Recap: ‘Survivor: San Juan Del Sur’ – ‘Gettin’ to Crunch Time’

11.19.14 5 years ago

Pre-credit sequence. Huyopa returns to camp after sending Josh packing. Jon accepts hugs for his courageous flip-flop. Reed is “furious,” but he tells people he's OK. “I need to figure out how to move forward being in the minority,” Reed says. But Reed isn't the only one feeling unsure about his position. Jon is unsteady with how he treated Josh and Reed. “If there's anything I've learned from watching past 'Survivors,' it's trust your instinct,” Jon says, getting Jeremy's reassurance. Keith knows he's in bad position, but he also knows he has an Idol and hopes to use it to take somebody else out. He's thinking about pretending to sacrifice himself and then blindsiding everybody. “It's getting to crunch-time now,” he says.

What the muck? We're kicking things off with some Reward action. It involves tussling on beams over mud. Wanna know what they're playing for? It's a cruise on a yacht with sandwiches, plus booze for everybody other than Baylor. It's Wes, Missy, Jon, Jaclyn and Keith against the other people. Reed and Wes kick things off. “You've got this, dancer-boy,” Baylor tells Reed. Jon makes it clear that he wants food. Wes is too aggressive and wipes out first. Wes didn't need food after the taco fiasco anyway. Jaclyn faces off with Natalie and Miss Michigan is too aggressive and goes out first. Jon and Jeremy have an Alpha-Off, with Josh roughly shoving Jeremy into the mud. My Slingbox didn't want me to know who won between Baylor and Missy and, honestly, I probably don't care. [It seems Baylor wins, right?] I return in time to see Jaclyn wipe herself out for the second time, having learned nothing. Jon and Jeremy go for a second time with the same result. It's 4-4, with Baylor and Missy serving as the deciding match. I like that Baylor actually seems to have strategy here, luring her mother into an over-aggressive move and winning Reward for her group. In an odd twist, Natalie decides to give her position to Jon and Jeremy volunteers to give his place to Jaclyn. Ha. That may be fairly smart of Natalie and Jeremy, though Jeff Probst is incredulous. Natalie explains that she wanted to show love and respect to Jon & Jaclyn in return for their loyalty. The winners turn around and send Jeremy to Exile. Meanies. Baylor explains, though, that she wanted Jeremy to have a chance to find the Idol that we know Jon already has. If she says so!

You've got the touché. You've got the power.  Monkey! The Huyopa losers (plus Natalie and Jeremy) return to camp. Natalie hopes she has leverage for the rest of the game. Wes calls the trade “a big-time strategic move” and congratulates them. “Touché for them,” Wes says. The father-son pair makes a big show of asking to be told if they're getting voted out so that they can pass the Idol around if they need to. Meanwhile, Jeremy is hoping he find the Idol. Adding insult to Exile, Jeremy is able to see the Sandwich Party Yacht. Off on the Reward, Jon and Jaclyn are having their usual gross kisses, disgusting Reed, who announces that he's prepared to stir up chaos if it saves him.

Crabs in the night. Jeremy isn't loving Exile and things get worse when rain starts to fall. The next morning, Jeremy is clearly down in the dumps. He correctly solves the Idol clue, but can't find the Idol and wonders if Jon falls it. And back at camp, Jon knows that Jeremy is going to know and suspect that people will trust Jeremy, at least to some degree, if he says he didn't find the Idol. We're not sure what, if anything, he decides to do.

Quentin Tarantino's favorite Immunity Challenge. Looking like death warmed over, Jeremy returns from Exile. Even Probst is sympathetic and you know how hard it is for Probst to be sympathetic. The challenge asks them to untie a rope and put together a puzzle. Easy, right? Nope! It's an all-foot challenge. Everything has to be done with your toes, which is good news for foot fetishists out there. Keith gets close, but his pieces fall. Reed gets close, but a piece keeps falling. Baylor puts together her stacky thing, but she also has to plant a flag. With her feet. She does it. Tis the week for Baylor to become useful. Wow. Go Baylor and her happy feet! Even Alec has admiration. Jeremy is disappointed with his performance, but happy an alliance-member won. 

The One Where Everybody Finds Out. Baylor leads her tribe back to camp. Reed is bummed about what he calls “a custom-made challenge” for him. Monkey! He's determined to light the camp on fire on his way out. He begins by rifling through Keith's bag, finding the clue on how to use the Idol. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Reed says, only slightly embarrassed about his invasion of Keith's privacy. Portraying it as an innocent mistake, Reed tells Missy and Jaclyn and Baylor about Keith's Idol. Baylor is baffled. Because Reed took the Idol instructions, Keith knows that his secret is out. “Different people got different values,” Keith says as word spreads around camp. Adding to the mayhem, Jeremy goes to Natalie and tells her about Jon's Idol. Jeremy sets out to catch Jon in a lie, sharing the clue with him and giving him the chance to confess. Jon plays dumb, even though he knows Jeremy knows. So Jon turns around, tells Missy about his Idol and begins to target Jeremy. But Missy has deep ties with Jeremy and Natalie and doesn't want to rock the vote. As of now, it sounds like a 3-3 Reed/Keith split.

Tribal Council. Josh is the first member of the Jury. Jeremy speaks to the importance of honesty, referencing the Reward sacrifice. Josh doesn't understand that decision, while Jaclyn says it doesn't change the game. Reed mocks the altruism as “self-serving in being selfless.” Probst wants to talk about Idols and Missy replies that people are unnaturally comfortable. Jon says he's confident somebody has an Idol. Jaclyn says that because Wes and Keith haven't talked strategy, they must be confident and so they must have an Idol between them. Jon's still pissed off that Wes and Keith ignored Jaclyn. Keith is mocked for not talking to the girls and Reed is just loving this. Why are we fighting last week's fight? Natalie wants to stay the course. And I have no clue what's actually happening now.

The vote. Jeremy writes Keith's name. Keith writes Reed's name. Natalie votes for Keith. Alec votes for Reed. That's a ton of visible votes, way more than normal. Will anybody play an Idol? Keith decides not to. Huh. Keith. Reed. Keith. Reed. Reed. Jeremy. Jeremy. Jeremy. Jeremy. Wow. JEREMY. “What the [blank] Missy?” Natalie asks. Probst calls the result “beautiful” and “brutal.” “They got me. They pulled a fast one on me,” Jeremy says, grumbling that if he'd known this was coming he wouldn't have given up the Reward. “I don't have an alliance, obviously,” Jeremy says, telling us that a good guy lost this time.

Bottom Line, Part I. On one hand, I can accept the basic strategy of the result. Last week, there were two leaders atop two alliances. Now there are no leaders and probably, functionally, no alliances. There's just a big and amorphous blob of players, seemingly with Jon & Jaclyn steering the ship, but maybe not. I can see the value in saying, “Jeremy is a strong physical player and a strong strategic player, so we might as well take him out when he's weakened.” This is not the way I like to see “Survivor” played, because it's basically formless chaos governed by arbitrary Tribal-to-Tribal decisions, but “Knock out the figureheads until you become a figurehead” eventually materializes as a strategy.

Bottom Line, Part II. And it goes back to the contention I made last week that Josh disputed in his exit interview. I feel like Jon & Jaclyn are pretty much the most powerful pairing in “Survivor” history, both because of how entrenched they are as a duo and how weak and fungible the remaining alliances are. Does Jon's reaction to Jeremy seem knee-jerk and not necessarily ideal to me? Yeah, probably. Natalie also knows/suspects Jon has the Idol, so turning on Jeremy didn't erase his footsteps, it just erased somebody who had made a pretty big commitment to align with him, at least in the short-to-mid-term. Like even though Jeremy wasn't trusting Jon fully, he gave zero suggestion that he might try to stir things up to target either Jon or Jaclyn to flush the Idol or break up the power couple. Jeremy was disappointed Jon wasn't being truthful, but he was a long way from targeting him. I still think honest in that circumstance is the better long-term play, especially sending a disgruntled guy to the Jury. 

Bottom Line, Part III. But in lieu of strong negotiations and drama — Reed failed to set the camp on fire and barely even generated a spark, despite going through Keith's stuff — the editors decided to just blindside the audience, which I always think sucks. We saw Jon suggest a future need to take Jeremy out, saw Missy suggest the importance of loyalty and then… BOOM. Missy, Baylor, Reed, Jon and Jaclyn voted against Jeremy. Presumably Baylor and Jaclyn had no opinion at all about this week's vote, with “Survivor” taking the side of Alec and Wes and Keith and basically ignoring the girls entirely. Was Reed let in on the vote? Did he just guess right through dumb luck? Was he included in this alliance for a reason? I don't know and the editors didn't want to tell us, just like they spun their wheels with refried conflict at Tribal Council because they had no way of foreshadowing what really was going on beneath the surface. This was not an episode with an arc. I'm sure “Survivor” editors prefer to have arcs. So they went with the blindside instead.

Bottom Line, Part IV. So many of the people left have no agency at all. Keith voted for Reed. He clearly had absolutely no idea what the play was. But despite knowing that his Idol had been outed and suspecting he might be a target, he did nothing with his minimal amount of clout. But then again, Jeremy couldn't have been less aware of what was coming, so where did he drop the ball? Did he have any conversations with Missy and Baylor? Why did he not force the issue with Jon? If he had just come out and told Jon that he was certain Jon had to have found the Idol, would it have mattered? The hints weren't the right way to go, though, were they? 

Bottom Line, Part V. I guess Jeremy and Josh weren't such good players at all? Or else, as exit interviewees keep saying, the people who don't know the game are torpedoing the players who do know the game. I was glad, at least a tiny bit glad, that Baylor showed some life this episode. She may have been a babe-in-the-woods when it came to the strategic machinations, but she was a champ at both challenges in the episode. We'll see if Wes ever displays anything resembling that level of value. And at this point, I'm rooting for nobody.

Shrug. I've got nothing else… Good move? Bad move? Good move bad episode? Bad move good episode? Bad move bad episode?

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