‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 10

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 business…

Buy Survivor Vanuatu – The Complete Season on Amazon

Episode Thoughts:

So, Chris’s made up story about Sarge telling him to vote for him… Is it a brilliant move? Probably not. Did it help him get closer to the women? Maybe. Does he deserve points for throwing things at the wall when other people would see immunity wins as their only shot? Definitely.

Probst brought a buff for the pig! The Emmy committee should be ashamed…

Digging under an obstacle freaks me out. I had to do it in Gabon and was not a fan. It reminds me of “Aliens” when Bishop had to shimmy though that pipe.

Smart strategy from both teams picking the lightest, probably most flexible members to be bound.

Awesome challenge. Kudos to Kirhoffer and crew.

My Least Favorite “Survivor” Saying: “Fill up your bellies.”

Oh yay, Ami and Eliza got to finally have some kava. See, totally not sexist.

Interesting choice for Scout to gun for Eliza at this point. Eliza does not seem like someone who would be a threat at final Tribal, while Chad and Chris are both immunity and Tribal threats.

Am I the only one who expected them to be served a plate of pork wearing an orange buff?

Chris’s speech about questioning a woman’s character was awesome. Whether you agree with it or not (and count me on Team Agree) it’s clear that he’s playing the social game on another level.

Challenge Strategy: Julie should have taken off her pants before climbing the post. (For traction! Get your mind out of the gutter.)

The manufacturer of Chad’s prosthetic leg should use his challenge footage in their advertisements.

Julie and LeAnn seemed to bend to Ami’s will pretty quickly.

If anything, this episode reminded me that Scout is much more of a player than I remember.

Discussion Questions…

Did Twila make the right move? Is there anyone she could beat at a final Tribal Council?

Is Chris right about opening your heart to a woman vs. more aggressive play?

Ami is owning the game so far. Why isn’t she better remembered? Because of Micronesia?

Would Chad have been better off telling Eliza that Scout was gunning for her?

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

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11 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 10”

  1. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    Ami was, at the time, viewed as a major star of the season. One of the first female strategic mastermind/villain types. But yeah, her absence from Heroes vs Villains (and brief run on FvF) is probably why her star has dimmed recently.

    You’re right that the guys might have been better off teaming up with Eliza to take down Scout and Twila. But they probably felt they were so close to a 4-4 tie with Scout and Twila, especially since it was Scout’s idea, that Scout’s plan was the way to go. Either way, you’re seeing the glowing pro-Chris edit now, right, Gordon?

    • gordonholmes Says:

      Chris’s speech is probably my favorite moment from this season. We’ll see if I still feel the same about his gameplay when the women’s alliance finally crumbles.

  2. Andy Baker Says:

    GH: Did Twila make the right move? Is there anyone she could beat at a final Tribal Council?

    ** Hard to argue that Twila should have followed a different path given that she got to F2, but I do think she should have listened to Scout and tried to take out Eliza. She wouldn’t have had to draw a rock since she had immunity, and Scout’s main argument is a good one: Run a risk at F8 so that you can control the game starting at F7. They could have taken out Ami and Leann, then teamed up with Julie to eliminate the men at F5 (if they still saw the men as a threat). Twila would have a hard time beating anyone still left in the game at this point, but at least by making game-changiong moves, she would have a better argument that she was a deciding factor in much of the endgame.

    Is Chris right about opening your heart to a woman vs. more aggressive play?

    ** Absolutely — showing vulnerability, both in word and in deed, is the best path for him under the circumstances, and it feels like an effective strategy for men when interacting with women in power. I’m guessing that Chris once again didn’t give his all during the immunity challenge — he could see the writing on the wall, knew he wasn’t going to win this one, so dropped early to appear weaker than Chad. Add that to his manufactured emotional vulnerability with the women, and Chris becomes less of a threat — and takes on the semblance of a pawn (when he’s anything but). Brilliant.

    Ami is owning the game so far. Why isn’t she better remembered? Because of Micronesia?

    ** Micronesia definitely has a lot to do with it, but I have a feeling that the edit of her Vanuatu endgame is the primary culprit: over the last several episodes, she’s been shown as increasingly arrogant (heck, Probst calls her smile “smug”), and she’s being set up for a fall — if she held the women together and got to the F2/3, she would have been edited far differently. As it is, she’s a villain whose main role is as a victim of her own self-importance.

    Would Chad have been better off telling Eliza that Scout was gunning for her?

    ** An interesting idea — but I’m not sure if that would have helped Chad. The biggest hurdle is Ami — Chad has no reason to believe that she would team with the men to take out Scout (I’m sure everyone thinks Scout can be eliminated at any time). If the women won’t vote out Eliza, there’s no way Ami would let them vote out Scout before Chad and Chris are gone. Now, if Chad had told Eliza that Scout brought up the plan AND that Julie and Leann were all for it, maybe there’s a chance she’d work with Chad, Chris, and Twila to take out the other women (that would force her to swallow the poison pill of temporarily aligning with Scout — but then, she’s kinda teamed up with her already).

    Other thoughts:

    The manufacturer of Chad’s prosthetic leg should use his challenge *footage* in ads? Hahahah! Unintended I’m sure, but still funny.

    Loved seeing the emergence of Scout as a legit contender in this episode. While I’m not thrilled that she threw around the D-word (“deserving”), she knew she needed to make a big move if she wanted a shot to win it all — and, more importantly, she was willing to take risks to make it happen. In so many recent seasons, there’s a ton of strategy inertia — but not in Vanuatu. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the personalities and sub-alliances involved, but at least part of it is F2 vs. F3, isn’t it?

    Holy cow was there a lot of egregious voyeurism in that reward challenge… did the camera really have to linger where it lingered and emphasize Julie and Eliza’s bodies that way?

    Heard an interview where Chris talked about how much he HATED that reward. They were exhausted, all they wanted to do was eat and sleep (they really didn’t want to dance). And then the food was awful…

    Gotta love the trippy sky/sun montage. “This is Survivor — and this is Survivor on drugs.”

    Again we see that Ami reads people really well… it’s easy to focus on her ability to convince people to follow her lead, but she never has the chance if she doesn’t quickly note that Julie won’t look her in the face. Non-verbal communication is such an important part of Survivor — if you’re good at reading people, you have a chance; if you’re blind in that department, you’re dead in the water.

    I love “who wants it more” immunities, although this now-familiar pole challenge always feels a bit unfair to me — it favors a certain body type (bulky and/or muscular guys like Chad and Chris don’t stand a chance — Ozzy’s body type, and a lot of the lighter women, have a distinct advantage). Tip o’ the cap, then, to Twila for pulling it out… (I wonder — if Julie and Eliza hadn’t been beaten up in the reward challenge, might they have been more of a factor here?)

    I’m sure Chad thinks about that immunity challenge a lot — it’s his Survivor “What if?” moment.

    It’s getting increasingly difficult to watch only one episode at a time… can’t wait to see the F7 insanity next week.

    • Drew M Says:

      I’m glad you also had the thought Chris threw this immunity challenge. You have to admit, even if things played out differently and Chris goes home next, he’s done everything imaginable (appearing weak in challenges, strategy, emotional appeals and vulnerability) to remain in the game. And so given what we do know happens, the actual result isn’t all that surprising!

      And that challenge from Tocantins and H v V involving standing on small perches and bracing yourself against the structure with your forearms is another one that tips in favour of certain body types. Really what these do though is balance out the all-strength challenges for fairness. I mean they throw in puzzles so often now to give the more puzzle inclined folk some competitive advantage too. Is there really any challenge that’s totally fair across the board? Maybe the ones from Australia/Amazon/Palau where you just stand on something for 8 hours?

      • gordonholmes Says:

        Stand on something for 8 hours is the challenge I’ve been begging for them to bring back. Apparently the crew isn’t a fan of those.

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        Yeah, I was thinking Chris threw the challenge as well. It was a risky move, but better to be the first man to drop.

        My husband and I were discussing whether or not Chad had an advantage with his prosthesis in this. My husband thought he wouldn’t have to worry about sore feet, I thought that the lack of calf muscles could be a problem, since it would be all down to his thigh, which would surely be at the wrong angle to apply pressure. Maybe that’s why he was using his thighs rather than his feet at the end? Either way, my hat’s off to him. And to Twila too. I thought this challenge was Eliza’s for the taking–at least she seemed to slip rather than anything else, although I have my suspicions that she’s perhaps not got the highest pain tolerance (though she was a trooper in the reward challenge). Everybody else should have gone barefoot… feet will always be better at gripping a pole than shoes.

        By the way, I’d say standing on something for eight hours is unfair against the older players whose joints would stiffen up more quickly than the young. Though perhaps you could argue that the young lack the attention span to manage eight hours….

  3. Drew M Says:

    I don’t have a ton to say about this episode, Andy covered all the big points anyway. I will point out that even though it was Chad going home this episode, most of the action focused on Chris (and that amazing back door quote), as well as Scout and the other women. Also, Chris’ face after Chad got voted out is one of the best “GAME ON” faces I can remember from someone in a weak spot who remains in the game. This guy was so motivated to do what he’s about to do.

    I did have an off the cuff thought, and I’ll try to tie this back in to Chris and his style of play. We have seen SO many different kinds of people win Survivor. If you consider the traditional stereotypes of people that get cast, at least one of most of each has won this game. However, there is one type of player who has never won Survivor, dare I say never will, and that is the poker player. Off the top of my head, we’ve had Jean-Robert, Sash, Albert, Jim, and I’ll count Russell as that type too (many more of this “type” from earlier seasons I’m forgetting). Before every season, these guys are usually picked by many as highly likely to win, because on paper these are ultimate strategists playing a game of strategy. But, time after time, these players prove to be SO heavy on the strategy, they forget to be liked as well. Because they’re so overly strategic, they play so hard and draw so much attention themselves, they leave no opportunity for anyone to get to know them personally, and thus make winning a virtually impossible scenario. How does this tie to Chris? Chris probably isn’t the most strategic player to play this game, but he’s good enough. He is a master of psychology and emotion though, and to me that quality is infinitely more important that being an experienced strategist. That quote about appearing vulnerable to get people to work with you was an excellent example of this unique quality Chris has.

    PS. Yes I know not all poker players are like this, heck I’m a fan of the game myself. It’s just these poker guys they cast are so good at that, and then very little else when it relates to the game. I bet we see more cast, and while they’re usually pretty entertaining, they make it very hard for themselves to win.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      I disagree that the players you mentioned are strategic rather than social. I think that one of the problems with the players you mentioned is that they’re all very good at psychology and know how to push social buttons… in the short term. They’re also all men (trust me, this is relevant).

      Jean-Robert went into China with the plan of being an asshole at the start and gradually getting nicer, on the theory that people would like him more if he exceeded the expectations they had set on their first impression. A show psychologist confirmed that this was a sound technique, although we didn’t really see any evidence of Jean-Robert putting this strategy into action, and clearly he never gelled socially with his tribe.

      Sash worked closely with Brenda to pull his alliance together and keep them rock solid and secure, making sure that he spoke to everybody everyday. It worked in that he had a lot of people trusting him come the merge, but as we know, at the final he got no votes.

      Albert was a dating coach, so he really knew how to craft a good first impression and the social cues to win people’s trust. Of course, a date is just one night, and after thirty-nine days, Albert was getting no love.

      I think that’s the crux of the matter. Even if you know your psychology, it’s very hard to keep the theory up for thirty-nine days, without it becoming rote. While not many players might see through your ploys in the first week, I’ll bet almost everybody will know your techniques by the last one.

      The big exception to this style of play is probably Sophie who managed to win despite having to rely on the charisma of her fellow finalists to get through the game. She knew her social theory too, and had her finger on the pulse of her alliance for all of those days, but she wasn’t particularly close to any of them (aside from Coach and Albert, the player she was probably most friendly with was Edna, who didn’t vote for her, while Brandon who did vote for her admitted he hadn’t had much interaction with her during the course of the game).

      I’ve always thought Sophie’s win had a lot to do with her breakdown at one of the late Tribal Councils, where she started crying and humanised herself. She stopped being a strategic robot, and gave something genuine and personal back to the other players.

      Jonas, from last season, made a comment that stuck with me too, where he talked about how he was using a particular topic to bond with players, but he was genuinely interested in it, so it came over as natural, even though he was doing it for strategic reasons.

      I think, in general, women are better at that ‘natural’ part of the social game. Take Ami’s sisterhood tactics this season, or Sandra’s frank approach. Men are more inclined to take a fully logical approach to the game, and while keeping your emotions under check for the duration is an achievement in itself, it becomes a barrier between them and the other players.

      One of the things that I always have been impressed about with Russell was his ability to be self-sufficient–he was relieved that there was no family visit in Samoa because he didn’t want his mind taken out of the game. He didn’t need emotional support–there’s no way I could play Survivor like that! But I think that’s also a large factor in why he can’t win.

      • Drew M Says:

        Definitely agree that yes, the logic-emotion difference between the men and women cast on the show exists. It certainly does more broadly in real life, too, though it’s more noticeable a difference on Survivor, partly because of the people that get cast as male and female types. But no doubt, women do the social thing much more naturally on Survivor.

        And yes, all of the guys I mentioned did have some psychology elements to their game, you’ve highlighted those elements well. But you also made the point I think I was trying to make, in that as the game goes on, the tactics of types of players like that become more and more obvious, to the point it’s hard to trust them or believe what they’re saying. I think guys like this are pretty good at the beginning part of the game, but have more trouble toward the end. Jim’s a good example of that, he did pretty well for himself in the tribal stage of the game, but post merge he just became an immediate target and was disposed of. You didn’t see any of his plans or diagrams in the sand work. Yes yes I know most of that was Cochran’s fault.

        We have 3 examples of those guys I mentioned getting shut out from the final vote, too. All ended up there for probably different reasons, but the fact remains not one person of a jury of 9 thought their play to be worthy of a win. And yes this could be a result of F3 vs F2, but that is a debate for another day.

  4. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    A bit late for this one, but here goes!

    *Did Twila make the right move? Is there anyone she could beat at a final Tribal Council?*

    I mentioned this last week that Twila looked to be in a really good position to win against Scout in an F2, because I thought all the men would vote for her (and Eliza would never vote for Scout). However, this episode, she was the one dithering while Scout was the one trying to save the men. That’s the kind of thing that gets remembered.

    I still love Twila, and she got an immunity win today, which is always helpful for a final tribal case. Since I haven’t seen the final TC, I don’t know why she lost votes, but then, I would have thought anybody would have had a tough time winning against such an underdog as Chris.

    Personally, I think Twila’s still in a position to win at this point, but she needs to start getting more proactive about shaping the game to her advantage instead of playing defensively.

    *Is Chris right about opening your heart to a woman vs. more aggressive play?*

    As a woman, I’d agree with this (on the understanding that it’s a generalisation, of course!). It’s a strategy that can work well for any underdog, really, emphasising your vulnerability so people feel stronger than you and thus less interested in eliminating you. We saw the same thing with Rory. I think you’d have to start emerging as a strength again, in the end-game, in order to garner the winning votes, but to buy yourself time, it’s absolutely the right move.

    Again, what a contrast between Chris and Troyzan….

    In this way, I think his story about Sarge was a good one. A complete lie, but he made sure they knew that he didn’t vote against any of them, and he gave them noble and upstanding reasons for it–as opposed to evidence of a conniving mind. He also pulled it off really well… It’s possible people doubted his story and that wasn’t shown, but it seemed plausible enough to me, since it was in keeping with Sarge’s character.

    *Ami is owning the game so far. Why isn’t she better remembered? Because of Micronesia?*

    Ami made zero impact on me in Micronesia and I’ve been blown away by her in this. It’s a shame she got the villain’s edit, because she really was playing the Kim role, and had she been up against Troyzan instead of Chris, I am sure she’d have won the game.

    I do think that with the exception of some of the huger characters (or at least the production favourites) such as Russell or Boston Rob, there’s an element of “What have you done for me lately?” Even long-term fans are unlikely to remember the jurors of Season 9 without some heavy-duty memory jogging, and few people remember the pre-jurors of the most recent season. Unless you’re Boston Rob (OK, and Jerri and Colby), if you finish before the jury, you don’t get asked back.

    I understand that production will be making an exception to this for the returning players next season, and I’m kind of curious to see how that pans out for the returning players, since I’m betting half their tribe will have no idea who they are.

    *Would Chad have been better off telling Eliza that Scout was gunning for her?* Well, he couldn’t have been worse off! 😉 I was thinking that one tactic the men could have tried is talking to Scout and Eliza, either together or separately, and saying: “Look, you keep targeting each other, and Ami’s holding you back because your enmity is her security. She can pit you against each other all the way to the finals, and if you don’t put your differences aside and work together to target her soon, you’ll lose your chance.”

    I know it’s always risky gunning for the ringleader, since you risk the beans being spilled (again, Troyzan sets the sad example), but a lot of people seem to be unhappy with Ami, and I find it hard to believe they couldn’t have got the votes.

    I am *so* curious to see how Chris pulls it off next episode.

    • Drew M Says:

      Some fantastic Chris and Troyzan comparisons. Chris so far has done pretty much everything right, considering his position. As such, it only reinforces how much Troyzan blew any shot he had of even doing better.

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