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Survivor: Cagayan One of the Greatest Survivor Seasons

Updated on April 10, 2018
Teeuwynn Woodruff profile image

Teeuwynn has been a game designer, author, and TV writer since her career began back in the '90s.

Survivor: Cagayan is the 28th season of the reality powerhouse, Survivor. It is also considered one of Survivor’s best seasons. During the reunion, host Jeff Probst called the season’s cast one of the best in the show’s history. Entertainment Weekly’s columnist, Dalton Ross, rated Cagayan the fourth best season of all time. Meanwhile, John Cochran, winner of Survivor: Caramoan also called Cagayan one of the best of all seasons, especially emphasizing the quality of the show’s final six contestants.

I have been watching Survivor since the show first debuted in May of 2000 and have never missed an episode. I have even watched a number of seasons multiple times. Cagayan is definitely on my list of favorites as well. The mix of stories, characters, and dramatic twists is really compelling in this season. The location in the Philippines is also beautiful.

The cast of Survivor: Cagayan
The cast of Survivor: Cagayan | Source

The Tribes

Survivor: Cagayan is also called Survivor: Brains (Luzon) vs. Brawn (Aparri) vs. Beauty (Solana) because the game began with three tribes split up by what the producers deemed as these characteristics most prevalent in their players. The Brains tribe was made up of a group of intellectuals, while the Brawns tribe had strength and a more working class mentality. Finally, the Beauty tribe was defined mostly by physical appearance, although inner beauty was also considered.

The members of the Luzon (Brains) tribe are:

Garrett Adelstein, 27, Professional Poker Player, Santa Monica, CA

Spenser Bledsoe, 21, Student, Chicago, IL

LaTasha “Tasha” Fox, 37, Accountant, St Louis, IL

Kassandra Kass McQuillen, 41, Attorney, Tehachapi, CA

David Samson, 45, President of the Miami Marlins, Plantation FL

J’Tia Taylor, 31, Nuclear Engineer, Chicago, IL


The members of the Aparri (Brawn) tribe are:

Trish Hegarty, 29, Pilates Instructor, Needham, Mass

Yung Woo Hwang, 29, Martial Arts Instructor, Newport Beach, CA

Sarah Lacina, 29, Police Officer, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Lindsey Ogle, 29, Hairstylist, Kokomo, Indiana

Cliff Robinson, 46, Former NBA All-Star, Newark, NJ

Tony Vlachos, 39, Police Officer from Jersey City, NJ


The members of the Solani (Beauty) tribe are:

Jefra Bland, 22, Miss Kentucky Teen USA, Campbellesville, KY

Brice Johnston, 27, Social Worker, Philadelphia. PA

Alexis Maxwell, 21, Student, Addison, IL

LJ McKanas, 34, Horse Trainer, Boston, Mass

Morgan McLeod, 21, Ex-NFL Cheerleader, San Jose, CA

Jeremiah Wood, Male Model, Dobson, NC

Meet Survivor: Cagayan's Cast

The Episodes

Here is a brief rundown on the highlights of each of the episodes. These highlights are spoiler free, so they do not use contestant names, challenge details, and are not too specific. Still, if you want a bit of a better idea about what goes on in the episodes take a look here.

Episode 1 “Hot Girl with a Grudge:” In the first episode, the 18 players meet each other and find out what tribes they are on as well as the season’s theme, Brains vs. Beauty. vs. Brawn. Each tribe has to pick a leader and then that leader has to immediately pick their tribe’s weakest member. The three weakest players are given a helicopter ride back to their camps where they are given a choice between getting extra rice for their tribes or a clue to a hidden immunity idol. One of the players has a crazy fit and destroyed part of their own camp, while other players work the idol clues.

Episode 2 “Cops-R-Us:” After a shocking vote out at one of the camps, several members are left on the defensive. At the Brawn camp, a secret is revealed. Meanwhile, all of the tribes have to deal with a lot of nasty weather. A complicated vote at Tribal Council leads to an interesting ouster.

Episode 3 “Our Time to Shine:” A fight breaks out at one of the tribes, while another tribe practices diligently for what they believe will be the next challenge. At the Immunity Challenge, one of the tribes attempts to throw the challenge, but do they do so successfully?

The Solana (Beauty) Tribe
The Solana (Beauty) Tribe | Source

Episode 4 “Odd One Out:” In this episode the three tribes merge into two, Aparri and Solana. Shifting alliances play out throughout this episode as the newly distributed players attempt to find themselves on their new tribes and keep their own necks off the chopping block.

Episode 5 “We Found Our Zombies:” After the fallout from last episode’s Tribal Council, one of the players is furious with their tribe. This leads the player to question whether they even want to stay in the game anymore. Later in the episode, one tribe wins the chance to raid a couple of items from the other tribe while also getting a clue to a hidden immunity idol.

Episode 6 “Head of the Snake:” Both tribes believe they are going to merge, and they are right. At the merge they find out there is a new hidden immunity idol available with “special powers.” A crazy Tribal Council leads to a lot of confusion and once the player is voted out one of the other players decries a player who flipped as now “having zero chance of winning the game.”

Episode 7 “Mad Treasure Hunt:” The rough Tribal Council tensions remain high the next day. At the reward, one of the players finds a hidden immunity idol clue. When they get back to camp, they hurry to find the idol. However, other players follow, and it soon becomes a mad scramble to see just who will find it. Someone does find the idol, but it is only a regular one.

The Luzon Tribe
The Luzon Tribe | Source

Episode 8 “Bag of Tricks:” A player goes on a tirade after receiving a few votes at the previous Tribal Council. Paranoia sends thoughts of who should go home spiraling. At Tribal Council the vote is split, with one side convincing some of the others to come over to their position.

Episode 9 “Sitting in my Spy Shack:” Two players discuss their distrust of another one, but little do they know that player is hiding nearby spying on them. Later in the episode, a player does find the special hidden immunity idol with the power to be played after the votes are read. (This idol was only seen once before, during Survivor: Cook Islands. The idol has also been nicknamed the “Tyler Perry” idol as the star supposedly suggested its use to Jeff Probst.)

Episode 10 “Chaos is my Friend:” This episode was the Survivor auction. Interestingly, two players attempted to spend their entire $500 on a hidden advantage, so Jeff had them draw rocks. The player with the black rock received the advantage. Tribal Council involved a lot of maneuvering before the eventual vote was settled on.

The Aparri Tribe
The Aparri Tribe | Source

Episode 11 “Havoc to Wreak:” The morning after Tribal Council two players break out into a heated argument. One player eventually threans the other, saying they will use a hidden immunity idol to make sure that other player leaves the game. Again, there is a great deal of interesting strategic maneuvering going on this episode before we learn who is actually voted out of the game.

Episode 12 “Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back:” In this episode, votes are still flying back and forth. Several fights go down, but two players in particular bicker to the bitter end in this episode.

Episode 13 “It’s Do or Die:” This episode we are down to the final four. The four get their loved ones visits and are thrilled. As each player tries to make it to the end, they learn that, this season, there will be a final two instead of a final three. This makes them fight even harder. The show ends with one of the more dramatic final two decisions seen on Survivor, with a lot of tension throughout.

Wrap Up

Survivor: Cagayan is a truly great season of Survivor. The personalities, dynamics, challenges, momentum shifts, and surprises in this season will keep even the most casual of Survivor fans entertained for the whole season.

Other Survivor Articles:

If you're interested, there are more Survivor articles here:

15 Facts You Didn't Know About Survivor

Survivor TV Show Injuries and Accidents

Survivor: Cagayan DVD or Blu-Ray

© 2018 Teeuwynn Woodruff

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