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Best Episode Rankings – No. 22 – “Create A Little Chaos”

Over the coming months, Inside Survivor is undertaking its biggest list ranking yet, as we count down the 100 best episodes of Survivor ever. As always with these kinds of lists, it’s entirely subjective, and we’re sure many fans will have different opinions. This is simply Inside Survivor’s ranking. Join us each weekday for a new entry.

The story of the Matsing tribe in Philippines is one of the most tragic tales in Survivor history. Seemingly dysfunctional from the start, the words “Matsing wins Immunity!” are never spoken in the tribe’s entire existence, each subsequent loss only compounding the misery. And right in the middle of the endless suffering and heartache is Russell Swan.

Russell had come back to the game for his second chance, determined to write a better ending to his story after his first chapter ended in the most life-threatening medical emergency the show had ever seen at that point. After being denied greatness in his first game, where he was in a pretty strong position to make a deep-run, Russell is sure he is destined to achieve that greatness in his second go-around. Unfortunately, all he finds is more sadness and disappointment.

There is some excellent editing in this episode that perfectly captures the despair of the Matsing tribe. The opening two-and-half-minutes are entirely dialogue-free as the camera pans through shots of a waterlogged camp, wrinkled hands and feet, and ominous, dark clouds. We finally pause on the Matsing 3, desperately trying to start a fire. In this moment, we feel the struggle, and much like Russell, we pray for the biggest comeback ever in Survivor.

Side-Note: Another masterful moment of editing in this episode is during Russell’s search for the hidden idol. Russell provides meta play-by-play commentary of his hunt, describing what the audience is seeing on screen. “I’ve probably walked by it a hundred times already, and they’ll be flashing it up on screen,” he says, followed, of course, by the idol flashing on top of the rice container while Russell wanders by aimlessly.

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