18. Panama – Exile Island (Season 12)
Ultimately, the fire-making challenge for the right to stay in the game near the end is a fair task. After spending over 30 days on a show where the premise is being able to survive being stranded, being able to make a fire should be something that’s acquired along the way. However, it’s hard to feel like Panama – Exile Island didn’t ultimately rob us of the rightful winner because of fire-making.
Cirie Fields (who’s back for Game Changers) showed one of the greater personal evolutions within one season of any player in history. She emerged from being entirely uncomfortable with the situation to becoming a strategic mastermind. Even with here playing the role of a kingpin, she was still friendly and endearing along the way, despite her orchestration of countless big moves, blindsides and so on. Unfortunately, she was the next-to-last jury member because she couldn’t make fire.
In addition to Cirie, though, the season also featured a solid winner in Aras Baskauskas (even if he’s not Cirie). What’s more, it was fun to watch Terry rub people the wrong way and annoy everyone throughout the show. So while a fun season, it’s not an all-time great. Had Cirie won, that might be reconsidered.