The third episode of Survivor: San Juan Del Sur gave us the first major blindside of the season, showed us the continued unraveling of the Coyopa tribe, and gave us a rather predictable ending to one castaway’s journey on the show. This season continues to be an entertaining one, largely because the game play and strategy from many key figures are so erratic, and while it may not be the best game of Survivor so far, it has made for some great television, in my opinion. Here are some of my thoughts on the episode that was.
- Once again, Josh was responsible for the voting confusion at Tribal, as we found out that he flipped the script on his alliance forcing the tie in hopes to get Val’s make believe idol flushed out. I’ve gone on record saying I think Josh is capable of winning this game, but if he’s going to have any chance at doing that, he’s really going to have to stop going rogue with these votes. His vote change was smarter this time than his previous attempt, but at the same time, staying with one’s word is essential in this game in order to gain the trust of others, and people are going to target Josh if they find him to be untrustworthy going forward. With that being said though, there’s also something to be said about Josh seemingly coming out of these situations unscathed. Even John had to admit Josh made the right play, and later in the episode Baylor had no issue going back to him for strategy, even when it was clear she shouldn’t be able to trust any of the guys to any real extent. I’m not changing my opinion on Josh, I think he has the tools to win this game, and it shows, but he has to start playing a tighter game if he wants to last to day 39. If his tribe wasn’t as much of a trainwreck as it is, he would be in a bad place, but with the people he has to work with, he has a chance to go deep in this season, and I’d like to see it.
- The Hunahpu tribe is becoming irritating to watch, mostly because of their opinions and judging of the members of Coyopa. I understand that Jeremy is upset over John’s betrayal of Val, I think it is understandable and expected, but for him and Natalie to basically demand the other tribe to turn the tables on Rocker based on their own personal opinions and grudges is ridiculous. The one bad thing about a ‘blood vs. water’ season is that peoples’ emotions get in the way of rational game play. These people need to worry about their own tribe, and shut their mouths at the challenges, because the cross-talking is irritating and takes away from the game, in my opinion. On top of this, it’s plainly obvious to see some of their tribe members just aren’t really doing much of anything for their tribe. Seeing the issues the tribe had with Drew leads me to believe I was right to be skeptical about him and his brother as contestants. Drew might not have much of a chance in this season if he can’t be willing to play his part at camp. Perhaps the tribe likes Missy a bit more than Drew, but it appears as if the main purpose she plays around camp is as the tribe mom. It’s a shame this tribe keeps winning, I would like them to have to go through the drama of deciding who to vote out. Maybe it would make some of them seem more interesting, and hopefully it would cut some of the fat too.
- The Keith vs. Wes duel was fairly predictable. I’ll take the 23 year old over the 53 year old every time in an athletic competition. What I did not expect, however, was the emotional moment between the two of them. It was a nice genuine, spontaneous reaction from Keith, as he was quite proud of his son for holding his own in the game. I also did not expect that Keith and Josh would seem so chummy at Exile Island. That scene has to be foreshadowing, I’ve seen too many seasons of this show to think otherwise. I truly believe the emphasis on the two of them, coming from different worlds and getting along nicely, wasn’t just a throwaway scene. When it comes to the merge, I think Hunahpu could fracture and Keith would be a great ally for Josh, and his son Wes of course.
- After another tough loss, Coyopa was put in the difficult position of whether or not to stick with the all-guys alliance and vote out Baylor, or try a new plan and make a big move. It’s clear that something just isn’t working for this tribe, as they’ve lost every immunity challenge so far, and have looked scatter-brained in terms of how to play, how to vote, and how to function as a tribe. The prevailing theory within the tribe was to stick with the five guys’ alliance, but once again, Josh had his own rogue plans. From his perspective, Rocker promising Jeremy he would protect Val was crossing alliance lines, and he’s right to feel like that. John shouldn’t have been so forthright about attempting a cross-tribe alliance, even if it was as simple as the one they had worked out. With Baylor already putting the thought in Wes and Alec’s heads, Josh easily had the votes needed to swing the vote to blindside Rocker before he could use his idol. While I’m definitely going to miss seeing John Rocker play another day on Survivor, he really deserved to go. He was not really a great Survivor player at the end of the day, and subpar players get voted out. The entertainment value was there, but he played a foolish game, mouthing off, switching votes and alliances, and making promises he couldn’t keep. I think Josh and Baylor played the vote really well, and have both gained a little power in the tribe after getting rid of John. Those two could be a solid team going forward, if they find a way to trust each other. The others…well, they’re all looking like followers at this point. But, it’s early and there’s plenty more game to be played.
So this episode marked the premature end to John Rocker’s Survivor career, the beginning of Josh’s run as a potential power player, the beginning of my general disliking of the Hunahpu tribe, and the continuance of Coyopa’s immunity losing streak, among many other interesting things. I’m really pulling for Coyopa to get it together as a tribe without John and win an immunity challenge next episode, but I’m not holding my breath either. Until next time, I’ll finish up here with a few rapid-fire final thoughts:
- Quote of the episode goes to Baylor for summing up the strategic inadequacy of her teammates “…no one’s figuring out what an alliance actually means and going with it.” Well said Baylor, well said…In their pre-show interview, Jon and Jaclyn seemed like they would be players to watch on this show, but so far they really haven’t been anything special. I just can’t see either of these two going far in the game. It really goes to show that great Survivor players don’t really have a prototype or mold, which is one of many reasons to love the game…I also appreciated John Rocker’s parting words “That was well played.” It was well played, just not by him. I’m sure Jeff Probst was feeling perfectly alright snuffing his torch…Don’t those rock beds at Exile Island seem like the height of comfort? Being a contestant on Survivor seems quite brutal on the body in so many ways…I’m not sure what Julie expected from her tribe in terms of their reactions to John, but now that he’s gone, I hope she can find a way to take some serious control over her destiny in this game (read that as stick it to Jeremy and/or Natalie). There’s no more reason for her to worry about her place in this game because of him, it’s now time for her to find a way to win…For whatever reason, I really liked Dale cheering on his team so enthusiastically at the immunity challenge. He’s a solid back of the alliance guy, and in general seems like a good guy. I doubt he can win the game, but I got to root for him anyway.