Tag Archives: Survivor: Vietnam

Survivor: Quest for Redemption – Day 1

17 Apr

Survivor: Vietnam - Quest for Redemption

Welcome one and all – you’ve read the format and theme, you’ve met the tribes… now it begins! To break down the game into bite-sized pieces, we’ll be posting one day every few days over the next few months – not only will it mean nice reads of reasonable length for you the fans, but it will also mean the season will run about the same length as a regular television season. But everything else will be the same – every three days there’ll be one (or more) challenges, and every third night someone is going to voted out. So without further ado, TwoDaysSpecial kicks off its first long-running feature – Survivor: Vietnam – Quest for Redemption…!

Day 1

In the waters off the southern coast of Vietnam, two boats are descending upon the islands of the Con Dao National Park. In the boats are eighteen Americans – all former one-time only castaways from previous seasons of Survivor who fell victim unusually bad luck beyond their control or uncommon twists that resulted in their elimination from game. Now, each of them will have a chance for redemption as they return to play once again and prove they are indeed worthy of the title of Sole Survivor. And in 39 days’ time, the ultimate redemption will be reaped for one of the returnees when they outwit, outplay and outlast all others and win the million-dollar prize.

Two tribes of nines arrived on separate boats to Con Dao National Park in Vietnam’s far south, unaware of the other’s tribe’s existence and with no idea who would be on their opposing tribe.

The Tre Lo’n tribe, who will always wear yellow, consists of the following returning castaways:

  • Greg Buis from Survivor: Borneo
  • Tracy Hughes-Wolf from Survivor: Micronesia
  • Stephen Fishbach from Survivor: Tocantins
  • Jeff Varner from Survivor: The Australian Outback
  • Laura Morett from Survivor: Samoa
  • Aaron Reisberger from Survivor: China
  • Sundra Oakley from Survivor: Cook Islands
  • Ian Rosenberger from Survivor: Palau
  • RC Saint-Amour from Survivor: Philippines

The Da Trang tribe, who will always wear green, consists of the following returning castaways:

  • Misty Giles from Survivor: Panama
  • Hunter Ellis from Survivor: Marquesas
  • Darrah Johnson Sparacino from Survivor: Pearl Islands
  • Terry Deitz from Survivor: Panama
  • Jenny Guzon-Bae from Survivor: Cook Islands
  • Angie Jakusz from Survivor: Palau
  • Jeff Wilson from Survivor: Palau
  • Betsy Bolan from Survivor: Samoa
  • Andrew Savage from Survivor: Pearl Islands

The two boats containing each tribe arrived a small inlet on the island of Con Dao, the main island of the national park of the same name that the castaways would be calling home for the next 39 days.

Da Trang’s boat reached the shore first, giving Tre Lon’n a brief opportunity to survey their opposition as they disembarked.

Tre Lo’n:
 StephenStephen “They’ve got some strong personalities over there, a lot of alpha males that were leaders last time. It will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out.”
Jeff Varner
Jeff V
“It was great just to see some guys around my age. I feel like the old man on our tribe!”
 TracyTracy “I’m just excited to be back playing Survivor again. I thought my chance had come and gone, to have a once in a lifetime experience twice is a real blessing.”

As the eighteen returnees disembarked, Jeff Probst walked out of the undercanopy to greet them as they filed onto the beach. After handing out buffs and tribal flags, Jeff then revealed to the castaways that their quest for redemption would begin from scratch – the tribes would each be starting the game with virtually no provisions or supplies. With this, Jeff gestured to two small wooden crates – one painted green for Da Trang, the other yellow for Tre Lo’n – which contained the very basics: one machete, one pot, and one bag of rice which would be useless until fire and water had been acquired.

With that, Jeff handed Angie from Da Trang and Stephen from Tre Lo’n a map each, explaining that the map would show them the way to their respective camps and water supplies, and sent the redemption seekers on their way.

Da Trang:
 Jeff WilsonJeff W “It was crazy enough coming back to play this game again with all these people I’d seen on TV or even played with before, but this just unbelievable having to start with so little supplies. I mean, we’re returning survivors, but this is going to be really hard going right from the start. I don’t know how badly this will affect us going ahead, but it will affect us somehow.”
 MistyMisty “I guess if we’re going to get our redemption, it makes sense to test us and make us prove we’re worthy of our second chance right from Day 1. And I’m darn sure gonna prove it.”

Upon seeing the limited supplies provided, some in the Tre Lo’n camp were anxious about the journey ahead.

Tre Lo’n:
 Jeff VarnerJeff V “Aside from the fact I haven’t played this game in 12 years, I haven’t even gone camping – let alone survived on minimal supplies – since I left the first time!”
 GregGreg “I love it, this is why I wanted to be on the show originally… for the adventure and the survival element.”
 RC
RC
“Having just come home from the island, I’m anxious about doing it all again and whether I can survive this experience again.”

Da Trang arrived at their camp after a 45-minute canoe trip. After brief a discussion over whether to set up shelter or try to make fire first, the team agreed to split into two groups – one to begin quickly preparing at least a rudimentary shelter before sundown, and the other group to collect firewood in preparation of an early attempt in the morning to start fire. Taking the opportunity to work with Terry away from the other tribe members, Hunter offered to form an alliance with him as they carried wood back to the planned camp area.

Da Trang:
 HunterHunter “I got voted off last time because I didn’t ally myself with like-minded people who respected hard work and integrity and wanted to make sure there was no dead weight on the team. That’s not going to happen again. It might be a little forward forging alliances and strategizing on the first night, but I’m willing to take a gamble. Every one’s going to want to stay in this and try and win a lot more than the first time we all played, and I can’t risk being left behind again with the social side of the game.”

Terry agreed with Hunter that it would be good strategy for the men on the tribe to stick together, and the two later spoke to Andrew Savage about joining the emerging alliance. Savage agreed quickly, stating that the work ethic and attitudes of the trio made it both ideal and practical for them all to join forces with each other.

Da Trang:
 SavageAndrew “We need to keep this tribe strong right from the start. The first time around my tribe was not interested in staying physically and mentally strong, and it cost us dearly, especially myself. If we don’t start strong, forget about trying to finish strong – most of us might not even get halfway through this game.”

Before beginning the task of collecting firewood, Betsy took the liberty of tracking down Da Trang’s water supply before the light faded. Following the map, she quickly found a makeshift well, but deduced that, as is usually the case in Survivor, the water would need to be boiled before it would be safe to drink.

Da Trang:
 BetsyBetsy “I know some of the guys are pretty ‘alpha male’ and wanted to build the shelter first and show off their strength and work attitude. I get it. I’ve seen these guys play before and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what they’re like, both from television and from observing them this morning. But I really question putting off trying to make fire for now when we have no fresh water and there doesn’t look to be bad weather coming over the island tonight. We’ve indulged them today by letting them do what they want, but I think we’re going to have to make sure they don’t start throwing their weight around camp. It might be easier convince people to stand up to them tomorrow or the day after if we can’t get a fire started by then and we’re all dehydrated and hungry because of their bad prioritisation of the first lot of jobs.”

Upon Tre Lo’n’s arrival at their camp, discussions immediately turned to what was most important initially fire or shelter. A split formed in the group with Jeff, Greg, Laura, and ironically Sundra wanting to make fire first while the other members decided shelter was the better option. After a back and forth discussion it was decided that the group would indeed build shelter first. Sundra and Tracy were tasked with finding the water source while the others began construction of the shelter.

Tre Lo’n:
 Ian
Ian
“Shelter was a no-brainier for me. From experience you can spend hours unsuccessfully trying to make fire, while in that time you can build a decent shelter to live and sleep in.”
 SundraSundra “I’m just concerned that without fire, we will be without food and water, and those things are crucial in surviving and winning out here.”
GregGreg “I argued for fire because I’m not even going to use the shelter – I’ve already got materials together for my own outdoor mattress made out of the finest Vietnamese bamboo.”

After the initial disagreements the tribe worked well together and the shelter was completed by the early evening. During construction of the shelter, small groups started to form and alliances were on the agenda.

Tre Lo’n:
 Jeff VarnerJeff V “Everybody here’s a fan of the show and knows that forming early alliances is crucial to longevity in this game. Therefore, everybody is scrambling to form that core group. I’ve had numerous people come up to me today and promise final two and final four. It’s Day 1, for Christ’s sake. I’m just going to sit back and go along with their plans but let me make it clear I’m not committed to anyone.”
 Stephen

Stephen
“Coming into this game I knew I had to improve my social game, because in the end I lost a popularity contest in Tocantins. However, I also knew I needed to align myself with someone I could trust and play the game with, because in Survivor loyalty is king and it is a commodity that you can manipulate to your advantage in this game.”

When retrieving firewood, Stephen approached Ian about an alliance: “Ian, I need a person I can trust and that will be loyal to the end. You saw the way I played last time – when I make an alliance on Day 1, I stick to it” Ian was quite receptive to the idea. “I’m all about loyalty and I think we can go far together we just need to bring in some others to form a tight five to protect us during the early votes”.

RC approached both Ian and Stephen and offered herself as a member of any alliance going forward. As a group they decided to keep it between the three of them until Day Two when they would look to bring in two more members.

Tre Lo’n:
 RC
RC
“This is exactly what a wanted coming into this game – to form an alliance with two players that have their heads screwed on and have a knowledge of the game. I have been burnt before by aligning and trusting people who aren’t level-headed and emotionally stable, so to have an alliance with players like Ian and Stephen is a perfect scenario for me.”

After unsuccessful attempts to make fire in the early evening and through the night, it was decided that the tribe would try again in the morning.

Tre Lo’n:
 LauraLaura “We better get fire tomorrow or we’re screwed. As a tribe we have had nothing to eat or drink all day. I know which people will be in my cross-hairs if we lose the immunity challenge and we still have no fire.”

Coming Friday: Day 2 - Shelters built (or attempted), the quest for fire continues, and the conniving and infighting begins in earnest…

Survivor: Quest for Redemption – Meet the Castaways (Da Trang)

16 Apr

Survivor: Vietnam - Quest for Redemption

Welcome back Specialies to part two of our pre-show cast introduction for our first long-running project, Survivor: Vietnam – Quest for Redemption. Having looked yesterday at the members of Tre Lo’n tribe, it’s now time to meet the returnees that form the rival Da Trang outfit.

Da Trang

The Da Trang tribe, who will always wear green, consists of another nine former castaways who return to the game in search of the own second chance after dubious circumstances resulted in premature eliminations.

 Savage

Andrew Savage

Age: 49

Residence: Chicago, Illinois

Previous Season: Pearl Islands (2003)

Previous Best: 9th Voted Out (7th Eliminated due to two previously voted-out “Outcasts” returning)

The Background Story: Better known to one and all by his surname, Savage has long been a sentimental favourite of both the fanbase and those involved in the show itself. While his popularity is due in part to his strong work ethic, active leadership and “never-say-die” attitude to challenges and hardship, it is mostly due his falling victim to what has been arguably the most controversial twist in Survivor history. On Day 19, with the merge on everyone’s lips, Savage had bought his tribe Morgan back from the brink of collapse to win three consecutive immunity challenges and reach the halfway point of the game with equal numbers to the initially far stronger Drake tribe (which contained emerging superstars Rupert Boneham and Jonny “Fairplay” Dalton). However, instead of a merge, the two tribes found themselves forced to play off against the six previously eliminated castaways, who unbeknownst to them had formed a tribe of their own called “The Outcasts”. The Outcasts unexpectedly won the three-cornered contest and in doing so were permitted to vote two of its members back into the game for their own redemption. Only a few days after looking like a favourite to reach the very late stages of the game, Savage was the very next castaway voted off when a merge three days later saw the two returned Outcasts team up with the former Drake members and eject him from the newly unified tribe. Even host Jeff Probst considers Savage’s exit one of the most unfair in the entirety of the show’s run.

 Angie

Angie Jakusz

Age: 33

Residence: New Orleans, Louisiana

Previous Season: Palau (2005)

Previous Best: 6th Voted Out

The Background Story: While being on the infamously unsuccessful Ulong tribe was perhaps bad enough luck, Angie’s elimination was facilitated by further circumstances beyond her control. Going into a “double” tribal council where each tribe was required to vote off a member, Angie appeared safe due to tribemate Ibrehem Rahman’s appalling performance being the main contributor to the tribe’s loss at that morning’s reward challenge. However, the rival Koror tribe, listening in on the proceedings as part of the reward they won at the challenge, were given an additional prize before they left – they were required to award individual immunity to an Ulong member of their choosing. Exploiting the tension and division revealed in the tribe’s discussions at the tribal council, Koror voted to give Ibrehem immunity and further weaken the tribe physically and mentally. As a result, a vote suddenly fragmented by the twist resulted in Angie being ousted from the fast-ailing tribe in a vote that required two ballots to get a result, despite performing consistently well in challenges and not visibly disrupting the team dynamic.

Betsy

Betsy Bolan

Age: 52

Residence: Campton, New Hampshire

Previous Season: Samoa (2009)

Previous Best: 2nd Voted Out

The Background Story: From the very earliest outset of the game, Betsy’s police officer background allowed her to identify the biggest strategic threat to her tribe’s dynamic and her own chances in doing well in the game: the one and only Russell Hantz. Unfortunately, Russell also became aware of her intentions to target him, and exploited discord between herself and his ally – the equally unlikeable and self-destructive Ben Browning – to get her voted out of their tribe on Day 6. Russell would later go as far as to name her as one of the biggest threats to his game plans due to her no-nonsense attitude and refusal to submit to his bullying and aggressive gameplay.

 Darrah

Darrah Sparacino

Age: 31

Residence: Liberty, Mississippi

Previous Season: Pearl Islands (2003)

Previous Best: 4th Place, 6th Jury Member

The Background Story: Survivor’s seventh season is almost always ranked by fans as one of the best in the show’s run, but it is also always been a talking point for two very controversial twists: The Outcasts twist (which resulted in the elimination of tribemate and fellow returnee Andrew Savage), and the twist that saw Darrah stumble at the next to last hurdle. An early post-merge target due to being in a minority faction, Darrah managed to climb her way back into the game and into the Final Four on the back of three consecutive immunity challenge wins. Easily the physically strongest contestant left on Day 37, Darrah and the other three remaining castaways arrived at Tribal Council for an immunity challenge in the form of a quiz – only to find that they would competing against the already five-strong jury, which would be participating as a team. Despite having already been eliminated from the game, the Jury – like the Outcasts had already done earlier in the very same season – managed to shape the game in spite of their earlier removal from it as they went on to win the challenge, meaning none of the four remaining castaways won immunity. With an unexpected opportunity to remove the strongest contender for the final immunity challenge the next day, the other three tribe members unanimously voted  for Darrah.

 Hunter

Hunter Ellis

Age: 44

Residence: La Jolla, California

Previous Season: Marquesas (2002)

Previous Best: 3rd Voted Out

The Background Story: On paper, Hunter seemed like the Marquesas castaway most likely to make the merge, owing to his physical strength at tribal challenges and major contributions to camp. However, he was placed on the highly dysfunctional Maraamu tribe, where his personality and alliance decisions quickly fell afoul of the now-infamous “Boston” Rob Mariano. Eager to keep the tribe physically and mentally strong following five straight challenge losses, Hunter was prepared to vote off the highly unproductive Sarah Jones (still known to most fans for her “Cleopatra” moment on Day 1 where she sat back on the Maraamu raft while the other members paddled furiously to reach their camp). However, Boston Rob considered Sarah easy to control and wanted to keep her around as part of his long-term strategy, and so convinced the tribe to instead vote off Hunter in spite of his role as primary provider for the tribe. The unexpected (and arguably very unsound) voting decision prompted Hunter to quip in his Final Words confessional: “I will phone the Red Cross and let them know where you [Maraamu tribe] are so you can be lifted out of there after you die of starvation and dehydration after the next couple of days.” Maraamu would go on to lose several more challenges in spite of a tribal switch (which in itself could easily have earned Hunter a short to mid-term reprieve) a few days later.

 Jeff Wilson

Jeff Wilson

Age: 30

Residence: Ventura, California

Previous Season: Palau (2005)

Previous Best: 3rd Voted Out

The Background Story: While other members of the ill-fated Ulong tribe are often noted for the uncommon amount of misfortune they endured, much of the tribe’s catastrophes can perhaps be linked back to one tribe member’s bout of bad luck in particular. After seven days, Ulong were already mildly discouraged after losing the first two immunity challenges, but were still fairly optimistic about their future performances as a tribe after dominating their rivals Koror in their second straight reward challenge victory. But in a bizarre twist of fate, Jeff – the strongest member of their tribe and the only person to regularly prove a match for Koror powerhouses Tom Westman (eventual series winner), Gregg Carey and fellow returnee Ian Rosenberger – tripped over a coconut on the seventh night of competition, aggravating a pre-existing ankle injury. Dropping out early in the following day’s immunity challenge loss (which involved endurance and weight-bearing), Jeff admitted to his tribe that he was probably the logical choice for elimination due to his injury and that the strength and competitiveness of the team needed to be prioritised over his previous track record and the emerging friendships around camp. As a result, Ulong reluctantly voted off its best physical asset on Day 8 in what later proved to be a “point of no return” for one of the most unsuccessful tribes in the history of Survivor.

 Jenny

Jenny Guzon-Bae

Age: 42

Residence: Chicago, Illinois

Previous Season: Cook Islands (2006)

Previous Best: 11th Voted Out, 3rd Jury Member

The Background Story: Like Da Trang tribemates Andrew and Darrah, Jenny fell victim to one of Survivor’s most diabolical and divisive twists. On Day 24 of Survivor’s thirteenth season, both tribes were waiting eagerly for a now very late merge to occur. When Jenny’s Rarotonga tribe lost what later proved to be the final tribal immunity challenge, Jeff Probst provided the tribe with a “consolation prize” of a message in a bottle, instructing the tribe to not open the bottle and read the message until they had been to Tribal Council and voted a tribemate off. Once the tribal council vote had concluded that night, a curious and expectant Rarotonga opened the bottle, hoping to hear news of a merge – but instead found the message inside gave them instructions to immediately vote off another tribe member. With no time to strategise, scramble or state a case, Jenny – the lone remaining outsider to the tribe’s core alliance – was voted off just seconds after appearing safe for another three days. To add to the twist’s cruelty, a tribal merge occurred the very next day, robbing Jenny of a chance to potentially meet up with the four-strong Aitutaki tribe, become a decisive swing vote and eventually go deep into the game.

 

Misty

Misty Giles

Age: 32

Residence: Dallas, Texas

Previous Season: Panama (2006)

Previous Best: 3rd Voted Out

The Background Story: Survivor’s twelfth season saw a number of major twists – the introduction of Exile Island, the commencement of the game with four tribes of four, and the division of tribes by both age and gender. Placed on the “younger women” tribe on Day 1, Misty was targeted and identified as a threat at the very first challenge, and became the first ever castaway to be sent to Exile Island after her tribe lost the challenge. But Misty, an engineer in real life, showed she was lot tougher and smarter than her pageant queen background may have suggested. While unable to find the Hidden Immunity Idol during her stay on Exile Island (being the first to be exiled, she did not have the luxury of receiving clues as future exiled castaways would), she managed to forage for food and seek temporary shelter – and even bounced back to help her team storm to first place in the four-way immunity challenge on Day 3. When the four tribes merged into two the following day, Misty proved herself to be consistent force in challenges as the newly reconstituted La Mina tribe won three straight challenges. But when La Mina lost its first immunity challenge on Day 9, the old pre-merge dynamics of the tribe came to the surface, and the original older male members of La Mina conspired to eliminate Misty in spite of her key contributions to the tribe. The two new twists of Exile Island and four micro-tribes caused Misty to be isolated for much of the crucial first few days when alliances and team dynamics emerge, and also prevented her from forming an alliance within the usual mixed eight-to-ten-member tribe format – and both of these factors were overwhelming contributors in her surprise elimination in the early stages of the game.

Terry

Terry Deitz

Age: 53

Residence: Simsbury, Connecticut

Previous Season: Panama (2006)

Previous Best: 3rd Place, Final Jury Member

The Background Story: Thirteen years and twenty-six seasons of Survivor have inevitably produced a number of “what-if” stories and events, but seven years on, the “what-if” story behind Terry’s third-place finish remains one of the show’s biggest. With his original La Mina tribe having only four remaining members to the opposing Cassaya’s six, Terry entered the merge a marked man, but managed to catapult himself to the closing stages of the game – and the centre of the audience’s attention – by winning five consecutive immunity challenges and providing an oasis of calmness and old-school heroics within the merged Gitanos tribe, which is still affectionately listed by many fans as one of the most fragmented and dysfunctional tribes Survivor has ever had. Despite losing the immunity challenge on Day 36, Terry avoided elimination by joining up with future Heroes vs. Villains castaway Danielle DiLorenzo to force a voting deadlock and eliminate Cirie Fields (who would also go on to appear on Heroes vs. Villains). The plan worked with Danielle winning the subsequent tie-breaker challenge that night, and the following day when Terry won the final reward challenge, it appeared he was back to his A-game and headed for the Final Two – where his strong physical performance and high level of integrity were sure to give him a serious chance at winning the all-important jury vote. But on Day 38, a surprise awaited the three remaining castaways – instead of the traditional endurance challenge (which Terry would have been likely to win given earlier wins in other endurance challenges), the final immunity challenge would be a water-based challenge that focused primarily on balance. Despite his best efforts, Terry lost the challenge, and winner Danielle – who he had saved from almost-certain elimination just two days earlier – used her lone vote to relegate him to the jury at the very last hurdle. For years, unconfirmed rumours have abounded amongst Survivor’s extensive online fandom that Terry’s fate in Panama was the driving force behind the introduction of the polarising three-person Final Tribal Council format (which was implemented for the first time in the very next season).

Stay tuned – in a few days’ time we will have Day 1 of the game up!

Survivor: Quest for Redemption – Meet the Castaways (Tre Lo’n)

15 Apr

Survivor: Vietnam - Quest for Redemption

Well, Survivor buffs and TwoDaysSpecial fans alike (hopefully you’re both), Survivor: Vietnam – Quest for Redemption is about to kick off, but first let’s have a look at our contestants and remember the events that have led up to their offer of a second chance at reality glory (the best kind!). Today we’ll be running the rule over the Tre Lo’n tribe, and be sure to tune in tomorrow when you’ll be given your first chance to look at the other tribe of redemption-seekers who will be fighting it out for the million. (See here for the season intro.)

Tre Lo'n

The Tre Lo’n tribe will always wear yellow and consists of nine returning players who are seeking redemption after exiting the game in controversial or unlucky circumstances. This has left them and Survivor fans pondering one question: What if?

Ian

Ian Rosenberger

Age: 32

Residence: Key West, Florida

Previous Season: Palau (2005)

Previous Best: 3rd Place, Final Jury Member

The Background Story: Ian was a cornerstone of what was arguably the most dominant tribe in Survivor history. Along with tribemates Tom Westman and the also-underrated Greg Carey, Ian helped decimate the hopelessly overmatched Ulong tribe (which contained fellow returnees Angie and Jeff Wilson), reducing them to a single member (Stephanie LaGrossa). Ian also distinguished himself by being the only person to defeat the at times unbeatable Tom, winning two individual immunities. But it was the final individual immunity challenge that led to Ian’s demise. After 12 hours holding on to a floating buoy, Ian voluntarily stepped down on the promise that Tom would take Katie to the final two at an impromptu tribal council on the water Ian was sent home. This decision can be traced back to a conversation between Ian and Katie where Ian speculated that if Tom didn’t win the final four immunity that he would vote him out to ensure his place in the final two. When Tom did win immunity an innocuous comment from Ian back at camp that it would have been a tough decision if Tom hadn’t won led Tom to question Katie, who immediately told Tom about Ian’s plans. It must be noted that Katie gave up Ian so easily as she was still angry after he took Tom on a reward after promising Katie he would in fact take her. This split between Tom and Ian led to a tied vote at tribal council with Ian winning the fire making challenge against Jenn Lyon. The resentment amongst the three lasted throughout the final challenge when Ian succumbed to Katie’s emotional blackmail and Tom’s bullying and stepped down to “redeem himself.” It was Ian’s poor social game during the final days and his immaturity that led to his ultimate demise. But what if he hadn’t stepped down?

Sundra

Sundra Oakley

Age: 38

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Previous Season: Cook Islands (2006)

Previous Best: 4th Place, Final Jury Member

The Background Story: Sundra is best known as a member of the “Aitu Four Alliance” and will live in survivor infamy for her abysmal fire making skills. On Day 20 Sundra’s Aitutaki tribe was decimated as tribe members Jonathon Penner and Candice Woodcock mutinied and returned to the Rarotonga tribe leaving Aitutaki down 8 to 4. However in a display of defiance they would win every challenge up until the merge and eventually last as a unit to the final four. At the final four tribal council Becky and Yul honoured their Day 1 alliance and voted for Sundra while Ozzy and Sundra voted for Becky with votes deadlocked at 2-2 Sundra and Becky competed in a fire making challenge. What transpired was equal parts painful and humorous as after one hour of unsuccessfully using flint and a machete Jeff mercifully gave them matches, temporarily waking up some members of the jury. After a further thirty fruitless minutes Sundra ran out of matches leaving Becky to burn through her rope unopposed. What makes her exit even more painful was that Cook Islands was the first season to have a final three. Would Sundra have won the game? Almost certainly not as Ozzy and Yul were the dominant players that season, however that doesn’t make her exit on the doorstep of finals any less painful or unlucky.

 

Aaron

Aaron Reisberger

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Age: 38

Previous Season: China (2007)

Previous Best: 5th Voted Out

The Background Story: Aaron fell victim to a controversial twist early in the game when he, along with James Clement, were chosen to join Zhan Hu in a mini tribe swap where each team was permitted to pick two opposing players to join their tribe. If that wasn’t unlucky enough, at the first immunity challenge after the swap, new tribemates Peih-Gee and Jaime threw the challenge (literally) by throwing one piece of the puzzle away. It was decided that out of their two new members that Aaron was going to be more dangerous down the line and as such was voted out 3-1-1 at tribal council. In three days Aaron went from having an alliance with eventual final two Amanda and Todd to being voted off after his new tribe threw an immunity challenge. Aaron is the epitome of the “what-if” Survivor contestant.

Tracy

Name: Tracy Hughes-Wolf

Age: 49

Residence: Richmond, Virginia

Previous Season: Micronesia: Fans vs Favourites (2008)

Previous Best: 7th Voted Out

The Background Story: Some players are just victims of unfortunate circumstances such as being on a weak tribe, or being on the wrong side of the numbers rather than being unlucky or a victim of a controversial twist. Tracy from Micronesia falls into this category as one of the fans she was immediately on the outside due to her age. However, with clever strategy and subtle manipulation, she was able to last until the tribe swap and could have made it further if not for her alliance member Chet quitting. Early on Tracy was able to save herself by manipulating the ego of alpha male Joel to convince him to vote out Mikey B (a strategic threat) and his closest ally Mary as Mikey B in particular had been pushing for Tracy or Chet to be voted off first. Having avoided an early exit, Tracy and Chet ended up together on the new Malakal tribe after the tribe swap – but after losing immunity, Tracy and Chet were again the targets as fellow fan Joel was intent on eliminating the weaker members. However, Tracy was able to find an ally in Cirie (herself feeling in danger) and they decided to vote out Joel, with Cirie able to convince her fellow favourites Joel was voted out 5-2. However, over the next six days Tracy’s game fell apart. After another immunity loss, Chet, her closest ally, asked to be voted out of the game – even though Tracy, with the help of Ami and Erik, had a plan to vote out Ozzy and only needed Chet’s vote to seal the deal. After failing to convince Chet to stay, he was granted his request and voted out. When Malakal lost another immunity challenge Tracy tried unsuccessfully to scramble, developing a convoluted strategy with Ami to vote out Ozzy that never came to fruition and Tracy was voted out. Due to exceptional circumstances, Tracy was forced to align with weaker players and it came back to bite her as her main ally quit on the eve of a potentially game-changing move. Also due to these circumstances, Tracy was constantly scrambling to save her skin and at times over-strategized instead of letting the game come to her. This time around, Tracy will be looking to align with the stronger players and take a back seat strategically.

 

Varner

Name: Jeff Varner

Age: 46

Residence: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Previous Season: The Australian Outback (2001)

Previous Best: 6th Voted Out

The Background Story: One of the most famous/infamous moments in Survivor history is Mike Skupin falling in the fire and being evacuated from the game. What isn’t discussed as often is the reverberations it had on the game itself, changing the dynamic completely with Jeff Varner being the first casualty of the new landscape created after Skupin’s exit. Before Skupin’s untimely exit Jeff had a solid three person alliance with Skupin and Alicia and was a member of a Kucha tribe which would have had the numbers advantage 6-5 heading into the upcoming merge. After Skupin fell in the fire the tribes merged with the numbers now equal at five, Jeff was quickly identified by the former Ogakor members as a threat, and they devised a plan to take advantage of the controversial deadlock rule in place in earlier seasons. In this season, in the event of a deadlocked vote after a re-vote, the person with the most previous votes was eliminated. During the first immunity challenge, Colby stepped down to draw the votes of the Kucha members knowing he had no previous votes, Jeff at this time having two votes against his name. What Jeff didn’t know is that his tribe mate Kimmi had revealed to the Ogakor tribe that Debb had voted for Jeff at the first tribal council. With this information, Ogakor directed all their votes to Jeff and he was voted out after a 4-4 deadlock. Skupin has now returned to answer his own “what if?” – now it is time for Jeff to answer his.

RC

Name: Roberta “RC” Saint Amour

Age: 28

Residence: New York, New York

Previous Season: Philippines (2012)

Previous Best: 7th Voted Out, 1st Jury Member

The Background Story: RC falls into the category of playing too hard too early and making some ill-advised alliances. RC was a member of the physically dominant Tandang tribe which remained undefeated until the merge however she was on the outside from early on. Initially RC made an alliance with the volatile Abi-Maria and Pete while also making a side alliance with Mike Skupin. RC found the hidden immunity idol clue and made the mistake of sharing this with Abi-Maria, her closest perceived ally, and after unsuccessfully trying to find the idol buried the clue. Abi-Maria, suspicious of RC’s possible alliance with Skupin, shared the clue with Pete and they were able to successfully find the idol – and then chose not to share their find with RC. The simmering tensions between Abi and RC were brought to a head when Pete dug up the clue and planted it in RC’s bag. When the clue innocuously fell out of RC’s bag, Abi exploded and accused RC of betraying her and refused to listen to RC’s explanations, thus ending their already uneasy alliance. At the merge, RC and Penner were the first targets. With her alliance with Abi-Maria in tatters, RC’s lone ally was Skupin. The majority decided to split their votes between Penner and RC as they wanted to flush Penner’s idol, when Penner played his idol a blindsided RC was sent home 4-2. While RC definitely showcased a knowledge for the game and was a solid physical player her downfall was trying to make alliances with everyone and trusting the wrong person.

 

Stephen

Name: Stephen Fishbach

Age: 34

Residence: New York, New York

Previous Season: Tocantins (2009)

Previous Best: Runner-Up

The Background Story: Stephen’s game was more underappreciated than unlucky and was the undeserving recipient of a 7-0 jury shut out. Stephen formed a Day 2 alliance with eventual winner J.T that lasted to the end and although J.T did play a good strategic game, Stephen was the driving force behind their strategic moves. Together they were able to navigate through their Jalapao tribe’s numbers disadvantage (6-3) at the merge by taking advantage of divisions in the former Timbira tribe and manipulating certain people to go along with their plans, particularly Coach. Stephen had the misfortune of being aligned with one of the most popular players in and out of the game, therefore his chances of winning the final vote were minimal. However, he was wrongly cast by the jury as a weak player compared to J.T’s physical dominance and received no credit for his strategic game. Stephen didn’t help his cause by giving a poor performance at final tribal with J.T winning most of the exchanges, however this shouldn’t take away from one of the most underrated strategic games in recent seasons and is certainly deserving of a second chance.

Laura

Name: Laura Morett

Age: 42

Residence: Salem, Oregon

Previous Season: Samoa (2009)

Previous Best: 9th Voted Out, 3rd Jury Member

The Background Story: Laura could easily return as villain if they ever used the Heroes vs Villains concept again, with her interactions with Shambo alone cementing her villain status. Although Russell Swan was the elected leader of the Galu tribe, Laura was really the one calling the shots and was a powerhouse in challenges, leading her tribe to an 8-4 numbers advantage at the merge. If it wasn’t for one Russell Hantz and the threat of the infamous purple rock, Laura may have gone deep into the game. Laura, like fellow returnee Betsy, saw immediately through Russell and didn’t trust him at all, making her Russell’s number one target post merge. However, Laura again displayed her physical dominance by winning the first two individual immunity challenges. After not winning a third consecutive challenge, Laura again became Russell’s target. Though the old Galu still had the advantage 6-4, Russell was able to bring over the ostracised Shambo, forcing a 5-5 tie at the initial vote. On the re-vote John, a former Galu member fearing the purple rock tie-breaker, switched his vote to Laura, sealing her fate. Laura’s biggest mistakes were alienating Shambo and voting off Erik at the merge instead of a member of Russell’s alliance, however she demonstrated enough of an understanding of the game strategically and physically to warrant a second chance.

Greg

Name: Greg Buis

Age: 37

Residence: Gold Hill, Colorado

Previous Season: Borneo (2000)

Previous Best: 8th Voted Out, 1st Jury Member

The Background Story: One of the original sixteen castaways from Survivor’s very first season 13 years ago, Greg is one of the all-time favourite players amongst the hardcore members of the Survivor fan base. Best known for his weird sense of humour and off-the-wall comments and antics, Greg gave producers headaches throughout the filming of the series, even voting for Jeff Probst at one tribal council. Although he played the odd-ball, Greg was a highly intelligent person that was identified as a threat by none other than the legendary Richard Hatch – who even stated that he was the only person he feared. Greg’s misfortune was that he was on a tribe that had no idea how to play the game (admittedly, Greg didn’t play the game either), with all off their members falling victim to the Tagi Four, the only alliance in the game.  After winning the first individual immunity challenge, Greg was one of the only people to identify that Richard was the power player. After Greg lost the second individual immunity challenge, Richard saw Greg as his biggest threat and directed his fellow Tagi Four members to vote off Greg, assisted by Sean Kenniff’s infamous “alphabetical-order” voting strategy and a jealous Jenna (Greg won the reward of a video from home while Jenna’s video never arrived). As a result, Greg was voted out 6-3. Greg, like most of the inaugural survivors, didn’t take the game too seriously at the time and was just there for a good time. But during that initial season, he demonstrated an understanding of how the game would play out and didn’t want to be part of alliances and back-stabbing. How will Greg cope with modern Survivor where making alliances and back stabbing are crucial to success… and more importantly, will he bring back the coconut phone?

Survivor: Quest for Redemption – an Introduction

14 Apr

What is the greatest reality television show of all time?

What’s that, you say? Dance Your Ass Off? GTFO.

But seriously, while there’s some “wiggle room” for debate, there really is nothing in the much (and sometimes unfairly) maligned genre of reality that has so fundamentally shaped it and television in general as a little ol’ show called Survivor.

There’s plenty of places you can find out about the format and objective of Survivor for the ten people who both have the net and have been living as a hermit in a remote jungle for 13 years, so the skinny on the show itself will do for now: Deriving the format from one Brit Charlie Parsons had created for a Swedish show that already had three seasons under its belt at the time, reality pimp-daddy extraordinaire Mark Burnett bought the now ubiquitous show to American screens in 2000, its first season initially just a summer filler during the non-ratings period in the US. But it took the country – and the rest of the world besides Sweden, who were probably all “Um, what?” – by storm, with 52 million Americans watching the grand finale that saw Richard Hatch win the grand prize of one million dollars. (Younger digital natives may not be massively overawed by the size of that prize, but it was far and away the largest prize money any TV show put on Aussie screens had ever offered at the time. Our pre-pubescent selves were blown away at how massive that amount of money was for just being a “game” show contestant. I mean, did get you a million bucks if you got all the maze keys in A*mazing? Did you get a million dollars from Larry Emdur if you guessed the correct lineup of the showcase? And I don’t remember Robbo Brough signing too many massive cheques on the original Family Feud.)

13 years and 26 seasons later, there have been over 200 contestants on the American show (there have been dozens of other local versions, but no-one seems to care about them by look of it save for the French one). And as is the nature of reality TV and most games in general, most of them were eliminated without being able to take home the big mil. But any Survivor discussion online or between friends will always bring up those who got robbed.

So what of it? There’s been “all-star” seasons of Survivor before where returning winners and other contestants known for their gameplay skills have come back to face off against each other or coach tribes of noobs. Why not have a season where people who were going quite well and seemed to know their stuff – but were then – controversially or unfairly eliminated due to bullshit twists or other contestant’s bonehead decisions – get to come back and have a second chance to prove they can be All-Stars too? The Amazing Race had a season for guys with unfinished business for redeem themselves, so why not its sibling show?

So we’re going to do just that.

Survivor: Vietnam - Quest for Redemption

Over the next few months, TwoDaysSpecial will be proud to present to you our first long-running feature for our site: Survivor: Vietnam – Quest for Redemption. Two tribes, each with nine former contestants with unfinished business from their first season, will compete – first as teams, then as individuals – for a million dollar prize in our nominated location of Con Dao National Park in southern Vietnam (thanks French Survivor!) to show that they really did have the right stuff all along. They were outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the first time – but can they rise to the top in different circumstances?

Coming soon will be a rundown of our tribes, who’s in them and why they’ve been cast in this special “Second Chances” season of Survivor. And then we’ll kick things off with a day-by-day play out of the ultimate game of survival and redemption. For all the reality and Survivor geeks out there, we hope you enjoy the show that’s about to unfold.

Oh, and if CBS actually do this for the next season of the real Survivor after we’ve already started doing this, we’re going to be somewhat mildly upset.

Logo font credit: Gang of Three from dafont.com