‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 11


EP11Some 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:

Glad Sundra’s gaping knee wound was in the pre-HD days.

Letting Candice and Penner choose the camp is a perfect, rational solution. Yul’s the king of the smarties.

I wouldn’t touch a drop of alcohol during the game. Just seems like trouble.

Adam groping Parvati?! Is this the first case of in-game polygamy?

As a “Survivor” nerd, nothing gets me quite as excited as watching two super smart players like Yul and Penner hunker down and talk some serious strategy.

As far as the mega-powered idol goes, flushing it basically means sacrificing one of your players. The former Rarorans won’t keep their number advantage if they do it.

I feel like Parvati has done the stand-on-the-pole immunity challenge a billion times.

Yul tells Penner that he wants to take him to the end because Penner has enemies. Simple, effective. I’m loving Yul.

Whoa! Why don’t I remember Candice and Adam full-on making out?

Yuehl? Yule?

Discussion Questions:

How do you feel about people hitting the jury before the merge?

Is it fair that someone as big as Nate should have footholds the same size as someone as small as Parvati?

Penner can’t win at this point. Was there anything else he could’ve done? If he’d voted for Yul, that would’ve flushed the idol and Nate would’ve been gone.

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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8 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 11”

  1. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    I don’t think there’s anything Penner could have done to win. He was stuck on a tribe of kids from the start, they didn’t like him, he didn’t like them, and then he got exiled, so he had both intra-tribal conflict AND the suspicion of having the hidden idol from the beginning. Nobody trusted him on Aitu after the switch, either. And he didn’t really do anything to earn the early enmity, apart from be well-spoken and hard-working.

    Yul’s decent point about mass-to-surface-area ratios notwithstanding, Ozzy isn’t all that much smaller than Nate, and he managed to last approximately 10x longer than Nate did. I don’t think it’s a design problem, I think it’s an endurance/balance problem.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      I think Ozzy’s kind of an exception here, since your average Survivor contestant does not climb palm trees as a hobby! He was the last guy left by a long margin, and in Heroes vs Villains, I don’t think any of the men reached the hour mark. When else have they played this challenge?

      They do do other challenges were the footholds are sized according to footsize, but I don’t see that as working well with this one. I think it’s a little pointless trying to get the challenges totally fair anyway.

  2. @FiligirlFu Says:

    Funny thing about who got to pick the camp, Yul didn’t consider that Nate also lived in both camp. I’m thinking it’s his way of currying favor with Penner & Candice to reconnect.

    Hypothetical strategy talk between Penner and Yul was great. It’s surprising the Raro crowd didn’t install Boston Rob’s buddy system to keep Penner from straying.

    Raro – It’s funny how pissed they are getting over Penner flipping after how they are treating him behind his back. They will turn on Penner at F5 too, so how can they really blame him? Penner is not going to win no matter who he is up against – he just has a better chance of getting to F2 or F3 with Aitu. And, if he doesn’t realize that, he’s kind of naïve. There’s no way the co-eds will turn on each other. As he has observed: they are not thinking. They don’t realize he could be the swing vote at F5.

    Ozzy – Wins without even touching the water – amazing – and, stays on his pole the longest, foreshadowing his post-Survivor career. 😉

    Becky – Again, she is extremely underrated. She was in the final three of the immunity challenge and seems to help make the Aitu decisions with Yul having the final say (since he’s the one in possession of the HII).

    Penner – Really doesn’t read people too well. Yes, we have the benefit of seeing the footage of other people, but he has to see that the other four Raro members are the same general age, young, attractive, and lazy mental-midgets. There’s just so much in common, how could he possibly think he is in the final four? Unless he is betting on being able to beat them in the F5 immunity challenge, there’s no way.

    Parvati – I have to admit, I was VERY impressed with Parvati’s ability to ward off Adam’s seduction and not steal Candice’s man. Of course, his armpit right above her head probably helped – along with his stinky breath. Candice doesn’t seem to mind. It’s truly hard to believe that this is the girl who goes into the Survivor history books as the one flirting her way through the game.

    Adam/Candice – As Bobdawg would say, the dumbassity is rampant amongst the Raro co-eds. You have to get faded every time you get your hands on alcohol? Really?! And, again, kissing someone after he just puked his guts out? Gross.

    Mass and surface area – I think Survivor did attempt to make these challenges a little fairer for larger people after this season – although the final immunity challenge of Panama (Capt. America vs. yoga instructor vs. gymnast) should have given them reason to re-consider the “fairness” of these types of challenges. It wasn’t every time, but I seem to remember Jeff pointing out that the challenge was adjusted based on the weight of the individuals for a challenge or two.

    Pre-Merge Jurors – Yeah, I don’t know how fair this is, but technically, Rebecca has played with Sundra and Brad/Jenny have played with Yul/Becky before the switch-up so they aren’t completely out of the loop with what’s going on in the game. The only one that is at a disadvantage in this case would be Ozzy, but I guess that’s his own fault for throwing a challenge.

    • Drew M Says:

      Here’s my theory on why Becky is hidden this season while Yul gets all the glory. They seem like very similar people and personalities. They were probably just doing, thinking and saying a lot of the same things. So rather than be redundant, since one of the two is the winner, just show him and that will cover it for the both of them. Not saying this is the best approach, since Becky probably did a lot of her own independent strategizing and interacting. But in the interest of time, just showing one more or less covers them for both.

  3. Drew M Says:

    I’ll start by saying that Yul’s pitch to Penner was absolutely flawless and a thing of beauty. As Jeff and Gordon have pointed out, he does every single thing right, in the right order, at the right time. I imagine he thought this day or days through pretty extensively before they came. This whole game has been a series of Yul doing the right thing at the right time. Yes, there are plenty of moments this season where if they didn’t go Aitu and Yul’s way, he’s probably toast. But that said, he takes so much intentional action to ensure he’s moving forward with the best chance to continue doing so. Bravo.

    Fun fact I gleaned from Yul’s podcast appearance. The elephant in the room on this play is, why isn’t Jonathan going back to Raro and just outright telling them that Yul has the idol? It’s because of something Yul convinced Jonathan of that for some odd reason we didn’t get to see. Yul convinced Jonathan that Raro believed Jonathan had the idol, and that was why they’d kept him these past few votes. If he told Raro Yul was in possession of the idol, it would out him as not having it and he would be next to go once Raro secured their numbers advantage. Genius. It kept Jonathan from blabbing to Raro and certainly aided Jonathan’s decision to rejoin the Aitus. The other smaller question is why doesn’t Jonathan do what Yul is afraid of, misdirect the Aitus’ vote on to Nate, make it 5 votes on Yul, force the idol to be played and have Nate go home as residual. My guess there is Jonathan wanted to avoid a shaky 4-4 tie next round, he probably now wanted to keep the idol in play and align with that person, and he feels he has a better shot at the end game with the Aitus. If I were Jonathan, I’d likely do the same thing.

    I think the foothold challenge will always be one of those that just favours smaller or more nimble people. Survivor will say this is fair game because plenty of other classic challenges they run favour strong swimmers, people who can hold a lot of weight, fast runners. It’s a challenge in the canon that gives an advantage to a certain type of person, and I’m fine with that. If they ever wanted to even things out by adjusting foothold size, great, but I’m not adamant about it.

    That scene of Yul saying he didn’t feel well reminded me of another nugget I learned. He’d play up how bad he felt so people wouldn’t think him as big a challenge threat, and I think he even referenced that scene we saw. Everything is deliberate with him.

    I will never understand why one wouldn’t just treat everyone with respect on Survivor, the ultimate social game, just in case. Just in case you ever needed something from that person in the future, I dunno, like a vote for a million … A MILLION DOLLARS. Just start the darn fire for Jonathan who’s out fishing. You’re hurting yourself way more than you think by not.

    Jonathan does a ton of happy yelling, and I love him for it.

    Ozzy dominates the immunity challenge, and I wonder if everyone could tell this early that this guy is now a threat to win every single immunity. They make it look for a minute like Candice is hanging in there, but in the end Ozzy is having zero problem standing up there. I’m actually foggy on challenge details from here on out, so I’m curious to see if he continues blowing everyone away, or if some are actually close.

    These Raro dunces, boy, not even considering Yul might have the idol? Like no way, nope, not happening. He was only there for a day, you say? What else do you think he’s doing out there? Did his clams take too long to boil, thus eating in to his idol finding time? I’m pretty sure Yul got to Exile, dropped his bag and began dissecting clues. There’s time to get comfy later.

    All in all, a great, great episode, and for me it was because of the Yul and Jonathan back and forth in the multiple stages. Easily one of the best “will he or won’t he/she flip” episodes I can think of.

    • Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

      Whoa, I missed that in Yul’s podcast (convincing Penner that Raro thought Penner had the idol). That is indeed a brilliant additional tactic. Too bad it wasn’t shown.

    • @FiligirlFu Says:

      Wow, I missed that too! It makes sense now. I was wondering why Penner didn’t just tell Raro and throw Raro’s votes at Becky/Sundra (who were not in possession of the HII at TC) so Aitu would lose their numbers. This little bit of information helps fill a major hole in the plan. It’s too bad it was cut – I would have rather seen this conversation that the all-American couple’s make out session.

  4. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    Something that really struck me is how well Yul handles both the emotional and the logical sides of the game. He’s well known for these wonderfully objective strategic conversations with Jonathan in this episode, but the Aitu Four are a purely emotional alliance. Ozzy needed the Idol to secure him, but both he and Sundra were so excited by the idea of being able to keep their foursome alive, without any real thought of whether this was the best move for them. I remember Yul saying that the Monopoly comparison is a fallacy for Survivor, because it’s not ‘just’ a game, and there are a whole host of emotional investments going on. That’s something a lot of strategy-focused people (including Penner!) fail to understand.

    What I hadn’t remembered from this episode was Jonathan’s loyalty to Adam and Candice–*not* to Parvati please note, and obviously not to Nate, but clearly the former two did put in some effort to keep him on side. I was really surprised by how he and Candice was discussing strategy together still. She said after the show that she had planned to take him to F3, and I was not convinced by that, but looking at this episode where she was still strategising with him, and where she was talking to Adam about what ‘Nate and Parvati’ were wanting… Maybe she did plan to keep him as her extra number to break up Nate and Parvati?

    That said, Yul has made it clear (I think in the podcast Drew mentioned… maybe another) that all of Raro were giving Jonathan ample reason to hate them. This was definitely a case of them having nobody to blame but themselves for the flip–which makes next episodes’ rants even more unpalatable.

    Note that when Jonathan was talking to Candice and they said that neither of them had the idol, we did not hear their opinion on whether or not Adam had it. Supposedly, Candice was trying to keep Jonathan thinking that Adam did have the idol at this point (though she knew otherwise), so I would have loved to have seen the unedited version of that scene, to see how they discussed that possibility.

    Speaking of Candice, this was the immunity challenge that she stepped down from in Heroes vs Villains only to be voted out. Based on this, she should have been the favourite to win that one. Oops.

    Also worth noticing that Candice was having one on one strategy discussions with Jonathan, Adam and Parvati. I’m still of the belief that Candice basically had Raro right where she wanted them after the mutiny. Socially, she would have done a lot better to get them treating Jonathan with more respect, but I don’t think she would have been capable of standing against the crowd’s social game.

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