‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 6

Image by @Survivor_BUFF

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 business…

Buy Survivor Vanuatu – The Complete Season on Amazon

Episode Thoughts:

Rory’s angry act is definitely not the way I would go. I’m more of a catch-more-flies-with-honey type of guy. But at least he’s employing some form of strategy.

Good stuff from Chris early on. Swooping in to take Twila’s place carrying the log. Pointing out how Julie could sweet talk the Lopevi men.

Really fun reward challenge. I guess catching pigs can count as somewhat of an actual survival skill challenge like the old SOS challenges. I miss those. That, and Ami shushing the pig was adorable.

Quick Aside: This won’t mean anything to anyone, but Gordon Sr. (my grandfather) was a pig farmer, and hearing Sarge call out “Hiya pig!” brought back some fond memories.

Back to Ami, she’s really coming off as a star. Calling Eliza out on making excuses after the challenge and then building her back up was a fantastic moment. She’s leading without being branded a leader.

Wow, for an idea of how much time each leg of that immunity challenge must’ve taken, it looks like Chris’s long hair was dry by the time Sarge finishes his leg. Yikes.

Eliza was trying to be supportive of Leann, but was giddy that someone else had blown a challenge.

Lisa wanting to go with Ami to get the food in case Ami isn’t around later is just a classic blunder. Add that to our list of stupid mistakes people keep making.

Ami’s a bad ass. Telling Lisa to her face that she wants to vote for her is super ballsy. All the pretend Bibles in the world won’t change her mind.

I guess we’re to assume that Scout knew Lisa was done but didn’t want to vote for her. I think that’d make me trust someone less. It’s like you’re trying to get off on a technicality.

I don’t love Rory’s methods, but kudos to him for sticking around.

Discussion Questions:

If you’re a Lopevi man, what do you do when you see that Bubba is gone and the women are running the show? Try to flip Twila? Make peace with John?

Did Ami overreact in going after Lisa?

What are some more mistakes people seem to make every season? Picking the wrong people for rewards has to be up there.

Would it bother you if someone in your alliance voted another way because they swore they wouldn’t write someone’s name down?

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…

Tags: , , , , , ,

12 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 6”

  1. Andy Baker Says:

    GH: If you’re a Lopevi man, what do you do when you see that Bubba is gone and the women are running the show? Try to flip Twila? Make peace with John?

    ** Even though the season was set up as men vs. women, I don’t know that I would have read the Bubba elimination as a dire warning signal that the women were going to run the game… at that point in the game (according to Chris’ Dome & Colin interview, which I just started listening to yesterday), Chris and Sarge both thought Twila had flipped and that Julie was inclined to join them, given her status/position in the women’s pecking order. Chris thought John was useless — and yet dangerous if he got to the merge — and I imagine I’d feel the same way. That said, if there’s one thing that Survivor has shown us over the years, it’s that an all-female alliance is a real danger right after the merge (they band together to eliminate the alphas). Were I to ever play the game, I’d be preaching the “the women are coming for us — we need to get rid of them while we still can!” sermon to all who would listen.

    GH: Did Ami overreact in going after Lisa?

    ** I’m inclined to say no. Lisa has flipped between the older and younger women’s alliances once already — and now she’s talking about “if/when you’re not here” — so she’s someone who can’t be trusted. Rory will do as he’s told (until the merge, he’s in “whatever gets me three more days” mode) — so it’s better to take out the unpredictable player, no matter how one justifies the move to the other players and oneself.

    GH: What are some more mistakes people seem to make every season? Picking the wrong people for rewards has to be up there.

    ** Not thinking through the ramifications of reward picks is definitely up there. Others that come to mind: not telling people what they want/need to hear when asked a direct question… not being willing to make major post-merge moves at F9, F7, and F5… telling people they’re going before you get to tribal council (you can’t give them time to turn the game around!)… throwing challenges for ANY reason… not calling players out publicly on their final four/three deals (Johnny Fairplay did this brilliantly his first time in the game)… not owning your game at the final tribal council. I’m sure there are many, many more.

    GH: Would it bother you if someone in your alliance voted another way because they swore they wouldn’t write someone’s name down?

    ** I don’t know if bother is the right word — it’s valuable information, though, and I’d add it to the dossier I’m mentally compiling for that castaway. At this particular moment in the game, throwaway votes aren’t TOO important — Lisa’s not going to end up on the jury, and there are more than enough votes to guarantee an elimination. But if a player is willing to do it once, she might do it again — and that’s dangerous, both because when the numbers get smaller, every vote is of extreme importance, and because this is a sure sign of jury management (“I’m not the one who voted you out — so give me the million”). Can’t let players like that last. Thankfully, tribes can often be united against the player who can’t be trusted to vote with the majority.

    Other thoughts:

    I agree with your assessment of Rory — didn’t agree with his methods, but I love that he picked a strategy (which he knew could be flawed) and went with it. I could be wrong here, but I got the sense, watching him work on the fractures within the women’s alliance, that Chris should buy the beer any and every time the two of them see one another. I have a feeling that Rory may have made it possible for Chris to get to the endgame — he started the process that Chris continued post-merge.

    You and I are of the same mind when it comes to Ami — her management of Eliza was exceptional (and felt totally natural, unforced). Criticize without being cruel — and then letting Eliza know that you have faith in her. Brilliant.

    Contrast that with Eliza’s effort to console Leann — as you point out, Eliza is thrilled that someone else failed (and on a bigger stage — immunity vs. reward). While Eliza does have sympathy — emerging from her own recent failure — she doesn’t possess the same level of empathy as Ami. Not knocking Eliza — she was trying to make Leann feel better, which is a good and wonderful social move — but she isn’t wired the same way as Ami, who knows that you don’t stop at “it’s okay.”

    Last thought: Not only do I miss water challenges — I miss BRUTAL water challenges.

    • gordonholmes Says:

      Eliza said on Twitter that booting Lisa wasn’t an overreaction as there was other stuff we didn’t see. (Another reason for “Survivor: After Dark” ala “Big Brother”)

      • Andy Baker Says:

        I would be all over Survivor After Dark… would be a brilliant addition. Heck, just give us more footage on the DVDs and I’d be happy…

        Not surprised to hear that there was more to the Lisa boot — honestly, as badass as Ami may be, I doubt she tells Lisa that she’s a target without feeling/sensing/knowing that the tribe would back her up. There’s potential backlash if you call out someone and the rest of the tribe thinks, “whoa, hey, what are you doing? There’s no reason to target her!” Social dynamics make confrontations possible…

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      “That said, if there’s one thing that Survivor has shown us over the years, it’s that an all-female alliance is a real danger right after the merge (they band together to eliminate the alphas). Were I to ever play the game, I’d be preaching the “the women are coming for us — we need to get rid of them while we still can!” sermon to all who would listen.”

      Note to self: if ever playing Survivor with Andy… vote him off before merge…

      Seriously though, *has* Survivor shown us this? I’d say it’s the other way around. People tend to worry about a women’s alliance, but it doesn’t actually materialise, for the very simple reason that choosing your alliance by gender is a less natural formation than choosing your alliance by the people you click with.

      I know I’m deficient in the number of seasons I’ve watched, but there can’t have been all that many women’s alliances, have there? Vanuatu (forced by tribe division; unsuccessful); Micronesia (successful, but based on Parvati’s Friends rather than gender, realistically–Eliza was notably excluded, and Alexis & Natalie never cared for Amanda), Samoa (I’m counting the Galu group, though I think Brett would have ended up winning had Foa Foa been eliminated), and South Pacific (forced by tribe division; successful though not without some serious work by Kim to keep it together).

      As for banding together to eliminate the alphas, that’s what *everybody* does after the merge. Take Micronesia when Cirie got the girls to turn on Ozzy, who was such a threat to win. Who was Ozzy planning to vote out? Alpha Jason. Actually, Micronesia must be one of the few seasons where the first post-merge vote was *not* an Alpha.

      I agree with you fully about the player who won’t write somebody’s name down though.

      Also with Eliza’s talk to Leann. The contrast between hers and Ami’s talk really was fascinating.

      • Sam Says:

        I think it’s the fact that everyone bands together to get rid of the alphas in early post merge that makes a women’s alliance a constant danger. The women’s alliance doesn’t happen very often but the first couple of votes post merge are nearly always men leaving the women at a numbers advantage so it’s always a possibility.in a way that I don’t think the men’s alliance ever is.

  2. gordonholmes Says:

    Water challenges freak me out. In that, I know what I’m capable of on land. I know what I can lift, I know how far and fast I can run. But in the water I have next-to-no frame of reference.

    • Andy Baker Says:

      I don’t know that anyone could have a strong sense of how they’d do in a water challenge like this IC. It’s one thing to be a strong swimmer. And it’s another thing to have a lot of endurance. But it is COMPLETELY different to be asked to navigate so many different obstacles (in choppy water, no less) — to dive, to climb, to hold your breath, to maneuver 6-10 feet under water… I mean, that thing was crazy. It’s like an underwater Tough Mudder.

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        Go to a wave pool and spend five minutes treading water in the deep end without a lifejacket. That wears you out… Lots of people who can swim adequately aren’t able to dive down through the water efficiently, plus you’ve got to add in poor visibility. I live by a beach and have a decent idea of what I can do in water, yet I still can’t imagine what it would be like to do *this* challenge.

        Loved watching it though! Really really wish they’d bring these water challenges back. Also, considering Bubba’s swimming ability, they *totally* made the right call in voting him off last week!

  3. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    John K seemed to be interacting first with Julie, then with the other guys, after their challenge wins. They look like they have an alliance going, even if it’s just flirting. Unless there are secret alliances he’s making that we haven’t been shown, he doesn’t seem to be making any attempt to re-join Lopevi. So yes, Twila is the correct person for the remaining Lopevi three to pull in, over John K and Julie.

    It did seem like Ami was creating an opportunity to go after Lisa out of mostly thin air, but as Andy said, Lisa’s prior history within Yasur (as well as Lisa’s eagerness to make friends with the guys after the switch, which had also rubbed Ami the wrong way) gave Ami good reason to mistrust her.

    And yes, Scout’s non-vote for Lisa would annoy me. I really don’t understand the hold Scout has over Yasur. She gets special treatment in challenges because of her knees, doesn’t have to follow the group on votes if she doesn’t feel like it, gets to make invisible Bibles, and yet her name never gets serious consideration when it comes time to boot someone. Don’t these people know the merge is coming fairly soon, and she’ll be the least threatening person out there?

    • Andy Baker Says:

      That’s a really interesting question about Scout — how does someone like her avoid being targeted? I have a feeling there’s a fair bit of luck involved:

      ** The gender split to start the game meant that physical strength wasn’t of primary importance during challenges… it also meant that she didn’t have to deal with men in her tribe who would shape the “who should go” dialogue in terms that served them (arguing that physical strength would be needed at some point pre-merge)… and it created a social dynamic which encouraged (demanded?) drama: as the women assumed leader/follower roles in the absence of men, distrust and discord were the justifications for early eliminations (Dolly and Mia).

      ** The men’s ineptitude gave Scout the time to establish her role as elder stateswoman. In a tribe made up of only women — or, post-swap, mostly women — she was elevated into a position that might not have been available in a gender-mixed season.

      ** Scout was fortunate that the women won the first immunity challenge — if Scout had been in Chris’s position, she may well have been the first one voted out.

      ** She benefitted from being on a tribe where there was always a more obvious target.

      ** Post-merge, she was part of the women’s number game.

      ** She was the beneficiary of Chris’s decision to choose her and Twila over Julie and Eliza.

      In the end, Scout may not have intended to fly under the radar, but that was the end result of the dynamics which shaped around her (rather than being a dynamic of her own creation).

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      I found it interesting that when Lopevi were discussing who would get voted off, Julie and Twila named Scout as the person they were sure would stay, because everybody loved her. Quite why she’s so loved is hard to gauge, but she’s the honest, salt of the earth type that often does go down well in Survivor, particularly when they’re not abrasive (see Twila). And as we saw this episode, she’s not got what it takes to turn the vote around.

      I think people can relax a little knowing that she’s unlikely to be scheming behind their back, and/or that she’s transparent in her motives. It’s a recurring theme in Survivor that players like to take a break from the game and not have to worry about what they’re saying and second-guess everybody else. Talking to Scout is probably much like taking a break from the game.

      Of course, by the same token, I’m thinking nobody wants to take her to the end. Which is straightforward enough, because she’s never going to win an immunity challenge so you can vote her off any time. She’s a complete non-threat.

  4. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    Just caught up on this one… hopefully can get around to episode 7 tomorrow rather than next week. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. This cast is just a great bunch of game-aware players, who know they’re being lied to and are dealing with it.

    Honestly, I thought Rory was onto a pretty good plan, by showing he was upset over the vote then dialing it back and apologising (and throwing out that “Lopevi will think I sold out Bubba” line). Showing his emotions humanises him, and while it might not have won the women’s pity at the time, I bet they were much more sympathetic once he apologised.

    That said, I’m not sure I can give full credit to Rory for saving his backside. We never saw any of the women comment on his strategems saying: “I feel bad for Rory,” or even “I like Rory and want to find a way of keeping him around!” It was just a case of another name taking precedence. Judging by his previous lack of social skills, I don’t know if Rory’s got the finesse to pull his plan off.

    That said, I still think it was a great effort.

    I noticed Rory was given a *lot* of camera time this episode, celebrating his success in staying. Since I don’t believe he make the merge (not entirely sure of this point), I assume this is foreshadowing Chris’s division of the women. Chris, himself, didn’t get a lot of screentime, but his winning tactics did. Similarly, even on Lopevi, we saw that Julie and Twila were wary of each other.

    Loved both challenges. I was kind of assuming they’d be finding model pigs in mud… didn’t expect them to have the actual animals! I did sympathise with Eliza, frustrated that Scout always had to do the easy bit of the challenge, meaning that nobody else is allowed to step away from their weak spot.

    I agree that Ami’s pep-talk to Eliza was fantastic. I need to rewatch Micronesia again and figure out why Ami didn’t make an impact (I love Cirie, but I’ll never fully forgive her for letting the bright young things dominate the game instead of the mature and interesting people. Or Yau-Man for screwing up their alliance. Or Fairplay for quitting… well, that last was possibly for the best…).

    I think Lopevi are doing a pretty good job of handling their own alliance–which is in damage control at the moment. Rory’s departure probably wouldn’t have been a huge game-changer, since there was some division there anyway, but I bet they had full trust in Bubba. John has already known he was on the bottom of the totem pole, so bringing over Twila who is feasibly an outsider of the women, and is somebody the older guys can relate to, is almost certainly the smarter move.

    Makes me wonder how much Julie and Twila have been playing up their position on the women’s tribe. Julie obviously really was on the outs, but Twila was part of the dominant alliance so far as we can tell. Of course, it would be entirely plausible for her to tell them that Scout put her and Julie into the Lopevi minority because they were on the chopping block.

    This might in fact be true, if there’s some stuff with Twila we didn’t see. But either way, I hope Twila has been feeding the men this perspective.

    But overall.. great episode. Good to see so many people trying to shake things up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: