16 Americans from different walks of life were sent to a remote Malaysian fishing village to board a small boat. In the middle of the ocean, the cast was instructed to salvage all supplies that they can get, jump overboard to their tribe rafts on the small uncharted deserted island of Pulau Tiga in the South China Sea off the Malaysian coast of Borneo.
The sixteen castaways were divided into two competing tribes. They must survive the elements and each other for the next 39 days, or they will be voted off the island. In the end, only one will claim the $1,000,000 prize and the title of Sole Survivor.
|“||The sixteen contestants have been separated into two tribes named after the beaches where they will live.||”|
|“||The Tagi tribe, who will always wear orange, consists of: Sean Kenniff, a neurologist from Long Island; Kelly Wiglesworth, a river guide from Las Vegas; Rudy Boesch, a retired Navy SEAL from Virginia; Sonja Christopher, a 63-year-old cancer survivor from San Francisco; Richard Hatch, a corporate communications consultant from Rhode Island; Susan Hawk, a truck driver from Wisconsin; Dirk Been, a young dairy farmer, also from Wisconsin; and Stacey Stillman, a litigation attorney from San Francisco.||”|
|“||The Pagong tribe, who will always wear yellow, consists of: Gervase Peterson, a YMCA basketball coach from Philadelphia; Colleen Haskell, an advertising student from Miami; B.B. Andersen, a real estate developer from Kansas City; Ramona Gray, a biochemist from New Jersey; Gretchen Cordy, a preschool teacher from Tennessee; Greg Buis, a recent Ivy League graduate from Colorado; Jenna Lewis, single mother and full-time student from New Hampshire; and Joel Klug, a health club consultant from Little Rock.||”|
|“||Here, it's the impressions you make on the other castaways that determine your fate. Under the rules, one tribe must visit Tribal Council every 3 days with a single purpose: vote one of their own members off the island. To win, you must survive the island, survive the vote, and, ultimately survive each other.||”|
The Tagi tribe arrived at camp, happily setting up camp and talking about creating a shelter almost immediately. Early on the younger members of Tagi become annoyed with their oldest member, 72-year-old Rudy Boesch.
|“||Paddling over, uh, we had two or three of those boxes in the water, dragging 'em behind the raft, and that is dumb! I said "Let's get them boxes aboard. It'll be a lot easier." You know, "That's dead weight you got."||”|
|“||He was yelling at everybody "Let's lose the box! Cut it loose now!" He may be 72 years old and an ex-Navy SEAL, but that doesn't mean that this is his world. (laughs)||”|
Richard asked his tribe to take a few minutes to relax before they start setting up the camp and his tribe agreed to stop for a bit before immediately building a shelter.
Early on, sickness among castaways started to set in. The paddle from the boat took place under a hot equatorial sun. Pagong was fighting the current, and their journey took almost two hours longer than Tagi's. Both Ramona and Gretchen swallowed salt water en route, with Ramona vomiting over the side of the raft before reaching the shore, and Gretchen heaving on the fringe of the jungle once they'd made land. While approaching their beach, Jenna of Pagong haplessly breast-stroked to their camp, without even knowing that Pulau Tiga has one of the highest concentration of sea snakes. When they finally reached shore, Pagong's Gervase made sure Ramona was okay and cheered that his tribe has finally completed their trek.
|“||I don't like being on the water all that much. So, I mean, the whole motion like this, (imitates raft motion) and we're rowing, and we have like 100 pounds of stuff on the raft, I just, I just started heaving. I'm used to being in a lab with my lab coat on, in the air-conditioning. But this is, like, outdoors, 24-7, and you're exerting energy, like, almost all of that time.||”|
Back at Tagi, Kelly and Dirk decided that their tribe should organize together and try to figure out how to build a shelter. Rudy clashed again with the rest of his tribe when he suggests a certain way to make the shelter before Sue interjects with her own ideas. As the tribe argued, Richard sat in a tree and acted as the voice of reason, telling his tribe they should come up with an organized plan before the argument continues. This led Rudy to lay out exactly what they want, prompting some more discussion and leading the tribe to look through their supplies.
|“||Rich, um, I appreciate what he's trying to do as far as bringing the team together and stuff, 'cause that's one thing that needs to happen. I think he's got some good skills in that area. And, unfortunately, people like that annoy me.||”|
Sue approached Richard, still sitting in the tree, and told him that he should come help the rest of the tribe build the shelter. Richard told Sue that the tribe should determine their own goals as a tribe in order to function in unison as a tribe. Sue tells Richard that he needs to help because "corporate world isn't gonna work out here in the bush," which leads Richard to tell him they need to solidify Tagi as a team.
|“||I'm good to go survival-wise. People-wise, it'll be a little, a little more challenging. But I've got the million-dollar check written already. I mean, I'm the winner. And it's that kind of cocky attitude that makes people really hate your guts. So that's the kind of thing, I've really got to keep, uh... under wraps. But, uh, it's just, how do I get there from here?||”|
Tagi breaks open the chest they took from the marooning to discover various different supplies, a team flag, and Richard finally decides to join the tribe. Richard tells his tribe that the tribe should move towards one team goal, rather than multiple individual goals. Now united, the tribe works together to help put together their camp with every member, including Richard, taking part in constructing the main shelter and the latrine.
Back at Pagong, the tribe discovers a water map and attempts to find a watering hole. Ramona and B.B. work together to try and follow the route to their watering hole. After some searching, B.B. stumbles across a watering hole filled with brackish water. B.B. jokes with Ramona about how their knowledge of watering hole could prevent the other members of their tribe from voting them out.
As day turned to night, neither tribe was entirely settled (though Tagi had constructed a magnificent makeshift outhouse) and neither had fire for cooking a hot meal. With rats and snakes beginning their nocturnal beach invasion, the sixteen brave men and women settled down for a night of fitful rest.
The Tagi tribe woke up early, and Kelly led the tribe to a yoga session. Rudy admitted he was secretly struggling to get along with his much-younger tribemates.
|“||The hardest part is hanging around with all these young kids. I don't even know what MTV means, you know. And I'm used to being in the military, and one guy stands up, he gives an order, and there's no back talk. You know, like yesterday, everybody's trying to run the show, and if they'd let one person do it, we'd be much better off. But trying to keep 'em all shut up is hard. If they'd listen to me, they'd all have haircuts and everything else, you know. We'd be in formation in the morning and all that kind of stuff, but they're not going to do that. I gotta fit in, not them. You know, there's more of them than there is of me.||”|
|“||I've been thrashing around like I'm 35, instead of acting my age, but we have a doctor in our tribe − uh, Sean − and he did a wonderful job of bandaging me up. I think one of the problems with aging is the thinning of the skin, darn it, and so I think I'm maybe getting a little more banged up than some of the younger ones.||”|
As Sean and Richard worked on the camp, they discovered varying degrees of results using both an ax and a flimsy knife which broke when Sean attempted to use it. Shortly after, Sonja played Richard a version of the song 'Bye Bye Blues' using her luxury item, her ukulele.
Richard begins to provide for his tribe by using the fish and rat traps that he took from the pagonging. As he cuts up one of the rats to use as bait in the traps, Stacey looks away in disgust.
|“||Well, the fish traps were hanging from the boat that we were coming over here, and when we were tossed into the sea on the raft, and we could take whatever we could get our hands on, we grabbed three or four fish traps and a bunch of rat traps, and so we stuck the rat traps out the first night and boom − we got a rat in each of them.||”|
Pagong barely slept because of last night's rat invasion.
|“||I didn't sleep at all. I mean, we, we closed our eyes. We kept hearing noises and, like, clicking sounds, and we're, like, okay. Um, what's his name... Uh, Joel woke up, a rat was, like, in his ear.||”|
|“||I heard something squeaking in my ear. Every time a rat was trying to get on the raft, or get near us or get at something. I mean, everything was moving.||”|
B.B. squabbled with his tribemates about work ethic. He got on a lot of people's bad side as he complained about people not helping him work on the shelter.
|“||What we're... we're just going along the beach here and just identifying whatever we can use for the shelter, the roof. And I'm a little irritated that none of the others are down here to help carry stuff, but that's okay.||”|
|“||B.B... He's a character, man. I don't think he likes me much.||”|
B.B. continued to work on the shelter as the other people in his tribe slack off and swim or walk away talking together. He is irritated especially after Colleen doesn't do the simple task of straightening out a roll of rope.
|“||We got a lot of lazy people if you want to know the truth. You can't do it all yourself. You know, I asked Colleen to straighten this out for me and here it is. It's the only thing she had to do today. You can't have lazy people.||”|
|“||He had been out there, you know, all morning long and, um... you know, it was hot!||”|
Worried about B.B., Gretchen told him that he should get out of the sun. After he refused to stop working, Gretchen decided to help him work on the shelter. B.B. told Gretchen that it is his hobby to work and that he would not stop building their shelter even in the heat.
Using B.B.'s glasses, the tribe was finally able to start a fire.
|“||And the fire started because I had bought a set of glasses with me. I was going to do it, and Gretchen said "Why don't I do it? I know how to do it, too." So, I said, "Great!" And she took my glasses and started the fire.||”|
Over at Tagi, the tribe also tried to start a fire in order to cook a meal.
|“||If we get fire, it means we're going to have a hot meal in our stomach which is going to bring up team morale. That first hot meal might be rat soup, which I'm, like, looking forward to very much because there's nothing wrong with a rat. All a rat is, is a squirrel without a fuzzy tail.||”|
Dirk attempted to rub two sticks together, using a piece of kindling in the middle, hoping that they would be able to start a fire that way. After several different methods, Tagi has no luck starting a fire.
|“||We made a lot of smoke but, uh, no fire. I think that it would have been nice if we had fire, but we're not going to catch fish unless we have fire to cook it and I think that if we had fire, we could have spent a lot of time sitting around the bonfire at night maybe singing songs. We have a ukulele, you know, and, uh, that didn't happen, and I wish it did.||”|
|“||Throughout their time on the island, tribes will compete in a series of challenges. They'll receive messages notifying them of these competitions at their Tree Mail. Today's challenge is for both reward, in the form of fifty waterproof matches, and Immunity. Win Immunity, you stay on the island a few days longer. Lose, face Tribal Council, where you must vote one member off the island.||”|
Sonja discovered that her tribe had trefoil, telling them that they would be participating in a challenge for both Immunity and Reward.
Later, the two teams met Jeff Probst, where he revealed that they would compete in their first challenge, where it was announced that the winning team would receive 50 waterproof matches, as well as the Immunity Idol, which symbolizes the guarantee of staying on the island for three more days. The losing tribe will proceed to Tribal Council and vote one tribemate off the game.
In the challenge, each tribe had to swim out to a raft with a flame burning on it. The tribes would then have to bring the raft back to the beach, using a torch to bring flame to each unlit torch they passed along their way. The first tribe to light all their torches and then bring flame to a large fire pit at the finish would win. At all points during the challenge, every tribe member had to be touching the raft.
It was a close race between Pagong and Tagi, but Tagi's Sonja stumbled as they reach the beach. In the end, Pagong emerged victoriously.
At Tagi, Richard targeted Stacey for being the weakest, while the others were gunning for Rudy and Sonja for being the oldest castaways. Also, Sonja's poor performance at the challenge made her a target for elimination.
|“||Well, somebody's gone. So, it's time to think about who are they going to vote for? Why are they going to vote? I've narrowed it down to four. I'm one of them.||”|
|“||Well, it could mean a lot uh, either staying or being voted out. You know, last night's competition, I really feel responsible because I couldn't keep up and I was dragged totally off my feet. I do feel that that stumble probably cost us the Immunity Challenge and that's a big one.||”|
|“||Up until, uh, probably last night, I never gave it a second thought about who I was going to vote off or if I got voted off, but after last night, uh... I thought about it then, and I decided then.||”|
Stacey conspired with the women about voting out the grumpy Rudy.
|“||I feel pretty secure, actually, about the vote tonight. Kelly and I get along real well, and we've been talking about strategy, and, you know, who's not contributing as much, and who would be best to vote off, and I think we, we've come to a mutual decision and we've talked to Sue about it.||”|
Sue initially said she agreed to the plan, but in a confessional, she declared she had other ideas.
|“||Stacey came up to me, and its, like, she don't like Rudy and she's, like, "Oh, I think we're going to vote for Rudy, and vote him off 'cause he's still barking." Well, anybody's too barking and too bossy to Stacey because she doesn't move her ass. The chicks think I'm voting for one person, and I'm not.||”|
|“||This is Tribal Council, where each week one member will be voted off the island. Last night, in a crushing defeat Tagi lost the Immunity Challenge, so, tonight, they will come here and vote the first person off. It all begins with a dangerous hike through the jungle. With so little time to get acquainted, everyone is vulnerable. Rich's talk-versus-action approach may be more annoying than helpful. Sonja's tumble cost them dearly. One thing's for certain: At Tribal Council you are held accountable for your actions. There will be a vote. Someone is going home.||”|
At Tribal Council, Sue joined Dirk, Sean, and Rudy in eliminating Sonja. She was first to go in 4-3-1 vote.
Reward/Immunity Challenge: Quest for Fire
Tribes must guide a raft they lit a series of torches along the way. Throughout the challenge, tribe members must have a hand touch the raft at all times. Upon reaching shore, the tribe must lit the remaining torches before setting their side of the fire spirit ablaze. The first tribe to set fire on their side of the fire spirit wins the challenge.
Reward: 50 waterproof matches.
| Tribal Council 1:|
Sonja (4 votes)
Dirk, Rudy, Sean, Susan
Rudy (3 votes)
Kelly, Sonja, Stacey
Stacey (1 vote)
| VOTED OFF:|
|“||Well, I think this has been, uh, an awesome experience. Being the first to be voted out is a little humiliating. On the other hand, the team did the right thing. They're a terrific group of people. They're very strong physically, and I, I think in their shoes, I'd probably do the same thing.||”|
Still in the Running
Behind the Scenes
- In Mark Burnett's book Survivor: The Ultimate Game, he describes a deleted scene that took place on Tagi on Night 2. The Tagi tribe were around the bonfire at night when Richard Hatch decided to came out to the tribe as a homosexual and told his tribemates about "his past and the difficulties of being a gay growing up in a conservative area." According to Burnett, that was probably the most important moment of the season and where the relationships that would later evolve to form the Tagi Alliance began.
- Rudy Boesch was the first contestant to have a confessional.
- Susan Hawk was the first contestant to ever cast a vote at Tribal Council.
- Sonja Christopher was the very first castaway voted out in Survivor history.
- This episode was voted the 7th best Survivor episode of all time in the "Top 25 Greatest Episodes of all time" poll by Survivor Oz in 2015.
- Filming for Survivor: Cambodia began exactly 15 years later after this episode first originally aired.
|Survivor: Borneo Episodes|
"The Marooning" · "The Generation Gap" · "Quest for Food" · "Too Little, Too Late?" · "Pulling Your Own Weight" · "Udder Revenge" · "The Merger" · "Thy Name Is Duplicity" · "Old and New Bonds" · "Crack in the Alliance" · "Long Hard Days" · "Death of an Alliance" · "The Final Four" · "Survivor: The Reunion"