‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 3

My Big Question: Back in 2008, Jeff Probst and I did a video segment called the “‘Survivor’ Question of the Week” where we’d debate the merits of a specific topic. One of those topics was, “Who was the least deserving winner in ‘Survivor’ history.” I chose Chris Daugherty because I felt like he was lucky that the female alliance fell apart when it did and I didn’t like how he misled people like Eliza before voting them out. The lying struck me as very unnecessary.

However, that was based on a four-year-old season I had watched before yapping about “Survivor” was my actual job. So for this rewatch, my main goal is to critique Chris’s performance to see if he deserved my worst-ever ranking.

And with that, let’s get into this mess…

Buy Survivor Vanuatu – The Complete Season on Amazon

Episode Thoughts:

Rory eats an orange-looking thing and exclaims, “Vitamin C!” I think “Survivor” is the only show on TV where you have to explain what nutrient you’re getting from the weird food you’re eating. Also, why’d he only bring one orange-looking thing back?

I’m not sure when referring to yourself as a “grown-ass man” became a thing, but it’s easily my favorite adjective.

It’s been a while since “Survivor” has had a solid Twila/Sue Hawk-type character.

The Twila/Mia fight also makes me wonder if there’s a sweeter moment for “Survivor” contestants then when other people are fighting and drawing attention to themselves.

Awesome foreshadowing moment when Lisa claimed to have a “back-up plan.”

Not to harp on challenge strategy every week, but whose bright idea was it to let Scout man one of the grappling hooks?!

John K. gets to spend an afternoon on a beach with Ami, Julie, and Eliza? Now that’s a reward.

Gah…and John K. kicks it off in the worst possible way by separating the two voting sides and acting like he’s in charge. That’s just what a tribe of women want; a man to come in and judge them.

Edit Readers: Sarge is calling the shots, but the scene where Chris is setting him straight points to Chris being a power player, right?

Guys get the fastest Tribal ever.

So, John K. gives immunity to Ami so as not to ruffle any feathers. That seems like the move to make if you’re confident in your alliance and you don’t want to lose any jury votes. However, that is not the situation Johnny finds himself in. If I’m John and I recognize that the older gents are going to wipe out the young bucks, there are a few different ways to go…

  • Use the idol to sway the power in Yasur toward the alliance of women that are most likely to help you if you make it to a merge or there’s a tribe swap.
  • Give the idol to the weakest member of their tribe (Scout?) so the guys keep an edge in challenges.
  • Give the idol to the most disruptive member of their tribe (Mia?) so the women have trouble coming together.

But instead, he kinda did nothing.

And blam! There’s your first Eliza Orlins Shocked Face™. Classic.

I have to say, I’m not a fan of double-boot episodes. I understand why they’re a necessity, but I like the idea that a unified tribe could sweep the competition and take everybody to the merge.

Discussion Questions:

What should John K. have done with the idol?

If you’re John K. do you try to use your knowledge of the Yasurians to get Sarge to take you on board and dump Rory? Or, would doing so put a target on your back because he’d be worried that you’d join the women after a merge?

Probst in sunglasses; yay or nay?

Are there any “types” of characters (like a Sue Hawk) that you miss?

How do you feel about double-boot episodes?

Your turn, I’ll do my best to approve comments as quickly as possible. Also, don’t miss the True Dork Times “Survivor: Vanuatu” awards, scores, and more…

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8 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 3”

  1. melilly Says:

    It looked like Rory had a whole bag full of fruit. John seemed over-confident that his youth and strength would win out in the end. I think he should have tried to shake things up by giving the necklace to Twila. It would not have changed the outcome of the vote, but might have made the women a bit wary about the merge.

  2. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    Yeah, Rory had a bag full of tiny, greenish “Vitamin C” balls (but showed just one to Sarge). I thought John K’s move was about the best he could do, since he could probably already tell that his prospects on Lopevi were pretty limited. Hoping and planning for any and all post-merge help he could get from people on Yasur was not a bad move.

  3. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    WRT the discussion question, that’s a great idea of John K trying to leverage his Yasur knowledge with Sarge. But it’s not clear how much time he had before tribal, and besides, Lopevi had to vote before he could actually transfer the necklace. The risk for Sarge there is pretty huge, John K could renege on his deal after the fact, putting the young-old split back to even on Lopevi.

  4. Andy Baker Says:

    GH: What should John K. have done with the idol?

    ** Like many of the turbulent social waters Survivor asks Castaways to navigate, John K.’s decision is difficult to make and nearly impossible to judge except in hindsight. He wanted to avoid making any enemies, should he get to the merge — but as you point out, the odds of him making the merge are pretty low at the moment. With that in mind, JK should be doing everything in his power to make sure the men don’t see tribal council, which means keeping the women weak — were I him, I’d have protected Scout, given the same speech about assuming she wasn’t getting voted out, and known that whatever happened, Yasur would still have it’s physical weakest link.

    GH: If you’re John K. do you try to use your knowledge of the Yasurians to get Sarge to take you on board and dump Rory? Or, would doing so put a target on your back because he’d be worried that you’d join the women after a merge?

    ** JK’s one of the next two targets if things remain as they are, so he needs to do whatever he can to plant seeds with Sarge (and/or Chris, who is clearly the other thinker). Tell one or both of them that you’ve made some connections with the women, and that you could be useful at the merge to bring the two groups together. “Take out Brady, Rory, and Chad before you come after me,” he could say. “Too strong, too annoying, and too sympathetic. I’ll help you at the merge, and we’ll see how things shake out from there.” Might not work, but you gotta try.

    GH: Probst in sunglasses; yay or nay?

    ** Nay. The necklace is a bit too noticeable, too. Probst Rule #25: Don’t distract from the dimples.

    GH: Are there any “types” of characters (like a Sue Hawk) that you miss?

    ** They’ve drifted away from having an avuncular presence — the Paschal/Rodger type — in favor of crazy older male players like Philip and Tarzan. Even a mellower Coach was still a guy you’d vote “Most Likely to Fail a Psych Eval,” ya know? The sweet uncle player can make inroads with female players young and old — which can make for a more diverse post-merge dynamic (and create some emotional tribals as pairs are targeted and ripped apart).

    GH: How do you feel about double-boot episodes?

    ** This, to me, is the biggest question about this episode — and one of my primary gripes with Survivor as a franchise. I HATE double-boot episodes. The standard immunity formula works for me: tribal immunity early, individual immunity late. The message is clear: you can make yourself safe — if you earn it. To tell castaways, “No matter what, you’re voting someone out,” feels incredibly unfair to me — a violation of what little control the players really have over their destinies (the same goes for random tribe swaps — but that’s a discussion for another time). Sure, there was one immunity up for grabs, but the odds were much longer for players like J.P. and Mia than one usually encounters pre-merge. There’s enough uncertainty and chaos in the game without having an arbitrary “producers’s decision” forcing a tribe to go to tribal council, even though they didn’t lose a challenge.

    A few other random thoughts:

    ** At risk of repeating myself, there has to be an underlying, foundational reason that people make grave social mistakes like pick fights (Mia) or ostracize oneself (Rory). Psychologists must have a field day watching Survivor — there’s a predictability and inevitability to some of the roles that people fall into once they start forming a micro-society. We all deal with stress in different ways — and an argument can be made that Mia and Rory were both self-sabotaging.

    ** I really like the idea of picking someone from the other tribe to receive individual immunity… it’s got a level of randomness to it, but the decision is entirely player-determined (unlike double tribals).

    ** Another sign that the show has evolved over the years: Would any tribe in the last, say, six seasons follow John’s directive to split up into voting groups, and then answer his questions? We’ve seen other “visit the enemy” encounters over the years, and even divided tribes unite in their distrust of the interloper. In modern Survivor, this is an easy fuse to extinguish: just send out the message that anyone who reveals anything to the enemy will be the next to go.

    ** Sometimes, we have to be grateful that Survivor is only an hour long. If Eliza is this annoying in small snippets, can you imagine what it’s like being in a tribe with her?

    ** Have we ever seen so many members of a tribe so willing to have a tie vote?

    ** Gotta love Survivor spelling errors. Royry? Mea? Man, I’d love to see a spelling bee with the worst name-scrawlers in Survivor history. I wonder if there’s a list out there of the worst misspellings castaways have made on tribal parchment…

    ** Mia, the “little doggy in the window”? What the hell are you talking about, Probst?

  5. Drew M Says:

    Quite a full episode, had a lot to cover in it. In regards to the edit, YES, that scene where Sarge is thinking one rash thing but Chris talks him down and in to the right decision was big. Starting in ep 2 and now heavily in ep 3, Sarge is really being established as the clear leader of Lopevi, everything was filtering through him. But after being invisible for most of the episode, Chris coming in with the right move in Sarge’s ear was key. Hindsight is 20/20 but that’s a great clue that Chris is going to be knowing exactly what he’s doing come future episodes. Likewise, as we know now, Sarge is being set up as a first (or significant) casualty come a turning point in the game.

    Other thoughts:

    -The introduction of Grown-Ass Man and the Eliza reaction shot in the same episode?? Just picture Mario Lanza watching this back in 2004, beside himself with joy.

    -Royry must have been happy he only received one vote and lives to see another day.

    -With regards to JK’s necklace decision, I think I’m with Jeff on this one. My first goal would have been to establish a rapport with any of those girls, and preferably a group of them, and then made my decision based on that. It’s unclear as to how much time JK had there, but for me priority 1 would have been buddying up and then using the necklace how that person or people saw fit. That way you’re virtually guaranteed in someone’s good graces come merge. However, in the absence of JK forming any visible bonds, choosing the path of least resistance like he did was a fine move. Let things take their natural course, piss the least number of people off, and then work at bonding at the merge at that time. The argument could certainly be made for protecting the weakest challenge wise too. Could he be thinking tribe swap though too? And not wanting a weak player still in the game to be swapped to your tribe?

    • Andy Baker Says:

      That’s a GREAT point about the worries of a tribe swap — certainly wouldn’t want to be saddled with a liability you could have helped eliminate. Of course, as with most Survivor decisions, there’s a flip side: if Scout’s on your tribe, there’s a more obvious target than you.

      • gordonholmes Says:

        My big Survivor fear would be to have no options at all. It seems like JK’s idol giveaway is the only thing he had to work with and he didn’t do anything with it. He has to know that he’s the next person or the second to next person to be sent home at this point.

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