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S13: Cook Islands

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Holy crap! Four three-time (to-be) players in this season!

(All-Stars had five. HvV had 9; BvW had four. I think! These were all returning players seasons, of course.)

Not sure how I feel about the split along ethnicity. I kinda wish the players had been randomly dispersed. Oh well.

I have never yet seen Parvati play.

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Oh, man. WTF was Billy thinking! I don't think my jaw has dropped like that in a long time.

 

Really enjoying Yul: super smart, that one.

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Yes, poor Billy.  That was just plain awkward.  I think even Jeff was at a loss (for once).

 

Cook Islands remains in my top 10 of all time favorite seasons.  I didn't mind the whole 'tribes divided by race' element, though I hated TPTB excuse for it.  Something along the lines of showing that they don't spit on having an extremely diverse cast, and for whatever reason (maybe thinking the viewers are too stupid to see it for ourselves?) decided to divide them by race.  Just an excuse for a theme.  But maybe it worked out for the best.

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So yes, Yul does have an overpowered idol, but you can still defeat it. If Penner had told Raro *and* they had believed him, they could have decimated Aitu. Yul might have been forced to play it way sooner. 

 

I do believe this season illustrates, quite well, how lucky you have to be to win Survivor. Yes, you have to be good, and but you also have to be lucky. There's no way Yul wins if the glass bottle challenge bounces the other way. 

 

Still, a wonderful wonderful season so far: love how rational Penner is. Cannot believe that crapbag Candace got invited back two more times. Parvati hasn't really shown anything yet. I really wish the producers would show more of why they like certain players and what makes them invite them back. You can see it with Penner; you can't with Parvati or Candace. (Maybe, if you stretch, and you believe Parvati is the social master of Raro.)

 

Hoping to finish the season before Wednesday!

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Ah! An entirely satisfactory season! (I do wish Becky had been better recognized.)

 

My ranking*, so far:

 

  1. Cook Islands
  2. Pearl Islands
  3. Cambodia
  4. Cagayan
  5. Palau
  6. Amazon
  7. Australia
  8. Marquesas
  9. Vanuatu
  10. Guatemala
  11. Borneo
  12. Panama (Exile)
  13. All-Stars
  14. SJDS
  15. Africa
  16. Thailand
  17. Worlds Apart

 

*Up for debate, of course!

Edited by cherrypj

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Cook Islands also ranks in my top 10.  And I loved the challenges this season!  Some good mental/physical mixes.  I wish we would see more of these repeated.

 

Definitely Billy and Candice was such a highlight.  The poor lug.  When Aitu lost (or rather threw) the 2nd IC, and sent Yul to EI because he looked like a smart guy-isn't that a reason not to send someone to EI?  A smart guy that could figure out the HII clue easily?  

 

Also, Candice & Adam?  It was amusing when Candice was switched to Aitu and Adam was still on Raro, and Candice was blowing kisses over at Adam when the two tribes were at TC together (when both tribes had to vote someone out, but Aitu got to sit in on a feast and observe Raro).  They were so mushy it almost made Hallmark movies look like classic love stories.  Not surprised that they were broken up by the time the reunion happened.  The most I ever liked Candice was during BvsW, and I think that was more because she was with her hubby.  I was surprised she was invited back for HvsV (and put on the heroes tribe).  I know she was originally invited for the first FvsF, too.  I wonder if Parvati took her place.  In terms of other returnees from this season-Ozzy still holds a special place in my heart.  Though he wasn't the same Ozzy during Micronesia and SP as he was here, I could still watch him every season.  Can also never get enough of Penner, mainly for the soundbites and confessionals.  Parvati I didn't like initially, but she really surprised me during Micronesia (I thought she was going to be such a waste of a spot).  She got pretty lucky during her return trips to the game to make it to the end, but she also played a good game after overcoming those obstacles.  I think I would have given her the win during HvsV over Sandra, tbh.  Would love to see Yul, Becky, Sundra (to see how the two girls would play without having Ozzy and Yul around) back, as well as pre-merge/jury boots Cristina, Jessica, Jenny, and Cao Boi return.

 

The absolute best part of the season, for me, was the mutiny and the aftermath.  Yul, Ozzy, Becky, and Sundra, outnumbered, and outmatched, came out swinging for all those challenges to go on a winning streak.  I never thought they would pull it off, and even at the merge, figured they'd get picked off.  Yul knew how to play an idol (too bad Terry didn't think of that the previous season).  I will say that I'm glad that idols need to be played before the votes now, not after, but in this case, it worked out beautifully.  Also, I know people talk a lot about Michelle from Fiji deserving a second chance, because she was voted off without really being given a chance to rally votes to her side.  But the same thing happened to Jenny here.

 

Oh, and who can forget the fire making tie breaker between Sundra and Becky!

Edited by LadyChatts
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Never watched or followed a single anything Survivor until 4 days ago getting pulled in by the Gen X vs. Millennials gimmick. Seeing those few episodes made me curious about more and noticed my Amazon Prime subscription has a ton of seasons available starting with Season 12 as far as sequential seasons. Watched S12 where it was coincidentally a similar concept to the current season except 10 years ago and I'd say they so far seem comparable in quality.

Then I started and just completed Season 13. Again, I consciously avoided everything/anything Survivor for it's entire existence. I have no clue about locations, best/worst seasons, contestants, everything. All I ever knew before was the show existed and was like the start of a surge of reality TV, and shared the same producer as The Apprentice. So Season 13 starts and the second the season theme was introduced my eyes popped out of my eyes. I was like "NO!" They couldn't possibly have had a collection of people in a room that agreed that race wars would be a fantastic idea.

I was instantly in for the ridiculous and discomfort that would have to happen. No shortage of facepalm moments and I was surprisingly pleased at many, many subtle moments...some poignant, others innocuous, but they were there. I did cringe any time a member of any minority group had to be forced to make actual commentary about it like an ambassador. One of my biggest pet peeves in life. I'm a minority and absolutely fucking hate the presumption that I am a representative of anything/anyone/anyplace and have to answer or address everything ever through such a lens. Or even avoid answering or addressing everything through the same lens. Like the thought of "oh shit I'm talking about such-and-such or whatever, but because I am of this particular category, my audience now perceives my message and the motivation for it a particular way instead of just being simply just mine and only my sole take; I'm only speaking for myself but you can see it on their faces the acknowledgment of the opposite.

Anyways, this blew away Season 12 for me. I hated Candice from the very start. Coupling/PDA already gets you on my dislike list, but her initial first return from Exile Island and her distance-y/avoiding non-committal answers, body language, eyes and other cues made me read: shady, shady two-faced bitch who thinks politeness, speaking calm and smiling/pouting hides her disdain, smugness, dismissiveness of anyone perceived outside of her superior societal status. I know it's been ten years now, so maybe she's better, but I doubt it. Just like I doubt she ever proceeded to Medical School. Still, a very memorable cast and I enjoyed more than half of them. I cannot believe I actually rooted for people in something and they won! That almost never happens with me and competitive reality or even awards shows.

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Cooks Island was just outstanding. I think a large part of it was the tribes by race.

I mean, normally, there are 3-4 minorities on a season. Given, and I'm speculating here, that most people hang out with, or are most comfortable with, people that look like them, it follows that minorities and people of color are almost always on the outs from the beginning. The deck is already stacked against them. Is it any surprise that they seem to get voted off earlier? (There's so much talk about this effect for S33.)

Cooks Island flipped that on its head. I believe there was a more even playing field for everyone.

To be sure: Yul*, Becky, Ozzy, and Sundra were just outstanding players and a super tight group. So I'm not sure my theory has any water. And, to be sure, I haven't charted who gets eliminated when. So maybe it's all hooey. 

*Yul especially.

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I think that probably plays a role overall in most reality shows. I'm not sure about real life, maybe it is and I'm the weirdo. I'm Asian-American and my comfort level in every situation my entire life has never depended on if someone looked like me or not upon first meeting them. If discomfort is a thing that other people felt because I didn't look like them, that's something I do have experience with getting that particular vibe from, but that's usually when in a sea of the public like a grocery store or event among strangers. About 99.999999999% of the time if I'm actually meeting/interacting with people towards a purpose, getting that same sort of vibe doesn't happen. That could also mean I'm unaware of any prevalence; I really don't think it's happening, though.

Growing up and going to the occasional event, party or whatever involving friends of my parents from the motherlands and even their kids never felt like I don't know...anything compelling of any bond-sharing relatability. Speaking of, relatability, I believe is a somewhat foreign concept to me. What I used to call relatable for most of my life, I discovered was really just empathy or familiarity. It wasn't until the second or third year of my relationship with my then-girlfriend-now-wife who is white and observing and noticing this phenomenon (to me) that she exhibited of seeing herself in fictional characters - movies, tv, books, comics, whatever. The signs are bias and rationalization for or towards certain circumstances or people that overlap with hers superficially. I've never really experienced that or noticed that I wasn't experiencing something like that; if I like the characters or story, details and aesthetics...I'm pretty much basing it on their own merits. With her, I've noticed she mostly does only once committed to a narrative/subject/whatever. She actually has to see herself represented in a comfort way, somehow to get invested, though not necessarily consciously with specificity. I pointed it out to her and she admits to not being really aware that she's doing it, but that she agrees that she's definitely doing it. Totally weird to me to this day. 

Edited by Potanical Pardon
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4 hours ago, cherrypj said:

I mean, normally, there are 3-4 minorities on a season. Given, and I'm speculating here, that most people hang out with, or are most comfortable with, people that look like them, it follows that minorities and people of color are almost always on the outs from the beginning. The deck is already stacked against them. Is it any surprise that they seem to get voted off earlier? (There's so much talk about this effect for S33.)

Cooks Island flipped that on its head. I believe there was a more even playing field for everyone.

To be sure: Yul*, Becky, Ozzy, and Sundra were just outstanding players and a super tight group. So I'm not sure my theory has any water.

No, I think you're right. This is why the "Survivor casting mirrors the racial demographics of the U.S." is such a bad argument because there's a huge difference between being, say, 5% of 318 million people (i.e., the Asian population of the U.S.) vs. being 5% of 18 people. 5% of 18 people is less than one person. For most of the game, the key is to get yourself ensconced in a group and make sure that group is larger than any competing groups. Some of this is done consciously, based on who's the strongest, who adds something to the alliance, etc., but most of it is unconscious, based on who you like and feel comfortable with and generally that tends to be people who are most like yourself.

I think we saw this in Cook Islands, but it's muddled a little bit by the fact that the tribes were originally divided by race. So when Candice mutinied, I don't think that was her favoring white players so much as it was that she wanted to canoodle with Adam some more. And Penner following her was just an, "oh shit, my whole alliance is over on that tribe." But then it gets a little more questionable to me because the next votes are Brad, Rebecca, and Jenny, the three non-white players on that tribe. And they're voted out despite the fact that no one trusted or liked Penner and at least a few people were concerned about Candice and Adam being too powerful together. Then in exchange for Penner flipping, he asked Yul to target Nate, the last remaining POC from Raratonga, even though Penner was one of the few people who that season thought that Parvati was a dangerous player. I don't know whether these decisions were based partly on unconscious racial considerations or whether it was just that Candice, Adam, Parvati, and Penner were together from the beginning, but I'm sure all four of them would say it was the latter, even though for the most part, they weren't a particularly tight group and didn't really trust each other.

Bottom line for me is that I do think race is less likely to be a factor in the actual playing of the game when it's more of a factor during casting. The following season, Fiji, had the same racial makeup as Cook Islands (minus the one white woman who dropped out at the last minute), but because no one group had a numbers advantage and because the show didn't make an issue of it, it wasn't an issue until the F3 turned out to be three black people. People remarked on that, yet no one ever questions the all-white FTCs which is more common by a large margin.

Edited by fishcakes
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My number 1 season for a while, and still in my top 3.

I liked the diversity but I also liked that it played NO role in why someone would be eliminated, and that the usual criteria/reasons still applied. But I did like that we saw more of "that person is threatening my game and needs to be voted out".

Still, this final four was fabulous, and for once, I was not sure who would won and would have been happy with any outcome. 

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Anyways, this blew away Season 12 for me. I hated Candice from the very start. Coupling/PDA already gets you on my dislike list, but her initial first return from Exile Island and her distance-y/avoiding non-committal answers, body language, eyes and other cues made me read: shady, shady two-faced bitch who thinks politeness, speaking calm and smiling/pouting hides her disdain, smugness, dismissiveness of anyone perceived outside of her superior societal status. I know it's been ten years now, so maybe she's better, but I doubt it. Just like I doubt she ever proceeded to Medical School. Still, a very memorable cast and I enjoyed more than half of them. I cannot believe I actually rooted for people in something and they won! That almost never happens with me and competitive reality or even awards shows.

Ugh, Candice. I have never understood why she has played 3 times, she's a terrible player and a bland yet irritating personality. Her tantrum at not being called to the dinner table after she, Adam, and Parvati sat around doing zero to help prepare the meal is one of those moments where I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. Such a stupid idea to go charging up to someone and start shit (though I do believe it was Parvati who planted the idea in her head, she was just dumb enough to actually go do it), especially when it really just highlights your uselessness around camp. 

On the flipside, the Aitu 4 sending her to Exile over and over and over makes me laugh. There's a montage on youtube about the unlikely victory of the Aitu tribe and when it's cut down to just a few seconds per episode, it makes the "Candice goes to exile" narrative even funnier. 

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I also thought it was hilarious that Aitu kept sending her to Exile, but at the same time I felt sorry for her when she was crying and saying that it hurt to know that they disliked her. Where she really lost me was during Heroes v. Villains, when Sandra was trying to flip her and Candice was just sobbing and mewling about Russell, "but he has the hidden immunity idol. We have to do what he saaaayyys." So very weak. But then she got back on my good side during BvW with "Fuck you, Brad Culpepper." I could watch an entire hour of her yelling at that idiot.

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Been re-watching this season, and just got through the Jenny/Rebecca boot.  Cook Islands continues to rank as a top 10 season for me, but I didn't realize how much it dragged in the beginning.  It really didn't get exciting until the mutiny.  I didn't even like Yul or Becky until that moment (something I forgot about), and Sundra was pretty much non existent once the tribes swapped, until it was just the Aitu 4.  Raro sucked post swap in every way, that it's easy to see why the Aitu 4 overtook them.  It's interesting to listen to the strategy conversations at Aitu before the mutiny, when Yul/Becky/Candice/Jonathan were supposedly tight, and looking to get out Ozzy and Sundra.  In addition, the 'what ifs' if they had voted Jonathan out for being untrustworthy and kept Flicka, or what if Jonathan hadn't joined Candice (who didn't seem to want him tagging along back to Raro)-what of the Aitu then?  It just thankfully worked out the way it did.  One moment that had me laughing was when the Aitu 4 won that RC where they got to visit a local tribe, and seeing Yul interact with them.  Ozzy said it best, it was great to see someone like Yul cut loose.

Watching poor Rebecca in those challenges, I really felt for her.  She looked like a deer in the headlights.  I didn't realize Jenny had gotten so much airtime, as I barely remember anything about her.  Sure it wasn't exciting airtime, but more than I remember.  Because I certainly didn't remember her being on the annoying side.  I did feel sorry for her when she got voted off, since it was that double boot where the tribe didn't know they'd be voting off a second member until they got to TC.  I also didn't remember Nate getting as much airtime, but I actually am liking him better than I remember.  He's pretty funny in his TH, and I loved seeing him seeth on the sidelines every time Raro lost a challenge (which was a lot of seething, considering Raro only won 3 post swap).  Raro as a whole was fun to watch because as close as they were, they didn't seem to have the team work in the challenges, and watching them get pissy while Aitu effortlessly seemed to get by was a highlight.

Someone else I felt sorry for was Cao Boi.  He seemed like a really great guy, just a fish out of water with his tribe mates (both pre and post swap).  Listening to him was interesting, but it's too bad he came off too eccentric.  The only person who seemed to get him was Flicka, and that's not saying much.  For a 20 person season, I'm surprised that pretty much everyone has gotten camera time.  Some more than others, but that's practically unheard of today.

Edited by LadyChatts
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2 hours ago, LadyChatts said:

Someone else I felt sorry for was Cao Boi.  He seemed like a really great guy, just a fish out of water with his tribe mates (both pre and post swap).  Listening to him was interesting, but it's too bad he came off too eccentric.  The only person who seemed to get him was Flicka, and that's not saying much.

The really interesting thing about Cao Boi is that he is one that originally dreamed up the "split votes to counteract the HII" plan.  And according to him, that is literal.  As in, the idea came to him in a dream.

Yul understood what Cao Boi meant with Plan Voodoo (which was his name for the plan...and something we might want to start bringing back...), but since he had the HII, it wasn't to his benefit for that plan to ever be enacted.  That might be the biggest reason Cao Boi got booted.  Not because he was the odd ball, but because of Plan Voodoo.

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Cao Boi will forever be one of my top favorite Survivors.  I could go on and on about how interesting he was as a foil to Becky and Yul, and complicated their story in all kinds of ways, but it gets kind of political (it's the biggest reason why I'm not a big Yul/Aitu4 fan) and I don't wanna go there so let me mention another thing I love about Cao Boi, which is that all his wacky hippie shenanigans actually 100% worked!  His forehead massage, by both Brad and Yul's admission, worked to relieve their headaches, and his crazy fire dance got the flames going instantaneously and won them the challenge.  His Plan Voodoo dream is of course the greatest example.  I love the scene because while they give him the doofus gongs and so on, and the symbolism of the dream is certainly strange, his extrapolation of the plan is explained lucidly, and Plan Voodoo was perfectly timed and totally foolproof.  In fact it was the only way to defeat the Yul/Terry super-idol.  The only thing that could go wrong was...to tell the person who did have the idol, which he did.  I agree with @SVNBob that it was probably the reason Yul voted him out.  The eccentric persona masked a real strategic mind, and (though it was hardly recognized at the time) he bequeathed one of the few post-Hatch tactical insights to really endure as a staple of the game.

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On ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 10:54 PM, LadyChatts said:

Been re-watching this season, and just got through the Jenny/Rebecca boot.

That was the boot that probably set things in motion for all of the Raros' ends.  Seriously.  Adam, Candice, Parvati, and Nate kept on talking about how much of a snake they found Jonathan to be.  They kept mentioning how much they didn't trust him.  So of course the right thing to do with someone you don't trust is voting him out.  And yet . . . he kept staying for no other reason than he was feeding their lazy asses.  That was the only reason they kept him despite not trusting him at all.  So out go Rebecca and then Jenny.

And of course, Jonathan stays long enough to backstab them all at the next Tribal Council by voting Nate out.  Serves them all right.

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Re-watching this, my memory of Parvati being obnoxious in this season is over blown.  She's definitely immature, but not actually all that awful.  Also makes sense that she actually applied for TAR first, she would have kicked ass on that show.  It was Nate and Candice who sucked.  Especially Candice.  The part where she just flat out lies to get Adam to hate Penner for no reason other than she thinks it's funny is pretty awful behavior.  And yet they kept inviting her back!  Ugh, dumb producers.

On brighter notes, Penner is still a fantastic narrator, Yul is brilliant, the show did a pretty decent job with demonstrating that Becky was a co-conspirator though Yul executed most of those strategies, Ozzy after being knocked on his ass a little is far less arrogant and obnoxious than he was to start the season and in subsequent seasons, and Sundra is a lovely person.  Hooray for the Aitu 4, basically the only time every person of the final four were worth rooting for on some level.  Maybe Tocantins.

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Just watched this season, and I loved it. My favorite season that I've seen so far.  I wanted Ozzy to win, but Yul was the second best option in my opinion. Penner would have been acceptable as well.

On a super shallow note: Ozzy was smokin' hot at the reunion. He was cute during the entirety of the show, but damn did he look amazing with a few more lbs on him, longer hair, and a clean-shaved faced. 

Edited by Zima
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Does anyone know what happened to Nate?  During the finale, he came hobbling into the jury with a crutch and it looked like his leg was in a cast.

Some notes on the finale: the jury really didn't like Becky.  Even before the final 3, they were rolling their eyes at her.  Of course saying you were "letting Ozzy win" (yeah, right) challenges to keep you in the game likely didn't help any argument she was going to make.  It'd be interesting to see her and Sundra play again.  Jenny and Candice especially really had some attitude going on over in the jury box.  I really don't think they thought ahead, and maybe they didn't care, about not taking risks and just following Yul and Ozzy.  Becky seemed to think she did enough in the game to get where she was.  Adam actually had the right line of thinking in trying to get Yul's idol out before the final 4, which was the last chance he could play it.  Since the castaways didn't know it was going to be a final 3, and had Yul won that last immunity, I'm curious if he would have used the idol on Becky to get her to the end or let it go to a tie (of course they seemed ready to get rid of Ozzy, so maybe it wouldn't have mattered).

I felt sorry for Adam.  He came so close in those last few challenges.  He was a bit of a jerk early on, but he had a gracious exit speech.  

Edited by LadyChatts

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In the Fix the Show thread, a conversation about what would have happened if F3 seasons (like this one) had F2s instead led to this comment:

1 hour ago, enlightenedbum said:

Cook Islands: Ozzy or Yul (probably Ozzy) wins the final immunity and boots the other, wins a million bucks. 

Which I'm not sure about.  The Ozzy beating Yul part, I mean. 

The overall statement is true.  The Aitu 4 were perfectly nested in the classic FBGB classifications: Fox Yul, Bear Ozzy, Goat Becky, and Bunny Sundra.  So in an F2 season, the strategy says to cut the Bunny (Sundra) at F4, then the true battle at the FIC is between the Fox and Bear, with the winner cutting the loser and taking the Goat to FTC to clinch the win.

The question I have is whether or not Ozzy would beat Yul in that FIC.  Throughout the individual stage, Ozzy earned his reputation as a challenge beast, losing only to Adam twice.  (Which saved Adam each time, since he was on the block both of those times).  But other than those two exceptions, Ozzy was always the #1 in the individual challenges. 

However, Yul was usually #2.  In fact, he said that that was his strategy.  Ozzy was the challenge beast, so "let" him win the IC, but be right behind him, so that Yul could pick up the win if Ozzy didn't, thus keeping immunity within the Aitu 4 and out of the hands of the other side.  (Granted, that plan failed when Adam won the challenges, but the 4 still had another option each time.)

So Yul was almost on par with Ozzy at challenges, and he claimed to be shanking to a small degree.  But in a final showdown between the two, with the million on the line?  Both would've pulled out all the stops.  That would have been an epic, likely on par with Tom vs Ian. 

But I'm not sure who would have won.  It would depend on the exact challenge.  To me, it's a coin toss (with a Becky win a landing on the edge.)

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The real problem with the F3 in Cooks is that Yul's freaking bullshit idol worked at F4, which means it was a literal golden ticket to the FTC.  It's ridiculous he got the chance to go in the first place.  Ozzy would have gotten Sundra to vote with him and if Becky wouldn't be willing to vote out Yul then she wouldn't deserve the win anyway.  And a Yul who has to win a fire challenge to get to FTC shouldn't really be able to claim mastermind status, though you could say the exact same thing about a Yul who needed an FTC guaranteed Tyler Perry idol too I suppose.  In any case I will never consider him a great winner.

I believe Yul was intentionally losing the challenges like I believe everyone who claims they were intentionally losing challenges: not one bit.  (Of course excepting when they talk about throwing it beforehand, on the show.) Ozzy only lost one immunity in Cooks as far as I know, and it's not like Ozzy came back and sucked, like Colby.  He easily beat 8 people at Redemption Island, etc.

I do think an F2 immunity challenge between Yul and Ozzy would be epic, don't get me wrong, but "I could have beaten Ozzy, I just didn't want to", come on Yul.

Edited by KimberStormer · Reason: one extra e
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2 minutes ago, KimberStormer said:

I believe Yul was intentionally losing the challenges like I believe everyone who claims they were intentionally losing challenges: not one bit.  (Of course excepting when they talk about throwing it beforehand, on the show.) Ozzy only lost one immunity in Cooks as far as I know, and it's not like Ozzy came back and sucked, like Colby.  He easily beat 8 people at Redemption Island, etc.

I do think an F2 immunity challenge between Yul and Ozzy would be epic, don't get me wrong, but "I could have beaten Ozzy, I just didn't want to", come on Yul.

Yul did say that he was "letting" Ozzy win on the show, not in a post-game interview.  And he never said he could have beaten Ozzy, but just didn't.  (At least, not that I recall.) He said he was the backup plan, in case Ozzy didn't destroy the challenge like usual.  All Yul had to do was beat everyone not in the Aitu 4, and be in a position to win if Ozzy didn't.  It didn't always work, but it was a successful strategy.  And yes, Yul did have the original overpowered HII to fall back on.  So that did help in getting all the Aitu 4 into a power position.

None of this is to knock Ozzy's physical skills.  He redefined "challenge beast" in this season (but never successfully evolved his game beyond that).  All I'm saying is that a physical competition between him and Yul would be a lot closer than people would think.

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Overpowered idol or not, not many people (like, say, TERRY) would have understood how to use it to get the majority without playing it like Yul did.  And the approach to Jonathan was fantastic in its patience.

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I think one thing that gets overlooked in this season is how well Candice does in challenges. She wasn't brought back for HvV just because of the mutiny. She's very much a force to be reckoned with in a number of the challenges, especially the "cling to a pole while two people try to pry you off" challenge and the totem pole challenge that Ozzy is known for. She made Ozzy earn it by hanging on for two or three hours through a rain storm before she finally slid down.

I sometimes wonder what Candice's gameplay would have looked like had someone other than Adam been cast. (I know it's useless to ponder, but I still do.)

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49 minutes ago, simplyme said:

I think one thing that gets overlooked in this season is how well Candice does in challenges. She wasn't brought back for HvV just because of the mutiny. She's very much a force to be reckoned with in a number of the challenges, especially the "cling to a pole while two people try to pry you off" challenge

I feel deep in my Survivor bones that that challenge is the entire reason she was brought back and cast as a Hero.  (Well that and her blonde All American looks.)  She impressed Probst in the most physical of challenges.

14 hours ago, enlightenedbum said:

Overpowered idol or not, not many people (like, say, TERRY) would have understood how to use it to get the majority without playing it like Yul did.  And the approach to Jonathan was fantastic in its patience.

Yes no shade on that move, but it working to protect him at F4 is still baloney.

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That idol was still young, TPTB had no idea what kind of monster it could become if someone used it in a more clever way than just to save his or her skin that one time. The fact that TBTB self corrected counts in their favour. The idol proliferation and the brief return of an all powerful idol do not. 

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On 5/8/2017 at 7:47 AM, NutMeg said:

That idol was still young, TPTB had no idea what kind of monster it could become if someone used it in a more clever way than just to save his or her skin that one time. The fact that TBTB self corrected counts in their favour. The idol proliferation and the brief return of an all powerful idol do not. 

exactly

until they brought it back in that stupid "Tyler Perry" flashback. (it was hilarious they all forgot they had it in season 12-13. :)

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After finishing up Exile Island last week (minus the reunion...no real need to re-watch those in my opinion), my mother and I moved on to this season.  It continues on our look back at the first games of Survivor "legends".  I'd remembered 2 of the 4 before we started, but forgot about the other two until we started watching. 

Of course, we first talked about how controversial the tribal division was at the time.  (And that division kind of casts an interesting shadow on the 4 returnees, since 3 of them are from the same initial tribe.)

Not too much to say about the first episode until after the challenge.  That's when bad decisions started happening.  First off, the two men on the Yellow tribe separated themselves from the three women, then made the decision to send Johnny Blue Eyes (Penner) to Exile Island, calling it karmic retribution for him taking the Green tribe's chicken during the opening boat evacuation.

Where to start here?  First of all, I agree with the move to step forward to get a different point of view to look at everyone else while deciding who to sent to EI.  And I kind of agree with the "reasoning" they gave for sending Penner.  He "harmed" another tribe, so he receives some punishment for it (little knowing that karma had already intervened when Flicka accidentally let loose both of the chickens, allowing them to escape into the jungle.)  But they did make two bad decisions.  First off, it was the fact that they split their tribe while making the decision.  None of the three women were included in the discussion.  All either of the men had to do was wave to the women to join them after they'd stepped forward.  But by not including them, the men declared the division in the tribe.  Which was very dumb to do before having to go to TC.  Doubly so since they were the minority group.  That basically ensured one of the two men was going to get booted.

The second bad choice was in choosing Penner.  He's a pretty smart guy, so he could have been able to figure out the clue and find the HII.  And he came somewhat close to doing so.  Given one more chance, he might have done it.

For the first boot, Sekou was the right choice.  He'd made a few basic Survivor blunders.  Never take the leadership role, don't make promises you can't keep while in that role (he promised fire, and never followed through), and don't slack too much.  Ok, he was a big guy and tired out faster, but he was also loud about it.  That drew attention to his resting, which meant that the women saw him slacking.  So given the choice between the two men, Sekou was going to draw the votes.

Episode 2 is where the interesting things start happening from a future perspective.  The first thing I found interesting was the reaction to Penner's return from EI.  The first two people on the beach to welcome him back were Parvati and Candace.  Based on his relationships with those two women, Candace within this season and Parvati in the future, that scene was very interesting to me.  It shows that at one point, those 3 kinda got along and liked each other.  A more innocent time...

Then there's Aitu.  And the events that show that Ozzy should never be the strategic leader of an alliance.  Because he's decided, on Day 4 or 5, that they need to throw a challenge and get rid of Billy.  Why?  Because he's "dead weight".  Yes, the guy wasn't working as hard and resting more than the others.  Again, he's the big guy on the tribe.  But why throw a challenge to get rid of him?  Why not wait until he actually legitimately costs you a challenge, then vote him out?  (I might be a little defensive about this, being a larger person myself.)  Between this "plan" and his one other strategic plan in Redemption Island 2, he's shown he's no strategist.

I used to be of the opinion that you never throw an IC.  But in recent years, I've changed my mind.  There can be valid strategy in doing so under certain circumstances.  Mainly after a tribal swap, with your alliance in the majority on your tribe.  Then you can throw a challenge to protect your alliance mates now on the other tribe, while simultaneously eliminating a threat that is now on yours.  But in this instance, none of that applies.  And there's always the danger of the throw backfiring and taking you out.  Ask Burton about that.

That said, if ever there was a challenge that could be thrown, this one was it.  It was mainly an obstacle course, so Billy wisely volunteered to be the person on his tribe to sit out (big guy, after all).  But Ozzy said he'd be fine and JP, the pro athlete, sat out.  And then, the challenge started out with Jeff's History Lesson about the area, but also included a written version of the lecture in bound and buckled books, that teams could read after the start to be sure they'd heard everything.  Guess which of the 4 teams was the only one to take the time to read the book.  Then it was through the obstacles to untie tiles with answers to questions based on the lesson, including 2 extra answers.  Other teams had a couple of people untying knots simultaneously, but only Ozzy did for his team, taking his sweet time to do so.

And it's not just that they threw this challenge.  It's that Ozzy was so damned smug about it the entire time.  There was a shit-eating grin on his face throughout the challenge, most evident on the final rope bridge.  Once they were all in the middle of the bridge, he deliberately swung the upper rope in an effort to (successfully) make Billy fall off the bridge.  (I assume the rule was that if anyone fell off the bridge, the whole team would have to restart.)  But he did that as the last tribe was finishing the challenge.  Meaning it was unnecessary to do so to waste more time.  It was insult on top of insult on top of injury.  It really soured me on Ozzy again, undoing any goodwill he'd built up over the years in my mind.

Billy at least realized that they threw the challenge and that he was the one getting voted off.  And he did try to save himself.  He did talk to the one person that was both sympathetic to him and annoyed by Ozzy's attitude, Cristina.  And she tried talking to the other woman, Cecilia.  But in the end, they decided to stick with the two strong boys.  At least Billy tried.  (Not gonna talk about the Candace thing...no need to go over that cringe again).

On 2/20/2016 at 4:18 PM, LadyChatts said:

When Aitu lost (or rather threw) the 2nd IC, and sent Yul to EI because he looked like a smart guy-isn't that a reason not to send someone to EI?  A smart guy that could figure out the HII clue easily?  

Actually, they said it was because Yul looked to be the strongest, not the smartest.  So they were sending him to try to weaken him physically, and the HII didn't seem to be a factor.  Of course, that turned out to be a mistake, so it was their second bad decision of the day.

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9 hours ago, SVNBob said:

Then there's Aitu.  And the events that show that Ozzy should never be the strategic leader of an alliance.  Because he's decided, on Day 4 or 5, that they need to throw a challenge and get rid of Billy.  Why?  Because he's "dead weight".  Yes, the guy wasn't working as hard and resting more than the others.  Again, he's the big guy on the tribe.  But why throw a challenge to get rid of him?  Why not wait until he actually legitimately costs you a challenge, then vote him out?  (I might be a little defensive about this, being a larger person myself.)  Between this "plan" and his one other strategic plan in Redemption Island 2, he's shown he's no strategist.

This was why I could never really get on the Ozzy bandwagon to begin with, even before South Pacific. Ozzy is a challenge beast, but he looks down on and sometimes actively picks on people who aren't alpha males. I think Ozzy has grown up some since then, and I respect his physical abilities, but I will always have The Billy Incident stuck in my head preventing me from going fangirl.

 

9 hours ago, SVNBob said:

I used to be of the opinion that you never throw an IC.  But in recent years, I've changed my mind.  There can be valid strategy in doing so under certain circumstances. 

I think there are certain circumstances where it's warranted. In China, Peihgee and Jaime threw a challenge which enabled them to vote out Aaron. That meant former tribemates Frosty and Sharea were safe and they were closer to evening the numbers between the original tribes. The also removed a strong player. Probst was horrified, but it was strategically sound. They had to scrap throwing more challenges because they realized they couldn't count on Frosty and Sharea, but it was still a good move.

I've always thought that the challenge that should have been thrown but wasn't was in Fiji after the merge. The teams were determined by random draw: Alex, Mookie, Dreamz, Stacy, and Michelle vs Earl, Yauman, Boo, Cassandra, and Edgardo. Earl's team won and Michelle got sent home. Had Earl's team lost, they could have sent Edgardo home, keeping Michelle and gaining a solid lead in numbers.

But Ozzy throwing a challenge to get rid of Billy? *sigh* No. Just no. Just keep him and be nice. If you lose, you have an easier vote off than most TCs. If you don't lose, he can be a number for you. Have I mentioned the holes in Ozzy's social game? :P

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I just finished this season. It was one of the more pleasant ones to watch, not that much animosity or meanness, even including Jonathan's crankiness and sarcasm. By the way I didn't realize he was on this season until I really looked at him (with his short hair) and realized "That's Penner!" He made some dumb moves, most spectacularly, stepping on the mat to go to the Roru tribe just on impulse. Ozzie was about what I expected after watching him this past season. Cuter with his shorter curly hair. What a challenge beast, I kept hoping for him to lose because I get tired of someone winning IC over and over again unless it's someone I'm cheering for. I knew beforehand Yul would win so it was interesting to see how it came about. Now Parvati . . . after hearing so much about her, I was expecting an exciting, dynamic player . . . and I didn't see much of her until closer to the end. And she wasn't that memorable. She said the "I have a flirty girl" strategy but she's not the first. But she didn't really do that much except be better in challenges than expected, especially that swimming one where they had to swim out and bring stuff back over and over again. Of course it was hard for her to make moves of any sort against Aitu 4, but I didn't really see her as a villainess, more as a nice girl who's a little stuck on herself, but not that much.

And I finally got to see the legendary Aitu 4 I've been hearing about. And they were legendary, managing to stay together to the very end, even when they were down 4 - 9 in numbers. The fire making challenge was pretty funny. And Sundra couldn't get one going with matches!

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Another couple episodes down.

In the first came the swapmerge.  I'd forgotten how this was handled, but they did it rather well.  First they divided the 18 players by gender, then randomly selected two captains from those groups.  From there, it was a variant on the schoolyard pick; each gender picking from the pool of the same gender, but having to pick someone from a different initial tribe until that was no longer possible.  Then the team captains each selected one of two paint eggs, and the groups with the same color became a full tribe.  Given the initial divide of this season, this particular method of mixing the tribes was very good.  It was designed to deliberately get each racial group represented in the new tribes, and did so fairly successfully.

The first pre-TC scramble was interesting.  Prior to the challenge, Becky and Candice started creating an alliance of the two of them and their closest allies, Yul, and Penner.  (The Penner-Candice connection being very interesting with hindsight). Penner thought he could get Flicka for their 5th, so they'd have the numbers.  After the challenge, the absence of Candice (having been sent to Exile by Raro) was just the start of the alliance's problems.  Flicka decided to join the other side (consisting of Ozzy, Sundra, Cecilia, and Cao Boi), and that group decided to vote out Becky.  But she decided to tell Penner, which gave him the opportunity to tell Yul.  And then the two of them each worked on one person to try to flip them over; Cao Boi for Yul, and Flicka for Penner.  We were shown more of the Penner/Flicka talk, but the Yul/Cao Boi talk seemed more successful.  In the end, both had worked and Cecilia was sent home...much to Ozzy's dismay.  (Do I feel bad for him?  Not after the previous episode.)

The second episode was the first one with separate RC and IC.  The RC was the challenge where tribes have to manipulate two of their members clipped to a rope through an obstacle course, followed by a code puzzle with the decryption tool out in the water.  Aitu took a lead on this challenge, with good choices of Becky and Candice as the people maneuvered through the obstacles.  Cao Boi added a smart move in constantly pulling along the slack between the obstacles, giving them more rope to work with.  No one on Raro did this, even after Cristina said they should.  And Aitu also had Ozzy to do the water leg, so that helped them keep the lead.  Plus they had a lot more good puzzle solvers (Becky, Yul, Penner), so they won, and sent Adam to Exile.

Meanwhile on Raro, J.P. forgot two basic rules of Survivor; never piss off your tribe, and 5 is more than 4.  He had earlier come to the conclusion that the 4 guys were invulnerable, and thus was acting like king of the tribe; directing people (read: the women) on what to do without getting up off his own ass to do much of anything.  The interesting thing was who was shown in confessional calling him on his manipulative behavior: Parvati, the master manipulator.

I haven't brought up Parvati too much thus far, but she's been a fascinating one to watch with the advantage of future knowledge.   I have heard repeatedly from people that have met her that she is incredibly charismatic.  I've also heard from people that had heard some of the same reports about her, so they thought they'd be prepared for her power, but still got taken in by her.  The quote I've recently heard (not sure of the source or full context) that I've been repeating in regards to her is "it's not just that she makes you like her, she makes you want her to like you."  And that's the lens I'm using in regards to her in this re-watch.

Episode 3 was the one where she first mentioned the "flirt" card, saying it was her specialty, and deciding to work on her connections with the men.   But there's evidence of her charming the other women as well.  As each woman was chosen to join her group in the pickem, she welcomed each one with a big hug and a compliment.  Looking at her overall games, I think this first game is where she started growing and maturing her ability to manipulate.  It's also a testament to her awareness of her own abilities that she recognized what JP was doing.  But there is a major difference.  JP gave orders; Parvati asks, and smiles while doing so.  They may both be manipulators, but at least Parvati is nice about it (most of the time...Black Widows notwithstanding).

The advantage that comes from Parvati's manipulations in episode 4 is twofold.  She confirms from Nate that the guys are in a formal alliance, and not just bro-ing it up.  But he also confirms that he's on her side and that the other guys don't know about their connection.  Nate has a TH that sums up everything a lot of what I said about Parvati; he realizes that he could easily be attracted to her, but needs to focus on the game.  (Therein lies wisdom.)

The IC was a good mix of parts.  Half the tribe had to assemble a "puzzle stretcher", then run it to the water.  At that point, one of them would swim out to a mast in the water to retrieve a 5th person and both would swim back.  The 4 runners would then carry the 5th back to the start, at which point the remaining tribe members would start a fire to burn a rope (like in the fire-making tiebreaker...).  I think Aitu thought about this challenge in reverse.  They put Cao Boi on the fire team with Becky and Sundra, and Candice out on the mast.  Whereas Raro had all their guys on the stretcher and Parvati on the mast.  (Both women on the mast were great choices.  Each one is relatively small, so easy to carry on the stretcher, but also good swimmers.)  Aitu surprisingly fell behind at the start in assembling the puzzle stretcher, but made up for it with positioning in carrying it out.  Yul and Ozzy were the two in front, and when they got to the water's edge, Ozzy just let go and kept running.  On foot in the water, he caught up to JP who had an early lead and had started swimming in shallower water.  From there, Aitu took the lead and kept it to the end, with Cao Boi's unconventional but effective method of adding air to smoking kindling helped them get their fire blazing, while the 3 women on Raro couldn't even get a spark to light.

Raro's pre-TC had a lot of moving parts, starting with a couple mistakes.  Mistake #1: Stephannie took the loss of the challenge on herself in front of the whole tribe, saying she felt she should have done better, but just didn't.  That made her the easy vote.  Mistake #2: JP got complacent with that easy vote.  He thought, since Stephannie basically volunteered to be voted off, she was going to go.  But Jenny, Rebecca, and Cristina saw the opportunity to change the game.  They realized that now would be the best time to get rid of JP, assuming they could get the numbers.  They drew back in Stephannie, getting them 4 of the needed 5.  They discussed Parvati as the 5th, but a couple of them thought she might be too close to the men.  Jenny told Parvati the plan anyway, but Parvati was hesitant.  So they went to Brad and tried to pull him in.

This was a good move on two fronts.  First, since they weren't sure about Parvati, they needed to try for another number they could be sure of.  Second, this gives Brad an illusion of power.  The 4 women going to him with a plan says that they trust him.  That coupled with the remaining male alliance would make him the focal point of all alliances.  Of course, that presumes that they wouldn't get rid of him next if need be.  The only bad part would be if Brad told JP about the counter-vote, but the women were concerned Parvati would do that anyway.  Trying to bring Brad in before that could happen adds to the "trust" the women were showing him.  In the end, JP was voted out 7-2 (Nate being the other Stephannie vote, and his was less about voting her out and more about letting someone he thought wanted to leave leave).  Which meant that the women got both Parvati and Brad.

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One of the most interesting scenes to me in e4 is towards the beginning when JP, Brad, and Adam are all doing something at the boat. Either Brad or Adam brings up the idea that the women may be annoyed at the men for not doing anything. JP is like, "Nah. And if they are, what are they going to do about it? They need us! We're the strong men!" The focus of the scene is, of course, on JP's arrogance, but to me the important part was really how Adam and Brad were acting. It's pretty clear that both Adam and Brad just kind of go, "Sure" and keep tying stuff while they avoid eye contact, but you kind of get the idea that both of them can count and realize that there are more women than men.

That's really the scene for me that signaled JP was toast. No eye contact from two of your homies means if you light yourself on fire, they're going to shrug and fan the flames rather than look for water to douse you.

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11 hours ago, simplyme said:

The focus of the scene is, of course, on JP's arrogance, but to me the important part was really how Adam and Brad were acting. It's pretty clear that both Adam and Brad just kind of go, "Sure" and keep tying stuff while they avoid eye contact, but you kind of get the idea that both of them can count and realize that there are more women than men.

I forgot that half of that scene, and looking back, it answers one question we had at the end of our watch. 

JP was voted out 7-2, meaning that everyone other than Nate voted for him.  All the women knew about the plan, as did Brad.  But Adam was barely in the episode (partially due to the fact he'd been sent to Exile).  So we were wondering how Adam got informed, coming to the conclusion that Brad was the most likely source.  But this scene confirms it.

I can now see the conversation:

Brad: "Dude, remember how we were concerned about the women getting annoyed with us and voting one of us off?"

Adam: "Yeah."

Brad: "They are.  JP's going."

Adam:  "Figures.  Thanks for the heads up."

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Two more down.

Other than the unique event of Cao Boi, Flicka, and Ozzy rowing from their beach to another island, only to discover the Raro camp, there's not a whole lot to say about the 5th episode, beyond reiterating a few basic Survivor lessons, courtesy of Stephannie.

  • Never say anything about what you'd do once eliminated, unless that's part a group discussion.
  • Never give the appearance of having "checked out" of the game, unless you actually plan to check out.
  • Never give your tribe a reason to vote you out; doubly so if you weren't on the block to start with.

Episode 6 is the interesting one, with lots of things to talk about.

It starts with Aitu getting tree-mail about the challenge.  Which leads to a discussion about the (tribal) Immunity Idol.  The mail doesn't say anything about immunity, so the tribe is unsure if they need to bring the Idol.  But Cao Boi wants to bring it anyway...to every challenge, RC or IC.  He says its because he sees the idol as a symbol of an ocean and/or fertility god (not truly clear here) and that having it with them at the challenge is a blessing.  Penner, while respecting Cao Boi's personal beliefs, says that taking the idol to every challenge could be construed as rubbing it in to the other tribe.  There's a little bit of debate, and Cao Boi reluctantly agrees to not bring the idol.

On this issue, I agree with Penner.  Cao Boi's personal beliefs are his and I respect them.  (Side note:  Cao Boi's beliefs are probably an interesting topic.  Since he's Vietnamese, he was probably brought up with Buddhist teachings, but he wears a Star of David (along side his Army dog tags), and then there's the idol "worship" that started this train of thought.  Cao Boi strikes me as one of those people that takes bits and pieces from different religious teachings and texts and cobbles them together into a unique personal code.)  And if that were the only issue, I'd have no problem with Cao Boi taking the idol to every challenge.  But Penner was probably right about Raro likely seeing that as gloating.  The compromise I would have offered would have been to suggest Cao Boi ask Raro if it was ok with them, explaining his beliefs and reasoning, and then abiding by their decision either way.  I think that would be the best way to handle the situation and not make Cao Boi feel like he was being singled out by his own tribe.

Onto the challenge (since this is the dual elimination (meaning one from each tribe in separate TCs) episode).  This is (apparently) the debut of the Kicking and Screaming challenge.  Candace turns out to be the MVP in this challenge, fending off Parvati and Rebecca for long enough to allow Flicka and Becky to drag in Jenny and Penner and Yul to drag in Nate.  Meaning that Flicka and Becky have to deal with Cristina, while Adam and Brad have to deal with Ozzy and then an exhausted Parvati and Rebecca have to go back for Sundra.

I have heard talk before that this challenge is the reason that Candace was put on the Hero tribe for HvV.  And having re-witnessed her performance, I can believe it.  That was one hell of a performance.  And there must have been some sort of rule about the people on the pole having to be seated.  Otherwise, Ozzy should have used his non-aquatic skills and climbed up.  That would have kept Adam and Brad away from him.

After the challenge, the thing I'd been looking forward to finally happened.  Cao Boi starts telling Yul about a weird dream he had (involving supernatural people, magic ropes, and a lady shaman with credit card applications), which led him to come up with...

Plan Voodoo!  The plan to split the votes to flush out the Hidden Idol!  Yul, arguably one of the smartest people ever to play Survivor, calls the idea "ingenious".  Cao Boi was under the impression that Penner most likely had the idol (having spent the most time on Exile with two separate visits), and feared a possible Old Raro (read: white people) alliance come the merge.  So Cao Boi wanted to split the rest of the tribe's votes 3-3 between Penner and Candace.   Of course, Cao Boi didn't know that he was first talking to the person who a) had the HII, and b) was allied with Penner and Candace.  So while Cao Boi explained Plan Voodoo to the rest of the tribe before the votes, Yul and Penner organized the votes their way, resulting in Cao Boi himself getting voted out 6-1-1 (Flicka being the only other person to follow Plan Voodoo).

Plan Voodoo truly changed the game of Survivor.  In practically every season since, there's either talk about splitting the votes in case someone has an idol, or someone saying they don't need to split votes because they have the idol.  It's become a basic Survivor move.  And to think, the whole thing was literally dreamed up by this guy.   He may not have won, but Cao Boi ought to be considered one of the early architects of the game alongside Hatch, Cesternino, and Sandra.  I consider him so, and fully intend to keep promoting the use of the phrase "Plan Voodoo."

After Cao Boi's elimination came the Raro tribal, which Aitu was allowed to watch while feasting (a reward that hasn't been done in a while, and is about due for a comeback).  After the discussion, during which it seemed plain that Cristina was the likely target of the vote, Jeff introduced the final twist of the day.  Aitu was allowed to kidnap a member of Raro right then.  That protected that person, gave them a share of the feast, and that Raro member would be part of Aitu until after the next RC. 

It's that last bit that I think influences Aitu's decision the most, since they kidnap Nate, easily the physically strongest member of Raro.  Denying your opposition that member while potentially using him for your own benefit for a challenge does make sense.  But so does protecting the obvious vote, thus throwing their entire tribe into chaos before the votes.  I would have advanced the idea of kidnapping Cristina, but I probably would have gotten overruled.

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When I re-watched this season, I forgot just how intelligent Cao Boi was at the strategy part of the game.  All I remembered of him was being out there with some of his beliefs and personality, but I wish he had gotten a better edit than just a kook.  He's someone I would have enjoyed seeing play the game again. 

I'll always laugh at Brad being both terrified and in awe that Cao Boi managed to get rid of his headache with one of his remedies. 

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Yeah, Cao Boi's not really a factor in this season, so I haven't been talking about him much.  But he is more strategic than people remember.  It's not a total surprise that he's the one Yul tries to swing when Candace is on Exile and Becky is on the block.  It's not just the original tribal connection, but Yul knows that inside the kooky exterior is an intelligent man.  And from what we hear of their conversation, Yul uses logical arguments to persuade Cao Boi, not emotional ones.  Plus Cao Boi was right to be concerned about an Old Raro alliance, given the big event of this season.  And while how he says the idea came to him is a little bit eccentric, Plan Voodoo is a high-point of strategy.

His headache cure is amazing.  I definitely would have at least tried it if I'd been there, even with aspirin in the never-mentioned first aid kit.  It's some form of Eastern "traditional" medicine, which is why it looks unusual from a Western perspective.  But it seems to work by manipulating pressure in the sinus cavity, which would make sense.  I know that the younger kids on the Green tribe laughed at first because of the red mark, but stopped laughing when they realized it actually stopped headaches.  And I swear I also saw the red mark on Penner once.

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Between a hurricane, technological issues with Roku and Hulu, and family obligations, my mother and I haven't able to watch this season consistently for a while.  But since there isn't anything worth watching right after S35, we started watching episodes of this season again.

And it's kinda fun watching 2 seasons together, doing live comparisons and contrasts.  As we started these episodes again, I commented that it was a bit of a tonal shift going from S35E02, with people making some interesting moves; back to S13, with some of the smartest players in Survivor history.  If you were make a list of the smartest people to play Survivor (a list that would include a couple literal rocket scientists and many Mensa candidates), or a list of the smartest Survivor players (different from the other list, since those rocket scientists weren't exactly rocket scientists on their islands), there'd probably be at least 2 or 3 people from this season in the top 10 on either list.  Between those smart players, the best physical player in Ozzy, and social queen Parvati, this season ought to be considered one of the iconic ones.  But the initial set-up takes a lot of that edge off, even in retrospect.

As a refresher, we'd left of at the dual boot of Cao Boi and Cristina and started with the results of Aitu "kidnapping" Nate.  So a couple weeks ago, we picked up from there, with Nate doing a great job of giving away nothing about Raro's politics while listening closely as Flicka spilled a lot about Aitu's.

The RC was interesting.  The reward was something else that is probably due for a comeback: the Survivor catalog.  Each tribe got to pick a couple items from the catalog as what they would receive if they won the challenge.  Both tribes picked peanut butter as one item (one jar smooth, one chunky), which is a very logical choice.  Good source of protein that would keep unrefrigerated or uncooked.  Plus a little bit of sweetness.  Brad on Raro was pushing for potatoes as the other item, citing good carbs and starches that would keep longer and mix well with their seafood diet.  But the rest of the Raros insisted on bread instead, for peanut butter sandwiches.  Meanwhile, the Aitus did pick potatoes.  That basically sums up the differences between these two tribes.  Aitu thinking more strategically and long term, and Raro thinking more about immediate gratification.

Next day, back at Aitu camp, Ozzy strolls in, carrying a bird he caught on his way back from relieving himself.  Here he brings up the main card he continues to play throughout his Survivor career; the Provider card, aka "Good luck eating without me."  While in this season that strategy still has merit, it's not as viable anymore.

While we were on the subject, we talked about Ozzy more.  In particular, his physical performances and how he makes it look so easy.  For example, in the above challenge on the first leg, as he's running into the water, he throws the stick they need to use to smash the boxes ahead of him.  That freed his hands to allow him to swim at full speed without encumberance or drag.  And both Yul and Candace followed this plan on their legs.  But even though Ozzy did this in the first few seconds of the challenge in full view of Raro, neither Parvati nor Adam ever followed suit.  (Rebecca only did the one attempt simultaneously with Ozzy, so she didn't have an opportunity to try this technique.)  While we cannot be 100% certain if Ozzy thought of this idea on his own, he implemented it so effortlessly and it helped Aitu dominate this challenge.  Additionally, there was a moment in this challenge where Ozzy leapt from the platform and smashed the box, then grabbed the key before it hit bottom and started swimming back a good 5 feet before surfacing; all in one motion.  Candace later repeated this, minus the instant return trip.  Further proof that you want Ozzy on your side in a survival situation, but not necessarily in your alliance in a Survivor situation.

Onto the IC.  There was a moment in the first phase of this challenge where Peachy commented that the Raro women were all working on the lower end of the staircase while the "men were standing around, comparing the size of their poles."  My verbal comment: "There's a joke in there."  The one in my head (remember, watching with my mother): "Not the first time they've done that."

Here we discussed Parvati's physical game.  While everyone remembers her social game, most people forget that she's also a decent physical player.  In both these challenges, she was designated to be on the physical side, rather than the puzzle side.  And she was very competitive in both.  She may not have made up ground for Raro, but she didn't lose ground like Rebecca did in the RC.

In the end, Raro won the IC in a come-from-behind on the puzzle.  Which actually proved Brad's point for his decision in the RC.  And in the end, Flicka's loose lips and constant attempts to get Penner booted ended her game.


The next week, we got to the big one.  The episode with the iconic event of this season.

I didn't remember that the whole prologue and all of Act 1 was a set-up to the event.  The prologue was the Aitu Alliance (which was everyone except Ozzy) making plans to stick together come the merge and go to F5 together.  Cut to Candace saying she was planning on jumping back to Original Raro (Adam and Parvati) as soon as she could.  Act 1 was Penner and Candace discussing their plans.  Penner stating that since he'd been with her since Day 1, he'd stick with her, and that the two of them joining back up with Adam and Parv at the merge would be a good move; Candace TH-ing that she would prefer Penner gone before that happens.

At the RC site, it happens.   And given the above paragraph, it makes sense.  Candace wanted to rejoin Adam and Parv, so she did.  Penner was loyal to Candace, so he went where she did.

But afterwards, I had a couple of what-ifs.  What if everyone on one tribe stepped off?  Would TPTB have called the merge then and there?  Given the mutiny rules, I think they would have had to.  The other one: What if everyone stepped of their mat, both sides?  I think that would have resulted in what happened back in All-Stars minus Amber; a total swap of tribe names, colors, and beaches.

All that's in the realm of the theoretical though.  Back to the events as they happened.  Round 1 of Raro vs the Aitu4; the barrel challenge.  Again, Ozzy's physical abilities and way of using the course to his advantage helped them blow Raro away.  I think that if Aitu had lost this first challenge, they might not have unified as much as they did.  Their celebration at the reward, including letters and photos from home, showed that they really did come together as a single unit; the now legendary Aitu4.  And in the best part of irony, Candace's eagerness to rejoin her friends gets her sent to Exile.

The IC was a nailbiter.  This was the one with the glass-bottom boats and cannonballs that had to be dropped into targets on the lagoon floor.  Raro took an early lead, but then Yul out-smarted the challenge and the challenge designers.  The intention was that the tribes had to line up the boats with a marker in order to hit the targets.  Yul realized it was easier to sight down the pipe for the cannonballs, meaning a lot less fiddly maneuvering.  Doing that let Aitu come from behind to win the challenge.  And since the rules of Survivor  prohibit sitting out in consecutive challenges between TCs (unless mathematically impossible (see Palau)), this victory means that the Aitu4 beat all of Raro in consecutive challenges.

At Raro's visit to TC  Peachy asked Brad if he trusted his entire tribe, and Brad said he didn't (likely in reference to Penner and/or Candace).  Jump forward to S3502 and Patrick saying the same thing, more or less.  It's amazing to see what little things come up again seasons later, long after being forgotten.  And in the end, the same results happen.  The person that admits to not trusting everyone (eventually) gets voted out.

Family obligations kept us from getting together last week, but we will be watching another episode this week.

Edited by SVNBob
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I think everyone knows that Parvati is good at endurance challenges (on her YouTube she says her secret is chanting mantras in her head) but I do agree she is underrated at other physical challenge tasks.

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The long shot of Ozzy flying over the surface of the water remains an indelible Survivor memory for me (starts at 1:29; shows @SVNBob point about throwing the stick and grabbing the key).

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Another one down.

This was the episode with the "visit with the indigenous people" reward.  I said, after Aitu won again and enjoyed themselves at the reward, that if I could have picked which of the 2 tribes got this reward, I would have picked Aitu.  All 4 of them appeared to thoroughly enjoy the experience.  Whereas with Raro, I get the feeling that some of them wouldn't.  Penner would have had a ball like the Aitus did, and Parvati would have had fun.  Maybe Nate and Rebecca would have been cool too.  But Jenny seemed like a bit of a killjoy.  And I doubt Candace and Adam would have, until and unless they got another opportunity to separate from the group and make out again.  So the "right group" got this reward.

On the subject of Candace and Adam, allow me to get an expert opinion in here:

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They're more concerned with being with each other than the game; taking their eyes off the real prize in favor of a "love connection".  Irony, thy name this season is "Billy".  On top of that, while on Exile again (sent once more by the Aitu4), Candace gives the episode title quote about being upset being there again because "people that you like want to see you suffer."  Well, Candace, if you like them so much, why did you mutiny?!?  Your suffering here is a result of your own actions and shortsightedness in wanting to be near Adam instead of playing the game.

The IC was the infamous one with the bottle twist.  Losing tribe got a note in a sealed bottle that they took back to camp and then had to bring to TC, still sealed, where it would be read after the vote.  After booting Rebecca, Parvati opened the bottle to discover they had to vote again.  Nate said it best that if they'd only won, they would have been able to cut the Aitu4 in half, instead of only having a one-person lead.

The final vote was 4-2 for Jenny over Penner.  The two votes for Penner came from Jenny and Nate, which means that the Original Raro tribe came back together to vote Jenny out.  While not unexpected due to said original tribal lines (and Penner playing the Provider card), with the way said original tribes were created this season, there are once again some unfortunate implications.

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1 hour ago, SVNBob said:

The IC was the infamous one with the bottle twist.  Losing tribe got a note in a sealed bottle that they took back to camp and then had to bring to TC, still sealed, where it would be read after the vote.  After booting Rebecca, Parvati opened the bottle to discover they had to vote again.  Nate said it best that if they'd only won, they would have been able to cut the Aitu4 in half, instead of only having a one-person lead.

The final vote was 4-2 for Jenny over Penner.  The two votes for Penner came from Jenny and Nate, which means that the Original Raro tribe came back together to vote Jenny out.  While not unexpected due to said original tribal lines (and Penner playing the Provider card), with the way said original tribes were created this season, there are once again some unfortunate implications.

One thing I never understood was why Adam, Candice, and Parvati would continuously agree with each other that Jonathan was a snake, yet continue keeping him again and again and again.  It just made absolutely no sense to me.  And in this particular case, still continuing to keep him would end up biting them all in the ass in the next episode.

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Just now, Star Aristille said:

One thing I never understood was why Adam, Candice, and Parvati would continuously agree with each other that Jonathan was a snake, yet continue keeping him again and again and again.

Like I mentioned, Penner was playing the Provider card.  In the episode I just watched, he's an incredibly good fisherman, catching up to a dozen decent-sized fish on a single outing.  Plus he was climbing trees to get coconuts.  Not as well as Ozzy, but no one else ever did...other than perhaps Cao Boi, and Tai in the future.  The rest of them may have gone to get snails and other easier to get food, but Penner was busting his ass to get substantial food.

So while they didn't trust him, he was doing most of the work at camp that fed them.  And in this season, that strategy still had merit.

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2 hours ago, Star Aristille said:

One thing I never understood was why Adam, Candice, and Parvati would continuously agree with each other that Jonathan was a snake, yet continue keeping him again and again and again.  It just made absolutely no sense to me.  And in this particular case, still continuing to keep him would end up biting them all in the ass in the next episode.

I think it was one of those things where they didn't really trust or like him, but as @SVNBob said, he was a good provider and there were other people that it seemed more important to remove from the game at the time. They were more worried about Brad flipping if there was a merge than Jonathan, so Brad went first. Then they were worried about continuing to lose challenges, so Rebecca was voted out. And Jenny was gunning for Candice, so she had to go next... and then they merged and Yul used his idol to flip Jonathan, which he was able to do because they refused to believe Jonathan that Yul might have the idol. If they would have agreed to a safe non-Yul vote, I don't think Jonathan would have flipped.

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A couple things I forgot to bring up.  One is the Aitu4's challenge strategies in both challenges versus the Raro "plans".  Taking a close look at them demonstrates how the Aitu4 became the dominant tribe.

First off: Both challenges had information for the tribes to study and memorize in tree-mail; naval flag code for the RC, and a map naming the nearby island groupings for the IC.  The Aitu4 had a definitive advantage in regards to these.  They had two of the smartest players on their side, and both had to compete in both challenges.  And we see them all drilling each other before the RC, so we know they studied.  Whereas Raro really only had one player on that intellectual level, and it wasn't a given that they'd compete in both challenges.  Nor do we see them practice for the RC.  We see them talk about studying for the IC (one member in particular who will be competing), but we don't see them actually do it.

The RC: This was one of the family of Puzzle Dig challenges.  The trick with this one was that each tribe had a zone with a giant compass rose and were given starting coordinates by Peachy that led to a buried chest.  Each chest had the coordinates for the next painted on top.  After finding the 4 chests, they had to untie them and get out the puzzle pieces with the flags on them to solve the puzzle.

Aitu's strategy really shone in this challenge.  The digging section was run in pairs, so they paired Ozzy (brawn) with Becky (brain), and Yul (both) with Sundra (no real slouch in either, but not a standout in comparison to the others).  This meant they had both the smarts to locate each set of coordinates, and the strength to get to each chest quickly and get the chests to the mat.  After that, they each took one chest to untie, only stopping to help each other if needed once they finished with theirs.  After that, it was just a matter of putting the pieces together in another blowout.

Meanwhile, Raro had Penner and Jenny as their first pair.  Penner got Raro off on the wrong foot in this challenge by making a mistake in the first set of coordinates (NNW vs. NNE).  That put them behind at the start.  Then the pair of Adam and Candace went.  Their performance in finding their coordinates wasn't much better (surprising from this think tank), and kept them behind.  And at second transition, where the rule is "people and chest back to the mat before the other pair goes" as is typical in Survivor challenges, Jenny jumped the gun so they wasted more time having to come back then go out again.  Adding up all these mistakes and incompetences, Raro had barely dug out their third chest by the time Aitu won.

The IC was another swimming relay with "puzzle pieces" clipped below buoys in the water.  The pieces were the names of the island groupings from the map they were given beforehand and they had to be associated with the correct numbered locations on the answer board.

By Survivor rules, Raro had to field Nate, Parvati, and Rebecca for this challenge.  Two of the three were not bad choices, but we've seen that Rebecca is a poor swimmer.  They know Rebecca is their physically weakest link, yet they had her sit out the RC so she would have to be in the IC.  Not smart on Raro's part.  They did try to allow for her weakness by having her take the shortest (and last) leg of the relay.  And given his work ethic at camp, fishing ability, and overall intelligence, Penner was kind of the obvious choice for the fourth for Raro.

On Aitu, they naturally had Ozzy as their lead-off man, and he headed straight for the furthest buoy.  (As did Nate, so either there was no rule about order for this challenge and both tribes decided on the same logical strategy, or the rule was to go to the furthest first instead of the closest as seems to be the rule in most other similar challenges).   And like before, Ozzy kept throwing the bundle he had retrieved ahead of him on the return trip.  As did Yul, Becky, and Sundra.  But on Raro, only Penner (their second, meaning Parvati was their third) followed suit.  He appeared to be the only one not on Aitu that paid attention to that tactic.  Also, more of Raro had problems unclipping the bundles, starting with Nate.  Plus Nate wasn't as great at swimming as he wants to believe, since he almost got lapped by Yul.  Parvati was able to make up some difference versus Becky, but Rebecca's continued lackluster performance gave Aitu that much more time to win.

 

The other thing I forgot was Parvati's reaction to the bottle twist.  After reading they have to vote someone else out right away, she says, "That's not...fun."  Flash-forward to the currently airing season and Devon reading his Secret (dis)Advantage.  "This is not an advantage."  Again, weird parallels from two totally disparate seasons that I happen to be watching simultaneously by coincidence and contrivance.

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