Survivor: Vanuatu was the ninth season of Survivor. What were the most memorable moments?
With Survivor: All-Stars in the books, Survivor looked to get back to an all-newbie season and they did just that with Survivor: Vanuatu. The show’s ninth season often gets overlooked because in all honesty, there really wasn’t anything special about it.
It came after a big season in All-Stars and before a popular season in Palau, and in turn, that led to many fans forgetting about Vanuatu. Even with it being one of the less discussed seasons, Vanuatu is quite underrated.
Let’s take a look at the most memorable moments from season nine of Survivor.
Men vs Women… Again
When Survivor first attempted the men vs women twist in Survivor: The Amazon, it was a big deal because fans hadn’t seen that yet. When the show attempted it again in Survivor: Vanuatu, it was fine, but wasn’t necessarily a standout twist by itself.
What was interesting about the gender battle in this season, however, is that it was a trend that continued all season long. The tribes were swapped in the fifth episode, but even still, it mostly was a battle of the sexes throughout the rest of the season.
At the merge, the women had a 6-4 advantage and whittled that lead down to 6-1 with the one remaining man being Chris Daugherty. Somehow, Chris was able to sit back while the women turned on each other and he made it to the final tribal council… which brings us to the next memorable moment.
Chris doesn’t get discussed much when it comes to the best winners in the show’s history and that’s a shame because he played a great game in Survivor: Vanuatu. Being the last man standing with six women who were tightly aligned by that point and not only making it to the end, but winning, is very impressive.
Chris’ final tribal council performance is arguably the greatest ever by an eventual winner. He had his work cut out for him considering a lot of the women on the jury didn’t want to vote for a man to win the game, but three of the five votes he received were from women.
It was a tall task for Chris to win the game after he lost the first immunity challenge for the men and should have been the first one voted off. It was another tall task when he was the only man remaining with six women in a tight alliance. Chris never let that stop him though and it’s disappointing that he’s not grouped in with the upper tier of winners.
The turning point in Vanuatu was far and away when the tides turned on the women, who at that point held a 6-1 advantage. Chris was able to help flip the script, convincing Twila Tanner, Scout Cloud Lee, and Eliza Orlins – who was going to be the target at that night’s tribal council – and the four of them voting for Leann Slaby instead.
It was a shocking turn of events and after that happened, the writing was on the wall for Ami Cusack and Julie Berry, who were the others aligned with Leann. Leann might not have been a memorable character, but her blindside set the tone for the rest of the season.
Survivor: Vanuatu introduced us to the wonder that is Eliza Orlins, who not only was entertaining in her initial season, but is part of one of the most notorious moments in Survivor history (It’s a f—ing stick!) in a later season.
Eliza was always on the chopping block, but she managed to make it to the final four and even had a final two pact with Chris, who ended up voting her off and going back on his word. Even if Eliza had made it to the end, she annoyed a lot of the other contestants, so her chances of winning probably weren’t high.
What Eliza did provide, however, was a ton of entertainment. She was always in the middle of controversy and arguments with her fellow tribunates and was a voice of the season. It says a lot that Survivor: Vanuatu aired 16 years ago and even casual fans still remember Eliza. She’s a great character.
It’s unfortunate that Survivor: Vanuatu is forgotten about so much, but when comparing it to the other seasons that aired around it, there really wasn’t anything special about it. The gender battle twist defined the season and Leann’s blindside was the first step in Chris’ stellar game.
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Otherwise, the season is mostly remembered as when fans were introduced to Eliza and that’s a shame because it truly is one of the most underrated Survivor seasons.