‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 9

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 start this shiznit (as Ami would say)…

Buy Survivor Vanuatu – The Complete Season on Amazon

Episode Thoughts:

Sarge has “despisal”?

Wait a minute, I take that joke back. If I was fuming and Scout starting singing, I’d have despisal too.

I understand why these eliminate-your-tribemate challenges exist, they love fleshing out the pecking order and getting the alliance to turn on each other. But I think everyone should have a fair shot at winning every challenge.

Give Leann credit for not promising to take one person on the reward and taking someone else. She also deserves credit for getting close to someone who’s in her alliance that she’s unsure about.

I always find it fascinating when people talk about who deserves to be at the end instead of who they could be beat. Don’t get me wrong, I would say stuff like that if it’d further my cause, but no way would I want to go with someone who’s “worthy.” Colby already showed the world how well that works out.

Scout’s a tough one to get a grip on because she very well could be being truthful when she says she thinks Eliza is brilliant. But Eliza’s right, it comes off in a manner that is completely condescending. It strikes me as an instance where someone doesn’t appreciate how their intentions are viewed by others.

OK edit watchers, Chris is definitely the one finding holes in the women’s alliance. However, it seems like in these last few seasons (South Pacific, One World) that lots of people were trying and failing to poke holes into the dominant alliances. So, I don’t think I’d pick up on him being the eventual champ.









It doesn’t bother me that Leann and Julie fed the women chicken wings and not the men. That’s just strategy.

Has there ever been a colorblind person on “Survivor”? That could affect their ability to do immunity challenges like this one.

Is Twila a good enough actress to seem this conflicted over the whole Sarge thing?

Why didn’t the term “Rory Syndrome™” ever catch on?

™ Rory Syndrome is a registered trademark of Orlins Industries.

So, if I’m watching this for the first time now, I’m thinking I’d be leaning toward a Leann win. It looks like the women are going to wipe out the men. Then Ami would have a target on her back due to her leadership and Scout, Eliza, Julie, and Twila would have a tough time winning a jury.

Discussion Questions…

Does it bother you that Leann and Julie brought back food for the women and not the men?

Is Scout someone you either love or hate? I think she’d rub me the wrong way out there.

If you were watching this for the first time, who do you think would be on their way to the win?

Does a lack of Hantzes hamper your enjoyment of this season?

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 9”

  1. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    I saw Scout’s in-camp insistence that Eliza is really smart as an underhanded way of saying she’s a threat. And I got the sense Eliza felt the same way, and was at least partially reacting to that.

    As for the chicken wings, that was a clever move, but don’t things like this happen with implicit production approval? I mean, someone must have noticed Julie tying a huge sack of wings to her leg, right? It seems they’ve clamped down on it in recent seasons, depriving us of great stuff like Neleh’s half-eaten mint.

    I had the same reaction to the color-based aspect of the IC. My son is red-green colorblind, and I wondered if any of the guys were, they were out so quickly. Maybe it was the lack of wings.

    And I’ll ask the same question here that I did on my recap: When did they stop showing Probst tell the potential jurors to be careful how they vote people out (on the show), and does he still say that today and it’s just not shown? It’s such a basic part of the Survivor concept, yet it seems to have been lost to the ages.

    • gordonholmes Says:

      I’d assume Probst’s jury talk has been lost to the magic of editing. It did add some drama to the proceedings.

  2. Andy Baker Says:

    GH: Does it bother you that Leann and Julie brought back food for the women and not the men?

    ** Given that we’re entering the jury management part of the game, I think it’s unwise to not feed everyone.

    GH: Is Scout someone you either love or hate? I think she’d rub me the wrong way out there.

    ** It’s probably hard to do this while living with someone, I’d be thinking — if she rubs other people the wrong way, I can use that, make her a target. If I need fractures in the dominant alliance, she’s going to help me make them. So I’d love her because I hate her.

    GH: If you were watching this for the first time, who do you think would be on their way to the win?

    ** The easy assumption is that a woman will win — but I wouldn’t pick Leann, because of her close link with Ami. If I’m Twila/Scout, and I’m contemplating the end game, I’m targeting Ami and then Leann (Julie’s in that mix, too). Eliza then becomes pivotal — that’s a tough sell, though, since Eliza and Scout hate each other so much. That said, with the end in sight, I’d think Eliza would wonder who she could beat rather than who she likes.

    GH: Does a lack of Hantzes hamper your enjoyment of this season?

    ** It’s always an interesting question: How would Great Player X fare when thrown into a previous season? It’s fun to speculate how Russell would have done with this mix of players — he would have joined the Fat 5 for sure, but how would he have dealt with being in the Bubba/Rory minority position? Would there be fireworks with Ami, given her agenda to take out the men (and how unapologetically upfront she is about it)? I think a lot of seasons could benefit from an antagonistic catalyst, but I doubt Russell gets to the end the way Chris does — this particular endgame necessitated diplomacy, something Russell and the other Hantzes don’t possess in abundance.

    Other thoughts:

    I agree with the sentiment that everyone should have a fighting chance in a challenge — but here’s how I look at pecking order competitions: Much of the game has already been played before you begin. (On a related note: I prefer when the pecking order challenge also involves questions about the other castaways… the addition of personality and perception dimensions adds some complexity to the hierarchy exposure.)

    The “deserving” question has been around since the dawn of competitive-cooperative games like Survivor, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this type of thinking — which appears to the viewer to be utterly absent of logic — is a fundamental facet of the game, one which we at home can never truly appreciate. It comes down to living with these people, sleeping next to them, relying on them to survive, compete, endure — friendships form, relationships are forged, enemies are made. Wanting to bring people who “deserve to be there” to the endgame doesn’t make sense — except when we realize they have to live around these people for the rest of the game and be linked to them for the rest of their lives. With the final tribal council in sight, “deserving” is as much about shaping the overall experience as it is about the final jury vote (although that’s a factor, too — to send “deserving” players to the jury makes the jury a bitter one).

    I think Twila was genuine in her remorse about Sarge and her “betrayal” of the men. One, because she likes the men, and two, because she now realizes that she’s near the bottom of the women’s alliance — she might have been able to improve her position with the men, who like her, than with the women, who don’t.

    The combination of puzzle and memory seemed HARD.

    Chris had several comments that set him up as a the winner, but are only obvious in retrospect; twice he said “The game ain’t over yet!” My favorite Chris moment from this one, though, was his observation about needing to be careful about what you say around the women, because they’re a tight-knit group. He’s wise to avoid any and all conflict until the numbers are low enough that he can manipulate the deeply fractured (but temporarily united) women’s alliance.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      I was thinking about the whole ‘deserving’ thing the other day, and decided that it’s not so much about ‘deserving’ as it is ‘satisfying’. Deserving’s a funny thing anyway, because nobody *deserves* a million dollars, and Survivor is a game with such open ended rules that it’s hard to specify what constitutes deserving.

      Satisfying on the other hand is more about how the person won. So while Sandra perhaps did not deserve a win on the strength of her strategy (though I still think Heroes vs Villain is that rare season where *everybody* played a terrible game), her unique argument for the jury made her a satisfying winner. Conversely, Fabio’s win was unsatisfying because he got lucky with a streak of immunity wins and then made a fairly shabby jury-presentation…

      Clearly the above is still my personal opinion, and what is satisfying is going to be as highly subjective as who is deserving–the latter just pretends to be objective.

  3. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    This was a funny episode, and I mean funny ha-ha. It wasn’t like there was one hysterical moment, but there were so many bits and pieces that made me chuckle, starting with Sarge’s death-gaze when Scout was singing. Also notable, the whole Sarge and Twila going with machetes for the pig bit, and Leeann’s “me too”s in the helicopter with Julie. Lame but I giggled, and I can’t deny it.

    *Does it bother you that Leann and Julie brought back food for the women and not the men?*

    That was an interesting move. It seemed unnecessarily mean, and I was wondering what the men were thinking watching it back, but from a strategic standpoint it worked astonishingly well. They created a little conspiracy with the women to bond over, keeping that us vs them vibe; because they publically gave out bones to everybody, they won the men’s gratitude as well.

    Clearly, it could backfire horribly if one of the women later tells the men about what really happened, so perhaps a little too much sneakiness for sneaky’s sake…. but here and now I think it was a great pay off.

    Huge, huge kudos to Leeann for her reasons for taking Julie. I have got so used to players bringing the person they enjoy the most, that I was convinced she would bring Ami. Instead, she set about bonding (and most importantly) talking strategy with Julie.

    The whole ‘deserving’ conversation I intially read as a useful cover story for why “I really do want you in the final four!” For both Julie and Leeann. But in retrospect, I think there’s also some truth in it. Part of it is just wanting to be around people who’s company you enjoy towards the end and part of it is, as I believe Kim and Sabrina were discussing last season, is keeping around people you won’t mind losing to. That said… I can’t imagine you’d feel comfortable losing to anybody if you get that far….

    The other good reason to say: “Keep the most deserving,” is that it presents a nice narrative for the jury. You just need to have some creative definitions for why X-who-you-know-you-can-beat is deserving!

    *Is Scout someone you either love or hate? I think she’d rub me the wrong way out there.*

    My only previous acquaintance with Scout was from her CBS blog for Cook Islands and Fiji (?) Which annoyed me no end. I find I’m enjoying watching her far more than I expected, but if she went around calling me “Little one” I’d be rubbed the wrong way. On the other hand, most of the players love her, so I assume that I’d go with the herd on that one.

    *If you were watching this for the first time, who do you think would be on their way to the win?*

    Just checked with my husband, and he is sticking with Ami for his pick. The only thing he knows about the actual outcome is that Eliza doesn’t win, and that as South Pacific had the first all-female final five, one of the guys must last at least that long. But ever since John K was voted out, my husband’s spent a lot of time groaning about what idiots the guys are.

    For my part, I think Leeann would be a good guess if I didn’t know…. I’d probably be rooting for Twila though, who would at least have the men’s votes sewn up after her honest chat with Sarge this episode. Looking at it, in a Twila/Scout F2, Twila would win 4/3 (assuming Eliza would never have voted for Scout).

    Chris is getting so much attention in the edit now that I would assume he would be the last man standing and go down with a major fight. The thing that really struck me about his edit this episode was that his was the lone vote shown at Tribal Council, despite the fact that it instantly gave away who was going home. Clearly, if Chris was voting for Sarge, the men’s plan had failed.

    Therefore, the only reason to show Chris’ vote was to show what he was saying as he cast it: (paraphrased) “This is for you, not against you, I’m going to burn them all.” We hear that a lot, but rarely from the person who actually wins. It was clearly too prophetic a line to omit (see also Sandra’s HvsV vote for Rupert: “You’re still going to vote to give me a million dollars.”)

    The other thing I noticed about Chris is that while his strategy is failing miserably, he’s the name on everybody’s lips. Leeann referred to him: “I could vote off Eliza before somebody like Chris.” Eliza in turn called him to aid with the pig (might just have been the first person she saw) and also specifically said Scout was talking to Chris, not the men. There was also a moment when Sarge mentioned Chris and not Chad, though I can’t recall it.

    Obviously, there’s a certain amount of editing there, but those particular quotes don’t seem like they could remove an, e.g., “and Chad.” Chris may be firing blanks strategically, but his *social* game is going well. It makes me wonder why somebody like Ami didn’t pick up on it and say: “We need to get rid of Chris before Chad.” Last point moot if Chris wins immunity next time, of course!

  4. Drew M Says:

    -Scout comes across to me as someone who probably does in fact have plenty of life experience, but needs to make sure everyone knows that. Furthermore, she seems to make a thinly veiled attempt at hiding this need to be recognized. Her breaking out in to song seemed like a way of saying, “Hey look at this cool, mysterious song I know”, without actually having to say that. So I do suppose she does warrant respect, because of the life experience, it’s just people who outwardly need that never rub me the right way.

    -Julie’s little fake out on Twila about their final 4 deals essentially swung the first part of the post merge game. Before that talk, I think Twila would have seriously considered at least forcing a tie with the 4 remaining guys, and possibly Julie would have been inclined to join. Instead, we get the women completely distrusting Sarge and doing the all-women thing, at least for the time being.

    -When was the last time only two people went on a reward! It seems to be minimum 3 people these days.

    -If you were to pick a winner at this point, it would have to be a woman. Dare I say Eliza? I say that mainly because of camera time and her being in the thick of the action. Julie would be a strong possibility too, maybe even stronger than Eliza. I agree that Leann and Ami at this point seem to obvious as winner choices, and it seems they’d eventually be targeted. Likewise, Scout and Twila are probably being as too weak and/or out of it to win.

    -I think part of the reason we dismiss Chris as winner at this point is because up to this point in Survivor history (correct me if I’m wrong), we’d never seen done what Chris is about to do, that being infiltrate a group of 6 women as 1 man and ultra succeed. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad we’re revisiting this season, because since it got the unlucky post All-Stars slot, it can be forgotten, and we get to remember just how unique Chris’ journey was. Likewise, I can only remember 3 instances after (Danni in Guatemala, the Jalapao 3 in Tocantins, and the Foa Foa 4 in Samoa) where a 1 vs. however many trek succeeds (and two of those are blocs of people). It’s such a rare feat. Part of the reason they can edit seasons now when its 1 vs. however many and still give hope to the 1, is because of Chris’ feat. Really hard to do, but not impossible.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      There’s also Cook Islands where the Aitu 4 took down the Rarotonga tribe… but in that case, they ended up merging at 9, so it was 5/4 which made it a little easier. I suppose you could count Fabio too, but he only did it by winning the last three challenges.

      I think going 1 against the majority is much harder than being in a bloc–and all the more impressive when you’re the odd man out so long before the end. I know vaguely how Chris does it, but I’m still eager to see it firsthand, because it seems like such an impossible thing to happen. It’s like Troyzan last time… however much they played it up, I never believed he could make it.

      Of course, Troyzan didn’t play it like Chris. I forgot to mention it earlier, but I thought Chris’ comments after Tribal Council is the kind of attitude players in his situation should be emulating. As opposed to Troyzan who was always “This is my island!” We know Chris has similar sentiments based on his vote for Sarge, but he’s not blowing up at everybody and relying on immunity all the way to the finals.

      • Drew M Says:

        Yeah I’m really excited to re-watch this haha. And sorry to kind of jump ahead a little, I just felt it was useful to highlight what Chris is about to do as juxtaposition to what he’s doing now. As you point out, his attitude is quite opposite of Troyzan, and that helps set up the rest of his game in a major way. We’ll want to pay attention to what we see from him next episode.

        And yes, a small bloc, while still difficult, is magnitudes easier than 1 vs many.

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