Survivor San Juan Del Sur

The Power Couple

The episode started with the Howler monkey jumping from one tree to the other and Jeff reminding us that the surprise switch gave us entirely different tribes: Coyopa with its three pairs of Loved Ones and Keith while Hunahpu only had one such pair, Josh and Reed, with a bunch of singles.

The new Coyopa had a fake idol, a real idol, and a new power couple. (Jon and Jaclyn were seen in their swimsuit hotness).

We then heard Jaclyn’s interview: “Missy and Baylor want us, and Kelley and Dale want us. It’s kind of crazy.”

Over at the new Hunahpu, Jeremy, Natalie and Julie were worried about losing their ally, Reed. “All they have to do is Josh work his magic on Reed and Reed can jump ship” said Jeremy in confessional which was heard in voiceover while Josh and Reed were shown kissing.

To make matters worse, everyone was starving.

After Reed was heard saying that they were desperate for food, we saw Jeff raising his hands and yelling: “Jeremy wins immunity for Hunahpu.” After they won the immunity challenge, Hunahpu made a desperate plea. Jeff told them that it would cost a lot and that they’d have to wait for the next day to figure it out.

With Coyopa facing Tribal Council, Jon and Jaclyn had to choose between two couples. It was once more Jaclyn who told us about the situation: “Dale is sneaky and I’m sure his daughter’s the same way but Baylor flipped on me once and she could do it again.”

At Tribal Council, they decided to stick with Missy and Baylor, sending home Dale’s daughter, Kelley.

I had been comparing Jeremy to Marcus who also had a great story in Gabon… for a while. One of things that told me Marcus couldn’t win was the fact that Jeff never gave him praise for all of Kota’s wins. This time, Jeff clearly told us that Jeremy was the one responsible for winning immunity. We also heard that he lost his ally, something that could have been turned to Josh’s favor instead.  Jeff could have said that Josh broke Hunahpu’s alliance or something along that line that would have made Josh look like a good strategic player. The way it was phrased told us immediately that Jeremy was in danger.  The viewers can appreciate the strategic players and the underdogs alike but this recap was about the underdog. 

As for Coyopa, there was no mention of the rice incident which is a very good sign for Missy. That whole fight with Dale wasn’t important after all and since we only heard Jaclyn’s interviews to explain the vote. The only segment chosen to explain the decision told us that Dale and Kelley were sneaky while Baylor’s flip in the first vote was a source of worries. Indirectly, the viewers were told that Missy was the only one that Jon and Jaclyn could trust. It’s interesting that Jon’s confessionals weren’t used at all to explain the decision. We could have heard Jon say that it was about reading the situation properly.  It was as if Jaclyn suddenly became the more important player in that pair.

What did I just do? What did I just do?[/caption]

 

In the last image of the recap, Jaclyn had an expression of either doubt or regret after Jeff snuffed Kelley’s torch. Maybe this decision won’t work well for them in the end.

The Power Couple

Coyopa – Night 13

Thunder and lightning greeted the tribe’s return to camp.

Dale had the first interview: “Tribal was probably as bad as it could get…You see complete strangers slaughter your daughter in front of your eyes and there’s nothing you can do about it… I don’t think there can be a father that can be more proud than I am of Kelley. I’m not going to give up until I can’t talk anymore.”

That was a nice Survivor “epitaph” for Kelley, a way to thank a big fan of the show for playing and maybe better luck next time.

With war-like music in the background, a chipper Missy greeted Jon who was happy to see her preparing breakfast.

Dale’s confessional continued: “Just reading the votes last night, I know who’s next. Me! So I’ve got to do something drastic to make sure I don’t go home.  I’m not dead before I see my name written four times.”

Those pesky numbers! I love the irony that Dale “died” even if his name was written only three times!

Dale showed his fake idol to Jon who bought into the bluff. In confessional, Dale reminded us that it wasn’t real but he hoped they would spend a few restless nights thinking it was.

Jon gave us an interview: “This morning, Dale showed me an immunity idol. If we lose in the next immunity challenge the idol, potentially, could ruin our plan and that really scares me.”

The camera showed four birds who were on their way to Hunahpu.

Alec was complaining to Jeremy, wondering if Jeff was about to tear down their camp.

Jeremy gave us an interview: “After we won the immunity challenge yesterday, Reed asked Jeff if we could make a trade for rice. If you are trading something for rice, Jeff is going to clean you out.  I’m not having that like come on guys, we can suck it up.  We could win a reward tomorrow; we could have feast tomorrow.  Why are you all so hungry over a little bit of rice?  It’s just mind-boggling to me.”

This whole segment made Jeremy look very good. I love how, with the right confessionals, the blame for Hunahpu’s rice shortage was switched from the original Hunahpus to the newly arrived complainers. Only Reed from the original Hunahpu kept his share of the blame.  Jeremy even made it sound as if it was only Reed’s idea to beg for rice turning him into the Dumb Player.

Sucking It Up

Sucking It Up

 

With a military march accompanying him, Jeff made his way on Hunahpu beach, ready to destroy Hunahpu’s morale… or at least make fun of them!

Julie told Jeff that she was scared. Seeing that they were down to a handful of rice, Jeff reminded them that this only happened once before, in Australia, where the situation was due to many hardships.

Reed said that there were too many cooks in the kitchen but Jeff corrected him, saying there were too many patrons in the kitchen.

This exchange indirectly absolves Missy because, according to Reed, she wasn’t the only “rice cooker”; there were many of them.  And if that wasn’t enough, Jeff pointed out that the problem wasn’t with the ones cooking the rice but with those eating it.

Jeff then went to Josh, pointing out that they had done things the right way on Coyopa wondering how it made him feel. Josh said he felt very weak.  Alec wondered what the hell had been going on but Jeremy interrupted him by saying: “It’s not like you guys are coming down here and stopping it.”

Jeff was enjoying this, saying that there had never been a tribe that had needed as much help as this one. Jeff repeated that the amount of food they had was part of the reason why they won so many challenges, so he had to be fair to the other side.  He had to impose a penalty.  He took everything except a machete, a pot and a flint.  He concluded by saying: “You are starting over.”

The tribe didn’t even discuss it; they simply started tearing the camp down.

Reed in interview: “Jeff took away our comfort, our tools and one of our pots which I feel is all worth it.”

Jeremy’s interview contradicted him: “They are all happy; I’m pissed. You know, he just took all our stuff. Why are you all happy? It’s so frustrating.”

Julie agreed with Jeremy: “We gave all our comfort back; it really sucked. Our tarp being gone is a really big deal to me.  I don’t know if it is a big deal to everybody else as it is to me.  I just know how I am: I am very worried about the rain.  Being cold is really going to test me.”

This could be the beginning of the end for Julie who could very well be the person that quits but I wonder if this is misdirection. That was a very hard night but things should go better after the merge so, if she got through that night, she could be good.

Like the Grinch, Jeff walked away from camp dragging a big bag of goodies. There may have been a touch of evilness in his voice when he said: “Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain.”

In an episode that was boringly predictable, this gave a touch of drama… and comedy. The sound of a big bass drum was heard six times while the tribe watched Jeff leave with their stuff.

The Challenge Arena

Where's Dad?

Where’s Dad?

 

While the camera showed us an anxious Wes, it was Natalie and Julie who were surprised to see that Kelley had been voted out. “Oh my God” said Julie when Natalie turned to her.

As Jeremy noted, they would soon have a chance to feast.

Each tribe was allowed to choose their strongest competitor. Reed told Hunahpu that he was comfortable with that challenge while Baylor stepped up for Coyopa.

We saw both Missy and Josh cringe when their Loved Ones hit their heads on an obstacle.

Jeff gave us and the blindfolded players a play-by-play description of the match.

Wouldn’t it be better if the blindfolded players couldn’t know about their opponent’s progress? Baylor had a better strategy: She was getting the bags first and didn’t study the mask at first while Reed was studying the mask before taking the first bag.  When Jeff informed him that Baylor was already returning with her bag, Reed quickly adjusted his tactic.

As an aside, Baylor should try to get a commercial deal with whatever company made that orange nail polish she wears because it still looks as good on day 14 as it did on day 1. Survivor nail polish? Who knew! Unless they were allowed to bring luxury items and she does her nails every day. Luxury items, remember those?!  My favorites were Robb’s skateboard because it was so useless on a beach and the immunity idol from China that James brought with him to Micronesia.

Reed had very little trouble completing the puzzle and he won the barbecue for Hunahpu, and he started crying. He explained the tears by saying the challenge was stressful and that they were so hungry.

Baylor was also on the verge of tears, disappointed that she couldn’t do it. She felt like she had let her tribe down.

When he had to decide which of his tribe mates he would send to Exile Island and deprive of the feast, Reed first chose Julie: “She has been doing well out here and she could show John just how much she can deal with.”

I Got Natalie...and her Vote.

I Got Natalie…and her Vote.

It was nice to see that Julie almost immediately agreed to go, but Natalie said she was going to volunteer.  That really surprised Julie and instantly brought a smile to Missy’s face. Natalie explained that Julie had provided while she hadn’t.

Since Natalie wanted to go, Reed ended up choosing her. Julie and Missy thanked Natalie.

Missy in confessional: “Baylor is in very good hands. Natalie said: “I’ll go to Exile Island. I know I have Natalie. I know she is with me and I think it’s going to be super-beneficial.”

That was an outstanding move by Natalie. I was really impressed by her strategic decision, and it shows those who say that this format reduces the level of strategy that new moves can come from it.  Natalie instantly showed Missy that she can be trusted, that she will do whatever it takes to help her daughter, sacrificing the feast and the comfort of the shelter to stay with Baylor.  Also, this indirectly tells us how great Missy’s social game had been while she was on Hunahpu since she got someone to do this for her and her daughter.  We had seen glimpses that Missy was well-liked by her former allies but this shows that Natalie didn’t just like Missy; she thought of her as a close friend.   

Coyopa – Day 14

We saw Keith fishing once more but he wasn’t having any success.

Keith (solo): “The fish, they are biting but I think they are too little; I can’t catch ‘em. They’re nibbling and then they get my bait every time.”

We then saw the Howler monkey walking on a branch as if it had been spying on Keith. We heard Jon talking to Missy: “Natalie’s totally with you still.”

Missy agreed, saying: “There’s no way she would have gone otherwise.”

We heard the Howler monkey screaming just before Jon delivered  big news: “This morning, Dale showed me an immunity idol.”

Jaclyn was on screen when he said that, suggesting he was telling the story for the first time to both Jaclyn and Missy. I noticed that we saw all three of them walking by Keith’s favorite fishing hole but Jon’s revelation was done in voiceover with only Jaclyn shown on screen. We didn’t see the words coming from Jon’s mouth while all three were on our screen so it’s possible that Jon didn’t tell both at the same time. It would be much more likely that he’d tell Jaclyn in private first and then they’d spring it on Missy if they agreed it was the best thing to do.  Presented this way, it gave the impression that Jon trusts Missy as much as Jaclyn which could be very dangerous in this game. 

Jaclyn couldn’t believe it: “Get out.  It sucks so bad.”

With Keith seen in the background, Jon laid his plan: “If we lose the next immunity challenge, we could actually take Dale and use him to vote Keith out.”

Missy gave us an interview: “So today, Dale decides to show Jon that he has an idol. That’s a little wrinkle in the plan.”

The scene ended with Jon saying that he’d like to keep Keith but couldn’t see how it could happen.

It’s nice for Keith that we heard his name mentioned, putting him in danger but it would have been nicer if he had been more involved in saving himself.

Exile Island

We saw the two women arriving near the Exile rock.

Natalie in confessional: “Me making this move to volunteer to go to Exile, I hope that it plays in my favor. Once we merge, this will prove to Missy and Baylor that, listen, we need to take care of Natalie if she is not taken care of.”

Baylor got the parchment with the clues and we heard that the idol is now buried near the flags, not the water well.

Natalie’s confessional continued: “Baylor had the immunity idol clue; she showed it to me. I didn’t ask her; she just showed it to me.  Getting information from Baylor, I feel like long term, is way more important for me than some food reward.”

Natalie told Baylor that she needed to find the idol over there and that her or Jeremy needed to find the one back at their camp. Baylor agreed adding: “Then we could run with it.”

Baylor immediately showed the clue to Natalie and she agreed that it would be just as good if Jeremy was the one who finds the Hunahpu idol. That tells us that Baylor trusted Natalie so she must have spoken a lot with her mother about the alliance she had with those two. It now looks like we underestimated the bond between Jeremy and his girls. In order to say that the couples are going to take over after the merge, it seems that we will have to consider Jeremy and Natalie as “Twinnies”! Those two have been singles for so long that they’ve developed a strong bond and they’ve really made a strong connection with Missy.

Natalie’s confessional continued: “Me, Jeremy and Julie, we are on the chopping block. Long-term whatever Baylor says, I am listening to because Missy I trust and if I can trust Missy, I can trust Baylor.”

Not only was Natalie making a smart move for herself when she volunteered to go to Exile Island but she was also thinking of her alliance and the post-merge numbers.  

Hunahpu

The sun was setting on day 14 and the spirits were high… for the moment.

Josh in confessional: “I am so proud of Reed for pulling it out. We came back with 8 shish-kebabs and a barbecue pit and I’m like, yes, that’s my guy; he did that.”

Jeremy didn’t seem too happy to see the two guys kissing.

Jeremy in confessional: “Josh and Reed: They walk around like they own the place and then they are all lovey-dovey with each other. If Val was here, we’d be so separate that you would think we don’t like each other at all.  That’s what you are supposed to do but these two, hugging and kissing, that’s a threat.”

 It seemed that Jeremy was only talking about the implications for the game: He was irritated that Josh and Reed were taking control of the game.  However, his irritation was presented right after the camera showed them kissing.  Some could say that Jeremy’s reaction showed that he was homophobic.  I’m not sure about the intent of this scene but I felt like more care could have been given to Jeremy’s reputation.

When the meat was cooked, we heard Alec’s interview: “I’m a meat collector.  I eat meat a lot.”

Again, Jeremy had the rebuttal confessional: “We just had our feast, but we didn’t have our tarp anymore because the “brainiacs” (Josh and Reed on screen) wanted to give that away.  If we had just left it for another day, we would have had a full meal.  They are so dumb.”

Sure enough, the clouds rolled in and it started raining. They all huddled in the shelter, and Julie didn’t look too good. “I just cannot handle being this wet all night.  I feel like I’m breaking. I’m at the breaking point” she said.

Jeremy in confessional: “Oh! Julie, Julie, Julie.  It’s a sad situation. She’s crying, ready to go home. If Julie quits, I wouldn’t know what to do because I am dying for numbers but if she has to go, I need her to go before I go, so I can make this merge and I can make some magic happen.”

Hunahpu – Day 15

The next morning, we saw Jeremy comforting Julie: “Don’t let it break you… We did good. We passed that bad night.”

While Jeremy said the right things, we had just heard his confessional so he looked very selfish. At least, he was honest with her, saying that he needed her.

Crying, Julie said she thought every night was going to be like this one. She gave us a confessional: “Jeremy keeps checking in with me this morning. He’s telling me: Hang in there, I need you.  He’s here to protect me; I’m here to protect him.  It was the hardest night of my life.  I thought about it a million times… You can jump ship at any time but I am sitting here right now and that speaks volumes to me.”

Alec didn’t mince words: “This is Survivor. You signed up for this ( censored ). Go home.”

That sums up the audience’s feelings regarding whiners and quitters.

The Immunity Challenge

Julie sat out of the challenge.

While Hunahpu’s strength gave them an advantage while rolling the wooden cube, Jon really outperformed Jeremy in getting the bags off the coils.   That gave Jon and Missy a nice head start on the flag puzzle and Jeff said they were working well together, but Jon got stuck after the third banner.   Josh and Reed were able to catch up and take the lead, never looking back.   Hunahpu won immunity.

Right after Jeff handed the idol to Hunahpu, we heard Jaclyn consoling Jon: “You did great, really,” but Jon was despondent: “No” he said, looking down at the ground.

While it was Missy’s role to give the right banner to Jon, the camera focused almost entirely on Jon as he kept putting up the wrong banner. No blame was put on Missy.  That looked like a great sign for her.  Jaclyn’s words made me think she’d say the same thing if Jon fell a little short of the final victory and he’d be even more heartbroken.

On the other side, if Reed and Josh really wanted to get rid of Jeremy before the merge, then they missed a glorious occasion to throw the challenge with no one realizing what they were doing.

Asked to explain Coyopa’s feelings, Dale said it eloquently: “What happens tonight hurts more than this.” Missy agreed.

Coyopa – Day 15

Keith narrated the events: “We can’t catch a break. What do you do?  I mean, we were there today.  It is frustrating. (he spit to show his dejection). Now, my job is to get Dale out of there and get to the merge where I can reunite with Wesley and we are going to have a strong pact then.  I got my back-up plan too.  It’s great having that idol, You can always pull that baby out.  I don’t want to, but you always can.  That is the luxury of having it.”

If it was his job to get rid of Dale then Keith had a strange way of going about business because he went for a nap. Despite that, the fact that we keep hearing him talking about the idol could signal that he uses it to save himself at some point.  We’ve often heard arrogant players saying that they had a big advantage because of the idol, but there isn’t arrogance in Keith’s words, just a realization that the idol could help.  Since there wouldn’t be the satisfaction of seeing the arrogant player fall then letting us hear Keith’s words indicates that he will use it successfully.

After a spider crawled out of a pot, we heard Dale talking to Jon: “I suck at this…losing. I don’t want to play my idol tonight”. He offered the same deal that Terry had tried with Danielle: “If I am not voted out tonight… I will give you my idol.”

Dale explained his reasoning in confessional telling us the idol wasn’t real, so he couldn’t play it. He was bartering that idol for votes.

I have to wonder about the players’ bartering skills. After Drew and Reed’s failures, it was Dale’s turn to make a terrible offer.  If you want to use an idol, fake or not, you have to go to the person you want to eliminate and threaten them by saying: If you vote against me, YOU are the one leaving.  The idol works better as a weapon than a gift so Dale should have shown it to Missy.  Also, he should never have mentioned that he didn’t want to play it.  As soon as he did, he made it irrelevant: Whether the idol was real or fake, Jon now knew that he could get Dale out.

As soon as he had exposed his plan to Jon, Dale’s confessional continued: “For tonight…We are going to vote Missy out. Missy has got the most ties in the previous camp.”

This confirms our impression that Missy is well-connected in her original tribe. She is the player to watch.

In his interview, Jon reflected on the plan: “Dale said if he doesn’t go home tonight, he will give me his immunity idol.  It’s very tempting to take that offer, but you can’t just get hung up on small details.  I have to consider all the pieces of this puzzle.”

Instead of considering all the pieces by himself, Jon told Baylor, Missy, and Jaclyn about Dale’s offer.

Missy was quick to point out: “The four of us need to get further, and in order to do that, we have to get rid of him.”

They agreed to put three votes on Dale and two on Keith.

Missy (solo): “Just in case Dale has this idol, we are going to have three people vote Dale and then Baylor and I are going to vote Keith. If he plays his idol, Keith goes home and I’m sad about that, but better Keith than me or Baylor.”

Jon and Jaclyn further considered the pieces when they found each other alone in the ocean. Jon said that if they went with Dale, they would be alone with the idol.  Jaclyn wondered if it was a real idol and Jon said: “I really think it’s real.”

Why did we have to hear Jon say that he thought the idol was real if he was going to vote against Dale anyway? Since we knew the idol wasn’t real, letting us hear this exchange made Jon look quite foolish.

Jon in interview: “Jaclyn and I, once again, find ourselves in the middle. There are options here. One: We could vote for Dale, we could take out Keith, or we could vote for Missy.  I feel like the best option would be to actually align with Dale and use the idol for the alliances’ advantage but the biggest thing that I need to do for this vote is to line myself up so that, when the merge happens, Jaclyn and I are a power couple.”

Tribal Council

We saw that one of Hunahpu’s snakes made it to the swap!

Dale first told Jeff that voting a Loved One hits you like a ton of bricks.

Jon and the Howler monkey agreed.

Baylor compared being on Exile Island to being a kid lost in a grocery store unable to find your parent. “It’s scary and it’s tough and you don’t know if you are going to make it.”

That got to Missy who said she wasn’t there for her daughter. Baylor started to cry because as she said: “When she cries, I cry.”

Jeff pointed out that Missy wasn’t crying but Baylor knew she was just about to start.

Dale said he could only think about the next 12 hours.

Jon told Jeff that he talked with Dale which got a reaction from Keith.

Jaclyn told Jeff that it was nice to get an extra view point on things.

That remark caught Missy’s attention, and she said that it was a bit disconcerting to hear that.

Dale said he was loyal and a lone vote and that he didn’t have any ties to anybody in the game.

Baylor countered that she was more loyal than Dale, surprising the farmer.

Dale answered: “I like Baylor, but she needs to own up to her game.”

While Dale won’t be a juror, this continued storyline about Baylor’s refusal to acknowledge her role in the first vote tells me that she won’t be able to convince the jury.

Jeff asked Jaclyn to go back to day one when considering who was loyal.

Jaclyn agreed that Baylor did kind of flip on her.

Jon said that they were coming to the merge, so he wanted to know who he could trust in the long term.

Jon’s comment signaled that it was time to vote.

Dale was seen playing with his bag but it was too late to bluff because Jeff had already left to tally the votes.

When asked to play an idol, neither Dale nor Keith stood but it seemed that the firefighter had his eyes on Dale, ready to pop up and play his own idol.

I Think She Wants a Divorce.

I Think She Wants a Divorce.

As soon as the second vote for Dale was revealed, everyone knew the outcome but I wonder how Keith will react to his two votes.  He looked straight at Missy, seemingly knowing the origin of those two votes.

Dale walked off, Missy smiled, and we heard Jon telling Jaclyn that she was beautiful. The two smiled.

Jeff sent them back to camp after saying: “You said it was the biggest vote thus far and it was centered around loyalty. The question that time will answer is: Did you make the right decision?”

 

 

 

Got Rid of Another Geezer.   The Million is Mine!

Got Rid of Another Geezer. The Million is Mine!

 

Right then, Missy gave us a big smile, telling us that time will indeed tell us that it was the right decision for her.

The Story

The dynamics of Hunahpu had been so well-hidden that we underestimated the strength of the bond between the women and Jeremy. The vote against Kelley had contributed to make me think that a cross-tribal alliance of couples would take over but this episode really put the original Hunahpu alliance into focus.  The only way we’ll be able to say that the couples take over after the merger is if we consider that Jeremy is an honorary “Twinnie”!  The women of Hunahpu and Jeremy lost one member when Kelley was voted out but they gained 3 votes now that Jaclyn, Jon and Baylor will be joining them.  In that alliance, we heard about the Hottest Couple but a real Power Couple has emerged.

The Characters

The Constants – These players haven’t evolved in the last episodes:

Reed:  The whole bartering for rice fiasco was mostly put on his shoulders when we heard Jeremy’s first confessional.  If that wasn’t enough, we heard Reed say he was happy with the trade but Jeremy told the audience how it should be viewed: “They are all happy; I’m pissed.”  Along with Julie and Baylor, Reed was one of three players whose moment of weakness was questioned by Jeff this week.  “Why the tears?” he asked him after he won the reward.  Like the other two, Reed didn’t exactly look like a Survivor in that moment.  I still think he could be our quitter if Josh gets voted out.

Wes: We know that he will join with his father after the merge, but how strong will their pact be?  His meager role in the first 6 episodes doesn’t exactly bode well for any future story arc.  Most likely, Wes will have one episode with a few confessionals before making the real “walk of shame”.

Alec: He is actually devolving, turning more and more into his older brother with each passing episodes. Eating and cursing at a woman was his only role in this one.  If he was more of a threat in tactical skills, he’d be the typical merge boot because of his athleticism and his lack of allies.  As it stands, he will simply be one in a string of ex-Coyopa players that will leave in the next few episodes.

Josh:  The merge episode is building up into a struggle between Josh and Jeremy but it won’t be fought on an even playing field.  While Josh looked like a formidable player after the first three episodes, his star has paled since he has moved to Hunahpu and joined with Reed.  Like his partner, he complained about the lack of food and was ready to trade all the comfort for a bag of rice instead of continuing to play the game like Jeremy.  With the possible exception of Keith, the merge will not bring him any reinforcement so he will need to win or find immunity to last until episode 8.  He was in a great position to get rid of Jeremy before the merger because all he had to do was to throw a challenge that Jeremy had already compromised.

Julie:  We heard that she reached her breaking point so it’s very possible that she will quit when the next storm hits them.  Will she be there to vote with her allies at the merge? Could she quit if she realizes that her vote isn’t needed?  It was nice to see her recover after that tough night so I’d like to see a story of perseverance from Julie but since we know someone will quit, it makes it hard to envision.  I hate long-range spoilers even if they come from SeeBS itself.

The Variable:

Keith and his idol: The clueless continue to survive.  I’d say it’s great for us:  Keith is a good narrator despite his limited abilities and he’s been an enjoyable character.  Hearing him say that he was ready to take a nap after telling us he had a job to do, making sure Dale got voted out, wasn’t a very promising note for his future chances though.  Of course, Bob famously napped his way to victory but that was in episodes where the “Onions” were in charge and Bob wasn’t considered for elimination.  Putting “my job is to get Dale out of there” next to “Can I take a nap?” wasn’t the best way to portray Keith in an episode where he was one of the alternate votes.  Still, he has an idol and it doesn’t appear that he will waste it because he isn’t as arrogant about it as the other players we saw over the years leaving with one (or two!) in their pocket.  Who will be the idol’s victim?  As far as I am concerned, Jeremy is the prime candidate but the way he looked at Missy after seeing his name pop up twice means that she will have serious damage control to do.  After all, his question about the nap was addressed to Missy, so that means he trusted that she would take care of business and get rid of Dale.  While we heard she would be sad to see Keith go, she didn’t hesitate to put his head on the chopping block.  How will Keith react?

The Power Players

Jeremy: While this episode confirmed that he wasn’t going to be faced with a vote before the merger, we still heard him talking about strategy.  There will be no need for “Surround and Drown” so that whole scene could have been left on the cutting room floor but it was still an integral part of last week’s story.  That tells us that Jeremy will be a very important player after the merger, that he will be part of the dominating faction.  I still don’t see him as a winner because we see too many negative moments from him.  Every time he talked negatively about Josh and Reed, we were shown the couple kissing so that gives the impression the kiss was just as much the source of his irritation as their actions in the game.  That wouldn’t be the best way to show the “Sole Survivor”.  Also, even if we know that he bad-mouths his opponents mostly in confessionals, his scowls are in evidence in group pictures, so that should tell the others what he thinks of them.

Natalie:  I was very impressed by Natalie’s move in this episode.  It showed that she understands that trust is the key ingredient in this game and, more importantly, she found a way to earn trust outside of Tribal Council. Usually, the surest way to prove that you can be trusted is to vote the way you say you will but, in this format, volunteering to accompany someone’s kid to Exile Island, in effect promising to protect them, is an even better way to show you can be trusted.  After the merger, Natalie and Missy are going to be working together, making the plans to get to the end.  The fact that the cameras didn’t show Natalie and Baylor on Exile Island on that terrible night is not a good sign for her final success.

The Hot Couple

Jaclyn: Her star has been shining brighter since the swap and she was featured even more than Jon in the recap, her words being the ones used to explain their decision. Since Dale went to Jon with his bluff, it made her take a step back in airtime again but she was still the voice of reason, the one that questioned the authenticity of the idol.  I still see her expression of regret or doubt after eliminating Kelley so that indicates that she may regret joining Missy before all this is said and done.  Even at the end of Tribal Council, a moment Jeff described as the most vital one of the game thus far, the focus was on Jon saying how beautiful she was. That indicates they aren’t focused enough on the game and they might regret yet another decision.

Jon:   He was associated twice with the Howler monkey in this episode, once when he told Missy and Jaclyn that Dale showed him the “idol” and later when the monkey “agreed” with him when Jon answered Jeff’s question.  However, Jon was neglected during the recap and he looked foolish to fall for Dale’s bluff even if he played it well in the end. Presently a part of the power couple, Jon should understand that his hesitations before every vote are the worst way to keep power.  A power player needs to be trusted and the others will become worried to see him hanging in the middle so much.  The funny thing is that he will soon have a chance to prove to Jeremy that he could vote with him.

This episode gave me a new interpretation of what the monkey represents. Unlike the tarsier who symbolized Cochran as the small predator that outlasted all the big ones, the monkey is only a menace, a threat hanging over Missy and Baylor.  Jon will still be there in the end and will represent the last threat to their victory, but he isn’t a killer. He could win his way to the final Tribal Council but he won’t vote them out.  Would he get the votes in the end?  I’m less positive after this episode.

The Power Couple:

Baylor: Natalie is the one that truly fits here with Missy but, in this format, we know that Baylor will always be tied to her mother.  Like the Three Musketeers who were four, maybe my Power Couple should have three members! I’ll make a concession to semantics and leave it at two. This episode really showed us that we weren’t watching Baylor’s story but her mother’s.  While on Exile Island, Baylor was practically ignored: The focus, the little they received, was all on Natalie.  Baylor will be sitting in front of the jury but her vote in the first episode will be once more brought to light and Baylor will still be unable to own up to her game.

Missy:  I feel more and more like she will be our “Sole Survivor”.  The decision to boot Kelley was made because Jaclyn had something bad to say about everyone but Missy.  The rice incident was not only ignored in the recap, but Jeff even said the problem wasn’t with the cook but with the patrons.  We finally had some key confessionals from Missy and they came at the perfect time because her name was on the chopping block.  Unlike Keith, she didn’t take a nap when it was time to get the job done and make sure Dale was voted out.  We heard that she had the most connections in her original tribe and Natalie’s decision to volunteer to go to Exile Island showed that Missy is not only connected but that she is respected and liked.  Gaining Missy’s trust was so important to Natalie that she turned down a feast.  A player that has the others’ trust is the most powerful player in the game.  At Tribal Council, I couldn’t help but notice that Jeff said “But she isn’t crying” when Baylor blamed her tears on her mother’s.  It probably didn’t mean much and Missy has been shown crying before but, in this moment, it showed that she was standing up to the rigors of the game a little better than Baylor.  The smile that was revealed by the camera after Jeff said that time would tell if they made the right decision meant much more:  When the dust settles over this season, Missy will be smiling still.

I will wait to see how she is portrayed during the merger but Missy should be able to get rid of Josh, the sketchy player, his allies, the other power players and break up the hot couple to stand in the end with her daughter. Who will be the 3rd player facing the jury?  Since Missy would be sad to see Keith go then it could very well be him, but she will have to smooth things over with him after the votes at this latest Tribal Council.  If not Keith then Natalie or Jon. The vote would be hard to call if Jon is sitting next to them.  However, Missy is liked and Jon is seen as a goof ball so maybe she could even beat him.

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