“Mole, noun,” Anderson Cooper reads from a dictionary entry. “A spy. A double agent who establishes a cover long before beginning espionage.” With those words, and then the sound of wind whipping across the Mojave Desert, The Mole season one began in early 2001 on ABC. Ten players—Afi, Charlie, Henry, Jennifer, Jim, Kate, Kathryn, Manuel, Steven, and Wendi—had to figure out who among them was the mole, in order to avoid execution and win the pot.
While season one has always been on DVD, The Mole is now available to a much wider audience, as it’s streaming on Netflix in the United States, in advance of the show’s return for a sixth U.S. season, which will also be on Netflix.
Although I watched and wrote brief stories back in 2000, I did not recap The Mole, mostly because I didn’t write full recaps in the early years of reality blurred. So, I’m doing that now, 20+ years later. Recaps will be added to the list below as they’re written.
A note: During my Survivor re-watches I discussed the outcome of the season as part of the recaps, but I’m going to try not to do that here. While I don’t think a 20-year-old show can be spoiled, I also recognize that The Mole and its contestants were not as famous as Survivor’s first two winners, nor have they been discussed frequently since then. Also, the identity of the mole is integral to the experience of watching and playing along. I’ll do my best to focus on what’s in that episode, not what’s to come. I will, however, include occasional spoiler paragraphs at the end, so be vigilant if this is your first time watching. Whether it’s your first time or your 30th, enjoy The Mole!
The Mole season 1 recaps and reviews
"Mole, noun," Anderson Cooper read from a dictionary entry. "A spy. A double agent who establishes a cover long before beginning espionage." With those words, and then the sound of wind whipping across the Mojave Desert, The Mole season one began in early 2001 on ABC. Ten players—Afi, Charlie, Henry, Jennifer, Jim, Kate, Kathryn, Manuel, Steven, and Wendi—had to figure out who among them was the mole, in order to avoid execution and win the pot. The Mole seasons one and two are now streaming on Netflix.
The Mole begins by taking elements of Survivor to a new level
The Mole kidnaps a player for its Man in the Iron Mask test while Anderson Cooper hangs out
In The Mole season 1, episode 2, Steven is kidnapped by the producers and imprisoned where the Man in the Iron Mask was held, and the players have to find him. Later, they examine a Cartier watch while Anderson Cooper throws shade, and then play a game in a cornfield.
The Mole's players roll the dice and get bowled over in Spain
On The Mole season 1, episode 3, players traveled to Spain, where both a bull and a dice-rolling challenge knocked them off their feet, while Anderson Cooper asks three players to do everyone’s laundry for $10,000. Plus: thoughts on the executions.
Anderson Cooper sets traps for The Mole's players in two well-designed tests
In both of the tests on The Mole season 1, episode 4, there are twists, both of which have the potential to drain money from the group’s winnings: Kate is given yet another exemption offer, while Jim tries to stop players from winning money.
The Mole had reality TV's first family visit, and did it right. Survivor, take notes!
Reality TV's first visit from loved ones came in The Mole season 1, episode 5, which tests the players in two ways: challenging them to find their hotel rooms for the night, and to see if they can identify how their loved ones described them.
The Mole's players guard a fortress and find books in a library, and both make thrilling TV
The Mole's players try to guard a fortress in a thrilling test, and then head to a public library to be tested on their knowledge of literature. The Mole season 1, episode 6 contains multitudes!
The Mole tests the final four players' trust of one another, and Kathryn faints
On The Mole season 1, episode 7, the final four players—Charlie, Jim, Kathryn and Steven—herd sheep, create art, and consider how much they trust each other.
The Mole's final test: escape rooms! The Mole's final twist: a penultimate episode
The Mole season 1, episode 8 is the penultimate episode, but the last with tests and a quiz, and the tests push the players emotionally and intellectually.
The Mole season 1 reveals the mole, the winner, and the dumbest clues ever
Who is The Mole? Is it Jim, Kathryn, or Steven? The Mole’s final episode is a tiny bit of episode that reveals that information, and a lot of reunion and recap, which offers a lot of fascinating information and context about the mole's game, plus some alleged clues.