Recap: ‘Survivor: San Juan Del Sur’ – ‘Blood is Blood’

10.22.14 4 years ago

Pre-credit sequence. When we left off, Drew had just masterfully organized a conspiracy against himself and flawlessly executed his own elimination from the game. “Tribal was freakin' insane,” says a perplexed Jon, vowing to do damage control. He goes to everybody and apologizes and says he'd have voted with them if they'd told him. The “You're either with me or against me” rant that the editors teased last week was actually Jon quoting Drew. Jeremy is pleased to be in the middle.

Gods of The Arena. Monkey! Coyopa collects Tree-Mail. The message tells them to return to The Arena. This time, Coyopa will get to be in the Arena first. Alec is sure that Drew won't be the first one out from his Tribe and he's hoping for a fraternal face off. with his brother. For this reason, Alec is shocked that his brother is gone, suggesting his tribe saw Drew as the biggest threat. Baylor is confused because she thought Drew was popular. Considering that Baylor's own social game has been strictly middle school, it isn't surprising that she thinks “Survivor” is a popularity contest. “I'm shocked that anybody's shocked,” Jeff Probst says, promising it's time for another shock. “Everybody drop your buffs,” he announces.

Orange & Blue are HitFix colors! The castaways are nervous and excited about the change, with Kelley suggesting that the people who still have loved ones might be targets. Jeremy agrees, but he still wants to have Val around. They unwrap buffs, orange and blue. Reunited and it feels so good. Couple-heavy Coyopa is now Kelley/Dale, Missy/Baylor, Jaclyn/Jon and Keith. Over on the new Hunahpu, however, it's a singles bar with Wes, Alec, Jeremy, Julie and Natalie joined by Reed & Josh. Keith knows he might be a target as the only single on his tribe. Reed & Josh know they might be targets as the only pair on their tribe. 

Famine. New Hunahpu arrives and they discover a lack of rations. They've been eating a lot at Hunahpu and Wes doesn't have a clue what they've been thinking. “That had to have been why they were winning,” Wes says. We can stop to pause how this worked as a strategy. It sure would have worked better if Drew hadn't self-sabotaged last week. This was Jeremy's worst nightmare, since he thinks Josh is going to woo Reed and then vote him out. Josh talks about his conservative Christian upbringing and the courage Reed gave him to come out. Oh and they've also been abstinent for their two year relationship. Well, OK.

Cuddly. Monkey! Coyopa arrives, with a tearful Dale embracing his daughter. Jon is astounded by the quantity of rice at his new camp and pleased with the unhygienic kisses he can again share with girlfriend Miss Michigan, the only person who knows what's happening with his father back home. So much kissing and talking about sleeping together. Baylor deems their love “so cute,” but admits to us, without hesitation, that she's jealous. “My time will come. My mom's next time will come,” Baylor laughs. It's kinda cute. And kinda sad. Poor Keith is left out of the love, though he's got an Idol, which isn't a bad loved one to have.

Backwards on a pig. Baby monkey! Hunahpu is lazing about as Alec celebrates his strong new tribe.  Unlike his wussy brother, Alec is feeling strong and he's feeling gloat-y about his strength. Natalie and Jeremy suggest that Alec is a lot like Drew and they need to woo him over to their cause. Jeremy explains the firefighting principle of “surround and drown,” saying that they need to just drown Alec with the water of the singles. “He's just like his brother!” Jeremy crows, playing on Alec's ego and his strength compared to his brother.

Rice wars. Back at Coyopa, controversy is brewing over the amount of rice to cook, with Missy facing accusations of over-ricing. Dale has made himself official Rice Monitor, but Missy protests that this wasn't how they ate back at her old tribe. Well sure, that's why you former tribe is out of rice. Missy decides to make it her life's goal to protect Baylor from Dale. “I'm almost waiting for Missy and my dad to get in a battle over the rice,” Kelley says, calling Missy a diva. It's not like she's her dad's cheerleader, though, saying that he's a bit too set-in-his-ways, forcing her to play peacemaker. “She's a self-centered bossy bitch,” Dale says. Ouch.

Yond Hunahpu has a lean and hungry look. Hunahpu is still just chilling. Why is this group so low-energy? Natalie suggests it's the lack of rice and Reed worries about how they're going to survive. Josh estimates that they have only three days of food left. “There were some very fool-hardy players on this side,” Josh says. They're so hungry they're contemplating killing and eating a vulture. “We might have to trade a Reward for more rice,” Alec says, proving that the negotiating apple doesn't fall far from the negotiating tree. Sigh.

I miss puzzles. Immunity is back up for grabs. It's an obstacle course to collect sandbags, which have to be tossed onto a wobbly platform, 10 of them. Has anybody else noticed that we've basically done away with puzzles this season? We had a couple installments in a row in which every single challenge ended with a puzzle. This season? Lots of balancing of things and throwing things into or around other things. Hunahpu gets out to a rather huge early lead. Is Coyopa just cursed, no matter its membership? Coyopa is just hilariously weak compared to Hunhapu. In order to get the sandbags, you have to shake a pole holding a basket of sand, but Coyopa can barely move the pole. It's a 10-0 rout for Hunahpu. “This challenge is over. Not even close. Clearly loved ones working together, not so effective,” Probst says. For once, it's taking it easy on the losing tribe. The victorious Hunahpu proposes their latest trade.   Basically, they'll do literally anything for rice. Probst tries suggesting that there's a cause-and-effect connection here, specifically a cause-and-effect with consequences. He promises to circle back after Tribal Council, which is completely unprecedented in “Survivor” history. “I'm scared,” Julie says correctly.

Conscious uncoupling. Keith knows that a vote against him would be a free vote, but he's hoping to take advantage of the early hostilities between several couples. Dale knows that they have to work with Jon and Jaclyn, because they're the swing votes, but also because he doesn't like Missy or trust Baylor. The suggestion is made and then repeated that Baylor and Missy are both sketchy. “It really is about finding the couple that you match up with,” Jon says. Monkey! It becomes like a dating show. Jonclyn has to choose whether to hook up with Delley or Baissy. More monkeys! There's a lot of the sins of the parent being visited upon the child and vice versa. The deal is this: If Jonclyn picks Dale & Kelley, they vote Baylor. If they pick Baylor & Missy, they split the vote. Bizarrely, Keith is just skating here.  And he isn't even being wooed. he's just barely there at all.

Tribal Council. Keith says he was worried before, but now he isn't. Everybody agrees that everybody's planning to make a move. Baylor and Dale discuss their early discord and grumble about it. Jeff makes sure that Jon & Jaclyn know they're “the hottest couple in camp right now,” Dale says or “the hottest couple period,” as Baylor puts it. Missy is just stuck on Dale gunning for Baylor. “I didn't go after Baylor first. She came after me first,” Dale protests, which Baylor can't even dispute. “I guess it's good for me,” Dale says, hoping they can get over the hump.

The vote. We see none of the votes up-front. Nobody plays an Idol, so Probst tallies: Baylor. Kelley. Baylor. Kelley. Dale. Dale. KELLEY. I guess Jon & Jaclyn made their choice. “I almost wish I didn't play with my dad. I think it was more of a hinderance than a help for me,” Kelley says. And we'll have to wait for next week to see the latest “Jeff Probst's Shark Tank” negotiating.

Bottom Line, Part I. Well, at least now I get to ask Kelley why Drew thought she was evil. However evil she was, it wasn't a powerful evil. As Kelley accurately observed, she mostly appeared to have been punished because people didn't like Dale. But, in that case, why didn't they just vote out Dale? We're back at the stage where maintaining tribal strength has to be a priority and there's no way keeping Dale and losing Kelley is a boon for Coyopa's strength. If it hadn't been for last week, I'm not sure I'd know who Kelley even was. I'd probably have asked her nothing but Jaclyn questions. So yeah… We have a problem here.

Bottom Line, Part II. In the first “Blood vs. Water” season, it was also a semi-“All-Stars” season and so that added an extra layer of complications and strategy, resulting in some fascinating choices. The contestants were aligned initially based on whether they were returning players or newbies and that meant that pre-existing friendships and alliances came into play, but also that the two tribes had reasons to bond together, to bond around shared experience or shared inexperience. So, as a result, the players reached the shuffle and they were being pulled in multiple directions. For whatever reason, Hunahpu and Coyopa didn't bond in the slightest, despite the shared experiences of winning and losing. Am I wrong or are there exactly zero tight alliances that were formed from within the initial tribes? Nobody has any loyalty to anybody other than their loved ones and the strategy has felt really wonky as a result. This week's episode came down to speed-dating with almost no worthwhile motivation. Why did Jonclyn make the choice they made? They had marginally more affinity for one pair over the other, but they were picking between two middling pairs. The stronger pairs, it turns out, were the ones that were split up early, however intentionally that occurred. 

Bottom Line, Part III. We had a tribal disparity in strength before the Shuffle and we appear to have another tribal disparity in strength now. Original Hunahpu was already stronger and then they made the decision to feed themselves, to play grasshopper rather than ant. Knowing his tribe was gorging by “Survivor” standards makes Drew's blunder last week even more astounding. His plan, a plan not predicated on a shuffle, was to take out a player who wasn't even conspiring against him and also to take out one of the players least likely to be over-consuming rice. If Hunahpu was running out of food now, imagine how poorly they'd be doing if they'd had a couple additional days of the original tribe sans Kelley. I think this moves Drew's episode last week into the Bottom 3 of all-time “Survivor” single episode performances. Drew was as bad as it gets, it turns out. Oh and I hope Probst drives a HARD bargain. It's sad that Hunahpu has no food, but that's just a strategic element of the game. You get the resources you get and you decide whether your priority is a short-term strength advantage with long-term consequences or playing for longevity. How is it fair to Coyopa, which suffered through one meal per day in the hopes of making it 39 days, if Probst lets their rival tribe off the hook? Coyopa rationed and this is exactly the point at which their strategy looks viable and Hunahpu's strategy looks unsustainable. I'd feel bad for the Coyopa players who got shuffled over to Hunahpu, but that's the game. Like so many things, it's a social contract. If you've watched before, you know a Shuffle is possible, so you have to plan around that eventuality. Hunahpu did not. They shouldn't be allowed to skate. I'm not sure what Probst could ask for that would be an appropriate trade for violating the structural integrity of the game.

Bottom Line, Part IV. MONKEYS.

Whee? So… Why did Jon & Jaclyn do what they did? And did they do the right thing? And do you care? What deal should Probst offer?

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