Survivor: Cook Islands
You Are A Rat
By Jim Van Nest
December 5, 2006

Do you think he'd give me the immunity idol if I slept with him?

Hello, good people, and welcome to a frosty edition of Survivor. As I type this, the sleet is falling at a record pace and it is frickin' freezing outside. My satellite reception has been a little touchy; let's hope I make it through the show. Let's see, previously on Survivor, the tribes merged, Yul continued his trek toward being the smartest player ever, Jonathan flipped on Raro and my boy, Nate, was sent packing. THIS is not gonna sit well with the rest of the former Raro tribe. Let's peek in and see how things are going.

We join the castaways right after Tribal and Jonathan is explaining himself to Candice. He tells her that he had a 100% chance of going home at that vote, or a 50% chance of going home at the next vote. He played the best chance. He tells us that he is glad he aligned with the former Aitu tribe. He likes them more and he'd rather see one of them win. Next we join a mini-celebration between Yul, Sundra and Ozzy as they revel, for a moment, in the fact that they overcame the 8-4 odds and now have complete control over the game.

While they celebrate, Parvati is scolding Jonathan for turning on them. She feels sick because of what he did. Jon explains to her that if he didn't throw in with them, they would have voted for him and the vote would have bounced off Yul and onto him. Ever the think tank, the Raro three express again how there's no way Yul can have the idol. Jonathan then spills it. He tells them Yul definitely has the idol and that he's seen it. The look on Adam's face is priceless. These chucklenuts honestly believed that there was no chance Yul could have the idol. To prove it, Parvati tells Jonathan she thinks he's lying. Have I mentioned recently that this is one of the best seasons in forever?

We come back from the break to Sundra showing Parvati how to gut a fish. Jonathan is amazed that in 28 days on this island, not only has she not gutted a fish, she hasn't even SEEN someone else do it. How does that happen exactly? Oh yeah, you rely on your looks, body and teeny bikini to keep you in the game. THAT'S how it happens. The entire Aitu tribe is discussing the fact that she's done nothing for 28 days. As they chuckle at Parvati, the sour grapes are out with the former Raros. "Jonathan sucks at life." This is Adam's hypothesis. Let's see, Academy Award-nominated writer and oh yeah, he just kicked YOUR ass. Yep, you summed that up just about right, Adam. It seems that he and Parvati were blindsided by the fact that this is a game and you have to earn your way. Apparently, they thought they would win just by showing up. The last segment before the reward is Jonathan telling Aitu how much he likes them and how they work well together and how he couldn't believe the "clown house" he stepped into.

Probst sighting! It's Survivor Auction time! They each get $500 to bid on different items. You can borrow money, but not share food. Bidding will be in increments of $20. I love the auctions, so I'll probably break this down more than you wanted me too, but...that's the luxury of being the writer.

The first item is a mystery and Jonathan wins it for $100. Hot dog, fries and a frosty mug of beer. The next item is a hot bubble bath with a huge piece of chocolate cake. Jonathan enters into the fray and gets Parvati to go up to $360 for this one. Ya know, he may be a bit of an ass, but the way Jonathan is treating the Raros is hilarious to me. Come on...he didn't want a frickin bath. He wanted Parvati to spend all her money. Duh!

The next item is a mystery envelope that will give the winner power in the game. Jonathan quickly throws in his last $400. Candice bids her entire $500. Yul, quickly and wisely, offers to lend Becky money and she sends the bid to $600. At this point, Parvati breaks from her bath for a second to ask why Becky needs it; she already has the numbers and all. Candice gets a loan from Adam, but Becky and Yul hold true and win it for $640. The note: "You must send one person to Exile Island immediately and take the rest of their money for yourself." Becky chooses....Candice. Mutineers die first, beyotch! Before she goes, Jeff tries to cheer her up with talk of the Hidden Idol. She says she thinks she knows where it is. Yul offers to "end the suspense" and tells everyone that he has it. Probst asks him to show it and he does. When asked why he would tell everyone something that is such a secret, Yul says that he wanted to play the idol at the best time to impact the game, and he was able to do that at the last vote.

Now is as good a time as any to say that Yul "gets it." The Hidden Idol isn't about immunity and being safe from one vote. The Hidden Idol is about leverage and getting people to do what you want them to at the point of the ultimate gun in this game...elimination. Jonathan really had no choice but to switch last time. Further, now that Yul has outted the Hidden Idol, what do you suppose the chances are that he gets another vote? Who's going to vote against him now, knowing that he has the idol? He has now virtually assured himself the Final Three. THAT'S the power of the Idol. And Yul has used it masterfully.

At this point, I'd like to bring in David and Kim (you know them...they wrote this column forever before I came on board). They had some very good discussion about this Hidden Immunity Idol last season when Terry proved to be a complete idiot when it came to the Idol's power. I'm sure they have plenty to say in regards to the way Yul has played it.

Hi there! This is David Mumpower, one of the site's previous Survivor recap writers, making a cameo in order to discuss Yul's play yesterday. Those of you who read our comments last season might recall that we were constantly frustrated by the incompetent play of contestant Terry Deitz during Survivor: Panama. Our contention all along was his stubborn, selfish decision to not leverage possession of the hidden immunity idol into better positioning in the game was a huge mistake.

All along, we argued that simply revealing ownership of the statue to everyone would create paranoia as well as a need to reconsider voting strategy every step of the way. After all, a group voting for Terry or one of his allies would run the risk of finding themselves eliminated, possibly by a single vote. That is the way the idol works. If the person in possession of it receives the most votes, whoever is in second is voted out. That's a scare tactic bordering on a weapon of mass destruction within the confines of the game yet Terry never used it.

Fast forward to this season, starring our new hero, Yul. When Kim Hollis and I recapped Plan Voodoo in Jim's absence, we professed a fondness for him, particularly in his dealing with crazy old man Cao Boi and angry schemer Jonathan. We also thought Yul was a bright young man and a physical threat in the challenges. What we did not realize is just how savvy a player Yul is. The most recent episode is his ascension to greatness as a Survivor competitor. For the purposes of this discussion, we will overlook the honesty and integrity he showed during the Candace/Jonathan argument as well as his negotiations with Becky over Jonathan's fate. Instead, our focus is on the way the man played the hidden immunity idol.

Last week, in the episode Why Would You Trust Me?, Yul revealed to Jonathan that he possessed the idol. He threatened to vote against the angry writer/actor, thereby leveraging the hidden necklace into making the most calculating player vote with the outnumbered alliance. The result was that the suddenly arrogant and apparently drunk Nate never saw it coming until he was voted out of the competition. Jonathan, most assuredly a devious player, actually behaved above board in the endeavor as well. He tried to tell his younger allies that they needed to look out for Yul's potential ownership of the idol. He could not get any of them to allow for this possibility, so he had to bail on them and cut a new path on his own. The end result was Nate's elimination along with Yul's sudden presumed position as the puppet master. That's bad for Nate but it's almost as tenuous a situation for Yul.

How does the former lawyer and Stanford/Yale grad handle his next predicament? Yul publicly displays the immunity necklace at a reward challenge. This seems innocuous enough, but the ramifications and fallout are priceless. Parvati (who has the appropriate last name of Shallow) had completely denied the potential for this earlier in the same episode yet there she lay in the bathtub as Yul approached her with the idol. That one moment encapsulated the reason why Yul is the strongest competitor this season as well as why the Adam/Candace/Nate/Parvati alliance was doomed to fail.

We are talking about a player who would have been voted out last week had he not deciphered the clue for the hidden immunity idol. Even had he used it then to get rid of Nate, he would no longer have it right now and the parties would be split 4-3-1 with Jonathan being the isolationist vote. Simply through threat of using the idol, however, Yul has saved it for later usage while still creating the same outcome in terms of allies and their votes. He's now got the numbers, he's created paranoia among his competitors, and he has a majority independent of who leaves tonight. This is a masterstroke of game strategy. Yul has already proven himself to be one of the best players in the history of the show, all the while exemplifying the very strategy we espoused during Terry's bungled attempt last season.

Thanks, kids. Okey dokey, all this Idol talk aside, we still have an auction going on here and a person to send to Exile Island. So, Candice, give Becky your money, pack your stuff and get out. The next item up for bids is an endless supply of soft serve. As long as the auction is going on, you can eat ice cream. Jonathan throws out his $400 again and Ozzy trumps him with $420. Going once, going twice, sold to "Dolphin Boy". Mystery item. For $240, Jonathan buys a pepperoni pizza. Another mystery item. For $140, Sundra buys a sea cucumber from her very own beach.

Next item is a plate full of tooth stuff. Mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc. Jonathan bids $100 and no one else bids. Folks seem to be pissed at Jonathan for how he's reacting and eating his food, but dammit, bid on something and YOU could be eating. Dude is spending his money and getting good stuff. He can't help it you're not. Yul moans, "If this is the end of the challenge, I'm gonna jump off a bridge." Well, better get to jumping, because this auction is closed. To recap, Ozzy got ice cream, Sundra got a sea cucumber, Candice got Exiled, Parvati got a bath and Jonathan got everything else. Nice.

We come back from the commercial to an amazing undersea shot of a moray eel puking up, well, puking up something. I'm not sure, but it reminds me that for a reality show, Survivor always manages to have some of the most amazing wildlife footage I've ever seen. Kudos to the Survivor crew for the continued excellence. Back at camp, the discussion centers around how much Jonathan had to eat and how obnoxious he is. Becky and Sundra are seriously considering bailing on him. Parvati notices this and takes Adam aside to see if perhaps they can take advantage of this. So she comes back and goes to Becky and Sundra to badmouth Jonathan and see if she can get them to keep her around for one more vote. Everyone seems to agree that they don't want Jon in the final four. Even Yul has finally gotten annoyed by him. Jon has definitely felt the vibes.

Meanwhile, on Exile Island, Candice cries some more, misses Adam some more and basically can't understand what she ever did to deserve this. Sorry, darlin', you dissed an entire tribe. And while it's been over a month ago for the viewer, it's been less than a week on the island.

We come back to camp to Jonathan reading the latest tree mail. Looks like this one will be a memory challenge. Adam is going all out on this challenge because he wants Jonathan gone. I don't know...this is a mental type challenge. Sounds like it's right up Yul's or maybe Sundra's alley. I think it'll be another depressing day for the Raros.

Probst sighting! This may well be one of the more difficult challenges I've seen. They will be asked questions that will have a number answer. They'll then put those numbers into an equation. The answer will give them the number of a door. When the door is opened, there will be a little package inside. If they pick the right door, the package will hold a key. This key opens a lock that will release a flag. First three survivors to release their flag move on to the final round. Survivors ready? The reason I say this is so tough is that I've watched every minute of every show and in pretty great detail in order to write these recaps. Without the visual clues they gave us, I wouldn't have remembered most of these. I'm thinking I might have been better off just guessing and untying randomly. Holy cow, Parvati is the first one to get a key and raise her flag. Are you kidding me? Jonathan is second and Adam just beats out Candice for the third and final spot in the finals.

The final round is very similar. Four questions with numerical answers. Open the door and hope you have a key. This time the key opens the door to a timber tunnel. Once they get through the tunnel, they'll walk over some floating pontoons and raise another flag. First one to do it wins immunity. This part of the challenge is incredibly dull as Adam pulls out the key on his first shot. He unlocks and unties the door to the tunnel and is onto the pontoons while Jon and Parvati just look on. Parvati finally gets her key, but it's too little too late. Adam finally wins something. Congrats, big guy. The only question now is, will he use the necklace to save his girlfriend? I wouldn't.

When we get back, it's time to play, "It's anyone but Candice." She is whining about how Jonathan is a snake and she can't believe that he'll last in this game longer than her. Um...hello. How any times does it have to be said? YOU stepped off the mat. YOU backstabbed your entire tribe. YOU acted alone. And now you're getting ready to pay the price for it. Adam and Parvati are trying to talk Yul into voting Jonathan off before them. As they're talking, Jon comes back with a bunch of fish and surprise, there's no fire to cook it. More on that in a bit.

Yul is trying to explain himself to Adam and Parvati. He tells them that because of how Jonathan is, he can predict what he's going to do. And that makes him a good person to keep around. As he's doing this and Parvati keeps trying to interrupt, he pushes her off with a very simple and very effective, "Let me finish." Adam tells Yul that he's the ringleader and that all three of them will vote for him on the jury if he just boots Jonathan now. Yul basically tells them thanks but no thanks. Jon comes back in the middle of it and picks up Adam's coconut which causes a small issue. He then says he'll go get some wood to start a fire to cook the fish. Good lord, is ANYone doing anything but him?

This leads us into the tent with Adam and his ladies. Smooching and all that ensues. While they're laughing and playing around, the fish gets done. Jon asks if they have to feed them this fish. Ozzy's response, "I ain't no such thing as a free lunch." So Aitu starts digging in. Ken and his Barbies can't believe what they're seeing, so Candice decides to take care of it. She gets up in all of their faces about it. Jonathan pulls out all the stuff she's said about him which sends her into a tirade about how everyone is saying it, including Yul. She goes on to tell him all the stuff Yul said about him being "selfish and rational" and predictable. "Candice, don't speak for me. I can speak for myself." Have I mentioned how much I like Yul? He explains himself pretty well given the circumstances and Jonathan is quick to turn the conversation back to the meal. Candice says that everyone takes their turn to lie around in the tent. I think the time on Exile Island has taken its toll on her brain. Cause she's seeing a completely different version of things than anyone else.

In which Yul loses the unlosable game. We join Yul and Becky discussing the coming vote. Yul is saying that the Raro three have told him that he's the ringleader and they're holding him responsible if Jonathan doesn't go home tonight. He tells her that he's concerned about losing their votes on the jury and that they can boot Jon, keep the numbers and he'll have those three victory votes against, "whoever I go up against." Um, dude. I know what he's trying to do. He sees Becky as a very close friend and confidante. But come on man, she's playing this game for a million bucks too. Not only was your entire diatribe a bunch of "me, I, me, I" you didn't even include her in your final two. Think she might remember that down the road? The look on her face says yes. A couple weeks from now when Ozzy's announced as the winner of Survivor: Cook Islands, we'll be able to look back to this moment as the shift in the game. I dig Yul and I want him to win, but this was a very critical error and will likely cost him a chance at a million dollars.

At Tribal, Jeff begins with talk of the auction. Why did Becky send Candice to Exile Island again? And here's something that really bugs me. Becky talks about her being a fierce competitor. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Why is it so hard for someone to just say the words, "Because you turned your back on us, you bitch. You screwed us and every day since has been about payback"? Jeff asks Ozzy what happened when they got back. He talks about getting wood while Jonathan fished and how it caused a big ordeal later when they didn't share the fish.

Jeff asks Parvati her side of the story. She said they know they're on the outside and the fact that they weren't helping must have pissed some people off. Then we spend a few minutes slamming Jonathan. Miss Sour Grapes herself claims Jon's immature. Bwahahaha! "At what point does the five people that are working and the three people that are basically waiting for the dinner bell so that they can get fed...ya know, when is that not appropriate?" Great response Jon. Of course, Candice and Adam completely ignore what he said and just continue to bash him and name call.

When Jeff suggests that there's a tribe of three, a tribe of four and Jonathan by himself, Yul speaks up to disagree. Probst, who's on fire tonight by the way, says, "Well you're the UN. I'm expecting the UN to come in here and make everything nice." He says straight up that the way the Raro folks are painting the picture is not accurate and they'll say whatever to suit their own purposes. The Raros once again bring up that they're fine with being voted off as long as Jonathan goes first. Yeah, whatever.

The last bit of interesting stuff is when Jeff mentions that everyone knows Yul has the idol and it's Nate's reaction to the fact that maybe he should have listened to Jonathan last time around. Oh well, live and learn, my man. We see two votes, Jonathan and Candice voting for each other. And no one is surprised and only Candice's family is upset to see the 5-3 vote sending the lead mutineer to Loser's Lodge. After a long hug and kiss (which kinda goes against the whole "you must leave the Tribal Council area immediately" thing) Candice makes her way to have her torch snuffed. What follows is a prime example of why no one other than Jeff Probst should EVER host this show. "Well, a kiss is nice. Maybe if it were love, he'd have given you the immunity necklace." BOOM!

Next time on Survivor, Parvati actually does some work and manages to cut herself with a machete. Jonathan indicates that she might not be able to continue with that injury. Also, the pressure is hitting Yul from all sides. He claims to feel like the Godfather arranging a hit on someone. This just in, Yul...when someone starts thinking they're in charge and talking about it, that's when the masses rise up and chop off his head. Either way, after another fantastic episode, I can't wait to see how this turns out. One more show like these last couple and the "best season ever" discussion will have to begin. Until next week, take care.