We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the remarkable attention grab made by Scout Cloud Lee in this episode, stretching all the way back to last week's preview ("Next time on Survivor... Scout makes her move!"). She pretty much ran the editing bay this week, getting to comment on everything under the sun (her brilliant plan in which Ami, Leann, Julie and Eliza's votes somehow added up to three, the rain, how much Eliza annoys her, and so on). Everything except, of course, how the vote was actually going to go down.
It wasn't a particularly compelling narrative, perhaps because of the glaring mathematical hole in it, paired with editing's heavy-handed insistence that it was going to work. Still, since every member of the production staff, including Jeff Probst at tribal council, seemed to be doing backflips at the possibility (however far-fetched) that Chad and Chris might somehow wiggle their way out of a predictable Pagonging in this episode, Scout got her precious screen time. Note to future contestants: The editors will love you as well if you come up with such a hokey charade, even if it has no actual possibility of working. They won't let the audience know, at least until it eventually doesn't work!
So... good show, Scout. At least we didn't have to waste another Trolly on the pigs.
One of the original concepts of Survivor that's gradually disappeared over time is showcasing the season's host country and native people, and immersion of the contestants within its culture. Things started to slip in the season immediately preceding this one, as All-Stars was done as a back-to-back visit to Panama's Pearl Islands. Over time, though, as budgetary and other decisions have forced the show to tone this down a bit (four seasons in Samoa?), this element has gradually been lost, with perhaps the only mentions that One World was even filmed in Samoa being relegated to the web-only Ponderosa videos.
Vanuatu, however, was only season 9, and brought cultural immersion back in force, starting from the very opening of the first episode, and continuing on intermittently as the season has progressed (Dah's visit in Ep4, Vanuatuan trivia last episode, and now the village visit). It's something we'd like to see more of in future seasons, especially if the crew manages to break free of Samoa's iron grip for more than a year at a time. And not just in cultures that drink a lot of kava.
It was the worst of times, it was the so-bad-we're-highly-suspicious of times for Julie this week, challenge-wise, at least. In the reward challenge, Julie shed a few tears in defeat, perhaps not least because she was stuck on the group with Scout, while Eliza got Chad, Ami, and Chris.
But while that got Jeff Probst's attention (again!), her real Sitty-worthy performance came in the immunity challenge, which was the first (we think) rendition of the oft-repeated holding-on-to-a-pole-with-notches-cut-into-it endurance challenge (later done in at least Cook Islands, Tocantins and Heroes vs. Villains). Julie dropped out fairly quickly, as if to say, "Meh, nobody's voting for me anyway. Might as well sit on the bench." Which, if you know you're safe, is of course a logical course of action. Sitty for you, Julie!
The comments made on the show, including Chad's final words, made it appear that the decision-maker in the Yasur alliance was Ami, although post-show interviews seemed to implicate Leann instead. Either way, both were integral in keeping the all-women's alliance, with Leann perhaps being the most important, in bringing word of Scout's attempted plotting during Ami's and Eliza's reward absence.
To be sure, it wasn't a brilliant piece of slick maneuvering: Leann looked stunned that Scout would even raise such a topic, and while Julie was happily, vocally lauding Scout's mission to stick a shiv in Eliza, Leann made no attempt to even engage. But someone kept the women together, and Leann showed that the miserable overnight rainstorm would not, in any way, force her to revisit her plans to keep the voting the guys out. Making Julie and Leann sort of a precursor to the Albert/Sophie dynamic in South Pacific.
Furthermore, despite the fact that Ami had been Scouted as a secondary target, no votes were cast against her. Someone made that happen. We're not really sure who, since the editors were busy trying to convince us that Chad was safe, and Eliza was going home. But we'll give Leann the benefit of the doubt this week.