‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 10

EP10Some quick reminders/orders of business, etc.

First, if you don’t want to know who wins “Survivor: Cook Islands,” this isn’t the place for you. There WILL be spoilers. Go watch “Survivor: The Amazon” instead.

Second, speaking of “Survivor: The Amazon,” Mr. Rob Cesternino is very generously offering his “Survivor: The Amazon – Unauthorized DVD Commentary” at an exclusive DISCOUNTED RATE for Summer Book Club members.

Third, our friends at True Dork Times are once again getting in on the fun with stats, awards, and more.

And finally, this whole Book Club thing is kind of a work in progress. If you have ideas on how to improve the proceedings, please let me know.

My Big Question: Parvati Shallow, “Boston” Rob Mariano, Russell Hantz, Richard Hatch, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Ozzy Lusth, Cirie Fields, Tom Westman, Amanda Kimmel, Rob Cesternino, and Ethan Zohn.

That’s the full roster of“Survivor” Hall of Famers. All eleven have appeared on the show more than once.

Whenever the topic of worthy one-timers comes up, Cook Islands champ (spoiler alert!) Yul Kwon is always a popular pick. However, many seem to think his (spoiler alert!) over-powered immunity idol should count against him. With this re-watch, I hope to get to the bottom of that mystery.

And with that, let’s get started…

Episode Thoughts:

Quick Fun Fact: In a crowd of a billion people at Comic Con, I was able to pick out Penner’s voice.

There’s a skull in the sun during the “Previously on…” That’s so metal.

“Who Knew a Jew Could Climb a Tree” could be a children’s book.

I’m glad they cut off Candice and Adam’s injury-kissing montage where they did. This is a family book club.

I love the foreshadowing that there’s going to be a final three. However, I don’t love final threes.

As someone who’s done a decent amount of challenges, I have to say that digging is the worst. Exhausting, frustrating…it blows.

What an amazing reward.

I get why some people would think Yul is boring, but he’s such a different character than we’re used to that I can’t help but enjoy him. You could argue that Parvati/Brenda/Andrea are hot, strategic jocks and Brandon/Phillip/Tarzan are the weird s–t stirrers, but who is Yul like? You don’t get awesome moments like him dancing at the feast without building him up as a reserved, cerebral player.

I will never be ok with yellow-shirted Probst.

Adam is so negative during these challenges. I’m surprised he didn’t get more grief for that.

@FiligirlFu says “Looking ahead… does anyone else wonder if Jeff has two “messages in a bottle” – depending on who is winning the challenge, he slips one in his back pocket? It seems these little twists always work out for the direction the game is going.”

Personally, I never buy into producer conspiracy theories. Standards and practices are always on hands to make sure the game is fair. And, if they were fixing things, why have we had so many terrible winners?

For someone who went on to be the first person voted into the “Survivor” Hall of Fame, Parvati has been a ghost so far.

Kudos to Penner for being able to dodge bullets for so long. It reminds me of Philippines where he was in constant danger.

Discussion Questions:

How do you feel about the surprise second boot twist?

Candice and Adam’s show-mance would be an immediate red flag today. When did people start realizing this? Erik and Jamie in China?

Which challenge staple (digging, swimming, eating weird things) would be your Achilles’’ heel?

Which Raro member is in the best position at this point?

Post your answers and questions below, and be sure to swing by True Dork Times for awards, stats, and more…

Even More Whatnot…

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13 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 10”

  1. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    If only Yul had comical facial hair going into the game, or came up with a makeshift loincloth/ appropriation of a public-domain literary/movie character. Then he would be loved.

    The surprise second boot twist was horribly unfair, because Aitu only had to win one challenge. Not that they wouldn’t have won a second one, but still, it reeks of producer interference. The differential between Ozzy swimming for Aitu and Rebecca swimming for Raro pretty much guaranteed the outcome of the IC. So the producers did roll the dice there, but only barely.

    Everyone who watched All-Stars (which would be about 3 people in this cast) should have been aware of the dangers of a showmance couple. Misty in Exile Island was targeted because the others on her tribe thought she was angling for a showmance alliance. It’s pretty incredible that nobody put any serious effort into breaking up Adam-Candice (or questioned Candice’s loyalty to Raro, considering how much time she spent at Aitu).

    I could beat you at any challenge staple, Gordon. Name the time and place.

    Parvati (maybe Nate) is probably now the best-positioned Raro. She’s good in challenges, yet is not an overt challenge threat (Adam, Nate, maybe Candice), has decent social skills, is not in the Adam/Candice duo, and is not a mutineer (Candice, Penner). She could theoretically work on Ozzy post-merge, and worm her way into the Aitu Four. That she fails to capitalize on that is a bit confounding, but she gets a second chance, anyway.

    • Drew M Says:

      Agree with your assessment Parvati is in the best position, and I don’t think it’s close (not that it matters). Everyone else has mutiny, challenge threat or obvious duo stink on them.

      Anything involving holding my breath underwater I would be most nervous about. Diving down to get stuff, seeing underwater, not my strong suit. The remain calm as the tide comes in challenge from Palau and Caramoan, terrifying. I would pray like heck that that challenge wouldn’t be the one for immunity if I ever needed to win immunity.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      This is another reason to love rewards like this–especially at the tribal stage when nobody is left behind. It’s good to see players like Yul and Becky drop the gameface and have fun.

    • gordonholmes Says:

      Any challenge staple? I’m like the Ozzy Lusth of the press team. (Which is like being the Sandra Diaz-Twine of the Dream Team)

  2. Drew M Says:

    I’ve been thinking about how I feel about the surprise second boot twist. All the castaways sign up for Survivor knowing there will be twists, and probably twists that they will not see coming. So everything is fair game, beyond manipulation of course, and I believe this twist was always going to happen here no matter what the tribe balance was or who was left. That said, I don’t like that Jenny didn’t get a chance to compete for immunity. I can’t think of another scenario, before or since, where that was the case, where a player was given ZERO opportunity to keep themselves from being voted out, whether in the form of winning tribal or individual immunity. Give the second boot some sort of chance here to do that.

    Was also wondering if you could have reasonably predicted that the mystery note would be an order to boot a second person. I’m not sure I would have gone directly to “it’s a merge” like some did, only for the fact that Survivor tends to like to surprise the tribes as much as they can with it. It’s less likely they’d have Raro sit around all day, pontificating on this note, and then confirm the most basic of assumptions that night. That said, I highly doubt I would have come up with “boot a second player” as the note’s content. Hadn’t been done before, hasn’t been done since. Candice made a great point by saying if it was something good, wouldn’t the winning tribe have received the bottle?

    I will also offer this. No one from that Raro foursome of Parvati, Candice, Nate and Adam is going anywhere. It seems to me the choice comes down to keeping a loyal tribe member (Rebecca), vs. keeping a strong challenge competitor and camp worker (Jonathan). Obviously they choose the latter and vote off Rebecca. Fine, although I’d question that logic knowing that we have one juror already, a merge has to be very soon, and post merge a guy with Jonathan’s skills gets flipped against you. But they chose to go that route. Even if they went the other route, keeping someone more loyal and booting Jonathan the threat, doesn’t Jenny go on the second boot again? There’s no time to confer otherwise, so four people won’t suddenly change their voting philosophy. Jenny is the second casualty in both the keep the tribe strong and the keep the tribe loyal scenarios. I guess you could argue since that’s the case she wasn’t playing a very good game, but in a traditional one vote tribal council, she doesn’t go home under either voting scenario, successfully insulating herself for this round. Screwed by the twist or not? I’d lean toward yes.

    Let’s update the “everything that had to go right for Aitu did” board for this episode:
    -reward challenge involves quick memorization of things, something I imagine Yul and Becky are better at than most others out there (no racial implication! They just both seem like pretty quick, sharp people, as does Candice in a studial sense)

    -win an amazing reward, fuelling themselves with food and tribe bonding

    -immunity challenge involves a big swimming leg, Aitu strong suit (though they oddly put their swimmers in reverse order from what I’d expect)

    -more quick memorization needed in the immunity challenge

    -avoid having to vote out two people as the other tribe is forced to

    Everything is coming up Aitu!

    A few other quick thoughts:

    One thing you do not ever want to say, to yourself or out loud, in Survivor is “Everything is fine.” Adam says this. I do not think Adam is very good at Survivor.

    When you get orders to memorize something in tree mail, the best way to do so is to split it up in to sections for each tribe member, right? The memory part always comes in to play on the final stage when everyone is participating, save everyone hassle and just have each memorize a chunk.

    When Jeff is introducing the immunity challenge, I noted the weather and thought, that looks like about as nice a day as you could ever want in the Cook Islands. Or anywhere on Earth. Did I mention I love the Cook Islands?

    The double boot is so surprising because as tribal council starts, there’s an appropriate amount of time left to have one vote. But then they go in to this hurry up offense and suddenly you realize something is amuck.

    Why’d Nate vote for Jonathan??

    • @FiligirlFu Says:

      Nate voting for Penner… It seems like a) he and Jenny got pretty close (Adam was the one that seemed to see her as a threat, but Nate never says anything about it), and b) Nate seems to have a strong sense of loyalty – he voiced objections to voting out Brad (instead of Penner) and a little bit about Rebecca.

      Swim Order… I think it was actually a good thing to have Ozzy go first. He could get a lead started, and show his tribemates how to throw the bag ahead of them as they swim to shore. Had Sundra (or even Becky) gone first, they might not have gotten (or stayed) ahead. Taking into account morale, it’s much harder to catch up than to keep the lead when you are already down in the dumps because your tribe loses every challenge to the high school D-list crowd.

      I remember when I saw the message-in-a-bottle the first time I watched, I was thinking it was a merge. After the message was read, and Jeff says they have to vote out another member, I thought: “I wonder if the person that gets voted out must join the other tribe?” It would even it out 5-5, still give the opposing tribe a one-vote cushion (e.g. it would be a throw-away vote where if they lose they have a gimme-vote, but also ensures “Jenny” has to work hard to ensure her tribe doesn’t lose and go to TC so SHE can’t throw the challenge herself). And, after the next TC, there would be a merge. Does that even make sense?… well, it did to me seven years ago…

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      While I agree that something as basic as a merge might seem a bad assumption, a no-frills second boot seems almost as basic. Candice was thinking more creative, and it didn’t help. Last week, I speculated that their refusal to believe Yul had the idol might have been wishful thinking… perhaps the same applies here. They want to get to the merge while they still have a majority.

      For the swimming challenge, they had their swimmers in reverse order because they started with the furthest pontoon. I’m sure that if they had to start with the nearest pontoon, the challenge would have begun with a less than thrilling Rebecca and Sundra face-off.

      Despite Aitu’s ability with puzzles and swimming, they deserve more credit than that for their performance. There was that moment after they won the reward challenge where Yul looked over at Raro because he had no idea how close they had been to winning. Aitu stay very focused on themselves and on communicating with each other (e.g. Sundra finishing her knot and calling to see who needed help). It’s that level of cohesion that Raro are lacking.

      Re the memorisation… It’s not necessarily everybody participating at the end. I don’t think I’d like to gamble on splitting up the task only to find that you’ll lose half of your information in the challenge!

      • Drew M Says:

        Ahh I didn’t even notice they had started with the furthest buoy. In that case, they were smart to do that and smart to send Ozzy out first.

    • Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

      Nate has consistently had odd votes, and it’s not quite loyalty: he’s now voted against every female member of the Hiki tribe (twice for Stephannie, even). He just seems to be out of the loop a lot of the time. The editing makes it look like he and Adam are calling the shots at Raro, but Adam has much more evidence of actually doing so (despite being an obnoxious knob).

  3. @FiligirlFu Says:

    Such a fun episode – at least it was for Aitu and the audience. Yul at the reward feast seemed to have forgotten there were cameras rolling for a moment, then realized it and curled up in the fetal position. And why did Ozzy get the really cute ladies but Yul didn’t? Is it because he was the one carrying the tribe flag? That must be it.

    I know it’s a conspiracy theory to think there might be two messages-in-a-bottle, but can you imagine what this would have done had Aitu lost? While our winners haven’t been the best, there’s only so much the producers can do to guide the jury votes, but they have full control over the twists.

    And, finally, Episode 10… Jeff officially says Parvati correctly. Good job, Jeff!

    I don’t recall all the exit interviews back then, but I think I remember someone saying they thought it was possible there was going to be a double-boot, and Jenny was planned to be the one if it happened. Man, that SUCKS though! Jenny wasn’t terrible in challenges, and this season sure makes whitey look bad doesn’t it. The Caucasians all reunite and take out the minority women. Yikes!

    Other observations…

    Adam – I was getting sick of listening to his whiny voice last episode, but I’m over him this one. His behavior reminds me a lot of Russell Swan (and HIS whiny voice) – always telling everyone else how to perform and what to do, but isn’t doing much more himself than the people he is yelling at. Good thing for him, he didn’t let his pride and emotions get the best of him last episode, allowing him to get rid of Penner.

    Candice – she really can put on a game face. It’s rough going to Exile Island and coming back looking like it was no big deal. But, seriously, you guys haven’t brushed your teeth or showered for over THREE weeks now! Why are you kissing people?! I don’t care how much you scrubbed your teeth with sticks, it doesn’t help the 21-day build-up of morning breath.

    Penner – I love this guy. As I said before: I loved his Survivors Strike Back blogs. If only he could lose the accent, I actually think he would make it farther in his seasons. But, he did what he could: fish, cook, clean, work. And the cool kids have no problem letting him shoulder the responsibility.

    Ozzy – What else can you say about this guy? He is a mer-man. I pause and slow-mo the TV just to make sure his legs don’t turn into fins when he enters the water.

    Yul – Asians (I’m one of them, so I can say this) don’t tend to be very emotional or affectionate, but Yul really tries to kiss and hug more than many Asian men I know, and does so in a manner that isn’t entirely awkward. On several occasions, he has hugged and kissed members of his tribe, and I think it really shows his adaptability.

    Becky – I think she is extremely underrated. She seems like a sleeper, and her face shows little “genuine” emotion, but she IS a competitor. She seems to be right up there with Penner in the puzzle challenges, and she seems to hold her own pretty well in the swimming. She really should be given a little more credit, but it’s true, she isn’t the dominator Ozzy or Yul seem to be.

    Which challenge would be my Achilles heel? Probably pureed guts. It’s one thing to eat balut or spiders, but put them in a blender and give me a chunky-textured drink, and I would REALLY struggle. I don’t even like Oreo shakes because I don’t like the chunks that come up through the straw. It’s straight chocolate or vanilla for me. No chunks. No sir. Yuck!

    Best position for Raro? Sadly, probably Adam. He’s strong, has several people wanting to align with him, and lays around all the time without anyone looking to vote him out. Seems to me he’s running the show – probably because people think he has the HII.

    Thanks Gordon! Always a pleasure to read everyone’s thought on here! Cheers!

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      I think I will agree that Becky is an under-rated competitor. Chances are that Ozzy and Yul could also put a strong showing on the puzzles–they’re just needed in the physical legs–but Becky always seems to be leading the puzzles for Aitu. That was true even when Jonathan was working with her. She’s not shone athletically, but she’s never held the team up either.

      Also, I’ve been a Candice apologist all season, but even I cringed during the makeout session–though more because it was *Adam* than because of morning breath. Between this and her tirade on Jonathan in two episodes time, I can see why people dislike her. I remain a fan though–she had the sense not to stay with Adam!

  4. Kapil Says:

    I just wanted to point out something for those who may not know. Yul said on Rob Has A Podcast, reasonably recently, that he came across a bit “boring” and clashed a lot (off-camera) with Probst at tribal councils – because he was EXTREMELY worried that the editors would edit the season to look like it was a case of Caucasians vs The Rest. As a result, he was extremely conscious and aware of what he was saying at ALL times so that it could not be edited “craftily” to sound racist. He also said that as a result, the entire experience was not fun at all for him and that if he ever happened to play again, he would definitely like to have some fun. Thankfully, the season was not edited in that way but considering that it started out as a battle of the races and featured a mutiny by the only 2 Caucasian members on Yul’s tribe – his fear was definitely legitimate.

    I feel this is the primary reason he has not been invited back. Jeff hated him for being too PC and “boring” and what we got was actually the most entertaining and positive possible edit of him, as he turned out to be the winner. Hopefully, he will be invited again sometime in the future.

  5. Survivor_BUFF (@Survivor_BUFF) Says:

    The thing about having different bottles…

    This was the first 20-person season, aside from Palau, which used a double boot mid-premiere that wouldn’t be repeated. You have to get rid extra people someway, sometime. Is it that unthinkable they would’ve done this? And if they had a separate bottle, they’d have to pull out a new method in the following episodes. We didn’t see a new method after Cook Islands for another 6 seasons.

    The boot-an-extra-person bottle did resurface years later, but only after the merge, with an extra challenge before the boot. This could well be because people thought it unfair how it was handled in Cook Islands. I’m sure many, even other than Jenny, said it was unfair, and production could’ve said, “Eh, I guess you’re right.” They finally made a change for people bitching about a tribe winning a reward challenge and then going to tribal council.

    People said the same thing about multiple bottles when Fiji had its twist. I remember the argument was based on the wording…but the wording worked perfectly for either tribe.

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