Recap: ‘Survivor: San Juan Del Sur’ – ‘We’re a Hot Mess’

10.16.14 3 years ago


Pre-credit sequence. When we left things, Coyopa had just weakened a weak tribe by booting the otherwise unappealing John Rocker. “We weren't winning anyways, so…” Alec says. “Kudos to the team,” says Baylor, who thinks they'll be better with John Rocker's attitude removed. Dale admits that he let his social game slide and suspects he's toast if they lose again. Dale had a social game at some point?

In like flint. Monkey! Fiddling around near the fire pit, Natalie finds her tribe's missing flint, though lost since the first challenge win, which makes Jon feel a bit better about himself. Drew, however, laments the fishing gear they gave up for the second flint. But Drew, who learned nothing from previous negotiations with Jeff Probst, thinks he may be able to convince Probst to give them another shot at that fishing gear for one of their flints. Oh, Drew. You're a lazy fool. Kelley, in what may be her first talking head of the season, mocks Drew and his effort and bluster. “You have to make decisions that nobody else wants to do,” says Drew, claiming that without him, his tribe would be nothing.

Ill-defined “balls.” Reward time. Julie feigns shock at her boyfriend's absence, while the rest of her tribe claps for Coyopa voting John Rocker out. Julie's ready to play for herself. Drew begins a discussion with Jeff Probst for some portion of fishing gear, as an incredulous Kelley cringes. “Well, it sounds reasonable,” Probst says. “It sounds like you're mocking us,” Jon notes correctly. Drew claims that what he did, unsuccessful though it was, was a sign of balls. Reward is the choice between comfort or campfire food. The challenge will put Jon against Jaclyn. Does anybody know why Kelley and Jaclyn have to be two different people? I was too busy rolling my eyes at Drew to pay attention to what we're doing in this challenge. It seems to be collecting bags with hooks and then launching balls into baskets. Jon has a big lead, prompting snideness from Jeff Probst, but Jaclyn ties things up, leaving both contestants gunning for the same tiny center basket. Jon still wins, sending Jaclyn to Exile. Jaclyn is strong and good-humored about going to Exile and she'll be joined by Drew, who Jon picks because he mostly pulls his weight. The winners choose comfort.  Alec isn't sure if Coyopa is on the verge of being the worst tribe in “Survivor” history. I need to think about that. Are they worse than Zane/Roxanne/Angie/Russell Matsing? Probably they are, because I don't see a Denise/Malcolm in Coyopa.

Off her Rocker. Hunahpu returns to camp. Jon's impressed with Jaclyn's toughness, though he admits to us that Drew's laziness may be a problem on Exile. Julie's ready to move on in a John Rocker-free game, or at least that's what she says. She tells the camera that things like this happen all the time for John Rocker and that being without him is a desperate feeling. 

Miss Michigan and The Ladies Man. Jaclyn and Drew arrive at Exile, which is just strewn with various fish corpses in different stages of decay and consumption. Ew. Drew is full of complaints immediately. When it comes to urn-picking, Drew gets the clue, which is a win for him. He's also happy to be with Miss Michigan, though this admitted ladies man doesn't wanna mack on Jon's girl, not that he's opposed to checking out her butt. “I'm not worried about him. I'm just thinking about the game,” says Jaclyn, telling Drew about her woeful tribe situation. “We can't let you guys lose again,” Drew says, suggesting that it may be time to throw Immunity and get rid of some of the snake-y girls on Hunahpu. 

Liar, liar, pants on fire. We're back to Hunahpu, where Jon is enjoying the comfort, a monkey is enjoying the trees and Keith is poking around near the well hoping to find the Idol. He suspects he was beaten to the punch and he retaliates by going to the rest of the tribe and suggesting that Jeremy must have already found the Idol. This is a bad move, because Keith's an outsider and Jeremy's an insider, so everybody believes Jeremy. Making matters worse is Jeremy's sense that Keith has betrayed the Fireman's Bond. After outing Jeremy's non-Idol, Keith was just searching the wrong place and the actual Idol practically attacks him. Keith, somewhat confused by the impact of his Jeremy speculation, thinks that not only has he secured an Idol for himself, but he's moved a target onto Jeremy, so he'll just be quiet. I'm beginning to question Keith's strategical intelligence here.

Non-sibling sibling rivalry. Tree-Mail! Alec and Baylor are bickering over the clue. Baylor compares Alec to a younger brother, which I guess means she isn't flirting. Alec, however, sees a lot of entitlement in Baylor, entitlement that he compares to Drew. He's going to share the lessons his father taught him with Baylor, who doesn't seem like she appreciates it. I'm not sure if this dynamic is cute or weird.

Taking a dive. Drew has yet to decide if he's going to throw the challenge as he and Jaclyn return for Immunity. It's an involved challenge that initially involves a lot of diving, swimming and collecting rings, followed by a ring toss. Kelley, Jon and Jeremy sit out for Hunahpu, which is leaving a lot of strength on the shelf. Baylor gets Coyopa out to a small lead as Missy's just having trouble staying in her bathing suit. This is, in fact, a very difficult challenge for contestants wearing flimsy bikinis, rather than Baylor's relatively sport-friendly number. Alec erases the big advantage Hunahpu advantage, but this is really just going to come down to ring-tossing. Drew looks to be having trouble with both the tossing of the ring and basic rules of the competition. “Drew is single-handedly losing this for his tribe,” Probst observes, aptly. Coyopa celebrates their win, as Drew apologizes. “If I don't want to win, we're not gonna win and that's what makes me the kingpin of our tribe,” Drew says. Ugh. 

Things fall apart. The monkeys are already in place at Hunahpu. “Basically I'm a badass and a manipulator in this game,” Drew says, lamely. Jon has an argument: Single players could be in the majority at a Merge, so they could be dangerous. Everybody agrees that Julie is an easy pick, until Drew walks over, says that isn't what's happening. Drew thinks Kelley's a bigger threat because she's never missed a “Survivor” episode. Jeremy comes to Kingpin Drew and makes an argument against Keith, but Drew keeps nattering about Kelley running the girls. Jeremy calls this “ridiculous.” Certainly the editing, which has marginalized Kelley to the point of non-existence, supports Jeremy's case. There's no debating Drew, which irks Jeremy. Natalie calls Drew “stupid,” telling us there was no plan to gang up against the guys, but now she'd totally like to vote Drew out. Oh, I'd love for this. Drew's going through his ranting progression, even when Kelley is nearby. Kelley thinks that Drew is threatened by her as a strong female and suggests a general malaise may be sitting in. “Yes, he's a moron, but that's a big move,” a wary Jeremy says when the girls come to him to boot Drew. Even Jon is worried. “Well, well, well. Everybody seems to have their own opinion, don't they?” Drew sneers as they leave for Tribal with at least four potential targets.

Tribal Council. As you may recall, fire represents life. This is their first chance to chat with Jeff Probst, who wants to know about alliances. Julie says Drew and Jon are like five-year-olds. Missy says that there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Drew says everybody was playing nice until they lost. What happened to all the talk of snakes? Jeremy decides to re-narrate the episode by explaining his new rivalry with Keith, prompting an entirely unnecessary fight about alliances and sub-alliances. Jeff Probst has to explain the game to Keith, which is odd. Drew says he wants to get bad energy out. “Yeah, but who's the bad seed in this bunch? Maybe we don't all agree on that,” Kelley says. Jeff Probst has to give Drew a math lesson to explain why the girls can't be aligning. Jon doesn't know what name he's supposed to be writing. Natalie says they're a hot mess, a phrase that needs to be eliminated from TV permanently.

The vote. We don't see any votes, because this is a general madhouse. Keith doesn't play his Idol. Probst tallies: Julie. Kelley. Drew. Keith. Julie. Drew. Drew. DREW. “Good job guys,” Drew says. “Good play girls,” Jon says. Jeff Probst throws out the idea that the Tribal might have been brilliant or it might have been chaos. “I knew all along that those girls wanted me out of there,” Drew says. He's wrong. But at least he knows he should have been more chill.

Bottom Line, I. That vote was a freak show. Drew, the self-professed kingpin, was the only person who voted Kelley. The girls all voted for Drew, but Jeremy joined them. Jon was alone voting for Keith, while Keith and Reed voted for Julie. So if you're keeping score at home: Jon wanted Julie out, but ended up voting for the person Jeremy wanted out at one point, even though Jeremy found a different target. 

Bottom Line, II. There's not such thing as an anti-perfect game, but if there were, Drew came impressively close here. I think the only way he could have self-immolated more impressively would have been if he'd had an Immunity Idol as well. That was just as astoundingly botched a self-elimination as you could possibly hope for. Drew took at tribe that had won six of seven challenges, including three straight Immunities and he orchestrated a challenge defeat to get rid of a “snake.” The problem was that nobody else felt that there was a snake, particularly that the snake was Kelley. But even accepting that nobody wanted Kelley out, Drew could have been willing to go along with EVERYBODY and vote Julie out, thereby getting rid of a free-moving single player in the game as well as a point of alliance weakness. Nobody would have protested just booting Julie. He also could have honored a strong player in his alliance in Jeremy and targeted Keith, since nobody was going to suggest Keith wasn't stirring up controversy for no reason. Instead, Drew stuck to his guns and spread a paranoid theory about a female conspiracy against him and, in the process, created a female conspiracy against him, which never would have existed otherwise. But merely creating a female conspiracy against himself wasn't enough. As anybody with sense was able to figure out, if Drew had only created a conspiracy against himself, it still wasn't going to be enough to send him home, because the girls couldn't take him out on their own. So in order to flawlessly kill his changes in the game, Drew had to create a fractured environment in which even his alliance was no longer unified in any voting chance, allowing the four women to gain the plurality. That would have worked. But in order to guarantee his elimination, he had to also alienate a member of his alliance enough to vote against him, making a simple majority. He did that with Jeremy.

Bottom Line, III. You can think of people who basically eliminated themselves in “Survivor” and did it in dramatic ways, taking Idols home with them and whatnot. But if you look at the previous paragraph, I don't know if you could find more than one or two characters in “Survivor” history who have so single-handedly put themselves in position to be blindsided. For Drew, this episode was as epic a fail as I can imagine. With the laziness last week, it was a two-part edit of magnificent hubris. Oh! And the bargaining with Jeff on the flint. That was horrible as well. Plus, he got the Exile clue to the Idol and if he made any effort to find it, we didn't see it, so he really could have come even closer to going home with an Idol in his pocket. Wow. What an episode.

Bottom Line, IV. Hunahpu was an interesting case. As we saw tonight, they were a tribe that performed very well together almost by default because Coyopa was so bad. But with a Merge or a Shuffle coming, I can hardly imagine there being any kind of loyalty for anybody within that group. Their only hope was to keep winning and this facilitated or accelerated tribal destruction. Based on the timing, Drew may have orchestrated his own demise and the death of his tribe. Well played, sir.

Bottom Line, V. Kelley was close to invisible before this episode. Are we going to discover that Drew was right to fear her and that she was just getting a stealthy slow-play edit? Or are we going to look back and not have a clue why Drew thought it was important to blow up his game for her? 

Bottom Line, VI. Or are we not giving Coyopa enough credit? They've been close tonight. Yes, Drew threw Immunity, but do we give Dale and Baylor and Alec and the rest of Coyopa and credit for coming through with a victory in the post-John Rocker Era? No?

Thoughts on tonight's episode? Give me some worse single-episode performances than Drew's tonight. I'm sure there are SOME. But I don't think there are many…

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