Survivor Awards 2017: Best episode of the year

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

It’s long overdue, but let’s take one final look at the past year of Survivor gameplay with the Best Episode of the Year for Survivor Awards 2017.

We’re about a week away from the release of the official cast information for Survivor Ghost Island, meaning the short offseason of Survivor content is coming to a close. That’s why (in addition to a small vacation last week) we’re taking one last look today at the Survivor Awards 2017 list with the Best Episode of the Year.

The best half of Survivor Game Changers is easily the pre-merge section, and there’s no more fun an illustration of that argument than Dirty Deed, the fourth episode of the season. Both Nuku and Mana have great A and B-plots going on, including Debbie’s epic meltdown (as manufactured as it was) and, more importantly, the revenge of J.T. in the name of Malcolm.

J.T., having spilled the beans on who Nuku was voting for at the previous Tribal Council, picked a fight with Michaela and Sandra saw an opportunity to stir the pot. Fans who misremember how strategic Sandra was saw firsthand how she made Perfect Game winner J.T. believe Michaela stole the sugar, she was going home, how safe he was an how he didn’t even need to bring his Hidden Immunity Idol. A lot of funny moments and great gameplay throughout.

Buy One, Get One Free was the first two-hour episode of Survivor Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, and arguably kicked off the memorable part of the season. Here is where we saw Lauren win her second challenge in a row, bring some friends to a reward feast, create a Final Four alliance, pull off the biggest blindside against JP, Ben act his butt off, convince Ryan to use an idol, waste it and vote out Joe.

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This episode not only featured some of the season’s best characters show off their best colors, but it’s the singular most strategic episode of the year. Devon, Ben, Lauren and even Ashley represented the very best of themselves as characters and players, and this episode set up the mile-a-minute pace of the final third Jeff Probst promised would be great.

Malcolm Freberg Survivor Game Changers
Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Concerning an insular, interesting, game-changing episode of Survivor, our 2017 award for Best Episode of the Year goes to The Tables Have Turned. Just three episodes into the season and three tribes would compete for the singular safety of avoiding Tribal Council. J.T. tries to get closer to Malcolm, promising each other to let the other know if their name comes up.

That detail becomes crucial as soon as Tribal Council comes around, as both tribes come out posturing safety and loyalty to their new tribes. Then, all of a sudden, J.T. jumps up and tells Brad Culpepper that his tribe is voting Sierra, while Hali leaps over to tell her old Mana friends to vote Brad out. Chaos breaks loose, as everyone is spending hours talking around in circles in what would become the first truly live Tribal Council vote.

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As Tai plays his idol on Sierra, J.T.’s loyalty to Malcolm lasts a single episode, as his betrayal of his new Nuku tribe led to Mana voting out Malcolm in a truly shocking episode. No matter what you thought about the joint Tribal Council, the episode itself was electric television and the best episode of Survivor this past year.