Survivor Vanuatu: Episode Fifteen
Spirits and the Final Four
By David Mumpower
December 13, 2004
And then there were four.
If you are just coming in off the street for the last episode, you haven't missed much. Survivor started this season with 18 contestants. Nine men and nine women were separated based solely upon possession of the Y chromosome. After over a month of struggles, the players who have proven themselves to be the best of the best are...
Scout is an aging hippy with an unexpected mean streak. If she doesn't like you, her weapon of choice is to sing Memories until your will to live has been destroyed. Judging from her behavior this season, Scout has done more drugs in her lifetime than Ozzy Osbourne, and the impact of self-medication is similar. She is addle-minded, emotionally unstable and utterly devoid of rational thought. Scout, the ancient, stoned-out hippy chick is one of the four best players this season.
Twila is a frail salt of the earth type with a driving need to bluntly speak her peace. An opponent always knows where they stand with this brash lady, as she has never had an unspoken thought in her life. Twila also carries a scarlet letter at the moment in the form of the season's most impacting deception. In order to shiv a couple of sorority chicks she hated, the fiery everywoman promised on the life of her child (yes, she has reproduced) that she would remain loyal. Her duplicity earned her deeper advancement in the tournament than would have been possible otherwise, but the act has tarnished her reputation among her peers. Twila is white trash with a bad attitude straight out of the Sue Hawk mold sans the Richard Hatch groping. Twila is one of the four best players this season.
Chris, the lone remaining phallus bearer, is an angry alcoholic with a deep-set insecurity complex. Since his first monologue on the show, he has demonstrated the type of homicidal anger that has oftentimes lead people to incarceration and/or institutionalization. The proverbial last man on Earth has issues with women (tell me about your mother, Chris), men, and presumably, children, clowns, puppets and small woodland creatures. His anger is the stuff of myth and legend yet he is what passes for rational out of the remaining contestants. Chris is THE best player this season. It's enough to make Boston Rob cry.
And then there is Eliza. How would I describe Eliza? Okay, remember that girl you knew in college? The one who sucked up to the teachers? The one who cheated on all the tests by writing answers on her fingernails. That self-involved brat who wanted to be your friend/lover. But this was only so that you would lavish constant attention and gifts upon her while listening to her endless droning about the obtuse trivialities of her life? Okay, THAT woman looks down on Eliza for all of her personal failings. The girl is so loathsome that I start to sound like Chris when I describe her. Freakin' *Eliza* is one of the four best players this cycle.
Welcome to Survivor: Vanuatu, a show where only the good died young. That trend should continue tonight, as whichever one of Eliza or Scout who survives to the final three (assuming it's not both) will likely make the final vote. Why? The other players know that going up against one of them is their best shot at winning a popular vote. As annoyed as others are with Chris for beating the odds or Twila for her deception, they are still more respectable players than the others. In fact, the worst case scenario tonight would be for a final vote of Eliza vs. Scout. That's like being forced to pick between presidential candidates named Kerry and Bush. Nobody wants that.
The most recent tribal council had seen power player Chris forced to choose whether to target Julie or Twila. Tonight's episode begins with the four remaining players dealing with the ramifications of this. Chris calmly but firmly explains to the camera the basis for his decision.
Two weeks before, Julie had professed to be a member of the men's alliance after the tribes merged. Swayed by her heaving bosom and curvaceous hips, they chose to believe her. Every man but Chris was executed soon afterward. Rather than overplay his position due to a driving need for revenge, Chris bided his time waiting. Once an opportunity finally presented itself to return the treacherous favor, he did so. Frankly, it's once of the best reversals of fortune in the show's history and his play was masterful.
The outcome of his behavior is that Eliza is prone to whine more than usual. How severe a concern is this for the other contestants? Van Gogh chopped off an ear over less. It's as if the woman has a siren-like song except rather than entice others, her nasally tone creates an instant bleeding from the ear. Her voice roughly equates to the nautical pressure created from being 20,000 leagues under the sea sans earplugs. Just cut out her tongue and be done with it, people!
So, the first several minutes of the show feature Eliza complaining while everyone else ignores her. After the sixth consecutive variant of "woe is me" in her soliloquy, Twila decides enough is enough. At this point, something snaps in the feisty old curmudgeon, and she decides to take the offensive. And boy, is she ever brutally offensive.
Twila's single point of attack is this onslaught: "The only reason you're here, Eliza, is because everybody's used you up to this point." In the Mortal Kombat vernacular, that's a fatality.
Foiled at every turn by Twila, Eliza moves back to Chris. Her attempt to grill him over his perceived slight is met with a forcible campfire karaoke rendition of Have a Little Faith in Me. He denies that he has broken their pact, and assures the girl that he dearly wants to take her to the final vote. Eliza, you should trust him on this one. The only way this could be more true were if you were wearing a boy scout uniform.
Another segment of Eliza prattling on about her plight unfolds. I bet her diary is a 28 volume opus, but I can quickly summarize it for you. "Me! Me. Me. Me. Meeeeeeee!"
Probst sighting! The first all-important immunity challenge will go a long way in determining the final vote's participants. Chris is the heavy favorite to win this season but if Eliza takes immunity, it's possible the women will put all their differences aside long enough to eliminate the current power player. Since Scout is not a factor in any challenge which involves movement, there is a 1 in 3 chance of such a scenario unfolding. Otherwise, it's likely that Chris will be forced to sell out Eliza to the Two Crones in anticipation of his winning the final immunity challenge.
With a couple of key permutations waiting to unfold, the challenge proceeds as follows. The contestants must climb the first ever vertical maze, retrieve ten sets of puzzle pieces, unlock them and solve a two-word answer. Sensing their perilous predicament, the three competitors knock Scout out of the way. Chris bags his ten pairs (dirty!) and starts trying to solve the mystery. In impressive fashion, he deduces the answer as Final Three, earning that acknowledgement. His celebration demonstrates he is well aware of how much he stood to lose from failure. Say what you will about Chris. He has come through at crunch time at several points.
After the break, Scout and Twila group hug Chris, demonstrating the almost certain result of the evening's vote. Cleverly, Chris suggests that Twila talk smack to Eliza. As she aptly summarizes, creating ill feelings with losing contestants would cost her and help Chris in a final vote. Even in the subtleties, he is working hard to win this game.
At tribal council, Eliza blithely talks about the special bond that exists between Chris and herself. This causes looks of scorn and even a guffaw from the members of the royal court who sit in the jury. Fittingly enough, Queen Ami sits on the step above ladies-in-waiting Leann and Julie, offering her unsolicited regal disgust to this comment. It makes me wonder if Ami is even aware that she lost.
A humorous moment occurs when Twila is asked about her level of trust in the remaining players. After pointing out that she has packed her stuff, Twila states she has not been at ease this much since the game began. Eliza almost self-inflicts whiplash as she spins around to look at Chris. He keeps his eyes forward, but the next five minutes are nothing more than playing out the string. Four votes later, Eliza glares at Chris and bristles at his backstabbing, then exits stage left as the fifteenth contestant voted off the show. Seriously, child, what did you think was going to happen at the vote? If Chris votes with you, it's a 2-2 deadlock with unknown tiebreaker rules. How is this a surprise? And think of the positives! Now you can go hang out with the pretty girls!
So, how do you think the mood is at camp after the vote? Joyous? Jubilant? Orgasmic? The correct answer is all of the above. Scout even tries to do a jig, demonstrating yet another way that she doesn't move well. The following morning sees Probst arrive to do the dreaded final rite of passage (i.e. 20 minutes of show filler). The contestants will paddle across the river to Hat Island, the place where Roy Mata was betrayed, killed and buried. What a happy destination resort spot!
Once the trio reaches the island, the losers are eulogized. The only moment of note is when they mention Dolly the Sheep Farmer. You might have lost the contest, Dolly, but you won the gimmick war! We miss you sooooo much. Meanwhile, 14 other people are shown and I barely remember any of them. There was a guy named Lea on the show? What a sissy.
The final tribal challenge is the latest variation of the force of will battles that Mark Burnett loves. The three remaining contestants must hold a bow and arrow in the ready position for as long as possible while awkwardly balancing on two stumps. Unlike previous iterations, this test requires balance and strength as well as resolve. Unsurprisingly, Scout is out in the blink of an eye. Soon afterward, Chris offers to Twila a deal for the two of them to go to the final. The reason why is obvious to anyone who remembers his struggles in challenges. The lumbering male has poor coordination, and this has encumbered him while attempting to cross tightropes, balance beams and the like. If only Chris had taken gymnastics as a boy.
The negotiations reveal a surprise, though. Twila refuses to deal, thereby announcing to her opponent that she would take Scout with her to the final vote. This tidbit of information inspires Chris to hang in there. An hour later, they are both still steady in their awkward pose, but Chris is not struggling. Twila is at the end of her rope. A few moments later, a stumble costs the woman a guaranteed spot in the finals. Chris has won immunity for the second time in the final episode.
When the trio returns, Chris attempts to ascertain his position. He asks Scout if the two women had a secret agreement in place behind his back. Scout, to her own detriment, denies such a pact. This relieves the man, but leaves him with a difficult selection for end game. Would the jury be more likely to reward Scout for staying below radar while doing little? Or would they overlook Twila's treachery as an acknowledgement that she played the game exactly as was needed to make it to the final? In the end, he chooses to honor the pact he had with the woman he liked best, Twila.
Scout is the 16th person eliminated from competition.
How in the blue hell did Scout make it to the final three???
The final segment before the jury discussion/deliberation involves further proof that these two were the most focused of the final nine players. Each monologues about their strategy for the coming q&a period. Chris, mastermind to the end, tempts Twila into taking no crap from any of the women she outlasted. His thought process behind this summarizes the situation well. There still exists the possibility that the five women in the jury might band together for the final vote. If, however, Twila is haughty and unapologetic, only two of those same women need to split to add their votes to Sarge and Chad. That would be enough for Chris to win a meeeeelion dollars.
The final tribal council begins with a discussion of what's at stake. With all due respect, Mr. Probst, if they have not figured that out by now, they shouldn't be here (hi Eliza!).
Neither of them will ever be described as Daniel Webster. Chris states that he feels he should win because he overcame the most obstacles while staying loyal to his alliances. Twila just says she thinks she urrrned it.
Eliza is the first loser given the opportunity to question the contenders. She struts up to the panel, places her hands on her hips and gets in proper neck bobbing position. Here's hoping she leads with, "Oh no, you di'in't." What amuses me the most is how self-delusional Eliza is. She has somehow convinced herself she is a flaming badass. That's like the New York Yankees convincing themselves that games 4-7 of the ALCS never happened.
Eliza chooses not to ask a question. Instead, she promises her vote to whichever contestant apologizes to her the best. Trust Eliza to make the final tribal council all about her. At least the brat is consistent.
Twila's encounter with Eliza is heated. Shocker. When Twila states that Eliza talks too much, the frustrated women replies, "That's a lie!" If only CBS would do an insta-poll at this moment...
When the conversation goes as expected and Eliza gets whipped, she tries to turn it around by asking, "Is this an apology?" Without missing a beat, Twila snaps: "You feel that I am a lying, deceptive bitch? Well, I think that you are a spoiled rotten little child. And if you don't owe me an apology for how you feel about me, then why should I apologize to you..."
Chris follows suit by saying, "You're right. I owe you an apology. I broke our pact and I am sorry." The sun in Eliza's smile says it all. Chris is now allowed to braid her hair and sit at her tea parties once more! And oh yeah, he can have her vote and her virginity, too!
An emotional sequence unfolds next. Julie, who had been crying since she sat down, dismisses Twila out of hand. As she succinctly states, "I am voting for Chris or against him." She then turns to him and unleashes a fury of disgust with his betrayal. I mentioned earlier in the column that he had been plotting revenge since Julie had manipulated then betrayed Sarge. She has forgotten this aspect of their relationship. It's obvious that like Kathy with Boston Rob last year, her friendship with Chris was genuine. His decision to betray her in order to stay true to his alliance with Scout and Twila has left a bitter taste in her mouth.
When pressed on this issue, Chris is obviously dumbfounded by the ferocity of her emotions. Near tears himself, all he can muster is a lie about when his manipulations began followed by a sincere apology. It's this last statement which appears to redeem him in her eyes. The hour long show following the vote will be interesting to watch, as I wonder how she feels after having watched the shows and seeing otherwise.
Unlike her counterpart, Leann focuses her questions on Twila. The crux of the discussion involves the now-infamous promise on her son's life. Twila continues to show a complete lack of grace under pressure. While trying to placate Leann, she further burns a bridge with a thoughtless comment. "I did trust you. Ami, I never trusted full-heartedly." Ami's scowl speaks volumes about the likelihood of Twila getting her vote now.
On a sidenote, Ami's post-elimination behavior has been so off-putting that I regret any compliment I might have given her previously. If she and Eliza were at a party together, I swear I would rather talk to Chatty Cathy than Her Royal Jackassedness. Ami's question to not-so-loyal subject Chris is what quality this peasant might possess which would allow him to advance further than a woman as highly evolved as her majesty, the queen.
Knowing his target audience well, Chris lays on the humility, describing Ami's compassion as the closest quality she has to a weakness. "You gave me a break. I didn't give you a break in return. That was your undoing." Effectively, Chris says that if Kid Ego has a problem, it's that she is too perfect. This is the only answer a person as self-centered as Ami would accept.
After this, Ami turns to Twila and points out her duplicity just in case the other voters might have missed it the first dozen times mentioned. Seriously, what's the point of this nonsense? We see it every season on the last episode, and it's beyond annoying. Oh no! Twila lied once this season on Survivor! This is historically unprecedented, Queen Ami the Deposed! You are right to wag your finger at her thusly! May you continue to champion truth, justice and the American way, o glorious paragon of virtue!
Chad and Sarge come up next, toss a couple of softballs to Twila then slurp Chris for a while. There is no chance Chris loses either man's vote despite the fact that Sarge says otherwise. He only needs to sway two of the women in order to win. And hey, would you look at that! Eliza + Ami = two votes! Actually, Ami has been stubbornly loyal to the women's alliance throughout the season, so despite recent events, there is little reason to believe she will betray that agreement now. But I doubt she ever gives Twila free coffee at Starbucks.
Conversely, Scout is a no-brainer for Twila. After a couple of moments of Peace, Love, Dope and rambling, she tries to throw Twila a lifejacket. She applauds Twila for her honesty then attempts to impugn Chris for being a "bullshitter up to your ears". Believe it or not, Scout, many of your counterparts figured that out quite some time ago.
The closing comments from each contestant demonstrate the intensity of the situation. Professional hardass Twila chokes up as she apologizes for her behavior. This confession has the unexpected impact of causing Ami to tear up as well.
In his response, Chris scores huge points with the audience. He speaks to each of the members of the jury personally rather than offering a summary. His initial response is to Julie, and this is the masterstroke. After apologizing profusely and professing himself unworthy of her friendship, he reveals an object sitting behind him. He has brought Julie her hat. The woman's full body swoon is proof enough that all is forgiven or at least the fence is well on its way to being mended. After another heartfelt apology to Eliza, he thanks the men for their friendship. He is also honest about his good fortunes when he speaks to Ami and Leann. It's an impressive performance and one almost certain to win the season's best player a million dollars.
As is the norm, a couple of votes are revealed (Eliza and Sarge for Chris, Scout and Ami for Twila). Afterward, a ridiculous cut is made to nascent action hero Jeff Probst traversing the ocean to deliver the seven votes to the live show. Fantasy Island does not have the cheesy production value of these segments. This one sees him wielding a machete through treacherous terrain in order to reach a charter jet. From there, he parachutes out of a plane to a waiting motorcycle. Have some pride, Jeff.
When we reach the live segment, Twila is sporting a most triumphant mullet while Chris is looking like Meatloaf's long lost twin. He would do anything for a million bucks, but he won't do that!
Ladies and gentlemen, one of these people is about to be a millionaire. How sad is this?
The final vote is 5-2 in favor of Chris Daugherty, the worthy champion of Survivor: Vanuatu. The season lacked for quality entertainment until the last month, but the last five episodes certainly made for some good TV.