On this week’s Survivor, we had a classic rival’s matchup between the big power players of the season, with one of them winning immunity heads up and the other being sent to Ponderosa as the first jury member. Of course a lot happened in between to set up one of the most game-changing vote in recent Survivor history, which I will touch on below. Overall, while I was sad to see my favorite cast member of the season voted out, as a fan of the show I rejoiced in seeing the game finally being played well by some (not all) of the castmates this week, after all the questionable strategy this season.
- After Julie’s untimely quit, Josh was ruing the fact that they didn’t get to vote while they had Jon and Jaclyn clearly on board with voting Jeremy out. His pitch in the last episode was clear and concise, explaining the safety in the couple’s alliance versus going with Jeremy, who’s only playing for himself. Jon affirmed his commitment to the alliance early on in the episode, but it was still unnerving for Josh to not be able to make the move when he clearly had the chance to.
- The reward challenge was won by a team of Wes, Keith, Reed, Jeremy, and Natalie, who are admittedly an oddball group of people from different alliances who didn’t have much to discuss as they got to enjoy a nice taco bar. Wes showed some immaturity in scarfing down the tacos way too fast, which was a scene meant only to build into a later narrative about the men, and to provide a little more Keith and Wes banter that the show hasn’t got enough of yet to this point. Even before the taco bar, the group had to send someone to Exile Island, and in a questionable move, Keith volunteered Jon to go. It seemed unusual to send an ancillary alliance member to Exile, when sending Alec or Josh would have been so much safer, but then again it also sort of works to prove the same later narrative about the men as I mentioned before, a narrative which will deserve its own segment. Exile proved to work out well for Jon as he found a new post-merge hidden immunity idol
- The immunity challenge on this episode proved to be a tough one as the beleaguered castaways were forced to memorize and repeat sequences of shapes. This proved to be tough for most of the tribe, as one-by-one they all fell out of the contest until it was just a heads up between the two leaders of the opposing alliances, Josh and Jeremy. This was the kind of match-up for individual immunity fans want, two guys who have to win or face elimination, and Jeremy proved to be the victor on this occasion. While we’ve seen Jeremy be a strong leader, and a good strategist, this win solidified his position as an elite survivor player in my mind. These kinds of memory challenges are extremely difficult for the starved, sleep-deprived castaways, and for Jeremy to come through in the clutch, with his name on the chopping block was about as huge a moment as we’ve seen in any challenge this year. It was essentially heads up for supremacy of the season, and Jeremy took the crown from Josh as the favorite for the season.
- At camp, Jon rejoined Jaclyn and she began to waiver on their previously agreed upon alliance with Josh. Jaclyn felt annoyed by the behavior of the men, as they acted rude and obnoxious around camp, and generally ignored her input completely. With the Jeremy vote off the table, and Josh’s targets turned towards Baylor, Jaclyn became disinclined to work with the men who showed no effort in inviting her into their alliance. Jon was very hesitant about her plans, as he was fixed on the threat of Jeremy as a threat for the title of Sole Survivor, and rightfully so after his immunity challenge performance. With the swaying of Missy, who carefully talked Jaclyn onto her side, Jaclyn decided to vote for Josh, leaving Jon in a bad position. Either he could stick to his guns and vote with Josh to get rid of Baylor, pissing his off his girlfriend, or he could appease the only person in this game he could trust, and turn the vote to Josh. It was a no-brainer for Jon at this point, as Jaclyn and he decided to join Jeremy, Natalie, Missy, and Baylor to vote Josh out 6-5. It was a huge moment in Survivor: San Juan del Sur, as Josh was my favorite to win the season from day one. He played such a great game strategically, and socially throughout the season, but ultimately his original team’s futility left him behind in the numbers and the people who he had to align with were strategic liabilities for him, despite his efforts. It’s always sad to see a potential power player go out early, but you have to give props to Jeremy for seeing his rival, and sticking to his guns to eliminate him. I also have to give props to Jaclyn on this vote, even though Jon was the one who got an idol, this episode, she vaulted over him in strategic significance this episode. Clearly her will power won over his at the end, and she made a perfectly understandable decision to play the game with people she feels comfortable with. Will it be a mistake for Jon and Jaclyn to play with Jeremy over Josh? Probably, but they really were damned if they did, damned if they didn’t, assuming they don’t flip the tables on Jeremy soon and take the game under they’re leadership.
- The old Coyopa alliance played a bad game this week, there’s no way around it. Keith, Wes, and Alec did not even attempt to play any social game at all, and splitting Jon and Jaclyn up was a horrible idea for their alliance, as Jaclyn was clearly going to bond with the women over the men without Jon around. There’s a big social aspect to this game, and you cannot win Survivor if you piss off the people you need to vote with you. Even Josh misplayed his social game this week, demanding loyalty from Baylor. Watching at home, it was clear to me this conversation would not produce any positive results, but in the moment I can understand Josh’s frustrations that led to this conversation. He felt that he kept Baylor alive in this game to work with him, but it’s never like that on Survivor unfortunately, no matter how much the power players would like it to be. Reed made a solid pitch at tribal, but perhaps he wasn’t vocal enough in his support for Jaclyn. Clearly he is skilled in the social strategy of this game, but maybe he should have spearheaded the campaign to keep Jaclyn on board, just in case. Who knows, maybe he did off screen, but either way it doesn’t erase the fact that Reed, Wes, Keith, and Alec are leaderless and officially on the wrong side of the numbers. It’s going to be tough for them now.
Any way you look at it, this was a great episode of Survivor. We got a show down immunity challenge, a player found a hidden immunity idol, and the two odds on favorites to win the season had their first show down at Tribal, with Josh narrowly losing the numbers and getting voted out. I hope Josh gets to play again on an All-Stars season; he really is a proto-typical Survivor player, who could really have succeeded if he had more strategic players on his side. Anyway, next episode looks like chaos as Reed will try whatever he has to stay alive in the game with a jury vote already essentially locked up. It should be fun, so until next time, I’ll leave you with my final rapid-fire thoughts:
- If you go back to the first ‘Blood vs. Water’ season, you’ll note that the final three consisted of the three Survivors whose loved ones were the first to be voted out of the game, after the original Redemption Island vote of course. I don’t think that was a coincidence, and if that stands to repeat, Jeremy, Natalie, and Alec would be the final three this season. It is a mistake to keep singles in this game…Keith would be wise to use that idol soon so he can force a vote that would work in his favor. If they can sway to vote towards him, and he can use his idol, getting either Jeremy or Missy out of the game would be possible with just 4 votes…At this point, Reed has a lot of options in this game if he knows how to use them best. If he can just defer attention off of himself, he might just be able to slip through to the end…I don’t know why these people buy into Missy, she really comes across as being so fake on TV. I hope they can turn the tides on her soon, at least for the sake of my viewing experience.