The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor
#12. Lill turns into a badass
Pearl Islands - Finale
Ha ha. I love this moment.
In many ways, the fall of Jon Dalton in Pearl Islands is even better than the falls of Silas Gaither and John Carroll. Because while Silas and John may have asked for everything they got, and may have been the recipients of unbelievable karmatic butt-kickings, the fact remains that Silas and John were not going out of their way just to be the villains. Sure, they may have have ended up being villains on the show, but you know as well as I do that neither one of them were actually trying to be the bad guy. They more or less just got caught up in their own power, they made boastful claims that no rational human being would ever say, and that's what made it funny when Mistress Fate came along and took a big old steaming dump on both of their heads.
Silas and John had funny exits because both of them were so richly deserved. They were beaten, they were embarrassed, and they made for two of the most memorable Survivor episodes of all time. But I have to say that... in my mind... their downfalls were nothing compared to that of Pearl Island's Jon Dalton. Because Jon wasn't just toppled, Jon was flat-out humiliated. He was humiliated on national television, it happened at a point in the game where he realistically had a very good shot at victory, and it came at the hands of this woman, who was possibly the biggest sad sack whine-dog we've ever seen in the first twelve seasons of the show:
I am woman, hear me mope.
Jon's downfall at the hands of Lill "Boo Hoo" Morris has to be one of the most humiliating things that has ever happened to a player on Survivor. It was so humiliating, in fact, that I would have been mortified had it happened to any other player beside Jon. If Rupert, or Burton, or Savage, or practically anybody had been bitchslapped by Lill in front a national TV audience, I would have been embarrassed for them. And no way would it ever have made it to the Funny 115. That would have just been too cruel.
But because it happened to Jon?
I mean look at it. Here's a guy who goes out of his way specifically to become the single most evil villain in Survivor history. He goes into the show with a master plan, he plays his evil wrestler gimmick to the very hilt, and he treats the game as his own personal joke for 37 days. Jon mocks people. Jon abuses people. Jon turns people into fools. And he laughs with diabolical glee every single step of the way. I mean, his treatment of Lill alone was borderline abusive. Jon was so awful to Lill during the game that he practically gave her a nervous breakdown. And did he did feel bad about it? Of course he didn't! Jon went into the show intending to be the villain. He expected to leave the show as an enormously hated uber-villain, and I always gave him props for even attempting to pull off something like that. Being known as "the first actual Survivor villain" takes a lot of balls, and I always appreciated the zeal with which he went about accomplishing this task.
If anybody ever deserved a humiliating fall at the end, you knew it had to be Jon. There's no way a super villain can exist without some sort of enormous comeuppance at the end. That's basic storytelling 101, and I had to laugh at the way it naturally took care of itself during Pearl Islands. Jon uses and abuses people for 37 days, Jon comes ever so close to a million dollar check, and then he gets his ass handed to him by Lill (his favorite punching bag) at the very last stage of the game. I don't know about you, but this storyline made me laugh my ass off. In fact it couldn't have been scripted any more perfectly if you had tried. If I was a Survivor producer I would be dreaming about a story arc like this. And I'd want it to come along every season.. Super villain comes along, super villain comes ever so close, then super villain gets humiliated by the "hearts and flowers" lady in front a national TV audience. There's no way to describe that storyline other than "perfect."
The agony of defeat
(NOTE: Lest ye feel bad for Jon Dalton, please remember a little supervillain psychology 101. The best thing that can ever happen to a villain is that he suffers a humiliating defeat. A really outstanding villain can't win in the end, otherwise it ruins their storyline. Because if a villain ends up winning, then people might actually start applauding and cheering him. And what happens is you end up with a villain that can somehow turn into an anti-hero. Sort of like Godzilla the second time around, when the people of Tokyo were actually cheering him. So anyway all I'm saying is that a humiliating defeat was the best possible thing that ever could have happened to Jonny Fairplay. Sure, he might not see it this way (or maybe he does), but if you want to be the most hated player in the history of the game, you definitely need some sort of comeuppance at the end to give your storyline its appropriate arc. And like I said, Jon's downfall couldn't have worked out more perfectly if you had tried to script it. It was just one of those rare instances in Survivor where the storyline worked out exactly like it was supposed to.)
In Pearl Islands we had the perfect doomed hero storyline (Rupert). And we also had the perfect evil villain storyline (Jon). Things like that don't happen very often in Survivor, let alone during the very same season, and this is the main reason that Pearl Islands is by far my favorite season of all time. It's so much more epic than the other seasons that honestly, no other one even comes close. I loves me some Pearl Islands, and I've never been ashamed to admit it. I hope that after reading the Funny 115, you guys will appreciate Pearl Islands too.
I especially hope you appreciate Jon's overall story arc. Remember, it ended exactly the way it was supposed to.
So anyway, here's my recap of one of the most perfect downfalls in Survivor history. Jon against Lill, in the final three immunity challenge in Pearl Islands. Jon is one step away from victory, yet he gets his ass handed to him by a woman who barely knows what Survivor is. Let alone how to actually win it. Oh yeah, and Lill also happens to be the player that Jon has most often abused throughout the game. So you'll probably understand it when I say, "ha ha ha ha ha!"
This scene not only cracked me up, it also cracked up Sandra and Jeff as it was going on (as you'll see). They knew a humiliating downfall when they saw one. They knew they were watching comedy gold.
So let's begin...
It's the Pearl Islands finale and Jon Dalton is one step away from becoming the next Survivor millionaire. And even though his tactics have been questionable (and his ethics downright despicable) along the way, Jon has managed to wiggle out of trouble time and time again due to his considerable skill at manipulation and deceit. All things considered, Jon Dalton has probably been one of the best players ever to play the game. And that's saying something when you consider the fact that he can't weigh more than 95 pounds.
In truth, Jon should have been dead meat at the final four. There was no possible way he ever should have survived that vote. He had been outnumbered by three women (Sandra, Darrah, Lill), they all hated his guts, none of them trusted a word that came out of his mouth, and Jon was about as likely to win immunity as he was to dunk a basketball. In reality there was no possible way Fairplay should have made it past the final four. No. Frigging. Way.
Like hell. I'm too good!
But Jon made it past the final four. And to this day I still don't know how he did it. He got the women to turn on Darrah instead, he weaseled his way into the final three, and it was the single most impressive "escape act" I've ever seen on Survivor. Fairplay escaped sure death at the final four, he lived to fight another day, and he was now one small step away from standing in front of a jury, with a very legitimate chance to win a million dollars.
Now all he had to do was get past the final three immunity challenge.
The final Pearl Islands immunity challenge
Now, of course Jon wasn't the best athlete in the world. So "winning immunity" wasn't always exactly his cup of tea. But one look at his competition for this challenge told him this wasn't going to be as Herculean a task as it might appear on paper. Because in order to get to the final two, all Jon had to do was beat these two people in the final challenge:
A woman who could neither run, walk, swim, nor balance.
And a woman who burst into tears at least 73 times per day.
So Jon had to win immunity. And Sandra and Lill were his only competition? Are you kidding me? And it wasn't as if Jon had to even actually win the challenge outright. All he had to do was outlast one of these freaks, then cut a deal with the other one, to ensure that both of them made it to the final two. It was the exact same thing Jon had been doing all along, he knew exactly the types of buttons he had to push with these women, and he was particularly confident he would be able to make it to the final two. Jonny Fairplay was a far smarter player than Sandra or Lill, and he knew it. These girls had never come close to outplaying him before, and he knew they weren't about to start outplaying him today.
All he had to do was outlast one of them and then cut a deal.
It couldn't be more easy than that.
The immunity challenge on day 38 revolved around balance, and was "based on an old pirate torture method", according to Jeff Probst. Basically the players would have to balance on rickety old crates in the middle of the ocean. They had to squat there as long as they could, fighting the waves and the movement of the sea, and the last person left standing would win immunity. It would all come down to who could balance themselves on the ocean the best.
Lill in mid-squat. Note the new variant of "The Lill Face."
So the challenge begins, and immediately John starts to struggle. You'd think he would be good at balance, being so small and close to the ground and all, but this challenge is just not his cup of tea. He starts shaking and wobbling and struggling for balance almost immediately.
Jon hanging on for dear life
At the fifteen minute mark, Jeff asks how the players are doing. Sandra and Jon are obviously struggling, and Jon is the first to admit it. He tells Jeff that he's having a hard time with this challenge.
"I'm feelin' it. My feet are numb already."
And this where the challenge starts to get funny. Because when Lill hears Jon admit to feeling numb, she decides to start playing with his head. I have no idea where this side of Lill came from, we'd never seen the slightest hint of her being a bad-ass before, but now she all of a sudden starts playing mind games with Jonny Fairplay. The biggest sad sack in Survivor history decides to start playing psy-ops (psychological warfare) with her struggling diminutive foe.
"Jeff, you know I'm feeling pretty darn good. No pain. A little numbness, maybe, but no pain."
Like I said, I have no idea where this side of Lill came from, but now all of a sudden she's a killer. This poor little woman that Jon has been mocking and speaking down to all game has suddenly shed her fragile and hapless alter ego.
In the matter of an instant, Lillian Morris and her copious tears are no more. She has somehow transformed into a creature far more powerful. Because Jonny Fairplay all of a sudden isn't up against "Sad, crying Lill" any more. All of a sudden, now he's up against... Balance Woman.
So it's been established that Lill is going to start messing with Jon's head. And nowhere is this more evident than a few minutes later, when Sandra suddenly topples and falls down on her shaky platform. The Lippiest Mother in Survivor History is suddenly eliminated from the contest, and that means the contest is now down to two.
"Motherfucker, I fell!"
Sandra falls, and Jon knows this is the opening he has been looking for. So he wastes no time in immediately trying to cut a deal. He turns to Lill, and this is what he says:
"Lill, you want to make a deal? Right now?"
Jon expects her to say yes (as the old Lill would have done). But the New Lill surprises him by immediately cutting him off. In fact not only does Lill smack him down and tell him to shut up, she actually does it with a bit of attitude. And it's funny as hell. Following is a transcript of their actual exchange:
JON: Lill, you want to make a deal? Right now?
LILL: No, sir!
JON: (stunned): You're crazy!
LILL: My daughter wants to be a doctor.
(Note: I've never particularly understood Lill's response here. And apparently Jon has the same reaction. Because he immediately shifts the tone in his line of questioning now.)
JON: (after a short, confused pause): Do you understand how the...
LILL: (cutting him off): Jon, don't talk to me.
JON: (now angry and frustrated, as if talking to a small child): DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW DEALS WORK, LILL?
LILL: Shut up.
"DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW DEALS WORK, LILL?"
Sandra is amused by Jon's inability to cut a deal
Even Probst is laughing at him now
It's apparent that Jon is getting nowhere with this tactic, and he's starting to get visibly frustrated. He honestly can't believe that this moron doesn't understand the concept of cutting a deal. I don't think the idea has even crossed his mind that Lill just wants to stick it to him and kick his ass in the final challenge. Jon doesn't seem to be aware she is capable of actually thinking like that. He still talks to her like she's a moronic child. So now Jon tries a new tactic in trying to cut his beloved deal. He starts trying to explain this concept using simple, pedestrian logic.
JON: Lill, if you give me immunity, I will take you to the final two. That's what a deal is.
LILL: And if you trust me then you'll jump in.
JON (after a short pause): Well... I don't know that I can trust you.
LILL: Then drop it.
"Looks like you're gonna have to win it on your own, Jon."
Jon's first attempts to cut a deal all meet with repeated failure. But Jon Dalton didn't get this far in the game by being the type of person who gives up in the face of adversity. No way. And when the 30 minute mark comes along, Jon starts right back up with trying to make that elusive deal.
Jon tries to cut a deal - Part 2
JON: Lill, who do you want to go against in the final two?
LILL: How many people have you screwed over, Jon?
JON: (after a short pause) Everyone in the game.
And this is where Lill really starts kicking it into overdrive. Because once she hears Jon admit that he's screwed everybody over, she decides she's going to start taunting him. And she starts trash-talking him like she suddenly turned into Muhammad Ali. It's one of funniest dialogue exchanges I have ever seen on Survivor, and it's especially funny when you realize these words are coming from the artist formerly known as Boo Hoo Lill.
Lill starts talking smack
LILL: Do you know what? I do aerobics. My knees are great.
JON: Uh, okay.
LILL: My ankles are great.
LILL: These are called squats in aerobics.
JON: Okay. Alright.
JEFF (to Jon): I think Lill just said 'Game on.'
JON: (after a quick, defeated pause) I think Lill just said 'Game over.'
Jon suddenly realizes he's in deep shit. There's no way he is going to be able to win this.
Sandra still laughing at Jon's predicament
Jeff is still cracking up too
And this is where we reach the inevitable conclusion. Jon (surprisingly) manages to hang in this thing for another hour and a half, at which point he desperately tries to cut a deal for the third, and ultimately final, time.
JON: Ready for a deal?
LILL: I'm not gonna deal.
JON (now desperate): I'll give you immunity, if you take me to the final two.
LILL: I'm not gonna promise you anything.
JON (frustrated): Well then... well... then... that's not a deal, Lill!
LILL: Well I'm not gonna do it then.
Fairplay's last stand
Lill hasn't moved in 2 hours. She is like a piece of iron.
Sandra still thinks this is funny as hell
It's 45 minutes later, and Jon is now in excruciating pain. He knows the end is near.
And that's when it finally happens....
Fairplay collapses. Jonny Fairplay is no more.
Lill! Wins immunity!
All hail Xena, Warrior Princess!
Did I just lose Survivor to fucking Lill?
And this marks the end of the notorious Survivor villain, Jonny Fairplay. Lill kicked his butt in the final immunity challenge, Lill voted him out later that night at Tribal Council, and that was that.
So much for my dreams
So why were the last moments of Jonny Fairplay so fitting (and so funny)? Well for the most part it was because of the way he lost. You see, Jon Dalton was such a good player, and such an evil little piss ant, that he basically made a mockery out of the game for 37 days in the Pearl Islands. He treated people like crap, he made outrageous lies and character assassinations that nobody else would have ever dreamed up, and he mocked and mimicked his fellow tribesmates without the slightest bit of remorse. He was the most evil player the show had ever seen, he was the most devious player the show had ever seen, heck he even killed a fictitious grandmother just to get himself that much closer to a million dollars!
Jon did everything he could to win this game. He broke every rule he could possibly think of, and then he got his ass kicked on national TV by this woman, who was previously best-known for the fact that she wore white cotton panties with a boy scout uniform.
I loved the ending of Pearl Islands. I loved the fact that Jon got spanked on the last day by Lill. And I loved the fact that she trash-talked him right down to the bitter (yet amusing) end. So way to go, Lill. I wasn't always the biggest fan of yours during Survivor: Pearl Islands, but at the end, against Fairplay, I couldn't have been rooting for you more. The way you smacked down that evil little halfling was fricking hilarious.
Lill's crowning achievement
P.S. Like I said, a true super villain can only become a legend if they suffer a humiliating defeat. Because in many ways, uber-villains are sort of like Jedis. They never really become legends until you first strike them down in combat. That's really the only way a villain's story arc is supposed to work out, and that's the only way they can achieve 100% pure villainhood. So, like I said, the loss at Lill's hands was probably the best thing that ever could have happened to Jonny Fairplay. Losing Pearl Islands allowed him to become the greatest reality TV villain of all time.
P.P.S. Boy Scout uniform and panties? Uh, no.
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