SURVIVOR VANUATU:
Islands of Fire
Lopevi Tribe
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Eighteen new castaways set sail for the islands of fire, Vanuatu, to brave the elements, the volcanoes, and the local cannibals for a chance to outwit, outplay, and outlast for $1 million.

Check out GSNN's Tribal Council to see who is left on the islands!

Recaps by Chico Alexander, and Chris Wolvie, GSNN


FACT FILE:
Host:
Jeff Probst
Creator: Charlie Parsons
EP: Mark Burnett, Charlie Parsons
Packager: Mark Burnett Prods., Survivor Prods., Castaway TV Prods.
Airs: Thursdays at 8:00pm ET on CBS


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"They Came At Us With Spears: Days 1-3" - September 16

Vanuatu. Perhaps you saw the country's athletes (all 4 or 5 of them) march in during the Olympics. It's an archipelago of 80 islands in the South Pacific. Nine active volcanoes exist within the nation because it's part of the "Ring of Fire", a wide circle of volcanoes which covers the entire Pacific Ocean.

Vanuatu. A country that's only really BEEN a country since 1980. A country where cannibalism is part of the history. A country whose native inhabitants are VERY into their spirituality.

Vanuatu. The site of the ninth rendition of SURVIVOR!

DAY 1: GET THIS PARTY STARTED.

Eighteen castaways from America are sailing into the island home of Mt. Yasur, one of the active volcanoes mentioned earlier. Nine men and nine women get a rather unexpected welcome from the natives: a tribe paddles out in canoes and whoop and holler as they approach. But a comforting sight appears as your host Jeff "Leaving Rock & Roll Jeopardy! Was The Best Move of My Life" Probst boards the craft.

Uncle Jeff tells them that, in order to be able to stay on the island, they must take part in a ceremony that they may find beautiful, sickening and frightening at different points. But he REMINDS them that this "rite of passage" is typical for them... and not to disrespect the natives since they're only visitors. The 18 people board the canoes in threesomes (though the one with a guy who only learned to swim six weeks ago (Travis) tips over momentarily) and begin their journey.

It starts with the tribe encircling them in their canoes as they paddle for the shore. Then, as soon as they REACH the shore, MORE tribesmen come at them and taunt them with spears right in their faces (well, not ALL of them; the African-American guys seem to be immune from their taunts). Then the women are separated from the men, the women made to kneel on the ground and watch as the men got to sit on stumps, drink sacred fluid and get the blood of a pig (that was killed right in front of them) smeared on them.

Then came the Spirit Stone. According to Uncle Jeff, it's supposed to ward off evil spirits and bad luck, which are the LAST things they need here. The chief of the tribe wants to give the men the Stone... IF they can grab it off the greased pole that a tribe member places it on top of. If they DON'T, the WOMEN get it. And it's here where we get the first inkling that it'll be men vs. women in this edition. The chief calls one of them (Brady by name) to take to the task first and he rubs his hands and feet with dirt for traction and mimics the tribe member perfectly to get the Stone! No sooner does he grab the stone... than it starts to rain. (SPOOKY!)

The ceremony ended, Uncle Jeff hands out buffs... and, indeed, it's the loved men against the downtrodden women. The men are the Lopevi Tribe and wear red buffs. And they are:

BRADY FINTA - 33, FBI agent from Huntington Beach, CA
TRAVIS SAMPSON - 33, loss prevention director from Blountville, TN
LEA MASTERS - 40, drill sergeant from Columbia, SC
CHRIS DAUGHERTY - 33, highway construction worker
BROOK GERAGHATY - 27, document manager from Winthrop, MA
RORY FREEMAN - 38, housing care manager
JOHN "J.P." PALYOK - 31, sales manager from L.A.
JOHN "JOHNNY" KENNEY - 22, model and mechanical bull operator from L.A.
CHAD CRITTENDEN - 35, teacher from Oakland, CA

The women are named after the volcano, the Yasur Tribe, and wear yellow. Then Uncle Jeff sends us down the beaches with NO map and NO torch to help. All that each tribe will have upon arrival are a machete, a pot and a map to drinking water... just like some of the previous Survivor editions. The tribes get sent in opposite direction... and I start my vague attempt to truly merge with my tribe by switching to a first-person-multiple pronoun narrative.

NIGHT 1: ON THE BEACH

While the women argued about whether to stay or go on, we have trouble finding our tribal flag as well. Rory says a game plan needs to be thought of, which sets Brook off him from the start. We decide to continue despite the tension... and we find our beach! We raise the Spirit Stone high and thank the various deities for finding it.

DAY 2: MAGNET AND STEEL

The sun comes up and we get our first real look at our beach... and it looks UGLY. The water is fresh but needs to be boiled... and that means fire. With no flint or matches in sight, we start the task of gather dry wood. J.P. works out a way to start a fire... though Chris feels, "he's got the frame but he ain't got the brain!" They made a small ember... but not enough to light brush or wood.

Chad then reveals a secret: he has a metal right leg! He lost his leg due to cancer close to 2 years ago and had a prosthetic limb attached.  This, of course, freaks ALL of us out. Brady thinks we're screwed because Chad'll get the sympathy vote... but Brook says he'll "vote his ass out" if he must.

DAY 3: REWARD/IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: SOMETHING'S BURNING

"Welcome... you've got Tree-Mail!":
 

A show of pride and unity each time the two tribes meet,
Bring your tribal flag with you whenever you compete.
Assess your tribemates' strengths, whose talents you'll require.
One tribe leaves with heads hung low, the others go home with fire.

Ah, the standard combination Reward AND Immunity Challenge that starts
every Survivor off with a bang. And, judging by the clue, SOMEONE is going to be able to boil some water tonight!

Down to Challenge Cove we go, where we meet Uncle Jeff and the Yasur Tribe of Ami, Dolly, Scout, Mia, Lisa, Leann, Eliza, Twila and Julie.  Uncle Jeff asks the girls how they're doing, and their first reaction is "no fun". We, on the other hip, have only one complaint: no fire. Well, that's what we're here for.

What we have is a wicked obstacle course. First, all nine members must crawl through mud under some beams. Three of us then work through a maze a ball which, once completed, we take with us since there are matches inside for later. Then all nine of us must navigate a high and narrow balance beam, being forced to start over if our feet touch the catch net at any time. After THAT, three OTHER members must build a fire (with the matches), burn through a rope and drop a torch. The first tribe to light their giant wok with their torch wins.

Then Uncle Jeff shows what we'll win. For Reward, we get the prerequisite flint which, in conjunction with the machete, should make fire. And then, of course, there's the Immunity Idol: a spear with a tiki on the handle. Whoever holds the Idol cannot be voted out of Tribal Council tonight... and that's WAY more important than fire in THIS game.

"Survivors ready...GO!" Aaaaand we're off! Now, one would think that, with an ex-military man on our team, we could get under the crawl no sweat. Well, one would be wrong. Our bulk makes it hard to stay under the beams. But, thanks to a little teamwork, we get everyone through a
split-second before the women do. Three are chosen to maneuver the
ball maze... and this is where we stumble. We run into a few dead-ends while the women calmly work their ball through. However, we manage to finish first and head for the balance beam.

Strength and speed is one thing... but balance is QUITE another. Chad's bum leg is a big hindrance to us as he keeps falling into the net.  But, thankfully, the women have more problems with the ball maze than WE did, so we have some time. John actually takes off his sneakers and walks across by grabbing the beam with his toes! Travis (called "Bubba") tries to crawl across instead of walk and, soon, EVERYBODY from BOTH tribes follow suit, making it look like a bad reproduction of a scene from "Full Metal Jacket".

It comes down to Chris vs. Scout for the last one across... and Chris STUMBLES! Scout crosses (inadvertently flashing the camera) and they get going on the fire. Chris tries to make it across after removing his muddy shoes... but Yasur has already made a big fire and brunt through the rope. For the second time in a Men vs. Women edition of Survivor, the women have kicked the males' asses (not to mention their libido) and have won the flint and the Immunity Idol!

NIGHT 3: IT'S RAINING, MEN!

To say that my namesake is depressed would be an insult to Zoloft users everywhere. The men comfort Chris and laugh it off... but it's on Chris' mind that he's most-likely the #1 suspect for letting his tribe lose to women.

And his paranoia is well-founded. As soon as he walks away by himself, some of the other guys discuss him being the victim at Tribal Council.  Lea, however, says he'll think about it, not feeling Chris is the "weakest link". Lea then tells Chris about this and they ally themselves to get Brook off instead. Of course, it IS seven against two so... that'll be tough. Brook seems to know himself as a target, but Brady assures him that it isn't Brook going down tonight (either Chris or Rory, he thinks.)

TRIBAL COUNCIL: MEN ARE GETTIN' SCARCE

To Uncle Jeff's Stone Temple of Doom march nine bummed guys. They grab their torches and stick them in the fire to represent their life... in the game. Before one of us heads home, though, let's talk about the DEBACLE that was the Challenge.

Almost half the men blame Chris for the loss because, according to Lea, it was "so easy". Chris never thought during the Challenge that he was dead, since he didn't feel that way about Rory on Night 1 when HE was running his mouth. Rory thinks he fits in "fabulously well" with the "family". J.P. says they're on "red alert" due to the lack of drinking water.

Travis is upset that they underestimated the women and hopes everyone respects them. Brook wouldn't mind ending up on a tribe with some of them and promises NOT to underestimate. J.P. still cannot BELIEVE nine "strong men" got their asses handed to them like that.

And with that, it is time to vote. One by one, they head for the voting room, uncork a magic marker made to look like something native and write names on parchment on who they want out. First is Brook (who votes for Chris), then Rory, Lea, J.P., Johnny (voting for Rory), Chad, Brady, Travis and, finally, Chris (telling Brook that "it's all part of the game").

Uncle Jeff reads the votes: Chris, Chris, Rory, Brook, Chris... and then, shockingly, four STRAIGHT votes for... BROOK! That's five votes, that's the majority... and that's all for the project manager. The tribe has spoken and his torch is snuffed.

Then Uncle Jeff reminds us that we have no drinking water, we cannot bring fire back (like in "All-Stars", we can't bring our torches back lit until we earn or make fire) and that three different tribe members were voted for. We head back to camp with our heads hung at half-mast. Not a very good way to start off our Survivor experience.

(BTW, Chico, you would think, since you have the women, that a woman will win. Well, remember, Gordon didn't predict the last Celebrity Mole after guessing the first three... so every streak is made to be BROKEN! >:) )

(C-Note: Game on, son...)

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