‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 13

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, it’s time for Uncle Probst to tell us a bedtime story…

Buy Survivor Vanuatu – The Complete Season on Amazon

Episode Thoughts:

Twila’s just not designed to succeed in this game. All she has to do to stay in her alliance’s good graces is to bite her tongue and she still can’t do it.

Oh, and calling people “motherf*****s” rarely wins jury votes.

Eliza: “Capture a pig?! Damnit!”

Chris: “Walk a balance beam?! Damnit!”

Scout: “Run?! Damnit!”

Wow, kudos to production for the way they covered Chris losing the puzzle piece. Also, kudos to Chris for the build-it-on-the-ground strategy.

“It’s ironic because none of these people would have taken me.” That comment doesn’t help, it only hurts.

Watching Julie make her pitch to Chris reminds me of Ozzy pitching to Coach in “South Pacific.” They’d have to be morons to accept.

I’m pretty sure I’d straight up murder anyone who called me “Little one.”

I liked Chris reassuring Scout immediately after returning from the reward. You figure that’s what your alliance members want, an end to any uncertainty.

Chris’s point about everyone trusting him is interesting, because while it seems like a great position, it really isn’t. He’ll have to vote out three people who trust him.

And…here’s where we get into what years ago I considered to be Chris’s unnecessary lying phase. In hindsight, I guess when he said “Final three” and Eliza replied “Final two,” there wasn’t much else he could do to keep her from blowing up. Although, at that point it’s not like he, Twila, and Scout weren’t rock solid. But, if Eliza went on a winning streak, he’d want to be the person she chose for the final two. I’ll give Chris a pass on this.

I can’t watch a story challenge without thinking of Rudy.

Classic moment where Twila asks Chris’s opinion in the middle of her fight with Eliza and Chris was downright giddy. Hilarious.

Discussion Questions…

Is it better for Chris to be honest with Julie in order to win her jury vote?

Outside of “Get rid of Chris” is there anything Eliza, Twila, or Scout could do to beat him at a final Tribal Council?

Who wins in a Twila/Eliza final two?


Drew had a good point on Twitter about “Survivor: Philippines” having an older-skewed cast. Does the strong game play on “Survivor: Vanuatu” make you more excited for season 25’s (somewhat) older cast?

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

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9 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 13”

  1. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    I saw Chris’s immediate pre-tribal lying to Julie as unnecessary. Hindsight probably enters into that, though. A more straight-up “Look, I don’t think I can beat you and Eliza in the next two immunities” would probably have been better, because really, how much scrambling could Julie have done with Scout and Twila?

    I think Eliza would win easily against Twila in a final two situation. Eliza was still friendly with Ami, Julie and Leann, whereas Twila was really only close with Scout. Of the remaining jurors (Sarge, Chris, Chad), Eliza would just need to sway one of them. True, Twila was on Lopevi with all three, but she also abandoned them at the merge. Eliza broke no promises to the guys, won a bunch of challenges, AND helped Chris turn the tables on Ami.

    Philippines is only older-skewed in the male half of the cast, with 5/9 guys age 44 or over. For the women, though, Denise and Lisa are the only “older” women at 41 and 49, respectively. Abi-Maria and Dana are next at 32, but they’re much closer in age to the remaining, mainly mid-20s, women than they are to even Denise. Besides, what does strong game play have to do with age? I think understanding and appreciation of the game is far more important.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      I think age is absolutely a factor in strong gameplay, with the emphasis on strong. Older people have had more practice at social skills and are more likely to have experience of a variety of cultures/attitudes. They’re also generally more self-aware and less easily intimidated or deceived, which means they’re not so willing to go along with the status quo in game.

      Redemption Island is a good example of this, and so is Micronesia. For me personally, I look at Cochran in South Pacific who reminded me strongly of myself at 24. I’m 34 now, and while I can’t say that I’d necessarily fare better than him at Survivor, I know I’d find it easier on an emotional level to play now.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      Also, just went back and read your awards. Very good point that if Eliza had let Julie win the challenge, it would have made it harder for Chris to side with Twila and Scout…. On the other hand, I think there’s a very good chance he’d have voted Eliza off, so it’s hard for me to blame her! Certainly would have been an interesting scenario as a viewer though.

  2. Andy Baker Says:

    GH: Is it better for Chris to be honest with Julie in order to win her jury vote?

    ** It’s probably better on an interpersonal/jury management level… but often, the cliche is true: it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. My point: If Chris had been honest, he hands Julie the time and opportunity to try and turn two players against Chris. Eliza’s easy — and why not go to Scout and say, “While we were on the reward, Chris said that he might flip and join me and Eliza… but if he instead went to the F3 with you and Twila, there was no way he was taking you to the end.” I’m not saying this would work, but if Chris can convince Julie and Eliza that he’s going with them to the end, and thus keep any other deals from being made, then that’s what he SHOULD do. He’s probably getting Julie’s FTC vote over anyone but Eliza (and maybe even then), so beging forgiveness and explaining that you had to take her out or she would have won the game is the way to go.

    GH: Outside of “Get rid of Chris” is there anything Eliza, Twila, or Scout could do to beat him at a final Tribal Council?

    ** I think Eliza had a shot with the women on the jury… something she unwisely pointed out at this TC. (“I have a lot of friends over there who deserve to be in this game…”) That said, I think Sarge and Chad are votes in Chris’s pocket, so Eliza would need 4 of 5… which is possible, if Ami and Leann go for girl power, and Scout and Twila give Eliza their votes because Chris betrayed them. No matter what, it’s a longshot… Chris is sitting pretty.

    GH: Who wins in a Twila/Eliza final two?

    ** Eliza. Girl power from the women… and begrudging respect from the men. Wouldn’t be a clean sweep, but maybe the same 5-2 vote Chris got.

    GH: Twila/Scout?

    ** Tough question. Scout gets points for hobbling her way to the finals… and for helping turn the tables on Ami/Leann. Twila would still take some flak for her son promise… I have a feeling it would be REALLY close, 4-3, and I’ll say Twila pulls it out (Chris, Sarge, Chad, Eliza).

    GH: Drew had a good point on Twitter about “Survivor: Philippines” having an older-skewed cast. Does the strong game play on “Survivor: Vanuatu” make you more excited for season 25′s (somewhat) older cast?

    ** Absolutely… a lot of reasons have been kicked around as to why older players succeed at Survivor (mental toughness, adaptability, etc.), but to me, the reason why older castaways make for great seasons is this: They’re not looking for fame/acting jobs/modeling gigs… they’re established in their worlds. They probably know the show, have studied it — it’s harder for them to extricate themselves from their lives to play the game, and so they go in with clearer goals and agendas… they’re willing to make moves and shape the narrative to suit their own purposes, rather than simply fight for three more days worth of camera time. With age we hope comes wisdom… and wisdom, if you ask me, is perhaps the most important characteristic of a great Survivor player, one that is often overlooked.

    • Drew M Says:

      Fantastic point about older people not looking for TV fame, totally agree. They’re there for the game, plain and simple. Furthermore, I think the 3 returnees are only there for the game too! They’re on a lower tier character wise than some of the other returnees have been, they must know that, so probably couldn’t care less how they look on TV and will just go out and play their butts off, and finish what they started before. Penner’s probably the most well-known of the 3, but we know he’s delivering the goods every time.

      Wisdom point is great too, I’ll add experience to that. When the young people you cast are really young, they’re just not going to be ready to deal with the various situations that come up. I think older people have seen more and are probably ready to navigate around more. That being said, I really like some of the younger people’s personalities and what they’re bringing to the table this season, can’t wait.

  3. Drew M Says:

    Better for Chris to be honest with Julie:
    -You know, I don’t think so. At this point in the afternoon, I bet Chris had had enough of going back and forth, and pretending like he was going to be loyal to both sides, that he just decided to stop the chance of comparing notes and in-fighting and just said YES I’M WITH YOU, to both sides. Is that going to cost him a Julie jury vote? I’m betting he’s betting he’ll be there next to Scout or Twila, and even a scorned Julie will have to vote for him. Not to mention he probably thinks he’s persuasive enough to grab her vote.

    Twila/Eliza F2: Have to say Eliza here. She’s done more to get there, it seems. I agree she’d get the two men votes, and that the women who departed remained on good terms with her. Twila is so abrasive and cusses constantly, I can’t recall a time in Survivor that kind of behavior has been rewarded with 1M.

    Twila/Scout F2: I agree Andy, much closer here. I think it goes 4-3, and I think someone decides it by giving Scout credit for making the final 2 without any sort of challenge prowess and having a good grasp on the social politics. But this could be classic “I’m voting against Twila” situation too. I’m just putting myself in the jurors shoes, and in both cases, I think I’d justify to myself each played a better game than Twila.

    Couple other things:

    -What a testament to Chris’ ability to lie that he had Julie and Eliza’s concerns abated, mostly, even though rational players like themselves should realize there’s NO CHANCE Chris would not side with two less liked, older women for a F3 that sets him up nicely. I mean maybe Julie and Eliza convinced themselves it made sense for Chris because that’s all they had to hold on to, but they seemed pretty convinced.

    -Chris’ prod of Twila at TC, “Just tell him how you feel Twila!”, is such a sneaky little move, in that it baits Twila in to further alienating her potential final jury. Chris is thinking, “just for good measure, let me make sure they all see and remember how abrasive my F2 opponent can be.” Loved that.

    I think more than anything what I’m really looking forward to with S25 is we’re going to see a lot of different things compared to the past few seasons. Water challenges, 3 tribes, older-ish cast (the guys at least), new location of course. Moreover, I’m really happy with the choice to bring back 3 guys who aren’t necessarily the big characters. People won’t be looking at them with stars in their eyes. Probably the best chance out of all the seasons with 2-3 returnees to see these guys get really integrated in to the game and have it play out well.

  4. gordonholmes Says:

    I was psyched to participate in my first water challenge. It felt like I was a part of Borneo. The most Survivor-y challenge I’ve ever been in. Casts don’t always spark as well in the game as they do in pre-game, so that’s still up in the air, but the location is a hit.

  5. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    Yeah, that challenge was really predictable. Scout out first, Eliza second… and we knew Chris would never get over the balance beam. Of course, the edit had made it pretty clear that Julie would win and use it as her chance to get Chris alone!

    Amazing reward though. I was trying to figure out how long they had been on the horses, because it looked like a miles long trek, but they were still walking normally afterwards. Considering before they even started they had time to shower and dry, they must have been away from camp for a long time. Small wonder both Twila and Scout needed reassuring.

    I love Twila so so much, but you’re totally right that she’s digging her own grave here. The stress is getting to her, and although she’s been making the right moves, she’s falling apart socially. How was it that she could be so close to Julie at one time and now so far?

    Have to say, I kind of wish she and Eliza had been brought back for Micronesia instead of Eliza and Ami. Just for the giggles.

    OK, question time:

    Is it better for Chris to be honest with Julie in order to win her jury vote?

    Make that ‘more honest’. I think, in theory, it would have been better to tell her that he wants to keep her, but that he’s conflicted–kind of like how he was painting it at Tribal Council, that it was a big difficult decision. This wasn’t a scenario where anybody was going to go: “Screw it, let’s vote out Chris instead.”

    That said, while Julie was worried about why Chris switched, she didn’t seem to blame him unduly. If he was planning on going to the end with Eliza, he could lose her vote over this (and Ami’s and Leeann’s), but against Twila or Scout, probably not.

    Also, if Chris really was undecided until right before Tribal, being firm with both camps meant that he got a break from their persuasion while he got his own thoughts straight….

    Finally, I don’t think there was malicious intent behind it. It’s not: “I’m going to tell you this just to make you look stupid for believing me.” Y’know, the Russell Hantz approach.

    Outside of “Get rid of Chris” is there anything Eliza, Twila, or Scout could do to beat him at a final Tribal Council?

    Get the women’s votes. Chris has got the men’s votes locked up, but there are only two of them. Twila can’t beat him, because she is depending on the men’s votes. Scout gets Twila’s vote, so she and Chris are fighting for the rest of the women. Julie and Eliza have a friendship with Chris, so he still has the edge, but I think Scout has a fighting chance. Eliza does not get Twila’s vote (and probably Scout’s), but has a better chance of picking up Ami’s, Leeann’s and Julie’s.

    That said, I still think it would be ridiculous to go to the end with Chris, and I can’t understand why Eliza (at least) is so committed to it!

    Who wins in a Twila/Eliza final two?

    I am assuming Twila would get the men’s votes, although it’s a little difficult to predict Chris–surely he’d go for her over Eliza, since Twila has been the bigger strategist? She would also get Scout’s, so Twila wins. Eliza can sell her underdog story, but I don’t think she’s got a case to convince the men. So Twila wins 4-3–unless any of the men are taking particular objection to this whole swearing on your son thing.


    Probably Scout at this point, with the men voting for Twila and the women voting for Scout. So Scout 4-3, although I wouldn’t put it past Eliza to decide that the very fact she hates Twila so much proves that Twila has played the game harder than Scout, and therefore Twila should win…

    Drew had a good point on Twitter about “Survivor: Philippines” having an older-skewed cast. Does the strong game play on “Survivor: Vanuatu” make you more excited for season 25′s (somewhat) older cast?

    I would, but I think the three tribes of six mean that weak links will be targeted very quickly, and that usually means the older players. I think the *returning* players will get a stay of execution, but the others are going to struggle, and come the merge, the young players will dominate the game.

    That said, most of the players seem to be actual long-term fans of the game (I’m only halfway through the videos), so that gives me hope too. Granted, that didn’t pan out too well for the men last season….

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