Recap: ‘Survivor: San Juan Del Sur’ – ‘Let’s Make a Move’

12.10.14 3 years ago


Pre-credit sequence. When we left things, Jon was confused. Upon returning to camp? Jaclyn is confused, going so far as to suggest that Alec might have voted for himself. Amidst this disarray, Natalie has decided that she's going to pretend that she blew the communication and thought she was part of the block voting Alec, not part of the Keith block. Baylor is impressed with Natalie's acting skills and Jon has accepted Natalie's line about not being talked to enough. The worry, at least for Jon, is that Keith could win Immunities and screw things up. The next morning, Natalie makes it clear to Keith that she saved him and he needs to stick with her and with Missy and Baylor. The plan is to target Jon. Again. 

The quality of mercy is not sprained. Reward time. It's a very elaborate set-up, perhaps an apology for last week's lame challenges. They're divided into two teams, latched together and then they have to go through a big obstacle course, potentially several times, filling a bucket with water, followed by a puzzle. Want to know what they're playing for? A “Survivor”-style spa, including a shower and a meal of steak and brownies. It's Keith, Missy and Jon against Natalie, Baylor and Jaclyn. Natalie's team gets through to the first puzzle, as Missy hurts her ankle and struggles. It's a huge advantage for Natalie's team, but they're also bickering, while Jon's squad is more unified. It's close, but Jon's team comes from behind and they win. Missy insists her ankle is no big deal. “She's gonna feel as young as she looks,” Jon says of Missy. “Jon, you're annoying right now,” Jaclyn says, taking exception to her boo's happiness. But Jon's not keeping the Reward. He gives it to Baylor to have a memorable time with her mother. That's just plain silly. Why are so many people giving away Rewards this season? Stupid Blood vs Water. Natalie volunteers to go to Exile by herself and the winners head to Reward with Baylor giving her mom a piggy-back. This leaves Jon and Jaclyn alone at camp for cuddling. 

It's bacon! The Reward winners aren't going to a real spa. It's just a couple tents on the beach, plus three servants and a lot of food. Baylor is incredulous, but determined to still target Jon. Missy is not well. Her ankle is swelling and Keith can't diagnose what's happening with her. After initial scoffing, Keith pronounces “spa days” and “spa food” to be man-things because he finds bacon in a wrap. That sounds fair to me. Having established his masculinity is and will remain intact, Keith enjoys washing off his 30-day funk, plus a lengthy massage. He pronounces himself rejuvenated and Baylor pronounces Keith as “cool.”

I think we're alone now. Jon and Jaclyn, on their own, agree that they told Natalie “Keith” and she blew it, which they can use against her at the Jury. Jaclyn at least throws out the possibility that Natalie might have aligned with Keith and did it on purpose, but Jon doesn't believe. “Keith is freakishly good at these challenges,” Jaclyn says, even though Keith has really only won two Immunities. Off on Exile, Natalie is emotional. She's missing Nadiya and the thought of doing this without her makes her cry. Awww. Apparently she realizes quickly that there's no Immunity Idol out there? Because we don't see any effort to find it.

Missy Misery. Missy hobbles to the Immunity Challenge using a can and relying on Keith and Jon. Baylor immediately hands Natalie a bowl of rice when she returns, which I've never seen before. Natalie is wiped out, but she's probably in better shape than Baylor, who cries and refuses to quit. Probst insists on bringing medical in before the challenge. “Wow. It's huge,” Probst says, looking at Missy's ankle, presumably. The doc spends a while on Missy's ankle and suggests a sprain at the least, but possibly a fracture. But in order to find out, they'd have to pull Missy from the game. So… Commercial!

Gone with the wind. Jeff Probst asks Ben the Doctor if Missy needs to be pulled out of the game and, remarkably, Ben, normally King Killjoy, says that she can stay in if they immobilize her foot. And Missy decides that she'll sit this challenge out and take each day one day at a time from there. “She never gives up and so we're gonna keep fighting and I'll carry her to the finish line if I have to,” Baylor cries. Back to immunity. They have to hold onto a handle, while their feet balance on a teeter-totter. A vase is balanced on the teeter-totter. If they wobble, the vase crashes. Jaclyn goes out fast, followed by Baylor. “Your feet is numb. The wind is blowing,” says omniscient narrator Jeff. The wind sends Keith's vase toppling, leaving Natalie and Jon standing. The wind blows Jon's vase to the ground and Natalie wins Immunity. Jon's OK with Natalie winning, saying this makes up for her screwing up the last vote. Tee-hee. Funny hubristic Jon.

Jon Snowed. Missy is in a full foot wrap. Jon thinks this was God's plan. Natalie proposes a split with Jon and Jaclyn, followed by a vote against Jon if he doesn't use his Immunity. Natalie instructs Keith to act resigned, which isn't so simple since he screwed up the previous “Stick with the plan” vote. Jaclyn is worried about Jon being blindsided. Jon isn't worried. The X-factor, of course, is convincing Missy to target her surrogate son. Missy is worried she's never going to get votes at a Jury if she violates her promise to Jon. “I'm not gonna break that loyalty,” Missy tells a perplexed Baylor, who thinks that once again Missy is putting the man before herself. Eventually, Missy at least acknowledges that Baylor has a point, but she wanted to play the game the right way. 

Tribal council. Keith goes hammy with his disappointment about his pending demise. It's not all that believable, Jon and Jaclyn, not noticing the poor performance, are feeling good about the five.  “I don't think Jon and I are going anywhere,” Jaclyn says, prompting eye-rolls all around. Jon has been thinking about his Finals speech and he advocates in favor of trust and loyalty. “If you wanted to make a big move, this would be a great night to do it,” Probst instructs a sluggish Missy. “I'm pretty loyal to a fault, just in life,” Missy says.

The vote. [We have a lot of time left here, don't we? A re-vote amount of time?] We see no votes and nobody plays an Idol. Probst tallies: Keith. Jaclyn. Keith. Jaclyn. [Jon and Jaclyn are confused.] Jon. Jon! The Jury loves it. 

Revote. Only Baylor, Missy and Natalie can vote. And suddenly Alec is awake. Probst tallies and you can tell Jon knows what's up. Jon. JON. Natalie is pleased with herself. “No hard feelings guys,” Jon says. “Survivor is a tricky game. It can lull you into believing things that aren't real, like trust,” Probst says. Oh. “Missy and Natalie really did a good job of gaining my trust,” Jon says. He wishes he'd played his Idol. As he would.

Bottom Line, Part I. Last week, I didn't understand Natalie's vote because I made the false assumption that Jon and Jaclyn would be able to figure out what happened and attempt to retaliate. I didn't count on Jon being so easily duped, nor on Jaclyn being so unable to clearly work out the plan against her man and convince Jon about it. They never would have been able to target Natalie, both because she was temporarily insulated with Keith, but also because Natalie won Immunity. But at least Jon would have known to play his Idol. But if Jon had played his Idol, presumably Jaclyn would have gone home and knowing Jon, he would have willingly sacrificed himself for Miss Michigan anyway. 

Bottom Line, Part II. Is there a rule that you can't volunteer to have your torched snuffed on somebody else's behalf? It would never ever come up in a regular game of “Survivor,” so who would ever know if the rule existed? Like if Jaclyn had been voted out this week, could Jon have said, “Jeff, please snuff my torch instead”? I'd assume there has to be a rule against it, especially for this circumstance, because it would allow for Jury stacking. Like Josh was telling me that he and Reed had discussed if it might be better for one of them to go out at Top 4 if it came to that, rather than having both of them go to Top 3, so that whichever one went home could try to sway the vote from Ponderosa. So if you're Jon, could you straight-up sacrifice yourself for your girlfriend in the hopes of going and lobbying on Jaclyn's behalf? Yes, it would be a crazy thing to do. But is anybody all that sure on Jon's common sense? I'm just thinking out loud, especially since intentionally or not, that's where we are anyway. Jaclyn's still in the game. Jon's on the Jury.

Bottom Line, Part III. Did Missy have anything working in her favor other than sympathy and loyalty? And now she doesn't have the “loyalty” card anymore, does she? Can you see any circumstance in which she wins? She's going to effectively be useless down the homestretch with her ankle, taking the place of somebody who might have played hard to the end. Could you take Missy to the end and say, “Meh. Whatever. Her.”? Baylor can't win, can she? I mean, she gets a lot of credit for making her mother cave tonight, but otherwise? Not much. So are we looking at Jaclyn, Natalie and Keith as the people who can most plausibly win? Surely Natalie wins if it's that trio, right? Even if Wes votes for his dad and Jon votes for Jaclyn? Again, just thinking out loud. It won't be those three to the end.  Still… Finale next week. That was fast.

Bottom Line, Part IV. That was a fine episode even if we spent a lot of time looking at Missy's ankle. Natalie had a plan and it was fun to see it come together as she devised it. I'm definitely Team Natalie these days. And best of all? It was only one episode. Last week was too much “Survivor.” This week was just right.

And you?

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