Thirty-nine days, eighteen Survivors, three tribes, dozens of lies, a gender war and now, one Sole Survivor.
Against a backdrop of volcanoes and earthquakes, the ninth season of Survivor
, called Vanuatu: Islands of Fire
, got off to a rousing start at a native ritual ceremony full of spears, nasty drinks, a fertility idol, and a lot of sexist attitudes. When the natives divided the 18 Americans into groups of men and women, it stuck, and another battle of the sexes was on. Among the Lopevi members: Lea, the "Sarge" barking out orders; Travis, a.k.a. "Bubba," wearing his Bob Barker T-shirt; Brady, the FBI agent; Chris, whose struggles on the balance beam made him an early target; and outspoken Rory. Among the Yasur members: power broker Ami; big-eyed Eliza, whose motor mouth overshadowed a surprising resilience; acid-tongued Twila; and sheep farmer Dolly. Also on the teams were two players with physical impediments: Chad, with a prosthetic leg, and the spiritual Scout, whose artificial knee made her the most immobile Survivor
contestant ever. Age lines were drawn as well, with one group dubbed the "Fat Five." But just when the tide seemed certain, a number of reversals, one infamous broken promise, plenty of tears, and host Jeff Probst's corniest-ever final entrance kept things interesting. Trivia: one contestant with a penchant for nude sunbathing ended up dating Probst after the season ended. Probst, Chris, Twila, Eliza, Chad, Scout, Julie, and Ami return for commentary on five episodes and 35 minutes of featurettes on the DVDs. --David Horiuchi