|Survivor: Cook Islands|
|Presented by||Jeff Probst|
|No. of days||39|
|No. of castaways||20|
|Location||Aitutaki, Cook Islands|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||15|
|Original release||September 14 –|
December 17, 2006
|Filming dates||June 26 –|
August 3, 2006
Survivor: Cook Islands is the thirteenth season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor. The season was filmed from June 26, 2006, through August 3, 2006 in the Cook Islands, and premiered on September 14, 2006.
During this season of Survivor, the contestants were divided into four tribes by ethnicity (African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and European American), a decision that generated some controversy prior to the premiere. These four tribes were named some of the islands located in the Cook Islands: Manihiki, Puka Puka, Aitutaki, and Rarotonga. The four tribes evenly divided into two new mixed tribes after the second tribal council, taking the Aitutaki and Rarotonga names. A mutiny offer was made to all remaining players during before the merge; two of the players on the same tribe accepted. After the nine remaining contestants merged, they decided to name themselves Aitutonga. This season also featured the first time a tribe has voted off two members during a single tribal council. The concept of Exile Island returned, with a hidden immunity idol located somewhere on the island.
Instead of the usual final two players facing a jury of seven, there was a final three facing a jury of nine, which included players who had been voted out before the merge. The final jury setup meant that a two or three-way tie to decide the winner of the game was possible. In the end, Yul Kwon defeated Ozzy Lusth and Becky Lee by a jury vote of 5–4–0 and was named the Sole Survivor.
|Contestant||Original tribe||Switched tribe||Post-mutiny tribe||Merged tribe||Finish|
45, Los Angeles, California
|Manihiki||1st voted out|
|Virgilio "Billy" Garcia
36, New York City, New York
|Aitutaki||2nd voted out|
29, Oakland, California
|Aitutaki||Aitutaki||3rd voted out|
|John "J.P." Calderon
30, Long Beach, California
|Aitutaki||Rarotonga||4th voted out|
35, Columbia, South Carolina
|Manihiki||Rarotonga||5th voted out|
|Anh-Tuan "Cao Boi" Bui
42, Christiansburg, Virginia
|Puka Puka||Aitutaki||6th voted out|
35, Santa Monica, California
|Aitutaki||Rarotonga||7th voted out|
27, Chico, California
|Rarotonga||Aitutaki||8th voted out|
29, Santa Monica, California
|Puka Puka||Rarotonga||Rarotonga||9th voted out|
1st jury member
34, Laurelton, New York
|Manihiki||Rarotonga||Rarotonga||10th voted out|
2nd jury member
36, Lake Forest, Illinois
|Puka Puka||Rarotonga||Rarotonga||11th voted out|
3rd jury member
|Nathan "Nate" Gonzalez
26, Playa del Rey, California
|Manihiki||Rarotonga||Rarotonga||Aitutonga||12th voted out|
4th jury member
23, Washington, D.C.
|Rarotonga||Aitutaki||Rarotonga||13th voted out|
5th jury member
44, Los Angeles, California
|Rarotonga||Aitutaki||Rarotonga||14th voted out|
6th jury member
23, West Hollywood, California
|Rarotonga||Rarotonga||Rarotonga||15th voted out|
7th jury member
27, San Diego, California
|Rarotonga||Rarotonga||Rarotonga||16th voted out|
8th jury member
31, Los Angeles, California
|Manihiki||Aitutaki||Aitutaki||17th voted out|
9th jury member
|Rebekah "Becky" Lee
28, Washington, D.C.
|Puka Puka||Aitutaki||Aitutaki||2nd runner-up|
|Oscar "Ozzy" Lusth
24, Venice, California
31, San Mateo, California
|Puka Puka||Aitutaki||Aitutaki||Sole Survivor|
Jonathan Penner, Ozzy Lusth, and Parvati Shallow were selected to compete again in Survivor: Micronesia. Shallow would again return for Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains along with Candice Woodcock. Lusth would also return for a third time in Survivor: South Pacific, and again for a fourth time in Survivor: Game Changers. Penner returned for his third time in Survivor: Philippines. Woodcock, now using her husband's surname of Cody, returned for her third time in Survivor: Blood vs. Water, alongside her husband, John. Shallow and Yul Kwon returned to compete on Survivor: Winners at War.
The 20 players were initially divided into four tribes based on race for the first six days of the competition, but later merged into two tribes. An early visit to Exile island resulted in Yul discovering the hidden immunity idol. With the tribes equal at six members each on Day 19, the castaways were given the choice to mutiny and join the other tribe; Candice and Jonathan opted to do so, leaving the Aitutaki tribe at four members, consisting of Yul, Ozzy, Becky, and Sundra, against an eight-strong Rarotonga tribe. However, this served to only increase the determination of the Aitutaki tribe; between strong teamwork, Yul's intelligence, and Ozzy's swimming skills, Aitutaki defeated Rarotonga at every subsequent challenge, leaving Rarotonga with only five members at the merge.
While the Aitu Four merged in the minority, Yul cemented his Aitutaki alliance by showing them the idol, and convinced Jonathan to vote along with them to tip the scales. The Aitu Four quickly took control of the game and were the final four players remaining. With Yul holding the hidden immunity idol and Ozzy winning the final challenge, the four agreed to let a fire-making challenge decide who would join them at the Final Tribal Council; despite this taking more than an hour to complete, Becky emerged victorious. The jury, seeing Becky's coat-tailing of Yul and poor performance at the fire-making challenge, did not consider any votes for her, and Yul's brains edged out Ozzy's brawn, five votes to four.
|No.||Title||Original air date||Reward||Immunity|
|1||"I Can Forgive Her But I Don't Have To
Because She Screwed With My Chickens"
|September 14, 2006||Puka Puka[a]||Jonathan||Sekou||1st voted out|
|2||"Dire Strengths and Dead Weight"||September 21, 2006||Puka Puka[c]||Yul||Billy||2nd voted out|
|3||"Flirting and Frustration"||September 28, 2006||None[d]||Rarotonga||Candice[e]||Cecilia||3rd voted out|
|4||"Ruling the Roost"||October 5, 2006||Aitutaki||Aitutaki||Adam||J.P.||4th voted out|
|5||"Don't Cry Over Spilled Octopus"||October 12, 2006||Rarotonga||Aitutaki||Jonathan||Stephannie||5th voted out|
|6||"Plan Voodoo"||October 19, 2006||Aitutaki||None[f]||Cao Boi||6th voted out|
|[Nate][g]||Cristina||7th voted out|
|7||"A Closer Look"||October 26, 2006||Recap Episode|
|8||"Why Aren't You Swimming?!"||November 2, 2006||Aitutaki||Rarotonga||Adam||Jessica||8th voted out|
|9||"Mutiny"||November 9, 2006||Aitutaki||Aitutaki||Candice||Brad||9th voted out|
1st jury member
|10||""People That You Like Want To See You Suffer"||November 16, 2006||Aitutaki||Aitutaki||Candice||Rebecca||10th voted out|
2nd jury member
|Jenny||11th voted out|
3rd jury member
|11||"Why Would You Trust Me?"||November 23, 2006||None[h]||Ozzy||None[h]||Nate||12th voted out|
4th jury member
|12||"You're a Rat..."||November 30, 2006||Survivor
|Adam||Candice[i]||Candice||13th voted out|
5th jury member
|13||"Arranging a Hit"||December 7, 2006||Parvati
|Ozzy||Jonathan||Jonathan||14th voted out|
6th jury member
|14||"I Have the Advantage...For Once"||December 14, 2006||Ozzy,
|Ozzy||Adam||Parvati||15th voted out|
7th jury member
|15||"This Tribe Will Self-Destruct in 5, 4, 3..."||December 17, 2006||None||Ozzy||None||Adam||16th voted out|
8th jury member
|Ozzy||Sundra||17th voted out|
9th jury member
- In the case of multiple tribes or castaways who win reward or immunity, they are listed in order of finish, or alphabetically where it was a team effort; where one castaway won and invited others, the invitees are in brackets.
- Combined reward and immunity challenge. For placing first, Puka Puka earned an additional reward.
- Combined reward and immunity challenge.
- For tying for first in the challenge, Puka Puka and Rarotonga won a reward in addition to immunity.
- There was no reward challenge due to the tribal switch.
- Candice was exiled until after the next Tribal Council, which meant she could not be voted out or participate in the vote.
- Due to both tribes going to Tribal Council, no one was exiled.
- For winning the reward challenge, Aitutaki earned the right to "kidnap" a member of Rarotonga; they selected Nate, who shared Aitutaki's reward and was granted immunity but could not vote. There was no immunity challenge, and both tribes went to Tribal Council.
- There was no reward challenge and exiling due to the tribal merge.
- At the Survivor Auction, Becky bought the right to send someone to Exile Island and take all of their money. She chose Candice.
- The players and their loved ones competed as teams, and the winning loved one chose two other pairs to share the reward.
|Title||Original air date||US viewers|
|184||1||"I Can Forgive Her But I Don't Have To Because She Screwed With My Chickens"||September 14, 2006||18.00||6.5/20|
Contestants were given two minutes to salvage whatever they could from a boat before having to paddle to their shore. As the castaways frantically scoured the ship for supplies, Puka Puka's Yul grabbed a chicken but got distracted by the commotion, and the chicken escaped and got into the hands of Rarotonga's Jonathan. At Aitutaki, Billy haplessly created shelter, but Ozzy's survival skills duped him. In Rarotonga, Jonathan's stolen chicken escaped when Jessica accidentally freed it, angering Jonathan. At Manihiki, the women complained as their leader Sekou took a lot of breaks.
In a combined Reward/Immunity Challenge, all tribes, except for Manihiki, won flint and immunity. In addition, Puka Puka, who came in first, received the fire-making kit. Sekou and Nate, the men of Manihiki, sent Jonathan from Rarotonga to Exile Island in return for Puka Puka's lost chicken. This decision alienated Manihiki's female majority, for they felt isolated as the boys took the responsibility of sending someone to Exile Island for themselves. In the end, Stephannie, Sundra and Rebecca banded together to get rid of their overbearing but weak leader Sekou in a 3–2 decision. After the vote, they received their flint so they could make fire.
|185||2||"Dire Strengths and Dead Weight"||September 21, 2006||17.43||6.5/18|
Day 4 started well for Manihiki when the tribe managed to start a fire. Jonathan returned from Exile Island to Rarotonga, and was disappointed that nothing much had changed since he had left. At Puka Puka, tribe members rapidly became fed up with Cao Boi's jokes and never-ending stories. At Aitutaki, feeling like his tribe could do better, Ozzy forced his tribe to throw the next immunity challenge to get rid of Billy, who had not been putting in much effort at camp.
At the challenge, Puka Puka and Rarotonga tied for first place, so they each received two large tarps as reward and immunity. Manihiki finished third and was also safe from Tribal Council. The losing tribe, Aitutaki, sent Yul from Puka Puka to Exile Island, where he successfully deciphered the clues to discover the hidden immunity idol in the sand. At Tribal Council, Billy gushed about finding love with Rarotonga's Candice, which was later found to be his taking her comments to him wildly out of context. Candice said "we love you" to him in order to lift his spirits after he admitted his vulnerability post-challenge loss, but he misunderstood and claimed that she said "I love you" to him. Sticking to Ozzy's plan, Billy was voted out 4–1.
|186||3||"Flirting and Frustration"||September 28, 2006||16.85||5.9/16|
Instead of a reward challenge, the four ethnically-divided tribes will be merged as two new ones. Manihiki and Puka Puka were dissolved, and the supplies that were left at those camps were equally divided by the newly rehashed Aitutaki and Rarotonga tribes. At the new Aitutaki, Cecilia told Candice of what happened during the previous Tribal Council (Billy's "I love you" incident), leaving a bewildered Candice laughing as she made alliances with Yul, Becky and Jonathan. Yul also told Becky that he found the Hidden Immunity Idol.
During the Immunity Challenge, the Aitutaki men tried to fend off the fronting Rarotonga men (Adam, Brad, J.P., and Nate), but to no avail as Rarotonga tackled them, securing Immunity for their team. Rarotonga banished Candice to Exile Island, thus throwing the Becky-Candice-Jonathan-Yul alliance plans into disarray, as she would be immune from the vote and would not need to go to Tribal Council. Cao Boi, Cecilia, Jessica, Ozzy, and Sundra banded together to try to vote out Becky. After strong lobbying by Jonathan and Yul, Cao Boi and Jessica switched their vote to Cecilia, who was voted out 5–3.
|187||4||"Ruling the Roost"||October 5, 2006||15.83||5.6/16|
At Aitutaki, Ozzy became furious about the elimination of his only remaining fellow Aitutaki tribemate Cecilia, but his tribemates comforted him. At Rarotonga, the women complained about the men's growing egotism, specifically J.P.'s bossiness.
Aitutaki won the reward and chose Adam to be Exiled. After the Reward Challenge, Cao Boi went egg hunting, but instead knocked down a chick from a nest, which disturbed Jonathan. However, Cao Boi successfully returned the chick to the nest.
Cao Boi's tactics, albeit unorthodox — such as dancing crazily with a smoking coconut husk — carried Aitutaki past Rarotonga at the fire-making Immunity Challenge. Out of frustration, Stephannie accepted blame for the defeat and put herself up to be voted out. However, later on, she retracted the offer to the other women, who then used the opportunity to vote J.P. out. Adam and Brad secretly decided to betray J.P. and Nate, sending J.P. home by a vote of 7–2.
|188||5||"Don't Cry Over Spilled Octopus"||October 12, 2006||15.84||5.5/15|
At Aitutaki, Cao Boi complained about Becky, Candice, and Sundra being lazy.
At the modified weight-holding Reward Challenge, the tribes began trash-talking each other, but Rarotonga's Nate and Adam came in victorious. Rarotonga sent Jonathan back to Exile Island since he had been there before. Back at camp, Cristina's tribemates complained about her being bossy like J. P. Cao Boi, Jessica, and Ozzy went exploring around the bay and accidentally ended up at Rarotonga's camp. Their unexpected visit did not sit well with Rarotonga. Meanwhile, back at Aitutaki, Becky, Candice, and Yul tried to pull Sundra into their alliance with Jonathan.
Aitutaki came from behind to win the Immunity Challenge. That afternoon, Rarotonga collectively decided that Cristina would be voted off next. But when Stephannie and Nate gathered water from the well, Stephannie told Nate that she "wanted mashed potatoes and gravy". Nate took this as a sign of weakness, and relayed it to the tribe. Even though Cristina spilled their octopus lunch earlier and continued to irritate others, the vote swung against Stephannie 7–1.
|189||6||"Plan Voodoo"||October 19, 2006||15.02||5.3/14|
Back at Rarotonga's camp after Tribal Council, Cristina again clashed with her tribemates after being pointed out as being annoying. At Aitutaki, Jonathan argued over bringing the Immunity Idol to the next Reward Challenge. Jonathan believed that unnecessarily taking the Immunity Idol in Reward Challenges and Tribal Councils was tantamount to gloating over the other tribe, but Cao Boi claimed he had 'spiritual reasons' for bringing the idol along. At the Reward Challenge, it was revealed that regardless of who won, both tribes would have to vote a member out.
Aitutaki won the Reward Challenge, and had to go to Tribal Council first. Before Tribal Council, Cao Boi awoke from a strange dream that spawned a strategy he called "Plan Voodoo." Its purpose was to reveal the hidden Immunity Idol by splitting a 3-3 vote between Jonathan and Candice. He chose these two in particular for two reasons: 1) He believed Jonathan had the immunity idol, and 2) Even if he did not, one of the two people from the original tribe of whites would be eliminated. Unfortunately, his ally Yul possessed the idol. Yul did not want to reveal his idol; furthermore, he was fed up with Cao Boi's eccentric behavior, and so he decided to remove the threat. "Plan Voodoo" backfired as Cao Boi was voted out 6–1–1. Aitutaki then enjoyed a feast as they got to listen in on Rarotonga's Tribal Council. Just before Rarotonga's vote, Aitutaki was given the opportunity to "kidnap" one member of Rarotonga who would be ineligible to vote, immune from the vote, given a share of Aitutaki's reward and would be staying at Aitutaki's camp until the next Reward Challenge. Aitutaki selected Nate. Though Cristina made amends with her tribe, her lobbying still failed and she was sent packing in a 4–2 decision.
|190||7||"A Closer Look"||October 26, 2006||15.30||5.4/14|
|A recap of the first 15 days.|
|191||8||"Why Aren't You Swimming?!"||November 2, 2006||15.30||5.4/14|
At Aitutaki, Jessica felt blindsided by the previous Tribal Council where Cao Boi was voted out. She confronted the rest of the tribe with Nate watching after being "kidnapped." Becky, Candice and Yul plotted their preferred order of elimination: Ozzy, Jessica, Sundra, Jonathan.
At the Reward Challenge, Aitutaki were given a chance to make Nate perform at the challenge for their tribe or just sit out. After much deliberation, they chose Nate to sit out in the challenge. Nate got helplessly irked as his team fell apart as Aitutaki easily won in the Reward Challenge. They selected Adam to go to Exile Island for a second time. After the Reward Challenge, Brad's tribemates were upset at him for not performing the swimming portion of the Reward Challenge, claiming that "he's better at puzzles." They considered him as one of their strongest swimmers and the swimming part of the challenge was where they fell behind.
Despite losing morale as well as challenges, Rarotonga finally ended their losing streak by winning the immunity challenge. Jessica lobbied hard to have Jonathan voted out, but her efforts failed, and she was the first White American to be eliminated, being voted out 6–1.
|192||9||"Mutiny"||November 9, 2006||14.39||4.8/13|
At Aitutaki, Candice and Jonathan plotted for the impending merge. At Rarotonga, Brad revealed that he didn't trust his tribemates at all, speaking about his fate if he made it to the merge in a speech which turned his tribe against him. At the Reward Challenge, a "mutiny" offer was presented where anybody could change tribe affiliations. Candice and Jonathan decided to jump back to Rarotonga to rejoin their original tribemates, decimating Aitutaki with four members to Rarotonga's eight.
Undeterred, Aitutaki regrouped and made a comeback victory at the reward challenge. Aitutaki quickly selected Candice to go to Exile Island as revenge for mutinying. With Candice at Exile Island, Jonathan tried to form an alliance of the remaining original Rarotonga members, Adam and Parvati.
At the Immunity Challenge, Rarotonga took a sizeable lead, but Jonathan became infuriated about the painstaking task, even yelling at Jeff Probst to stop narrating the challenge, bringing the patient Aitutaki the victory. Jonathan was an easy target for elimination due to his willingness to leave his old tribe, and Adam became infuriated after learning that Jonathan decided he should go to Exile Island on previous instances. Ultimately, Brad's "every man for himself" speech cost him dearly and he was unanimously voted out. Unexpectedly, Brad was announced as the first member of the Jury despite placing twelfth.
|193||10||"People That You Like Want To See You Suffer"||November 16, 2006||15.35||5.3/14|
At Rarotonga, Jenny and Parvati were alarmed over Candice and Adam's closeness.
The tiny tribe of Aitutaki crushed the over-populated Rarotonga at the Reward Challenge and sent Candice back to Exile Island as continued revenge of her betrayal.
Aitutaki took their fourth straight win by winning the Immunity Challenge. A sealed bottle with a note inside was given to Rarotonga after they lost the Immunity Challenge. The bottle was to be opened after the vote at Tribal Council. At Tribal Council, Rebecca was seen as the weakest link, and she was voted out 6–1, and the mysterious bottle was subsequently opened. While the tribe initially assumed that the note contained instructions about the impending merger, the tribe was shocked to discover that they were to vote out another tribemate. While Jonathan was the intended next target, the four original members of Rarotonga banded together to vote Jenny out out of fear that she would rejoin her original Puka Puka tribemates, Yul and Becky, after the merger. Showing complete disappointment over the surprise 4-2 vote, an angry Jenny stormed away as her torch was snuffed.
|194||11||"Why Would You Trust Me?"||November 23, 2006||12.67||4.3/13|
Expecting a challenge, the tribes arrived to receive announcement of the merge. The castaways chose to live on Rarotonga beach and decided to call themselves "Aitutonga." The former Aitutaki merged in the minority, four to Rarotonga's five. Yul and Becky agreed that Jonathan was the best bet to flip. Yul informed Sundra and Ozzy about the hidden Immunity Idol and his plan to bring Jonathan over.
After 2 hours and 15 minutes, Ozzy outlasted Candice to win the first individual Immunity Challenge. Yul decided to show the hidden Immunity Idol to Jonathan to sway him back to his side: if Jonathan did not vote with Yul and Aitutaki, they would vote for Jonathan, and Yul's idol would negate the former Rarotonga members' votes to send Jonathan home. Jonathan requested that Yul vote for Nate in exchange for him flipping to their side, which Yul readily agreed to. Jonathan blindsided his old Rarotonga tribemates and joined the former Aitutaki members in voting out Nate 5–4.
|195||12||"You're a Rat..."||November 30, 2006||15.63||5.4/14|
Instead of a Reward Challenge, a Survivor Auction was held.
Becky, teaming up with Yul, outbid Candice and Adam to win a note that was advertised as "the power to change the game." The note said that she would select somebody to immediately go to Exile Island and therefore forfeit all of their remaining money to her. Upon being told that Candice and Adam had not yet spent any of their money, Becky selected Candice. Just before Candice left for Exile Island while commenting that she'd figure out where the idol was, Yul revealed to everybody that he had the Immunity Idol stunning everyone, even Jeff, for revealing the idol to everyone. After the Survivor Auction, everybody was annoyed at Jonathan due to his arrogant behavior after sweeping a lot of items during the auction while Candice on Exile Island broke down emotionally after Yul's immunity idol reveal.
Adam's worries about being voted out next were quelled after he won the Immunity Challenge. Back at camp, Adam, Candice, and Parvati were taking a "snuggling session" in the shelter while the majority alliance downed a handful of fish that Jonathan caught. But Candice, seeing all the action, started confronting Jonathan about his arrogance and told him that the whole tribe hated him. In a heated Tribal Council, the three continued their crusade against Jonathan, but ultimately failed as Candice was voted out 5–3.
|196||13||"Arranging a Hit"||December 7, 2006||15.72||5.3/15|
Upon returning from Tribal Council, Jonathan felt uneasy after being called a "rat" and "cancer", but he declared that he would not let Adam and Parvati ruin his gameplan. Meanwhile, assuming that they were doomed, Adam and Parvati asked a favor of Yul, that if he helped them vote Jonathan out before them, they would give him their jury votes in return. Parvati accidentally hit her thumbnail with a machete while cutting open a coconut, which required medical attention, but not removal from the game. At the Reward Challenge, the castaways were surprised by the arrival of their loved ones, who partnered up with the castaways in the challenge.
An injured Parvati was able to work through her injury and win the Reward Challenge. Her reward was a picnic with her dad and the right to send somebody to Exile Island. Parvati selected Jonathan to make sweet revenge for his deception. Parvati's dad was allowed to select two other castaways to join in the picnic without any input from Parvati. He selected Sundra and her mom and Adam and his dad. While the challenge winners and invitees were enjoying the picnic, Ozzy, Yul, and Becky decided that they would agree to hide food from Parvati, Adam, and Jonathan, but the plan was foiled after Parvati and Adam brought back some leftovers from the picnic.
Ozzy easily won the Immunity Challenge. Despite single-handedly saving the Aitutaki alliance from decimation, Jonathan was betrayed by them and sent to the jury by a vote of 6-1.
|197||14||"I Have the Advantage...For Once"||December 14, 2006||14.55||5.0/14|
Threatened by the presence of the impenetrable Aitutaki alliance, Parvati and Adam tried to figure a way to befriend one of the four to swing the vote.
Ozzy won the mud-carrying reward challenge and sent Adam to Exile Island. Parvati and Yul, for placing second and third in the challenge, also got to partake in the reward. During this reward, Parvati tried to get closer to Ozzy in order to secure his vote, even with Yul around. Meanwhile, Becky and Sundra discussed the possibility of voting challenge dominator Ozzy off. When Yul returned from the reward, Becky informed him of her plan, but Yul believed it would be best to wait at least until after the next Immunity Challenge to determine if this was necessary.
For the second time in a row, Ozzy handily won the Immunity Challenge. Adam, with very little time left, talked to Yul about keeping him on the island over Parvati, which Yul agreed to as long as Adam didn't try to sway the other Aitutaki members. However, Adam and Parvati were later caught trying to gain Ozzy's vote. Prior to Tribal Council, Yul decided to bring Jonathan's hat, which he had left at camp prior to being voted off, to return it to him as requested. While Jonathan was happy at Yul's anonymous good deed, Jeff Probst decided to let everyone know that Yul brought back the hat and editorialize on how this was an example of Yul's politicking and efforts to sway the jury to his side. In the end, the Aitutaki alliance held together, voting off the crafty Parvati over the physical threat Adam by a vote of 4–2.
|198||15||"This Tribe Will Self-Destruct in 5, 4, 3..."||December 17, 2006||16.42||5.7/14|
In the most difficult puzzle challenge ever in Survivor, according to Jeff Probst, Ozzy won Immunity for the third straight time. Back at camp, Adam tried to stir up the vote by trying to get Ozzy and Sundra to vote for Yul, for the sole purpose of making Yul use the Hidden immunity Idol and making the game more interesting after he was gone. However, Adam's plot failed and the Aitutaki alliance voted out Adam 4–1.
In a twist, the Aitutaki Four were told that they would be competing in the final Immunity Challenge and memory walk together, meaning that the final vote would have three people eligible to win.
Ozzy outlasted Sundra to win the final Immunity Challenge. Initially, Yul offered Becky his Hidden Immunity Idol to try to save her, but Becky declined because she felt it wasn't fair to blindside Sundra, as the foursome had gone through so much together. The alliance of four decided to let the third spot in the final Tribal Council be decided in a fair manner, with Ozzy and Sundra voting for Becky and Becky and Yul voting for Sundra; the tie was to be resolved via firemaking challenge, with the first castaway to make a fire advancing to the final Tribal Council. Neither Becky nor Sundra could get her fire started with flint and machete after one hour, and the jury became bored and restless. As an alternative, matches were given to Becky and Sundra, but both had trouble again maintaining a fire long enough to burn the rope. In the end, Sundra ran out of matches after half an hour, whereas Becky finally kept a fire long and high enough to burn the rope to secure her spot in the final three.
At the final Tribal Council, the jury saw Becky as riding Ozzy and Yul's coattails. Despite her attempts to convince the jury that she had played the game with much integrity as possible and had helped Yul devise voting strategies, she received no votes. Between Yul and Ozzy, the jury was split on the importance of Yul's masterminding of the social game versus Ozzy's impressive physical challenge performance, and which contributed more to the Aitutaki alliance's success.
|199||16||"Reunion"||December 17, 2006||N/A||TBA|
|Months later, the votes were cast, Yul won and becoming the thirteenth Sole Survivor in a 5–4–0 vote over Ozzy and Becky. The castaways return to discuss the season with host, Jeff Probst, live from CBS Television City in Los Angeles. As a result of a viewer's poll, Ozzy won a new Mercury Mariner car.|
|Original tribes||Switched tribes||Post-mutiny tribes||Merged tribe|
- After voting out one member at Tribal Council, Rarotonga were instructed to immediately vote out another.
- The first Tribal Council vote resulted in a tie. As there were only four castaways remaining, the two tied castaways would compete in a fire making challenge to resolve the tie.
- Sundra lost to Becky in the fire making tiebreaker challenge.
- Candice was exiled until after the next Tribal Council, which meant she could not be voted out or participate in the vote.
- Nate was "kidnapped" by the other tribe after they won the reward challenge, which meant he could not be voted out or participate in the vote.
The tribal camps, Exile Island, and many challenges of Survivor: Cook Islands were filmed on small motu (Polynesian word for "islet") in the Aituaki lagoon. The Rarotonga (later Aitutonga) tribe's camp was on Moturakau. The Aitutaki tribe lived on Motukitiu. The short-lived tribes of Manihiki and Puka Puka lived on Rapota and Muritapua, respectively. Most challenges were filmed on Tekopua and Tapuaetai (One Foot Island). Exile Island is a small sand cay south of Tapuaetai, and the bow of the wooden ship was brought in for the show. Just to the West of Tapuaetai is another sand cay called "Nude Island" by locals in reference to its lack of vegetation. The third challenge was played in the shallow waters just off the shore of Nude Island. Akaiami hosted challenges and also "The Ponderosa," where eliminated contestants were sequestered until the end of the game. Tribal Council, the production camp, and a few challenges were located on the main island of Aitutaki. There were three reward trips to the neighboring islands of Atiu, Mitiaro, and Rarotonga.
In June 2006 Taio Shipping diverted the MV Maungaroa from its usual schedule for a charter for the producers of Survivor: Cook Islands, causing a fuel and electricity crisis on the island of Mangaia.
Survivor: Cook Islands received mixed reviews at the time of airing, but has seen more popular reception as time has gone on. The racial cast divide was seen as polarizing, but cast members such as winner Yul Kwon, runner-up Ozzy Lusth and Jonathan Penner received praise. Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly ranked this season 18th out of 40 calling it "listless" until the mutiny. In 2014, Joe Reid of The Wire ranked this season 5th out of 27. In 2015, a poll by Rob Has a Podcast ranked this season 14th out of 30 with Rob Cesternino ranking this season 24th. This was updated in 2021 during Cesternino's podcast, Survivor All-Time Top 40 Rankings, ranking 19th out of 40. In 2020, "Purple Rock Podcast" ranked this season 7th out of 40 saying it "features one of the more compelling narratives the show has ever had, and gives you the rare opportunity to see in-depth strategy talk between players." Later that same year, Inside Survivor ranked this season 18th out of 40 praising the season for "having one of the best underdog stories of all time." In a 2018 video, YouTube creator Peridiam called the season one of the best for a beginning Survivor fan to watch, due to the strong underdog story and the "surprising amount of standout characters."
The gameplay of winner Yul Kwon has received a very positive reception. In 2015, in the official issue of CBS Watch commemorating the 15th anniversary of Survivor, Kwon was voted by viewers as the 9th greatest contestant in Survivor history. That same year, shortly before the premiere of the 30th season, host Jeff Probst declared Kwon to be one of his top 10 favorite Survivor winners ever, and one of his top 6 favorite male winners. An online poll by Entertainment Weekly in 2007 also found Kwon to be the favorite Survivor winner among its readers. In 2017, the magazine also had fans rank the 34 winners of Survivor and Kwon was ranked 9th.
Diversity and controversy
The decision to divide the teams by race and ethnicity made this season of Survivor controversial even before airing. Members of the New York City Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus called on CBS to dump Survivor. Those who work with the show indicated that as divisions by age, gender, or gender and age combined have been accepted, this should not be treated much different or it would set race apart. Host Jeff Probst conceded, by implication, a small difference in that racial segregation had actually been practiced in US history.
Conversely, previous seasons have been criticized for not having many non-white contestants. Probst has since pointed out that over 80% of Survivor's applicants are white.
According to Advertising Age Magazine, more than a half dozen major advertisers such as General Motors and Coca-Cola withdrew their advertising after hearing about the teams' division. However, a New York Times report indicates that the decision by several advertisers not to advertise for this season, including General Motors, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, United Parcel Service, and Campbell Soup, was made three months prior to the start of the show and unrelated to the show's racial format.
The early advertisements for the season also attracted some criticism, as they all coyly hinted at how the tribes would be divided, despite the producers having completely revealed the racial divide some time earlier.
Possibly in response to the criticism, Jeff asked the contestants on the reunion show how they felt about the racial divide, and they said that it helped to disprove the stereotypes about them.
MADtv parodied Cook Islands in its twelfth-season premiere episode, which aired September 16, 2006. The parody involved giving the white challengers significantly easier tasks, such as a swimming challenge which allowed the white challengers to use a canoe, or building a fire with a fire building kit that consisted of gasoline and a DVD on how to build fire, the Hispanic contestants received flint, the Asians received a matchstick, and the African-Americans were given a glass of water.
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