The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor
#23. The Fall of John Carroll
Marquesas - episodes 5-8
Okay, now Silas's fall might have been
giggle-inducing. But it was nothing compared to the
of the Nurse Shark himself, John Carroll.
John's downfall a season later was everything Silas's was and more. It was more majestic. It was more deserved. It was more humiliating. And (unlike Silas's fate) it also happened to be completely John's own fault. John asked for everything he got, he wrote his own death warrant every single step of the way, and as an added bonus, he may have been even more cocky than Silas, if that is humanly possible!
Is not rooting for your success
John went from the top to the bottom (just like Silas), he did it in one episode, and then just to top it off, he started crying in his final words. It was as spectacular a downfall as we'll ever see on Survivor. I honestly don't think it can ever be topped.
Remember Silas's mature gracefulness in his final words? Remember Silas's good-natured praise for the game? Well let's just say that wasn't exactly John's style. In fact, John became the first person to ever cry during his final words. He suffered the most humiliating collapse in the history of the game, he did it nearly in the speed of light, and I may be going to hell for saying this... but damn that episode cracked me up. I loved every single minute of it. John's downfall may have been my very favorite moment in Survivor history.
Even if (especially because?) he actually cried like a baby at the end.
So anyway, here's the fall of John Carroll. Along with all the reasons why it makes #23 on the Funny 115. Enjoy the tears.
John Carroll started Marquesas as an anonymous male nurse on Tribe Rotu. And he ended it (seven episodes later) with the most spectacular downfall the show has ever seen. He became the first alliance leader to give away his numerical advantage, he became the first victim of the now-famous "coconut chop" strategy trap, and he had one of the most epic storylines I have ever seen on Survivor.
You know what was the -most- amazing thing about John's storyline, though?
The most amazing thing was the fact that John was basically invisible for the first three episodes! He barely showed up until episode four, and you had no idea as a first-time viewer that this guy would end up being the toughest player and the biggest villain in the cast! I mean, after these episodes, these are the only things we knew about John Carroll:
A) He was a nurse
B) He had an Irish temper
C) He often injured himself
and D) Kathy once peed on him
Does that sound like the villain mastermind of Survivor: Marquesas? A guy who was best known for being a human toilet? Does that sound like one of the most important characters in Survivor history?
That's right. Thanks, James.
There were no clues that John would one day skyrocket into the Survivor Pantheon. We had no idea he was even supposed to be an important character! He was just one of the members of the Love Tribe (Rotu). And he wasn't even all that interesting a Rotu member at that. We had no idea that he was going to one day be the eventual villain.
So here comes episode four in Marquesas, and this is where
things start to get interesting. This is the big "twist"
episode. This is where the tribes are first shuffled, and this is where
John Carroll's Shakespearean Tragedy essentially
Happier days in Rotu, right before the big twist
If you don't remember, here's how the Marquesas twist went down:
1. First off, Neleh and Paschal (the goody-goody father/daughter combo of the tribe) are separated from the rest of the Rotus. They are sent off to Exile Island (aka, Maraamu), and for all intents and purposes they are now dead to the rest of the Rotus. Paschal and Neleh will no longer factor into anybody's plans. Especially the plans of one John Carroll.
2. Oh yeah, and Kathy is sent off to live with the Maraamus too. But since none of the Rotus like Kathy all that much, no one seems to care. Good riddance, wild-haired loud woman.
3. John survives the twist. He remains on his original tribe (Rotu), along with three of his closest friends in the game (Tammy, Robert, and Zoe). These four players will eventually be known as "The Rotu Four."
Three members of the Rotu Four. Gabriel (on the left) won't be here for long...
4. The other Rotu member spared by the twist is 23-year old hippie love-child Gabriel Cade. Gabriel has been the heart and soul of the gentle Rotus up to this point, but he's about to find out he no longer has a place in this game. For now, all Gabe knows is a that a bunch of new people are coming to live on his beach. He will soon realize that the game has changed dramatically.
5. As for the three new people coming to Rotu? Well unfortunately for John... and Gabriel... their new tribesmates happen to be three of the sneakiest and most conniving players in the entire cast. Because here come Rob "The Godfather" Mariano, Sean "The Mouth" Rector, and Vecepia "The Sneak" Towery. The three of them are now Rotus, the three of them bring the game along with them, and this immediately causes a huge rift in the formerly peaceful confines of Camp Rotu. It's basically all downhill for everybody from here on out.
Rob Mariano, newest member of Rotu. And the guy that ruined the game for all of them.
So here's where we are after the twist. John and the Rotu Five (soon to be four) now have a numerical advantage. They have three sneaky players on their tribe that they want to get rid of, they have an easy 5-3 advantage, and on paper this should lead to the most obvious Pagonging you can possibly have.
Let's just say it doesn't quite work that way.
Otherwise it wouldn't have ended for John like this:
First thing after the twist, John goes to Gabriel and he asks if the plan is to vote off the three straggler Maraamus. And Gabe surprises John by saying that he has no idea. Gabriel isn't here to play that type of game, you see. He isn't interested in strategy, or Pagonging, or any of that. All he cares about is putting together a society and living together in harmony on a desert island. Call it his commune upbringing, call it his youthful naivete, whatever. The simple fact is that Gabe just isn't interested in Survivor strategy. And he flat out tells John that he has never been interested in it.
Gabe telling John that he isn't into that
Now, this probably isn't the answer that John expected to hear. John probably expects Gabe to be gung-ho for Rotu pride just like the rest of them. And what happens is that John now starts to get a little bit paranoid. Gabe's comment makes him a little bit nervous. The paranoid about-to-be-leader-of Rotu (John) is a little concerned about the words that just came out of Gabriel's mouth.
And what does John decide to do about it?
"For now I'll watch Gabe, and I'll deal with him accordingly."
Well on paper John really doesn't need to do anything. On paper he still has a 4-3 advantage over the Maraamus. All he has to do is get Zoe, Robert and Tammy to band together, and as long as Gabe remains a non-caring entity, there's no way anybody can stop them. And that was the smart move John probably should have taken. He was probably best off leaving non-threat Gabriel all alone.
But no. Instead of taking the rational route, John's paranoia takes over and he becomes obsessed with the idea of removing Gabriel from the game instead. John doesn't like Gabriel's attitude, he doesn't believe that Gabe isn't playing some masterful game of reverse psychology, and John now makes it his mission in life to remove the guy who doesn't want to play.
This is the point in the game where John starts to get a little bit cocky. He gets a little bit power-hungry, he gets a little bit self-centered, and he starts thinking of himself as the only dominant strategist in this game. And you can tell when his comments start sounding more and more like those of future Survivor-egotist Brian Heidik:
"At that point when Gabe said that, I was like...you're done. You're not safe anymore."
"This will be the biggest move of the game. It will send the game into a whole new direction. It's huge."
John desperately wants to take the reigns of the tribe at this point, so that's exactly what he does. He approaches the rest of the Rotu Four, he sends his attack dogs off against Gabriel, and in what I still consider to be one of the biggest asshole moves in the history of Survivor... Gabriel is unanimously voted out by his Rotu friends. And the look on his face is absolutely heartbreaking.
Gabriel and John in episode five
John's face just before Gabriel is voted out
With Gabe out of the picture, John suddenly goes from "aggressive and paranoid strategist" to "borderline intolerable egomaniac." All he talks about now is how HE controls the game. Everything that happens now is HIS decision, he knows that nobody is ever going to stop him, and (like Silas) he really starts to become an irritating little turd. In fact some of John's quotes and confessionals from this point in the game are among the most arrogant statements we have ever heard on Survivor. For example:
"Everyone knows I'm the leader. Everyone knows I'm runnin' the show."
(at Tribal Council) "Well Jeff, I've stepped up as a leader."
John basking in the glory of his newfound power
Even though John appears to have the game in the palm of his hand now, there are actually two factors he really hasn't been considering. The first is the fact that he spared the wily Boston Rob Mariano at the vote last night, when by all rights he really shouldn't have. Boston Rob is far too dangerous to leave around for three more days, and John is about to find this out when Rob goes on a one-man crusade to topple the Rotu leader. Rob will be gunning for John every single moment of the game from here on out, and it's all because John got so wrapped up in Gabriel that he decided to spare the dangerous Maraamu hostages.
John and Rob arguing after the Gabriel vote
The second factor that John hasn't been considering (and the one which really kills him in the end) is the fact that Gabriel was overwhelmingly well-liked by Neleh, Paschal and Kathy (who are now over on Maraamu.) And the minute the three of them see Gabriel gone, they know that bad things are afoot over at Rotu. Gabriel never should have been voted off, and everybody knows it. John's paranoia has led to the ouster of the single most popular member of the tribe, and from here on out the Rotu expatriates are a little bit wary of going back home. John's decision to boot Gabriel has forced them to reconsider their roles in the so-called "Love Tribe" back at Rotu.
No one expected Gabriel to ever be voted out of the game.
From here on out you can pretty much guess what happens up to the merge:
* Boston Rob goes on a one-man crusade to destroy John
* John gets in heated and repeated arguments in front of the tribe with Rob (and his troublemaker sidekick Sean.)
* Paschal, Neleh and Kathy put their heads together to figure out how Gabe could have possibly been voted out of the game.
John in one of his many verbal fights with Boston Rob
John in one of his many verbal fights with Sean
All throughout this period, John's confessionals for the cameras are getting angrier and far more cocky. And his repeated fights with Rob are starting to take a toll, because now all John talks about is what he is going to do to Rob, and how he's going to destroy him. And he actually starts saying things like this on national TV:
"Well this 36 year old gay boy from Omaha is running the show and just kicking his pants."
John's intimidating antics (while strategically justified) are actually starting to turn off some of the Rotu Four by this point. Tammy, for one, tells us that John crosses the line on occasion because he pushes people too hard. And for a pit bull like Tammy to say that someone is too hardcore... well... that's really saying something!
Even though Tammy likes to humor John most of the time, she finally balks and draws the line when John starts demanding that they throw the next immunity challenge just to get rid of Rob. Tammy doesn't like this idea. Tammy doesn't want to throw any challenges. And she isn't shy in saying so, either. Tammy tells John to go bleep himself, the challenge never gets thrown, and the Rotus have to sit by, helplessly, as Rob survives six more days and actually makes it all the way to the merge.
You should have gotten rid of me when you had the chance. Suckah!
So Rob survives to the merge. And now he has a whole host of new players he can use to help take down the Rotus. And suddenly John isn't as safe as he thinks. He may think he has complete control over the Rotus rejoining the tribe at the merge (Neleh/Paschal/Kathy), but John has no idea how perilous his situation really is. He has no idea that Gabriel's ouster has spooked everyone.
Kathy and Paschal discussing what they should do after the merge
So the merge comes, and Boston Rob does his best to turn everybody against John.
Rob sweet-talking Kathy to put together an alliance against John
Rob tries with Kathy, he tries with Paschal/Neleh, but fortunately for John it just doesn't work out. The old Rotu ties run deep enough to keep everybody together, and John is more than a little bit gleeful when Rob is voted out of the tribe at the end of episode seven. Rob may have come close, Rob may have caused a lot of damage on his way out, but John Carroll has won the big showdown in the end.
So Rob gets voted out, Rob is no longer going to be a danger, and the look on John's face pretty much says it all. He really couldn't be happier about this.
Rob's torch is snuffed
The famous John smirk. He does this right after Rob is voted out.
So this is John's apex moment of power. He has no more enemies left in the game (other than the completely powerless Sean). The Rotus have proven that they will stick together down to the final seven, John is completely aware of this, and he's absolutely at the peak of his Survivor experience. John Carroll now has as much power (if not more) than any other player in the history of the game, and there's no possible way he won't make the final four. In fact if you had bet money on the outcome of this season in Vegas right about now, there's no way a Sports Book would have taken your wager if you tried to bet on John Carroll making the final four. That's how obvious the ending was starting to look.
So what happens next? Well, first John gives my very favorite cocky quote from any Survivor season ever. Do you remember this one, from right after Rob was voted out? Tell me you didn't want to smack him in the face after he uttered this self-centered little gem of a confessional:
"Neleh and Paschal, I think, are really supporting my success in this game, and are really rooting for me."
With that quote, John officially crosses the line into obnoxiousness. He's now completely consumed by his own power, he's completely lost sight of the fact that this is a social game, and it's just about time for his spectacular freefall to begin. In fact, the speed of John's crash back to earth (especially after that quote) is going to be one for the ages.
The immunity challenge in episode eight is the now-famous "coconut chop" challenge. This is the game where players can deliberately eliminate one another from the immunity challenge, simply by chopping down someone else's bundles full of coconuts.
John and Kathy at the Coconut Chop challenge. John has no idea this entire challenge is a trap.
On paper, this challenge looks completely unfair. Players have no chance to win immunity if they need it (Sean), it's horribly stacked in favor of the alliance in power, and at the time I remember being particularly upset about it. I thought it was horribly unfair how Sean had absolutely no control over his fate.
John gives Sean a kiss of death before eliminating him
That smug little grin
See you later, Sean.
I thought this challenge was horribly unfair at the time. But what I didn't notice (and what John and the Rotu Four certainly didn't realize) was that this challenge was a trap. It was a cunning trap designed to expose the players in control, and isolate them from the rest of the players in the game. And that's exactly what happened! John and the Rotu Four eliminated people one by one... IN THE EXACT ORDER THAT THEY WERE GOING TO BE VOTED OUT OF THE GAME... and it was so obvious that anybody with half a brain could have seen it.
First went Sean.
Then Neleh, Paschal and Kathy.
In the exact same order that they were supposed to be voted out!
Sean tries to point out that this is how the game is going to play out. Just watch and see.
What happened in the Coconut Chop challenge was this: If you weren't a member of the Rotu Four, you suddenly realized you had absolutely no chance to win this game. In other words, the trap had worked exactly like the producers had intended! The Rotu Four had gotten a little cocky, the Rotu four had walked right into the most devastating trap imaginable, and it was going to cost every last one of them in the end. Starting with John. The producers couldn't have planned it any better if they had tried!
And you know what happens next. The Rotu Four get back to camp, they start congratulating one another on how easily they eliminated everyone else, and this is absolutely the last straw for the other players left in the game. The minute that John and the General start high-fiving one another, that marks the last time in the game that people are going to put up with their shit. The minute the Rotu Four openly and brazenly display their cockiness... well you can pretty much guess what happens from here.
John and The General openly congratulating one another after the Coconut Chop
Paschal and Neleh see this and decide that enough is enough. The Rotu Four need to go down, and they need to go down tonight!
The Non-Rotu-Five watch this display of arrogance and they
compare notes. They put two and two together, they
finally realize that John is never going to let them
win the game, and they band together to topple the
Rotu Four at Tribal Council. The five "outcasts" team up to vote out
John, and it's got to be one of
the most satisfying moments I have ever seen in Survivor history. In
if I had to pick my all-time favorite
Survivor moment, this honestly would probably be number one.
John laughing with glee at Tribal Council. At least, until...
"You thought you had me, didn't you John? Well let me give you a little advice. If you ever go to Vegas, always bet on black."
John's face when he sees his name start coming up on the ballots
The death blow (from Neleh, of all people)
Wait, weren't these people supposed to be rooting for my success??
The Money Shot
Like I said before, this remains the biggest power shift we have ever had on Survivor. Right, Chad?
I loved the John boot episode. I loved it so much that it's
the sole reason why Marquesas is my second favorite
season of all time (behind Pearl Islands). I mean, this moment makes
Marquesas. It's absolutely riveting
every single time I watch it.
But you know what was the best thing about this moment? The fact that earlier in episode eight, John actually claimed that other players were rooting for his success. The fact that he actually said that quote out loud has always killed me. I mean, not even -Silas- would have been that self-centered and obtuse. That quote was pure John Carroll all the way, and it's why John's downfall edges out Silas's downfall on the all-time list.
Silas never claimed that other Survivor players were actively rooting for him to win the game. And Silas never cried in his final words. And that's why John edges him out on the overall "hubris kicked me in the balls" scale.
"I made the game and I made the jury, and I just did really well... and I'm very proud of myself."
You know... I hate to make fun of a guy for crying in Survivor, but I just can't resist. How can you not say that is funny? I mean, just picture John saying that everybody is rooting for him to win, then do a jump cut to him crying in his final words fifteen minutes later, and tell me that isn't funny on some sadistic level. I'm sorry but that kind of hubris just can't be beat. John being voted out (and then crying) is just fricking funny. And screw you for judging me. :)
"Mario, I gotta say that was the single best moment on the Funny 115!"
So anyway, that's the story of John Carroll. It's a story of high highs, of low lows, and an unbelievably majestic crash down to the earth at the end. In fact it's kind of like a Shakespearean Tragedy. Well at least except for the fact that A) it's funny, B) it involves a guy who was genuinely unlikable, and C) it involves said guy crying because he was voted out of the game at the end.
Other than that it's almost exactly like Hamlet.
"Heck, and it makes my story look pretty good!"
P.S. I know I pick on John Carroll, but I have to say that (like Silas) he always seemed like a really nice guy in interviews and on the reunion show. In real life, I don't think he is anything like the paranoid/self-centered/obnoxious strategist we saw on Survivor. I think what we saw was John getting wrapped up in the game because he was just so darn over-competitive.
I'll still never forgive him for voting out Gabriel (what were you thinking??), but I've always thought that John would be a really cool guy to meet. He used to post on the message boards over at Survivor Sucks a lot (as "johninomaha") and he always seemed like one of the most approachable Survivors out there. He always sounded like a really big fan of the show, and that's why I feel kind of bad making fun of him. He always seemed like a really cool guy.
I just hope he doesn't kill me when he reads this.
Sorry, John! :)
P.P.S. Sorry, I can't resist. One last time, then I'm done:
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