Survivor: Worlds Apart

Episodes 4 and 5: Cutting the Head of the Snake

Previously on Survivor :

  • Shirin and Max were becoming outcasts. Joaquin’s frustration with Shirin was replayed.
  • While at the Blue Collar tribe, it was all work and no play. We heard Lindsey shouting about the fire, Rodney throwing a load of wood in frustration and Mike saying the tribe was failing.
  • At the last immunity challenge, Will struggled, Nina was left out and No Collar lost their second challenge in a row.

At Tribal Council, Will received two votes but it was Nina who just didn’t fit in.

It has to be noted that there wasn’t any special care given to Will.  He did outlast Nina, but by highlighting his struggles, Jeff makes it clear that he could have, maybe even should have gone.  Besides that, all we can note is that, despite their triumphs in challenges, the Blue Collar tribe is failing.  Since that comment came from Mike, we are being told that the problem is with the others. 

Cutting the Head of the Snake

Nagarote – Night 8

Once more, we see the No Collars return from TC.

There was thunder and rain.  However, Jenn realized that their fire hadn’t completely died out: “We still have embers.”

Hali had the first confessional: “Nina saw what was coming. We finally sent her home.  It was pretty delightful to come back to camp and see embers in the fire.  That was like a shining hope.  You know, we’ve been through the darkest and now we got our embers and we got our fire just blazing.”

Hali told Will that he received two votes only because they wanted a safety net in case Nina had the idol.  In public, Will took it in stride.

Will’s confessional: “We are definitely at the make or break point for the No Collars.  We got the mentality of a strong unit now.  This is the unit that we wanted at the beginning, but I got two votes.  If we lose the next challenge and go to Tribal Council, I’m gone.  Unless I can convince Joe to vote one of the girls, I’m gone.”

This scene was very good for the No Collars in general and Hali in particular.  They have been through some dark times, but like Natalie White in Samoa, Hali looks to the future with hope.  Fire is life and with hers blazing, she certainly has to be considered a contender.  The editors have given a lot of care to her edit, giving her confessionals in every episode whether her tribe went to TC or not and they have shown her to be a little more positive than Jenn.    

Blue Collar – Day 9

Rodney was starving and Dan spotted a snake in camp.  With Dan cheering: “Attaboy, Mike!” Mike chopped its head with the machete and then got Kelly to help him take the skin off.

Mike in confessional: “We are still unable to catch a fish, which is breaking my heart a little bit, and we are not getting chickens obviously, but we have been seeing a few snakes around camp and we have caught a snake.  Any opportunity to get food, you know your boy from Texas is going to eat it.  I don’t care what it is.  You know what I mean? It could be a scorpion or a snake; it doesn’t matter.”

Mike tasted the snake and liked it while Lindsey had a similar reaction to Nina’s when her tribe cooked a lizard.  Mike offered the snake to Rodney who had a confessional that was placed here.  The women weren’t getting close to that snake, but they realized that Rodney was turning into a country boy.  Rodney appreciated the snake.

Rodney’s confessional: “I’m starving.  I will do anything I can to get some proteins.  I’m a big dude, probably one of the biggest dudes out here, and I got to do what I got to do to survive.  I’ll eat anything. I’ll eat things I never thought I’d eat before.  Mike, he is a loyal Texan. He got me trying snake for the first time.  We had a heated argument earlier in the game, but that’s just men being men, just fight and get over it.”

At first, Mike’s words made me think that this scene had been presented out of sequence and had happened only once they knew that chickens were the reward but that they wouldn’t get any but we saw Kelly without her bandage so it did happen before the reward challenge… Of course, they could have caught another snake later on.   This scene corrected the picture we had of this tribe after all the distortions that had been presented in the first three episodes.   While Mike and Rodney clashed, the man from Boston still liked the Texan a lot.

The Reward Challenge

No one looked surprised to see that Nina wasn’t there anymore.

Playing for either 3 hens and a rooster or 10 eggs, Masaya sat Tyler while Rodney said he “and his boy, Tex” would be on the bench for Escameca.

What? Is a dozen eggs too expensive for SeeBS?

Carolyn, Sierra and Joe were the callers, the paired retrievers were Shirin and Max, Lindsey and Kelly, and Hali and Jenn while Joaquin, Dan and Will served as elevator boys.

Nagarote’s strategy seemed the best because Joe’s voice was clearly heard while the other two pairs ran into many obstacles.  For some reason, Sierra had her pair ducking under the gates instead of around them.

I really wonder why Escameca didn’t use Lindsey as their caller, putting that loudmouth to good use for once!

Probably realizing that there was a flaw in the challenge’s design, Jeff told Will that he had to be careful when the platform dropped, even telling the elevator boys that it was “on them” to make sure nothing bad happened. It did.  On their third item, the Blue Collars’ platform fell directly on Kelly’s head, causing her to bleed. The challenge was stopped and we went to commercial break.

For some reason, the doctor left the blindfold on, not even looking to see if she was reacting properly. 

A bandage was put on and the challenge resumed.  Kelly said she was good to go.

Left, Right, No Left, No Right Left, Right, No Left, No Right[/caption]

It was funny to hear Carolyn yelling “to the left” at the same time as Sierra was hollering “to the right” while, you guessed it, Shirin was leading Max to the right and Lindsey was turning left!

Jeff had an interesting comment: “Kelly suffered a lot of blood loss, wants to win this.”

He also said: “Blue Collar wins nothing after a big effort.”

Whenever the eventual winner gets an injury, it is highlighted and this certainly presents Kelly as a warrior.   We will soon see that there is more to her than that.

No Collar – Day 9

The tribe spotted the coop as soon as they arrived in camp and Will had a funny line: “We like you better than our old tribe mates.”

Joe said they should cook one for Will’s birthday.  We saw the whole tribe hugging him while his confessional was heard in voice-over.

Will’s confessional: “Oh, my God! Finally we got a win.  Today is my 42nd birthday; I am happy because birthdays are always special to me.  I never spent a birthday away from my family and, hum, I know it’s a game but they went out of their way to make sure that I had a special 42nd birthday and we topped this birthday off with a little fried chicken.”

Since this confessional included a reference to his family, I think Will lasts long enough to get a family visit. 

With drums sounding like cannons going off, we saw Joe sharpening the machete.

While he was about to turn into Skupin, Jenn was about to turn into Kimmi!  

She was petting the chickens.  “You’re Satan” she told Joe.

Jenn in confessional: “Back home, I don’t eat meats. I don’t like hurting animals.  I don’t really see the purpose in killing this chicken; it provides us with eggs, but they don’t care.  They are dead set on eating this chicken.”

Jenn walked out of camp just before Hali, with Joe’s help, chopped the chicken’s head.

Jenn’s confessional continued: “Everyone is at the camp, cooking and killing and gutting and doing whatever to the chicken.  It really bothers me to see that so I am out here getting firewood.  Of course, I am going to poke and prod around for the idol but my confidence of finding it is at about 10 percent.  All these trees look the same.  Without a clue, it’s like a needle in a haystack.  Historically, the hidden immunity idol is either in the dry creek bed, in the wall or something, or it’s going to be in a tree.  It’s probably going to be in a tree.”

Right then, Joe was saying that he was so excited about the chicken and celebrating Will’s birthday.  Will danced a little while Hali laughed.

Jenn’s search continued as did her narration: “Idols are usually in unique looking trees; something makes them stand out a little bit.”  Joe and Will were savoring their meal when Jenn found the idol in a hollow tree: “This is like a dream come true. I did it!  I have a hidden immunity idol!  This is amazing.  I think that if I was on the Blue or the White Collar tribe, I would be worried because, in most seasons of Survivor, it’s our people, the No Collars that stir things up and mess up the game.  I can screw up the game so easily with this thing.  I guess killing the chicken worked out for me.  Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.”

The way she played with the idol, twirling it in her hands, I think that Jenn will really change the game for some people with that idol.  Could it be Will and Joe?  Seeing them so carefree and unaware while something so important was happening, it makes me think they will be caught by surprise when Jenn plays it.  Will Jenn repeat the episode’s title quote at the Reunion?  Her big smile, the happy music and the loud “woo” that was heard at the end of the scene has to be taken into consideration.

Blue Collar – Day 9

Kelly’s injury had to be shown, but it’s noteworthy that we went to their beach before we saw Masaya enjoying their reward.

Kelly told her tribe that she was good after receiving 6 stitches.

Mike in confessional: “My girl, Kel-Kel, got knocked in the head today.  She ended up getting 6 stitches.  This is one of the toughest girls I’ve seen in a long time, so fitting in the stereotype of the Blue Collar.  I have mad respect for that and I feel we can go really, really far in this game together.”

Maybe more people will agree with me that Mike and Kelly could be in the final three together after this week!  Mike’s compliments bode very well for Kelly, but the fact that he got the confessional instead of her leads to the conclusion that their alliance will benefit him more.   

Back in camp, Rodney was getting on Sierra and Lindsey’s nerves, saying that women had to hold themselves to higher standards than guys.

“That is such crazy logic to me” said Lindsey.

Lindsey’s confessional: “Rodney thinks that women need to hold themselves up to higher standard than men which is what’s wrong with so many relationships because guys think that they have the right to do things that women can’t.  It’s hard to live with someone so closely that has such different views because I look at Rodney and ask: Who raised you? What kind of woman would raise a man to think that?”

The fight escalated in camp and it led to Rodney’s confessional.  Lindsey mentioned Rodney’s mom, saying she couldn’t have raised him that way.

Rodney (solo): “First of all, Lindsey? She looks like a female Mike Tyson here. I mean, who the hell gets a tattoo on their damn face unless you got some serious problems?  So you can tell that you have some serious problems having the Mike Tyson tattoo.  All I was trying to say was that girls should hold themselves to a higher standard than men.  Men are dogs, but we want angels.  That’s how me and my boys are, man!  I may not be an angel but when I settle down, I want to find one.  So I got to go back to my three C’s of Cool, Calm and Collected because I can’t be a hothead in this game because that will send me out too.  That’s who I am: I’m a hothead.”

So I guess the guys should feel insulted as well.  In one scene last week, Rodney had insulted all of Texas.  This week he outdid himself, insulting the whole planet!

White Collar

While the tribe was getting ready for crabs and eggs, Shirin had a confessional: “I’m kind of thrilled that we didn’t win the whole chicken package just because I knew that it would have been yet another White Collar nightmare.  I know that none of my guys has ever slaughtered any kind of animal, let alone a chicken.”

To the tribe she said:  “I’ve learned how to kill a chicken for Survivor.  I watched a video… and then I slaughtered a rabbit.”

Carolyn nearly choked on that while Joaquin had one of the good lines of the evening in his confessional: “Shirin said that she slaughtered a bunny rabbit. Oh, really? The first thing that came to mind was: Sociopath.  The first thing they start doing is killing small animals.  She probably started with a mouse at like 14 and she is at a rabbit right now by 29.  It’s just insane how she tries to justify her psychotic ways.  It’s all right psycho: You stay over there.”

Once she was off to wash dishes in the ocean, the group started talking about the line-up for the next challenge.  Max was concerned about Shirin feeling alienated if she was told to sit out.  Carolyn wondered how that would be different for her.  Max replied that he could sit out.  They agreed to wait until they saw the challenge.

Carolyn’s interview: “Max is pitching: “I really don’t think we should sit out Shirin because it will upset her.”  Are you kidding me?  On the spectrum of crazy, I think both Max and Shirin are very close to 10. Max wants to be the cult leader of our tribe.  Shirin goes naked because Max goes naked.  She would drink his Kool-Aid…Very dangerous. Very, very dangerous.”

To Tyler and Joaquin, Carolyn said she was a better athlete and that they shouldn’t worry about Shirin’s feelings.  She added that, if they lost, Max had to go.  The guys were hesitant, so she told them that Max was like a cult leader and was charming them.  She concluded by saying: “You cut the head of the snake off.”

We then saw Max alone in the ocean.  Helicopter shot aside, it’s funny that, of all the knowledge Max acquired for the game, he chose to play the Cult Leader game.  It worked for Boston Rob when he had a bunch of followers, but this White Collar tribe is full of leaders.  That strategy had to fail.  It’s interesting to see that, just like Vince, Nina and Lindsey before, Max’s elimination was clearly put in motion in his penultimate episode.  If the pattern follows, it won’t be difficult to determine the following weeks’ eliminations.

The Immunity Challenge

Lindsey and Dan warmed the bench for Escameca.  Shirin joined them.

Hali, Mike and Joaquin headed out first.  Mike got hung up at first but he finished second, just behind Joaquin.  Hali was not far behind.

It was Sierra, Carolyn and Will on the second leg and the big guy struggled once more with the ropes.  Jeff noted that it wasn’t only in water that he had trouble.  Sierra overtook Carolyn to give her tribe the lead.

Kelly, Max and Jenn went 3rd for their tribes.  It seemed like Kelly finished just seconds after Jenn started.

Jenn seemed to run a very good leg, finishing only seconds after Max, but Jeff said nothing about her performance. 

Rodney ran the anchor leg for the Blue Collars.  He got stuck on the second obstacle, enabling Tyler and Joe to make up some time.  Joe moved ahead of Tyler on the last obstacle.

Mike had only a small lead when he started on the ropes. Jeff noted that he was using some crazy strategy.  Rodney approved, but it clearly didn’t work!

Joaquin figured it out and landed his ball first.  Joe quickly followed.

Carolyn and Jenn went next just as Mike finished.  Sierra followed him.

Carolyn, Jenn and Sierra appeared to breeze through the challenge so it was up to Hali, Tyler and Kelly on the final ball.   Max took over for Tyler when he dropped his ball.

Hali won immunity for the No Collars and it looked like Kelly had it for the Blue Collars but she slipped off her beam.  Rodney took over without even asking. “He forced his way in” said Jeff.

Max made a big move, but it didn’t pay off.  He continued to take “huge risks” but that time it paid off because Rodney was going too slow.

Hooray!

Hooray!

Oh Hum...

Oh Hum…

 

 

 

 

Funny image: When Max scored the winning point, we only saw Shirin stand up and cheer.  No one came to congratulate Max.  When Max and Rodney finally made it all the way back to their respective tribe mates, we could barely distinguish the losers from the winners.  It made me think that some members of Masaya would have been happy to visit Jeff in his lair.

The Birthday boy was happy to collect the immunity idol.

Sierra gave a confessional: “In this challenge, Rodney was the factor that slowed us down.  He got stuck and looked at me like a lost puppy.  My horses are much smarter than Rodney especially when it’s competition day.  For me, it’s not only in challenges but in camp life: It’s Rodney who has got to go.”

Blue Collar – Day 11

Lindsey told the tribe that she was proud of having them on her mat the first day, no matter what happened.  Dan agreed while Mike, in public, said that he wasn’t ready to see Probst yet.

Mike’s confessional painted a different picture: “This loss could be exactly what the Blue Tribe needed.  You do not know who your true alliance is until Jeff is reading those names.”

To prove the point, Dan and Lindsey were walking to the well when Dan asked if he was going to be voted out.  Lindsey said that she wanted to talk to him, proposing to vote against Rodney.

Dan in confessional: “There are two ways to listen to people in this world: You can listen like a guy or you can listen like a girl.  When you listen like a guy, you try to solve the problem because that’s what we do: We want to fix things.  When you listen like a girl, you empathize: You just nod your head and agree.  You just smile and nod: Yes, dear!  I understand. You are right.”

Even in confessional, Dan’s tone is condescending.

To Lindsey, we heard him say: “If voting out Rodney is going to bring unity to this tribe, I’m in.  It will make the tribe stronger…I completely agree with that. I think that is THE best way to go.”

Dan’s empathy was emphatic.  So emphatic that it’s hard to believe anyone could buy it.  Yet Lindsey’s smile said she bought it.

Dan’s confessional continued: “I am so much smarter than I look.”

Another way to look at it is that Lindsey is dumber than she looks…I think Dan summed up his problem with that sentence: He thinks he’s smart.

Next, we saw Dan, Mike, Rodney and Kelly talking in the water.  Dan was saying: “This is a game of numbers and they have isolated themselves into a group of two.”

The 2 Outsiders? Not really!

The 2 Outsiders? Not really!

Interesting camera work to start this scene as only Mike and Dan were seen.  Most of the audience believed those two had isolated themselves from their tribe but we saw that it all had been editing manipulation.

Rodney said: “I love this four.”

Rodney in confessional: “I’m the leader.  I’m going to be the leader no matter what. I’m the Tom Brady here.  If I step on the field, all business aside, I’m Tom Brady here. So, what is going on right here is that me, Dan, Kelly and Mike, we’re a very strong four. So, it’s bye, bye Lindsey.  Anything you do, you have to be a smooth criminal like Michael Jackson, baby!”

We quickly heard that “Tom Brady” could be sacked.  Like Dan, Rodney has an inflated impression of himself.

Kelly’s confessional: “Rodney should not be so flamboyant about Lindsey going.  He could be the next to go too.  It’s funny to watch him.” At that point, Rodney was mocking Lindsey, imitating her voice when she said: “The winner is on this mat.” We then saw Mike talking to Kelly privately: “I don’t know about Rodney.”  Kelly’s confessional resumed: “Mike and I are definitely together and Mike does not trust Rodney and I don’t trust Rodney either.”

After hearing Sierra say that Rodney had to go, Kelly gave us the last confessional of this episode: “Rodney and Lindsey clash.  They both have attitude; they both want to be the boss and Lindsey is kind of bitchy in how she is going about it.  Mike and I are in a good position tonight to go with either the girls or the guys.  We can vote for Rodney or we can vote for Lindsey.  Tonight is going to be huge.  Someone is going home and someone is going to be pissed off, but I know it’s not me.”

Too bad the promos spoiled the decision at this point.  We had seen Rodney in the “drop your buffs” scene, so it couldn’t be him.  Nevertheless, it was still a very satisfying conclusion.

Tribal Council

Asked about the vibe of the tribe, Dan said that Sierra and Lindsey bonded very quickly.

Rodney couldn’t lie to Jeff, so he told him he couldn’t get along with “this girl over here” pointing to Lindsey.

Lindsey said that she and Rodney had very different backgrounds and morals.

Sierra told Jeff that Rodney was very vulgar and very demeaning in his way of talking about women.

Kelly said she was upset about Rodney at first but that you have to bite your tongue out there.  She added: “You want to say: Shut up; I don’t want to hear.”

Rodney explained that he was a mama’s boy and that women disrespect themselves.  He couldn’t even realize what was wrong with his comments when Jeff pointed out he had insulted millions of women.

Jeff said that he was playing with fire with those comments.  Rodney said he was ready to face his enemies.

Luckily, he won’t be doing the interview circuit just yet, but it will come!

Kelly pointed out that voting against Lindsey or Sierra would mean losing the other’s trust while eliminating Rodney would gain trust within the tribe.

Lindsey interjected, saying that she loves her tribe: “We fight for each other…Someone on this tribe, on these stools, is going to win a million dollars.”

Mike told Jeff: “We all give Lindsey a hundred percent credit.  I think she unified us, day one, when she said the winner of this game is on this tribe.  It sparked big dreams in all of our hearts which made us fight for each other.  I do love these people.  If I would have been on the No Collar tribe, I probably would have slit my throat day one, you know what I mean?  Honest to goodness. And the White Collar tribe, they just live off the hard work, off the back of good solid blue collar Americans.” (Jeff liked that) “We lost a challenge today. One of us is going home, but I think we formed bonds regardless.  For me, that’s massive.”

Now, wouldn’t that last sentence fit well in a speech to the final jury?

It was time to vote.  Once again, the split vote tactic came into play, the first vote ending in a 2-2-2 tie.  Since only Sierra and Lindsey had voted for Rodney and since neither could vote, that second vote was like a slow agony and it was easy to see Lindsey’s pain.  When Lindsey’s torch was snuffed, Rodney showed disrespect all the way to the end, waving goodbye in derision.

Jeff left the tribe after saying: “Well, it’s been said more than once that the winner of this game will come from this tribe.  That will require tribal unity.  We will see if voting out the person who predicted it, gives you that unity.”

The Story

Once more, we only had one scene in Masaya and, while it mostly served to show that Max was their target, Carolyn emerged as a player that we have to consider.  Her strategy was clearly stated:  Even if Max and Shirin are equally annoying, Max is the cult leader, so he is the dangerous one.  Since Joaquin and Tyler were slow to realize that, it didn’t make them look very good.

In Nagarote, we heard that they have reached their ideal tribe and now that their fire is blazing, we can expect these four to last very far in the game.  Was the winner enjoying chicken dinner?  Joe, Hali and Will looked a bit too out of touch with the game when they were eating the chicken while Jenn seemed more interesting in screwing up the game than winning it for herself.   Hali, Jenn and Joe are still strong contenders and we can’t forget Will now that we have a hint telling us he lasts until the family visit.

Was the winner sitting at this Tribal Council like Lindsey and Jeff mentioned?  I’ve been inclined to think so for a while now.  Mike and Kelly emerged in this episode as strong players.  Mike wasn’t in the tribe’s doghouse after all which is very interesting from an editing perspective.  Even the secret scenes painted him as the outsider that would be the next to go so the editors had the material to show it that way. However, in that tribe like in many before it, everyone must have said the same about everyone else.  The problem for the players in Escameca is that they didn’t cut off the head of the snake.  Rodney was the leader, so he was the dangerous one, yet they decided to keep him.  The saving note was that we heard Lindsey was also trying to be the boss, so they did cut one snake’s head.  Maybe that’s why we had to hear that they had quite a few snakes in camp.  We know that Mike can handle the snakes while Kelly isn’t squeamish when it comes to skinning them.  Those two are still the top contenders, but since there was a concerted effort to make it look like Mike was the underdog while Kelly was neglected, then he has to be favored at the moment.  The next episode will give us a clearer picture of these characters.

Episode 5 –

Blue Collar – Night 11

Sierra wanted to know who voted for her.  Dan said it didn’t matter, but she insisted.  Mike explained that her name was written down only in case an idol was played. That way, none of these four were going home.  He said that was as nicely as he could put it.

Mike in confessional: “Tribal went exactly as how our alliance planned.  I am a hundred percent happy with the decision that we made tonight.  I am not happy about Sierra being cut off and alienated from the tribe.”

Dan told Sierra that they wanted unity back in the tribe, so he wanted to air the grievances.

It would have been a great occasion to show empathy by letting her air HER own grievances, but instead Dan used embarrassment, in an emphatic display of new found empowerment due to his temporary emplacement.

Dan, addressing Sierra, said: “The first puzzle challenge, you couldn’t do it.  You stepped out.  The second challenge in the water, you nearly killed Mike and I because you missed so many shots.”

That brought Sierra to tears.

Now isn’t that interesting?  The editing had made us believe that Sierra was their MVP in that challenge showing her making most of their shots including the winning one.  We found out that the last part wasn’t true when we saw Rodney making the last throw in the subsequent recap, but we didn’t know she missed so many shots that it nearly killed Mike and Dan who were retrieving those balls.   When we saw the unedited last shot, we figured this was a bad omen for Rodney but now it appears that Sierra received special care from the editors.  What does it mean for her chances?  Most probably, she will outlast Rodney but can she also outlast her tormentor, Dan?  Or will this beauty return the embarrassment when she delivers her final question to the loudmouthed beast?

Sierra in confessional: “Not only did I lose my closest alliance but to come back and get attacked for the player that I am; that’s tough. At this point, I can’t trust these people.”

Dan and Kelly were shown when she said that.

Sierra said that she worked hard around camp but Rodney said he should be the angry one since they tried to blindside him.  “I got no sorrows or feelings for your tears coming down your eyes, sister” he said.

Rodney in confessional: “Sierra is out there crying and you know what?  I really don’t care.  You wrote my name down, so it’s time for you get over it because only the strong survive, brother.  If you can’t deal with it, pack your bag and take your ass home.”

While technically, Rodney is right to be angry, his attitude illustrates precisely why he can’t win this game.  Playing in a social game, he should at least pretend to care about Sierra.  Mike showed his social game by being the diplomat at the conclusion of this scene.

Mike: “We can start building bridges…for whenever we do get split up, we can come back and work together because I don’t want these first eleven days to be for nothing.”

Mike’s confessional: “I would really like to pull Sierra back in but I don’t think that she will ever trust us.”

Like an ex-girlfriend after a break-up, Sierra told Mike: “I just thought we had something.”  Mike simply answered: “I think we still do have something.”

If Jeff was right at the last TC, and all this tribe needed to have the winner was finding their unity back, we can say that Mike took on the role of peace-maker, of unifier.  Will it work or is Sierra definitely lost?   

The Switch

In a bit of trickery, production had three catapults in place for the upcoming reward, hiding momentarily the upcoming swap.  The announcement of Lindsey’s departure didn’t receive many reactions.  Shirin sort of whistled but that could have been force of habit.

Sierra had a confessional right after Jeff announced the switch: “There’s a switch-up which I am really excited about.  I’m going to go in and I’m going to find new alliances because my tribe is absolutely dead to me.  Dead!”

Like a cliff-hanger, this led directly to a commercial break.   This kind of attention to a player is often a hint that one way or another, Sierra will play a major role in the outcome of this season.  Not that I think she will win, but she will side with the winner, help him or her greatly along the way.  We also have to keep in mind that this sets up a new dangerous situation for Mike.  He had just gotten out of the doghouse according to the edit and now he is right back in trouble.

The new Escameca consisted of: Mike, Dan, Rodney, Sierra, Joe, Joaquin and Tyler.

The new Nagarote had: Jenn, Hali, Will, Kelly, Carolyn, Max and Shirin.

I wonder if the decision to abandon Masaya’s camp was due to their poor shelter or was it simply the location.  The beach itself could have been less practical for filming the action but I’d like to think it was because the White Collars’ shelter was really bad!

Once more, the random draw gave us two really unbalanced teams, making it easy to see which would lose and who would be eliminated.

I'm So Happy!

I’m So Happy!

Sierra knows how to act because she looked all excited to see that she was sharing the same color buff as Dan and Mike. 

Sierra had another confessional: “I feel like my old tribe are crappy people and I had to pretend like I was excited when I saw that I was with three of them, but I have three new people and I’m going to find new alliances.  It’s a whole different ball game.”

Kelly gave us her first impressions in confessional: “No way can this be happening right now.  I’m the only one from my tribe that is going over to the other tribe.  You just spent eleven days building these alliances and now you are starting over.  I am definitely scared to death.”

The reward was a kitchen surprise and also included all of Masaya’s rewards gained up to now since the tribe had been dissolved.

Since three members of Masaya were now in Nagarote, I think it’s dumb to have them compete for items they had already won.  Those items should have been simply split between the tribes, especially the tarp since Escameca already had one.   Jeff said it would give one tribe a massive head start, but it’s simply a massive advantage to a tribe that is already massively advantaged, physically.  If you question why so many fans of the show go to boards like Survivor Sucks or Survivor Blows, this is part of the reason!  While the concept and the stories are great, production blows.

This challenge had proven to be very physical in the past and it wasn’t different now:  The match-ups showed the unlevel playing field: Jenn was facing Joaquin, Joe was guarding Max, Mike squared off against Will and the ex-NFL player Tyler would be running to catch deep balls against Kelly.  (OK, the guy was a kicker, but even kickers get to throw the ball around with the real Tom Brady!)

The first round saw very loose defense since Max caught one ball, but in order to do that, he left Joe free to catch the other.

That showed us once again the old maxim: You can’t win without defense!

The second round showed Escameca’s dominance: Joe scooped one up despite tight coverage from Max while Tyler ran away from everyone, and like Darrelle Revis, he intercepted a throw from Carolyn.

The third round was much the same:  Joaquin pushed off to get separation from Jenn in catching Dan’s pass (I would have thrown a flag for offensive pass interference!) while Joe was the only one that came close to Hali’s deep ball.

Jeff sounded surprised that Escameca was dominating this challenge, but really, it was like the lowly Jaguars taking on the Super Bowl champion Patriots (and I am being unkind to the Jaguars who are closer to their rivals than Nagarote was to Escameca!)

The 4th round saw another defensive break down:  Will made a nice play to cut in front of Joe and score a point for his team, but Max didn’t switch over to Will’s assigned receiver, Mike, who was left free to catch the winning point.

As part of the losing tribe, Carolyn had a confessional: “When I heard we were switching teams, I was so excited and I open it up (her face dropped) …and I’m with Max and Shirin.  What is this:  Survivor gods trying to kill me?”

Nagarote – Day 12

After giving everyone a tour of the new place, Hali had a confessional: “So we got three No Collars, three White Collars and one Blue Collar, Kelly.  So, it was like immediately, we got to get Kelly on our side.  But I want to take things slow and feel people out because our camp was so laid back. The No Collar camp, we could sit back and watch and our plan just comes to us.”

While the events this time would prove Hali right, she was playing with fire when she didn’t get Kelly right away.  It may not work out so nicely the next time.

Jenn explained the way they used to ration beans and rice, Max presented Shirin as an excellent Survivor cook which got Shirin to tell everyone that she is a big fan of the show and how they’ve cooked coconuts over the years.

I noted that no one commented on the size of the bag of beans!    

Shirin in confessional: “I know this game really well: Not just the historical facts but the strategy.  We got three No Collars, three White Collars and a Blue Collar.  I’m in one of the power trios so the simplest route is to stick with White Collar and pull over the Blue Collar.”

Shirin’s actions are now part of those historical facts. Or should we say she is part of the hysterical facts?  One thing she should have known is that your best route isn’t the same for someone else.

Kelly’s confessional: “I am an undercover cop and this is like going into a house to buy drugs from people you totally don’t even know.  You have to start talking; you have to start building their trust.  You don’t have time to wait because your life depends on it.  This isn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe I will be in a good position right now because I am the swing vote.”

This is another tremendous confessional from Kelly.  However, since we both heard Hali and Shirin say that they need Kelly, it was impossible to make it look like she was in danger.  It does show her as a strong player though.

Shirin’s confessional resumed: “I talked to Kelly, I threw a little bit of bait, she bit and then we just solidified something.  It was very wink-wink, hush-hush, we will talk more later, but yes!”

Escameca – Day 12

Arriving at their new camp, Joaquin remarked: “This looks like the Ritz Carlton compared to where we were.”  That pleased Dan.

And it pleased me also.  Now if only someone could have compared the ex-Masaya camp to Camp Nagarote…

Mike had an interview: “The new Escameca is basically four Blue Collars, two Blue Collars and a No Collar.  We got the majority, so the numbers couldn’t have worked out better in our favor.  But, with Dan and Rodney cutting into Sierra last night, it definitely is a cause of concern.  These three guys could woo Sierra over.  I am going to have to make sure that she doesn’t get too close to somebody and her mind gets mixed up and then swayed over to the other side.”

When Mike was saying that, we saw Sierra talking to the smiling Joaquin and Joe, making us realize that Mike’s job won’t be easy!

Rodney was telling everyone about his mother and his sister, explaining his tattoo once more.

Joaquin in confessional: “Rodney’s been through a lot of struggles, but his mind is straight just like a bunch of my friends back home.  I’m going to feel them out for the rest of the night, trying to learn as much as possible about them and work them, just like I have been working everybody on my last tribe.”

Yes, because that worked so well for him the first time.  Joaquin is about to repeat with Rodney the same mistake he made with So: exposing their power couple status to everyone. 

Mike, Rodney and Dan all went out together to get some water.

Shouldn’t one have stayed with Sierra at all times?  With three people, it wouldn’t have been hard to take turns without appearing to be spying on her. 

It didn’t take long for Sierra to spill the beans: “Are all my tribe mates gone?” she asked.  When she got confirmation, she spoke frankly to Joaquin, Tyler and Joe: “I’m just so grateful that you guys are here.  You have no idea: The second I threw my buff on the ground, I was so excited to get away from these people and I happen to get stuck with three of them again.”

Laughing, Joe said: “You got three new ones!”

Sierra: “Glory! Glory!  I am latching on to anything I can grab on to because these people suck and treat me like (sh*t) every day.”

Tyler was silently listening and observing the whole exchange.

Tyler in confessional: “Sierra seems to be kind of the broken puppy.  These things are good.  As I have always said: Bring me your poor, your tired, your huddled survivors. I want the broken people to come with me and be on my tribe.”

Coming back to camp, Mike had a confessional: “I see Sierra talking to the three guys which makes me a little bit nervous because, if Joe, Joaquin and Tyler can flip Sierra then it’s me and Dan and Rodney on the outskirts.  We need her as a number because, in this game of Survivor, if you do not have the numbers, you go home.”

All this was presented solely to make us doubt that Mike can make it to the merger.  Two strong contenders were finally in the same scene and we can easily see that the story was not about Joe.  Only Sierra and Tyler had a presence that rivaled Mike’s, giving us confessionals that set up their game plan nicely, but since Escameca is unlikely to go to Tribal Council, this is more smoke to hide Mike’s chances.

Nagarote – Day 12

Shirin was singing the National Anthem.

Weird!

Jenn had a confessional: “The chick with the long hair– I don’t know her name, but I don’t like her.  I don’t know, I just don’t like her.  Maybe it’s her voice…  I haven’t even been around her for twelve hours and I know most of her life and I know things that I never wanted to know.  She doesn’t stop talking since we got here.  It’s driving me insane.  Just shut up, man! Just sit!”

We had figured that the four nudists would come together at some point because their scenes had been juxtaposed but instead of a community of spirit, we wind up with a conflict of personality.  Now that Nina is gone, Jenn has found a new source of irritation.  While once again we can say that she has reason to be irritated, it still puts a slightly negative spin to her character.

Shirin’s next surprise was to tell everyone that she is a professional whistler.

Weird!

The next scene showed Max limping as he returned to camp: “I got a stingray in each foot.”  Jenn took charge, getting some hot water for Max.

Max in confessional: “I was stung by a stingray not once but twice. So I hobbled in off the beach; I got blood pouring out of my feet.  Fortunately for me, we have a former life guard on the tribe.  Jenn immediately sprung into action and she took a pot of boiling water that was meant for drinking, pulled it from the fire and said put your feet in there and don’t take them out.  Sitting there with my feet in scalding water I suddenly forgot that I had throbbing animal-inflicted wounds because my feet were on fire from the boiling water they were sitting in.”

That’s when Hali and the others saw that he had a big wart under his foot.  It grossed them out.

Hali in confessional: “So Max dunks both of his feet in our drinking water pot and spends about an hour soaking in it and then he lifts his foot up.  He’s got a plantar wart the size of a quarter in our drinking water.  I’m like: Max!  Warts are contagious.  That’s disgusting.  Anyone who would soak their wart feet in the tribe’s drinking water for hours when we are thirsty has his mind on one person: Himself and his stingray feet.  That’s disgusting.”

No, the White Collars and the No Collars nudists will not be bonding during this game.  At least the scene gave Jenn an occasion to shine after her negative comments.

Will and Carolyn were bonding over Max getting on their nerves.

Carolyn’s confessional: “Max and Shirin are so annoying and they may think it’s three and three: No Collar against White Collar. It’s not happening.  So, I’m thinking:  All right Carolyn, patience is a virtue; don’t go crazy, but to blindside them would be so sweet.  You just can’t even imagine.”

It’s interesting that we saw Carolyn bond with Will first over her frustrations with her old tribe mates, but she did not talk about the vote with him.  Was it omitted?  If we could find out that she did talk to him about the vote before Jenn, then that would tell us a lot about the relative importance of Jenn and Will.  If she did talk to him, but it was deemed insignificant to show, then we would know that the editors don’t see Will as a player which would be much more damaging for him.  As is, we still can suppose that Carolyn does not see Will as a player but that she can make plans with Jenn.  

Escameca – Day 14

Once more, we skipped a day!

Mike and Dan were walking on the beach, worrying that Sierra was a swing vote.  Mike expressed his frustration with Dan and Rodney’s attitude towards her: “You already had it set in your minds that she was gone.”

Mike in confessional: “Dan, just listen to what I am telling you:  Shut your mouth, apologize and let’s move forward.”

Dan told Mike he was going to explain himself to Sierra, but Mike told him to simply apologize.  “In my experience with women, they don’t want the explanation; they just want to hear you say you are sorry, so they could be right.”

Dan had his own confessional: “Dude, you are half my age, OK?  I have talked to so many more girls than you have; it’s silly.  Dude, Dude, I got Sierra; I got this.”

That set up a really funny moment.  I wonder if this confessional was truly addressed to Mike who is obviously not half Dan’s age.  It seemed more like something Dan would have said about Rodney who is practically half of Dan’s age.  Still, just looking at Dan and Mike’s physique, I get the feeling that Mike has had not only his share of women but probably also a big part of Dan’s share!!  The image of clouds moving in quickly told us that Dan wouldn’t be successful!

Dan tried his approach with Sierra. He agreed that he picked the wrong time to attack her, but he added: “What hurt me was you attacked me and that was okay, but when I gave it back it was not.  I see what we did as exactly the same thing.”

Dude, Dude, you got nothing!

Sierra in confessional: “If you’re sorry, you don’t go into an apology saying I’m sorry that I made you feel that way, but you did it to me so that’s why.  It was THE crappiest apology that I have ever received in my life.  I have two separate alliances coming at me saying that we need you in our four.  I want to go where I’m wanted and I don’t think that’s with the Blue Collars.”

Survivor can be so damn funny at times!

The Immunity Challenge

It wasn’t even close.

I don’t know if it was his idea, but Mike went through the obstacle course with Sierra which was a good idea.  Competition brings people together… Especially if you win!   

Fittingly, Dan was the wrecking ball for Escameca.

Going back to the obvious, the editors gave the confessional after the loss to a very confident Max: “The hardest thing about that challenge for me was not smiling too big after we lost it.  I’m really happy to go to Tribal Council and change the dynamics around my camp.”

School’s out, Max.  I guess it’s true:  Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach!  The interviewer’s questions should have alerted Max, told him that he was in big trouble.  They always love it when a player expresses over-confidence before being blindsided, but apparently Max’s lectures didn’t cover production’s tricks!

Nagarote  – Day 14

Max’s confessional resumed: “I am really excited to get on with the game of Survivor.  It’s the blindsides; it’s the double-crossings. That’s really what I signed on for and finally I will get another chance to do it tonight.”

Max demonstrated his Survivor trivia knowledge to Jenn.

Jenn in confessional: “I’ve seen every season of Survivor and I’m a huge fan of the game, but Max knows every little detail about everything that’s ever happened on Survivor.  It’s crazy like: Why do you know this much?  Why do you remember every little detail?  It’s like people remember the ‘96  Bulls game against the Heat on like October 13th or whenever basketball happens.”

Taking a stroll on the beach, Hali and Jenn talked about the vote. They agreed they had to get Kelly but didn’t know if she would go with them.

Hali in confessional: “Tribal tonight, it will come down to Kelly because she is the swing vote between White Collar and No Collar.  So, Kelly being the swing vote is in the power position.”

Hali’s plan was to get rid of Shirin, keeping Max for challenges.  Jenn agreed.

Max and Shirin told Kelly that it had to be Will because “Jenn was a beast in challenges.”

Max gave his last lecture, stating the obvious: “White Collar was more aggressive in pursuing Kelly…”

Shirin in confessional: “At the end of the day, we have the brains over here (herself and Max shown), we have skinny girls which are great in so many challenges (Hali and Jenn shown), we have great swimmers (Ozzy not shown)– Will can’t do any of those things.  I think that without him, we actually have a really strong chance of winning.  I’m pretty sure I am in the power seat tonight, I’m pretty sure that I am the one who orchestrated everything that’s going down.  I am the one that decided it’s going to be Will.”

It’s amusing that Shirin is already thinking of her position in the after-season lists ranking winners!

Carolyn gave an interview after being told about Shirin’s plan: “On paper, Kelly looks like the swing vote and Max and Shirin think that I am 100 percent with them, but I’m a swing vote.  I can take that power away from Kelly, be four strong with the No Collar, and we are good to go.  I think a fabulous blindside may be in the making.”

Talking to Jenn, Carolyn flatly stated: “I am not part of that three.”  Jenn was relieved to hear that Carolyn wanted to go after the power duo on her former tribe.

Jenn in confessional: “I’m excited because it sounds like everyone hates most of the White Collars.  No one can stand Max, no one can stand Shirin, and we have Carolyn, so we have numbers and we can control the game.”

After hearing the new developments, Kelly had an interview: “The No Collar tribe, they are tight. Carolyn is not tight with the White Collars, so it wouldn’t benefit me to stay with Shirin and Max.”

Will had an interview: “The debate is between Max and Shirin: Who is the most annoying?  I think it’s about neck-and-neck because neither one will shut up, and they won’t stop strategizing.”

Jenn gave a similar interview: “Who is more annoying?  Max or Shirin? It’s exactly like a horse race.  Is it Shirin?  No, here comes Max with his foot wart, but here comes Shirin with her annoying facts about Survivor. Oh, but here is Max again.  Who is going to get voted out tonight? Who is the most annoying?  I don’t know; we’ll see!  We’ll find out tonight at Tribal!”

Now that had to be one of the funniest confessionals leading to Tribal Council.

Shirin told Jeff that they gelled quickly in a way that White Collar never did.

That got a strange look from Hali, and apparently, from Jeff also.

“You’re making a face like I’m delusional,” said Shirin to everyone’s surprise.

Kelly mentioned that some things have been uncomfortable.   When asked about it, Kelly could only laugh which intrigued our host.

Max answered for her: “On paper, this tribe is a disaster.  It’s like the swap from Survivor: One World...one tribe ended with Colton and Leif and Tarzan and they self-identified as Misfits… Maybe we are tricking ourselves into thinking we still have a chance.”

Asked why that made her laugh, Jenn said it was his knowledge of previous seasons.  “I have a hard time remembering everyone here’s name.”

Max explained that he loved Survivor.

Shirin hoped everyone could appreciate her super-fandom.

Max said it wasn’t healthy, but that he hoped his mandatory relaxation would save him from a coronary.

The vote means that Max will relax to the max.

Will said that their behavior frustrated him.

Hali said the vote could be about strategy, loyalty, or quality of life. She added: “After tonight’s vote, I think it will be a much more pleasant camp life for all of us.

Will told Jeff that the vote would be a blindside. Shirin agreed saying it could be her, which would certainly be a blindside.  She said that blindsides are sometimes necessary for tribal unity.

It was time to vote.

When asked about an idol, Max said: “Hold up, bro” but it was just for fun.

When then 4th vote against Max was read, the camera focused on Shirin’s face, showing her surprise.

Jeff somewhat tongue-in-cheek said: “If blindsides do indeed bring more tribal unity, then you guys should be one very tight group.”

Jenn was seen laughing all the way out of the Council area.

The Story

With the swap giving us two unbalanced teams, it was very interesting to note all the attention given to the dynamics of Escameca, a tribe that is unlikely to go to Tribal Council.  With Dan and Rodney both portrayed as “Dumb Players”, we know that the doubt has to be created solely for Mike’s story.   The viewers had been given indication that he would be the next to go if the Blue Collars went to Tribal Council but, like all the players, we only discovered the truth when Jeff read the names.  Mike was not only safe, but also he was, with Kelly, the one that decided that vote.  So to keep the story going, we have been given more doubt in the person of the previously insignificant Sierra.  Certainly, we have noted that she received some care from the editors, so she may play a role in this game, but it’s more likely in deciding who wins than being that winner herself.

We also saw the dynamics in Nagarote where Carolyn emerged as the power player with only Jenn presented as a co-conspirator.  How will these two get along? If Carolyn can unify the White and the No Collars, then that could spell big trouble for Mike and Kelly.  It will be an interesting merger where Carolyn, Joaquin, Tyler, Joe, Hali, Jenn and Will could dominate, but will they be able to work together?

The Characters

The Stories of Failure

Rodney: “Mr Gisele Bündchen” may think that he is the leader, but he is a “Dumb Player”.  (I usually only talk about the characters presented on TV when I use these roles, but Rodney may actually be that dumb!) His antics will certainly play a part in the upcoming episodes, but being the head of the snake, he will have to be cut sooner or later.

Shirin:  It was funny to hear her confessional about being the one in charge as if she wanted the viewers to know just how good she was, how high they should rate her as a player.  It must be hard for her to hear all the comments made by her fellow castaways, realizing how low she actually is.  Since all the episodes have set up the vote for the following week, we have to say that Shirin is in grave danger.

Joaquin:  He got in trouble with his first tribe when he hooked up too closely with So and he seems to be repeating the same mistake with Rodney.  If he really had learned more about these people, he would have realized that Rodney was the weak link, the one that could rally Sierra to his side but he seems to want to align with him instead.

Dan:  He may think he is smarter than he looks, but he may just be dumber than we thought which is saying something!  We have been shown over and over again that Dan’s problem is his mouth so that sets the stage for a huge Final Tribal Failure.

The Players With a Story But Without a Game

Will:  It was nice to see Will getting a nice birthday “party” and hearing him talk about missing his family.  Often, when the editors let us hear a player talk about his family it means that they will be there for the visit.  Since Will also had been in danger, we could then ask why it is different for Mike. One difference comes from the fact that Will should enjoy a nice ride in the upcoming weeks while new doubts were created around Mike’s story as soon as the first ones dissipated.  More importantly, Jeff paints a different story, telling us over and over again that Will is struggling.  That leads to a journey type of edit, Will managing to make his family proud of him.

Hali: We know that Hali sees a bright future and she fits in perfectly with the No Collar story of being laid back, enjoying the experience and letting the game take care of itself.  Nagarote has gone to three Tribal Councils, and while Hali has received a very consistent edit, she is continually ignored during the scrambling portions of the episodes.  Hali isn’t there when the votes are being decided.  Her intervention during Tribal Council was important, but it talked more about enjoying camp life than pointing to the end game.

Joe:  A strong contender up to now, Joe completely disappeared in this crucial episode.  Even more than Kelly, he found himself in a terrible situation after the swap because he can’t even be the swing vote. It would be easy for the 4 Blue Collars to vote him out without creating an outsider like they would if they voted against one of the two White Collars, but we didn’t hear anything from Joe.  That brings us back to his mistakes during his time in Nagarote and we realize that his game doesn’t match his story.  Maybe he was ignored only because Escameca wasn’t going to Tribal Council, so we still have to keep our eyes on Joe, but his chances took a hit this week.

The Players with Game But Without a Story

Tyler:  He had a very interesting confessional about gathering the Misfits, but it doesn’t seem that Tyler knows what to do once he’s gotten them.  It should also be noted that we heard Max talking about Misfits in this episode, saying they didn’t have a chance so that can’t be good for Tyler’s game plan.  As for his story, we heard he wants to win but not much besides that.

Sierra:  The events have given her an important role in the game and the editors have protected her from much of the craziness that was found in Escameca.  They even made her look much better than what Dan described. That tells us that we need to keep an eye on Sierra but more for the effects that her action will have on others than for what it can bring her.

Carolyn: Twice, Carolyn found herself in a situation where she had to play the game and she shined both times.  Since that occurred during the premiere and the swap, then we can say that Carolyn shined at crucial times.  Unlike Kass and Cochran before her, she flipped the game at the right time:  Her real allies, Joaquin and Tyler, knew about her plan to eliminate Max and the professor will not be poisoning the jury against her. The problem is that, at other times, Carolyn is a player without a story, being too often ignored by the editors.  We have had very little personal moments with her except for her irritation with the players that first aligned with her.  Carolyn could still emerge later on as our winner, but for now, we have to look at the whole picture and say that it’s lacking.  Even from a game perspective, she was completely ignored during this Tribal Council.

They Have Game. They Have Stories.

Jenn:  The woman with the idol can certainly change this game and I wonder if her alliance with Carolyn will hold or if it was just an alliance of convenience.  Jenn is an independent woman and I doubt she would stay with a White Collar even if Carolyn hasn’t shown signs of bossiness.   Jenn should realize that someone who is so willing to flip on people shouldn’t be trusted in the long run.  Now that Nagarote and Kelly have gained the numbers, it would be a great time to eliminate Carolyn, cutting her from Joaquin and Tyler.  Keeping Shirin is much less dangerous, but I doubt that Jenn’s game is as strong as her story.

Kelly:  The undercover cop lessons are certainly more valuable than knowing Survivor trivia and Kelly should go far in this game.  She is Jenn’s opposite: Her game is much stronger than her story.  We know that she sits back and analyzes the players before intervening but that approach can lead to the same problems Stephen faced in Tocantins: No one sees her in action and they would credit Mike more for the results.  Can she get out from under the covers and convince a jury that she made the decisions?  The outcome of the season could depend on that answer.

Mike:  He has been presented as being in danger from the moment Sierra said she didn’t trust him and Dan in the premiere.  Yet, most of that danger has been complete fabrication.  His actions certainly rubbed people the wrong way, but his name didn’t even come up when Escameca finally went to Tribal Council.  In episode one, Dan said that Mike was the glue that held the tribe together and his attempt at diplomacy showed that he was the only one that could hold the tribe together.  Now, he faces the dangers that Sierra’s plans could cause but it’s unlikely that Escameca will go to Tribal Council so that could be more fabrication.  Since the No Collars aligned with a White Collar, there is a danger that a new alliance could form at the merger because almost all of these characters will make it there.  There’s probably only one more vote before that all-important step and way too many players left outside of Mike and Kelly’s alliance for them to have the numbers, and as Mike said, without the numbers, you can go home.

Because of all the doubts that have been created around him, Mike is my pick for Sole Survivor.

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