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?

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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.

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