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Hall of Shame Moment: Sook Jai’s Shameful Behavior In and After the Episode 3 Reward Challenge

by David Bloomberg -- 10/09/2002
It is not uncommon for teams on Survivor to blow a challenge. But in Episode 3, Sook Jai took a comfortable lead and turned it into a loss by completely ignoring the rules. To compound their stupidity, Robb acted shameful in his loss – towards Jeff Probst, Clay, and pretty much everybody else in the vicinity. Sook Jai’s actions deserve to be recognized as a Hall of Shame Moment.

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As described in the introduction to the Hall of Shame Moment, there are sometimes individual moments that deserve special recognition, even if those involved are not quite bad enough to be directly entered into the Reality TV Hall of Shame. Last week on the third episode of Survivor: Thailand, we saw one of these.

Actually, we saw a number of shameful incidents last week, but there is only one so far that sticks out enough to deserve special mention here. No, not the Ghandia/Ted incident – we simply don’t know enough about that to determine who, if either, behaved more shamefully. But we do know who behaved horribly in the reward challenge – the Sook Jai tribe.

For the first time in Survivor history, competitors were allowed to make contact with each other – indeed, they were encouraged to do so – as long as they were in the designated “attack zone” on the floating bamboo course. As a competitor, if both you and your opponent were in that clearly-marked zone, you could engage in contact and try to push the other off. If either you or your opponent was not in the zone, contact was not allowed. If you violated this rule, you were thrown out of the game and you were penalized by having one of the items you had collected removed and given to the other team. These rules were simple enough – even a child could understand them. But the immature children on Sook Jai were incapable of getting it through their heads.

Not once, not twice, not three times -- four times people on Sook Jai were penalized for violating the rules. How many times did Chuay Gahn get it wrong? Zero. This was not a simple mistake that could happen to anybody. This was just plain shameful.

Not only did Sook Jai repeatedly violate the rules and look like complete idiots, but in doing so they also gave away the win. They had won all three prior challenges, and were on a path to win a fourth. By doing so, they would have gotten the aid of two Red Berets to help them build shelter (which had been their main focus for the days they’d been on the island) and, more importantly, to find food – which they desperately needed.

Sook Jai had managed to take an 8-4 lead in a game that only required getting ten objects. Just two more, and they would have extended their winning streak. But it was not to be.

The first incident was an accident and could have been understandable. Ken attacked but was not touching the zone. He was tossed and the score changed to 7-5. Here’s where it starts to get shameful. Robb responded to this ruling by giving host Jeff Probst a double-finger salute, flipping him the bird with both hands. Then Robb exacerbates his shameful behavior by attacking Clay and grabbing him around the neck – while Robb was outside of the attack zone!

So it wasn’t bad enough that he grabbed the poor guy on the neck. It wasn’t bad enough that he had been immature about Ken being thrown out. No, he had to go and make the exact same mistake. Then he makes it even worse by complaining that Clay is a whiny baby. Um, Robb? You broke the rules – don’t blame Clay for it. The score moved to 6-6.

But there was still more. Ted from Chuay Gahn, who had taken a defensive stance directly on the attack zone and intelligently kept checking to make sure he was okay, pushed Stephanie off. Fair enough. But then she reached out of the water and pulled him in! Jeff Probst couldn’t believe it – how could she possibly think she was in the attack zone when she wasn’t even still on the course?! Now it was 7-5, Chuay Gahn leading.

But still, Sook Jai hadn’t learned anything. Jed leaped at Brian when he wasn’t in the attack zone. Jeff Probst must have had a migraine by now, and said, “I’m like a broken record!” Jed joined his three other ejected cohorts, and because Chuay Gahn had managed to get one into the boat themselves, the score moved to 9-4 in their favor. Chuay Gahn only had to get one more in, and they won. But I suspect they could have just waited a couple more minutes and yet somebody else from Sook Jai would have broken the rules again and given them that final point.

So Sook Jai lost – disgracefully. But that’s no reason for them, particularly Robb, to stop acting in a shameful manner! Rather than suck it up and take it like a man, he sucked his thumb and acted like a baby. As the tribe got back to camp, Robb was whining. He whined about Clay, trying to blame him for Robb’s rule violation, calling him “a weak little whiny punk.” Yes, he’s smaller than you, Robb. But his IQ is probably five times the size of yours. And as for whiny, well, note that this entry is not about Clay.

But Robb wasn’t done. He kept whining. They didn’t get beaten by a better team, he said – they got beaten by the rules. Oh, no, not the rules! That’s like a major league baseball player complaining that he struck out five times in a game not because the opposing pitcher was better, but because those lousy rules say you only get three strikes. Or maybe the Chicago Bears should have complained that they weren’t beaten by Brett Favre’s talent and their own incompetence, but by the stupid rules that say you actually have to get the ball into the end zone in order to score points.

Every game has rules – including Survivor. Perhaps Jed should have later whined that he lost because of lousy rules that say the person with the most votes has to leave. Hell, Robb would probably have supported him on that. I’m still surprised he didn’t give Jeff Probst the double-finger again when the vote didn’t go the way Robb wanted.

Perhaps the funniest moment of all of Robb’s whining was when, at the end of it all, he tried to rationalize everything away by saying they didn’t really need those Red Berets anyway. Yeah, who needs food? Face it, you lost and you are too immature to admit that you screwed up big time.

It may yet turn out that somebody from Sook Jai ends up being fully inducted into the Hall of Shame. Robb is certainly a possibility if he lasts long enough to continue his behavior. But no matter how that eventually plays out, the behavior of Sook Jai – in particular Robb – in this specific challenge deserves to be singled out as a Hall of Shame Moment.

David Bloomberg is the Editor of the Reality TV Hall of Shame, and can be reached at

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