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S13: Cook Islands

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Another wall of text from me, this time about this season's merge episode.  I thought a lot about how to talk about this one, and after thinking a while, I realized it boils down to a study in contrast between the two* kinds of Survivor players: rational (exemplified here by Aitu, primarily by Yul) vs. emotional (Raro, Adam in particular).  Almost everything in this episode shows the difference between these two kinds of players.  And instead of going through the episode chronologically, this time I'm looking at it from the most emotional/least rational to most rational/least emotional players.  (Note: As in most aspects of life, no person is 100% one thing or the other.  There is a spectrum of rational and emotional play, and every player's position on the spectrum can vary throughout the game.  However, people do tend to be on one side of the spectrum over the other in the long term, and those tendencies are what I'll be referring to here.)  But first a brief summary/refresher: tribes merge; Ozzy wins the IC, Yul flips Penner using the idol, and Nate gets booted.

Adam is the least rational player.  At the merge, he opines in a TH that now the Raros don't have to worry about things like challenges and strategy, since they have the majority numbers.  He also categorically denies the possibility of Yul having the HII when Penner brings it up (after Yul showed him the thing), but also denies he has it.  In a later scene with Candace before TC, he says that the game is "bananas" because it "makes you think"...then he makes out with her again.  Yet before that happened, we see Adam trying to hook up with Parvati as well.  (Say what you will about Parvati's flirty nature, especially during this game in particular, but she's not the instigator here and she's having none of it.)  

Nate is almost as emotional/non-rational, but not quite.  He's the one most upset with Penner pre-merge trying to motivate Raro to work around camp and do things that might allow them to actually win for once.  But he does say that the reason that he's comfortable with his alliance is that he, Adam, and Parvati are tight, and that Penner and Candace can't flip back because of the mutiny.  He's also the only Raro we see try to make a back-up plan that involves using someone from Aitu, by trying to connect with Ozzy.

Parvati's a way ahead of the guys here, but just a touch behind Candace.  While the Raros were trying to decide between Ozzy and Yul as their target before the IC, Parvati's the one we see in a TH declaring Yul is the biggest threat because he's both smart and strong, so she was planning to vote for him to begin with.  (Which is why I think it was very nice but also strategic of her to say to Yul that "Smart = sexy" during the challenge after he gets embaraased about going off on a tangent relating to the square-cube law and elephants not being able to climb trees.  A simple sentence to partially court a jury vote, but I think she was also just trying to make him feel better.)  She also doesn't think Yul has the idol, since he wasn't on Exile that long.

I put Candace around the midpoint of the spectrum.  Most of her rational play came from when she was on Aitu, but she's been mostly emotional since the mutiny and "connecting" with Adam.  However she's still the first/only Raro Penner tries talking strategy with, and is the only one seemingly concerned that Yul wasn't apparently doing any scrambling post-IC.

While here at the midpoint, I want to highlight one scene that clearly shows the big difference between the two tribes.  After deciding on Raro camp for the merge location (based on Nate's initial recommendation, and Penner's seconding), the tribes head to that camp on a catamaran while enjoying the traditional merge feast, including the traditional merge booze.  Other than Penner, emotional Raro takes the opportunity to get totally wasted, while rational Aitu remains comparatively sober.

Just over the edge into rationality, we get to Ozzy.  Of the Aitus, he's been the most emotional (as seen in his outburst at the end of the first post-mutiny challenge) and least rational (as seen by his "plan" to get rid of Billy.)  In this episode, he recognizes what Nate is trying to do, but after Yul reveals the idol to him, Ozzy says he's going to remain loyal to the Aitu4.  Not the most rational of moves, but not irrational either.

Sundra seems a bit more rational than Ozzy to me.  She's the one that's shown as most worried about still being down in numbers, both before and after the merge, until Yul tells her about the idol.  And when he does that, Yul tells her the plan to flip Penner by using the idol.  We don't see him do that with Ozzy. I take this to be because of Ozzy's more emotional position on the spectrum.

With the remaining 3, it's somewhat hard to split them up.  They're all incredibly rational players.  I like to think that if I were on Survivor, I'd be a rational player like any of them, and not an emotional one.  However, I do need to talk about Becky separately from Yul and Penner based on the events of the episode.

Post-merge but pre-IC, Yul talks things over with Becky regarding the HII and who to approach to flip.  They agree that Yul telling the rest of the 4 about the idol is a good idea, and that Penner, being a rational player, is the most likely to join up with them. It's a great scene that clearly shows the connection between them is about seeing each other as intellectual equals, as opposed to the strictly physical connection between Adam and Candace.  Becky herself brings this up when asked about seeing connections at TC.  She points out the showmance, but the others, starting with Nate, good-naturedly razz her about her and Yul being the closer connection.  She says that it's a different kind of connection that doesn't involve her laying on his lap.

Becky also has a really cute moment during the scene of Yul telling Sundra about the idol.  They're standing in the middle of a path talking, and she's at the far end walking toward them.  After they pause to look who's coming, they smile and go back to the talk.  And then Becky, who knew that this conversation would be happening, starts strutting towards them with a huge smile on her face and pumping her fists into the air.  In that moment, she becomes the excited little sister who no longer has to keep a secret from another loved one.  As they say nowadays, totes adorbs.

But now it's finally time to talk about my favorite segments of the episode.  Yul and Penner discussing the game.  Watching two rational players discuss possibilities and hypotheticals in a rational manner is a joy.  What's also remarkable is how self-aware Penner is.  On the first approach from Yul (right after he and Becky agreed to do it), the first thing Penner says is the episode title, "Why would you trust me?"  He's well aware that he's Aitu enemy #2 (Candace's back-to-back trips to Exile show that she's #1), so trying to re-cross that burned bridge seems unlikely, assuming emotional play on the part of the Aitu4.  But he does entertain the hypothetical of rejoining Aitu if Yul has the HII.  

After the IC, Yul does show Penner the idol.  He only told Sundra and Ozzy about it, but Penner wanted proof before flipping, so Yul had to show it.  More rational moves by rational players.  Here's also where the rational threat comes into play.  Yul basically says that unless Penner flips back to Aitu, he's the one that will be booted, and because of the power of the idol he's just seen.  And since that's Penner's big fear, he's most likely to make the rational move to continue his own game.

Penner follows this meeting with Yul by going to the Raros and tries to get them to entertain the thought Yul might have the idol, but they're convinced otherwise.  I think I read somewhere a while ago that they had been trying to convince Penner that Adam had the idol, but he messed that up in this scene.  Plus, Penner saw the idol in Yul's hand.

Then the capstone of the rational play, with a bit of emotionalism in there.  Penner decides to work with the Aitu4, but requests that Nate be the target for two reasons.  The rational one is that Penner has the least trust in Nate, since they've known each other for the least amount of time.  The emotional reason is that Penner believes Adam and Candace helped save him ever since the mutiny.  Since it doesn't matter that much to the Aitu4 which of the Raros is voted out, they readily and rationally agree and Nate is thus voted out at TC.

The demonstration of rational game-play between Yul and Penner is the textbook definition of "Game Trust" in games like this.  This episode alone feels like it should be required viewing for all future contestants.  (For all I know, Max did include it in his course.)


* I'm also an advocate of the animal archetypes for Survivor players as discussed in this thread.  The two do often correlate (eg: Foxes are mainly rational, while Bunnies tend to be emotional.), but there is a difference between the archetypes and the rational/emotional spectrum.

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Got another one done last night.  Still more of the same as the last really; more rational play versus emotional play, so this should be a shorter wall than the previous one.  (Side note: thanks to you all for indulging me in my walls of text.  I know I can get verbose when expressing myself on topics I enjoy talking about.  And since we all enjoy talking about this game and show, it's a good place to expand on opinions.)

The aftermath of the previous IC had Penner telling the other Raros the reason he flipped; Yul had the idol and Penner would have been voted out on the bounceback.  Of the 3, Parvati is the only one that didn't believe it when Penner brought up the idol.  In the night vision shot, Adam clearly looks dumbstruck by the revelation (then again, that's mostly his default look).

The RC was the Survivor Auction, with money sharing allowed, but not food sharing.  Of note is Becky bidding for the "power" in this game (with Parvati snarking from her bathtub (a reward she won and the editors were glad it was her) that they didn't need more power since they had the numbers).   With loans from Yul (and Penner possibly; I think he offered some of his depleting funds), Becky did win the power, which was to send someone from the Auction to Exile immediately, while taking their auction funds.  Yul points out Adam and Candace both still have the full initial amount.  So Becky picks...

Candace.  While this was a rational move on multiple levels, (the as-noted full replacement of funds and keeping the number of people on Exile to a minimum), I also think this was on some level an emotional play by Becky.  As I noted back in episode 3

On 8/18/2017 at 3:21 AM, SVNBob said:

Prior to the challenge, Becky and Candice started creating an alliance of the two of them and their closest allies, Yul, and Penner

These two women were the first two on Aitu to cross the initial dividing lines to start working together.  Then after creating what appeared to be a tight alliance of 5 (Becky, Candace, Yul, Penner, Sundra), Candace mutinied.  She betrayed the alliance she helped forge, and the person she first reached out to to do so: Becky.  So I have to think that this trip to Exile was Becky's personal "screw you" to Candace.  (While showing Candace on Exile later, the editors make a big mistake and show a clip of her from a previous visit.  She's very clearly wearing the blue Raro buff around her neck instead of the black merge buff.)

Back to the auction.  Before Candace leaves, Peachy does mention that the upside of going to Exile is the possibility of finding the idol.  Candace says she thinks she knows where it is, and Yul says he'll end the suspense by admitting he has it.  He then pulls it out of his belongings after Peachy asks if he has it with him,  Yul shows everyone, including letting the soaking Parvati handle the idol.  Parvati snarks, "Looks authentic" while glaring in Penner's general direction.  And we all know that's the closest she got to apologizing during the game.  Auction ends with Penner being the biggest winner, Ozzy getting all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream for $420 (even Peachy remarks "magic number"), Sundra buying the Zonk, and Yul and Adam seemingly getting nothing.

At camp after the auction, Penner annoys everyone by talking about how well he made out at the auction and belching too close to people before going fishing again.  While gone, the Aitu4 (minus Ozzy, who's not visible here for one reason or another) talk about how Penner is annoying them with his current behavior and attitude.  Parvati notes that there might be a crack in the new alliance.  So she and Adam make the rational move to campaign for the Aitu4, well Yul, to ditch Penner, joined by Candace after her return from Exile at the IC.

But the pitch was at the midpoint, both rational and emotional.  The three of them said that they'd vote for Yul at the end if Penner got voted out first.  Emotional in that it was more about their hatred of Penner, and saying that they wouldn't necessarily vote  for the better player, but rational in maintaining the united front and saying "this is what you need to do to court our final votes."  Yul does discuss the possibility with Becky pre-IC, pointing out that if they do vote out Penner, they'll still have the numbers advantage.

However, I think the results of the IC were the final determining factor.  This was one of the early memory challenges, relying on numbers based on events that happened during the season.  Somehow, all the Aitu4 lost out in phase one.  Candace almost passed that phase, but was beaten by Penner by seconds.  In the end, Adam (of all people) won this IC.  And I think the danger of allowing something like that to happen again is what made the Aitu4 decide to stick with Penner this time.

Post-IC, the 3 Raros (after trying again to get Yul to ditch Penner) snuggle in the shelter while the others were working.  Penner, finally fed up with their lack of work, asks if there is an ethical reason to share the food with them.  Ozzy's the one who says "no" and says that ethics shouldn't even be a consideration.  So the 5 cook the fish and devour it away from the camp while the others are paying more attention to each other.  Until Adam finally notices that they're gone, and so is the food.  Which gets Candace mad enough to walk over to the group while they're finishing up and finally confront Penner.  She tells him that no one likes him and that even Yul called him selfish (which he technically did.  He said that Penner acts in a rational and self-interested and selfish way, so it's easy to predict what he'll likely do...which is not necessarily a bad thing.)  She also accuses Penner of working hard to suck up, which Penner gets angry about, telling her that she cannot say that he's acting any differently on that day than he was on Day 1.  And if anyone would know, it'd be Candace.  She can't, and eventually stalks off.  And then gets voted off.


In parallels with the current season, in both episodes we watched, a woman who took her eyes of the game for a showmance was the one who got booted, leaving her himbo interest still in the game in the minority.

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4 hours ago, KimberStormer said:

The next episode has the prime example of how the Aitus (minus Sundra) are secretly a bunch of jerks despite their edit, and Parvati is actually a good person despite her edit...


It's been a while since I last saw the episode so I can't say anything about the Aitu4 in it.  I will keep the thought in mind for next week.

However, I will agree on Parvati.  She may not have a good edit in this season (beyond a few moments that I have tried to highlight), but I have no doubts that she's a good person.  Her attitude in the episode I just watched I chalk up to her being freshly hurt by Penner's flipping and the loss of her snuggle-buddy.  She was angry about all that and did not hold back in showing it.  But she was still able to recognize an opportunity when it arose and made a decent attempt to exploit it.

Edited by SVNBob
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Done with another.

The episode starts with Parvati injuring herself pretty badly with the machete while opening a coconut.  The guys were all out doing something at the time (Ozzy was definitely fishing, as we see him return with fish), so the only people at camp were the other women.  They quickly apply pressure to the wound and get Parvati lying down with her head and injured hand elevated, while awaiting the medical team.  The guys start returning during this time and everyone is around while the doctors inspect then stitch up her cut.  While this is happening, Penner very calmly tells Parvati that she's being brave and doing well.  And I had a flash-forward to Penner's 3rd outing, when another medical situation happened on his tribe.  And Penner did the same thing, calmly trying to comfort the afflicted.  It helps that he's got a good voice for doing that kind of thing (Sidenote: I know Penner's an actor, but has he done any voice acting?  He may not be able to do many voices, but his natural one would be good for several characters.)  Plus, he's doing this for Parvati, one of his least favorite people on the island.  Goes to show that Penner is a good person deep down.  He just gets caught up in the game and everyone else around him sees it.

Onto the RC.  It's the one where they have to get sea water into a bucket to raise a flag.  But this one has two twists.  First off, it's time for the family visit, so the loved ones are participating in this RC as well, catching water that the Survivors are throwing.  Second, the Survivors are blindfolded, so their loved ones are their eyes.  After an intense competition with Penner and wife doing really well, and her thinking outside the rules by wringing her wet hair and clothing into the bucket for extra water (and then Ozzy's mom doing the same), Parvati and her dad power their way to the win, even with her injury.

As part of the reward, Parv gets to send someone to Exile.  Naturally, she chooses Penner.  Before leaving for Exile, he goes over to give a goodbye embrace to his wife...not even asking if he could, just doing it.  Between that and him snarking back at Peachy during other challenges, you can see why he got invited back.  He's good TV.  Then comes one final twist.  Two more loved ones get to join Parvati and her dad on the reward, but he has to pick who, without any input from Parvati.  I think he tried to be fair and pick the people he could recall doing well in the challenge based on what Peachy was saying, and if so, I think he did as good as he could.  Parvati had nixed Penner who was next closest, so he had to go to #3, which was Sundra and her mom.  The rest didn't do that well, and he ended up picking Adam and his father.

So with Penner on Exile, and Sundra off on reward with the Raros, we get to:

On 11/10/2017 at 5:52 AM, KimberStormer said:

The next episode has the prime example of how the Aitus (minus Sundra) are secretly a bunch of jerks despite their edit, and Parvati is actually a good person despite her edit...

Now having seen the episode again, I see where this came from.  While the loved ones are away at the reward, the 3 Aitus discuss the fact that the Raros have won the last 2 challenges, due in part to being fed by Ozzy.  They decide that they don't want to do that anymore and decide to find less food for the remainder of the game and even hiding the coconuts that are in camp.  Yeah, that was a bit petty.  But not petty for pettiness sake.  There was some strategy in their thought process.  However, when the three return from the reward bearing a lot of leftovers, they changed their minds.

Speaking of the reward, it was another one involving the locals, including a "sacred" cave and a "twice-yearly" ritual done there, before enjoying a picnic.  While I don't fully buy the hype surrounding the event, the trappings were nice.  The families were greeted by a parade of singing locals and taken to the cave with a fresh-water pool inside.  Parvati was asked to anoint the pool with oil, then everyone was told to jump in.  After they all did, so did the locals, so it was similar to a pool party for a while.

Back at the previous "reward with the locals" 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. 

While Penner wasn't a factor here, Parvati was.  And she did appear to enjoy the experience on the same level the Aitu4 did on the previous one.  She gets a lot of THs about this reward, and Sundra gets some also.  But we barely hear from Adam, which isn't really that surprising.

The IC is another "race into the water to retrieve something" challenge, combined with the "make a long stick from smaller sticks to grab something" challenge, but this time it involves the floating obstacle course: platforms, balance beams, boats, and barrels.  They've got to make two laps to retrieve the small sticks and rope, then get two rings at the end.  As expected, Ozzy wins this one.  But Yul is the one right behind him the entire time.  This feeds into a claim I espoused earlier in the thread, that I now think I overstated.  Yul wasn't concerned about Ozzy winning immunity, he was concerned that he wouldn't.  So Yul didn't try to beat the challenge beast.  But he did try to beat everyone else, just in case Ozzy slipped up somehow.  And I think this actually started with this challenge, based on Adam winning the previous IC.  Looking back at previous challenges, you can see that Yul is generally on par with Ozzy at many of them.  Together, they were the physical powerhouses that pushed the Aitu4 to victory after victory, with Yul also providing the brainpower alongside Becky when needed.  So I can see him deciding to be the Plan B winner if/when Plan A Ozzy fails.

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On 11/17/2017 at 6:27 PM, Star Aristille said:

Where's the mention of Tribal Council?  Who was the ouster?

Sorry about that. Let's pick up post-IC as a lead in.

After the IC, Penner noted in a TH a change in the energy at camp, which is usually a bad sign.  He could tell that while he was away on Exile, the other 6, who are all relatively close in age and all much younger than him, started connecting.  Which meant that he was probably on the outs and had to scramble to save himself.  To do that, he spoke to Yul, reminding Yul of how Penner's flip saved all of them.  More on this to come.

At TC proper, a couple of interesting points were made.  Peachy opines to Adam about the reward picnic being advantageous due to the fuel provided for IC that followed.  Adam pointed out that Ozzy was not on that reward and won the challenge anyway.  He then says that the reward may have been less advantageous, but being on Exile is more disadvantageous.  A good segue over to Penner to try to plead his case.  During which he says that he believes he is "owed" something from the Aitu4 for his flip to their side. 

And that was the final nail.  Penner's attitude and overconfidence up until that point had been an annoyance the Aitu4 could have dealt with.  But flat out saying they owed him anything, after deciding to stick with him on the previous vote, was over the line into arrogance.  So the Aitu4 returned to 4 members,.

Although it makes sense for other reasons here.  As Yul pointed out in the previous week, the Aitu4 would still hold the numbers advantage without Penner.  But the numbers advantage at this time is better.  It's the Aitu4 versus 2 Raros, and not 3.  That one person difference is still pretty big in this game.

On 11/18/2017 at 4:31 PM, ozziemom said:

Very interesting and you bring up many insightful points.

Again, my thanks.  And I think it's easier to go into these deep-dives on seasons after the fact than it is while they are airing.  While airing live, the game is too variable to determine who and what will be important long-term or "thematically".  But looking back on a complete season from years ago with a lot of knowledge of the events (not all, as I admit to having forgotten the scene where the Aitu4 got petty, for example), it's a lot easier to look for the signs left by the editors to show what eventually happens.  And the evolution of the game and the players, both specific individuals (by comparing their different seasons) and the overall cast in general, is enjoyable to watch and think about on a different level.

Edited by SVNBob
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Another one down; this one with Parvati getting voted out.  And she's going to be the big subject of this post, since she's a major portion of the episode, boot notwithstanding. 

When this season first aired, Parvati was seen as just "the flirt": the pretty girl that knew she was pretty and was going to use that to her advantage in the game.  But looking objectively at her performance throughout the season, it's really clear that she was more than that.  Yes, it's part of her toolkit, but it's not the only thing she's got, unlike other girls before or since.  And I've tried throughout this rewatch to look for and highlight those other tools, and will do so again here.  Because it's in this episode that everything comes into play.

At the start of the episode, Parv and Adam are lamenting the fact that they are the underdogs.  But as this season has shown (with the Aitu4), the underdogs can sometimes pull out a major miracle.  So they both resolve to not give up and look for any opening to try to change things.  And looking at the 4, they're pretty sure that the "weakest link" is Ozzy.  He's the one they think would be most likely to flip, if given a better deal.

To the RC.  This one is a throwback to Borneo; the mud challenge.  Where everyone has to gather as much mud as possible using their bodies and transport it to a bucket in 10 minutes.  Unlike other challenges, the three with the most weight win a spa trip (no picking people), with the actual winner picking one of the remaining 3 to go to EI.  And while this challenge is little more than closeups of young. fit people putting their bodies on display (think Maxim, not Playboy), it was a difficult challenge...for most of them.  (Note: after the time limit was called and everyone stopped, there was a brief pause, then they all started laughing at the sight of each other all coated in mud.  That moment goes to show that while opponents in the game, these 6 people did at least like each other.)  As usual, Ozzy took the win, getting 45 pounds of mud, with everyone else getting less than half that.  Except Parvati.  She came in second with 24 pounds; just over half of Ozzy's total.  The nail-biter was for 3rd place.  Becky and Sundra each had around 20 pounds, Adam had 21 pounds, but Yul had 21.5, just edging Adam out.  So Yul went to the spa, and Adam went to EI.

One note here about this.  If the final results had gone the other way, and Adam had taken 3rd, I think that Yul would have been the one to go to EI.  I think he would have volunteered, so as to keep Becky and Sundra back at camp.  There seems to have been an unspoken agreement since the merge that only people that went to EI before would go again.  (And there will be further mention of this hypothetical later.)

At camp, the two women consider their alliance with Ozzy.  They note that he just likes winning, no matter the challenge, and they think that that could be dangerous.  They do bring this up with Yul after they all return from the spa, and Yul does see what they're talking about.  So they consider getting rid of Ozzy if the chance arises, but decide to table the discussion until after the RC.  Which is wise, since the results of that will have an effect on plans. 

They're not wrong though.  Ozzy is all about winning challenges.  Which is why in GC, he was advocating for Brad's win.  Brad was the one playing the game most like Ozzy; win challenges, keep immunity, get to the end.  So if  Brad had won, it would mean that Ozzy's game is viable as a winning game, and that Ozzy himself could eventually win.  Yet one more reason for me to like Sarah's win.

At the spa, everyone gets cleaned up and Parvati starts to work.  Earlier, she had identified Ozzy as the one to try to flip.  So here, she works on it.  And she does use her primary tool here, the flirt card.  Up to the point of getting all three of them into the hot tub nude.  Here's where things could have gone differently.  Yul's presence worked as a counter to Parvati.  He could see what she was trying to do with Ozzy and subtly worked to block her.  Interviews after the fact say that Parv was free-handed with the alcohol for Ozzy, but Yul kept taking his drinks away, keeping Ozzy more sober and less pliable.  Not the case that would have happened if Ada had been there instead.  The difference a half-pound of mud makes.

Getting to the IC.  Another combination of things we've seen before, but in a somewhat new way.  This one involves transporting 4 sets of planks across a balance beam (in an ascending stair-step pattern with decreasing widths), then assembling the planks into a table maze to get two balls through.  And again, Ozzy beast-modes it.  The more noteworthy discussion involves the rest of them.  Adam and Sundra completely tank this challenge, failing to get even one set of planks across.  Becky does ok, getting a couple sets across.  But it's Yul and Parvati that also get to the assembly phase of the challenge.  Yul was right behind Ozzy, but had problems getting the maze put together correctly.  He might have eked out a win otherwise.  And Parv was trying to figure her maze out on the ground before putting it into the table.

So, in this episode alone, Parvati is shown to be a highly physical player, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the RC and IC respectively.  And as I had noted throughout the tribal phase, she was always put on the physical legs of the challenges instead of the mental, and kept her team in competition as best she could; not necessarily pulling ahead, but never falling behind.  And not that she was a mental slouch either, as she was the one we see trying to help Rebecca study the island groupings before that IC with the bottle twist.  Even though she may have been remembered in this season as just "the flirty one", she really wasn't.  She was a total package even this early, and did deserve her second chance in FvF.

It's no wonder that during the post-IC scramble, Yul flat out tells Parvati that he sees her as the bigger threat.  She is more dangerous than Adam.  Adam might be able to win a challenge, but Parv has the skills to do that and then some.  If the Raros overall had been less emotional and more organized, she might have been Yul's counterpart in their alliance.  Game recognizes game, and Yul definitely recognized that Parvati had game.

In the end, Adam and Parvati's attempts to flip Ozzy fail, and she's the one voted out.  Not yet a legend, but someone who took great strides toward forging one in the future.   And now there's only the one Raro left.  In a couple weeks, the finale, and the completion of a different legend.

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I feel pretty certain that, absent the idol, Parvati takes Cook Islands.  (I also think that might have been the last season of Survivor, if so, but that's another discussion.)  She was the social center of the Raro tribe, good at challenges as you say without looking like a big threat, and able to make friends across alliance lines.  Ultimately I'm very glad she didn't -- not only would this have been a much worse season, but FvF and HvV wouldn't have happened.  But I would like to have seen a winner edit of Parvati this season.

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11 hours ago, KimberStormer said:

I feel pretty certain that, absent the idol, Parvati takes Cook Islands. 

Time for the AU Survivor game.  Let's assume that the lack of an idol is the only change.  Meaning that the events and boot order up to the merge play out the same.  So we start with a jury of Brad, Rebecca, and Jenny.

At the merge, there's no incentive for Penner to flip back to the Aitu4 without an idol.  So that means Yul gets booted 5-4 instead of Nate.

Next IC is the one Ozzy lost, so he's taken out here instead of Candace.

The next IC was the obstacle course over water.   Absent Yul and Ozzy, Penner was doing pretty good in this one.  It'd be close between him, Nate, Candace and Parvati.  But I'll give this one to Penner, which gets him off the block here.  So Becky gets the boot instead as the next big threat.

Then we get to the most recent IC.  As I said, Parvati was in 3rd here, behind two people absent from this hypothetical.  So she gets the win here.  And at this point, I think the Raros ditch Penner.  They would have done so earlier for all the reasons they wanted to earlier, but couldn't because of two bigger threats and one IC win.  So Sundra would be the last Aitu standing against a Raro 4.

Two more ICs.  Adam gets the first one, which ends Sundra and the Aitu4.  And after checking what it was, the final endurance challenge would then go to Parvati, making Nate the final Juror in a 3-1 vote (him voting for Candace instead of his bro Adam.).

So an all Original Raro F3 with a jury of:

  • Brad
  • Rebecca
  • Jenny
  • Yul
  • Ozzy
  • Becky
  • Penner
  • Sundra
  • Nate

And looking at that lineup... yeah, Parvati would have taken it.  She would have had Nate's vote to start, made the best argument at FTC to net votes from Yul, Becky, and Penner, and probably brought up the relationship between the other two again to get at least one more.  Or she would have been the kindest to Sundra as the Aitu4 dissolved, making herself the palatable option there.  Or both.

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While it's fun to speculate about what ifs, I don't think we can extrapolate from the dynamics we saw what the hypothetical future dynamics would have been. How and when people are voted of, or kept in the game, often changes those dynamics at the 11th hour. More often than not, close relationships until F4 are shattered at the last minute. But yeah, overall, I agree that Parvati was already a strong contender in her first season.

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After related discussion about another season, I just realized I never posted about the end of my rewatch of this season from months ago.  Good thing I had written a lot offline so my fresh thoughts still exist.  So, over to past me.



We've reached the end of this season.  And at this point, there isn't as much to really talk about.  But somehow, I'll find a way to make another text wall...

The penultimate IC was a doozy; the gigantic "spider web" obstacle course to gather the pieces for the to-then hardest puzzle ever.  Yul took a slight lead in the early stages; which is surprising if you don't believe in the theory that Yul was shanking to a degree to let Ozzy win, and somewhat surprising if you do believe in it.  But Yul and the women had been discussing on whether or not they wanted Ozzy to be anywhere near the F2, so I can see Yul stepping up his game to try to win and give those 3 the option.

In the end though, it comes down to the puzzle, as usual.  And Adam comes within a hair's breadth of winning, but Ozzy takes the necklace again.  If Adam had won, there'd be no doubt that Ozzy would have been voted out instead.  But that was not to be.  And Adam knows that he's gone.  But he does make one final attempt to change the game.  He tries to get Sundra and Ozzy to vote for Yul with him.  His pitch is that the only change this will make is to force Yul to use the idol; Adam's going to be on the jury either way.  It's a decent idea pitched to the right people.  Adam knows that Becky would never do it, so those two were the only possibilities.  And if they'd known about the final twist, they might have done it.  But they don't, as Adam is voted off 4-1.

In the morning comes the Rites of Passage, which means the completion of the legend that is The Aitu4.  On paper, it seemed impossible.  A comparatively weak and slightly fractured tribe of 4 versus a powerful and mostly intact tribe of 8?  Those underdogs would surely lose.  But they won out, and put every. single. member. of that 8-person tribe on the jury.  Yes, there was assistance from the overpowered idol, but as seen in the previous season to this one, it's not the power of the idol that dictates anything; it's how the holder chooses to wield it.  Terry selfishly saw the idol just as a personal shield.  Yul saw it as both an umbrella to use for his whole team, and as a weapon when dealing with Penner.  So wisdom, tenacity, and a tight bond born out of circumstance won out in a season that started divided along racial lines.  And in times like today, well, let's just say this is a good lesson from an unexpected source.

But even legends end and now this one must, as it is time for the F4IC.  And a surprise FIC, since this was the first time it would be an F3 facing the jury.  Which is why Adam's plan actually makes more sense in retrospect.  Since the HII was still in effect through the F4TC, Yul really didn't need to win this challenge to face the jury.  But if he did, he would be able to pick one person to join him by giving them (ok, her.  Everyone knows it would have been Becky, his primary ally.) one of his immunities.  But in the end, Ozzy wins one more time.  But not without Sundra of all people taking him to the limit.  And in true Survivor editing fashion, they show Ozzy teetering on the edge of disaster, just before she falls out of nowhere.

With the two men both holding immunity, it seems like a hard decision between the two women.  But Ozzy doesn't want to make that choice.  He thinks that the fair thing to do would be to force the tie and let the women battle it out in a tie-breaker, letting the last person in the F3 earn the slot.  And this fits with the underlying ethos of the Aitu4: respect for all members, and a sense of honor.  Yul agrees on the one hand, but he does try one last ditch effort to change things.  He privately offers to give the HII to Becky so she can save herself from Ozzy's plan.  But Becky refuses.  She thinks that the jury would see that as her weaseling her way in to the finals, so she'd prefer to earn it if possible.  And I get what she's thinking here.  Adam had stated at the last TC that both women seemed not to be doing anything other than riding coattails in their alliance.  Since that was likely the perception of at least 3 of the jurors (Adam, Parvati, and Candice), using Yul's HII to "sneak" into FTC would look like more of the same.  To use modern Survivor vernacular, she needed her own move on her resume, and earning the spot in a tie-breaker was the only move left.

Which brings us to said tie-breaker: the infamous fire challenge between Becky and Sundra.  The one that takes forever.  And it's not like they don't know how to make fire, remember that they, along with Cao Boi, were on the fire-making leg of a challenge a while back.  They both have (the same) plans for starting and do fairly good at assembling a decent wood stack.  But then it comes to the flint and steel.  And both of them have problems.  Becky doesn't get much sparking.  Sundra gets lots of sparks, but none of them catch on the magnesium and/or kindling.  And, of course, it's not like they're not trying, since they both keep striking on the flint for around an hour.  During which we're treated to glimpses of Ozzy double face-palming at their performances, grins from both women at the ridiculousness of their situation, and members of the jury yawning and taking a nap.  At this point, I commented to my mother, "we just spent 5 minutes watching people watching two women try to start a fire for an hour...and people wonder why we (meaning all us Survivor fans) watch this show."  And even after that hour of wasted energy and going to matches, it still takes over another half hour for Sundra to use up all her matches before Becky manages to win.


That's where my old notes end.  And that's actually a good place for them to end, because of the obvious connection to HvHvH and GI: the F4 fire-making for the "last seat" at TC.  While the current rule smacks of producer interference and favoritism of a certain kind of play style, here it happened organically, for reasons old me pointed out.  This fire-making doesn't leave a bad taste in the mouth like the last couple did.  (Albeit, it does leave a different kind of bad taste in the mouth due to the performances of both women.)

After that was the FTC, with the roasting of Becky for not apparently doing much, Yul getting both praise and heat for being the Mastermind, and Ozzy getting praised, but less, for his physical play.  And in the end, Yul wins in a 5-4-0 (0 for Becky, unsurprisingly).  It's been too long since our rewatch to recall any comments we made at the time.  So I'm going to have to leave it there.

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I started rewatching Survivor from season 1. All Stars was the last season I watched in real time, so since then they’ve all been new to me, though I’ve recognized a name here and there. 

This was one of the most enjoyable seasons so far of this show. It was gratifying to watch the Aitu 4 deft the odds—I liked each one of them and Yul and Ozzy were both a joy to watch because of their intellect (and they were easy on the eyes, too). Watching Candice get repeatedly sent to Exile Island made me giggle and Jonathan was a good “villain” because he wasn’t actually a loathsome person. Cao Boi was also one of my favorite contestants ever.

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On ‎9‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 7:18 AM, Corporal Agarn said:

I started rewatching Survivor from season 1. All Stars was the last season I watched in real time, so since then they’ve all been new to me, though I’ve recognized a name here and there. 

This was one of the most enjoyable seasons so far of this show. It was gratifying to watch the Aitu 4 deft the odds—I liked each one of them and Yul and Ozzy were both a joy to watch because of their intellect (and they were easy on the eyes, too). Watching Candice get repeatedly sent to Exile Island made me giggle and Jonathan was a good “villain” because he wasn’t actually a loathsome person. Cao Boi was also one of my favorite contestants ever.

Having not watched this since it first aired my memory is hazy when it comes to this season.  That being said, I never really considered Jonathan a "villain" on any of his seasons.  To me the villains of the season were Adam, Candace, Parvati, and Nate.  They all came across as being far too cocky for my liking.

Yeah Cao Boi was awesome!  I always wish they would have brought him back.  Now that I am thinking of it, I have been a fan of the three older Asian men (Cao Boi, Tai, and the great Yau-Man) that have appeared on this show.  

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I agree that Jonathan isn’t really a villain. I feel like they tried to edit him that way, but I agree the truly loathsome people were Adam, Parvati, and Candice. 

Jonathan was a super smart guy who got the game. A likable Richard Hatch. 

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I've been watching this season with my kids and had forgotten how great it was and how many of the contestants became true Survivor characters after their first time on this season.  We're all struck by how much more sophisticated the challenges were.  My kids had never even seen a Survivor auction before!

I wonder why they never brought back Nate.  I could definitely see him being the type they bring back.

What I'm struck by though is the *meanness* of the Raro tribe.  They are just awful to Penner, with the name calling and utter disdain.  I've always been a Penner fan, and watching him be so isolated and taunted is pretty rough.  (Also rough - seeing his wife Stacy happy and healthy, knowing what is coming for her health years later).  It's also nice seeing the root of Yul and Penner's friendship.

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On 9/2/2020 at 9:33 AM, ItsJessMe said:

I've been watching this season with my kids and had forgotten how great it was and how many of the contestants became true Survivor characters after their first time on this season.  We're all struck by how much more sophisticated the challenges were.  My kids had never even seen a Survivor auction before!

I wonder why they never brought back Nate.  I could definitely see him being the type they bring back.

What I'm struck by though is the *meanness* of the Raro tribe.  They are just awful to Penner, with the name calling and utter disdain.  I've always been a Penner fan, and watching him be so isolated and taunted is pretty rough.  (Also rough - seeing his wife Stacy happy and healthy, knowing what is coming for her health years later).  It's also nice seeing the root of Yul and Penner's friendship.

Along with Nate, who I agree I'm surprised never returned (sometimes I wish TPTB would give people a chance rather than bringing others back 50 times), I also would have loved to have seen the return of Cao-Boi, who not only was an interesting person but he came up with Plan VooDoo which, if it had been pulled off, would have been legendary.  Unfortunately he didn't realize he was trusting the people he couldn't trust.  And I'm still bitter that I waited all these years for Yul to return, only for him to go pre-jury this past season.  If TPTB do a returning players season again that is a mix of old school and new school players, I feel like they need a better balance of old schoolers in there to give them a chance over the new school crowd.  

I still rank Cook Islands as a top 10 season.  The challenges remain among my favorites all these years later.  It's weird how even puzzle or endurance challenges seem so much better and complicated than they do now.  When I re-watched it not too far back, I admit it took awhile to get going, because this was the largest cast they ever had.  And even though the 4 tribes didn't last long, it was still hard keeping track of everyone.  But it still ranks as an overall great season for me.  

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5 hours ago, LadyChatts said:

I also would have loved to have seen the return of Cao-Boi,

They may not have been able to find him, let alone get ahold of him to invite him back.

According to this video from 2015, he became a nomad and was found living in Cambodia.

And there's this video from a couple months ago that has him in Vietnam.



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