

Victories in both the immunity and reward challenge help to lift Pagong, but their heads don't necessarily seem in the game. Ultimately, this will be their downfall as a unified group on Tagi are about to take over the game.

Speaking of Tagi, the group continued to pick at one another about camp productivity. Specifically, Dirk and Sean irk the rest of the tribe as they do nothing around camp yet insist on fishing despite catching no fish. "Did you catch anything?" the pissed off Sue asks Sean. "No." he responds before Sue claps back with, "then it's a waste of time."

It should be no surprise that Tagi lost both challenges this week. The group has been at each other's throats for a while now. Sean, the Edison of the group, focuses his time on creating his little inventions meant to make life better at camp, like his Superpole 2000 and the bowling alley. Instead of bringing the group together, as planned, they have divided the tribe into two subsets: those who like Sean- himself and Dirk- and those who don't- everyone else.

Survivor is a social game. A vital part of the social aspect is how players conduct themselves around camp. When you are present as lazy or don't try, it ostracizes you from the rest of the tribe. And perception is reality. It doesn't matter that Dirk and Sean think they are helping because the tribe as a whole doesn't think they are.

Never forget, life around camp is a part of the outplay portion of Survivor. Even if it isn't a focal point anymore, you still need to give it everything you have.

Eventually, Dirk and Sean "try" to help around camp more but aren't successful. They go on a quest for tapioca, only to return with nothing. Worst of all, their effort presented itself as half-hearted.

Their attempt to ingratiate themselves to the tribe is far too late in the game. A strong alliance of three has already formed, with Rudy standing in the wings as a potential fourth member. After a loss in the immunity challenge, Tagi returns to tribal council with only one question: will they vote out Dirk or Sean.

Ultimately, the alliance of four chooses to vote out Dirk. Dirk's weight loss was becoming a real concern for many in the tribe. His religious attitudes also began to rub several of his tribemates the wrong way.

With this vote, the alliance of four solidified themselves as a strong unit moving forward. As for Sean, he is on the outs with the tribe as we barrel towards the merge.

Before ending this post, I wanted to point out a trend I have noticed throughout the first season of Survivor. Both of this week's challenges were "hero challenges," with only a few players pulling most of the weight during the competition. And many of the challenges throughout the season have been similar.

Of course, the show worked on a much smaller budgetary and staff scale during the early seasons. So, I am not surprised to see these types of challenges here. But it caught my eye because there hasn't been a ton of talk during the first five episodes of these individual performances for the most part.

This episode is a great example. Kelly, a white water river guide, lost to Gervase in a boat race yet, she was never in danger of going home. Wouldn't she be the obvious candidate to go home?

Then again, Tagi is playing more strategically than Pagong at the moment. So maybe challenge performance isn't as important as it may seem.

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