Survivor
Notable Jury Speeches (Besides Rats-And-Snakes)

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My Question Is This

Every season, as Survivor coasts toward its inevitable, filler-filled conclusion, the only thing we look forward to more than evaluating the self-tanning and veneer-purchasing decisions of the contestants at the reunion is hearing the jury speeches, in which someone inevitably forgets (or several someones forget) that this is your last chance to make an impression, and perhaps you don't want that impression to sound like "I am a ridiculous jerkweed." As we head for Sunday's Survivor China finale, we thought we'd take a look back at the most notorious "questions" that jurors have ever "asked." This is a list of nine; we left the empty tenth seat in honor of the most famous jury speech of all time, Sue Hawk's "rats and snakes" diatribe, which we don't even need to discuss, because you already know about that one. That one is the alpha and omega; these are the sad little letters remaining in the bitterness alphabet.

Eliza (Vanuatu)
"My question is: I want an apology."

It was always hard to tell whether Eliza was (1) dumb; (2) weird; (3) crazy; or (4) some combination of the three. She took a beating all season, particularly from Scout (who has turned out to be definitely (1) through (3) above herself) for being silly and useless, but she kept sort of popping back up like a Weeble, even winning herself a car late in the proceedings. She took a big step toward respectability when she participated in the ousting of Ami, a preening Mean Girl in Bella Abzug's hat. She got a long way by aligning with eventual winner Chris, but he found himself in the final four with her, social bumbler Twila, and trick-brained/trick-kneed Scout. Twila and Scout were sticking together, so Chris's choices were to take out Eliza or risk a tie. He went with the former while swearing up and down to Eliza that he was all about the latter, and when the watery rice hit the fan, Eliza was not happy at all.

It's not unusual for jury speeches to amount to a declaration along the lines of "Here is my behind. Kiss it and get my vote." It is, however, unusual for anyone to be as direct as Eliza was about it. When it came time for her question, she got up and lit into Chris for pretending that he was her friend, then announced, "My request tonight from the two of you is, I would like an apology." It quickly became clear that Eliza had chosen to take the cheapest route to regaining a sense of control over her environment by using her vote -- all she had left -- to try to extract something from the people who beat her. Chris -- bad in challenges but decent at politics -- knew that as cheap as a coerced apology is to ask for, it's even cheaper to offer, so he told her he was real, real sorry. Twila, on the other hand, pretty much told Eliza to get bent, an oddly admirable but impractical strategy that, interestingly, was the mirror image of Eliza's question -- mostly an effort to demonstrate that she still had control and did not have to eat whatever she was served.

Gregg (Palau)

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Survivor

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