Where's Monty Hall when you need him? Everyone was wheeling and dealing on Survivor San Juan Del Sur this week. Reed, on behalf of the Hunahpu tribe, tried to make a deal for some more rice while Dale, on Coyopa, tried to make a deal with Jon for his vote. Neither negotiation went particularly well, but they both at least gave some life to an otherwise pretty dull episode.
Jeff Probst schooled Reed on the keys to good negotiating - come from a position of strength. Jeff had what they wanted - a bag bursting with rice - they had nothing that Jeff wanted. Remember, his life is fine. So in the end, Jeff was able to completely gut the Hunahpu tribe, taking almost everything they had - their hammock, their tarp, their blankets, everything that kept them dry and comfortable (which sounds like a Pampers commercial) - in return for continued survival. As if the producers wouldn't have discretely snuck some food in for them had they just kept their mouths shut!
The Hero Arena challenge was a race with a twist, the racers are blindfolded and have to run through a maze, study a mask, grab puzzle pieces, run them to another station and reassemble the mask from memory. Reed volunteers for Hunahpu and Baylor volunteers for Coyopa. Kudos to the two for putting themselves on the line, bigger kudos to Reed for pulling out the win. The challenge designers got what they wanted when the both racers continued to bash their heads as they ran through the maze and the cameramen made sure we didn't miss one painful headshot. Reed and Baylor had different strategies - he studied the mask on each pass, Baylor ran through the maze then studied the mask once at the end. Reed's strategy was the more successful as he made only one small misstep as he put his puzzle together, but fixed it quickly and gave Hunahpu its 300th win this season.
Remember in the confessional when Jeremy said Reed was being
premature panicking about the lack of rice? That he should "suck it up"
because they might get a food reward challenge? So you knew what Jeff
was going to show in answer to the "wanna know what you're playing
for?" It would have been funnier to see a gigantic bag of rice,
identical to the one Hunahpu just traded everything worth living for,
but instead it was huge skewers of meat and
veggies. Enough food to make one forget all about any member of the grain
family. And you knew that Hunahpu would be the ones to win it.
But not everyone from Hunahpu will get to share in the feast. Reed gets a chance to make an enemy for life by sending someone from his tribe to Exile Island. He settles quickly on Julie, giving some BS reason about how this will help her show her boyfriend John how strong she is, but then Natalie volunteers. Great move and great timing. Reed has still made an enemy as Julie will not soon forget that he picked her to miss out on all that succulent meat and Natalie has now made a friend in Julie and also has a chance to connect on Exile Island with Missy's daughter Baylor. A very good strategy, unless someone realizes just how smart Natalie is and what a strategic game she's playing. It's a fine line and one she has to be very careful skating on.
Earlier in the day, Dale showed Jon the little medallion that he'd found the first day and tried to convince him that it was a hidden immunity idol. Jon seemed to believe him - yet his instinct is to immediately run and tell Missy and not use the information for his own benefit. I guess when God gives you good looks, he figures you don't need anything more than that to get through life. But in Jon's case being so dumb that you believe that little trinket is an idol AND still don't use that knowledge to switch your allegiance ends up being the right move. And that's where we get the phrase dumb luck.
Jeremy is noticing that Josh and Reed are committing the cardinal sin of Blood v. Water - rubbing your tribemates' collective noses in the fact that your loved one is still there and theirs isn't. The guys are hugging and kissing and "walking around like they own the place" when everyone else on their tribe has either seen their loved one go home, or is at least separated from them by a beach. He correctly notes that their togetherness is a threat. But since Hunahpu never loses a challenge, they needn't worry.
Remember in the confessional when Julie said this
was not a great trade because they were losing their tarp and what would
happen if it rained? So you knew that the skies soon would open up and
pour down on the hapless Hunahpu tribe so they could freeze and shiver
and regret their decision long into the cold cold night. Julie is wet and cold and miserable and it looked like we will be having the first quit of the season, which is worrying Jeremy to no end as he knows Surivor is a numbers game and right now she's a number for him. He needs her to stick around, at least until the merge, at least before his torch is snuffed. He gets his wish as the sun comes up and Julie is still there.
We don't see anything from Exile Island but I imagine that Natalie and Baylor did a better job coping by themselves with nothing to protect them against the elements than Julie did elevated off the ground and surrounded by tribemates, the heat from the barbecue, and her stylish hoodie.
The immunity challenge was a combined physical/mental challenge and Coyopa was in the lead, first to the puzzle component, thanks to some excellent bag-swinging rhythm by Jon. Jeremy could not get the timing down on how to unlock the bags of puzzle pieces and Wes had to sub in. Halfway through putting the puzzle together, Jon let being in the lead go to his head, shouting, "Who's Big Jon now?" Well, the Survivor Karma gods had one quick answer, not you! Suddenly, Josh and Reed, aka the dynamic puzzle duo, fly through their part of the challenge and quickly retake the lead as Coyopa reverts to the norm and falls apart.
Hunahpu wins! If that was the drinking game phrase, you'd never have to worry about being sober during Survivor. The tribe that never loses* go off to celebrate and Coyopa has to decide which of the remaining old guys will be voted off. Dale tries to plead his case, saying how tonight's vote will be hard because they're voting out someone's loved one - a clever ploy to refocus attention away from him, the only one who does not have a loved one still in the game. Will it work?
Not so much. Dale tries to make a deal with Jon - if he votes to keep Dale, Dale will give him the immunity idol. Considering Jon believes Dale to have a real, genuine, 100% certified, Jeff Probst approved immunity idol, it seems like a no brainer. Even Jon seems to recognize it's an easy choice. Vote out Missy, get the idol, and go into the merge stronger. But he also thinks that he'll be best positioned after the merge if he is in a strong four person alliance. Jon's head is hurting trying to sort out his two options, but he sums up how he handles the decision-making process thusly: "You can't get ung up on small details."
So after much discussion at Tribal Council, with even the howler monkeys weighing in, two things became clear. Jon is closely allied with Missy and he will do whatever she wants. Missy wants Dale gone; so Dale is gone. The only interesting thing to come from Tribal Council is the fact that Keith was smart enough not to play his real immunity idol and that Jon and Jaclyn split their votes, leaving all the power in Missy and her daughter Baylor's hands.
If the merge happens next week, there will be four pairs remaining - Josh/Reed, Missy/Baylor, Keith/Wes and Jon/Jaclyn - and four singles - Jeremy, Natalie, Julie, Alec. It takes 7 votes to win next week, so the pairs could take out the singles one by one. But maybe Keith and Wes will partner up with Jeremy (Firemen R Us), Jeremy will bring in Natalie, Julie and Alec. Unfortunately for Jeremy, that's only six. They'll have to get one of the remaining pairs (Alec will want Josh/Reed, Natalie will want Missy/Jon) to join them to vote out one of the remaining pairs.
Dale (not envisioning a 3-way vote): "I'm not dead til I see my name written four times."
Jeff (aka Captain Obvious): "There has never been a
tribe in the history of Survivor that has needed as much help as you
guys have and only fourteen days in.”
Alec (sounding like Hannibal Lecter): "I'm a meat collector."
Dale (trying to plant a subliminal message): "What happens tonight hurts more than this. I mean, we have all suffered
losses at different times, but this is a loss with somebody’s loved one
is going home”
Missy (showing basic understanding of Survivor): "Better Keith than me. And Baylor."