The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor

#48. I'm gonna screw you annnnnd Burton
Pearl Islands - Episode 12

My hero

Towards the end of every Survivor season, there's an event I always refer to as "the game killer." This is an event that usually happens in the last two or three episodes, it is generally a last minute shift of power, and it almost always determines how the rest of the season is going to play out. Because for all intents and purposes the end of the season is now set in stone. Once "the game killer" finally takes place, you can more or less phone in what is going to happen all the way down to the final vote. And that's why I consider it to be the single most important moment of a Survivor season.

Here are some good examples of "game killers." These are all late game-changing moments that effectively ended a season of Survivor:

* Africa: Lex falls during the final Immunity Challenge. We all know Ethan is going to win now.

* Marquesas: Vecepia screws Kathy and cuts a deal with Neleh at the final Immunity Challenge.

* Thailand: Brian blindsides Helen at the final four. There is no way he can lose now.

* Amazon: Rob C. falls in the final immunity challenge.

* Vanuatu: Ami fails to win immunity at the final six (with the sliding discs). If she had won immunity there, I honestly think she would have been able to woo Eliza and pull herself back into the game. But without immunity, Ami was literally out of options now (and Chris could waltz his way to the end).

* Palau: Gregg is blindsided at the final six, leaving a wide-open path for Tom with no more competition.

Like I said, I consider a "game killer" to be the single most important moment of a Survivor season. Sometimes it happens earlier in a season (Vanuatu), sometimes it happens later in a season (Amazon), but the overall result is always the same. This is the moment that effectively hands the game to the winner, and ends the game for everyone else. And ensures that the rest of the game is now little more than a formality.

The best feud in Survivor history

Well... I'm proud to say that there is only one "game killer" that makes my 115 Funniest Moments countdown, and it also happens to be one of my favorite Survivor quotes of all time. In fact this moment probably would be #1 overall if my wife Diana was doing this column instead of me. Diana claims that this is her all time favorite Survivor moment.

It's the twelfth episode of Pearl Islands and Jonny Fairplay is just killing people. He has been in control of the game since Rupert left, he has a loyal right-hand man in Burton by his side, and together the two of them are just steamrolling their way to the end. Jon has successfully been able to lie to everyone, he deceives the other players left and right without the slightest hesitation, and there really hasn't been an obstacle in his way since the merge. Players are falling before him like so much cardboard.

In other words, Jon Dalton is flat-out owning this season.

Burton and Jon -- dealers of death

To make matters even worse... Jon has recently introduced "the dead grandma lie" to his repertoire. Ever since he received the fake news that his grandma had passed away, Jon has used this fact over and over again to get people to do whatever he wants. All he has to do is swear on his grandma's name, all he has to do is evoke her memory, and he can get people to believe that what he is telling them is the truth. It's the single most devious thing that has ever been done on Survivor, and Jon is milking the dead grandma lie to the hilt. At this point there is really no way anybody is going to be able to stop him.

So the season winds down to the final five and this is really the most pivotal point in the game. If there is any chance that Jon and Burton can be stopped, this is it. Because there are three women left (Sandra, Lill, Darrah), the women outnumber the men, and this is the last time in the game where that will be the case. After the final five, Burton and Jon are going to be virtually unstoppable.

And that's why they know they have to split the women's votes.

Jon and Burton have to make sure the women don't vote together at this point, so they try their best to turn the vote against Darrah instead. Burton goes to Lill, Jon goes to Sandra, and it's the same "good cop/bad cop" routine we have seen so many times before. Jon and Burton are masters at this sort of tactic, and up to this point they have managed to make the women look positively foolish. All Jon has to do is swear on his dead grandma's name, all Burton has to do is invoke his Boy Scout credentials... and the women will generally play along like sheep. It has happened every single time up to this point in the game.

So it's the final five and Jon goes up to Sandra, expecting to get her to go along with the plan to vote Darrah. And Jon's got this incredibly smug look on his face, too. He knows this is going to work. Hell, when has it ever not worked?

All Sandra cares about is the fact that she won't be going home tonight. Everybody knows that. So if the vote is going to be against Darrah instead... and Jon promises Sandra a final three spot... and Jon swears this is going to happen on his dead grandmother's name... isn't it common sense that Sandra would just jump on board? I mean, isn't that the way she plays this game? Do anything to save yourself? And ensure yourself a spot in the final three?

The funniest thing about this scene is the fact that Sandra knows it is coming. She knows the way that Jon works, she has seen his good cop/bad cop game several times before. And she also knows that he is one hundred percent full of shit. So she decides to just mess with his head.

She just lays down under a blanket, she pretends that she is depressed over the state of the game, and she acts like she is tired and just wants to go home. She basically wants Jon to think that she has given up.

Sandra pretending to be depressed

So here comes Jon to work his magic, and he sees that Sandra is moaning under a blanket. Perfect! Jon comes over, he asks what is wrong, and then he pretends to "surprise" her with a pact for them to all team up and vote off Darrah tonight.

"It'll be Darrah, and then it'll be Lill. So what d'you say? Does final three sound good to you?"

Sandra can't see this because she's still moaning under a blanket, but Jon has the most incredibly smug look on his face when he proposes this final three deal. And as a viewer at home you are sitting there saying "You idiot, Sandra. Look at him! Turn around and look! He's lying!"

Sandra agrees to the deal, just to humor Jon. But then he asks her to make the deal again, because he couldn't see her fingers under the blanket. Jon thinks she might have been crossing her fingers when she said this (thus releasing her from the promise.) So Jon makes her swear again, this time with her fingers in full view.

"I swear I'll vote for Darrah tonight"

Sandra loves this, by the way. She loves that Jon thought she might be crossing her fingers. And she makes fun of him in a later interview. See below:

"And he made he promise again, like he thought I had my fingers crossed or something. I mean, how stupid is that?"

But this promise isn't enough for Jon. You see, Jon Dalton is a good player. And the reason for this is that he doesn't trust people very much. But Jon knows how to go for the kill, and that's what he tries to do next. He is going to get Sandra to agree to the one promise that he knows she will never be able to break.

JON: "I swore on my grandma, Sandra, and that's a big freaking deal. So I want the same kind of assurance from you. I want you to swear on the most important thing in your life."
SANDRA: "What's that?"
JON: "Your two kids."

So Sandra takes the bait and she swears on her two kids. She holds up her hands (with fingers clearly uncrossed) and she promises that she will vote for Darrah tonight. And she swears on the names of her kids.

So that's it. Jon tricks yet another person, the game is essentially his, and the dead grandmother lie works yet again. Plus Sandra is made to look like a fool. Is that what just happened? Was Sandra really fooled that easily?

Ha! Fat chance.

"Please. Do I look that stupid?"

It may have worked before, but Sandra isn't going to let Jon win this game. After all, she can lie just as well as he can. And she doesn't give a crap that she just swore on the lives of her two kids. In fact Sandra is going to single-handedly rebut every accusation that the females of Pearl Islands are sheep who will march their way into death. And she tells us this in one of my favorite Survivor confessionals ever:

"So I promised him. I said: I swear, I swear. But in my mind, and under my breath, I was saying to myself...(perfect comedic pause)... I swear I'm gonna screw you annnnd Burton."

Ha ha. Bam, and there is your game killer. This was the first time anybody ever stood up to Jon and Burton, it was the first time the dead grandma lie had failed to work, and it was the absolute last moment in the game when it ever could have happened. Jon was just seconds away from a Pearl Island victory, he thought he had it in the bag, and Sandra yanked it out from under him in one little quote.

"I swear I'm gonna screw you annnnd Burton."

I'm not kidding when I say this was the Pearl Island game killer. Sandra's decoy act and refusal to fall for the dead grandma lie changed everything. Jon was never again in power from this moment in the game (even though he tried his heart out during the finale). Sandra rallied the women to team up and vote off Burton at the end of this episode, and it opened the door for her to calmly stroll her way to a million dollars. And in essence, it was the single most important moment of the season. Everything that happened after this point really didn't make a difference. And yes, that makes it the Pearl Islands game killer.

As well as my wife's favorite Survivor moment of all time.

The jury loved this moment too

The end of Jonny Fairplay

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