‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 14

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, lets wrap this business up…

Buy Survivor Vanuatu – The Complete Season on Amazon

Episode Thoughts:

“Julie had it coming?” Who cares? How can a game player be upset over a blindside? Focus on winning the game.

Twila as always making friends.

This first immunity challenge…most impressive “Survivor” structure ever?

Epic challenge. One of my all-time favorites.

Chris giving Twila permission to piss off a future jury member? Hilarious.

Here’s my thing with Chris; before the challenge he did a masterful job convincing Eliza that getting rid of Julie was in their best interest and that she’s the only one he can trust. OK, he needs to be sure she doesn’t put any ideas into Scout and Twila’s heads, that makes sense. But once he has immunity he’s still lying to her. What’s the benefit? All it does is piss off a future jury member.

I smile every time Eliza wears her mom’s shirt. They should let family members bring their loved ones a luxury item.

Yup, Eliza was blindsided. I don’t understand why it’s a worse move to say, “I want to face Twila or Scout at a final two, so I need to vote you out now.”

Serious Chris when he confronts Scout about Twila’s intentions cracks me up.

Interesting that a Scout lie could have got her to the final two.

Include me on the side that misses final twos.

And now that Scout is out, kudos to her for being such a savvy player.

Always interesting to see a good pre-Tribal psych out. Chris saying he wasn’t going to take any crap from the jury was probably the perfect way to play Twila.

If I were a producer, everyone would drink kava before the final Tribal.

Ooo…giving Eliza a .8 on the SHBJS. (That’s the Sue Hawk Bitter Juror Scale.)

I 100% agree with Eliza though, stabbing her in the back was unnecessary.

Julie in at a .6. I’m a big believer that you should fess up to every lie at the final jury. Even if it’s a half lie. Admit it. However, only apologize for hurting someone’s feelings, don’t apologize for the lie itself.

Americans love to forgive people who admit wrongdoing. That’s why everyone hates Roger Clemens but has gotten over Mark McGwire.

Next up, a .25 from Leann.

Ami drops a solid .5 and Chris knocks her question out of the park. It was complimentary to her without seeming like sucking up. Actually, Twila did a good job with it too.

Chad with a .1, Sarge with a .55 and a “Touché to you all.” Umm…

Anywho, watching Sarge’s speech with the foreknowledge that he’s totally voting for Chris is a different experience.

Scout closes it out with a .15 and a closing argument for Twila. There needs to be a term for when a juror goes into business for a member of the final two/three, like when David Murphy argued for Boston Rob in “Redemption Island.”

Hate on Twila’s game all you want (and I have), but that was a solid closing argument. Especially when she called out Sarge.

I forgot this was one of Probst’s grand treks to the reunion! He should start his talk show like that.

Final Thoughts:

OK, I’m officially taking back my belief that Chris Daugherty is the least deserving winner in the pre-Gabon (Earth’s Last Eden) world. I still think that the women’s alliance fell apart on its own, but he deserves credit for sticking around and being likable enough to take advantage of the opening. I also still think misleading Eliza toward the end was totally unnecessary, but in the overall picture, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

Overall, I’d consider Vanuatu to be a middle-of-the-road season with a surprising amout of memorable characters.

In other news, this Book Club exercise has been awesome for me. I feel like the in-depth discussion has encouraged me to watch the show on a few new levels. I can’t wait to watch “Philippines” through these new eyes. So, for everyone who has participated, I want to send you  a big thanks.

And finally, much thanks to @Survivor_BUFF for hooking me up with the sweet graphics at the top of each posting.

Discussion Questions…

Here’s a good one from Drew: “If one was to make an instructional DVD on how to play ‘Survivor,’ Chris has to be the Final Jury chapter right?” For my money, it’s either him or Todd Herzog.

Am I wrong on this Chris lying to Eliza thing? It seems like a weird choice for someone who seemed to look at all the angles.

If Twila wins the final immunity challenge and takes Scout to the finals, who takes home the big check??

Someone sell me on Chris addressing each juror in his closing argument. He did a good job, but it feels like it could have come off as ass-kissy.

Where does Vanuatu rank for you?

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

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23 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Vanuatu’ Episode 14”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Probably what blew me away about the final episode was how much Twila got slammed for breaking her word. I kind of saw it coming thanks to the edit, but I never expected Sarge’s rant. I’m pretty sure Chris would have beaten her anyway, but it leaves things a little unsatisfying. Twila made lots of mistakes in her social game; the swearing on her son’s name feels like it should have been a minor error.

    Also odd that Scout of all people was the one to put things into perspective: Twila broke her word but was basically honest throughout the game, wearing her heart on her sleeve. Chris bullshitted everybody. That’s the big discussion point of the season for me: Is it less ethical to swear falsely on a family member or to manipulate everybody’s emotions by lying to them past the point of necessity?

    I don’t take generally take ethics into account when judging winners, but it is one of the things that interests me in the show, and when a jury makes a big deal about ethics, it bothers me when they ‘get it wrong’. See also Tocantins when JT played up mercilessly to the jury’s perception of the final two.

    In that vein, both my husband and myself found the reunion fascinating since it was basically a therapy session for Twila. Everything Jeff said to the jurors and finalists seem to boil down: “Twila wasn’t so bad, but did you *see* Chris?” We also noted that at the end, he went to Twila first and gave her a big hug. Jeff has something of a chauvinistic reputation, so it was weird to see him favouring the female runner up.

    Sidenote, the Vanuatu reunion was excellent. Jeff asked questions that were relevant to the game, got most of the jurors to explain who they voted for and why, talked to *everybody* and never sidetracked to a celebrity about their favourite pre-merge contestant.

    Anyway, like Jeff, I love Twila and wish she’d been brought back. I don’t have anything against Chris either, who played a great social game and was a good winner, but personally, I enjoyed Twila more. Great Final 2 any way you look at it; shame about the jury.

    Discussion questions:

    As far as jury management goes, I clearly need to watch China again. I don’t really remember Todd’s performance so much as I remember Amanda’s. Of course, hers also makes it required viewing as an example of what not to do. The only thing I remember about Todd is his shameless pandering to Jean Robert who fell for it!

    For my money, JT is the person to look at for jury management. He lied throughout the final tribal council, which goes against your preferences, Gordon, and mine to be honest. I remember I was furious with JT for three days after the Tocantins finale, because I thought it was so wrong to do so, but eventually, I had to accept that there is *nothing* saying that finalists have to be truthful.

    JT knew what narrative the jurors had perceived and he played up to it. Again, you could argue that this unethical, he was almost certainly going to win anyway, so the final tribal council became an exercise in kicking Stephen while he was down. But if you’re looking strictly at the best way of playing the game, your answers should reflect the narrative that benefits you, regardless of truth.

    Extra note on JT’s perception of the game here: as a juror in Heroes vs Villains, he said that every player had played well enough to get to the end, so his vote would be based on who played the best final Tribal. Which certainly was Sandra. Her argument for winning was almost completely irrational, but it presented the jurors with the narrative they wanted–you could just as easily cite her as a instructive guide.

    I would also say that there is no one performance that we could hold up as a textbook example. Chris pandered to the jury atrociously in his answer to Chad and, to a lesser extent, Ami (and of course, the closing statement). My husband and I felt it was too obvious, and going by recent seasons, with Russell, Sash and Albert, I don’t think that would have worked.

    Players are a little more sensitive about being played these days, and more inclined to be suspicious of overtures designed to get the vote rather than based on genuine feelings. I’m not saying Chris couldn’t win now, because if he’s worth his salt, he’d adapt to the jury he was given. Still, I don’t think his Vanuatu arguments would work so well with a modern day jury. I think there’s a real possibility that Twila would have been forgiven, and the jury turned against Chris–kind of like how Sophie won despite having made few friends among the jurors, though Sophie put in a much better Final Tribal performance than Twila anyway.

    I should probably get hold of Thailand and see what I think of the original used car salesman, Brian Heidik.

    Chris lying to Eliza… unnecessary to us viewing at home, but I expect this is one of the things where in-game, you don’t want to take chances. He might have been afraid that she and Twila might get together at the last minute (they’d proved that they could work together if the need arose).

    Twila vs Scout: Based on the jury, I think Scout would have won. Chris would probably have voted for Twila, and Chad might have done, but I think Scout would otherwise pick up all of Chris’ votes. Eliza and Julie might have surprised me though!

    Chris closing statement: I agree with you that it was a little blatant, but I think it’s a good ego trip for the jurors when they get a special mention. Of course, addressing all of them cancelled that out rather. So… not sure. But he was guaranteed a win at that point anyway, so it’s hard to tell if he over-egged it.

    Where does Vanuatu rank for me? Great season with a great final two. I think for me it benefits from its contrast to recent seasons when it comes to more balanced editing and better challenges. While I’m not a big fan of the gender split, I think this season it meant that the bigger characters made it to the end. I feel sorry for Brook, but he would have almost certainly blended in with every other twenty-something alpha male who’s played. And, as a reality show, despite the bitter jury, it does pose an interesting question of ethics as I said above. Definitely gone straight to being one of my favourites.

    Thanks to Gordon for doing this, and for everybody who’s commented. Where are you all going to be for Philippines? Obviously, Gordon’s recapping, power ranking and interviewing, and Jeff’s got his site. I’ve started a blog for the season; Andy, will you be blogging too? What about Drew?

    Finally, can we do this again next summer?

    • gordonholmes Says:

      Here’s a quick bit, Jeff Probst and I will be reprising the Survivor Question of the Week for this season. So, the Survivor fun never stops on XfinityTv.com.

      I’m open to doing this again next summer. Any thoughts on which season?

      • Andy Baker Says:

        Personally, I like to explore the issue of “conventional wisdom,” and with that in mind, I’ll vote for Samoa… conventional wisdom says that Natalie was an undeserving winner and that this was Russell’s best game. Is CW right? Or have things been oversimplified, as CW is wont to do?

        Alternately, a look at the first shot at “returnees playing with newbies” — Guatemala — might be interesting.

        Thanks again, GH!

      • Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

        I’d also like to watch Guatemala again. Still one of my favorite locations, and overall seasons. Alternatively, I could be talked into watching Micronesia-FvF again. I really disliked that season when it aired, for a number of reasons, but I can’t overlook that everyone else in the world seems to think it’s one of the best ever. So I’d be willing to reassess, as long as I get to share in the pain. (It seems I’ve picked the two seasons about which I’m most contrary.)

      • Sarah Says:

        I will say that I’m not ready to watch any Russell season again. I’m going to need a much longer break before I can go back into the Hantz-saturation.

        My picks would probably be Pearl Islands or Thailand. Thailand to see what I think of this Heidik guy and PI to see what Sandra was like the first time around. I’d be up for Guatemala though (wasn’t that the original plan for this summer?) or just about anything pre-dating Exile Island, since those are the seasons I (mostly) haven’t seen.

        Will also look forward to the Question of the Week segment. Out of curiosity, what was Jeff’s opinion on most undeserving winner?

      • Andy Baker Says:

        Completely understand the Hantz sabbatical…

        Thailand’s endgame was interesting, and Heidik is on the short list of “Best Ever,” but that season, overall, was underwhelming. It is with good reason that Shii-Ann was the only player from Thailand on All Stars (Heidik apparently wanted an excessive appearance fee).

        Pearl Islands would be fun (there are a number of memorable characters, including some underrated performances from Darrah and, IMO, Fairplay)… I didn’t like the Outcast twist, but I loved the location and the pirate theme.

        Honestly, though, I’m in, even if we watch Redemption Island and spend the entire time slavishly praising Phillip Shepherd for the greatest gameplay by a runner-up in Survivor history. 😉

    • Drew M Says:

      Honestly the thought of doing some blogging did not cross my mind AT ALL haha, I mostly enjoy reading and listening to other people’s work. However, I could talk about Survivor all day so maybe I’ll try a little something! While were here, if you want a truly excellent blog about Survivor (and other things) that gets really in to story analysis, character development, all of our favorite things, check out my friend Justin’s site:

      http://themidside.blogspot.ca/

      Stephen Fishbach linked to him one random day on Twitter, I’ve been hooked ever since. I think he’s getting popular so maybe you already know him, but this guy says some really profound and insightful things about Survivor. Sometimes I can’t believe we watched the same episode, and he’s gleaned all this insight while I’m still stuck on “Chelsea’s hot.” Haha. He’s a writer for a living so I guess that helps. And he doesn’t do spoilers, do not worry, he’s vehemently against them. That being said he picked Boston Rob and Sophie as winners verrry early on for those seasons. He slightly misfired last season but I think only cause he thought Kim was too obvious a pick haha. Check him out if you get a chance, I’m sure he’s primed to redeem himself for S25.

      I would LOVE to do this again, are you kidding. It was cool how this came about organically, that Gordon had the question about Chris as a winner. Anything else you need us to help you figure out? Andy’s suggestions are really good. We’ve mentioned China a lot, if the DVD release pattern holds China and FvF will probably come in the spring and there’s a 100% chance I’ll be buying those. But we all know those are two awesome seasons, it might be more worthwhile to do a middle of the pack season.

      • Sarah Says:

        I do read The Midside! Can’t remember how I found it, but it’s likely I followed the same link you did. I seem to recall that he was fixated on Mikayla as a winner in South Pacific though, up until she got voted off. And I think his pick of Troyzan to win One World was logical enough.

    • Andy Baker Says:

      Sarah —

      First of all, your responses have been brilliant each and every week. Tip o’ the buff to ya.

      Interesting breakdown of the ethical dilemma. Personally, I loved that Twila, at a late TC, called it like it was: “Everyone lied in this game! Get over it! You been had!” All modern players know this — and honestly, so did everyone in the age of Vanuatu — but as we all know, there is an art to lying, and apologizing, well. Chris had it. Twila didn’t.

      A statement from Captain Obvious: I have a feeling that TC results are both situation and jury-dependent. In some cases, Twila’s tell it like it is persona (which, now that I think about it, is a softer and cuddlier version of Samoa Russell) would go over better than it did with the bitter betrayed in Vanuatu. Chris benefitted from being able to weave a more satisfying narrative — he overcome almost impossible odds to navigate the endgame — which worked particularly well in a season which began with, and ended with, a gender war. That said, I think Chris earned the victory, both with his nimble post-merge moves and his undeniable ability to forge interpersonal connections. In many ways, I think Twila played a better game — she had more to do with Chris getting to FTC than Chris had in getting her there — but as Probst enjoys reminding us, Survivor is a social game. Chris played the endearing underdog to a T — which played particularly well against the proud defiance (which crumbled into emotional apology and regret by the end of the FTC) of Twila.

      From what I understand, Twila was a late cut from two later seasons — I want to say All Stars and Heroes vs. Villains (but F v. F might have been one of them). She has said she would gladly return, and clearly she’s been on the casting radar — so I hope a second Twila appearance is a matter not of if, but when.

      Regarding your discussion questions:

      I, too, need to rewatch Todd’s FTC performance — but I remember it being textbook “own your game.” That response to Jean Robert, while pandering, was also truthful — JR had a deal with Todd, but when Todd found out JR was going to betray that deal, Todd cut his throat before his own was slit. JR, being a poker player, could respect that… more importantly, Todd knew that JR was someone who needed that sort of response (not an apology, exactly, but an admission of guilt tinged with an acknowledgement of JR’s strategic ability).

      Great observations about JT and his ability to build on the existing narrative. I have the utmost respect for Stephen’s strategic gameplay, but he spit the bit at that FTC: He needed to get the jury to believe that HIS decisions got JT to the final, and that not only wasn’t JT a partner, he was a coattail rider. Of course, just writing that makes my inner jury member laugh — no one would believe it, and short of JT telling everyone that with the million dollars he’s going to travel around the country and torment every member of their families, there was no way JT was going to lose. It was a coronation — no more, no less.

      Interesting that you bring up Brian Heidik — an interesting case, that one. I think he knew he would be in jury trouble against Helen and Ted (particularly the former), which prompted him to flip the game at F5 — Jan and Clay would be easier to beat not only in challenges, but also at FTC. Brian eked out a 4-3 vote against Clay, who by all reports was nearly as loathed as Keith in Australia, and yet Brian had a hard time making his case at the end. Should make for an interesting rewatch.

      And to answer your question, I will indeed be blogging about Survivor: Philippines — Rob Cesternino has been gracious enough to bring me on board over at RHAP (I’ve been blogging Big Brother this summer… a process that has reminded me that Survivor is haute cuisine, while BB is an overcooked TV dinner). Hope you’ll check in over there… what’s the url of your blog, if I may ask?

      • Sarah Says:

        Vanuatu post-dates All-Stars so it must have been FvF that Twila almost made, presumably when they dropped the pure All Stars theme. Shame she didn’t come back for Heroes vs Villains since she seems like such a great choice–certainly more memorable than Danielle, who I assume was included only for her challenge ability.

        Re: Todd, he admitted at the reunion that his reply to Jean Robert was mostly sucking up to him rather than the actual truth. Don’t know if he’s said differently elsewhere. These situations always have multiple truths and changing memories.

        My blog is linked if you follow my name this week (previously posted on the twitter account, but it seemed more logical to switch to the blog): http://individualgames.blogspot.com.

        Does this mean you won’t be using the tumblr blog then? I can’t say I’ve ever listened to RHAP, since I have terrible aural skills, but if there’s a blog on the site, I’ll be happy to read it!

      • Drew M Says:

        I’m almost positive I heard she was in the close running for Heroes vs. Villains, THAT would have been interesting. Now Russell only has Parvati for his harem (assuming she takes Danielle’s spot).

      • Andy Baker Says:

        Boy do I feel like an idiot — of COURSE All Stars predates Vanuatu. Like I need more reminders that I’m a moron.

        You’re likely right about the Todd/JR exchange — while it was largely sucking up, though, it contained (as do all great lies) a kernel of truth. Jean Robert WAS trying to turn the vote against him — Todd found out and backstabbed the backstabber. That’s what JR needed to hear (he didn’t know the how and why of his ouster until then, at least not from Todd), and Todd’s ability to know what people needed to hear AND to be able to say it convincingly, is what allowed him to crush Courtney and Amanda.

        More proof that I’m an idiot: I read your stuff at RNO (and I contributed recaps last season until they pulled the plug), but totally didn’t put you and two together. No wonder your responses here have been so awesome and substantive. Not only are you GOOD at this thing, but you’ve been good at this thing for a long time.

        To answer your question, I won’t be posting at the tumblr site — it would feel weird to double-post, so the blog will stay at RHAP so long as he’s happy to host. His audience is far bigger than one I could generate on my own…

      • Sarah Says:

        Wait, so the emails I sent you about the Insider clips for the first four weeks of last season meant *nothing* to you?? I’d be offended, but this is the internet, so who the hell cares? I *did* recognise you, so we’ll just say I win this round.

        Also, I don’t know about ‘long time’. I only actually did three and a half seasons, which probably explains why I still want to keep going even though RNO’s gone.

        I’ll watch out for your blog at Rob’s site then. Looking forward to it!

      • Drew M Says:

        That’s so funny, I’ve also just now clued in to the fact you’re Sarah from RNO hahaha. Loved your work there and sad to see it’s gone (for now). Your blog on your site gave me an idea for what I might blog about, if anything. Probably my favorite article on RNO was the weekly Who Will Go? column from William Hammon and Kari Kennedy before him. They did such a good job with that and I learned a lot from them. They both work in editing professionally so by no means am I as talented as they are, but I’ve gotten way better over the seasons so maybe I’ll try some of that myself. I do it anyway on my own, might as well publish something while I’m at it.

  2. Andy Baker Says:

    GH: Here’s a good one from Drew: “If one was to make an instructional DVD on how to play ‘Survivor,’ Chris has to be the Final Jury chapter right?” For my money, it’s either him or Todd Herzog.

    ** Personally, I’d make that DVD chapter “The Evolution of Winning Final Jury Speeches, aka Kicking Ass and Taking Parchment Names”… start with Hatch defining for the jury that this is a decision about strategy vs. personality… skip ahead to Chris, who showed the power of connecting with each individual… then show Todd Herzog (my pick for #1, as much as I like Chris) taking ownership of his game and winning because of it… and end with the borderline sociopathic pairing of Boston Rob and Kim Spradlin, who explain that nothing is personal and that they simply had their eyes on the prize (Rob and Kim can’t have that sort of jury performance without players like Todd, Chris, and Hatch paving the way.

    GH: Am I wrong on this Chris lying to Eliza thing? It seems like a weird choice for someone who seemed to look at all the angles.

    ** Once he had immunity at F4, there was no reason for Chris to lie… I wonder, though, if he did it for camp harmony? An Eliza who knows she’s going home is probably a really whiny, “trying to convince you to change your mind every second right up until tribal council,” isn’t she? (And why not — gotta try everything.) If I’m Chris, I try to avoid that if at all possible — and really, is Eliza going to vote for Twila or Scout?

    GH: If Twila wins the final immunity challenge and takes Scout to the finals, who takes home the big check??

    ** Gooooooood question. I’m guessing that Twila gets the men’s votes — she had time to bond with them before the merge, and in the case of Chris, who might feel stung by Twila’s betrayal, I’d say he’d believe Twila played a better overall game. That means Twila needs only one more vote, and she got Ami’s over Chris, so I’ll say that Twila takes home the money and title. It would be close, though — I have a feeling that Scout would be articulate, thoughtful, and wise while being questioned by the jury.

    GH: Someone sell me on Chris addressing each juror in his closing argument. He did a good job, but it feels like it could have come off as ass-kissy.

    ** Funny you say that — I was thinking the same thing. He totally danced along that line, and in the case of his second “you’re my sister” appeal to Julie, he crossed over it. Overall, though, he was smart to group tandems together (Ami/Leann as targets of opportunity, Chad and Sarge as men who fell allowing Chris to stay), and then singularly address those players who needed a direct appeal (Eliza desperately craved validation, Julie wanted to know that the connection she felt was real). Scout opened the door, calling Chris out on his B.S., but in a remarkable moment of gameplay, Chris spun that criticism into a strength: yes, I’ve done some bullshitting, but here’s how I REALLY feel. The dude made jury members cry! How often does that happen?

    GH: Where does Vanuatu rank for you?

    ** Overall, middle of the pack… but with a compelling end game (one guy, six women!), an awesome location with cool challenges, and several enduring characters. The rewatch definitely bumped it up a few notches.

    A few other thoughts:

    ** That vertical maze was AWESOME.

    ** One person I came away from this season with a totally changed perception: Twila. I remembered her a back-woods also-ran… but she was GOOD. She flipped the game, worked hard to get to the end, and was far more perceptive than I gave her credit for. (Example: Twila realizing that Chris was trying to get her fight with Eliza as a way to manage the jury votes.)

    ** I kinda liked the spirit stone closure/bookend — we start with it at the top of a pole and end with it by the tombstone. A fitting end somehow.

    ** Amazing that Chris drove a bus right into camp and honked the horn loud and clear, yet Scout refused to throw Twila under it.

    ** And I agree — this has been a wonderful experience. Many thanks to Gordon for getting us started as well as to everyone who participated; I looked forward to the conversation/debate each and every week. Fingers crossed that we give this another shot next summer.

    All the best,

    AB

    • Sarah Says:

      I really like your point about Chris and Todd laying the ground for Rob and Kim (and future players). I said I believe that the game has evolved since their time, but I should have acknowledged that they can take credit for that evolution! You might not be able to simply crib off a previous player for your jury performance, but you absolutely do need to study what went before and *finesse* it.

      *Snort* at your bus analogy. I wonder if Scout realised that she couldn’t win against Chris anyway, so she might as well be honest. Granted, she could still have fought for second place, but I could understand that she didn’t think it was worth selling her friend out for.

      I didn’t like the spirit-stone thing… it seemed like a bit of a forced return: “Hey remember this?” I also question just how much value it ended up being to the men’s tribe (unless they’re trying to credit it for Chris’ win). Personally, I was hoping they’d leave the machete at the tombstone. Now *that* would be something of value.

  3. Drew M Says:

    Survivor Instructional DVD:
    -Didn’t have enough space in the tweet to include Todd haha, he and Chris, I think, are 1-2 in some order, 1 and 1a, whatever. And agree with Andy that Hatch really began the idea of jury management. BTW for the Challenges chapter you’d probably want a montage of Tom, James, Ozzy and Boston Rob. Pre-Merge chapter? That’s so tough, but Rob C played it pretty flawlessly in that stage of the game. Post Merge? You’d have to give it to a winner right, so how about Yul? Can’t think of a single mistake he made in that phase of the game. Todd great too, Parv, JT, Kim. I guess do a montage again haha.

    Chris lying to Eliza:
    -A lot of his motivation for the excessive lying seemed to stem from his desire to just stop the chatter, at all costs. I’m sure he recognized he wasn’t as good at the social monitoring as the women were, so did what he could to minimize the comparing of notes. It could have come back to bite him but he made it so it didn’t. And come on, makes for better TV haha.

    Twila wins final immunity:
    -Yep she’s a millionaire. Andy laid it out, gets the men’s votes and Ami’s.

    Chris’ jury speeches:
    -To us sitting at home, they certainly look overly pander-y. But those jurors still have their oustings fresh in their minds, and probably aren’t back to full health yet. I doubt it would take a complicated argument to either deter or prompt them to vote for one or the other. Chris gave them what they wanted to hear. Did it seem really BS like? Yep, but he laid it out. Furthermore, Twila berated most of them! When you have those two jury sessions laid side by side, which is going to look more appealing to you? Add to that Chris probably did overcome more challenges and had to play a better game to get to the end. All in all his emotional management, both of himself and others, is something to behold.

    I never had Vanuatu that highly regarded before, but I’m with you on this one Gordon. Middle of the road season, some great game play highlights and an abundance of quality characters. What a pleasure to watch again (considering I never had watched for a second time before).

    Other thoughts:
    -Second to last challenge construct, amazing. I believe Probst has said it’s his favourite of all time. One of my favorite things about Survivor though is they usually pair a challenge like that, with something completely simple, like balancing, for the last challenge. Demonstrates the magnificence and subtlety that make this game great.

    -The look and the wave Chris gave Eliza on her way out of Tribal! Cocky son of a gun! I couldn’t believe that. If I didn’t know the outcome already I’d have figured Chris just made it WAY harder to win with that stunt. I guess he figured he’d have some work to do to win her vote anyway, why not have fun with it.

    Gordon, a gigantic thank you for having the idea to do this this summer and organizing it all together. This has been so much fun and like you, I’ll watch Survivor now with focus on so many more things than I might have previously. And an awesome job to Jeff and all the other contributors too, well well done.

    -Drew

    • Andy Baker Says:

      I, too, was struck by Chris’s facial expression and wave to Eliza when she gave him one of her “looks” after her ouster… it felt simultaneously unwise and warranted. In the end, it was real, and that’s one of the things I like most about Survivor: the deeper you get into the game, the more unfiltered the castaways become.

      Drew, you were awesome this summer…

  4. Kevin Tomac Says:

    I think top three jury performances are todd, chris, and sandra.

  5. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    – Agree that Chris’s lying to Eliza (even moreso than to Julie) was unnecessary. Especially when he was immune. In both cases, he was banking on their friendship with him/hatred of Twila being his ticket to the million. By unnecessarily making them angry as they were voted out, he was taking an incredible, potentially million-dollar risk.

    – After the first episode, Chris was the only person who was never voted against. It was clear sailing for him the rest of the way. If not for that accursed balance beam, his overall game would rank among the top performances ever.

    – Agreement with Andy: Yeah, Twila was much more strategically aware than I remembered. She was just unable to let her irritation with people such as Eliza and Julie go unvoiced.

    Along these lines, as this season progressed, I continued to marvel at how much of the cast was, by current standards, remarkably game-aware: Eliza, Rory, Sarge, Ami, Leann. Even Scout, although it seemed like she gave up at the end. Also people like Chad and Julie, who were almost never shown.

    Furthermore, I think this high level of strategic awareness is why big power shifts were able to happen in Vanuatu. In the last three seasons we’ve witnessed a string of unbreakable day 1 alliances. Here, in contrast, most of the contestants were playing with an eye to their own best interests, and constantly reassessing where they stood (see, for example, Chris having to reassure people toward the end). That’s why the ungainly Chris-Eliza-Twila-Scout grouping was able to come together and flip the balance of power in the game. Today, people are just happy to make the jury, and seem uninterested in rocking the boat. This is frustrating for the few S22-S24 people actually trying to play, and boring to watch.

    For S25, Probst seems convinced that tinkering with the format (three tribes) is the answer to this problem. The fact that things worked so well in Vanuatu, the first season with two nine-person tribes, leads me to believe it’s the people IN the tribes, and not their numbers, that’s far more important. Still, I guess we can hope.

    • Sarah Says:

      By my count, there’s a fairly high number of long-term fans in S25. Of course, the same could be said for One World, the problem was that they were all in the men’s tribe (save Kim) and their attempts to over-play the game led to a strategic apocalypse shortly after the merge.

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