Survivor Vanuatu: Episode Fourteen

Eruptions of a Volcanic Magnitude!

By David Mumpower

December 10, 2004

Sarge, don't you think I'm pretty?

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Last time on Survivor, all of the contestants save Julie and Eliza were jubilant. Ami's elimination had them dancing and singing "Ding Dong, the witch is dead!" With the puppet master of the women's alliance gone, it's anybody's ballgame as the festivities come to an end today and Sunday.

Even the worst case scenario winners, Scout and Eliza, have a 20% chance each of bagging the million dollars. It's enough to make one wonder if mayhap the rules of the game are innately flawed. Should Scout, a stoner who can't even count to five, be allowed to proceed any further?

How about Eliza? She has more votes against her than Clinton got during his impeachment proceedings. Shouldn't there be some sort of rollover votes system in place? You think I'm kidding but let's be honest here. Eliza has more votes against her than several of the eliminated players. The only people in the world who have taken more of a beating lately are Notre Dame boosters.

But the rules clearly state that one person, no matter how undeserving, must win the prize. We call it the Vecepia Clause. That means that you should brace yourself for the words "Survivor Champion" to be followed in quick succession by either Twila, Julie, Chris, Scout or Eliza. Poor Boston Rob must be pulling his hair out at the thought of this indignation.

Taking pride in the title of the week's episode, we are immediately treated to a volcanic eruption. Shiny! Soon thereafter, Julie's breasts are blurred out as the tribe returns to camp. Not so shiny!

Among the first words uttered this week come from Scout: "It's an incredibly beautiful night!" Way to be a sore winner, Gloater. Have you learned nothing from the teachings of the Grateful Dead?

Not everyone shares her warm spirits, though. Twila has spent most of the walk home ruminating on comments her ally, Eliza, made at tribal council. The fact that Twila offered a bold-faced lie about her son to Leann and Ami in order to bamboozle them is a sticking point to Ami's Mini-Me wannabe. The mentioning of it to Probst has set Twila off. By the campfire, the grizzled elder takes the newbie to task for mentioning it. How scary is she during the discussion? For once, Eliza knows to keep her mouth shut. Nothing else on tonight's episode will match the shock of this occurrence.

Julie, who has spent more time with Twila than anyone, sums up the conversation best. "Twila's outburst really looked like a heinous insecurity just projected on us. I'm actually kind of glad she did it, because I know it completely turned everybody off."

Twila begins the next morning storming off to be on her own. This leads the other players to begin speculating about strategy. A humorous conversation occurs between Julie and Eliza. Sensing that her younger counterpat is so gullible as to almost be tricked into keeping Ami around, Julie attempts the same trick. When she asks the hot-headed brat why it would be better to vote Julie off instead of Twila, Eliza can't think of a reason. She's a master strategist, that one.

The segment drives home the point that the two players who have their eye on the prize are Chris and Julie. Anyone who has been watching the past several episodes already realizes this about Chris. A good portion of his confessionals are predicated upon strategy. Conversely, Julie has played a game of subterfuge, keeping her hole cards hidden at all times. Anyone who paid attention to her total manipulation of Sarge realizes it's there, but the deft touch she possesses is impressive.

Now, the suggestion Eliza makes is for the two young hotties to go to him and offer a final three alliance. Chris would be making a huge mistake in dropping his current ties, because Julie is the one player who matches up very well against him. We will learn a lot about how well aware he is of this fact by his reaction when the inevitable conversation occurs. Due to her need for his vote, Julie must be really, really, reeeeeeally regretting the way she torched Sarge right in front of his buddy.

Hey, look, it's that handsome young Jeff Probst! He brings news of the reward challenge, a competition that blends elements of several prior events. At this moment, Scout expresses her displeasure at this news. Apparently, she had built up confidence that she could compete at today's challenge. Exactly what event would that have been, Scout? Who can drink the bong water fastest?

The first leg of the race is a mud pit crawl where the first four contestants qualify for the next leg. Any guesses about who gets eliminated here? I will give you a minute if need be. It is a shocker, after all. That's right, Scout only makes it halfway to the end in the time that the other four contestants manage to finish. I haven't been this surprised since Vanderbilt failed to get a BCS bid.

Round 2 is the ever-popular pig chase. Needless to say, Eliza loses here. You can break a nail on those things if you're not careful. The third leg is the tying/untying knot puzzle. Chris jumps off to a massive lead and thinks he has finished. A cruel cameraman shows that he is missing one piece of the puzzle, something Chris never figures out until he has lost and Probst points it out to him. Tragic but hilarious.

The final round is an obstacle course followed by a slingshot competition where three plates must be broken. Julie gets off to a huge lead, helped by Twila taking a fall and injuring her leg. Julie also proves to be accurate at the slingshot, going three for three. She earns bonus points for boisterously declaring, "I am going to win!" before hitting the last point. All in all, she was dominant in the challenge, a fact that may backfire in her candidacy to remain. With Ami gone, she is at worst the second strongest player left and arguably the best.

Julie's reward is to take herself and a friend to an overnight rendezvous at Mount Yasur. Julie boldly declares that none of them would have taken her, a lie since Eliza has a girlcrush on her. Demonstrating how hard she is playing the game, she selects Chris as her partner. This is a guy whose smell she was complaining about last week, so you know it's not the normal Sadie Hawkins selection process.

When Chris and Julie reach the bottom of the volcano, they are greeted by the fabulously named Joe Ture from Tanna. He might not be Da, but I am coming to terms with the fact that Da ain't coming back this season. It's my problem and I will deal with it. In the interim, long live Joe Ture from Tanna!

Guide/sherpa in tow, the duo ascends Mount Yasur by horseback. Chris, obviously not a rodeo cowboy by trade, has difficulty navigating a segment of the river. After Julie (barely) makes it across, he receives a sharp rebuke from Joe Ture from Tanna to be more of a man. It's like a metaphor for the entire season to date.

At the camp, the unlikely couple are greeted by hot dogs, beer and a dubious convection oven. It seems that volcanic fissures double as a microwave. After three minutes in the hole, a footlong is as cooked as your average Dodger Dog. This ends your "If you ever wind up stuck in a Lost scenario" cooking tip segment of the column.

Meanwhile, the remaining three contestants exemplify why they are accurately described as the least likely alliance ever. Twila and Scout gang up on Eliza over her desire to eat some bananas Twila had tucked away. I didn't have Twila pegged as a Donkey Kong protege.

When Eliza gets frustrated and threatens to hide more food, Scout openly mocks her for her idle threat. Boy, you know you have hit rock bottom when Scout is talking smack to you. These three might work together for one more vote, but there is just as good a chance that this relationship ends in a machete slash.

After the meal, Julie and Chris are treated to the island's answer to fireworks. The volcano erupts in explosive blasts of lava, creating a shooting spree of red lights for the contestants to enjoy. This is probably the most visually stimulating sequence in the show's history.

When Chris returns to Alinta, he quickly reassures Twila and Scout that nothing has changed while he was alone with Julie. Immediately after that, Eliza broaches the subject of the two of them joining Julie. Without blinking, he acknowledges the possibility of this, showing that he really is working all angles. As he later summarizes, he trusts none of the women (not even Eliza, who would be his geisha girl if only he would ask) yet they all trust him. After thinking it over for a moment, I must acknowledge he's probably right. At this point, it's going to take a tremendous turn of events for him to not make the final three.

The immunity challenge (i.e. Julie's only hope for survival) is a combination footrace/game of island Trivial Pursuit. Apparently, a dude named Roy Mata became king, then got whacked by his brother. It sounds like they ripped off an episode of The Sopranos to me. As the other contestants race to acquire the six puzzle pieces needed to win immunity, the only thing that becomes evident is that Scout is the worst challenge competitor in the show's history. In the end, Eliza (!) takes the prize, meaning...

It's time to play It's Anyone but Julie. But there is really no point. Only a fool would shake things up this week. The editing of course shows Eliza saying that she's confident she and Chris will join with Julie to vote against Twila. Chris is never going to go for that, so naturally there is footage shown of him saying to Julie that he swears he will keep her this vote. Thirty seconds later, he has the same conversation with Twila. Somewhere, Clay from three seasons ago is beaming with pride.

The most intriguing part of the final segment involves the loud-mouthed Eliza finally being held accountable for her inability to shut up. As she brashly plots against presumed allies Twila and Scout, the former woman walks up right behind her. After eavesdropping long enough, she chimes in that mayhap Eliza should be a bit more conservative in her plotting. Even Chris is called into question by Twila, who does seem to be giving into paranoia a bit more as the number of contestants dwindles. This is the third straight season where someone has managed to overhear a conversation they shouldn't. Is it really that hard to find an abandoned spot on a desert island?

Posted without comment: "They're all women. How do you trust any of them?"

The tribal council largely involves the discussion of worthiness. When pressed about whether any of the remaining five might not deserve to still be there, Twila is unusually reticent to answer. The normally blunt woman hems and haws for a moment before finally saying yes. At this point, Eliza proclaims, "It's me!"

When given the opportunity to retaliate, Eliza offers an unexpectedly accurate reply. She says that while she likes some eliminated contestants "a million times more", all the people remaining deserve it. This is the correct answer. Say what you will about the participants (as I did at the start of this very recap), their willingness to work with people they hate in order to advance makes them noteworthy in the show's annals. I mean Julie was even willing to sit between Sarge's legs, for God's sake. What a competitor!

Once the vote starts, it becomes clear that Chris has not told Eliza and Julie of his intentions. This might prove costly if he makes the final vote, as he has forsaken their goodwill in exchange for this one vote. It's a price he is obviously willing to pay, though. Julie loses a 3-2 vote. This season's final four are annoying Eliza, gimpy Scout, abrasive Twila and phallocentric Chris. I would imagine you would have made a lot of money in Vegas picking this particular quartet.



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