We ended up waiting a little longer than we planned to distribute “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” in our overall season rankings, but at the moment, we are glad that we did. It gave us more time to think about this show, and without some of the hype and joy that we got out of seeing Natalie Anderson win a million bucks.
The reality here is that while this season had its moments (the Jeremy blindside, “stick to the plan,” Natalie using an immunity idol on Jaclyn), it also had its fair share of misfortunes … mostly beginning early in the game. For one, John Rocker probably never should have been cast here. His narrative mostly stemmed from comments he made years ago, and we prefer our stories more geared around the game itself. With his history of saying offensive things, that was never going to happen with him on the show. Also, his girlfriend Julie quit the game! Things could have been very different had that not happened.
Ultimately, the first three or so episodes were the most part pretty predictable, and at times dominated by questionable gameplay. The one shining moment in here for us was seeing Drew get eliminated after getting so cocky.
Part of the problem for us was that it was hard to consistently have someone to root for throughout, like a Spencer Bledsoe or a Cirie Fields. Natalie became that person over time, but she was under-edited the first half of that season. Meanwhile, Jeremy Collins and Josh Canfield were both good players, but also gone too soon.
Also, the twist this season with Exile Island was for the most part ho-hum, and the idols were a little too easy to find.
So if you go and look at our full retrospective article, we have this season ranked as #22 all time out of 29 seasons. Any “Survivor” is still good “Survivor,” but we would say that this is one of those seasons that has a great winner, but not necessarily the best season full of great characters.