Monday, December 8, 2014

Recapping Survivor San Juan Del Sur, Episode 11, Pt. 1: Couple's therapy replaces strategy

In retrospect, nothing happened in Wednesday's two-hour episode that we couldn't have predicted the week before.  It's a testament to the hardworking producers over at the venerable reality show that they could hold our attention for what ended up being totally expected.

After the failed coup at the previous Tribal Council - thanks to Keith's now famous "let's stick to the plan" - Jon was still there and in the majority alliance.  On one side there was Reed, Alec and Keith, the other Jon/Jaclyn, Missy/Baylor and Natalie.  Jon was sitting pretty.  The only way Reed, Alec or Keith weren't going next was if Baylor and Natalie decided to make a big play and switch sides.  But Jon couldn't imagine that happening.  Baylor was not about to go against her mom and her mom is Team Jon all the way.  And Natalie has been loyal since day one.  Jon had no clue that she was still stewing over the Jeremy blindside and just waiting for the chance to deliver Jon his karmic payback.

Most of the episode concerned a rift in the relationship between Jon and Jaclyn, or why you shouldn't spend 24/7 with your loved one under any circumstances.  They were both right, both wrong, in their various dust-ups.   Let's do a little couple's therapy and try to see this dispute from both sides, as rational, clear-minded people.

Jon made a good point that giving credit to others for clever moves was not a good strategy when thinking about getting the jury's vote.  Jaclyn made a good point that Jon would be dining at the Ponderosa had Natalie not saved his butt at tribal.  Jon made a good point that they were in a solid position in their alliance and nothing would be gained by allying with the boys against Missy and Baylor.  Jaclyn made a good point that Natalie was closer to Missy and Baylor and they're at the bottom of the five-person alliance. Jon made a good point that after two days alone he wanted a hug and not to immediately be hit with Jaclyn's thoughts on strategy.  Jaclyn made a good point that they're playing Survivor and all they should be thinking about is strategy. Now that I look at it, neither of them have a good point.  Jaclyn is a spoiled brat (note to Reed, you missed the mark on that one) who must be tended to constantly and Jon is a clueless lug who needs to learn how to talk to his girlfriend respectfully.

Back to Survivor.  I'm a Survivor purist.  I don't like Jeff making deals for food or flint, I don't like him being easy on people who quit.  Basically, Jeff's gone soft. The new, touchy feely Jeff took the teeth out of an old favorite challenge.  The pecking order reward challenge used to be a great way for people to learn where they stand in the tribe and in their own alliance.  Instead, this time the challenge was as exciting as watching rice cook.  Natalie, following up on her great gameplay the last few days, looked to Jon for advice on "what are we doing" rather than risk showing her cards.  She adeptly solidified the us versus them and confirmed to Jon her allegiance to him.  Meanwhile, in confessionals we know that she feels nothing but blind rage at Jon for his blindsiding Jeremy.  Perhaps if the challenge had played out to the end she would have showed her cards, going after Jon or Jaclyn. Instead, she was able to continue playing the devoted ally.

Thus, the majority alliance, predictably and in unison, targeted Reed, then Alec, then Keith but when it was finally going to get interesting, when the five will have to show who's at the bottom of the totem pole, Jeff gave them an out.  Since it's obvious they're working together, who do they want to win, he asked.  Rather than letting them knock out each other in order from least important to most which is precisely what this challenge is designed for, they all get to agree to give Missy the win.  They also agree on who's going to Exile Island.  No blood on anyone's hands, no tipping their hands.  A waste of a good challenge.

The only intriguing moment came from Missy having to make a "tough" decision - basically, does she want to take Natalie or Jaclyn on the reward and who should go to Exile Island.  If Natalie were thinking, she would not have wanted Missy to send Jon to Exile Island.  Her plan, in case she didn't mention in enough, is to avenge Jeremy by blindsiding Jon.  So why let Missy send Jon where he can find the hidden immunity idol?  Also, since Natalie's plans hinge on getting Reed, Alec and Keith to go along with her plan, why let them spend time alone with Jaclyn?  None of this made any sense.

Immediately, Jaclyn is upset with Missy's decision.  Jon "sacrificed" by agreeing to go to Exile (her mischaracterization of a move that probably guaranteed him the million dollars) and she's stuck with the butt end of the deal, as she refers to the prospect of spending the afternoon with the three remaining guys.  The guys, especially Reed, swoop in and try to take advantage of the situation to get Jaclyn to question her allegiance to the Missy/Baylor/Natalie alliance.  Jaclyn eats it up, loving how she and Jon some how always end up in the middle (not realizing there's nothing magical about it - they choose to be wishy-washy so they're always in the middle).  She can't wait for Jon to come back from Exile so she can tell him her epiphany that they're at the bottom of the five-person alliance.   

It was, unfortunately, very expected how this would all play out, from the minute Missy chose Natalie.  Predictably, Jon finds the idol on Exile.  Predictably, Reed and Alec convince Jaclyn that she should ally with them, that Natalie and Missy/Baylor have a final three deal that doesn't include Jaclyn/Jon (which is true, but seems like something a desperate person would say to save themselves). Predictably, Jaclyn gets paranoid about her alliance and wants to be the swing vote and switch things up for the fiftieth time.  

But when Jon comes back from Exile, he doesn't want to listen to her concerns.  He's tired, hungry, dirty, and just wants a little love and attention from his woman.  Rather than discussing strategy, they have a huge blow up, she flirts with Alec, he goes off to talk with Missy, and somewhere Reed is wondering how his game came down to one errant sentence by an old guy who spits more that a camel using chewing tobacco.  Reed scrambles, making his best pitch to Jon.  In the wink of Jon's eye, it looks like perhaps Reed is going to be able to make this happen.  But, unfortunately, the usually clueless Jon even sees through Reed's desperate attempt.  Or, more likely, he's too exhausted from his fight with Jaclyn to do anything other than the easy vote.

Reed, prophetically, says he's worried that the silence between Jaclyn and Jon will mean they won't be able to consider his offer to them and that he may end up eliminated because the two whose votes he needs won't talk to each other.

In the end, it's Reed - the biggest challenge threat and only one of the three guys who can spell strategy - whose torch is snuffed. 

Sad to see Reed go, especially as he was within minutes of flipping everything the last tribal council. If you ever meet him, do not tell him to just stick to the plan. That line will probably haunt him for a long time to come.  

Reed: There's nothing worse than angry girls.

Jon: Best blindside sniff out ever.

Jaclyn: Who's the jury, what are you talking about?

Reed (after Jeff tells him he has no chance at the horseback riding reward): That's okay, my family has twelve.  

Reed: I'm a people person, Baylor.  You're a brat.

Alec:  It's like cream cheese.  You can't hurt many things by putting cream cheese on it.

Reed:  My life hinges on those two talking to each other.

Alec (2)
Natalie (5)
Jon (4)
Jaclyn (6)
Missy (2)
Baylor (2)
Reed (4)

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