‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 7

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 this party started…

Buy Survivor Vanuatu – The Complete Season on Amazon

Episode Thoughts:

Let’s add “not working around camp” to our list of obvious mistakes people continue to make. You’d think 24 seasons into this mess people would know that one. Although, in John’s defense, during his confessional, he seemed to think everyone was relaxing.

How does Rory know when to pray if Coach isn’t there to holler at him? (Love ya, Coach!)

Loved Ami and Rory’s exchange in the woods. She didn’t say things to placate him and she got him all flustered when she brought up him jumping back to the guys after the merge.

Also interesting that they’re using the show’s history of women’s alliances not sticking together as a rallying point. Foreshadowing?

I’m a fan of Scout intentionally dumping her coconut juice. Good strategy.

I need to ask a Survivor how their bodies react to caffeine after weeks of not eating.

Ami’s moment talking about her brother got to me. I’m a wuss. (That’s hardly news.)

I liked Julie and Twila’s moment on the beach too. Especially Julie pointing out that they were the last two you’d expect to end up aligned together. A lot of players this season.

It’s impossible to look cool while shooting a slingshot, but kudos to Rory for tearing up that challenge when he needed to.

However, negative kudos to Rory for breaking the immunity …er… stick. Art department works hard, they don’t need you smashing their gear up.

Look at Chris thinking a women’s alliance isn’t in the cards.

But on the other hand, John obviously bought everything Chris said. And, in John’s farewell speech, he said wanted Chris to win even though he’d just stabbed him in the back

Discussion Questions…

After 39 days of backstabbing and hurt feelings, would a prosthetic foot be enough to earn a sympathy vote? I don’t think so, but I’d play that angle if I wanted Chad gone.

If Leann had dropped the bottle of coconut water, would that have been the biggest challenge eff up in “Survivor” history?

Was there anything John could’ve done to save himself?

Is that coffee maker battery powered? Did they run a line from base camp?

If you’re watching this for the first time, does it seem like Ami’s the obvious winner? Is it too soon to judge something like that?

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

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8 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 7”

  1. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    “Eating more than everyone else” also seems like a useful addition to the “stupid mistakes” list.

    You make a good point about Ami/Rory in the woods as well. Being the cool-headed person in any exchange gives you the perception of power, especially if there are witnesses (Leann).

    Wait… Rory broke the idol? (Going back to re-re-re-watch.)

    John seemed to do very little to try to save himself. He could at least have worked a tie if he’d approached Twila and Julie as soon as they switched. But a half-hearted, post-IC run at Chad seems like far too little, too late. Maybe he was busy napping beforehand?

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      Having just read the interview with John that you linked to on your page, I kind of wish he’d been voted off first. Didn’t know they had recruits back then…. Not that I’m against recruits per se, but I’m against ones who don’t try to save themselves. If his “I knew I was gone” isn’t retconning, then you have to compare his approach to Rory’s.

      Yeah, I know I was grumbling about Rory and Bubba rolling over and leaving it up to the women for their first post-switch vote, but Rory’s certainly been playing his arse off since.

  2. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    * If you’re watching this for the first time, does it seem like Ami’s the obvious winner? Is it too soon to judge something like that?

    Just asked my husband who he thinks is going to win. He said Ami straight off, no other candidates. He’s pretty sure the men are screwed at this point.

    * Is that coffee maker battery powered? Did they run a line from base camp?

    We were speculating on that one. A solar powered coffee maker would have been kind of cool.

    * Was there anything John could’ve done to save himself?

    Probably, but he’d have had to start earlier… like, say, after Brook got voted off. Trying to throw the women under the bus instead of Chad, might have been a better start.

    * If Leann had dropped the bottle of coconut water, would that have been the biggest challenge eff up in “Survivor” history?

    I don’t know, but it would have been absolutely classic.

    * After 39 days of backstabbing and hurt feelings, would a prosthetic foot be enough to earn a sympathy vote? I don’t think so, but I’d play that angle if I wanted Chad gone.

    I absolutely think a prosthetic foot could earn sympathy votes, but it does depend on whose foot is it. Russell, for example, would need to do a lot more than amputate his leg to win Survivor. But Chad is a nice guy, good at challenges, a hard worker and has a reasonable head for strategy. No way in hell I’d want his prosthetic foot tipping the balance when it came to final two!

    That said, I would totally be rooting for Chad if I didn’t know the outcome. Chad, Twila and Ami….

    Other stuff… Another good episode, although I was convinced that Yasur would have to lose the immunity challenge. I had it figured, by process of elimination, that John K and Rory were the last two to miss the jury (though I could have got it wrong), so it made sense to me that Yasur would lose, vote off Rory and then the women would target John after the merge for being an immunity threat.

    I didn’t think it was possible for Lopevi to vote John off before Julie, because that would just be madness. Right?

    Actually, my husband was convinced it was Chad going. He was in despair that the only guy who recognised the women’s alliance as a threat was the one who was going to be voted off. I can understand Chris thinking they’re not voting on gender lines, but… hello, *original tribes*!

    Question: were players less likely to stick to their original tribes after a mix-up in the seasons before Vanuatu? Obviously, I’m operating off recent seasons where Day 1 alliances have tended to dominate. Perhaps I’m being unfair to Vanuatu’s strategists.

    We never saw Chad being convinced, but I bet once he heard that John was trying to get him out, he was a lot less resistant to the idea of voting John off.

    Edit-wise, it was interesting that Chris was shown making such a grave error. On the other hand, he was definitely shown as being in control of the vote this time: talking Chad round and fooling John into trusting him. We never even saw Sarge discuss the vote, the only reference to that being John dismissing him from the equation for the benefit of the women.

    Similarly, all the editing love being shown to Rory seems to be for the purposes of making Ami into a villain.

    We now know that voting Lisa off had the effect of convincing Chris, at least, that there was no women’s alliance and that they could safely spare Julie and Twila. But Ami didn’t think that. She also didn’t know if voting Lisa off would alienate Twila and Julie–this whole “the first women’s alliance to hold together!” thing could well seem to have gone off the rails for them.

    In retrospect, I think Ami should have listened to Scout and voted Rory off last week. They could have got Lisa this week (assuming they’d have lost immunity without Rory) but either way, they’d have assured themselves a majority post-merge over the men.

    I suppose worst case scenario, they’d have won immunity this week, and gone to the merge with both Lisa and Julie, neither of whom they trust particularly, but I can’t think that they trust them any less than Rory. As it turned out, Twila would have been kept over Julie anyway, and she was in the main women’s alliance to start with, so they’d have had their original five, plus a hanger-on.

    One of the problems with getting rid of Lisa was that it upset Scout. She didn’t want it, but Ami insisted. Scout’s not really capable of actively swaying the vote, but all the women love her, so she probably does have some sort of passive aggressive influence over them.

    OK, so most of this is based on me knowing that they turn against Ami, but not knowing the details of why. Trying to fill in the blanks can make a person crazy.

  3. Andy Baker Says:

    GH: After 39 days of backstabbing and hurt feelings, would a prosthetic foot be enough to earn a sympathy vote? I don’t think so, but I’d play that angle if I wanted Chad gone.

    ** I think you’ve nailed it: I don’t think a handicap (prosthetic leg — deafness — little person) would be a factor at the final tribal. But because someone like Chad has never been in the F2/F3 before, the thought that it MIGHT be an advantage remains an exploitable fear. When you’re looking for someone to boot, pretty much any excuse will do.

    GH: If Leann had dropped the bottle of coconut water, would that have been the biggest challenge eff up in “Survivor” history?

    ** I thought the same thing when she stumbled — would that annihilate someone’s chances to win the game? Given that it was a reward challenge, I don’t think it would have been the end of the world — but it would have ended up on the permanent Survivor highlight/lowlight reel.

    GH: Was there anything John could’ve done to save himself?

    ** If Chris hadn’t done a masterful job controlling him, and John had sensed that his torch was in danger, he could have done what Julie did with Twila: make Sarge, Chris, and Chad worried that Julie and/or Twila would team up with the women after the merge. He could lie and say that Julie had offered him a spot with the women if he turned on the guys… and sweeten the story by saying, “Hey, just get rid of one of the women to keep the numbers even — in case they DO want to rejoin Ami and the others — and then, if you still want to get rid of me, so be it.”

    GH: Is that coffee maker battery powered? Did they run a line from base camp?

    ** No matter how it works, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Caffeinated Rory. Highly amusing. (As for how coffee affects a body on a Survivor diet — let’s just say there was a lot of excursions into the sea after the cafe visit, and all of them explosive.

    Other quick thoughts:

    ** Lack of camp contribution is a critical error, and yet it happens EVERY season. I seem to recall a psych study about this sort of passive aggressive tribal role — it’s inevitable that someone (or multiple someones) will end up being lazy. What a savvy player would realize is that this is a warning sign: either you’re too comfortable (and creating a reason for others to turn on you) or you know, on some deeper level, that you’re already on the outs. Either way, this is an invitation to alter your role…

    ** I am a card-carrying wuss. Loved ones visits… letters from home… photos… personal stories… heck, even the fallen comrades sequence… this overt sappiness is one of facets of Survivor that keeps me coming back.

    ** As easy as it is to point out Chris’ mistake in dismissing Chad’s fears, I think a large part of that was simply bad luck: The women voted out Lisa before Rory, which Chris read as a sign that there wasn’t going to be an enduring women’s alliance — an entirely understandable conclusion. Of course, Lisa went home because of her critical mistake with Ami, not as a masterful move by the women to mislead the men… in this case, the law of unintended consequences ended up helping the women in profound and enduring ways.

    ** Random question: How often do we see eventual winners sit out a key immunity challenge (as Chris did with the slingshots)?

    ** I forgot how sly Julie was… well played with Twila… Chris was right to turn on her at F5 — she would have had a convincing case to win the million.

    • Drew M Says:

      -That little misread by Chris of the Yasur power structure was very Heroes reading the Villains wrong pre-merge esque. On the surface, sure that’s what it looked like was going on. Heroes forgot to consider other scenarios though! Same with Chris here.

      -That was a SLICK move by Julie. Again reinforcing what a cool girl she is, not just the looks but pretty socially savvy too.

      • gordonholmes Says:

        Julie’s really coming off well so far. Vanuatu has waaaay more players that say One World or Redemption Island.

  4. Drew M Says:

    Back after a brief hiatus! My copy of Vanuatu, ahem, broke haha. But I found a new one. Forgive me if I make a point about a previous episode that was already done.

    -Rory’s “I deserve to be here over her!” speech would never work on someone like Ami, or any good player. Maybe a group of mediocre players would vote based on merit for one round, but when Ami’s at the helm, if you have to go to benefit her game, out you go.

    -I thought Rory made some pretty decent arguments this episode, both to the other women and to the camera. But, BAD move laying all that out to your opponent. Reminded me of Jean-Robert figuring Todd’s plan out in China, forgetting that Todd was good enough to then get JR out of there pronto.

    -Why not just use identical jars?? Is only one copy made of every jar produced in Vanuatu?

    -Rory is a really strong character! Hilarious, for one, and seems to have a decent grasp of how to play Survivor. Bad bad luck on how new Yasur turned out, given some other more favorable swap scenario, I think Rory becomes a better remembered character.

    -Not a lot of Chris pre-immunity challenge, once again. They’re really saving him for later in the season, knowing all the gold they get from him eh?

    -That was maybe the most excited I’ve seen someone to win an immunity challenge, Rory. What a grown ass man.

    -Post IC, a great showing for Chris strategy wise. Clearly shown to be the center of chatter. Loved the simple move of making John feel like he wanted to hear his opinion. Way to pay attention to the guy on the bottom who you want out of there. JK at that point is looking for anything, just give him something and you’ll appease him pretty well. He didn’t suspect Chris as a threat from what I saw. What I wish we could have seen was what happened between the girls thinking one of them might be going home and the 5-1 ouster of JK. Chris (and I suppose Sarge and Chad too) did some talking with the girls and forged some sort of agreement. If it was Chris, the beginnings of his relationship with them for post merge? Those are the kinds of scenes it’d be cool to see regarding how a winner like Chris goes about his business.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      Good point about Chris being the centre of strategy talk. He might have made a mistake about the women’s alliance, but he was the one Chad was pitching the theory to, and spending time with the target is a great move that so many players overlook.

      Since we’ve only seen Sarge bonding with the women (well, Twila), I’m inclined to think that he’s taken that on board moreso than the others. In light of what happens down the road, it seems strange that they wouldn’t highlight any scenes with Chris making deals with the women. We do know from Julie that nobody’s approached her in particular, so perhaps Sarge’s talks with Twila are the sum of it. I suspect the key strategy plans are restricted to the dominant three: Chris, Chad and Sarge.

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