The Funny 115

#4. Eliza's Last Stand
Vanuatu - Episode 11

Ha ha. This is the last of my three "hidden gems" in the top 25, and it is by far my favorite. It's a moment that not everybody remembers, or even noticed in the first place, but if you're looking for it, I guarantee you'll appreciate it. In fact if I ever make a list of my all-time favorite Survivor moments, this scene would easily rank in my top ten. Easily.

The star of this entry is the much-maligned Eliza Orlins, who I bet a lot of people would be surprised to find on the Funny 115. Ha ha, I slipped a top ten moment past all of you. And it's a moment starring Eliza, of all people! How's that for a surprise?

Our hero

Right off the bat I have to say that I wasn't always an Eliza fan. She annoyed me as much as any character ever through the first few episodes of Vanuatu. I couldn't stand her mouthiness, I couldn't stand her self-centeredness, and (like the rest of Yasur) I mainly just wanted her to go away.

But you know what? She actually started to grow on me after a while.

About midway through the season I started to appreciate Eliza a little bit. And I suddenly realized she was a really fun character to watch. Why did I suddenly do a flip-flop on her as a character? Well it wasn't because her personality changed all that much. No, the reason I started to like Eliza in Vanuatu was because I suddenly realized she was very plucky. And spunky. More than anything else, midway through the season, Eliza Orlins somehow turned into the plucky, spunky underdog of Camp Yasur. And I like pluck. And I absolutely adore spunk*.

* But not in a homosexual way, that's for sure.

Eliza was hunted nearly every single episode of Vanuatu, yet she always ended up escaping by the skin of her teeth. The other girls wanted her gone. The guys had no use for her whatsoever. And what happened is Eliza became an alliance of one for the entire season. She never had a single ally at any point in the entire game. And because of this she was constantly hunted. Eliza had no friends, Eliza had no allies, and Eliza was dead meat nearly every single episode of Survivor: Vanuatu. But for whatever reason she kept on surviving. And it was this trait (the ability to escape death) that eventually turned Eliza into the unkillable cockroach of Vanuatu. Everybody wanted her dead, but nobody could actually kill her. Nobody could ever rub out this girl who didn't have a friend or an ally in the world. And as you can tell, after a while, I really started rooting for her to succeed. In fact, if Chris (my favorite player of all time) wouldn't have won the game, the person I most wanted to win would have been our young motormouth cockroach, Eliza. Somehow, miraculously, she ended up being my second favorite player in Survivor: Vanuatu.

So what is Eliza's famous scene that makes the #4 slot on the Funny 115? Well it happens during the 11th episode of Vanuatu. I wish I had an actual video clip of this moment, because you really can't appreciate it without seeing it for yourself. But I'll do my best to show it using vidcaps. The fact that this is the single biggest turning point of the season certainly helps.

So anyway we're in episode eleven of Vanuatu, and the game is at a pivotal point. We have six female players left, against Chris, and things look bad for the man in the bright red wifebeater. Especially when ice queen Ami is running the show with a cruel and merciless iron fist.

The unstoppable Ami Cusack

At this point, logic says that the women should get rid of Chris next. After all, there are six of them, and there's only one of him (well, okay, 1.5 if you want to get mean). So if you go by simple gender breakdown, Chris should obviously be the next person voted out of the game.

But this is where things start to get sticky for the women of Camp Yasur. Because not only do some of them start to feel bad for lone wolf Chris, they start to realize that they really don't like having Eliza around. Even though Eliza is a female (and thus, in the women's alliance), she's considered expendable and useless by just about everybody. So Ami and the women decide to "shake things up" at the next vote. Instead of taking out the last man in the game, Chris, they're going to blindside the annoying little hanger-on, our friend, Miss Plucky Eliza. After all, she's loud. She's expendable. She's annoying. And she's powerless. And that makes her an easy target for eviction at the next Tribal Council.

"Oh yeah?" says the completely unkillable Eliza Orlins

Well, the minute Ami decides to blindside Eliza, Twila and Chris realize that this is a major opportunity to flip the game around. And it's a major chance to take down the ice princess. So they send Chris to go warn Eliza, and tell her that Ami has decided to backstab her at the very next vote. And as you can imagine, Eliza isn't the type of person who takes this type of news very happily.

Ami decrees that the women will be voting out Eliza tonight

Chris goes to tell Eliza the news

Eliza is stunned, and she almost does the Chad face

Chris continues his spiel... his typical overly-dramatic way

And eventually, Eliza gets pissed

So does Eliza believe him? Does she believe that Ami is actually going to backstab her right out of the game? Well our first inclination is that she doesn't. After all, Eliza has been warned and threatened repeatedly throughout this game. Jeff has even gone so far as to call her "the girl who cried wolf," because she thinks she's going home at every single Tribal Council. So going into Tribal Council, we're not entirely sure if Eliza is going to go along with Chris and Twila's plan, or if she's going to walk face-first into an Ami backstab. The editing doesn't tip us off one way or another. And that's what makes the following scene so absolutely perfect.

The fateful Tribal Council. Will Eliza flip on the women? Or will she be blindsided by her good friend Ami?

Like I said earlier, I'll go on record and say that this scene is one of the sweetest moments in Survivor history. Because not only does Eliza flip the game around and shoo it away from boring predictability, she also pulls off the single funniest (yet subtle) face-off I've ever seen on Survivor. Like I said, you really have to see this video to truly appreciate it, but I'll do my best to give it to you in pictures instead. Hope you enjoy.

Ami smiles somewhat smugly during Tribal Council. She knows she's about to blindside Eliza. And it's possible she even feels a little bad about it.

Eliza tells Jeff how she's always in danger, but she always seems to escape by the skin of her teeth

Sure enough, the backstab is on. Eliza isn't safe tonight. Ami is going to blindside her.

So Ami and her alliance of three all vote for Eliza. Seemingly without her knowledge, too. And this is where the fun begins. Because Jeff returns to the podium with the ballot box, he pulls out the very first vote for you-know-who, and... well... watch the magic for yourself...

First vote. Eliza.

Eliza looks a little concerned

Furious, Eliza now turns to look at her friend. And Ami gives her the most smug, most condescending little nod imaginable. Ami just slowly nods her head twice, as if to say, "I'm sorry, little one. It's you."

Disgusted, Eliza just turns away.

But then the first Leann vote comes up. Leann, who's second-in-command in the unstoppable Army of Ami.

Leann can't believe it. A vote for me??

A second Leann vote comes up. And Eliza just sits there, looking innocent. Ho hum, don't worry about me. I'll just sit here and get blindsided. La de da.

A third vote comes up for Leann

And now Ami's alliance realizes something is seriously wrong

And here's where we get the money shot. That's three votes for Leann, just one more to go, and Eliza knows she just can't resist. She knows she can't do this without sending a message. So she turns to look back at Ami, and she gives the exact same little condescending nod that Ami just did to her! Eliza totally mimics Ami, she just nods as if to say, "I'm sorry. But no." And it's one of the funniest (yet subtle) damn things I've ever seen on Survivor.

Eliza says... "gotcha!"

I absolutely love every single facial reaction during this scene. Watch as Ami's face turns from shock, to outright disgust, once she realizes that Leann is gone, and her own women's alliance (including Eliza) has somehow just toppled her.

What the...?

That's not supposed to happen!

Outright disgust

How did Eliza just beat me?

Eliza can't believe she just overthrew Ami

Chris gives a smug grin over to the jury

Sarge and Chad can't believe it

And the grand finale. Ami is pissed. Eliza is thrilled. She and Chris exchange one last congratulatory wink.

Ha ha ha. I swear, this is such a perfect moment (at such a perfect point in the game) that it absolutely deserves its status as my favorite hidden gem on the Funny 115. I know a lot of people won't agree with it ranked so high at #4, but just trust me when I say you have to see this one to really appreciate it.

Of course, being that 95% of online Survivor fans are Ami Cusack fans, I know you're probably not going to agree with me. But I swear I liked Ami too. She was an awesome character! I just happen to think that this scene is better than a single character. I'll take interesting plot twist over interesting character any day. And this scene is one of the all-time best.

Plucky defeats icy

Ami, you just got punk'd.

Eliza's "gotcha" stare remains one of my all-time favorite Survivor moments.

<------ 5

Back to The Funny 115

#3 ------>