Survivor San Juan Del Sur

The Assets

The recap reminded us of the important points seen in the premiere:

  • We saw Baylor and Missy being scared by the howler monkeys.
  • Jeremy and Val were forced to compete for reward because of the new twist with the loser heading to Exile Island.
  • After winning, Jeremy chose Keith to join his wife.
  • At Coyopa, relationships were already forming (We saw the exchange that led Wes to bust Rocker on his last name.)
  • At Hunahpu, the tribe was getting all the details they could stomach. (We saw Drew saying: “Dude, I’m a (blank) genius » and we heard Julie saying that he’s just a dumb young guy.)
  • At Exile Island, Val caught a break and got the biggest piece of information in the game: a clue to the idol.
  • Hunahpu won the immunity challenge.
  • Facing Tribal Council, it looked like it was the women (Baylor was heard putting the target on Dale) versus the men (Alec was the one shown pointing to Nadiya).
  • A secret alliance between Baylor and Josh kept the vote up in the air. (Baylor was heard saying she wanted to vote with Josh while Josh told us he was in the middle of the guys and the girls)
  • Then Jeff used these words to describe the vote: “At Tribal Council, Josh went rogue (We see his parchment with Baylor written on it) and Baylor voted for Nadiya, breaking apart the women’s alliance and leaving Val and Jaclyn all alone.”

It seems that these were the only important events of the premiere. We weren’t reminded of Wes and Keith’s problems with the flint, Jon’s concerns for his father or Jeremy’s alliance with Kelley, Missy, Natalie and Keith. While there is certainly time to revisit these stories, their absence from the recap has to make us consider that they weren’t as important as we thought.  I must also note that Hunahpu wasn’t presented as the tribe of interest I thought it was.  It was at Coyopa that “the relationships were already forming” while Hunahpu wasn’t credited with anything positive except for the challenge wins. 

As for what was shown, I find it fascinating that the editors used the shelter building to paint Drew as a “dumb young guy.” From the press images, Hunahpu’s shelter looks very good so Drew should have been thanked for it. But then, it would have made it harder to show him as the dumb guy.  I’m not saying he isn’t dumb but he does have skills that aren’t being presented.

In Coyopa, the two biggest players were shown front and center but it wasn’t as favorable as we thought for Josh. Jeff could have used many words to describe his vote but going rogue is very negative in a social game. I think it’s the start of a Villain’s story arc.  We will have more indications of that in this episode.  As for Baylor, she was presented as we expected: The tool that was used by Josh. 

The Assets

Coyopa – Night 3

Arriving back at camp, Josh immediately pulled Baylor aside and revealed his vote: “Don’t get upset with me; there’s a method to my madness. I put your name down.” (Josh’s confessional was inserted here) “Tonight, I knew they were voting for Nadiya. I figured if I put your name down then there’s no way anything bad could happen. Do not be mad at me. (Baylor’s confessional was heard at this point) I’m so sorry for doing that to you but I feel like that actually made our alliance stronger.”

Josh’s confessional: “I voted for Baylor to further advance our alliance in this game. I don’t want the guys thinking that I was getting too close to Baylor, but I wanted to keep Baylor as an asset.

Baylor’s confessional: “Josh comes up to me. He explains to me that, apparently, it was a game move because he doesn’t want the guys to know that me and him are aligned. That was a smart move in a way, but that was also sketchy and scary that he didn’t tell me before that he was going to write my name down. I really hope that I can trust him.”

For the second time, Josh had the title quote of the episode. When Baylor explained his move and said she still wanted to trust him gave me flashes of Trish and how she forgave Tony for all the sketchy and scary moves he did at her expense. As for Josh, I thought it would have been better for him to keep his vote a secret, that he would be dumb to tell Baylor about it but it was presented as “a smart move in a way” so that’s how we have to see it.  However, as smart as it was, it did show Josh as being sketchy and making scary moves which describes the actions of a “Villain”.  With respect to both the edit and the game, it is a bit early to be seen as sketchy and scary. 

Hunahpu – Day 5

It’s seems that nothing happened in Nicaragua on Day 4 because we are already jumping ahead! A few more jumps like this and we will be at Day 39 by the end of October!  It would all give us something new to do on Wednesdays which may not be a bad thing!

Reed showed his flexibility while Jon and Drew did some exercises to get ready for the challenge.

It led to Jeremy’s confessional: “We got Jon and we got Drew, and they are both like cartoon characters.  Like, they are so crazy. I’m like: Are they listening to themselves?  They are so happy and it’s like not real, you know what I am saying? Which for me is good because I know all the girls can’t stand them already.”

That Looks Yummy! That Looks Yummy![/caption]

 

 

While Natalie confirmed Jeremy’s comment by saying that the weights that the guys were lifting wasn’t a big deal, Kelley seemed interested in the display of muscles.

Like Josh, Jeremy is seizing up his tribe and counting his assets. The difference between the two is that we heard that Jeremy is considered to be trustworthy and honorable while his targets are dumb players, not strong women like Nadiya and Val who, while they weren’t fan favorites, were appreciated by the viewers.

The scene changed when we heard Julie saying that they had lost their flint.

Kelley gave us a confessional: “I cannot believe that we lost our flint. Losing that is not good.”

It was soon established that Jon had the flint last so he gave us a confessional: “I learned that, if you are wrong, you admit it and you admit it emphatically so, not only do the people know: Not only does he know he’s wrong but he feels awful about it and he’s probably going to do a lot to make up for it. Is that accepted by everyone? I have no idea. I’m nervous about it; I’m very nervous about it.”

In the middle of the confessional, we heard Jon telling the tribe: “I feel like I’m J’Tia right now: Jon poured the rice in the fire, Jon lost the flint.” He then asked Keith if they needed flint to start a fire, to which Keith simply answered: “It helps.”

Compared to Drew, his fellow “dumb young guy” Jon shows us again that he has more depth. Jon should outlast Drew.

The Reward challenge

The camera focused on Natalie when she realized that Nadiya was gone. The tears soon followed. Missy and Julie, sitting next to her, tried to comfort her. Natalie told Jeff that she had always been with Nadiya.

Even if Jeff’s description told everyone that this wasn’t going to be a physical challenge, Rocker was quick to jump up, volunteering for his tribe and forcing Julie to compete for Hunahpu.

I smiled when John cracked his neck to get ready for the challenge like James used to do. Rocker will never be loved by the fans like China’s big man.

It was very satisfying to see slow-and-steady Julie win against go-for-broke John.

Julie wasn’t shown dropping her ball once, but fell behind John a few times despite Rocker’s multiple restarts. What I found interesting was that Julie had at least one restart but it was edited out to make her look better. Look at the following vidcaps where she reaches the first pole at 9:06. Then, at 9:13 she is seen still a few feet away from that same pole.

Julie reached the Pole at 9:06

Julie reached the Pole at 9:06

Julie hasn't reached the Pole at 9:13

Julie hasn’t reached the Pole at 9:13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think it is an error in continuity where the editors simply mixed up the timing of the two scenes because in the first cap, Julie is holding her pole with one hand while she has both hands on it in the second like she did for the rest of the challenge. That means they intentionally cut the images where Julie dropped her ball. The same thing may have happened at the second pole which John was shown to reach first even if Julie had previously been well ahead of him.  Could she have gone back to the start another time? I don’t know but what I do know is that hiding a player’s failure is always a very good sign for that player. We will have to see if there are more occasions like these for Julie. Maybe we will have to consider her as a contender despite her connection to John.

John didn’t smile when he saw that Julie had won. Instead, he showed his ignorance when Jeff asked how it felt to lose to his girlfriend: “Remove the friend part” he answered, “I am losing to a girl. I just got beat by a girl.”

Julie picked Jeremy to accompany John to Exile Island.

(She should have realized that, by sending the person who had just won the reward for his tribe, she was setting an example that could come back to haunt her. Now that she won a challenge, she could very well be the next Hunahpu designated to exile. Despite knowing in advance what would happen at the arena, Julie looked very troubled by the decision so that means the tribe hadn’t discussed the situation and how they should handle it. I think the tribes should determine who goes to Exile Island beforehand to avoid creating any fractures. If one of them has to go, it would be better to set turns in advanceThey could use the old alphabet strategy and, like Sean, include a special clause: If you lose the reward challenge then we skip your turn because you already went to Exile Island once. It would be funny to see the return of that strategy!)

When Jeff told Hunahpu to pick up their fishing gear, Reed spoke up and asked if they could trade their bag of beans for a flint. Jeff found it funny that a tribe with 2 firemen would lose their flint but he thought half a bag of beans for flint was an uneven deal. He said they’d have to give up the whole fishing gear if they wanted flint.  At first, the tribe said that they would do without flint but Jeff reminded them of the need to restart a fire after every rainstorm and that the payment would go up. Natalie and Kelley said they really needed the flint so they finally agreed to the trade.

Jon had a confessional: “Catching some fish would have been heavenly. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it because all we did was trade it for flint. Losing the flint was a pretty big mistake. It was my fault that we lost our chance at a fishing gear.”

Sally also made a big mistake in Panama when she lost the spear that could have helped La Mina catch some fish and Terry didn’t let her forget that she hurt the tribe but no one was heard blaming Jon. Is it the winning streak that made Hunahpu so forgiving?  All I can say is that by not hearing anyone reinforcing the blame then the viewers are less likely to hold it against Jon.

Hunahpu

Just like in the premiere, we went to Hunahpu first.

We saw Missy tying the flint to her belt and we clearly heard a “Good job, Julie” this time. We even saw Jon giving her a high five.

Natalie was then seen crying again which led to a confessional by Missy: “I would have said that there is no stronger bond than between a mom and a daughter but man, those twins!  Hoo!  It’s really touching to see a tough girl cry; I want to help her.”

Natalie in confessional: “Nadiya got voted out. She is probably fine but it’s just that we are not together. That’s the hard part. Now, it’s very good motivation for me to keep my head in the game and compete hard so that I can at least go as far as I can.”

The editors don’t miss a single occasion to remind us of the bond between Missy and Baylor so it has to surface in a big way somewhere down the line.

Coyopa

Alec, Wes, Dale, Josh and Val were talking about Rocker’s past. Dale asked if he was the guy that was run out of the league.  The others weren’t sure but Dale said he thought that that it was Rocker that gave the interview about the minorities riding the subway in New York.

Josh in confessional: “Just because John does things that I don’t like, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to work with him because I think that makes him more of an asset to be used because he’s pissing off so many people already, that yes, I want him on my team.”

This confessional furthers sets up the Villain edit for Josh. Many viewers must have been repulsed by the idea that Rocker could be dragged to the end as a Goat. Josh shows good strategy but he isn’t doing it in a really honorable manner.  He isn’t surrounding himself with likeable players. 

Baylor pointed out: “John and Jeremy on Exile Island.” Someone agreed with her intent: “It better be a big damn island.” Val looked worried.

Exile Island

It was Jeremy that gave the confessional: “Exile Island is not a happy place…It’s not a good place to be. Plus, the icing on top is that I am stuck here with John Rocker.  I know who he is: He used to pitch for the Braves and everything.” In the middle of that confessional, we saw the two men reach the urns where Jeremy picked the “lucky” parchment. Jeremy’s confessional continued:  “They were playing against the Mets and he was talking about Black people, talking about homosexuals. I can’t remember exactly what he said but I remember he said racist things.  I’m not saying that John Rocker is a racist but you will say stuff like that and it will follow you for the rest of your life.  You can change. Yeah! Sure, but it’s still going to follow you.  Now, I need him to protect my wife so I’m going to try to buddy up to him a little bit.”  The confessional was interrupted so that we could see Jeremy sharing the clue with the ex-pitcher and hear him saying: “You protect Val; I will protect Julie.” The confessional resumed: “I threw out: You protect Val and I will protect Julie and it will be good. I’m just trying to give Val time on her side to work some magic but if she’s voted out, Julie is gone right after.”

From an overhead shot, we heard John agreeing to the deal.

We have to realize that, even if Rocker was present, it was Jeremy that gave us the confessional. Not only that, we also had the famous helicopter shot that has been used to show the winner a few times (Earl, Parvati and Natalie come to mind).

A Winner's Shot (and I don't mean Rocker!)

A Winner’s Shot (and I don’t mean Rocker!)

 

This tells us that Jeremy is indeed a key character this season.  Most of his story revolved around Val so he could be lost without her but Val knows him best and she thinks that it will motivate him even more.

As for John, we can wonder if he didn’t just seal Julie’s fate by agreeing to this deal so quickly. Maybe he said he’d do everything he could but we only heard him say that it was a done deal. A smart player would have told Jeremy that Val was in trouble, that he would try his best to help her, but that it may be an impossible task.  

 

The Immunity Challenge

Josh showed some confidence (or was it arrogance?) when he said that they would take the idol.

Having to sit out one member, Hunahpu hesitated between Julie and Kelley, finally opting to sit the girlfriend.

In the first round, Jaclyn defeated Kelley. Dale was hurt by that result while we heard Kelley saying: “Dude, she’s big” which set up their rematch nicely.

After a rough start, Drew beat his younger brother while Wes beat Jeremy.

She has some explaining to do

She has some explaining to do

The Good Husband

The Good Husband

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val left little doubt that she preferred winning immunity over seeing her husband beat the younger guy! When Natalie beat Val, Jeremy only gave golf claps.

The stage was set for the big match: Jon versus John. The football player showed which sport had tougher guys. He knew that “the low man always wins” so he went hard and fast for John’s legs.

Jon’s victory over Rocker will certainly get him many fans amongst the viewers.

Jeff asked Rocker about his bloody nose but the answer was bleeped. He took Jon’s shoulder right in the face so he could have a broken nose.

Still with only a 3-2 lead, Hunahpu hadn’t won yet. It’s interesting to consider that many challenges have been cut short over the years. Many rounds were not shown to save time or to manipulate a player’s presentation. (The most memorable one was the gross food challenge in Samoa that didn’t show Natalie’s failure.) So why did we have to see 4 more rounds after this great match-up? There had to be important things left to show and those included the mother-daughter confrontation (even if it was pitiful to watch) and Kelley’s revenge.

The Missy-Baylor match had a big set-up, both explaining they would imagine facing an ex to get the right motivation but, as soon as mom split her kid’s lip, Missy gave up and Baylor had no trouble winning the point on the restart.

When Reed went up against Josh, we heard Drew yelling “Come on, Josh”. Jon had to remind him that it was Reed that was on their team.

Who?

Who?

 

That cemented the “Dumb Player” edit for Drew.  Was he telling us that we should root for Josh?!

Reed won for Hunahpu before Dale beat Keith to tie the score again.

 

 

 

 

It was set-up: The rematch between Kelley and Jaclyn would be for immunity. Dale couldn’t even look. He told Jeff that it was Kelley’s birthday but that he had to root for Jaclyn.  The birthday girl turned it around and won the final point. She received the immunity idol and a pat on the ass by Reed.

That’s two challenges that Kelley won for Hunahpu. Even if she hasn’t received a lot of airtime, we have to consider that her tribe appreciates her and that she is very determined when it comes to challenges. Those are good points for her story.

If I was playing the game, this challenge would have told me a lot about the people in my tribe. I wouldn’t want to have Missy or Dale in my alliance because I know they would betray it in favor of their daughters.  Maybe the players have realized that they can’t count on the parents as long as the daughters survive on the other side.

As they headed out, Val had the kiss-of-death confessional: “Somebody from my tribe is going home tonight and I am in a tight situation because I don’t have an idol and Jaclyn is my one and only alliance, but I am prepared to make big moves to make sure that I stay in this game.”

Coyopa – Day 6

Rocker showed his disappointment by throwing the Coyopa flag to the ground.

Dale had a confessional: “The challenge was a kick in the butt. I mean it was probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to watch. I couldn’t have been prouder of anybody in my life than Kelley.  She never quit. She was down; her tribe was down. She gave her tribe the win and, unfortunately, it was the wrong tribe.”

This confessional gives Kelley her due. The viewers know that she is a strong challenge player even if it comes from her father.  Winners always get compliments from their fellow competitors so Kelley has to be considered as a contender.

In the middle of this confessional, we saw Dale asking Jaclyn how she felt. With a laugh, Jaclyn said that she hated Kelley but that it was only in the moment and that she would get over it.

Could this little moment have an effect down the road? Maybe we heard Jaclyn say she’d get over it because she and Kelley will team up later on. Let’s keep it on the back-burner and revisit it if and when the two women wind up on the same tribe.

Next, we saw John talking to Val and Jaclyn as they were getting water at the well. He was telling the police officer that it was a pleasure hanging out with Jeremy. She told him that he must have received a clue. John said Jeremy got the clue but that he shared.  Val, either using John’s ignorance of the game or showing her own, said that she found an idol on the island and one in camp, adding she’d use them to save herself and Jaclyn.

Val, in confessional: “Right now, I am in a tight situation because I don’t have an idol. I don’t have anything.  I am just lying.  I have no choice: I have to play big or I am going home, so save yourself and find it.”

John then gave us his thoughts; “Val is claiming to have two idols and I’ve seen the clue so I think that, at this point, I have to get off my ass and start looking for idols.” He took 7 paces north of the well and started digging.  During his search, the music editor gave us a rhythmic theme but it wasn’t very dramatic. When John said “Bingo” I doubt that many viewers cheered for him.  (At least it’s a “Steven Tyler idol”, the weaker type of idol that makes you think you have it made but “Dream on”!) His confessional continued: “I found, at least, an extra three days in the game. Wear it with pride.  It tends to be that the athlete types always make it right before the merge and then they are gone so maybe I would love to save this until the 4th or 5th council, play it, and take myself through the merge.  This has bought me some extra time.  Now, I need to figure out a way to protect Val.”

The last part of his confessional made me think that John could be blindsided at the 3rd council which is the next one we will see. Now that would be funny!

Going to Josh and Wes, he told them that Val claimed to have two idols and that she would protect herself and Jaclyn. He said they could put 3 votes on Val and three on Baylor.  Josh seemed to have his doubts, but he simply said that they had to keep them from knowing that Baylor was getting three votes.

John took another walk to the well with Val which got everyone’s attention. Of course, John told Val that she would get three votes and that Baylor was also getting three. He added that he was fulfilling his promise to Jeremy by telling her this.

John in confessional: “I did make a promise to Jeremy: If I want to ensure Julie’s safety, I’ve got to ensure Val’s safety, so she plays her idol tonight and she should be fine.”

How many idols does Rocker think there are? A new one for every player sent to Exile Island? Maybe one day, say by Survivor 39, it will come to this, but for now, production hasn’t totally lost its mind.

After John told her to play her idol, Val had a confessional: “This is like an Oscar winning moment: I don’t have an idol, but it doesn’t even matter because three of them vote Baylor and Jackie and I vote Baylor: That’s five against Baylor.  I know me and Jaclyn are safe.”

After they returned to camp, Josh had a confessional: “All of a sudden, John and Val walked off together. They’ve never walked off together.  Those two? I want to know what’s going on about that and I don’t think he’s being honest with me. Splitting a vote is definitely risky at this point in the game because we do have people on our team that we wonder about sometimes.  Tonight, what it comes down to is what I think is going to get me to the top.”

There is no doubt that Josh is the player to watch in Coyopa. That’s two episodes where he has given us the title quote and that he has received the last confessional before Tribal Council.  We are watching his game just like we watched Tony’s game last time…at least that’s how it looks until it is Hunahpu’s turn to vote.

Tribal Council

Jeff first addressed Dale, saying the team was 0 for 4 in the game.

Dale told him they made a mistake with their line-up: Except for Baylor, they lost all the confrontations where loved ones went head-to-head. (That really only applied to Alec and Josh though).

Alec admitted that his pride, his desire to go up against Drew, probably hurt their tribe. (It could be but still it would not be a certain thing. Drew would have likely beaten Josh, but would Alec have defeated Reed? By saying this, Alec is implying that he would have.)  Alec added that it wasn’t the first time they made the wrong decisions before a challenge.

Rocker showed some confidence: “At one point, it’s going to gel; it’s going to click and we are going to take one of these things and be right back in there mentally and physically.”

Jeff had doubts: “Josh, that works if time is not an issue.” (Jeff is saying that Survivor doesn’t have 162 games like baseball…thank goodness!)

Josh compared their situation to a Broadway show that the audience hates. “What they do is they stop and they rework the show (If only Survivor had done this for South Pacific, Nicaragua, Gabon, etc, etc, etc…!) Josh went on: “They have an opening night with all the changes and they come out strong.  We got to make changes to make us stronger.”

Asked how they could do that, Val said that it goes back to people trying to play both sides of this game. Even before Jeff asked Val for a name, Baylor knew that the comment was aimed at her.

Note that it could have also applied to Josh, but his name wasn’t mentioned.

Dragging herself from under the bus, Baylor said: “I think Val has been out for me since she’s been on the island. She brought the girls together; we had a discussion and I chose to go with the guys.”

Jaclyn interrupted: “But you said you were going with us… and then you flipped.”

Val added: “You told us to vote for Dale. I hadn’t been there; I didn’t know anybody.”

Baylor tried to defend herself, saying she didn’t bring up Dale’s name but Val stood firm: “You told me to vote Dale; straight up, you told me to vote Dale right in camp.”

The recap had reminded us that Val was telling the truth.

Wes told Jeff that Val claimed to have an idol. A few people said they heard she had two. Wes said they had to vote for her to draw out the idol.

Val and Baylor told Jeff they expected to get votes. Baylor added: “It would be a shame to see some flipping happen now because of some crazy talk.”

It was time to vote and we saw John honoring his promise by voting against Baylor.

When Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol, everyone looked at Val but she didn’t move.

No John, there aren't 18 Hidden Idols.

No, John. There aren’t 18 Hidden Idols.

 

That really surprised John.

The first vote ended in a tie.

(Note that Jeff flipped the last parchment before reading Val’s name. Why doesn’t he do that also when the last vote is decisive? I mean, it’s OK if the vote is tied before he reads that last one, but when the vote is 4-3 with only one left and he stupidly says: “The second person voted out…” it tells us immediately who he means.  It would be much more exciting if he’d always flip that last parchment, silently letting us realize its implication.)

 

With only 4 votes on Val, that tells us that one guy, most likely Josh, flipped and voted against Val to block John.

On the revote, John voted against Val and he was angry: “I told you to play your idol… Now, I’m going to look like a liar to your husband.”

After snuffing Val’s torch, Jeff said: “There is nothing that I can say that is going to help you. You haven’t won a challenge. You’ve lost two tribe members. Something has to change quickly, or one by one, you will be out of this game.”

Despite the fact that Jaclyn is the one that is isolated and in immediate danger, the camera focused on Baylor and Josh when Jeff said those words. While Jaclyn may benefit if the tribe indeed changes their plan, it seems that there are only two important players here.

The Story

The roles are set: There are only two players with a plan this season, at least only two that get to tell the audience about their strategy. All the others are either assets or targets.  Things can certainly change, but it would seem that we are going to witness a contrast in approach to the game: Josh being sketchy and using scary moves versus Jeremy who is honorable and trustworthy.  The interesting thing is that, with Loved Ones, it isn’t only a numbers game.  Will the strategists realize that some of their numbers won’t stay with them if given the chance to join their Loved Ones?   Dale and Missy have to be considered as liabilities, but Reed is also a dangerous player for Jeremy and he hasn’t told us what he thinks about him.

That shows the flaw in this format: Winning immunities isn’t ideal. If they were to merge right now, Hunahpu doesn’t have a target. Even with a 2-player advantage, they couldn’t target any Coyopa without running the risk of seeing one member flip.  Coyopa could go after Natalie and Jeremy without hurting the feelings of anyone in the tribe. To further illustrate the problem, suppose that the players merge right now and that Hunahpu targets Rocker.  They run the risk of Julie tying the vote at 8-8. On the other hand, if Hunahpu were to lose a challenge before the merge and boot Julie then they would have a much safer majority of 8-7 against Rocker. Of course, the problem would then return at the next vote!

The Characters

The Dumb Players:

Wes: Besides his win over Jeremy in the immunity challenge, the only role that Wes played in this episode was to tell Jeff that Val had an idol or two.  Nothing was done to change our impression that he is the dumb kid that lost the striker.  He is part of the main alliance in his tribe, so he could be an asset for Josh but not for us who like a good story. There is nothing that hints he will play a big role down the line.

John:  The game is simple, but you must know how it works if you want to have a chance.  After finding the idol, John should have realized that Val couldn’t have one, never mind two.  Knowing that, John only had two ways to save Val: Give her his idol or invent a story that they needed to keep her, that they would have Jeremy on their side if they did.  Since he didn’t do either and since we didn’t hear him tell Jeremy that it could be impossible to save Val, then John may have ended Julie’s game.  His own game died when he was recognized.  He is probably suffering from a broken nose and he should realize that no one would ever vote for him in the end so the question can be asked: Is John the one that quits?  It seems unlikely, but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. There were also his words that he would like to save his idol for a council just before the merge. It sets up a nice blindside for the next council.

Alec: His desire to compete against his brother probably cost his tribe the win. He should have known that Drew would win the physical confrontation, so maybe he should have gone against someone else.  While he is a valuable vote for Josh, Alec doesn’t bring much to the story.  He will most likely get eliminated without any fanfare…just a number to discard.

Drew:  The shelter that he built looks like one of the best we’ve seen, at least if we only consider those that were built without a tarp or a warehouse full of lumber and tools.  Yet, it was his work on the shelter that was used to make him look dumb:  Besides Jeremy and Julie’s remarks, we saw him wondering where everybody was while he was hard at work on the shelter. It told us that his hard work had simply made him miss out on all the alliance talk.  Drew is presented like a cartoon character and it’s unlikely that his story will change.

Jon:  On the surface, the guy with the jokes made a dumb mistake when he lost the flint, and his tribe doesn’t take him seriously. Jeremy even called him a cartoon character. His huge win over Rocker may have changed that perception, though. Hunahpu will certainly keep him around to go up against the ex-pitcher in future challenges, but will he ever be part of their plans?  Of the four dumb players, he is the one that has the potential to turn things around.

The Unreliable Ones:

Reed:  I put him here simply because we have no information on him.  He was included in the warm-up scene with Drew and Jon but not in Jeremy’s comment about it.  The only thing we can say is that Josh is a much bigger character, so it would be much more likely to see Reed flipping sides, becoming one of Josh’s assets instead of it working the other way around.

Missy: It became apparent that, despite her fighting words, Missy would never intentionally do anything to hurt Baylor.  That means that asking her to vote against her daughter and anyone in her alliance will not work; therefore, Missy has to be voted out before any tribal changes.  The fact that we keep hearing about the bond between her and Baylor tells us that she will survive to be reunited with her daughter, though and that could be fatal to Jeremy’s alliance.  Missy will certainly be an asset for one side but which?

Dale: Then again, if Missy flips to Josh’s alliance, then Dale could flip to join Kelley and Jeremy, making it a wash. It was clear that the challenge was painful to watch for Dale. He said he was rooting for Jaclyn, but everyone saw that his heart wasn’t in it.  That, in itself, should have put a target on him.  I can understand that you don’t want to target a tribe mate just because he cares for someone on the other tribe when you have a Loved One there also, but it became obvious that Dale would fall on his sword for Kelley, making him a liability.  It was strange that no one brought it up, but maybe it was done to hide the next vote.

The Players that are in Danger:

Jaclyn:  She is completely isolated in her tribe and the editors haven’t presented yet her as the likeable underdog.  We only heard her calling out Baylor during Tribal council, telling Jeff how the cheerleader flipped on them. The tribe needs a change and that could be Jaclyn’s way out of trouble.  Right now, there is little doubt that she would use the first chance to flip on Coyopa and go with Jon’s tribe but there is still time to recuperate her.  Jon, being quite the athlete, is likely to make the merge so Josh could change plans and get Jaclyn on board with the ulterior motive to flip Jon.  The challenge arena discussions can reveal a tribe’s dynamics, so maybe Coyopa realizes that Jon, while needed for challenges, isn’t included in the main alliance.  Despite her precarious position, she didn’t get the typical spike of confessional that tells us she is in immediate danger. I think there is more to Miss Michigan’s story.

Julie: My two favorite moments of the episode were John’s defeats so I applauded Julie’s victory. We don’t know what her status in the tribe was, but the easiest way Jeremy will have to make John pay for Val’s elimination will be to vote her out.  It would be a shame because she did nothing wrong in the game except for her choice of partner.  As for her social game, we can’t say she did anything right either because we simply haven’t seen her talk with the others. The only positive moment for Julie came in her win over her boyfriend when it seems that the editors hid her failures to present her as a slow-and-steady player.  I have to say that this manipulation makes me think Julie also has a future in this story.

The Assets:

Keith:  The Fireman didn’t have a good follow-up to his solid premiere.  For now, he looks like nothing more than a vote for Jeremy.

Baylor: The cheerleader continues to have a complex edit.  She should be seen as a villainess, the one that caused Nadiya and Val’s elimination. In the premiere, she chose to go along with John, an unlikeable person, Wes and Alec, the tribe’s own cartoon characters.  The audience must have cringed when Baylor and Josh didn’t go with the girls and many must have enjoyed seeing Baylor getting thrown under the bus by Val, yet there is enough care given to Baylor that she can’t be totally disliked.  We could have heard her saying only that she wants to trust Josh, but we heard her also say that she sees him as being sketchy and scary, so she isn’t a blind follower.  She also beat her mother after getting injured. Personally, I found that confrontation to be a complete waste of time, but it did reinforce the bond between the two and showed her as being, for lack of a better word, spunky.  I see a poor version of Ciera, but I think the editors are trying really hard to make the shoe fit.

Natalie: At least, she didn’t only cry about her sister’s elimination. She did say: “It’s very good motivation for me to keep my head in the game and compete hard so that I can at least go as far as I can.”  Still, there is a lack of plan in those words.  I’m sure she must have been thinking that she would find out who went after her sister and make them pay, but Natalie isn’t one of our strategists this season so that part of her confessional was dropped.  With Jeremy, that makes two members of Hunahpu’s main alliance that are now singles, so I wonder if we will see Kelley and Keith’s Loved Ones also get voted out. Jeremy’s alliance talks had a strange presentation, so it could be that it was done that way to show that the members aren’t really tight.  The merge could very well confront Jeremy’s singles going against Josh’s paired players with Baylor and Missy caught in the middle.

Kelley: While we didn’t hear much from Kelley, her only confessional being about the lost flint, I think this was a good episode for Kelley.  The birthday girl certainly didn’t get the same level of attention that Danni did when she celebrated her birthday in Guatemala (I still wonder how she got production to agree to that) but we did hear that she made her father proud and saw that she was good in physical challenges. Of all the players that have been reduced to the role of assets, I think Kelley has the best chance to turn things around and use her leader’s hard work to her advantage.  We didn’t see how Jon reacted when Kelley defeated his girlfriend, so maybe there is something being deliberately hidden there.  Could Kelley be instrumental in bringing Jaclyn over? Time will tell, but we have to keep our eyes on Kelley. While Jon, Julie, Baylor and Jaclyn are also possibilities, Kelley could be the one that has the story of a winner hidden behind the big characters.   

The Strategists: If this season’s winner is another big character, then it has to be one of these two.

Josh, the sketchy leader: By losing all these immunities, Josh is turning into the leader of what we can call the “Blood Alliance”. Everyone in his alliance still has a partner on the other side, so he will not be without resources no matter when the merge happens. In fact, Josh’s best strategy could be to eliminate those that lose their Loved One if Hunahpu ever goes to Tribal Council. The game in Coyopa is strictly presented through Josh’s eyes and only Baylor, his closest ally, is aware of his actions. John thought he had outwitted Josh and saved Val, but Josh was clearly one step ahead.  His next step could very well be to force the pitcher into retirement for good.

Jeremy, the respected leader: The next few episodes could put Jeremy at the head of a “Water Alliance”. Along with Natalie, he also lost his Loved One, so he will have an extra layer of motivation to go after Coyopa. Will he make the mistake of going only after John? The road to the end is filled with potential obstacles for Jeremy, the biggest being that no one on the other tribe is a safe target.  Will he see the dangers that Missy and Reed represent?  While Josh is already presented as being well in control of his tribe, I think the fact that Jeremy’s situation being more in doubt makes him our best contender for the title of Sole Survivor…for now!

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