Monday, October 6, 2014

Recapping Survivor San Juan Del Sur: Blood v. Water Episode Two: You have two what?

When someone describes their inexplicably crazy behavior with the old standby "there's a method to my madness," be wary. What they're telling you is they know that there is no reasonable explanation for their actions, they have no idea what possessed them, and they're really hoping they don't end up in a 48 hour psych hold for what they just did.  Josh tells Baylor that he has a perfectly good reason for why he voted for her at tribal council and neither she nor we the viewers has any idea what he was thinking.  Sure, cast a wonky vote if you want but to do it against your secret ally without telling her first is not a great way to build trust and solidify your alliance.

You know what also doesn't qualify as "method to my madness?"  Pretending you have TWO immunity idols early in the game when your entire goal should be to be as inconspicuous as possible. Val was already in some trouble having been sent to Exile Island the first day and, thus, not having the chance to bond or form alliances with her fellow tribemates.  But she escaped the vote last week when the tribe sent Nadiya out and she wasn't on anyone's radar. So what does she decide to to?  Lie to a potential ally about something that will only make you a huge target in the game  She tells John Rocker (known, of course, for his reticence and equanimity) that she has TWO idols which, if I understand Survivor math, is exponentially a bigger lie than claiming to have one idol.  Even her husband Jeremy would probably try to flush out at least one of those damned idols by voting for her.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  After Josh's head-scratching confession to Baylor, we move to Heroes' Arena and the moment we were waiting for.  What will be Natalie's reaction to finding out that her twin sister Nadiya was the first tribe member evicted?  Well, all of us twinnie haters, how do you feel now?  The poor girl was devastated, stunned, crying and clearly shaken by the realization that she wouldn't be seeing her sister for many days to come.  I realized what a heartless bitch I can be when I'm watching Reality TV and forgetting that the "real" part is that these are real people, with real feelings.  This was terribly sad and I wanted to give that annoying girl a hug, if she promised not to speak for five minutes.  Luckily, she had a surrogate mom, Missy, there to comfort her and she'll soon realize that her chances of winning increased exponentially with her partner out of the game.  Plus, if she ever gets tired, maybe Nadiya can swap in for her and no one will be the wiser!

We have the rock-paper-scissors face off to determine who chooses the duelers in today's battle and since rock won last time,  you knew someone was going to go rogue and throw paper just to mess with us and John Rocker was the bad boy to do it (that's about as exciting as I can make roshambo sound).  John picks himself to battle for the blue tribe, which means the buoyant Julie will go head-to-head in the duel and if it's who can stay under water the longest, he's a lock.  Unfortunately for John that wasn't the challenge and he probably should have taken a gander at the actual competition before choosing to take part.  Perhaps he might have noticed that being ginormously, freakishly tall and broad of shoulder would not be a benefit in this duel and picked someone of normal stature.  He and his big head and bigger upper body were no match for Julie, but he handled losing in typically gracious Rocker-style, saying, it wasn't just bad losing to his girlfriend, what really stung was losing to a girl.  Stay classy, John!

John is off to Exile Island and Julie makes the decision to send him there with Jeremy which is either a strong move to get John to form an alliance with another physically strong competitor or a test to see if John can go 48 hours without saying anything offensive.  Her tribe is about to claim their reward - fishing gear - when Reed tries to negotiate a better deal with Jeff.  Jon had lost their flint and Reed asks Jeff if they can trade their remaining beans for a new flint.  Jeff flashes his signature smile, stuns them with his dimples of doom, and lets them know that he has all the power in this negotiation, they have none.  As he so succinctly puts it, "My life is fine."  They end up surrendering all the fishing gear and much of their dignity for the flint and learning a valuable lesson about trying to one up the Probster.

While John's on Exile Island his not-so-secret identity is revealed back at camp and everyone learns that the hulking sexist is the notorious every-minority-group offending, former Atlanta Braves' pitcher.  Some hope that he's changed over the years, while the game-savvy Josh hopes that the physical threat with the checkered background will act as a lightning rod and be a valuable fall guy in the future.  On Exile Island, Jeremy has also figured out who John is but he's willing to put the past behind if he can turn John into an asset to help Val on their tribe.  He decides to share the clue to the hidden Immunity Idol with John in exchange for him promising to have Val's back.  Oh, yes, John has her back.  How else can he make sure the knife goes into the right spot.

It's Jeff Probt's favorite immunity challenge, the face off where Vytas and Aras famously replayed thirty odd years of sibling rivalry during the first Blood v. Water.  This showdown has nearly as many great moments.  After the first "which blonde is which" showdown (Jaclyn beat Kelley in a tough duel), we had our first blood showdown with Drew going up against his younger brother Alec.  Drew won round one of the relatively tame sibling battle.  Wes seemed to be the underdog as Jeremy looked bigger and stronger, but the younger firefighter pulled off a commanding win (and earned a loud cheer from teammate Val).

Natalie channeled her anger at the opposing team for dispatching her twin into a win (despite John shouting for Val to try a choke hold).  The Jon versus John battle was epic with youth winning out over size (and giving us all a moment to enjoy John's bloody nose).  Then the heartbreaking mother-daughter battle which saw Missy give her daughter a split lip which, after three failed marriages, may not be the worst thing she ever did to Baylor, but still.  But my favorite moment was the Reed versus Josh battle, where one of Reed's blue-buffed teammates could not get his name straight and cheered for Josh.  Of all the negative stereotypes about gays, "they all look alike" is one I missed.  But more likely, it's a case of Drew (or was that Alec) not being the brightest wannabe male model out there. The battle of the old guys was impressive and the farmer Dale kept his team alive and took down the firefighter Keith.  But his daughter pulled out the win in her rematch with Jaclyn and the blue tribe won their second Immunity challenge, fourth win over all.
The yellow team - Coyopa (we're seeing so much of them I actually learned their name, woo!) - comes back, dejected again, from losing.  You'd think they'd be used to it by now.  Dale is proud of his daughter, but disappointed that her victory is sending his tribe to its second tribal council of the season.  He needn't fear.  Not only did he show himself a good competitor, but the guys have a numerical advantage in the tribe and their eyes appear to be set on one of the girls.
Val talks to John in front of their fellow tribemates, rather than taking him aside.  He admits, in front of Jaclyn's earshot, that Jeremy shared the Hidden Immunity Idol clue with him.  Then, inexplicably (and even more inexplicably after Val tries in her confessional to explicate it), she tells John she has two idols, one she found on the island, one back at camp.  She praises her amazing acting skills to us, but John is so unconvinced that he goes looking for the idol at camp and, using the additional clues of seven paces north, finds it.  Parenthetically, I thought he'd overshoot the location, because I didn't imagine anyone would have used his gigantic feet/massive stride to measure and thought his seven steps would be more like twelve for an average-sized castaway, but it was right where he started digging.  Go figure.

John puts the idol around his neck and tells us that he'd like to save it until further in the game, when the athletic types like him are targeted.  So true fans are now sure he's going to be blindsided this episode, with the idol either in his pocket or hidden back at camp.  We're even more convinced when John tells us his goal now is to save Val and his plan involves putting an enormous target on her, making sure she has at least three votes at tribal.  Under what theory of the game is telling the tribe that someone has two immunity idols a way to protect them?  John tells us he has this cockamamie idea of splitting the votes between Val and Baylor because, even though he knows he has the idol, his masterplan is to flush out an idol he had to know didn't exist and in the process betray his promise to Jeremy thereby assuring if he makes the merge, he will be Jeremy's first target. But he get to share in the dumb move of the day award with Val.  He tells Val his stupid plan and at no time does she say, that would work like gangbusters if I really did have an idol. Instead, she believes she has this all figured out.  There will be a three-three split, so if she gets Jaclyn to vote with her, Baylor goes. 
At tribal, battle lines are drawn and it's the two women - Val and Jaclyn - against the guy's alliance plus Baylor.  Val actually launched the first volley, blaming Baylor for playing both sides, but Baylor counters with the fact that she's now in the majority alliance and Val and Jaclyn are the odd ones out.  The guys, including John, are convinced that Val has an idol and stick to the vote-splitting plan and are all stunned when she doesn't play it.  Val shows that she's not great at math because even with Jaclyn's vote, there is still a 4-4 tie in the first round of voting, not 5-3 as she was hoping.  John quickly jumps off the Val train and shifts his vote to Baylor, knowing that there aren't enough votes for Val to make it.  He knows he'll have hell to pay from Jeremy but that assumes that he makes it to the merge which is still a long way off.

Val's departure was not unexpected.  She came in with a numerical disadvantage on her tribe and once Nadiya was picked off, the next least physical female looked to be in trouble.  She also was hurt by being sent to Exile Island the first day and not having had the chance to bond.  But she could have helped herself by being honest with John and helping him come up with a plan to save her.  Her early exit does help Jeremy who would be a big threat to leave otherwise - physically strong, superfan, already sent to Exile.  But it puts Jaclyn clearly in the crosshairs as the last player not in with the main alliance. 

Josh (3)
Jeremy (2)
Jon (2)

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