‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 12


EP12Some 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:

Interesting, but understandable that Jonathan would rather see an Aitu person win.

We’re now to the point in the season where you could argue that Yul having the mega idol is affecting the way people vote in the game. From here on out it’s tough to compare Yul to other “Survivor” champs. Which is a shame, because I’m loving me some Yul.

“Yul doesn’t have the idol!” – Parvati Shallow

Ozzy certainly went from tribe pariah to someone who’s able to slip into the background.

Wow, I feel like the editing in this episode is really trying to make Parvati look stupid.

Gah…poor Candice. Maybe it pays to bid early.

Fun Fact: That exact ice cream machine was in the mess tent for “Survivor: Gabon.”

Ozzy bids $420. Feel free to write your own jokes.

Hotdogs, pizza, beer, a clean mouth, and enough to tip Probst? Penner won.

Hmm…I think I’d suck at any kind of memory challenge.

And we’ve now reached the point in the afternoon where Candice blows up her game. You can’t throw Yul under the bus. The dude is Teflon.

Interesting bit during Yul’s conversation with Becky; he was saying things like “Whoever I go up against.” At this point shouldn’t he be trying to assure her that she’d be the one he’s going up against?

It’s kind of funny to watch Penner become the tribe cancer, when he’s such a likable guy. What would Raro have done if they were paired with Phillip Sheppard or Brandon Hantz?

I guess maybe, maaaaaaaybe you could argue that Candice was heroic for enduring so many trips to Exile. Maybe.

Discussion Questions:

Did Yul make the right call revealing the idol?

I like Aitu’s “Penner before us strategy” as it at least gets them a step closer. Do people who use their jury vote as a bargaining chip follow through?

Would you be more likely to vote for the mastermind who voted you out, or the silent partner who had their back?

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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21 Responses to “‘Survivor’ Summer Book Club – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ Episode 12”

  1. Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

    I was also mystified by Yul’s conversation with Becky about the final two/jury. The only thing I can guess is that he told her (or Penner told her) that he (Yul) would rather go to the final two with Penner, because he’s more easily beatable, and for whatever reason, Becky went along with this scenario. The plus side for her in this discussion is that I’m assuming he’s telling her she’s back in his final two plans. But it’s still pretty weird.

    The upside to the “Penner before us” attempt is that if Yul fell for it, there’s a reasonable chance they could have swung Ozzy or Sundra over to their group, and flipped the game again. But apparently Yul didn’t fall for that. It also would have made sense if Penner had demanded some other concession from Yul (beyond voting out Nate), such as guaranteed protection at the next Tribal, as payment for flipping. (I have no idea if that happened, it just seems like something Penner and Yul might come up with.)

    You have to vote for the mastermind, unless the silent partner actually came up with all the moves, and just let the “mastermind” be a heat-taking figurehead. And can convince the jury that the latter was the case.

    • Drew M Says:

      They had to have left something out in this scene where Yul assures Becky she’s still very much part of his final 3 plans. Because yes, Yul is just talking out loud about end game scenarios that are the best for him, “whoever I go up against”, and he knows much better than to outwardly speak so cocky. How is Becky OK with that? Really she should be pushing for them to keep Penner for as long as possible, to piss off the Raros and make it appear Yul wasn’t going for their vote bargain deal.

      • Jeff Pitman (@truedorktimes) Says:

        Yeah, agreed, although they had no reason to suspect it was anything other than a final two at this stage.

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        It was very strange, but it made me think of Cochran and Dawn last season… I recall one or both of them having a confessional where they said that they had this strange alliance/relationship where they could talk objectively to each other about the best way to win–whether or not that included keeping the other around! Considering how tight Yul and Becky have been, it would not surprise me if they had the same relationship.

        These two precedents (are there others?) suggests that this kind of candid alliance is actually a good one to have, since both pairs made it to the end! I suspect this might fall into the “I love this person, so I will find a way to justify sticking by them” category–after all, you can’t get truer Survivor love than that level of honesty!

        Not seen: conversations where Yul and Becky discussed the best way for *her* to win??

      • Drew M Says:

        And they could certainly have those conversations! Contrary to popular (and my) belief, Becky is not invisible in Cook Islands, and she is certainly not just some sounding board for Yul’s triumphs. She’s actively participating and engaged in the decision making. This will almost certainly never happen, but watching Becky play on her own would be kind of compelling. The hyper rational, mature female isn’t one we see much of these days. Kim I guess? Not a bad person to model your game after.

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        Taking into account Yul’s low-key role pre-mutiny where the girls (Candice/Becky/Sundra) seemed to be leading the charge at Aitu, consider a scenario where Candice chooses to stay loyal to Aitu, and she, Becky and Yul are final three (as per their earlier discussion). Who wins?

        Without Yul’s idol and relationship with Jonathan being the elements that define the post-merge game, could the consensus have been that he was tied to the girls’ apron strings (like Chase in Nicaragua)? Could Becky have been seen as the dominant partner and been awarded the votes?

        It’s really a too big what-if to speculate on, but I don’t think the pre-merge boots would have considered Yul the ringleader and puppetmaster!

      • George W Says:

        Kim was probably just being facetious, but while I love Amanda, she could never be the host. She’s naturally an introvert. Parvati is just too nonconfrontational to be host. Recall that even though she didn’t care for Russell in the latter stages of HvV, she mostly left it up to Sandra to stand up to him. There’s a thought though. Sandra would be a funny host, but it’d get old pretty quickly.

        I do want to reiterate that this was a great episode for all the reasons already cited.

      • George W Says:

        I don’t know where I got Kim. I meant Sarah, and I see I posted this in the wrong thread line! Oops.

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        I nearly suggested Sandra as a host–you’re right it would get old pretty quickly, but it would be fantastic while it lasted!

    • @FiligirlFu Says:

      I was also surprised that Parvati didn’t just offer up her leftover cash to Candice for the Advantage. It didn’t look like she planned to use it, and it would have taken more money from Aitu. In the end, Becky gets her money back, but Yul (and anyone else who might give Becky money) would have less. Maybe less winnings for Penner this way? No pizza or mouthwash?

  2. Drew M Says:

    I loved Yul’s decision here to reveal the idol (but surprise, I’m loving just about everything Yul does). There’s no way for Raro to split votes to protect themselves, why not bring it out? The last time Yul can play the idol is at the final 5 vote, right? So there would be no incentive for any of the other Aitus to flush Yul of his idol, because they’ll all still be there at final 4 when the idol is out of play. Wait a second though, at what point do they learn it will be a final 3? At this point they’re still thinking it’s a final 2, correct? Should that prompt Ozzy and Sundra to be thinking about dealing with Yul and Becky? Or are they just too loyal to try that? (Or see that attempting to work with the Raros would be fruitless?)

    We will see that yes, the vote bargain does end up working mightily in Yul’s favour. As far as I remember.

    You have to vote for the mastermind, often if only because you knew they were the ones making the moves, where the silent partner is just that, silent, to those voting. JT vs Stephen is a classic example. Stephen deserved far more than zero votes, but did the jury know that? They didn’t, because he was too silent of a silent partner.

    Gordon, you’re right that that scene of Penner talking to the Raros seems to be overly focused on making Parvati et al look pretty dim. I felt bad for Penner here, I mean no wonder he flipped from them. There is so little chance he could get anything done working with them. I keep thinking of the legacies now of all these players we’re seeing for the first time, and Parvati’s up until this point in the season is really, really weak. I’m of the serious opinion that that bath scene at the auction may have won her a spot on FvF. Her inclusion on that season was suspect at the time, and may have even been a result of others turning down a spot on the season. Also, the statement of “Jonathan sucks at life.” is hilariously inaccurate. Save for possibly Yul, Jonathan was the most “successful” person in life left on that beach, maybe in the entire cast. Accomplished writing career with some acting too, right? I know it was just a heat of the moment comment from Adam, but seriously, Penner had a great thing going on in life in 2006.

    Raro, you’re fools if you think Aitu will vote Jonathan out just because he was rude at the auction. That’s not even first level strategy. 0 level strategy?

    Yul hearing Adam call him out for being the ringleader must have sent shivers down his spine. Yul’s goal was to always make it look like he wasn’t the one making the decisions. I’m sure he was aware at this point how Raro was perceiving him, but still must sting to hear someone point their finger directly at you.

    Another thing that really stood out to me this episode was how verbally combative Yul was, I never remembered this. And of course he does it in the most polite way possible, but when he wants to be, the guy can be a very forceful speaker and arguer. Incredibly good at knowing when to speak up and when to remain silent. The aggressive talk at certain points this episode didn’t seem to hurt him in the least, in fact it probably gained him a bit of further respect from fellow competitors.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      One of the over-powered aspects of Yul’s idol was that it was good through final four, so he could not have been voted out even at the final tribal council! (Obviously, at the time, everybody thought it was going to be F2–it wasn’t until they got to the final immunity challenge that they learned it was F3–so they might have banked on having one shot to get rid of him.)

      Regarding Ozzy and Sundra, the bond with the Aitu four is emotional rather than strategic, and I think the key drive for all of them is to get rid of the Raros first and then figure out the rest later. I’m guessing that Ozzy’s plan was to win the final immunities–something which in Ozzy’s case is actually a viable strategy. Sundra, I think, has settled for getting as far as she can and isn’t really thinking past final four.

      I think it’s been apparent all season that production loves Parvati’s appearance and giggles, and I’m sure that’s why they went back to her for FvF (perhaps only after Candice turned them down in favour of med-school?). At least she took her second chance as an opportunity to *play*.

      I think Yul actually talked too much, and it might have cost him some votes as his insistence that he was trying to be honest and trying to maintain integrity was always going to end up looking hypocritical–he would catch some flack for that later. But ultimately, he was more self-aware than, say, Coach and he could respond to the accusations levelled at him (but he *did* say ‘selfish’ and not ‘self-interested’!).

      • Drew M Says:

        These concluding episodes of Cook Islands are the section I’m least familiar with, so I’m really interested to see how Yul’s sudden outspokenness creates a problem for him and how he deals with it. This is really the first time all game we’ve seen any questionable behavior from him. And this is questionable by his standards, these sorts of actions are par for the course by most others’ standards. But he’s been so flawless so far that anything from him that might rub someone the wrong way is magnified.

  3. @FiligirlFu Says:

    Parvati – Very funny how she lectures Jonathan at the beginning of the episode. “I hope you’re happy with 2nd place.”… um… the best he could have done with Raro was maybe 4th or 5th so…

    Becky – She definitely comes across as a silent partner. Normally this works out for people to “ride coattails” but I just wonder if she was edited poorly when she really was doing a lot more strategizing. We have already seen her having key conversations with Candice, Penner, Sundra, and Yul.

    Adam’s Pearl of Wisdom: “This game is not as fun in this position.”

    Jonathan – If Probst ever quits Survivor and they continue on without him, I think Penner should be in the running to replace him as host. He knows how to push buttons and dissect the game. And, as we see, it’s probably the only way he will get to stay until Day 39 

    Auction – How did Penner clean up and Sundra gets a sea cucumber? And Parvati seemed to be taking her sweet time in the bubble bath. Adam & Candice – If you are willing to bid $620, why not $1000? It’s an advantage in the game – and, clearly, you need it! Becky sending Candice to exile was the safest move for her. If she is thinking about jury votes, there’s really no reason to pull Parvati out of the bath or give Adam a reason to be upset. Candice sees Aitu fairly equally at this point, so it’s the best move for her in the end.

    Sharing the fish –Well, let me think… the co-eds are making out in the shelter and not helping around camp at all. What is Raro going to do – vote them out? Should they share the fish? Nah. I could understand if any of Raro were contributing, but since it seems they aren’t, it’s a good kick in the butt for them to watch Aitu + Jonathan partaking of the fruits of their labor. This isn’t an Aitu vs. Raro situation either because, if Nate were still in the game, he would not be excluded since he helps around camp. When my kids sleep through breakfast, they miss out until lunch. End of story.

    Yul/BeckyStrategy Conversation – this is a bit awkward, but not so awkward if you are looking at a final 2 (vs. final 3) scenario. They are thinking about nine votes on the jury, and they are voting together all the way to the final two. More than likely, they are banking on Ozzy winning the rest of the challenges, making it an either/or for Yul and Becky in the end against Ozzy. If this is the case, Becky & Yul are actually strategizing FOR each other if this scenario plays out.

    Yul revealing the idol – Now that he has the numbers, it’s not going to hurt his strategy. If anything, it just limits the strategy of the opposing alliance because it gives them one less person to vote for. The only kink would be if his own alliance targets him, but there aren’t enough players on the fence for that to actually work out, especially by giving Penner some security.

    Raro’s “Penner before us” Strategy – In actuality, the way the votes go down is probably the best for all of Aitu: they let it be known that Candice is an enemy, vote her out together, keep Penner tight, then consider the “Raro plea” for Penner next.

    • Drew M Says:

      1. Great idea to have Penner host Survivor! He’d be perfect. And if they were to give him the producing leeway they’ve given Probst, I’d be much happier with that, since Penner by trade knows how to craft a darn good story.

      2. Great point about Becky and Yul assuming only one of them would be in a final 2 vs Ozzy. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s what they were thinking, and if so, turns out to be a very good assumption.

      • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

        I’m not so sure about Penner replacing Probst and getting in with production. He’s got a slightly chauvinistic streak in his tastes, and I don’t think we need a recurrence of that. I think it’s more likely we’d get Malcolm as a replacement host, but I’d love a woman–Kim would probably be my pick, but knowing my luck, it’d be Amanda or Parvati.

      • Drew M Says:

        I’ve thought for a long time that Richard Hatch would be the natural successor to Probst as host, but the more I think about it the more I think Hatch would come off as too condescending to anyone playing what he deemed a weak game. He is really curious about people so he’d probably be pretty good at extracting information, but not sure he could maintain enough of a neutral base to fit in (and I’m comparing him to modern day Probst who isn’t exactly the picture of neutrality, so that’s saying something). Easy answer to the host question is that once Probst decides he’s done hosting, I think the show is done. I’d love for them to try it with a different host, but I’m not sure that’s a route Burnett wants to take.

      • @FiligirlFu Says:

        Jonathan came across very cocky in Cook Islands but I think he has come along way and played very differently in Philippines. If you have anyone else in Survivor read a transcript of the things Penner says, it sounds like rational, succinct strategy. The things he says at TC (and to Candice about not sharing the fish) were great arguments – the fact that they come out of Penner’s face and with his voice is the problem.

        I’ll be honest: I don’t think Survivor could go on without Probst, but I would hate for Burnett to fill the seat with eye candy. Not only will it take some spotlight off the game and players, but many of the folks that would make the short list aren’t cerebral enough to be the host. If this situation ever comes to pass, I hope CBS/SEG sees the audience doesn’t really want to watch Parvati flirting with the contestants. Penner isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions and “out” strategies and would make a better host than a player. And, bonus, we would get to hear him say: “Who knew a Jew could host Survivor!”

      • gordonholmes Says:

        I’ve always felt that when Probst decides to step down, the new host should be an unknown person. Something about a former player doesn’t sit right with me. It’s always been about the 16,18, 20 people against the environment and the host is part of that location’s identity.

        That being said, if I had to pick a former player, Penner would be high on that list.

    • Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

      Becky – One important thing to remember about this episode is that we see Yul’s explanation to Becky about why he’d like to vote Jonathan out now. We don’t see Becky’s rebuttal–but Jonathan is saved for another round. Simple conclusion: Becky talked Yul down and called this vote.

      Lazy Raros – Candice said on the Survivor Live show (http://www.realitynewsonline.com/cgi-bin/ae.pl?mode=1&article=article0953.art&page=1) that on that occasion, she had started the fire before lying down. It doesn’t look like Sundra, Becky and Yul did anything for that meal either–yet we saw Adam go out fishing earlier. Everybody always feels like they did their fair share of work on the show anyway, but I expect editing does play a role here. It’s clear Ozzy and Jonathan were the main workhorses.

      Love the point that Yul and Becky were accounting for the possibility that it might be one of them vs Ozzy (with Ozzy getting to choose who).

  4. Sarah Freeman (@ChannonSarah) Says:

    Fantastic episode. I was braced for all the vitriol directed at Jonathan this time, with the result that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.

    The storyline that got edited out was the bluff that Adam had the idol–which would at least have made the Raros look a little less stupid. The webclips for the previous episode (recapped here: http://www.realitynewsonline.com/cgi-bin/ae.pl?mode=1&article=article9951.art&page=1) have Parvati and Candice talking about that. Parvati was almost certain Adam had the idol, based on his reaction every time she asked him (which accounts for why she was so reluctant to believe Jonathan). Candice knew he didn’t, but told Sundra he did in an effort to get her to flip from the tribe (in her vote-off words to Candice, Sundra said she understands Candice lied to her for strategic reasons and hopes they can stay close). While I still don’t rate Adam highly as a player, I do have to give him props for keeping up that deception.

    Survivor auction: In one respect, Jonathan played perfectly: bid early, bid often–or hold out for the game advantage, something he completely failed to remember for Philippines! In another respect, he played terribly, because he kept on talking about it, even after Yul dropped the hint of: “The hardest part was watching other people eat.”

    Kudos to Becky and Yul for pooling their money for the game advantage. Kudos to Candice for being willing to spend all her money for it. Big non-kudos to Adam for not being willing to pool all of his money with Candice (same goes for Parvati really–sending somebody to Exile Island probably wouldn’t have changed anything, but they needed any power they could get at this point).

    I’m not sure we could call Candice heroic for enduring those trips to Exile Island (she held the record until Gabon, didn’t she?), but her comment about having a great time and being proud of the game she played got me thinking… As a Survivor experience, she did pretty well. She changed tribes several times, but she was always part of the dominant strategic alliance, and was shown to have the confidence of several different players at different time. You could ask for a better finish, or a better edit (and god knows, a better showmance partner), but as an actual *experience* I’d rather have that than, say, Fabio, who won but never had a clue what was going on. (Financially, I’d rather have the million, naturally.)

    Jonathan’s comments about what a million dollars would do to Parvati… It appears that time has not proven him a prophet.

    Yul revealing the idol: he was always saying that he was trying to be honest and upfront about things, and hiding the idol could have been seen as deceptive. I think that was his main motivation, and–as he said last episode–there’s no obvious disadvantage to Raro knowing. It does put somebody like Becky in more danger, since they would presumably target her to avoid the idol. Also, Raro have been giving Jonathan a lot of grief so it might have been a way of reducing that negativity by saying “This is why he flipped.”

    Voting for the mastermind or the silent partner: I’m increasingly less fond of the term ‘mastermind’ when it comes to Survivor. Too often it’s incorrect to assume that one person is responsible for making all the decisions and manipulating all the others. Most strategies are a collaborative affair, which makes it less of a right or wrong choice–though we’ve seen plenty of examples where strategic collaborators have made it to the finals and received wildly different treatment from the jury.

    That said, you’re never going to vote for the silent partner. There have been plenty of cases where the less visible person *has* won, but if you are silent and are not building any game-relationship with people, it’s no good claiming you were equal in the strategy discussions at the end. It’s a two-edged sword, because Becky’s poker-face is much better for day-to-day gameplay. Yul’s compulsion to smooth things over gave Candice ammunition to use against him in her final smackdown, and could have worked out badly for him if Jonathan had had less poise.

    But at the end of the day, Yul’s futile attempts to calm the Raros down meant that they saw him as the spokesperson and ringleader for the Aitu’s–despite his pre-merge stance as following the girls’ lead.

    Following through with jury promises: as of this episode, Adam, Candice and Parvati basically promised to vote for Yul if he voted Jonathan out before them. Adam and Parvati were granted that wish; Adam and Candice voted for Yul. So based on this series, two out of three jurors break their in-game voting promises! That said, Adam admitted that he only voted for Yul because of that promise, so it’s still worth a try; on the flipside, I recall that One World’s Sabrina swore up and down to Kim that she would be a bitter juror and that was the main reason Kim took her to the end. Conclusion: don’t wait until the end of the game before putting the power of the jury into play.

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