Friday, December 12, 2014

Recapping Survivor San Juan Del Sur, Episode 12: Revenge is a dish best served ice cold

Cat while canary learns it's about to be eaten
Do not get on Natalie's bad side.  That girl can hold a grudge as long as she can hold a vase, which turns out to be just long enough to get what she has wanted for a long, long time.  Her desire for karmic payback, retribution, revenge can give her otherworldly powers, including the ability to defy the elements and get them to bend in her direction.  Jon lost that challenge thanks to a gust of wind which Natalie seemingly summoned out of nowhere to strike only his vase, leaving hers untouched.  Meanwhile, Natalie stood stone-like, immutable -- despite having just been on Exile Island for two days with almost no food and certainly no comfort -- and willed herself to win a strength and balance challenge against the perfect physical specimen that is Jon Misch.

Oh, Drew, you had it so wrong.  Natalie Anderson is this season's bad ass.

But not only does she posses powers over her physical environment, Natalie also can also exercise mind control, convincing those around her of whatever narrative she chooses.  After Jeremy's blindside, she told us that she was furious and would avenge him, but Jaclyn and Jon had absolutely no idea she was upset or held any ill will towards them.  After Jon won immunity, ruining her chance to vote him out last time, she hugged him and congratulated him and he had absolutely no idea she was still plotting his demise.  And after she switched her vote, saving Keith, she convinced Jon and Jaclyn that it was a simple mistake, and they had absolutely no idea that it was all part of her devious plan.

Or maybe that isn't a superpower so much as recognizing how dumb and gullible Jon is and playing right into it.  Either way, it's a winning strategy.  Natalie, both figuratively and for one night literally, laid down with the enemy and they had no clue she was there, plotting their demise.  Even after potentially tipping her hand at Tribal Council by voting for Alec, Natalie was still able to deflect all negative attention and bury whatever red flags were raised by feigning stupidity and cluelessness.  Basically, she pretended she was Jon.  And he fell for it.

With everything smoothed over from the night before, it was time for the reward challenge.  I watched a "behind the scenes" video on and saw that the reward challenge was designed by a young fan of the show, Austin, as his "Make a Wish."  He even got to go on location to see his challenge be designed.  It was very cool and you can check it out here.   I don't know if part of his wish was to hobble Missy, but that was what ended up happening, as she came down hard on her ankle during the teeter-totter part of the challenge.

But despite her injury, and her team being behind throughout the challenge, she, Jon and Keith were able to solve the puzzle part of the challenge the fastest and won the spa treatment package.  Jaclyn, proving herself to be a good loser and concerned about Jon's well being, could not let Jon enjoy the victory for a single second.  As Jon was celebrating with his team, and talking about how a trip to the spa would help Missy (the 47-year-old mom who just severely injured herself) feel better, Jaclyn started the eye rolling.  She actually said that him being happy was pissing her off.  That is the sign of true love, when your happiness irritates your significant other.

So, following the tradition of this season, of course Jon gave up his reward, this time to Baylor, so that she and her mom could have the experience of a lifetime.  Jon, have you ever heard the expression "those who ignore the past are condemned to repeat it?" You may not have before this, but you probably will a lot in the years to come.  I'm kidding.  I'm sure that giving up your reward will not lead to your being blindsided by the very person you just gifted.  I mean, that's what happened to Jeremy, but what are the chances that would happen again?  That's just silly.

In fact, Jon was so pleased with his decision to give up his reward, he told us in his confessional that giving up the trip to the spa to Baylor would only solidify their alliance and would improve his case to the jury at the finale.  Jon is great at thinking ahead.  He has his whole speech planned out on why he should win.  I see nothing standing in his way!

Meanwhile, Missy's ankle is swelling up bigger than Drew Christy's ego and Keith is enjoying his first spa day (which he poetically describes as knocking the funk off of him), dining on spa food (I'm going to whatever spa thinks brownies are healthy!) and getting his first massage and other "extra curricular stuff."  He worries a little what the guys at the fire station back in Louisiana will think about all that pampering, but I think he doesn't have to worry about his macho card being revoked.  I'm sure spitting in every episode keeps you in good "bro" status.

Back at camp, Jon and Jaclyn are still trying to make sense of Natalie's wonky vote for Alec.  Jaclyn considers, then dismisses, the thought that it was calculated, while Jon is 1,000% sure that Natalie made a mistake and he's going to be able to use it against her when they plead their case in front of the jury at the finals.  This is the dichotomy of their relationship.  Jaclyn questions, Jaclyn has her suspicions raised, Jaclyn thinks, then Jon comes in and tells her everything is great and not to worry her pretty little head.  I hope, in their future together, Jon decides to listen to Jaclyn more and she trusts in his blind loyalty and gullibility less.  Otherwise, they'll be giving all their money over to some Nigerian prince they meet online.

We see Natalie at Exile Island which usually means someone 's about to find the hidden immunity idol, but in this case it was for us to see the vulnerable side of Natalie and understand that behind her tough girl exterior is someone who really misses her twin and is exhausted and worn out but so close to her goal.  Without anyone around, she lets the emotions get to her, but when she's back on the island, she's all business.

Missy's ankle is now so big it's starting to have its own gravitational pull, so Jeff brings in medical which means a cute guy with an even cuter Australian accent will check her out.  Long story short, if this were early in the season, she'd be medivac'd out of there immediately.  But since there are so few days left, it's Missy's decision if she wants to quit and get her ankle x-rayed or stick it out.  She has zero interest in pulling a Julie and they agree to immobilize her ankle and let her stay in the game (even if she's out of the next challenge that requires, among other skills, the ability to say upright on two feet).

Jon now has a one in five chance of winning this immunity challenge and again foiling Natalie's plan. This quickly becomes a one in two chance when the others drop out of the challenge.  But while he stares down the vase, defying it to move, a sudden gust of wind (I swear, it was so strong I could hear it) blows his vase off and gives Natalie the win.  Natalie is so excited, she runs over and hugs Jeff.  In her head she's thinking, this is it.  I can finally get rid of Jon.  But she acts like this is great for the five-person alliance, that it's Keith who's going next and all is going according to plan.

I wonder if Natalie plays poker. I hope for their financial stake that Jon and Jaclyn don't.

Jon and Jaclyn barely consider that his not winning immunity could spell trouble, and are pretty quickly convinced that Keith is the target.  Jaclyn has a fleeting concern, what if Jon is the target?  But Jon cannot picture a scenario where his alliance turns on him.  At first, you think his trust is well-founded as Missy immediately balks when Baylor asks her to take part in a J/J blindside.  But then you remember this is Blood v. Water and what wins out in that battle?

Missy hobbling off to Tribal Council

Eventually, Missy makes it to Tribal Council and from the start it looks like Keith may sink Natalie's ship as he did Reed's.  Keith immediately, before Jeff even poses a question, starts talking about his failed attempts to pierce the five person alliance and how someone should use him to make a move.  Jon pipes up that they are solid and that he would be a hypocrite if he were to turn on his allies (cut to the jury rolling their collective eyes at this).

Natalie does a great job pretending to be worried about being the odd girl out in her alliance and happy to have immunity to keep her safe and Jon buries himself with his overconfidence and his thoughts of the endgame.  Missy does a great job by NOT pulling a Keith and crack or show signs that she might be planning something and the whole Tribal Council only reinforces Jon's belief in his safety.  And even Keith does a great job by not putting his recently pedicured foot in his mouth (a la Stick to the plan).  With no suspicions raised, Jon does not play his idol.

Baylor and Natalie orchestrate a 2-2-2 three-way tie (in case Jon wised up...hey, no laughing).  Jon didn't play his idol and on revote it was Mr. America, Mr. Prom King, aka Mr. Clueless who was the next voted out...once he went back for his torch so that Jeff could fully snuff it.

"No hard feelings, guys.  Nice move."  I'll give it to Jon, he perfected the classy exit.  He was not a hypocrite and he was not a whiner.  But he was also way too trusting, gullible, unclear on the rules of Survivor.  Yes, he orchestrated a blindside on Jeremy, taking one of the best players out of the game, but in the end he did not consider himself vulnerable and let his guard down.  You never want to be voted out holding an idol, you especially don't want to be voted out by someone who was like a mom to you.  But that's what happens when you forget that she was someone else's real life mom.

Natalie is in great shape.  She's atop the food chain, with a strong alliance with Baylor and with a newly-loyal fan in Keith.  She has the only immunity idol still in play.  And she's good at challenges.   I certainly don't want to tempt the Survivor Gods by saying it looks good for this twinnie, but I can say with assurance that we'll have our answer next week!

Jaclyn:  I'm so confused. Did Alec vote for himself?

Baylor: If they [Jon and Jaclyn] were smart, they'd know Natalie knew exactly what she was doing.

Keith (talking about Jon and Jaclyn): You mean Mr. Prom King and Miss Homecoming Queen?

Jon (talking about Missy):  A spa day is going to completely rejuvenate her. She's going to feel as young as she looks.
Jaclyn: Jon, you're annoying right now.

Jon: I don't see Nat flipping.

Jon:  God's got a plan. ...  I've got to accept it.

Jaclyn:  Could I go home tonight?  Could Jon go home tonight?  You never know 100%.

Jaclyn: I don't think Jon or I are going anywhere.

Jon: I think about that final speech quite a bit.

Missy:  I'm pretty loyal to a fault.

Natalie (3)
Baylor (3)
Jon (5)
Keith (3)
Missy (2)

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