Survivor San Juan Del Sur

Everyone Loves a Firefighter

The premiere started with a reminder of the “highlights” we had in the first installment of the Blood versus Water twist, preparing us, once again, to “test the core of human emotions”.

We then saw a helicopter carrying Jeff as he flew over each pair’s day 0 camp. While we barely saw Dale and Kelley, the camera clearly showed us Jeremy and Val as they greeted the chopper.  Jeff said: “It’s not even day 1 and the game has already begun” just as we saw Alec and Drew on their parcel of beach.

We went back to Jeremy and Val as they reached their supplies which included flint.  Jeff added: “Each pair has been given flint to practice making fire.” Jon and Kelley and Wes and Keith were shown going at it. Nadiya and Natalie were on screen when Jeff said: “It may be their only chance to help each other in the game”.

That looked a lot like intentional foreshadowing.

In a welcomed return to the old days, Jeff introduced all the pairs, starting with Jon and Jaclyn, whom he said were already winners.  While we saw Jaclyn carrying firewood, we heard Jon say: “Miss Michigan turned Survivor lady.” Their segment was mostly about dispelling the impression that they were the perfect couple.

Jeff then went on to John and the controversy that surrounds the pitcher.  John said: “I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life trying to say I am not the loud, obnoxious, boisterous kind of guy, but the media has loved to paint me as a racist, bigot, homophobic, everything else.”  Jeff then introduced Julie, saying that she hopes to provide the support they need to pitch a perfect game.

Who is the One Needing Support? Who is the One Needing Support?[/caption]

 

(Was it a coincidence that John was shown carrying her at the time?!)  Julie said she had a lot to prove because of the impression people get of her because of her looks (she narrowed it to the hair, the boobs and the boyfriend.) She went on to claim that she was independent and could stand on her own two feet but then she spotted crabs and immediately called John to the rescue.

 

 

 

 

We then met Missy and Baylor as they were trying to make fire. We heard Howler monkeys, Judd’s favorite animals, greeting them.

Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes

They scared Baylor.  Jeff talked about Missy’s three divorces and how they forced Baylor to take on the motherly role in this complicated relationship.  Baylor was heard saying: “The divorces have brought us closer.”  Missy talked about the unbelievable bond between mother and daughter. She added: “You can tear us apart; you can’t stop us, no way.”  They still looked scared of the monkeys.

 

 

 

 

Next we had the brothers Alec and Drew and their sibling rivalry. Jeff said that Alec would love nothing more than to outlast his older brother.  Drew said he would love to see Alec win. While this was being said, we were being shown that Alec was the one that made fire.

The next pair was Kelley and Dale and the farmer was already hard at work.  Jeff told us that, while Dale had been on the farm all his life, Kelley wanted to make her own path.  Kelley: “My dad and I, we had an up and down relationship over the past 10 years or so.”  Dale added: “I think Survivor will help us grow back together.” Their segment ended with them apparently unable to make fire because Kelley said: “we’re a hot mess.”

The first we saw of Josh and Reed, they were hunting for crabs.  Jeff told us that these Broadway performers were “long time Survivor fans”. Jeff added: “Both think they have what it takes to survive 39 days.”  Just as he said that, we saw Josh spearing and killing the crab.  We also saw them quickly making fire while we heard them say they were comfortable in the outdoors.

The helicopter carried us to Jeremy and Val’s camp just as the fireman started the fire.  Jeff said they were madly in love, but as a police officer and a fireman, they had a constant rivalry about their jobs. Jeremy said: “I’ve tried getting on Survivor for 10 years. I didn’t bring her out here and leave our daughters at home to lose.”  Val added: “We are both in it to win it so may the best profession win.”

(It’s tied 1-1 right now!)

Introducing the Sri-Lankan twins, Jeff said that they took an aggressive approach on The Amazing Race and that it failed them twice.  We heard Natalie say: “Survivor is going to be way harder than The Amazing Race.” We heard the sisters starting a fight over fire.  Nadiya said: “The longest we have been apart is 2 weeks.”  We heard them calling out for help as the helicopter passed by.

Finally, we caught up with the father-son team of firefighters as they struggled to make fire.  Jeff said: “While Keith is nearing retirement, he is not yet ready to pass the torch to his son, Wes.”  We heard that Wes lost the striker to make fire.  Wes said that it was his time to shine but dad disagreed, adding: “You are about as mentally strong as that rock.”

It has been a long time since we have heard complete introductions like this so we have to pay attention to what was shown. These pairs spent a whole day together but we barely saw 1 minute from each. The editors had a lot of material and they knew that the presentation would create lasting impressions so they must have put a lot of attention to this segment.  While each viewer reacts differently, our analysis has to be as objective as possible to see which segments were meant to be positive, which were negative and which were chosen only for their entertainment value.

– The mainly neutral ones included Jon and Jaclyn, Drew and Alec, and Dale and Kelley.  It could be said that it was important to see Jaclyn-the-beauty-queen already hard at work but it wasn’t enough to create a lasting impression. One could argue that a story was established for the two brothers and for the father and daughter team, I saw it as rather trivial. The sibling rivalry may come into play during some physical challenges but their story is probably on hold until the merge.  It remains to be seen if the father and daughter will have a chance to reunite.

–  John and Julie, Missy and Baylor, Wes and Keith, and Natalie and Nadiya had mostly negative presentations. John’s story is only about his personality and he said all the right things. At best, this will lead to a redemption edit or, more likely, it was a question of the calm before the storm.  Julie is there to support John but we saw that she can’t support herself; she is already scared of crabs and snakes.  Missy and Baylor were also frightened by the animals and they weren’t able to make fire.  The good note for them is that a story is already established about their unique bond.     While Wes and Keith had a negative presentation, I think it was shown to make us laugh and enjoy their company.  If anything, the negativity was mostly thrown at Wes while his father looked like a good guy.  The viewers who are fans of The Amazing Race recognized the twins and saw that they still can’t stop their arguments.  They didn’t look ready for Survivor.

– Josh and Reed and Jeremy and Val had great introductions.  The Broadway performers were described as true fans, something that the viewers always appreciate and, more than that, they showed us that they are survivalists.  Right then, I guess that most of the viewers who knew nothing of the cast beforehand started rooting for this pair.  If they didn’t, then it was because they decided to root for the husband and wife team instead.  While they weren’t presented on the same level of Survivalists as Josh and Reed, they were presented as true competitors.  The segment’s message was clear: They are ready to play the game. That is something viewers like also.

 

After these introductions, Jeff went on his usual speech about working together while battling the elements and each other. Jeff concluded: “In the end, only one will remain to claim the million dollar prize”.

...Only One Will Remain...

…Only One Will Remain…

At that moment, we had a clear shot of Jeremy in what was obviously a winning pose.  Was it foreshadowing or misdirection?    That’s what we have to figure out.

 

Everybody Loves a Firefighter

Day 1 started with the pairs making their way to the challenge arena. The first thing Jeff wanted to know was who made fire. The losers were: John and Julie, Missy and Baylor, Wes and Keith.  Notice that Dale and Kelley apparently made fire even if we were led to believe they couldn’t.

Look at those Losers (especially that big ugly one)

Look at those Losers (especially that big ugly one)

Asked if they were surprised by their ability to make fire, Josh and Reed confidently said no, Reed adding: “If you are going to be on Survivor, you need to know how to make fire.”  John seemed surprised and impressed by them.  Next, Jeff went to Keith and Wes who explained their problems. They made everyone laugh.  The laughter only increased when they added that they broke their flint in half.

I noticed that the camera turned to Missy and Baylor when Keith said they were a father and son team. That combination could very well be a natural alliance for the mother-daughter team.  It is something to keep on the back-burner.

Going to the twins, Jeff asked who seemed to be in trouble from the start. Nadiya was diplomatic: “We learned on The Amazing Race not to judge a book by its cover…I feel like it’s anybody’s game.”

I found it interesting that the girls didn’t try to hide their Amazing Race experience. Maybe it was pointless, maybe somebody blurted out that they knew them, but the presentation made them look careless, unaware that it could be sufficient reason to vote them out early.

When Jeff said they were dividing into tribes, Nadiya had a confessional to say that she felt a tug at the thought of being separated from Natalie.

This confessional was placed in a very familiar spot for someone about to be voted out.

Notice that those wearing blue wound up on Hunahpu, the blue tribe, while those wearing warm colors like red and yellow, wound up on Coyopa, the orange tribe. All of Hunahpu was in blue while John and Wes were the only exceptions on Coyopa.  I think this proves once and for all that random draws are anything but random on Survivor.

Random Draw of Buffs? Really?

Random Draw of Buffs? Really?

Missy in confessional: “This is it. I am going to be competing against my daughter. It’s pretty touching for me and it brings it all home. This whole Blood versus Water; this is what it’s about.”

John told Jeff that this was like a civil war, brother versus brother.

Keith in confessional: “I watch all types of sports and I’m pretty damn sure that this is John Rocker, a relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. He was an ass when he played then and he might still be an ass now.”

Jeremy told Jeff he would like to help his wife but she quickly countered that she didn’t need his help. After Jeff explained the challenge, Hunahpu had to choose their player.  Jeremy immediately volunteered. He confidently told Jeff that he didn’t care who was going to be his opposition so Jeff surprised him by saying it would be Val.  Jeff was amazed saying: “The couple that talked the most trash about each other get the first battle against each other.”

After that random draw, I am less amazed by this outcome.  It’s all too neat not to have been planned.

Despite a nice effort, Val was no match for Jeremy. He was in tears when Jeff asked how he felt about sending Val to Exile Island.  Jeff then asked him to choose one person from his tribe to join Val and we saw that Kelley really didn’t want to go. Luckily for her, Jeremy chose Keith. Strangely, Jeremy explained it was because he knew Keith could start a fire despite the fact that Keith had already told everyone he hadn’t made fire.  Jeff pointed out the odd decision, but Jeremy replied: “It wasn’t his fault; it was his son’s fault.”  Everyone laughed at that except Wes.  The two men exchanged a handshake and a hug as they traded places.

Jeremy’s remark reinforces our impression from the introduction that Keith is supposed to be considered like a good guy while Wes is the dumb one.

Jeremy had a confessional: “I knew it was Blood versus Water but my worst nightmare was to do that to my wife and now she’s just gone and it’s my fault that she is gone.” If the intent of this season is to once again test the core of human emotions then Jeremy is giving us all that we need.

The second segment started with Hunahpu’s arrival at camp accompanied by a very joyous musical theme.

Reed (solo): “We walked along this beautiful beach. It was an epic moment. I have goose bumps…Now we need to do things. This is it: Go!”

Jon had a funny remark: “We have this rusty stuff so that we can get tetanus: It’s like Christmas morning.”

Jeremy was still having problems with the thought of sending Val to Exile. Missy comforted him saying they would all be in that position at some point.

Jeremy in confessional: “Everybody was saying: Good job and it was a tough decision for me to go up against my wife but everyone is happy that I won flint and beans. Going into the challenge against my wife, I was like (he chokes up) I was like I ain’t crying out here, you know, like day 1. These dudes are going to kill me back home. Me, going one-on-one with her, that hurt and then to see her go away? That’s my wife. I need to take care of her and I didn’t do that. In Blood versus Water, you do have to think about your loved ones. With me and Val, I feel that it is about us as a couple but it doesn’t look good for her.  I have a good rapport with women. I get along with women so it’s time to go balls to the walls; it’s time to play.”

As he said the last sentence, we saw him approaching Kelley, asking for her thoughts. She said she thought he was a good dude.  Jeremy said they needed to stick together.  They agreed to form a strong two.

Jeremy then approached Natalie, saying he had talked to Kelley, telling her they needed five. He asked Natalie how she felt about Kelley.  Natalie said she liked her.

Natalie in confessional: “I really like Jeremy, the way he fought today and the way his emotions after sending his wife to Exile Island showed a true, a good heart.  I’d have to say that if I had to choose one person to be my designated twinnie, it’s Jeremy. Everybody loves a firefighter.”

Next on Jeremy’s agenda was Missy. He asked her what she was thinking. She told him that he looked super-honest. Jeremy said they needed strength and brains.

Missy also gave us a confessional: “Being married and divorced as many times as I have, you learn to listen to your gut and my gut tells me that Jeremy is good.

Jeremy gave us another confessional: “This game, it moves so much. The beginning of the game messed me up right away but I feel good where I’m at right now. Everybody’s on my side. I’m the popular guy and everybody wants to date the Prom King so this is perfect; this will work out.”

The Prom King

The Prom King

 

I noticed that we only saw Jeremy making the rounds, none of the women talked to each other.  We have to assume that, at the very least, Natalie and Kelley talked for a little while because Natalie said she liked the Farmer’s daughter but we were never shown their exchange and we didn’t see Missy talk to them either. While this is Hunahpu’s main alliance, the story was all about Jeremy and how HE plays the game.  The opening segment didn’t lie: Jeremy is a player.

 

 

 

It was time for us to go to Coyopa and we were accompanied by a much more ominous theme. The happy percussions had been replaced by a mournful chant and a slower beat.

Josh was still enthusiastic, showing his amazement at being on Survivor and holding a machete. Baylor shared his amazement, saying he was also cutting a coconut.

Nadiya had the first confessional of this segment, telling us about the tribe doing the necessities.

Josh and Baylor had a second exchange when he asked her if she was in school. That led to everyone revealing their age. Nadiya’s confessional continued: “It’s a young group: Wes and Baylor and Alec: They are the young group. Then it’s me Josh and Jaclyn kind of in the middle and the other dude (John who belched right then) is forty and dad (Dale) is like 55. Come on.”

Dale in confessional: “OK, like I’m 25 years older than almost everybody here… My biggest challenge on Survivor is that I am not used to being in a big group of strangers. That’s tough, but you always have to be looking for the positive in the situation. My first trip to the water; I put the lid back on and I looked down and there’s this little emblem and I know it’s not an idol but it could be useful someday. I have to look at some other way to get into that tribe pretty fast. I’m trying to get fire so we can boil water. It smokes but the humidity just won’t let that red coal going. The longer I sat there the more pissed off I was getting at myself. I’m supposed to be able to start a fire… I did it a thousand times with magnifying glasses as a kid growing up.”

Baylor solo: “We need fire, so we have two groups of people working on two different methods: Dale is working on glasses and the sunlight which I’ve never seen before work. Then we have group two which is a couple of us just scrubbing and scrubbing and trying to get something.”

Dale had another confessional: “I broke my glasses in half and doubled up the lenses to double the magnification on it. I’m sacrificing my ability to see in the game later on so I can start a fire.”

Dale’s method worked which led to a confessional by Josh: “I have to be honest: At first, you look at the older guy in the tribe and you know that they are immediately a target. Dale is the one that saved us all. The very first thing that we really needed; he provided.”

John said that Dale was a badass.

Dale confided that he didn’t need to worry about the social circles as much anymore. “I’m the fire starter now. That pushed me up the food chain so to speak.”

A lot of Coyopa’s narration came from Nadiya, their first boot. That is quite odd because, while we always hear from the first boot, they generally talk about their predicament and aren’t used as the tribe’s narrator. Her departure leaves us with an empty position, unless what happens to Coyopa isn’t important to the overall picture.  Their first scene didn’t tell us a lot about the tribe’s dynamics but it served to connect us with Dale, to show that Josh has a good social game, that John belches and that Baylor underestimated the wise older man.

 

We joined Val and Keith as they arrived on Exile Island.

Val, in confessional: “First landing on Exile Island was a big shock. The core of the tribe is all bonding so if they want to get rid of somebody first, it would probably be me. On top of that, Exile Island friggin’ sucks…You are really left with nothing.”

Keith: “I’m thinking of playing Survivor, I’m thinking of taking it to the end and then, boom! I’m sent to Exile Island. I’m the first out of the shoot…me and Val.  This ain’t the way I had this mapped out. I don’t even know my tribe yet. I don’t want to be here.”

After opening their urns, Val explained: “We each had a note and started to read it. I was so preoccupied with the fact that I had a clue to an idol back at camp that I didn’t even realize that his was blank.”  She lied to Keith, saying that it was only about stuff at camp. Her confessional went on; “I think he expected that I would say: Read it.  I wasn’t going to do that.”

Keith also had a confessional: “Mine was blank; the story of my life. I asked Val… but she kind of (?) around.  If it has something to do with Val’s tribe, more power to her because I’m not going back to Val’s tribe. I’m going back to my tribe.”

The two started to get to know each other and Keith soon realized that he had something in common with Jeremy. He told Val that he and Wes were both firefighters.

Keith in confessional: “Just found out that Val’s husband is a firefighter. That is going to be a bond. That is going to be a big plus probably. When I get back to camp, I am going to check in with Jeremy and see where he stands, but who knows? I don’t know what I am going to walk into going back there.  Worst case: All eight of them hate me and that’s the end of my Survivor career.”

Keith’s confessionals were much more game oriented than Val’s. She only told us that she could be the first one voted out but he has a plan, he wonders about the tribe’s dynamics and he talks about taking it to the end. That, in itself, tells me that he could be in for a long Survivor career.

Hunahpu – Day 1

While most were away in the ocean, Drew and Jon were left to work on the shelter.

Drew gave us a confessional: “I didn’t really want to but I was kind of forced to step in and take control of the construction of the shelter.  It was a lot of work… I hope the tribe appreciates the hard work and the effort that I put into the shelter. I was a successful model for the last few years. I’m not a big shot in Europe but I’m sure my face is around some different places, but I’m not here to be a model at all: I’m here to be a Survivor.”

Julie gave us the counterpoint in her confessional: “I’m not sure why Drew thinks he’s in charge. He is a little bit too arrogant; bless his heart.  Being a woman and being who I am; dating John Rocker and he used to play in the major leagues, he is type A with a capital A so I understand the dude mentality and Drew: He’s just like a young, dumb guy.”

That was an interesting juxtaposition of confessionals.  Normally, the person giving the counterpoint is in agreement with the audience but here we had Drew completing what looked like a good shelter so maybe she appeared to get angry for nothing.  Then again, the audience rarely connects with the models so maybe both were meant to be disliked.  He is said to be the young dumb guy; she is presented as mean person.  This way very few will cry if they are voted out early.

Coyopa

Wes was telling Alec that he thought John was famous.

Wes solo: “I have a suspicion about John the minute I saw him. I was like: I know that guy from somewhere.  Then I realized he played professional baseball for the Atlanta Braves.  That was my favorite team: Everyone watched Atlanta.  That was when they were in their prime, you know.”

Wes then confronted John privately, asking him for his last name. John gave him a fake name but Wes wasn’t deterred and asked him if he was sure. John realized he had been made.

I found it funny that John used the name Wetteland because John Wetteland was also a famous relief pitcher but he played for the Expos and the Yankees (Mariano Rivera was his set-up man for a while) and was much less controversial.

John in confessional: “I was hoping to skate through this game and stay anonymous.  I wanted to skate under the radar. If I am recognized by the other players in the game, I’m not going to lie about it because I haven’t had a lot of anonymity for the last 18 years of my life.  Wes busted me. It didn’t take long…”

When John realized he had been made, he asked Wes to keep it under his hat. Wes agreed.

Wes solo: “He wants to keep a low profile. It was good. He’s from Georgia; I’m from Louisiana. I knew who he was.  I felt like we had a connection. I played baseball so…”

In confessional, John told us what he thought of that connection: “With Wes knowing who I am, a secret like that being kept safe with him might not be such a good thing.  The first council we go to, I will be a little jumpy.  I may try to get Wes out.”

Contrary to their first scene, we had a little more strategy presented in Coyopa and it showed that John’s story is mostly about his identity but at least we are told that he has a plan about what to do to those who threaten to reveal his secret.

Coyopa – Day 3

The scene started with Baylor asking Josh about his eye. We soon found out that Josh’s left eye was very irritated.

Josh in confessional: “All of a sudden, my eye starts flaring up and now it’s just burning and constant watering.  Survivor always throws a curve ball at you and all of a sudden, it’s like you are out in the middle of nowhere, where you are not used to it and you get this (points to his eye).”

To his tribe, he said the episode’s title quote: “You have to suck it up and survive.”

Baylor empathized with the Broadway performer: “Ah! Josh’s eyes are so red and I hope that I don’t get what he has because it looks awfully painful.  Now, he can’t even open them so not a good sign three days in.”

Josh realized it could have come from a plant. Nadiya agreed so the tribe removed all the leaves that they had used to make their roof.

Alec solo: “So, we’re figuring that the leaves we used for our roof have some kind of poison sap. So, we are working to remove that and get that away from our camp.  We have poisonous sap, scorpions and there could be a puma running around here that I don’t know about.  There are dangers that are far from anything I know in Florida around here.”

Let’s keep in mind that Baylor and Josh were on screen when Alec told us about the dangers lurking.  It would be quite interesting to see if the pair eventually backstabs young Alec.

Hunahpu

The tribe got a visit from the Howler Monkeys. Jon tried to engage a “conversation” with them.

Jon in confessional: “I’ve always been a goof ball but I have a lot more depth to me than it would appear.  Nobody here knows what is going on at home.  Basically, in February, they found that my dad had a tumor in his brain… It’s not curable.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it obviously; I think I’m cried out about it.  Knowing that my dad and I don’t have much longer to be together, it was very hard to make the decision to come out.  But my dad is a big fan of Survivor and I wouldn’t have come without his blessings.  I just hope that I can watch it with him and hope that I can make him proud out here.”

Those were two personal moments put one after the other to endear the players to the audience.  It’s always good for a winner’s story to show their injuries.  Over the years, many injuries have been ignored if the player getting them turned out to be unimportant so the eye irritation is a good sign for Josh’s longevity.   Jon’s words also could be a sign that he will go far because we heard that he wants to make his father proud.  That could be Jon’s journey.

The Immunity Challenge

Val and Keith received a nice greeting.

The first part of the challenge indicated that Jon and Wes were the two fastest out there as they were the first to finish the crawl race. Jeff noted that Alec got hurt, but we didn’t see how.

Rocker’s height came in handy when he put Baylor on his shoulder. She quickly untied all three bags, giving an early lead to Coyopa.  Hunahpu had to use Natalie, Julie and Kelley for the task.

Quite stupidly, Rocker started throwing the ball instead of using the rope to get more leverage.  He was lucky to see Keith’s technique which he quickly adopted, keeping Coyopa in the lead.  Hunahpu had to switch pitcher as Drew took over and finally got the ball in the Y-shaped hook.

Running up the wall, Jeff noted that Jaclyn was “tentative” He added: “You cannot be tentative.”

Coyopa used Rocker as a human ladder to climb the third wall and get to their puzzle first.

As a note, Josh, Dale, Jaclyn and Alec worked on the puzzle for Coyopa while Kelley, Reed, Jon and Julie did it for Hunahpu.  Coyopa’s first attempt didn’t fit and neither did Hunahpu’s.  Coyopa started over but reached an impasse again.  Hunahpu figured it out first and won immunity.  During their cheers, I listened to find out who would get the credit, but all I could make out was a “good job, Julie”. That wasn’t enough to say if she was indeed the one that found the solution.  It was presented as a team win. Jeff handed the idol to Natalie who wasn’t part of the puzzle team so she seemed to hand it off, probably to the person she felt was their MVP but the camera didn’t stay with her. It looked like she was passing it to someone on Reed’s left though and that’s where Kelley was standing.  

Handing Out the Idol

Handing Out the Idol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff then asked Missy how she felt seeing that her daughter was in danger. Missy said it was tough but she knew Baylor was tough and would pull through.  Natalie also told Jeff that it was tough.

Once more, we are establishing the bond between mother and daughter as if it will turn out to be the one that will be stressed the most.  Maybe we do have a repeat of what happened to Laura and Ciera or it’s just a tease.

As they left, Dale had a confessional: “It could very well be me going home. I would be surprised because I am the only one that can make fire, but I am the oldest guy of this damn bunch so you never know what’s going to happen.”

What will happen now Dale? Jeff gave flint to your tribe so are you still needed?

Hunahpu

It was interesting to see that the victorious tribe wasn’t ignored after their victory.  When they walked into camp, Natalie was holding the idol so we still don’t know if anyone was considered their MVP.

Keith had a confessional: “I just rejoined my original tribe. First thing we did was the challenge and boom! Won that. Then, to come out here and see what they accomplished; it seems like they worked together. That’s a good thing.  I didn’t know what to expect and I kind of worked my way in to this tribe.  Since I’ve been gone, I’m going to try to slip in, to fit in a little bit, just now figuring out their names.  I knew Jeremy and that was about it.”

It seemed that it was all he needed to know because we soon saw the two men together. Jeremy talking to Keith in private: “I wanted to talk to you because I owe you anyways… I pulled you out and I’m going to get you back in.”

Jeremy in confessional: “I saw Val,; she told me she was alright so I knew Keith took care of Val.  I don’t know how far that will take him but I feel I owe him something.”

Keith also had a confessional: “I got Jeremy kind of half-way on my side. I would think he’s a firefighter; I’m a firefighter. I mean, firefighting is a brotherhood.  Now the other seven, I have no idea about. Give me a day or two and we’ll figure all this out, see what happens.”

That was a very good segment for Keith.  He slipped into the main alliance of the tribe but he isn’t totally blind to Jeremy’s game, knowing he is only half-way on his side.  Hearing him say that he will figure it out is great for someone that could have been presented as a dumb player.

Coyopa

Josh and Rocker welcomed Val to the camp but it didn’t take long for Val to explore the area.

Val in confessional: “After losing, immediately I’m thinking that I haven’t been playing the game and my game may be over so as soon as I knew where the well was, which was part of my idol clue; that’s where I was going.  I have got to find this idol.”

Back in camp, Dale asked “Natalie” to compare this to The Amazing Race. After correcting him on her name, Nadiya said that the main difference was The Amazing Race tells you exactly what to do.

Dale in confessional: “Nadiya is a known element. She has been on The Amazing Race. She’s shown that she can backstab somebody. ..so the rest of the tribe, I don’t know about that. Nadiya, she’s proven it; we’ve watched it.”

He gathered the men and said that, while she’d be an easy target, he wanted to give Val a chance. Alec was quick to bring up Nadiya’s name.  Dale agreed saying that she U-turned people on The Amazing Race.

Josh had a confessional: “Dale and the guys think that Nadiya should be the first one to go because she was onThe Amazing Race. Of course, you say yes and then Nadiya approached me a couple of minutes later.  I mean, anybody that comes to me I’m like “Thank God you are coming to me!” I wanted to be that person in this game; that was one of my goals..to be the person that people are coming up to me and saying I want to work with you.”  That’s when Nadiya told Josh that she was counting him as one of the girls. Josh laughed but his confessional continued: “Nadiya said: “I was counting you as one of the girls”. My boyfriend can tell you that’s one of the worst things you can say to me, but I don’t blame her. People stereotype people all the time, so I am keeping my options open right now. I feel like I have a lot of choices.”

Meanwhile, Val gathered the women saying she was on the chopping block, so she wanted to make history by making an all-girls’ alliance.  They agreed and Nadiya had a confessional to say that they had to stick together. She told the other women that they could have Josh on their side.  Dale’s name came up as soon as Baylor asked for the name of someone they didn’t need because they would get fire that night.

Baylor gave us a confessional: “The plan is to vote Dale out because we don’t think he’s helpful (Right then, Dale was shown carrying a heavy load of vegetation, somewhat contradicting Baylor) in the challenges. If I don’t go with the women, I would definitely do what Josh is doing. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet about what his plans are, but I kind of want to hear from him first.”

Baylor told Josh the women were voting against Dale, so he asked her what she wanted to vote. She simply said “with you.”  He told her that the guys were voting against Nadiya.

Baylor wanted to vote with Josh, but little did she know he wasn’t going to vote with her!

Josh in confessional: “There’s a lot up in the air tonight and I do feel that a lot of that weight is on me.  I think that I’m right in the middle between the guys’ alliance and the girls’ alliance.  Being a fan of the show, this is a big deal but it is ultimately which one is going to take me furthest in the game.  Sometimes, people with the swing vote end up in the worst position so I don’t know if I am going to really decide before Tribal Council which one I am going to go with.”

Tribal Council

John agreed with Jeff when he said that that the game moves quickly. John added that the blue team was probably having a fiesta while they had to vote someone out.  He said the vote was tough because there wasn’t the obvious jerk to eliminate.

No Jerks Here? Really?

No Jerks Here? Really?

 

Jaclyn’s smile kind of hinted that she thought there was a jerk!

Asked about the vibe of the tribe, Nadiya told Jeff that they have been getting along really well, that they weren’t ready for this decision, but that she learned to make the best of the situation.

Jeff equated that to making lemonade out of lemons but Nadiya preferred making Margueritas.

Jeff asked Josh if he agreed with her optimistic outlook. Josh said it was vital to keep the positive spirit.

Nadiya told Jeff that Survivor was not like The Amazing Race at all.

Val told Jeff that her situation was stressful. She added that Exile had its blessings also, hinting that she found something.

Jaclyn told Jeff that the guys bonded well, particularly John, Wes and Alec.

Dale agreed that his age made him a target that it was tough to find things to talk about with the others.  He told Jeff that he proved his worth to the tribe by making fire.

Asked who was at the center of the discussions, Wes said that Josh was the most liked member of the tribe.

That made the actor smile. Baylor also smiled in agreement.

Nadiya also agreed with that because Josh could go between the girls and the boys.

The smile briefly disappeared from Josh’s face.

Josh said that he didn’t believe it was four girls against four guys with him in the middle but that it could be.

After collecting the urn, Jeff asked if anyone had an idol to play. We saw Val looking down at her bag but she didn’t have any idol to show.

Dale received 3 votes, Baylor, surprisingly, got one, the 5 others going to Nadiya who probably set a record by being the first one eliminated on two different reality series.

After snuffing Nadiya’s torch, Jeff said: “I think the message is clear: You’re 0 for 2 in challenges, a third of the tribe received votes. This tribe is still finding itself. You got to pick it up.” The camera was directly on Josh when he said that.

The Story  

In Blood versus Water’s first edition, Tyson’s emotions after seeing his girlfriend get eliminated were presented as a major factor in his victory.  We will once again see events that “test the core of human emotions” and the drama should revolve around our long term players.  We will probably see the emotions of the players eliminated early only in their last few days on the show to leave room for the long term stories.  Therefore, we should look at the players that have already established an emotional connection with the viewers to determine who should be around for a while.

The Characters  

At least, these Players still have a pulse (While one or two of them could see their story pick up in the upcoming episodes and make them long term players, their emotionless premiere wasn’t a good sign):

Jaclyn:  After the introduction, we didn’t hear from Jaclyn and Jeff noted that you can’t be tentative. The events have put her in the minority on her tribe, so she could very well be leaving early.   There certainly wasn’t any investment made in Miss Michigan.

Julie:  We found out very little about Julie. She was part of the four person team that completed the puzzle; we heard a “good job, Julie” so she may be seen as someone that was valuable by her tribe but, as far as we know, she wasn’t part of Jeremy’s five person alliance.  However, did Jeremy wait for Keith to return to find his fifth or was there a mystery member in that group?   Jeremy already has brains in his alliance so he’d need more muscle than Julie can bring.  Julie’s presentation and her position in the tribe could lead to an early exit.

Drew: He had one confessional but it was mostly about his job as a model and his work on the shelter.  Since it was presented after Jeremy had made his alliance, it gave the impression that Drew didn’t know this game very well.  Watching his scene, I thought he should have spent his energy building an alliance first, the shelter next if he wanted to enjoy the fruits of his labour for a while.  He could very well be the muscle that Jeremy uses though and then he’d become disposable.

Alec: Like Drew, Alec only had a brief confessional and that one told us that he wasn’t used to the dangers of the Nicaraguan jungle.  Showing Josh and Baylor on screen while he said that made me think that Alec should forget the scorpions and the pumas and concentrate on the truly dangerous creatures out there, the ones that can vote.

Reed: Despite a great start, Reed was mostly a non-factor once separated from Josh. His only confessional was a narration about the beach and the work to be done.  We will have to see if he becomes Hunahpu’s narrator which could give him longevity in the story but, for now, it doesn’t look very promising.

The one-note players (These players were given a role in the story, but we didn’t really connect with them.)

John: There was some good news and some bad news for John after seeing how he was presented.  The fact that he only had a small role tells us he probably isn’t in immediate danger. He could still go up in flames in the next episodes but, being the “star” of the season means the editors will make a big case of his exit and there was nothing to indicate that will come soon.  The bad news was that such a light edit means he won’t be the story of the season.  The only emotion shown by John was his fear of getting recognized and voted out.  His paranoia could serve him well but we know that Wes isn’t an immediate threat to him.  Despite the loss, John was quite useful in the first challenge so, with Coyopa being down one member, he should be safe.  As a type A with a capital A personality, we have to say that he didn’t show any arrogance (yet) or any desire to lead his tribe at all cost which is very good for him.

Wes: His own father says he is as mentally strong as a rock so we can’t expect much from Wes. His position in the main alliance should keep him safe for a while but, like John, the story won’t be about him.

Natalie, Kelley and Missy:  None of them showed us a lot of emotions but they were all part of Jeremy’s alliance so they each have a role to play in the story.  It will be interesting to see Natalie’s reaction when she sees that her twin is gone. Could it lead to Jeff’s quote from the previews: “So, you want to quit”? I doubt it but it has been established that the sisters are always together.  Now, Natalie is on her own so it will be interesting to see how she copes.  Kelley could also find herself without a loved one soon so we should hear from her about her father’s chances but we didn’t in the premiere.  Missy is in an alliance and so is her daughter so the game is set up for a clash between the two.

The Players showing Emotions (This group includes our main contenders and one or two that will leave early)

Dale:  The farmer received a very interesting edit.  We saw him making fire.  We heard him talk about his precarious position, we saw him thinking about using a fake idol to fool his tribe, and we saw him directing the conversation that led to Nadiya’s elimination.  Right now, he is in the guys’ alliance but the numbers tell us they could lose a member and still control the vote.  With all the challenges that require women to compete against women, it’s dangerous to go down to 2 members so soon so maybe the vote will turn against Dale.  If Hunahpu gets a nice numbers advantage then Dale could make it to the merge and become a very dangerous player because he wouldn’t be seen as a threat.

Val:  It was somewhat of a disappointing episode for Val.  Her tribe was going to face tribal council but we spent more time with Keith during their stay on Exile Island.  The events dictated that we would see a lot of her so we can’t take her amount of airtime as an indication of longevity.  Jeremy was the one showing most of the emotions so, while it was nice to see Val’s resolve, he should be the one outlasting the police woman.

Jon: He had a very intriguing presentation, one that could be described as the “sad clown”.  In camp, we heard him making one joke after the other, even teasing the howler monkeys to make his tribe laugh. In private, he told us about his dad and his terminal illness.  That is Blood versus Water on a whole different level.  I’m sure we all wished that they were indeed watching this together so that connected him strongly to the viewers. However, we didn’t see anything about his game.  Jeremy said that the tribe needed strength so we can assume that Jon is safe for now but he doesn’t appear to be in the main alliance.

Baylor:  What an interesting edit she received!  When we saw her being frightened by the howler monkeys, I figured she would have trouble coping with the conditions but the camera work during Alec’s confessional put her in the predator category! Then Dale contradicted her when his method proved to be the better one at making fire. We saw her directing the conversation that led the women to target Dale then we saw her talking to Josh and telling him she wanted to vote with him.  The votes told us that she did flip on the women only to allow Josh to create some confusion when he voted against Baylor!  How will she react at that stray vote?  The women will know she voted against Nadiya so she is forced to stay with the guys but one of them voted against her and she probably won’t know which one.  I really hope they present the game from her perspective because it will show the intricacies of the game, how someone never knows who they can trust.

Josh: Here, we have a player.  His eye injury brought him to our attention and then his strategy piqued our interest.  Will we get an explanation for his stray vote?  If he did it to put some panic in his ally so that she would depend on him even more, then he is a genius.  If he reveals it to everyone or gets exposed for being duplicitous, then he is a klutz!  Since we heard Jeff say that he is a true fan of the show then he should be able to pull it off and continue to be the player that attracts the others, that gets their trust.  We already know he has an excellent social game so we could very well be looking at our winner.  The only problem was that Hunahpu seemed to be the tribe of interest, the one the cameras showed first as if to attract our attention.

Keith: For someone that could have been presented as a country bumpkin, our other firefighter showed to be a very shrewd man.  He knew that he could only trust Jeremy half-way but he did manage to wiggle his way into the main alliance.  His presentation on Exile Island overshadowed Val who was herself presented as a character worth our attention.   When Natalie said that everyone loves a firefighter, she was talking about Jeremy but it could turn out that Keith is the one that gets all the “love” in the end.

Jeremy: The Prom King was the player of the episode, winning the reward challenge for his team, crying over the twist that sent his wife to Exile Island, rallying the women of his tribe around him in a solid alliance and paying his debt to Keith by getting him his alliance.  Like Josh, Jeremy seems to be the most liked and trusted player on his tribe.  If Hunahpu can keep or even increase its numbers advantage, then Jeremy could be in an ideal position to win this game, the only one that remains to claim the prize.

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