Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recapping Survivor San Juan Del Sur Episode 8: Too fast, too strong

It's a balancing act.  If you aren't thinking strategy, if you aren't playing the game from minute one, you can make some serious missteps right off the bat.  It is never too early to remind yourself that Survivor is a game built on building alliances, planning for the future and positioning yourself for a deep run.  But you can also play too hard, too early and make yourself an easy target.  Val Collins learned that lesson episode two when she thought she was being strategic and inventive telling her tribe mate Jon Misch that she had not one but two immunity idols.  She overplayed her hand and ended up the second boot.  It took 21 days, but Josh Canfield learned that lesson as well.  As he told us in his post-torch snuffing confessional, "I just revealed a little too much of who I was out here and that sent me packing."

The tribe gathering for the reward challenge
Last week, Jeff Probst said that Julie McGee's decision to quit the game may have resulted in a "million dollar break" for someone.  Whether or not that check will be written to Jeremy Collins, we know that Josh was not the beneficiary of that rash decision.  He was at the top of an alliance that was ready to vote out his biggest threat, Jeremy, and solidify his position as the one to beat.  As Drew might have said, basically, Josh was a bad ass.  So what went so horribly wrong?

Josh had an early, solid alliance with Baylor Payne.  Probably always on the lookout for a guy she can trust (thanks to inevitable daddy and stepdaddy issues), Baylor had joined with Josh and agreed to vote out one of the women (Nadiya) and stand with the guy alliance. So how did Josh repay her?  He blindsided Baylor by putting her name down for no apparent reason.  Three days into the game.  He tried to justify it by telling her it was to remove suspicion that the two were working together. Well, it worked brilliantly because it certainly removed that suspicion -- from Baylor's mind.

The next time they went to tribal council, Josh knew that his ally Baylor was the target and switched his vote to Val to guarantee a tie vote, which ultimately led to Val being the next out and not Baylor.  But again, Josh failed to share his strategy with Baylor and she was left feeling alone in their two-person alliance.  Whenever they were together, Josh pushed their deal, but Baylor could never trust him.

Let's assume that Josh saw Tony's game in Survivor Caramoan and he thought that these wonky votes would not hurt him.  What Josh forgot was that by the time Tony was casting crazy, unexpected votes and having to explain himself afterwards, they were already weeks into the game. He had already built up trust with these people, had already trained them to believe him, so when he did something crazy, he could come back to them, tell them he did it for their own good, and they believed him.

Josh never had that level of trust with Baylor.  More importantly, because this season is a Blood v. Water season, he was also hurt by everyone knowing that his one true alliance was with his boyfriend Reed.

Baylor and Missy talking strategy
But let's be fair to Josh, who otherwise played a great game and was so much fun to watch.  He may have lost Baylor's trust and may not have been able to get her vote with the handy, "you owe me" but Baylor wasn't the reason he was the first person sent to hang out at the Ponderosa.  That honor goes to Jaclyn.  She and Jon were all ready to side with Josh and Reed, Keith and Wes and Alec to vote off Jeremy, swayed by Reed's statement that whoever ends up in the final tribal council against the affable fireman with two kids does not stand a chance.

The anti-Jeremy alliance was solid.  But give people three extra days to contemplate anything - especially food and sleep deprived people who are trying to win $1 million - and they will second and third guess themselves.  That's what happened to Jon and Jaclyn.  He was a bit on the fence about his decision to scuttle his alliance with Jeremy (remember when Jon vowed to protect Val?  Yeah, me neither) but it was Jaclyn who had a revelation.  She did not like the boorish frat trifecta of Alec, Wes and Keith and she did not like not being included in any strategy discussions when Jon was away from camp.

The more Jaclyn thought of it, why would she and Jon want to go up against all these guys now that individual immunity is so important?  Josh and Reed have balance and strength, Alec and Wes are pretty fit (Wes is a fireman, too) and even Keith has beasted some competitions. Wouldn't it be better to go to the end with Jeremy (who went out FIRST in the first solo immunity challenge last week), Natalie, Baylor and Missy??  And, though this didn't seem to enter into her consciousness, wouldn't it be better to break up the other pairs and be the last one standing?  And Jaclyn liked Baylor, preferred to hang out and talk to her than be ignored or disrespected by he guys.  It was an easy decision in the end.

I was sad to see Josh go.  He loved the game and came to play, but sometimes it's good to remind ourselves that playing and winning is not as easy as some people - *cough* Tony *cough* - make it look!

Josh gives his last Survivor confessional

Other highlights/lowlights:
For the reward challenge, the tribe was split in two groups, the winning group going to a taco (and beer and margarita) bar, the loser dining on snails.  Not escargot.  Snails.  As Reed noted, the split was not along party lines, so his winning team consisted of his allies, Wes and Keith, along with his nemeses Jeremy and Natalie.  The split left neither group in a position to strategize but those who feasted barely noticed, being distracted by watching Wes stuff as much into his mouth as he could before his body alerted him he'd gone too far.

Keith has absolutely no social skills or self-awareness.  It's one thing to complain about Baylor being lazy and privileged, it's another thing to do it in front of the self-described mama bear Missy.  And it's another thing on top of that to them blame Missy for stepping in and doing what he thinks Baylor should be doing around camp.  So, let's see, he said you're daughter's lazy and you're an enabler.  How far does he plan on making it in the game?

Keith is not a great liar.  He tried at the taco fiesta to sell the story that Julie had been his target and that he had no idea what he would have done had they gone to tribal after she quit. Jeremy is not buying one moment of that story and knows now that Keith is firmly with the other alliance.

Wes is young.  He knows not to wolf down large quantities of Mexican food (heck any food) and alcohol especially after not eating much for three weeks.  So what does he do?  Ask for double meat, double cheese for double the pain.  He will be paying for this mistake as well anyone in ear/nose shot of him.

Natalie should get a legal separation from Nadiya.  Together, they are annoying as hell.  Alone, Natalie is one of the most entertaining Survivors ever.

If you had trouble playing along with that memory test/immunity challenge sitting on your couch, after sleeping in your comfy bed last night and having a nice, balanced meal, imagine trying to remember all that in their condition.  Very impressed with Jeremy.

Jeremy walks a fine line between respectful and misogynistic (I bet Val gave him a good talking to about treating women differently, albeit with chivalry), Keith/Alec/Wes have obliterated the line and are some rude, crude, women haters.  Thank goodness Jaclyn woke up to the arrogance and rudeness of those guys. Unfortunately, instead of targeting one of those three sexist pigs, we lost Josh.  When he looks back on his game, maybe Josh will think twice about aligning with people like that.

Natalie didn't say much, but she made every word count.  She pointed out at tribal how the guys don't include Jaclyn in their decisions and she mentioned how nice it would be to get the old Hunahpu group back together (meaning, Jon come back!).  It was a nice play to get the power couple.

Wes: "I wish I had the will power to control myself"
Wes: "It was all fun and games until I felt like crap."
Keith: "As long as you're still burping I guess you're okay."
Keith: "Wes is a good kid. He ain't been to jail yet."

Missy (3)
Jon (2)
Jeremy (4)
Josh (3)
Baylor (3)
Jaclyn (3)

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