Jeff Pitman's Survivor: Vanuatu recaps
Survivor: Vanuatu recaps - Episode 12
"Now Who's in Charge Here?"
By: Jeff Pitman | Published: August 15, 2012

trollyThe Russell Hantz Memorial Troll of the Week award (the "Trolly"): Production
Honorable mention: ?

We'll admit it: we're not the world's biggest Scout fans. She did win our sympathies (briefly) when lamenting her challenge humiliation (but still, why cast someone who can't run?). Once she'd ascended to power, however, she seemed just as entitled as Ami had. But even so, the structure of this week's reward challenge seemed unnecessarily cruel to Scout. As if production just felt the need to knock her down a peg.


Welcome to Fantasy Island!

When Jeff Probst decreed that only the top three finishers were eligible for the reward getaway, rather than the usual "winner gets to choose one or two people to tag along" system, Scout was effectively told before the challenge even began that she couldn't go. Kudos to her for putting in the effort, anyway. (Although we're somewhat ashamed to admit we snickered at the pre-challenge sequence showing the three flags magically appearing on, of all people's, Scout's stand.)


On the other hand, by adopting a straight top-three-people-advance structure, the challenge was allowed to play out longer than it normally would. It didn't simply end once Eliza crossed the finish line, it kept going. So there was that. And there was incentive to win (marginally, since Eliza got stuck with both a Pontiac G6 AND the car curse), and a somewhat pitched battle between Chris and Julie for the final, third-place tagalong slot. So it did offer something novel.


In the end, though, by taking the decision-making process out of the contestant's hand, it ruined a late-game opportunity for more strategy. There was no currying favor with potential jury votes, by beneficently bringing them along. No splitting up potential opponents, to badger them in private. No stricken teeth gnashing at the enormity of the decision. Just three (or four) people, racing to finish line. Then dripping all over and stinking up Eliza's new car.


Yeah, we get it, production, you have the real power. Trolls.


icuThe Purple Kelly Memorial Invisibility Cloakee Unmasked! award ("ICU!"): Julie
Honorable mention: ?

We continue to be amazed at the show's utter lack of interest in Julie's perspective on the game. She had only just successfully played her hand, and nudged Scout out of Ami and Leann's inner circle, when it backfired, and Leann got booted. And with Leann gone, Julie's now one of two possible bootees this episode. It's either Ami or Julie! How does she feel about this sudden turn of fate? Let's ask her!




Sorry, there appear to have been some technical difficulties. Turns out we can't ask her, because Julie's role once again seems to be sitting silently around camp, appearing on camera only for visual reaction shots. Usually when other people (Scout, Twila) badmouth her absent alliancemates, blisffully unaware that Julie is, in fact, present and eavesdropping.


Ah well, at least she's had a lot of practice at it.


beastyThe Colby Donaldson Memorial Challenge Beast award (The "Beasty"): Ami
Honorable mention: ?

For someone who pledged to go down fighting, Ami didn't actually put up much of a fight. Sure, she did try to work on Eliza's loyalty, with the long-term end result being... a tie at Tribal Council (?!?). But for the most part, Ami's plan seemed to be winning immunity or bust. Although there was one place Ami put in near-superhuman effort, even though it didn't matter: trying to win the reward challenge.


You want a G6 that bad? Knock yourself out!

Had there really been any debate between whether Ami or Julie should go first, that near-win probably sealed Ami's fate more solidly than any campfire browbeating of Twila or resortside attempts to sway Eliza and/or Chris. (Okay, okay, there was no detectable debate... we're just saying....) Maybe Ami really needed a car? Even a car as... uh (what's the nicest thing we can say here?)... four-wheeled as the Pontiac G6? We may never know.


Regardless, Ami went out when her neck was on the chopping block, and demonstrated for all the world to see that she really was a dominating physical player. That? That's Beasty material, right there.


slittyThe Cirie Fields Memorial Smiling Backstabber award ("Slitty"): Chris
Honorable mention: Eliza

Chris, by his own admission, largely stayed out of the action (what little there was) in this episode, preferring to let the warring factions of old Yasur fight amongst themselves, while he happily cackled to himself. But he made one key strategic play: Keeping Eliza from being talked into something dumb by Ami.


Write the check now

Now, to be fair, Eliza is certainly bright enough and sufficiently cognisant of the rules to not have actually done something as poorly thought through as forcing a 3-3 tie (despite the editors' valorous efforts to convince us she might). In fact, Eliza deserves an honorable mention here for jury management. While Scout and Twila were busy hacking away at any lingering shreds of goodwill Julie and Ami might have for them, Eliza was solidly reinforcing her mutual friendship with Ami and Julie, even as she was preparing to vote against them.


One scene at the reward, however, showed that Ami still had some game left in her, and demonstrated why Chris deserves this week's Slitty, instead of Eliza: the scene in which Ami dropped the suggestion that Chris and Eliza might be best served breaking up the Scout-Twila duo, then "casually" walked away to allow them to discuss it. Eliza seemed open to the idea, whereas Chris correctly (more from his perspective than Eliza's) pointed out that Scout and Twila were great alliancemates to have, because they were loyal, and easily beatable in challenges or against the jury. Keeping his new alliance from straying was the best move Chris could make here, and he did it well.