Jeff Pitman's Survivor: Vanuatu recaps
Survivor: Vanuatu recaps - Episode 2
"Burly Girls, Bowheads, Young Studs & the Old Bunch"
By: Jeff Pitman | Published: June 6, 2012

trollyThe Russell Hantz Memorial Troll of the Week award (the "Trolly"): The Spirit Stone
Honorable mention: Twila?

We see you, Spirit Stone. You had a good run in the first episode, getting a key role in the first challenge-that-wasn't-a-challenge, then getting fondled and talked about. But did you have to keep showing up in Episode 2, though? Isn't it enough that Sarge and Chad and Rory and the guys keep talking about you? Did you really have to roll your way into the tree mail?


Honestly, it's as if your last name were Hantz, or something. True, back in these early seasons, before he became re-born in the one true religion (Roma Downey), Mark Burnett seemed to love these spiritualism-/superstition-based subplots. But we still think you're laying it on a little thick. Ah well, good luck making an appearance next week, now that Lopevi has flint.


icuThe Purple Kelly Memorial Invisibility Cloakee Unmasked! award ("ICU!"): Lisa
Honorable mention: Chad, Brady, John K., Mia

This episode is a good example that, even in the good old days, not every episode showed every contestant equally. The major narrators from the first episode (Chris, Rory, Sarge, JP, Scout, Eliza, Twila) all got the bulk of the second episode's screen time. And in doing so, a lot of people were shuffled to the background.


Even with this understanding, it's a bit strange that Lisa was barely even shown this episode. Despite being (quite a bit) older than both Leann and Ami, Lisa sided with the younger women as Yasur split into age-specific alliances. Why? We'll never know. You'd think that after going to great personal effort to make herself noticeable, Lisa would've attracted some camera attention. But alas, apart from a brief plantain-chopping foray and a "good morning" song, no such luck. Oh well, hope springs eternal with the next episode.


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

Since Chris informed us last week that you don't outbalance people on Survivor, we're going to take him at his word, and ignore the challenge that involved balancing. That leaves us with blindfolds and puzzles. Eh, screw it, let's talk about making yourself an even bigger target by talking strategy. By far, the most hilarious scene in this episode is when JP and Bubba take a walk in the jungle, and stop to talk shop. Bubba informs JP that he's seen as a threat, to which JP responds by... looking threatening. (To be fair, the entire IC and Yasur's chicken chase were not without comedic value, but they've been done in other seasons.)


But this IS my happy face!

Let's just say... sometimes your body language speaks louder than your words in a discussion. And we're just throwing this out there as a suggestion, but towering menacingly over the person who's talking, silently flexing your jaw muscles, and glaring at them as if you're calculating which blood vessel when severed would most rapidly drain them of their life blood? Probably not the ideal way to convince anyone that you're not a threat.


Now, to be fair, Bubba's line of reasoning made no sense: JP is a threat because of "It's your personality, your great looks... that's a threat." Bubba then goes on to imply he's just protecting his own family, whom JP appears to be visualizing crushing between his fingers. When JP reacts in (completely understandable, but hostile) incredulity, Bubba then hastily retreats to: "Hey, uh, every one of the other 17 players are threats, so, uh... please don't eat me" (or something along those lines). So for his apt demonstration of how not to dig yourself out of a 5-3 hole, JP wins this week's Beasty. Mostly for resembling a savage beast.


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

This week's strategy award goes to Eliza, although we're sort of awarding it on faith, because of the interesting way the post-IC sequence at Yasur was edited. In modern Survivor, the camp scrambling scenes are usually short, and throw out scraps of misdirection, while the tribal council sequence is fairly lengthy. Here, all the action was in camp, with rival old-vs-young factions forming in Yasur. Scout wants Eliza gone. Mia and Julie want to dump Twila, but after talking to Dolly, they'll settle for Leann. Dolly is shown working both sides, and fretting about the pressure of being stuck in the middle.


Cold. Wet. Starvation. Living with Scout and Twila. Don't try this at home.

But then a weird thing happens. The two targets (Leann and Eliza) happen to be on the beach with Ami. Eliza knows people are planning to vote against her, and she asks Leann if she's going along with it. When Leann realizes she's also a target, she and Eliza (and Ami) come to a mutual "to hell with that!" conclusion, then Eliza offers up Dolly's name as a substitute target. Ami assures her that Scout and Twila might go along with that. Eliza is then shown getting Dolly to promise not to write her (Eliza's) name down, while still worrying that Dolly could be lying to her. So as we leave camp, it's unclear what's really going on, but one of Eliza, Dolly or Leann could get booted. The stage is set, nonetheless, for what actually ends up happening. Then at tribal council, the three potential bootees all get to voice their concerns. A nice piece of editing, which keeps the mystery reasonably intact, especially by not showing any of the anti-Dolly votes until Probst reveals them.


It's an odd move for Eliza to make, since Scout was fairly vehement about wanting to be rid of Eliza. But it worked, obviously. It's the kind of move that would only work on an extremely close vote, but it's still fairly impressive, since it saved her. She has a lot of work to do to regain the younger women's trust and/or overcome Scout and Twila's lack of respect for her, but that's work she wouldn't have the chance to do if she'd sat back and allowed herself to be voted out. So in conclusion: sometimes flipping, and flipping early, pays off. Modern Survivor players would do well to re-learn that.