Jeff Pitman's Survivor: Vanuatu recaps
Survivor: Vanuatu recaps - Episode 9
"Gender Wars... It's Getting Ugly"
By: Jeff Pitman | Published: July 25, 2012

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

Pigs, pigs, pigs! Again with the pigs! (And the second time this season, no less.) And here, completely deserving of a Trolly because... this particular instance of porcine intrusion served no actual purpose in this episode (apart from taunting poor Sarge by first not letting him eat the pig, then allowing the pig to outlast him). It just kind of sat there, yawning, waiting for whatever future event production intended it for... which did not appear in this episode.


Twila soon turned her knife on Sarge

Except, of course, that it did allow us another delightful scene documenting Eliza's inability to pick up a pig. To be fair, it was small, attached to a rope, refusing to even move, and not the least bit covered in mud this time. But still, the concept of picking it up did not occur to Eliza, who had to call Chris in for backup. Actually, now that we think about it, this may explain Eliza's problems in the Ep6 RC.


Well then, mystery solved!


icuThe Purple Kelly Memorial Invisibility Cloakee Unmasked! award ("ICU!"): Probst's jury lecture
Honorable mention: Chad

To briefly touch on this award's intended purpose: poor Chad was all but invisible once again this week, although frequent screentime avoidees Leann and Scout both got storylines, either by winning reward, or by preventing Eliza from doing so. But the real issue we want to address here is a long-lost friend who has been completely omitted from recent seasons (since at least Samoa, if not earlier): Probst's traditional lecture to the remaining contestants at the start of the jury phase, about the power slowly shifting to the jury.


Where have you gone, this scene?

We can see why it may not make the editing cut these days: to longtime viewers, it may seem trite and remedial to hear Probst saying: "With tonight's vote, the game changes a little bit, because tonight you're voting out the first member of your jury. So it is not only who you vote out, but how you vote people out from here on out that's going to dictate somebody's future. Because seven of you will end over here [jury area], two of you will end up in the final tribal council, and those seven people are gonna determine which one gets the million bucks." It's obvious! This is how the game's supposed to work. You're required to thread the needle of successfully voting out your competitors, yet retaining sufficient respect to compel them to vote for you to win. But it's pretty much the core concept of Survivor. Mark Burnett has gone on at length in interviews, opining on this dichotomy's central importance to Survivor's appeal.


Today, however, we don't see it any more. One problem with omitting this lecture from the telecast is that a lot of people now watching haven't seen many, or any, seasons prior to Samoa (which was, counting the seasons already filmed but not yet aired, a full eight seasons ago). Not only that, but a lot of players (many of them surnamed Hantz) haven't seen these earlier seasons, either, and have absolutely no understanding of this ultimate power of the jury.


All of this leads us to this seemingly rhetorical, but actually serous question: Does Probst still make this announcement to the soon-to-be jurors? If not, does that explain the rise of the strategically oblivious Hantz/ NaOnka/ Phillip/ Colton contestants that have so infested the show in recent seasons? Either way, Survivor: Instead of bringing back failed contestants who have no chance of ever winning, please bring Probst's jury lecture instead. Pretty please?


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

It's a sad, sad day when the nearly immobile Scout Cloud Lee (the female Dan Lembo) gets a non-satirical nod for her challenge prowess. But here we go: because neither of the challenges this week required any motion whatsoever, Scout was a formidable competitor in both RC and IC this week (as were Ami and Leann). Beasty for Scout!


Which points out a basic truth in Survivor strategy: even though previous challenges were physically demanding, there's no guarantee that the remaining ones will be. Yet people are still voted out for perceived challenge aptitude (usually physical), which was Ami's main concern in targeting Sarge. (We should also note that Scout made repeated announcements that Eliza is smart, and had to be dispatched early in the RC, despite Eliza's belief that people can consume small quantities of lava.) The point is: you can't really predict who will win the next IC, unless they're someone who excels in pretty much everything, like, say... Yul. Who was repeatedly outshined in challenges by Ozzy. See?


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

This is a confusing season. Chris still gets an overwhelmingly positive edit ("The game ain't over yet, we're still playing"), despite a lack of successful strategic plays, not to mention missing out on Julie's smuggled chicken wings. This became more apparent this week, as Sarge and Twila finally figured out that Julie had completely lied about being offered a final four spot with the guys. This is not Chris's fault, really, but Twila's: she should have asked Sarge right away about it, not a week or so later. But even though fences were mended... Twila still voted out Sarge.



Still, Chris did correctly recognize that there was a lot of time left, and that cracks in the women's alliance were beginning to show. Perhaps this was the wrong week to exploit those cracks: with nine people left and a 6-3 imbalance, two women would have had to join Chris, Chad and Sarge, and they'd obviously be outnumbered on the new alliance. Being assured of no better than 4th and 5th place doesn't sound much better than knowing you're at least 5th and 6th, with a chance of better. This may be why the guys' first reaction to Eliza's seething at the RC was a seemingly boneheaded hope that the women might vote her out before them.


The more obvious move would be to recruit Eliza, who appeared to be at the bottom of the women's pecking order, to take out Scout, whom she'd just yelled at. But alas, they'd still be down 4-5, and their best bet for a second potential flipper among the ex-Yasurs was Twila, who got along with Eliza about as well as Scout did. And eventually, as in right before tribal council, Chad just thought of that. So of course, it didn't actually happen. So when Chris apparently abandoned ship to vote against Sarge (leaving Chad to cast a stray vote against Julie), Chris made what was perhaps his only move: trying to save just himself. For making the best of a bad hand, Chris wins this week's Slitty.