‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 9


ep09Some 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.

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 get started…

Episode Thoughts:

I need a hammock. I could seriously sleep in one of those forever.

We’ve been joking about Candice the hero all season, but here she is aligning with one group while preparing to flip on them at the merge.

Brad isn’t good at this Survivor business.

What if everyone from one tribe stepped forward at the mutiny? Instant merge?

Being in that barrel would’ve made me puke my brains out.

Also, awesome challenge. Too bad it wasn’t competitive.

Ozzy’s smack talk at the end…well…you know how I feel about unnecessary smack talk.

I can’t hear the word “buoy” without thinking of Bobcat Goldthwait saying it in “One Crazy Summer.”

Raro really put their all stars in the reward challenge. Not smart.

“Jonathan can’t go back to them. But Brad can.” Smart.

Ok, the mutiny…did Candice and Penner make the right call at the time? Tough to say. If they weren’t super confident in their previous alliance, they still had an Ozzy-buffer before they hit the merge. Why was Candice in such a hurry? I understand Penner’s reaction to seeing her jump. I also understand why he’d immediately regret it.

As for the twist itself, I think it’s kind of cool. I might like it a little more if it were in tribes that hadn’t already swapped around.

Discussion Questions:

Without knowing what we know, did Penner make the right move?

Did Candice?

What do you think of the mutiny twist? Would you like to see it return?

What did people originally think when the 12th place finisher made the jury?

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

Even More Whatnot…

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18 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 9”

  1. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    No heroic moment of the week? Or is the mutiny a given since it was apparently the reason Probst made her a hero…

    It’s really tough to say whether the mutiny was the right move–I mean, we also have to factor in what the castaways expected (i.e. merge at ten, final two….). Equally, we should be asking if Brad and Sundra made the right move in not mutinying… Sundra was the person Candice hoped would follow her, and we do see her shuffle at the last moment–given another second, she might have jumped ship as well.

    For Penner, Candice and Sundra, all three had made the judgment call (if not individually, then in discussion with each other) that Yul and Becky were too tight to be broken, and too smart to be easily outwitted. Adam, Parvati and Nate… not so much. Candice obviously had the added impetus that she was very close to Adam and Parvati, though Sundra was close to Rebecca and Jonathan probably thought he was in good with Adam/Parvati too. Nate had discussed the flip with Candice and Sundra and had told them they would be welcome.

    Obviously, Sundra might not have been sincere in her desire to flip, and by staying with Yul and Becky, she got a lot further than she would have done if she’d mutinied. She almost won the final immunity challenge, which would have put her in F3 instead of Ozzy–but I don’t think there’s any way she would have won over the jury, who might well have resented her for not following through with her promise to flip. She certainly couldn’t have expected to make the finals, unless Becky was telling the other girls that she would dump Yul at final three.

    On the flipside of not mutinying, there’s Brad who in post interviews said he would have flipped at the merge and that he thought he was in a secure alliance with Adam, Nate and Parvati. He chose to wait until the merge to dump that alliance and was promptly blindsided.

    Obviously, it seems clear to us that Candice would have been safe even if Aitu had lost a challenge after the mutiny, but she admitted after Heroes vs Villains that she’s too neurotic for this game. She probably did think she was more secure on Raro–and based on all the evidence, that was not a bad judgment call. Jonathan, I think, would have outlasted Ozzy, but had Aitu booted two more people, he would probably have gone before any of the girls. At Raro he somehow outlasted three people…

    The big advantage that Candice and Jonathan would have gained by flipping at the merge would have been surprise. None of Aitu would have been expecting it, and Yul would have been completely blindsided. Obviously, as we know, he had the idol, so he wouldn’t have gone home–but equally, neither Candice nor Jonathan would have suffered the blowback, and the idol would have been expended.

    On the other hand, with all the information Jonathan and Candice had at the time of the mutiny, it seemed most likely that *Adam* had the idol, so they had no need to stick it out on Aitu. They had the numbers to take Yul/Becky out at the merge anyway. If they had merged at ten as they would have expected, even Jonathan’s flip would not have hurt them, because Jenny would apparently have stayed loyal to Raro.

    At the end of the day… while mutiny was ‘the’ wrong move, I don’t think it was ‘a’ wrong move. It’s kind of like Malcolm and Corinne defecting to the bro-alliance last season. They flipped from a strong alliance to one that they could control and had just one thing turned out differently, they would most likely have taken it to the end. Jonathan was never really secure at Raro, but Candice was, and if Yul hadn’t had the idol or if they had merged at ten, chances are very good that Candice would have been in the final three, with, frankly, a much better case for winning than if she had stuck loyally with Yul and Becky.

    Knowing what we know, I think it’s clear that the real correct move would have been for Candice, Jonathan and Sundra to stick with Aitu until final six (assuming Ozzy gets voted off earlier), and then blindside Yul when voting off the last Raro, forcing him to play his idol. He and Becky are then voted off next (Yul would at least be beaten by Sundra in final immunity) and the three of them battle it out for votes at the end. Of course, I don’t think there was enough trust there between the girls and Jonathan for that to work out…

    I would love to see the mutiny twist return, but Cook Islands is so infamous for this turn of events, that it’s hard to see anybody else ever taking it up.

    • Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

      I think they were all expecting to merge when the mutiny offer was made, not merge at ten. Hence all the discussions about staying united after the merge, and so on. It was a reasonable assumption, since it was day 19/20, which was a traditional merge point. The problem was, it was a 20-person season, which hadn’t been done before (Palau effectively had 18 people).

      I also think that contributed to Candice’s willingness to mutiny, and also to Penner’s. If they had already decided to do it at the merge anyway, why not go early?

      The comparison to Malcolm & Corinne is a good one. Did they have discussions with Nate about any of this while he was kidnapped?

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        I hadn’t thought about what day it was, but that makes sense.

        Yes, they talked with Nate. I’ve been reading ahead on post-boot interviews, and Nate confirmed that he talked with Candice about her flipping while he was kidnapped. From what he said this episode, it sounds like Penner never approached him about it, but Jessica said that Sundra stuck by Nate the entire time he was kidnapped, so I have assumed that she was part of those discussions too. (I don’t know if Sundra’s ever been asked for her version of this story–she was more or less an afterthought by the time she did her interviews.)

  2. Drew M Says:

    Sarah’s already given a detailed explanation of the possible motivations behind mutinying, so I’ll offer what I thought of both steps off the mat. Candice just clearly wanted to return to her friends. I just don’t think Candice is that good at this game, and doesn’t really think through the implications of some things she says or does before she does them. Her neuroticism certainly plays a part in this. So did she think she had a lot of strategic leeway on the new Raro tribe after flipping? Who knows. I think had Raro entered the merge with a clear majority, and she, Adam and Parvati could have been in the final 6 with the rest of Raro after picking off Aitu, then sure. But a lot of things would have had to go right for that to be the case than she probably anticipated. If she had stayed on Aitu, even though it would have been very tough to break the Yul-Becky bond, she at least would have had comfort that Ozzy and Penner go before her.

    Jonathan’s mutiny was, I think, even more ill advised. He was a threat on Aitu that was going to be dealt with soon as it was. He has enough sense to know that that was the case, and also enough sense to know it was going to be tough to beat Yul in the end game, and that’s assuming he gets all the way to the end with Yul. So he probably mutinied because he thought he was against a dead end at Aitu, and wanted some new possibilities at Raro. Little did he know he was about to run up against a similar dead end. Jonathan had a really interesting position in this Cook Islands season. He was too smart for the smart guys at Aitu in that he was threatening, but also too smart for the kids at Raro to relate to. This just wasn’t a cast of characters he was going to do that well with, long term. One other note on his mutiny, and that’s that he said maybe in a secret scene that he wanted to be aligned with the person who had the idol, which he thought was Adam. Buzzer sound, red X.

    Other thoughts:

    Really liked Jonathan’s plan to wait a vote post merge to boot off Ozzy. Ensures they have the numbers and ups the chance Ozzy won’t see it coming.

    Again with this theme of someone saying one pretty innocent thing and the rest of the tribe blowing it way out of proportion. And correct me if I’m wrong but I think Nate has been the one guilty of this all two or three times it’s happened. Now granted, I think Brad did have things bubbling below the surface that Raro was correct to deal with, but the comment that led to the mistrust on its own I didn’t think was that awful.

    Loved the shot when Jeff revealed what the reward challenge was for. Raro celebrated like they’d already won, Aitu remained completely stoic and focused. Not so fast Raro. Quite a cocky collection of characters.

    Ozzy was dragging the barrel with hit feet, further proof he’s a science experiment of dolphin DNA implanted in a man.

    That’s a lot of chickens just waltzing around camp at Raro.

    Oh please, Jeff. What’s that? I said OH PLEASE. Penner you hilarious son of a gun.

    As Jeff (Pitman) pointed out in his recap, for anyone on Aitu to win, they absolutely had to win these next two immunity challenges. Especially considering the glass bottle twist we see next episode.

    Playing Survivor with guys like Nate and Adam, who spend a lot of time sitting in the shelter or lying down, would be pretty easy (or as easy as Survivor could get). When you do that, you’re not demonstrating hard work, and you’re out of the loop on the social goings on at camp. Nate does a good job from time to time making the social rounds, but I recall a ton of shots of Adam sitting and lying around, not really doing much. Especially after spending all that time on Exile Island, you figure he’d want to work overtime at some bond forming. Guess not.

    If Brad is that untrustworthy, and it does appear he is, then that is the right boot, as Gordon has highlighted. Jonathan and Candice can’t go anywhere, Brad can. Let’s leave the fact Jonathan does go somewhere alone until it comes up in a couple episodes haha.

    Let’s give Candice an actual Survivor point for distancing herself from Jonathan post mutiny. Not really any need to keep ties with him since you have new allies now, and if it came down to one of the two of them to boot, putting him out on his own island is a good safety move. Randy Bailey did the same thing when he was swapped over to Kota in Gabon, and it worked pretty well for him.

    • Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

      The downside of playing with Adam and Nate, for Brad, is that someone had to do the actual work of fishing while they were laying around, and it looks like that increasingly fell on Brad. This made him isolated, and contributed to his faulty read on his alliance with Parv/Adam/Nate. He should have been tipped off by the previous vote, though, where he was out of the loop on the Cristina boot, and either redoubled his efforts to bond with his alliance, or taken the mutiny offer.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      While I do think emotions played their part in Candice’s move, I think you’re under-rating her as a player. Everything I’ve ever heard/read her say about the game indicates that she’s smart and savvy enough about it–she was also one of the few long-term fans actually cast for this season. I tend to see her as being more of a Malcolm and Cochran type of player: the super-fan who knows how the game works, wants to make a big move, but doesn’t always have the right *feel* for the game. (NB I tend to have a different opinion of Malcolm than a good proportion of the internet).

      I’m also disagreeing on how much would have had to go right for her new alliance to prevail. To me, it clearly seems more of a case of how much had to go *wrong*: merge at nine, losing every challenge, the bottle, Yul having the idol, Jonathan flipping…. If any one of those things happens, the Aitu four are jury-fodder.

      You make a good point about Nate always being the one to take comments out of proportion. Nate seems to be the barometer of opinion on Raro. What he says isn’t necessarily what goes, but he is the one who spreads the word. It seems that if you want to get somebody on the block, the first thing to do is convince Nate of their uselessness and he’ll go around telling everybody that they should be going home.

      This being Penner’s first smacktalking of Probst is hugely notable. Can’t believe I forgot it!

      • Drew M Says:

        I do agree that I used the wrong terminology there, of “go right” vs “go wrong” for Candice. I think in my head I was giving Yul as a player, Ozzy as a challenge threat, Yul’s idol and Becky as an underrated player a pretty good chance in most merge situations to make something happen to benefit them. This isn’t akin to picking off the Sook Jai 4, for example (although they were all pretty decent players, they just didn’t know the right buttons to push). But yes, there was a series of unfortunate events that led to Raro being ousted.

        Candice is a perfectly fine player. She’s made two juries, so she must be personable and socially sound enough to accomplish that. I’m just not one to see her end up in many final tribal councils. I do think to do that, and have a good shot at winning, a feel for the game as you say is imperative. And of course there’s a ton of luck in having a series of moves you foresee in the future work out in your favour. I’d just predict that others we’ve seen play would be better at executing long term strategy.

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        Isn’t that always the case? But whether or not she’s able to get herself to a final, she’s a player who I think does bring something to the table (much like Penner!). I had this conversation on Twitter a week or so ago, that I never understand why Candice isn’t more popular. She’s strategically aggressive *and* female, which usually seems to be gold among fans. Is it really just because of the Adam thing?

        Since you mentioned Candice’s social skills, one of the weirder things about the two times she played was how popular she was on this season (OK, she just became public enemy number one for the Aitu Four, but every tribe has welcomed her with open arms), yet she was a complete outcast on Heroes vs Villains.

      • Drew M Says:

        It’s tough to compare likeability on different seasons, I think. Tom from H v V is a great example of that. There’s no way Tom wasn’t his usual, charismatic, strong leader self on H v V. But because he wasn’t in that main group that formed instantly, and also probably because there were one or two in that group who weren’t going to care for him no matter what, he was “disliked”, as disliked as Tom can be. That season was pretty extreme in their practice of forming quick groups, and then disregarding and even disliking anyone who wasn’t in that immediate group. So much depends on everyone else that’s out there with you.

        Here’s a thought on Candice. How many confessionals does she get? I’m inclined to say not many at all. I’m not recalling many Candice confessionals this season or in H v V. Confessionals serve two great purposes, showcasing personality and letting a player explain what they’re thinking strategically. She really isn’t given much chance to articulate either of those. Even if we can deduce her motivation strategically, it helps when you hear the person say it themselves, I guess it adds credibility. Cirie comes to mind as someone who got a lot of confessional time, so she got to explain a lot of what she was thinking along the way. Parvati in her second season, too. On the flip of that, Jonathan gets a ton of confessional time this season. And yet when we’ve examined it, he’s not that brilliant a strategic mastermind. He’s had some good thoughts, but his execution has been inconsistent. He got to come back a second time because he’s such a great narrator and personality, and at least gets the chance to explain what he’s thinking game wise. And then yeah he brings something to the table strategically, too. Candice, I don’t think, gets many moments at all where she gets to tell the audience what she’s thinking.

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        Heroes vs Villains was, ultimately, a complete cluster****.

        You’re right that Candice doesn’t get many confessionals. One of the things that surprised me rewatching this season was how few confessionals Candice had and how many Parvati had. OK, I could buy that Parvati is generally charismatic, a better TV personality, and does a good job of telling us about the overall mood/dynamic of Raro… but she has absolutely nothing of consequence to say about the game and the strategy. Candice is more bland as George W pointed out below, but she’s also pretty articulate and knowledgeable about the game. Maybe for this season she just didn’t talk about her strategy in her confessionals, but considering how big a factor she was on this season, I’m really surprised they couldn’t have used her more.

  3. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    Penner’s mutiny was, in a lot of ways, similar to Cochran’s flip in South Pacific. Both went from bad situations to ones they hoped they could improve, through time and persuasion. There are obvious differences: in Penner’s case, it was a blind leap, whereas Cochran was at least enticed to move. But in both cases, they angered their former tribes, and joined alliances where they weren’t all that welcome. Still, they had little chance of success in their previous places, so you can’t fault them for trying to change things around. But man, it was rough watching Penner desperately trying to fit in with the unfriendly frat tribe at Raro.

    Candice’s flip was both a better and a worse idea. If the alliances were going to stay Raro vs Aitu at the merge, yes, she made a good move solidifying her ties to Raro/Adam before the merge. But if she could have turned her apparent F3 deal with Yul/Becky into an F4 deal by bringing Adam in at the merge, she could have had a shot at getting to the end without pissing off Aitu. Probably not something anyone can fully evaluate in a few seconds, though.

    The mutiny twist was tried in Thailand, and nobody went for it. I vaguely remember it being tried without success in some other season (but not shown). That’s likely to be the case most of the time. It would really only work in a swap season with enough time post-swap to mutiny before the merge (or here, where multiple tribes were consolidated down to two).

    Brad being the first juror was a huge point of discussion at the time at Sucks/MeSS. He’s still never met either Ozzy or Sundra, and only spent a few hours with Candice (okay, Ozzy did invade their camp, but Cao Boi seemed to monopolize the talking). How can a juror properly evaluate who’s the best player without ever talking to some of them? Same problem for the next two pre-merge jurors.

    • Drew M Says:

      Remember in Tocantins, the first time two people visited Exile Island? I believe it was just offered to the person who chose the urn with the clue, but the note inside said they were also given the option to join the other tribe. No one ever took Survivor up on that offer, which is why it was never discussed again. But I remember hearing multiple people afterwards, Stephen and Erinn for two I believe, that that option was given to every visitor to Exile who chose the urn with the clue. Pretty interesting. One of my personal favourite seasons of all time, can’t imagine what that would have played out like had anyone switched tribes, since so much of the post merge game was about Jalapao vs. everyone else.

  4. George W Says:

    I’m surprised that Candice is as popular as she is. She’s certainly not stupid and she amiable enough, but she’s just kind of bland. Or maybe I just don’t like her because she turned against the alliances I was rooting for in both Cook Islands and HvV. Especially in the latter case, Candice caused the Heroes to lose, even if I blame J.T.’s stupidity there just as much.

    As to the posed questions, Candice probably made the best move for her with the information she had when she mutinied. As Sarah mentioned, everything had to go wrong for Raro for the Aitu alliance to survive and it did (which is also why this is one of Survivor’s best seasons). “Go wrong” is unfair phrasing though because Aitu made it happen by having one of the smartest players to ever play the game in Yul and without a doubt the best physical-challenge contestant to play the game in Ozzy.

    It’s a much harder call regarding Penner, but I’m inclined to say he made a mistake with what he knew at the time. His immediate awkwardness with his new tribe made that apparent, and as his future famous “I’m a complete bastard!” comments will also make clear, he’s on a tribe that doesn’t want him and he’s just alienated his former tribe.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      Have to say, by the time of the merge, I found it pretty difficult to root for the remaining heroes. It was more a case of rooting *against* the Villains not named Sandra or Jerri. As for Candice’s flip in that show, the Heroes had been wanting to vote her off for weeks anyway so it was hardly a surprising turn of events–a bad move for Candice who should have just teamed up with Sandra, but I always felt the rest of the Heroes should have seen it coming.

      You’re right that Candice is kind of bland, but I’d say the same thing about a number of other popular characters.

  5. Survivor_BUFF (@Survivor_BUFF) Says:

    “As for the twist itself, I think it’s kind of cool. I might like it a little more if it were in tribes that hadn’t already swapped around.”

    But…then it wouldn’t have happened. Candice wouldn’t have been motivated to leave. Notice the mutinying in Thailand? Tocantins? Pearl Islands?

    Yeah…I said Pearl Islands.

  6. @FiligirlFu Says:

    Sorry I’m late to the game guys… vacationing calls 🙂

    This was one of my favorite Survivor episodes of all time. It’s the epitome of underdog stories… 6-on-6 turned 8-on-4, Aitu are not seen as the beautiful/popular/athletic of the bunch, Raro sets out their dream team for the RC against what’s left of Aitu, even the 2nd string is up 2-0 in the IC… and somehow they pull it out for the rest of the season.

    A few observations of my own…

    Reward Challenge – How are the girls not puking their guts out? Maybe they are just unconscious inside the barrels. Ozzy is insane. Seriously. Adam/Nate didn’t stand a chance – especially when they weren’t seeing Ozzy’s strategy to use the rope to pull his tribe to the flags.

    Candice – Probably did what was best for her, but she could have easily stuck with Aitu and blind-sided them at the merge. I have never been a huge fan of hers though, not that there is anything wrong with her… she just isn’t at the level of play as other people and seems kind of flaky. She was so adamant about getting back together with the cool kids, that she didn’t see the big picture.

    Jonathan – this guy does not come close to Cao Boi or Flicka, but he sure doesn’t know how to shut his trap. I have always been a fan of Penner, I love the depth he has when he thinks in the game, and I loved his Survivors Strike Back blogs on the CBS forums. I don’t know if it’s his accent or “how” he says things, but I can see how people just can’t trust him. I think he regretted stepping off the mat as soon as he did it. He knew he was in hot water as soon as he got to Raro, and tried all he could to keep himself in the game. I’m kind of surprised he didn’t stick with Aitu, because it seems he would at least be F4, maybe F3 (after Candice steps off)… he would have to bank on a lot of things at Raro to even possibly be F4/F3 instead of F7/F8. He has proven himself to be good at puzzles, and if a FTC not completely physical, he has a chance against Yul/Becky.

    Yul’s Idol – Is anyone else surprised that nobody even thinks Yul has it? And, when Candice gets to Raro, why doesn’t she grill Adam about the HII? Or Penner and Adam grilling Candice? It just doesn’t seem like anyone cares about it at this point in the game.

    Probst – Ah… remember the days when he still couldn’t pronounce Parvati correctly? 🙂

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      Quite a few castmembers talked about the supposed holders of the idol after the fact, and from memory of their various interviews, I think this is how it all went down:

      When Yul found the idol, the clues were still ambiguous and apparently could have described two different spots.

      We know Jonathan reached the conclusion that it must have been found by his second trip to Exile Island. He talked to Candice about it, presumably thinking she was the most likely holder. She didn’t have it, so they came to the conclusion that Adam had found it, and this was part of their motivation to change sides (a big part, in Jonathan’s case).

      After they mutinied, Candice and Adam compared notes and discovered that nobody on Raro had it. They decided to continue a pretence that Adam had it, to keep Jonathan (and maybe Parvati, others?) in line with their vote. This was why they would later be so firm to Jonathan that Yul did not have the idol.

      Candice came to the conclusion that the idol was still out there and carried on digging for it every time she was sent to Exile–which seems like wishful thinking by this point.

      All in all, I’m sure it must have crossed everybody’s minds that Yul might have the idol, but I think it’s a case of over-thinking it. He found it earlier than production probably intended and nobody wanted to ignore the possibility (hope!) that it was still out there.

      • @FiligirlFu Says:

        I haven’t watched the interviews in so long, I’m just basing my commentary on this episode’s editing. In later seasons, it seems like everyone is snooping and nagging to find out where the HIIs are.

        Looking ahead… does anyone else wonder if Jeff has two “messages in a bottle” – depending on who is winning the challenge, he slips one in his back pocket? It seems these little twists always work out for the direction the game is going.

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