‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 8

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 hop into this…

Buy Survivor Vanuatu – The Complete Season on Amazon

Episode Thoughts:

Love the volcanoes. We need more motifs.

Hate Julie’s blatant flirting techniques with Sarge. I can’t see how anyone would buy into it. That, and it must be off-putting for the people who aren’t being flirted with. (That being said, I can see why people would do anything Parvati asks. That woman has mysterious powers.)

Whoever was responsible for blurring Sarge’s keister is the true Sprint Player of the Season. Much thanks.

Scout’s reaction to Twila still being around seemed smart. It lets Twila know that the women’s alliance is intact even though Yasur voted out a woman. And worst case, if Lopevi loses and bounces Twila because they think she’ll flip, the women still have a numbers advantage.

Digging J-Pro’s brown shirt. Forget talk shows, start a clothing line.

I can’t watch a water bucket challenge without thinking of Colby verbally abusing his poor brother.

Kudos to Rory for discovering the wet buff technique. He’s way more of a gamer than I remembered.

Orange buffs…must be nice. (Every season I’ve been to; Gabon, Nicaragua, and South Pacific have had red, yellow, and blue buffs.)

Rory kept jumping into the water with his legs crossed. Is that a strategy to save him time swimming back to the surface? Is Rory a genius?

Huh…I don’t remember “Survivor” not having Tribal on the same day as the immunity challenge. Did that happen often?

Eliza can pluck eyebrows with her bare hands! Don’t mess with her.

Julie has a “Jeff” heart tattoo! How do I not remember that?

Tough call on if Twila and Julie made the right move. Either way you’re going to end up with three jury members who think you betrayed them. However, being part of a final five with the guys does seem better than a final six with the girls. And, when it’s down to that final five you won’t be viewed as a challenge threat.

Discussion Questions…

Did Twila and Julie make a smart move?

Is it best for Chris that things turned out this way? Would three final-two alliances have cost him the game?

Is Chad’s surprised face better than Eliza’s?









Chad and Chris seemed confident the women wouldn’t flip. Edit readers?

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

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

  1. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    During the bucket brigade RC, when he had the bucket between his legs, I asked myself: “What’s to stop Rory from peeing into the bucket?” These are the important questions that Survivor makes me ponder.

    Julie and Twila were in a no-win situation with Lopevi, because they were the clear 5th- and 6th-place members there. You could make a case for ditching Rory before them (Sarge would approve of that), but that’s still 4th and 5th. Still, they’re also potentially on the bottom of Yasur. Julie was before the switch, anyway. Since we weren’t shown the Yasur offers to them, who knows what they were promised.

    The big edit in the episode was just “Yay, Chris!” overall, in multiple places, even though nothing he set up during the episode ended up working out right away. But note that Chad got the shocked reaction shot, not Chris. That’s the tell on who gets hurt by Twila and Julie’s defection. (With hindsight, of course.)

  2. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    It should also be pointed out that, at least temporarily, Rory was the all-time single-season leader in have votes cast against him, with 14. Penner would later pass him with 15 in Cook Islands, and Phillip would set the perhaps unbeatable mark of 17 WITHOUT BEING VOTED OUT in Redemption Island. Ozzy would then (with the help of Redemption Island, twice) tie that in S23. But for a while, Rory was king.

  3. Drew M Says:

    -Even though we did get plenty of foreshadowing for Chris as a dominant player, it is kind of odd that he didn’t pick up on tribal dynamics more accurately. Maybe he kept telling himself what he wanted to be true rather than examine the situation as a whole. He certainly corrects for his mistake later on, but a bump in the road for him here. However, he does correctly identify who’s going to be a target before who, so he did have some sense of what was happening.

    -Chris not doing well in this first immunity challenge was an EXCELLENT move for him. Don’t know if that was an intentional throw or not, but deflecting the attention off yourself right after a merging is a good way to go.

    -I was thinking how Chris could have best ensured a majority in voting here, and got thinking it may have been beneficial to have Rory falsify the plans of the girls left on Yasur to Julie and Twila. Chris could join in on this too. Rory’s proven himself smart, so I bet he could sell that Julie and Twila are 5 and 6 once the guys are gone. Could the lie come back to hurt the men? Absolutely. I just feel at such a critical juncture and down 6-4 in gender lines, you have to go all out to win that first vote. (This of course without Chris knowing he’d be able to pick apart the women later on anyway.)

    -Final thought: Can anyone think of a challenge in Survivor history, involving water, that wasn’t good? I’ll venture to guess that any challenge done right in the water is usually pretty great. These two challenges, tossing water from bucket to bucket (simple yet always good) and running through shallow water to get flags were simple, yet really worked. Not sure what it is about the use of water or a body of water. Palau is one of my favorite seasons partly because of all the great challenges, many of which were done in water. Hopefully a return to some more of this in the Philippines.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      I have to say, I thought the immunity challenge was pretty weak. I admire the basic idea, and I love the fact that it was gruelling… any challenge where the players are collapsing on the mat once they’re done earns brownie points. The problem was that there just wasn’t much to get interested in. Even the balance beam wasn’t long enough to cause any major difficulties, and at the end, all you had to do was grab a flag.

      There was no real skill involved at any point, so it really came down to stamina (and I am seriously impressed that Eliza managed to hang in there to beat Chris). And the fact that we had three heats, with the final round coming soon after the second one (according to Jeff’s commentary) killed any suspense. The players in the first heat had a huge advantage, and Sarge was clearly the winner as soon as he grabbed his first flag.

      That said, I generally do prefer water challenges and wish they’d do some more. They’ve gone all out for these elaborately constructed challenges in recent seasons, and I wish they’d go back to sticking people in water and making them swim!

      Finally, wow… Scout can’t run at *all*. I was amazed she got even one flag back. I’m also amazed that she’s managed to get away without this becoming brutally obvious before now.

      • gordonholmes Says:

        Grueling challenges FTW. Hate Boston Rob all you want, but him using the board to climb the stairs at the end of that Redemption Island challenge was the high point of that season.

      • Drew M Says:

        Was that the final challenge of that season Gordon that ended in the puzzle? Or one a little earlier where they kept having to go up and down that staircase type thing?

      • gordonholmes Says:

        No, the final challenge was the one with the maze. I think the stairs was second to last.

  4. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    My favourite part of the episode, hands down, was Chris’ unthinking comment to Chad: “I think you’ve both got a leg up on me.” Chad’s follow up of quietly tapping his prosthetic leg with Chris subsequently collapsing into embarrassed laughter…. it was just one of those human moments, a genuine exchange between two friends. Made me like both of them even more.

    It was an interesting conversation even before that. Chad’s been raised as a potential underdog to be eliminated before jury already, but this is the first time we’ve seen him trying to address that. Putting out Sarge as somebody who’s tough to beat is a great first step, especially when there’s such a lot of game to go (and, as we know, it ended up being a moot point anyway).

    Considering Chris’ plethora of final two deals, he wasn’t being hugely committed to Chad that I recall. He was upfront with him that he didn’t fancy his chances against him, giving him room for a bit of backstabbing later. Remember, this is the guy who John K was still rooting for after being backstabbed.

    But if he didn’t plan on going to the end with Chad or Sarge (taking his comment at face value), who was his preferred partner? Rory? Julie? Twila all along? Or, more likely, it was a case of waiting and seeing what the vibe was after the merge. Somebody like Sarge could very easily antagonise the women, and let Chris become the Sophie to his Coach.

    Regarding the original question for discussion, I do think it was best for Chris that things turned out this way. I don’t think it would have been the final-two deals that cost him the game though, I think it was more likely to be a lack of reason for the jury to vote for him. It’s like Chelsea last season… while she seems a perfectly nice girl who might have been a serious threat to win in different circumstances, she had absolutely nothing to pull votes over Kim (more strategic) and Sabrina (better-liked).

    What argument would Chris have presented against Sarge or Chad? Or even Rory who would have earned his own underdog story after surviving on the women’s tribe? He might have needed to go to the end with a woman after all, and that would present the risk of the female jurors taking the chance to vote for one of their alliance.

    *Did Twila and Julie make a smart move?* My thinking is yes…. I do wonder if there was an element of keeping their options open there, since they targeted Rory rather than one of the men they had an alliance with. They could conceivably placate the men that it will be one of the women next time (as Twila was trying to do–hey, it worked for Kim!). Of course, since Sarge is no Troyzan, they had to agree to vote off Ami and then go against that, so….

    I’m a little disappointed with Twila turning against Sarge because I liked the chemistry those two had. I wouldn’t have minded a Twila/Sarge final two at all… Still, Twila/Chris should still be pretty good.

    Both Lopevi women have a solid ally on Yasur (Scout for Twila and Eliza for Julie), plus their connection with each other… which, I assume, is a big part of what leads to Ami’s fall, which does put them in a pretty good position for gaining control of Yasur post-flip. Especially when they’ll become the natural contacts for the remaining men as they try and change things up. It’s not a clear-cut flip to the bottom of the totem pole.

    Bottom line: definitely the right move for Julie, since I don’t think she had a hope of breaking into the men’s alliance. Probably a good move by Twila as well, though between her connection to Sarge and the fact that Scout would be one of the last people targeted, she probably had more options with the men…. of course, thanks to Julie, she was wary of what they had been telling her anyway.

    Kudos to Ami. We saw a lot of the men scrambling and strategising, while the women just seemed to lie around painting flowers on each other. And through that little communal activity, Ami got them bonding, reaffirming the original Yasur friendship and alliance… and kept the men from having private chats with them.

    Ami didn’t have to do a lot of strategising or any running around. She just created the right atmosphere to make the women want to play with each other.

    *Is Chad’s surprised face better than Eliza’s?* No, but he deserves credit for the stamina. He keeps that ‘O’ going far beyond the abilities of your average player.

    • Drew M Says:

      A great point about the “do nothing” strategy by the women. Granted that’s easier to do when up 6-4 in numbers, but they all played it cool and got what they wanted. They let the men dig their own graves.

    • gordonholmes Says:

      Grueling Surprise Face also FTW.

      • Drew M Says:

        I always remembered the Chad Surprise Face as a one time occurrence, but NO, Chad busts it out numerous times, I guess whenever he feels like it. Someone got water!! : – o

  5. Andy Baker Says:

    GH: Did Twila and Julie make a smart move?

    ** I think so. What’s usually the biggest worry at the merge? Alpha males going on an extended immunity run. What happened at the first immunity challenge? Sarge came in first, Rory second (you NEVER want to come in second at the first immunity challenge — something I think Chris knew — he had a couple-step lead on Eliza in his heat, but slowed up enough to let her pass him — which is to say, I think he threw it). If Julie and Twila are thinking about end game scenarios — and who isn’t at the merge? — they, and the other women, have to think about taking out immunity threats. Throw in Ami’s control-via-charisma “men must go” dogma, and Julie’s betrayal of Lopevi is inevitable — and Twila isn’t going to rock the vote, so she’ll follow where Julie leads. If she’s thinking strategy at all, Twila has to believe that she, Scout, and Julie can spin the game around once the men are gone… as opposed to being at the mercy of the men, who would likely win the late-game immunity challenges.

    GH: Is it best for Chris that things turned out this way? Would three final-two alliances have cost him the game?

    ** On his Dom & Colin podcast, Chris explained that he had multiple final-two agreements with the F5 women (Twila and Julie — and I think he said Eliza, too) — and yet, despite a lot of hurt feelings (particularly Julie), he still won… so I don’t think being caught with multiple Lopevi-based F2’s (Sarge, Chad, Julie) would have hamstrung his game. It probably would have been better, control-wise, for Twila and Julie to have sided with Lopevi in the first post-merge vote — but Chris seemed well-positioned for either eventuality.

    Is Chad’s surprised face better than Eliza’s?

    ** Nope… the eyes have it. Seriously, how far do Eliza’s eyes bug out from her “surprised face”? If it wasn’t so entertaining, it would be troubling.

    Chad and Chris seemed confident the women wouldn’t flip. Edit readers?

    ** We were clearly being set up for the blindside — and, long-term, seeing Chris make some mistakes made his late-game rally all the more impressive — and yet, in this episode, we got more glimpses of a winner’s edit. Who, other than Chris, was showcased in confessionals talking about strategy? And when Jeff mentioned at TC that one of the remaining nine would win a million dollars, we were given an extended shot of Chris… (I recall noticing that when it first aired — made me wonder).

    Other quick thoughts:

    ** I loved the different reactions to Sarge joining in the nude bathing — Chris smiles, laughs and says, “What are you doing?!” Chad, on the other hand, looks stern and disapproving while saying exactly the same thing. Both register the same thing — Sarge is being influenced by the women, Julie in particular — but the way Chris reacts is indicative, I think, of the innate skill set that got him to the end: he’s naturally a fun-loving, easy-going guy.

    ** One of the best Survivor roles to play, but one of the hardest to maintain: the forgiving provider. Rory works hard around camp, but like many castaways, he can’t hide his resentment of those who don’t help out. Scout, meanwhile, works just as hard, but never complains or makes others feel bad about being lazy (one of the reasons, perhaps a key reason, why she gets so deep into the game, despite being such a challenge liability).

    ** The edit is starting to prepare us for Ami’s downfall — for maybe the first time, her persuasive charisma is characterized by others — and edited to be seen — as arrogance.

    ** Loved that Jeff Probst called out the women when they reacted so positively to JK’s ouster. At this point in Survivor’s evolution, Probst proves to be rather adept at toeing the line between commentary and overtly influencing the game — a line he will cross in the very next season (when he got Janu to quit to save Stephanie).

    ** Loved Rory’s creativity in the reward challenge. He used his buff, his shorts, shoes and body to gather water… honestly, he did everything he could. It shows how powerful Ami is at this point in the game that no one called her out on how badly Chad outplayed her in the key final-toss position…

    ** When Sarge was holding the milk tray like a waiter, I immediately though — what if he dropped it? How would everyone react? And then I realized, he’s gotta carry that all the way back to camp. What if he tripped? And then I thought — there is NO WAY I’d want that to be my post-challenge job. I’ll carry the cookies, thank you.

    ** I, too, loved the “leg up” conversation. More proof that Chris is a likable guy.

    ** Leann is surprisingly weak in challenges… she’s got the physique of Kim Spradlin, but none of the athletic ability.

    ** If you’re Scout, do you even bother with the immunity challenge? The only negative outcome is getting hurt, right?

    ** I think Rory’s cross-legged jump was because the water was relatively shallow … plunge in with straight legs and you might hit the bottom hard.

    ** What was with the vertigo-inducing helicopter shots? Have we seen that before or since?

    ** Rory definitely falls into the “forgotten factors” category for me… he was a major character who has been lost in the sands of time… a shame he didn’t make the jury.

    ** Now that was a GREAT job with the flag painting.

    ** Loved the Julie love triangle edit… we see the Sarge/Julie pairing early in the episode… and then get the Ami/Julie body painting sequence… Sarge’s hurt look as he walked away from Julie and Ami was quite telling (Sarge’s wife was probably pissed).

    ** Twila’s spider paint-tattoo was inadvertently symbolic, no? Heck, the editors used spider images when Twila and Julie were shifting back to the women…

    ** Is it just me, or was that TC really short, especially given how pivotal the vote was and how ripe with potential the tribe dynamics were heading into it?

    ** Really enjoyed Rory comparing Ami to a bad rash.

    Once again, I’ve overstayed my welcome… sorry!


    • Drew M Says:

      I thought the EXACT same thing when Sarge was carrying that milk tray. Carrying the cake would have been nerve wracking too, cakes always seem like they’re just about to be dropped. As a matter of fact, any time they have the Survivor auction, when people are handed a tray of something to take back to the sitting bleachers, I always think, do NOT drop those nachos, or that veal parmesan, or burger etc. You’d be so dejected if the only real food you’ve seen in weeks hit the dirt.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      Never thought of Chris throwing the challenge, but it’s a very definite possibility, particularly since he could see he was never going to beat Sarge in the final round (and nor would Eliza). Chris also strikes me as the type of player who would be up for that, as opposed to “No, must give it my all in every challenge!”

      Isn’t Leeann more than ten years older than Kim Spradlin? Also, it’s fairly clear from that other swimming challenge that swimming (at least in the sea) is not her strong point.

      I love the point about ‘the forgiving provider’. Even in the early days, it was Twila making the comments about the younger girls, wasn’t it? Scout is in no way the type of player you expect to make it this far, but she’s found the niche that works for her, and I have to respect her for that.

  6. Mark Says:

    Eliza, definitely!

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