Jeff Pitman's Cook Islands recaps
The bore corps
By Jeff Pitman | Published: June 26, 2013
Survivor: Cook Islands Episode 5 recap/ analysis

This episode reminded us why we didn't think all that much of this season or cast as a whole, despite liking the winner and a few other major characters. And that reason is: the new Raro tribe is boring. Painfully, stultifyingly so. When you're turning a major chunk of the tribal narrative over to the vapid, sonorous insights of Adam, clearly there's a problem.

They're a tribe so devoid of entertainment value, the editors have been forced to manufacture "villains" out of two successive people whose sole crimes were sitting around while delegating work (well, okay, maybe J.P. was a bit of an arrogant knob, as well). Never was this deficit more pronounced than when two of the bigger characters of the season (plus Ozzy) visited New Raro's camp, unannounced, in this episode. Their unanimous revulsion at Cao Boi's storytelling was hilariously revealing: "Tell entertaining stories? *eyeroll* We don't do that here."

Special section: It's all Rebecca's fault!

Not keeping her mouth shut

While the framing of the episode made the case that part of the reason for Stephannie's boot was the men of Raro wanting to break up the dominance of the Raro women (even though none of them actually said anything of the sort, and the boot choice was between two of the women), it's still really weird that Stephannie was the woman who ended up going home. She should have been doubly safe: she had two ex-Hiki tribemates that ostensibly had her back, in Nate and Rebecca, plus the women had a 5-3 majority. That it was Nate who led to her ouster makes it seem all the more strange. Was this retribution for her not siding with him and Sekou in Episode 1? Is he potato-intolerant? It's just odd. The editors seemed to have a soft spot for Stephannie, giving her a prominent role in the first four episodes (far more than any of her current tribemates not named Nate or Parvati), and despite her taking the blame for the IC loss in the previous episode, and her ill-timed "it's either Cristina or me" comment to Nate, editing made clear she was a fairly competent, solid contestant (even by the low standards established by Hiki and New Raro).


So why Stephannie? She was one of the only fans/applicants this season! Especially when, in retrospect, Rebecca was clearly the weak link in the tribe. Who was the only New Raro to drop out of the reward challenge? Rebecca. Who knocked the entire tribe off the platform when she was trying to climb up during the immunity challenge? Rebecca. Who had the audacity to call Ozzy one of "the three we can't stand" when he showed up in their camp, contradicting Jeff Probst's "impromptu online poll" he conducted to determine that every real Survivor fan was desperately hoping Ozzy would appear in the South Pacific season? Yes, Rebecca. Given that we have been given absolutely no insight into her gameplay, nor the tribe's feelings about her, she must have some sort of secret mind control powers, because despite these obvious shortcomings, we can't fathom why her name has never been mentioned as a possible boot candidate. Maybe they're all hoping she can get them a gig helping her out as Elisabeth Hasselbeck's makeup artist at The View when she returns to work stateside? Your guess is as good as ours.

Our special-er section: Other random observations

One of the best parts about Ozzy, Flica, and Cao Boi's trip to Raro camp was the series of increasingly ridiculous reasons their tribemates came up with to avoid participating. Yul's desire to catch a chicken seemed reasonable, since he's done it successfully before. Candice, being Candice, came up with "stuff that I could do... to get done," which presumably consisted of comparing armpit hair with Sundra and Becky. Sundra fretted about the deathly hazards of the water, followed by a perfect jump cut to a glassy-appearing lagoon. Becky, as usual, was unheard from.

Hmm, this place looks familiar

We feel we should point out that, at no point during the lengthy paddle across the lagoon, does it appear Flica thought to mention that the island/beach towards which they were heading was the same one where she lived for the first six days of the game.

This version: no comparison
The S26 version

Degree of difficulty

The immunity challenge, recently recycled for Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites, gives us further insight into how epic the challenges were in Cook Islands, and how far they've fallen since then, due to some combination of budget cuts and laziness. This was essentially the same challenge as the Caramoan version, except for the platforms used to move the two tribe members from tower to tower. In Caramoan, they were large-ish square, pizza box-sized steps, with big hand-holds. Most were held, easily, by two people at shoulder or waist height, and with four handles, were quite stable. Here, not only was the step itself a tiny circle, but they were at the top of really tall poles, making them quite precarious as perches. Not only that, but the poles themselves were puzzles that had to be assembled first. Wow.

And our other special section...

The Growing Collection of Arcane Cook Islands Statistical Anomalies

  • Speling iz hardd: So Tribal Council clearly had at worst a tie for highest percentage of misspelled ballots, with 100%, right? But with eight total votes, could it also be the most total misspellings? (We're too lazy to look that up, although, to be fair, both Cristina and Stephannie have unique spellings of common names. Still, though: spelling ftw.)
  • Time for Tribal? After five episodes, Candice still hasn't attended Tribal Council, although everyone else has. This beats the entire Koror tribe from Palau (who were forced to attend in Ep5), but merely ties everyone from Tandang in Philippines (who all made it to Day 19/Ep7 before attending, and will all beat her in the next episode, when both tribes are forced to vote someone out).
  • Go green: Puka Puka is one of the very few tribes in Survivor history that has never voted out a member. They join fellow green-buffed, four-tribe anomaly Viveros (the "younger men" on Panama: Exile Island) and yellow-buffed, three-tribe-aided Tandang (Philippines). Interestingly, in both seasons with a short-lived, Tribal-avoiding, green-buffed tribe, the winner has come from that tribe. And with the exception of Amber in All-Stars, every time Survivor has had a green buff, the winner has worn it.

Recaps and commentary

  • Gordon Holmes at MoreWhatnot: "Survivor Summer Book Club – Survivor: Cook Islands Episode 5"
  • RealityTVWorld (10/13/06): "Stephannie Favor the fifth castaway voted off Survivor: Cook Islands"
  • David Bloomberg at RealityNewsOnline (10/13/06): "Surviving the Cook Islands, Episode 5: Mentally Checked Out?"


Exit interviews - Stephannie Favor

  • David Bloomberg at RealityNewsOnline (10/13/06): "'I Shot Myself in the Foot' – An Interview with Survivor: Cook Islands’ Stephannie"
  • David Bloomberg at RealityNewsOnline (10/13/06): Transcript of Stephannie's Early Show interview
  • Staci Krause at (10/16/06): "Exclusive Survivor: Cook Islands interview: Stephannie"
  • Tashi Tagg at TVSA (9/13/07): "Cook Islands Interview: Stephannie Favor"

Jeff Pitman's recapsJeff Pitman is the founder of the True Dork Times, and probably should find better things to write about than Survivor. So far he hasn't, though. He's also responsible for the Survivometer, calendar, boxscores, and contestant pages, so if you want to complain about those, do so in the comments, or on twitter: @truedorktimes