‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 2


EP02Some quick reminders/orders of business, etc.

First, if you don’t want to know who wins “Survivor: Cook Islands,” this isn’t the place for you. There WILL be spoilers. Go watch “Survivor: The Amazon” instead.

Second, speaking of “Survivor: The Amazon,” Mr. Rob Cesternino is very generously offering his “Survivor: The Amazon – Unauthorized DVD Commentary” at an exclusive DISCOUNTED RATE for Summer Book Club members.

Third, our friends at True Dork Times are once again getting in on the fun with stats, awards, and more.

Fourth, Max Zambrano will be hosting a “Survivor” Summer Book Club Spreecast this Friday at 8:30pm ET.

And finally, this whole Book Club thing is kind of a work in progress. If you have ideas on how to improve the proceedings, please let me know.

My Big Question: Parvati Shallow, “Boston” Rob Mariano, Russell Hantz, Richard Hatch, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Ozzy Lusth, Cirie Fields, Tom Westman, Amanda Kimmel, Rob Cesternino, and Ethan Zohn.

That’s the full roster of“Survivor” Hall of Famers. All eleven have appeared on the show more than once.

Whenever the topic of worthy one-timers comes up, Cook Islands champ (spoiler alert!) Yul Kwon is always a popular pick. However, many seem to think his (spoiler alert!) over-powered immunity idol should count against him. With this re-watch, I hope to get to the bottom of that mystery.

And with that, let’s pop a machete between our toes and get started…

Episode Thoughts:

So, it did take Hiki four days to get fire. Maybe Sekou was holding them back. (Or the lack of flint.)

Chicken traps! “Survivor” needs more of this…you know…actual surviving. And notice how Ozzy’s method caught one chicken and Yul’s method caught two? Foreshadowing…

Adam wonders why they want an elevated sleeping platform. Has he seen this show?

One of the more frustrating things about modern-day “Survivor” is the way tribe cancers are carried along as goats. If Billy had come along a few years later he would’ve been someone’s Phillip.

As someone who frequently suffers from headaches, is it possible to get the Cao Boi special with the weird indicator mark? My brain can tell me when a headache is gone, I don’t need a wound.

Please, guys? One more racial joke before bed? Pretty please?

I’m not against throwing challenges, but it’d have to be an extreme circumstance and getting rid of someone who’s lazy and annoying isn’t enough. And if you’re the fourth person on the Aitu chopping block, why would you go along with it?



“Survivor” had instant replay before baseball?! So sad…

Finding an idol by deciphering a clue is much more rewarding than watching someone reach into a tree on a whim.

Most impressive moment of the episode? Ozzy climbing a tree while holding a machete with his foot.

Discussion Questions:

This season we’re seeing race vs. race. We’ve had men vs. women, young vs old, favorites vs. people who don’t watch the show very much. Is there a “versus” twist you’d like to see?

City vs. Suburbs vs. Country?

Were the tribes unevenly stacked? Aitu and Puka look awesome, while Hiki barely won a challenge that the other team was throwing.

Where do you stand on throwing challenges?

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

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30 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 2”

  1. Max Zambrano Says:

    I am looking forward to answering these questions Friday like Gordan said and also talking more about the episode. Go ahead and post your comments here, I will save mine for the Spreecast. I hope to see a lot of you there! http://www.spreecast.com/events/survivor-book-club-ci-ep-2-recap

  2. Gaby Rivera Says:

    I don’t mind throwing challenges when it’s after a swap and you know that the new tribemates will just rejoin their original tribe and pick you off should they make merge, like what Ethan did with Silas, and Jaime/Peih Gee did with Aaron. However, when you’re in the minority alliance on your tribe, throwing a challenge is a bad idea because odds are you’re the next one sent packing. See Burton after he approached Rupert about throwing a challenge in order to get rid of Rupert’s close allies, Christa and Sandra. And on a somewhat unrelated note, when you still need to win challenges as a tribe, don’t pull a Russell and throw away the numerical advantage by voting out your strongest players in back to back tribals.

  3. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    Candice’s heroic moment was not giving Billy love in his moment of despair?? Speaking of this week’s, I recall Candice kicking ass in a few challenges this season–she was possibly the strongest female out there.

    VS twist: I am ‘eh’ on anything themed. If we had to do a vs, then I’d like it to be Fans vs Recruits, just so I could be contrary and root for the recruits…

    I agree that Hiki drew the short straw when it came to challenge-strength. Rarotonga was the other tribe with three women, all of whom were pretty competent in challenges, and you don’t get that feeling from any of the Hiki women (though this might have been a case of better on paper than in action–see also Crystal Cox). Meanwhile, you’ve got Aitutaki who have two buff young guys, one of whom is freaking Ozzy.

    Speaking of Ozzy, I love that Cecelia and Cristina call him Oscar.

    Throwing challenges: hate it. The only time I liked it was in China, when I think it made perfect sense for Peih-Gee and Jaime to do, and even then, they ended up in an unwinnable situation. Here, I think it was a colossal mistake that probably cost the rest of Aitutaki the game. Everybody must have known that there would be a swap soon (though they might have been nervy when the tribes lasted longer than they did on Panama) and you want to give yourself as much of an advantage in a merged tribe as possible.

    I get that JP didn’t trust Billy now, so he wouldn’t trust him down the road, but dammit, you’re not supposed to let it get to that point!

    Anyway, as we now know, Aitutaki end up on the wrong side of majority alliance in their new tribes, with most of them gone before the jury. Ozzy is the only one to break the curse, thanks to his challenge ability but also due to the mutiny–and who knows, if he hadn’t thrown the challenge, he might have had an Aitutaki vote on the jury…

    A lot of what-ifs, but throwing a challenge like this means sacrificing a potential number without gaining one in return.

    Regarding the whole Billy/Candice moment, it made me wonder how that would have played out on social media. At the time, Survivors were supposed to stay out of contact until the reunion show, so the episode was aired without Billy and Candice having the security of breaking the ice with each other. These days, we’d probably expect a twitter exchange between the two afterwards (bonus points if they trolled the fanbase with wedding arrangements). Instead, all we get is Billy’s post-boot interview saying he plans to apologize to her.

    NB: during this season, there was still a Survivor Live online after-show with Dalton Ross and Jenna Morasca. I don’t know if this episode’s is still on youtube somewhere, but here’s a recap: http://www.realitynewsonline.com/cgi-bin/ae.pl?mode=1&article=article9874.art&page=1 It gives a little more background to Billy and Candice regarding pre-show interactions.

    Am I remembering incorrectly, or was it really shocking for somebody to find an idol so early in the season when this aired? I know nowadays, we expect multiple idols to have been found, but this was only the third season with an immunity idol, and the early clues were deliberately incomplete. In fact, I think Candice said that the second clue could have referred to two different places, which was why she never thought Yul had it. Yul also said in the secret scene for this moment that he was surprised he found it.

    Considering how big a whole he’d dug in that uncertainty, kudos to Yul! Also in the same secret scene, he talks about how he filled in the hole and sent the box that had contained the idol out to sea to cover his tracks. Smart guy. Ridiculously powerful idol, but also a ridiculously smart holder.

    Really looking forward to next week’s episode when Becky, Candice, Jonathan and Yul all come together.

  4. gordonholmes Says:

    Maybe Ozzy deserves some credit for thinking outside the box. He was throwing challenges before that was commonplace and he came up with the idea of intentionally going to Redemption Island in our pre-game interview.

    Note: I said “Outside-the-Box” not “smart.”

    • Drew M Says:

      You have a great point. There’s other examples throughout his three seasons where Ozzy does some pretty innovative and creative things in challenges. OZZY! in challenges, Oscar back on the beach?

    • Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

      Even though it was largely usurped by HvsV, I’d still like to see a “Brains vs. Brawn” season. Challenge physicality vs strategists. Even if it gets Ozzy back on (but only if it’s a rematch vs Yul).

      Yes, the tribes were clearly unevenly distributed, mainly because Hiki only has one person (Nate, maybe Stephannie) who’s decent in physical challenges. There was also a gender imbalance within and between tribes, although the challenges have at least attempted to subvert that by not requiring solely brute force.

      Bah. Throwing challenges is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. There’s no benefit to keeping around someone solely for “numbers” if they have no loyalty to your tribe AND are a pain to live with. A numerical advantage only exists if every part of that number is 100% loyal. Sandbagging individual challenges is also a great idea if you’re in the dominant alliance, especially early post-merge.

      • Drew M Says:

        Jeff the “Brains vs. Brawn” theme is one I’d love to see too. And I always thought if they did try it, they do it with all new people. But now some people who haven’t even played that many times come to mind as great fits for both sides. Fishbach, Todd, Sophie vs Terry, Fabio, Mikayla, Bobby Jon? Throw Yul and Ozzy in there? And I could see them ramping up the physical and puzzle parts of challenges, start with something physically difficult, end on a trickier than usual puzzle to balance things out.

      • gordonholmes Says:

        If they ever did that, I’d want them to bust out super-hard puzzles like the three pyramid one in South Pacific between Ozzy and Coach. They’d still be filming it if Jim hadn’t talked Ozzy through it.

    • Rebecca (@Not_a_Criminal) Says:

      Well, if you put it that way, Gordon, then yes, I guess it was outside of the box. And a warning to future players that throwing challenges is rarely a good idea.

      Ozzy says in his talking head, “We might as well cut our losses now and get on with the game.” Everyone who is a true fan of the game should have heard this and immediately screamed back at their televisions, “There is no such thing as “cutting your losses” in this game!” Seriously, it only accelerated their losses, IMO – the same losses you’re trying to “cut”. If they all knew know that he’s the first boot, then he can only possibly cost the tribe one immunity challenge, and then he can be booted. Why would you throw one to get rid of him? It made no sense then, and it makes no sense today.

      What is more sad to me is how many others have thrown challenges hereafter. It rarely pans out.

      Thanks to whomever pointed out Ethan’s throw back in Africa. Yes, that is one of the few throws that made sense and I’d forgotten about it.

  5. Drew M Says:

    Episode 2! Considering Episode 2s are often calming downs after busy Episode 1s, this episode contained some important moments as well as some iconic ones. As much as I thought the four tribe format was covered well in Episode 1, it did seem a little much in this episode. The introductions are over, and now we’re in to the covering camp life phase and have to spread that over four different beaches. This further enhances the point that three tribes is a nice sweet spot, because in the episode two to four range of both All-Stars and Philippines, I don’t remember being overwhelmed with coverage but never felt like we were missing anything.

    I thought the contrast between Ozzy and Yul that was set up this episode was really, really neat and well done. In hindsight, this should have been a giant alert sign that these two were going to play a major part in the season, but I don’t remember catching the dichotomy the first time around (my 22 year old college kid perception skills must not have been fully developed yet). The two main things we got from the chicken trap scene were that Yul can (and will) keep up with Ozzy, but that Yul’s tribe were infinitely more happy for him than Ozzy’s. Ozzy was clearly getting on Christina and Billy’s nerves already, and the chicken catching scene only increased their annoyance toward him. Flip over to Puka where they rejoice as Yul catches chickens and completely value his tribe contribution. Clearly, Yul started his diplomacy very early in the game. Ozzy doesn’t know what diplomacy is.

    Yul forming that alliance with Becky showed off what a persuasive talker he is. He should in every right be seen as an immediate threat, but he has this way of talking that makes it sound like what he’s proposing makes perfect sense for you. Cirie is the same way, not as thoroughly logical but everything she says you find yourself agreeing with. I watch these two and know it’s a bad idea to trust them because they’re so good, and yet I find myself agreeing with most of what they say. Also worth noting Yul got the first pre-challenge strategy scene of the season.

    And I love the scene of Yul looking for and finding the idol. It wasn’t even a particularly hard idol to find. But he just takes such a clinical approach to it, you know with such certainty he’s going to find it. Really makes you wonder what Aitu was doing sending Yul out there, knowing there was an idol to be had.

    And finally, to throw or not throw? First of all it was such an obvious throw, even more so knowing Ozzy goes on to be maybe the single greatest challenge competitor in Survivor history. But I’m with Gordon on this one. Unless there are such extreme circumstances within your tribe (ie. you have a tribe member with the last name Hantz), I don’t think you throw anything. You never know what twists are coming, so if you are able to do everything you can to keep your tribe from losing someone, you must.

    PS. Not even sure what to say about the Candice-Billy situation, maybe others can chime in. I thought Jeff did an awesome job receiving and working with that nugget at Tribal Council.

    • Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

      Completely agree on the contrast between Ozzy and Yul in this episode, Drew. Although Yul’s persuasiveness obviously is not as infallible as you (and I) perceive it, since he didn’t get all the jury votes.

      • Drew M Says:

        It’s one of my favourite Survivor debates: Is a 9-0 or 7-0 victory significantly more impressive than a 5-4 or 4-3? Or is the win the only thing that matters, regardless of how many votes you get? I think I’m in the camp of just get the win however you can, but consider the point that all three guys who have unanimous victories are generally considered strong to very strong players, whereas we’ve certainly had some weaker winners amongst the non-unanimous. That being said, the goal of Survivor (in my mind) is to place enough people on the jury in such a manner they’ll vote for you an ends justify the means kind of process. Frankly in the face of such a strategy innocent, challenge beast like Ozzy, getting 5 of 9 jury votes is quite something. Interesting point about Yul’s persuasion skills, too. You’d think in game and jury persuasion ability skills would overlap, but maybe they don’t?

      • gordonholmes Says:

        I think a win is a win. Sophie had an interesting strategy about wanting a juror to hate her so it looked like she had to make some serious moves to get to the end.

        And, I think getting all the votes tends to say more about your competition than it does about you.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      Speaking of Yul’s persuasiveness, he also had a very close bond with Brad, but we didn’t see it because of course they got split up. But if I recall correctly, he told Brad he’d found the idol as well as Becky, and clearly Brad stayed faithful to him, never revealing that info to Candice’s group.

      • Drew M Says:

        There’s a Yul Mist, that’s definitely a thing, and we all need to contact PBS to see how to get our hands on some.

    • vegetablecookbook (@veggiecookbook) Says:

      Yes, the Yul vs. Ozzy setup this episode looks so obvious in retrospect! Yul even gets a helicopter winner shot atop the ship with his idol.

  6. Survivor_BUFF (@Survivor_BUFF) Says:

    Here’s my unanswered question: Did Yul actually find the idol on day 7 (which should’ve been episode 3)? Listen to him talking with Becky next episode.

    I love reading all the positives about this season. Everyone seemed very quick to bitch at the time–and I’m not gonna tell you there weren’t a few too many people who ended up with a few confessionals less than they should’ve. But there’s so much still here and it’s nowhere near the low level I knew it could be…which we’ve seen a lot over the past couple years.

  7. Jimbo Says:

    -I think when you have A) a ton of clueless players and B) 4 very small tribes, there’s not a whole lot of strategizing going on, which is why there’s been more camp-life stuff than you see in more recent Survivor seasons. It is nice to see a little of it.

    -I forgot how Ozzy was arrogant even in Cook Islands, when he was one of twenty new players. He had a reputation for being that way in Micronesia and South Pacific, but two episodes into Cook Islands, and he’s the same way. I can see why some players couldn’t stand playing with him, although his positives (challenge dominator, hunter/gatherer, huge post-merge threat) still outweigh the negatives (occasionally lazy and arrogant).

    -Throwing challenges is typically a bad idea, and it almost never has worked out well, but it worked out for Aitutaki since the four tribes got consolidated into two next episode anyway. It was pretty pointless though, because Billy wasn’t really disruptive, nor was he a threat in the game. You only really need to throw a challenge if you’ve got Brandon Hantz (or someone else equally disruptive, although I don’t think Brandon will be matched or surpassed) on your tribe. Oh, and if you’re going to throw a challenge, you should make it entertaining like Aitu did.

    – “Versus” twists are entertaining, although a fair amount of them haven’t panned out. Vanuatu and One World (men vs. women) were fairly boring seasons, Nicaragua (young vs. old) was a disaster. Both Fans vs. Favorite seasons have worked out though, and Amazon (the original battle of the sexes) was great. Next season’s versus twist (Returning players vs. Family members) has the potential to cause an ungodly amount of drama, too. Hopefully the producers just stick with the occasional Fans vs. Faves & Men vs. Women since they’re known commodities that have worked pretty well.

    -I’ve seen a lot of contestants asked the question of which season they’d want to be in other than their own. They should answer “Cook Islands” every time because I remembered this cast as being pretty bad at the game (~75% of them were recruited I believe) and two episodes in, they’ve shown me why I have felt that way. The season still ends up being great, but there’s a lot of dead weight.

  8. @FiligirlFu Says:

    Good recap, Drew & Jeff. One thought that struck me after the “Love At First Sight” incident… Billy rreeaaallllyyyy got off easy on this one. If this had happened on one of the past three seasons, Jeff would have made a HUGE deal about it and described the incident as “EPIC!” in his teasers. It was awkward, but Jeff, Aitu, and (in the next episode?) Candice took the revelation in stride. It could have been SO much worse…

    • Drew M Says:

      That’s one great point I forgot to mention! You’ve said it exactly. Because of things like Mario Lanza’s Funny 115 and general survivor lore, I always remembered this Billy and Candice thing taking up a lot of time. But how much did it actually take up, a few minutes max? Nowadays we’d have seen one on ones with Billy, he’d get the dodo music, and I’m sure Jeff would have even more to say at tribal.

  9. Quintin Philipson Says:

    Throwing challenges makes a lot of sense when it is pre-merge and the tribes switched up so there are people on your tribe that will clearly switch back. That makes sense to throw the challenge and take them out if you clearly have the numbers (like what happened on episode five of Survivor: China; when the Zhan Hu tribe voted off Aaron to keep the numbers for their tribe).
    However, what the Aitu tribe did what not a smart choice. They should have known after seeing the season before them (Survivor: Exile Island) that they would have switched the tribes up soon since the four tribes don’t last long. If I was on that tribe I would have let Billy feel at comfort so he would have no need to leave and let the Hiki tribe vote another person off. Numbers is important so there should be no thought of voting someone off in the first twelve days of the game. Just look at what happens to the Aitu tribe in the next few episodes…they all go home besides Ozzy (which is a tank in challenges so its no comparison).
    A good twist they should have is Survivor: America Vs. Canada! I am from Canada and I would love to play Survivor. I was born to play this game! If this show wants good ratings they should add Canadians so more people would want to watch it. This is an amazing show and if they let Canadians on the Apprentice, Bachelor, AFV, and Canadian versions of American Idol and Big Brother then there should be Canadians on Survivor!

  10. vegetablecookbook (@veggiecookbook) Says:

    The shot of Jeff’s reaction to Billy’s profession of love is probably my favorite Survivor .gif of all time. A close second is the one with Matty, Corinne, and Sugar that just made the rounds again.

  11. Marwin Simon (@malllarius) Says:

    This season had 5 applicants (Billy, Stephannie, Cao Boi, Rebecca, Candice), 2 applicants from The Amazing Race sent over to Survivor (Cecilia, Parvati) and 12 recruits (Sekou, JP, Cristina, Flicka, Brad, Jenny, Nate, Penner, Adam, Sundra, Becky, Yul). Ozzy sent application after his hispanic roommate declined. That’s 60% recruits, less than Fiji 90%, China 68%, Tocantis 75%, and Samoa 65%.

  12. conundrumbombs Says:

    A “vs.” twist I would like to see is maybe a “Winners vs. Losers” with a tribe of sole survivors vs. first boots. Surely they could round up 8 or 9 of each, right? Todd Herzog is begging to be a returnee, and if they could get Francesca back, she could possibly build herself an amazing story arc with this platform. But which tribe would you put Tina on!?! Maybe they could play for her at the first reward challenge. “And the winners of this challenge go back to camp with flint and Tina. If you can’t build a fire with that, go home.”

    Love the “City vs. Suburbs vs. Country” idea.

    Totally against the idea of throwing a challenge. Even under an extreme circumstance. Statistically speaking, it just does not turn out well. It never has.

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