Category Archives: Survivor

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 11 & 12 – Two Pagongings For the Price Of One

Nice try, Survivor. First you give me the one and only great episode of San Juan Del Sur. Nice way to try and soften me up for being excited about back-to-back episodes of Survivor the next week. And putting two episodes on the same night? That may fool some fans. Not me. I know when you are trying to burn off a couple of obvious drama-free episodes. I’m on to your tricks.

I am not going to give a two full column treatment to these two episodes – mainly because I don’t want to, but partially due to the fact that the show didn’t deem each individual episode to warrant its own spotlight. However, I’ll give a few extra notes at the end to account for the two hours.

In the end, the show tried to make us think that things were in question, but really, there wasn’t much drama at all. The only real drama was which one of the minority alliance was going home in the second hour. Anyone who has watched Survivor over the years knew this was a trap night of entertainment – two episodes of really predictable results.

So, we are down to the Final Six and Keith is the last man standing not a part of the majority. However, the main takeaway I had from this night of Survivor was that we have an unexpected power player and a woman who is all of a sudden playing an outstanding game of Survivor. And for me, I am stunned at how well she is playing and that I am enjoying her game so much.

Many Amazing Race fans loved the Twinnies. For me, they were nails on the chalkboard. I was dreading their appearance on Survivor for fear of more shrieking and endless “twinnie” yammerings. But lo and behold, Nadiya went out first and Natalie didn’t have her foil. And what do you know, she has turned out to be an excellent player. At first she was in Namesake’s shadow but in the last couple of weeks she has burst on the scene in grand fashion. So much so that I now believe that she is poised to win the whole damn thing – and would be a very deserving winner.

Last week, she was on to the fact that Other Jon was about to go home and talked him into playing his idol. He claims after the fact that he was on to it as well, but that was not what we saw. Natalie was ready to blindside Other Jon in the second hour but his immunity win saved him. Seriously, Other Jon has been the luckiest effing player I think ever to appear on this show. He and his lady have stumbled and bumbled into good situations. The APC is still around, but might have played themselves into a corner thanks to the one move made in this episode that was brilliantly orchestrated.

With two couples out there, presumably voting together to the end, Natalie was going to be in a situation where she was either going to be a swing vote or an obvious elimination. She knew it. The APC and BayMiss could lobby her at the Final Five to go with them, or they could join together to take her out, knowing she had good will on the jury and they did not. Natalie needed an ally in the Final Six and potentially beyond. And now, she has one.

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 10 – Idols, Idols Everywhere

Finally, San Juan Del Sur has produced a top notch, borderline classic episode. And yet, it is the type of great episode that only this season can produce – where the victors following the madness get there by sheer luck and moronic game play. Meanwhile, one of the two people who actually showed good Survivor game skills got burned in the end.

The Accidental Power Couple now has MORE power as a result of this madness, and they got it by, wait for it, ACCIDENT! I would love to see Other Jon play with an all-star season because he would be eaten alive. And yet, here he is following that crazy Tribal Council with a more consolidated position and a seemingly strong path to the Final Five when, presumably, Natalie will punch her ticket to the Final Three with Baylor and Missy by turning on Other Jon and Jaclyn and getting her Namesake revenge.

At least that’s what I suspect will happen – with these people, who the heck knows!

Also, typical of this season that the best episode takes place on the day before Thanksgiving when many people – including intrepid bloggers – have travelled and were unable to watch for several days.

Let’s talk about Tribal and what happened.

Reed really brought it this week. He got overshadowed by Josh in all of the early episodes and didn’t have much to say or do. This week, that all changed. Reed had a good plan – work both sides and pull off a grand blindside. The first part – convince the APC and Missy/Baylor that he and Alec were with them. And get them to split votes between Keith and Fartman to account for that idol. However, secretly he would have Keith, Fartman and Alec vote for Other Jon. That would take out the biggest physical threat in the game and splinter the other alliance. It would be chaos after that.

Great plan. The problem? He had to have get Keith, Alec and Fartman to not screw up. Alec is a horrible liar and amazingly Other Jon didn’t get spooked by his overly enthusiastic declarations of loyalty. But much worse, Keith had to keep his mouth shut to speaking rather than spitting. Of course he failed.

Reed was responding to a Probstian question about hidden idols. He said that Keith and Fartman had an idol – which everyone already knew. Keith strangely felt compelled to say that it was easy and that idols were everywhere. They should just stick to the plan. He said that. Out loud. Really. In Season 29, someone actually spoke a secret plan aloud.

What I found incredulous was that despite this massively slip up, Other Jon seemed to actually be convinced by Reed’s assurances that they were still on board with the Keith/Fartman plan. How crazy is that? The fact that Keith knew of a secret plan was not enough for him. It took Natalie to read the writing on the wall and convince him that now was the time to play his idol. She realized something was up and that Other Jon did not want a special souvenier. Plus, she had a better chance with him in the game instead of a Reed/Keith based power structure.

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 9 – Wait, Did I Miss Something?

Typical of Season 29 that the episode featuring the biggest power move of the season was as head scratching as ever. The Accidental Power Couple (APC) continued to make moves – this one a stroke of brilliance following a major mistake – but the movements behind them remained puzzling. Also, we had Keith spitting some more. At least we will always have that.

Amazingly enough, the season that has been quite the enigma featured only two people who seemed to be playing a strong strategic game – Josh and Namesake. The two alliances clashed last week with Other Jon and Jaclyn flipping back and forth before finally settling on Namesake’s group. It was a purely strategic vote counting reason, of course. Oh wait, no, it wasn’t. They flipped because the non-Namesake guys were gross. Because this is a game being played by nine-year-old girls.

Now, with Josh out, Namesake was in charge. He and Natalie even kissed up to their new allies even more by handing over their reward victory to the couple. A transparent move? Certainly, but still a good one. What could go wrong? The new mix of reward winners – Alec, Baylor, Reed, and the APC – chose Namesake to go to Exile for two days. Other Jon found the idol last week on Exile and apparently told no one other than Jaclyn. Now, Namesake is going to be there for two days and will definitely realize there ain’t no idol there. Because the clues might as well include an Idol Magnet to lead Survivors to the idol. Other Jon didn’t think this through. The right move is for them to send Wes or Keith over there with Other Jon telling the group that there was no clue when he went. When Namesake returns with clues and no idol he could act all pissed that he got screwed.

Or, he could have told his alliance.

After realizing this blunder – because now Namesake is going to be asking questions – Other Jon knew he had to move. At some point, he was going to have to move against Namesake but now his hand is getting played. He had to either come clean or take him out. We’ve all watched movies where the bad guys kill everyone that was wise to their plans. Remember Kevin Spacey in “LA Confidential”? Once he found out about Rolo Tomasi…well, maybe you shouldn’t trust Farmer Hoggett after all. Almost 20 year old SPOILER LINK!

Namesake confronted Other Jon about the idol. Other Jon lied to his face. Namesake has confided his suspicions to Natalie – his top ally. Here’s where Other Jon made a slick move. We see Other Jon do it, but it is definitely possible this was Jaclyn’s move. He goes to Missy and confides in her that he’s got the idol and maybe, just maybe, they should go after Namesake. Big power move here for four people to go after one with ten left.

We see the Namesake Alliance talk about splitting votes between Keith and Reed to account for Keith’s idol (More on that in a bit). Makes sense…except…there are six people in the Namesake Alliance. So that’s three votes to Keith and three to Reed. What happens if Reed, Keith, Fartman and Alec all vote for Namesake? That’s a 4-3-3 vote. It was that bizarre split vote footage that made me think something was up – because it made no sense. Clearly we were missing something.

Then the votes happen. Indeed, Other Jon and Jaclyn have joined forces with Missy and Baylor. They vote Namesake. Reed votes Namesake. Natalie and Namesake cast votes for Keith. And Alec, Fartman and Keith vote for Reed. What?

How did that happen? That vote combination makes no sense whatsoever. Did we miss a moment where Reed joined the two couples and angered his former teammates? Was I sleeping? Alien possession? I hate it when we get this big shift in show dynamics and the editors choose to keep us in the dark. I get it – we got a fun blindside. They show loves its blindsides. But I like blindsides that actually make sense thematically when you watch it. Let us in on what’s going on – otherwise it is just frustrating.

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 8 – Beans, Beans, The Musical Fruit

And now it may be official. San Juan Del Sur is on its way to the bottom of the Survivor pile. It’s a competitive bunch near the bottom. It’s got to compete with the Haves vs. Have Nots of Fiji. The age battle of Nicaragua – coincidence that this season is also filmed in Nicaragua? – is also a horrible season. The Colton-infested One World. The grinding and unlikable finalists of Thailand. This is what we have to deal with.

What San Juan Del Sur has as its theme is just as bad, if not worse, than any of those other ones. It’s boring. Honestly, it’s been really boring this season. I mean, how do we all feel about a season whose power structure seems to have been solved by farts and burps? Where the same two people think they are a power couple but are actually just constant swing votes. Where only two people seem to be capable of playing the game of Survivor and now one of them is gone.

Did I mention the farts? That’s what happened. Farts.

That’s how the Namesake vs. Josh battle was decided. Farts. It is actually part of a common error in Survivor, but one made even more pronounced with this collection of amateurs and idiots this season. Often times, an alliance will forget to take care of all of its members and will thus manage to alienate the bottom of the alliance. This leads to betrayals. Remember Cochran in South Pacific? Shambo in Samoa? Lil in Pearl Island? There are tons of examples.

It’s what made Boston Rob’s dominance in Redemption Island all the more impressive. He gathered together that collection of wild cards and naïve players and kept them together. He paid equal attention to all of them and managed to have all of their loyalty as a result. That’s a lesson unlearned by Team Josh.

I will say it is an interesting twist in Namesake’s ongoing Hero Edit that his potential win it came down to a couple of random bizarre things. If we believe Other Jon and Jaclyn, they were ready to vote out Namesake last week. Sun Tan Lady’s quit prevented the vote from taking place. That twist saved him – and when you think about it, there have been other seasons where quits happened but Tribal Councils stayed. Not this time.

It took another random decision, one that he was only a part of, which led to the power shift. After the Reward Challenge, the winning team decided to send Other Jon to Exile Island. His absence from camp led to the shifting realities that led to the big decision. And I am positive that the choice to send him there was not based on any anticipation that the upcoming implosion was happening. In fact, Namesake may not have known just how much trouble he was in until he watched this episode air.

Keith, Fartman and Alec also happened. The Reward Challenge led to a Taco Bar feast. Wes, or Fartman as he will now be known, decided to eat his weight in nachos. With Other Jon at Exile, the boys decided to turn camp into a combination of the weirdest fraternity house in history and 1950s America. There was more conversation based on bodily functions than there is at a gastrointestinal medical convention. This was offending the ladies of the tribe. But despite how rude that focus on human gas was, that wasn’t the core problem.

It was a bunch of dudes who thought they were living in a world that really doesn’t exist most everywhere else. I know on Survivor you are supposed to “create a society” but I doubt anyone thought it should be based on the patriarchal traditions of past society. Men are not “kings of the castle” anymore and women are not servants. Somehow the dudes forgot this truth.

We saw rural Louisiana rear its ugly head a bit. In many places like that, Leave to Beaver is still the norm. That’s why Keith can order Baylor around but not Alec. We also saw how the little brother takes after the big brother. Drew has gotten away with everything in his life because of his looks and attitude. Alec has gotten the brunt of that, but he has also seen his big brother score with the ladies. So obviously that attitude works, right? So was it a shock to see him handing his trash to Baylor and expecting her to clean up after him because he caught the fish?

Note to these guys – that’s not how you should act around women. Even if some women submit to that behavior, it doesn’t make it right. And on Survivor, you certainly can’t treat women that way. Their votes count just the same as the men. And even the choice to send Other Jon to Exile was based on chauvinism. Keith said they felt the big guy could make it on his own. That implies that Baylor or Jaclyn couldn’t. Or Josh and Alec for that matter, but that’s a whole other dynamic at work.

Survivor 29: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 7 – The One That Happened Before Anything Good Can Happen

Sorry for the delay – life continues to get in the way of my punctuality when it comes to reality show blogging. I apologize yet again and continue to promise a much better effort/results in the weeks ahead. It’s been a long week, but finally, I can start talking about a really pretty useless Survivor episode before moving along to a much better Top Chef episode.

But you care about Survivor. Here’s my blog….

Sun Tan Lady quit. She should never have been on this show in the first place. She only was because the show thought having John Rocker aboard was a good idea, and his girlfriend has a large chest and very full lips. Oh, and if you weren’t paying attention, Josh and Namesake are the only two really playing the game and only one will be going deep into the season. And we can all assume that Jaclyn and Other Jon are going to be making a really big decision coming up that will alter the balance of power.

And that’s about it. Sigh. I hate recapping episodes that were all about someone giving up the show. Thousands upon thousands of people apply to be on this show and they repeatedly put people on that they recruit who fail to know what they are getting themselves into. And it happened again this season.

What’s worse? She did it in the middle of what is often the best, most dramatic point of the season – the first merge vote. So many seasons have had massive drama coming directly from this one episode. Colby and Co. faking votes previously cast. The Lex Betrayal. The Penner Flip. The Hantz 4-8 Miracle. The list just goes on and on. This year? We get the quitting tanning lady.

What will her legacy on the show be when all is said and done? Besides quitting and screwing over her tribe? Probably providing the most controversial story line ever attached to trail mix in the history of trail mix. Bottom line here – we get the fun filled Merge Feast. After they gorge themselves, they all gather up what was left by putting the food in their bags. Over the next couple of days, they manage to eat all of the scraps. Except, the mystery trail mix. They all remember putting it away, but where did it go?

That’s where Sun Tan Lady comes into the story. She put it all in her bag and was planning to keep it to herself. Needless to say, they find her out and the tribe is not happy about that.

Honestly, this is what happens when you put on non-fans. Anyone who has ever watched this show knows that the tribe shares what little food it has – especially the food that comes in the feasts. The arrogance of someone thinking they could hide feast food is insane. Starving people do not forget about what is in their food supply. They just don’t. Lies have a way of finding daylight. Deception is always found out. Whether they are huge life lies or stupid TV show lies – they are always found out.

If you want to risk hoarding on Survivor – do it with found food. If you find a hidden grove of fruit…ok. If you catch a fish and want to eat it yourself…ok. However, if you get caught, you are probably toast. If not right away, then pretty soon thereafter.

So, Sun Tan Lady figured out that she just could not handle the stress and the sheer madness of Survivor. However, she is in an alliance, so any decision to leave the game will have ramifications. The question will now be whether or not the alliance will hold without her.

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 6 – I’m A Meat Collector

More on that title in a bit, it really has nothing to do with what happened on this episode. I just snorted in laughter when I heard/thought I heard that line.

You can tell it has been a subpar to mediocre season of Survivor when one of the best strategic moves of the season not only didn’t work, but resulted in the author of such a move getting voted out of the game. That is what happened here. Granted, it is not as if the game has lost a major player as a result, but I was seriously rooting for the little gambit to work.

So, having watched his daughter get voted out, or as he called it “slaughtered,” (Ew) Dale knew that he was the next one to go if Coyopa lost again. Snort. Sorry, I did it again. If they lost! That’s the funniest thing I have written in my 15 seasons of writing Survivor columns. I meant – WHEN they lost again. Silly me.

Holy crap – 15 seasons! I have clearly spent my hours wisely.

So, anyway, Dale was in the line of fire for the next vote. It is at this point that we finally get payoff from Dale’s move at the very beginning of the season. Remember when he grabbed a little token off of the water tank in Episode One? I thought it was an idol, perhaps Dale did too, but in retrospect it was not. There was no little note that it came with. I wondered why we saw this at all. This episode was why.

Dale took this “idol” and went the full Bob Crowley with it – except his move was even more brilliant. Bob used his fake idol – a masterpiece of art, if you ask me – to join Randy’s enemies in making a fool out of him at Tribal Council. It was entertaining, but it wasn’t really strategy. It was revenge. Ozzy’s fake idol was also pure entertainment, as Jason took the crude creation and based his whole survival on it. Poor Eliza – It’s a stick! Yau-Man started the whole concept of making fake idols in Fiji even if his didn’t mean much in the end.

Dale approached Other Jon and tried to cut a deal. If Other Jon and his allies would keep Dale around through this vote, he would give Other Jon the idol. I LOVED this move. He had nothing to lose with this, and he probably correctly speculated that the merge was coming after this next vote. If it worked, he has a fighting chance once the tribes get together. And it gives him a chance of having some serious revenge of his own once Other Jon played it.

To be honest, it is a rather tempting offer too for Other Jon. So tempting that I really did wonder if he was going to take it. We did not get to see if he asked for the letter of authenticity, or if he knew that it wasn’t a real idol based on seeing it on the tank over at Hunaphu, or if Keith let them in on his secret by showing them the real deal. We can only assume that Other Jon was offered an idol in exchange for turning on Missy.

It is also quite possible that is the exact reason why Dale’s strategy failed. He went after Missy again. I wonder of Other Jon takes the deal if Dale says, vote out Keith and keep me. Other Jon has proven loyalty to Missy, but Keith may be a different story. He was certainly willing to throw votes at the Bayou Man in case Dale played his fake one. We will never know if that would have worked, but it might have.

So, the best move of the season turns into a Survivor footnote. Dale joins his baby at Not Ponderosa and Keith now knows where he stands with his group – he has two votes in his pocket to mull over. He must realize that Dale wasn’t one of them. It could be a real eye opening development.

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 5 – Surround and Drown

For everyone who was intensely interested to see how the Rocker and Drew eliminations would alter the tribe dynamics going forward…well, too bad, so sad. We have new tribes.

As with most tribal shakeups, the new tribes have some intriguing scenarios too. You can’t control the random nature of things. My favorite one was when All-Stars did a second tribal shakeup and the tribes stayed virtually the same – except Amber. Of course that led to the Rob-Lex feud – so it was totally worth it. The tribal shifts often send power players to an unexpected demise – ask our good doctor from Gabon about that. Other times the tribes become lopsided in gender or age. So, it is always good to see how it unfolds.

In this case we had a couples dynamic. Amazingly four couples wound up reunited, with three of them on one tribe. The New Coyopa put poor Keith on the same side as Missy/Baylor, Kelley/Dale and Other Jon/Jaclyn. At first glance, that seems like a horrible spot for Keith. Except there was other madness to play out that wound up putting him in a much better spot than expected. The couples chose to not band together and oust Keith – they chose to turn on each other.

Meanwhile, the New Hunaphu has only one couple – Reed/Josh. That could be a problem for them too. The good news for those guys is that they are longtime fans and Josh has been getting quite the hero’s edit so far. Also, the time spent in the new tribe setting could be short. This was Episode 5. There are usually 14 episodes of Survivor each season (sometimes 15 or 13, but usually 14). That puts eight more eliminations before a Final Five Finale, and a Final Three. Unless there are unexpected double eliminations or evacuations to come. If the Final Three has a nine-person jury, then we get a merge in two weeks. That said, Namesake and Natalie seem more willing to stay linked to Reed, and thus to Josh, then anything else. Julie or Alec seems more likely to be the first vote out from this tribe.

While I thought we were going to see Ken and Barbie decide to stay with the Washington duo, in retrospect it seemed to make more sense to go with the Texas ladies instead. Together with Keith, they have a majority on the tribe, since they are assuming Dale is either the next vote, or he’s never going to align with Missy/Baylor. Missy and Other Jon had a much better connection on Old Hunaphu than he had with Kelley. Remember, his former ally Drew wanted her gone – there must have been something going on there. Along those lines, Baylor has Josh on the other tribe so post-merge an aligning of the Best Looking Couple Ever, the Texas ladies and the Broadway Boys would be formidable. And last, Dale doesn’t seem like much of a threat, but Kelley could have been. She showed some game skills by removing her dad from the rice argument before it blew up. She got it, and that could be dangerous – especially in a season like this where there seem to be few who really do get it.

Now, about the rice. Hunaphu has been so dominant this season, but as we learned this week it is a bit of an inflated dominance. Unlike past seasons where one team owned the other (with Fiji being the exception due to the inane haves vs. have nots that season), this season it seems primarily due to the horrible food rationing plans at Hunaphu. It seems they forgot that this game lasts 39 days. They whipped through their rice faster than The Specialist whipped through scoops of the crispy. They might has well have had Brandon Hantz on their team dumping out the rice. Same difference except Hunaphu won all of their challenges on full bellies. Coyopa rationed properly and got their ass kicked as a result.

When Missy got flipped over to Coyopa, we see exactly why this happened. Dale had been rationing the food properly and the tribe was set up to last a while as a result. Instead, Grasshopper Missy comes and eats up all of Dale the Ant’s food. On Hunaphu, they suck it up and beg Probst for more food. Our good host eats this up like Hunaphu eats their rations. He tells them that it will cost them dearly since they have enjoyed a rather unfair advantage thus far. It sucks especially that Missy and the other old Hunaphu will not suffer any consequences for this action, while the former Coyopans that got flipped now get punished on top of their ass kicking.

I don’t know what the damage will be, but I hope Probst takes it out on all of the former Hunaphu tribe. I thought he was going to extract the price right then and there – some rice in exchange for the immunity idol. Their price should be a member of the tribe – that seems to be the only fair cost for all of Coyopa’s visits to Tribal Council. We shall soon see what happens.

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 4 – Hubris Joins The Tribe

Forget the Rocker madness…this one rocked.

I’m going to delay mentioning the name of the ousted Survivor so those on my Facebook feed don’t get spoiled until they click the link. So, what’s going on? The Royals are in the World Series. There’s an epidemic in Africa. Prince is hosting SNL. There’s a new version of “Twin Peaks” being made. There’s war in the Middle East and Russia is being a major concern. So, instead of being closer to the 2015 in “Back to The Future” we are actually closer to the 1985 in “Back to the Future.” Heavy.

Ok, back to Survivor.

Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER throw a challenge in Survivor. Did I say never? Because…never. It never works out. Never. Never ever. I think I’ve made the point. Drew failed to understand this Survivor curse, probably because he was not a fan and was recruited to be on the show. It was just the first of many stunningly horrible Drew moments from this episode. Well, not the first. For that, we need to remember the Saga of the Flint.

Remember way back in Episode II: Revenge of the Flint? (I know, mixed Star Wars metaphor, just roll with me). So, Hunaphu lost their flint and tried to bargain with Probst. Badly. When it all shook out, they gave up a fishing gear reward – one that went to Coyopa last week – and got a new flint. Well, low and behold, Natalie was cleaning up around the fire and found the old flint! So, they now have two of them, with one of them brand-spanking new.

So, most of the tribe was chalking this up to bad luck. Not Drew. His brilliant idea…see if Probst takes returns. After all, it was never used. Everyone who has ever watched this show knows that there was no chance in hell that Probst would trade them anything for the returned flint. But Drew tried. Half the fishing gear? A snorkel? Anything? Probst messed with them for a moment but made it clear…ain’t happening. The fact that Drew even thought this was possible was stupid at best and arrogant at worst.

Actually, no. It was something else. And his subsequent volunteering to go to Exile with his buddy’s wife so he could hit on her…er…check out her ass (he did)…er…keep an eye on her, proved this was something else. While on Exile with Jaclyn, she said that Alec has been talking about his ability to pick up women in bars without even trying. The smart move would be to downplay it. Instead, he said, “Yeah, it’s a curse.”

The flint dealing. The ladies man bragging. And later the inexplicable quest to oust Kelley shows one thing – this is a dude who is used to getting everything he wants because of his looks and charm. And thus has a hyperactive ego. This man is an ego with a hairdo. That’s what this whole episode was – Drew’s ego shining for all to see.

And with hubris always comes the fall.

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 3 – Rocked Like A Hurricane

And the Great John Rocker Experiment comes to an end. Interestingly enough, the former ball player gets the boot at the exact same point in the game that former coach Jimmy Johnson got tossed. There were completely different reasons, of course, but I am sure celebrity played a fairly large and undercover end part in the Rocker elimination.

Yes, Rocker had tons of baggage and his mouth got him in a lot of trouble in this episode. He also played a rather strange game of Survivor. He played like a guy who never watched the show before. And he hasn’t so that made sense. I will also say that his days were going to be numbered anyway. The rich, athletic guy who has the reputation of Rocker had little chance of lasting too long. Most of the recognizable stars to appear not the show – especially the athletes – don’t seem to do very well. Jeff Kent made the jury, but really didn’t play a very good game. He got kind of lucky that his tribe didn’t lose for a while. Cliff Robinson went out early. Brad Culpepper was a pariah on his tribe. Only Gary Hogeboom did fairly well, and even he was identified be someone on the tribe.

This is the antithesis of the former Survivor returnee factor – they usually do insanely well. Perhaps the Celebrity Survivor will take place someday – and if so, I think an athlete version may be interesting. Perhaps even with returning athletes – Kent, Rocker, Gary, Culpy, Cliff, even Crystal Cox and Jimmy Johnson can come back. What do you say, friends?

Well, in this case, Rocker was his own worst enemy. The worst move of all? Not the dust up with Namesake and The Last Twinnie. It was saying, out loud for his whole tribe to hear, that he was secretly trying to help Val in the previous Tribal Council. That was the worst move and the one that put him in Josh’s sights. He knew he couldn’t trust him. The madness at the Immunity Challenge where Rocker’s past caught up with him was the icing on the cake.

Rocker may have had a chance to save himself by proving to his tribe – many of whom seemed willing to defend him – that he was a changed man from the hotheaded creep who splashed the tabloid pages in the late 1990s. When The Last Twinnie baited him with his past, he could have shrugged and said something like – “You’re right, I was young, dumb and on steroids. But that was a long time ago. I’m not that guy. Ask Julie, she wouldn’t be in love with that guy. I’m now a different dude.”

Instead he said that if she were a man he would hit her in the face. Sigh. And then he added that the producers should clear away the challenge so they could all fight. Oh dear. He may be a giant person among these folks, but they chose not to have this guy around them anymore.

And anyway, it’s not as if they were lighting it up with him. They had one challenge win – by Wes in a duel – and Rocker was defeated by Other Jon and his own girlfriend in challenges. If they kept losing with him, it’s not as if they could do much worse without him.

Regardless, they need to get things changed right away. Will a Rocker-less tribe have more positive energy and enable them to turn things around? They had better hope so because barring a tribal shift (likely to take place in a BvW season), these remaining folks are doomed.

The previews could indicate that next week may end the one-sidedness of the season as Drew’s arrogance/laziness got teased a bit. Because we all know how reliable the teasers are regarding what will happen next.

Honestly, I had trouble with this column this week because…well…not much is happening. It’s been the Rocker Drama that’s been dominating this season so far, but now that is over. I am hoping it’s going to be like a couple of seasons ago when Shamar got all that attention and left after four episodes. After that, the season finally picked up and the real narrative began.

Maybe that will happen for this season on Wednesday. Many past seasons of Survivor have started out slowly with false narratives only to progress in outstanding ways. Others even did the reverse. Let’s see what happens this time around.

Our current situation – on Hunaphu, Namesake seems to have things under control. Drew is annoying them by not weaving palm fronds and taking naps. Namesake is predicting that Drew will quit the game. Oftentimes, the editors leave in lines like that for foreshadowing purposes…is this one of those times?

Meanwhile, on the tribe that can’t win, Josh is the man in control. What was interesting was that he not only stayed with Baylor and brought in Jaclyn, but that the young guys voted with him. Only Dale was left out of the plan. Does this mean that Josh, the dudes and the ladies are linked up? Welcome to a brand new alliance. Dale may be in a lot of trouble.

Anyway, I am ready for Season 29 to really start, guys. Let’s make it happen.

Treemail Top 10
1 – I know that Survivors get things like lip balm, tampons and sunscreen, but it seems that Dale didn’t get the message. No, it’s not his time of the month, did you see the top of his head? You can fry and egg on that.
2 – More interesting BvW dynamics – Wes didn’t think his dad could perform the Duel well. It involved balance and precision. He was wrong, as Keith did rather well, but he was right enough because he was able to defeat his dad and win his tribe some badly-needed fishing gear. And then these two men, who probably have never had a teary moment before in their lives, had one. And it was great to watch.
3 – Inappropriate Probstism Alert – “He’s gotta get that pole out!”
4 – More Survivor Magic – Is it Rudy/Hatch again? Let’s watch the Keith/Josh dynamic unfold over time. I think this season would be rather interesting if the boyfriends and the Bayou teamed up to go the distance.
5 – And if Keith has never seen any gay men in Louisiana…well, I don’t think he’s actually been to ALL of Louisiana.
6 – Namesake. Umm. I don’t think Rocker said “homosexual” stuff. He didn’t review “Guys and Dolls.” He said “homophobic” stuff. I’ll let out get away with this and assume it was just dehydration talking.
7 – Other Jon is goofy, but he’s been killing it in the challenges.
8 – Rocker said he regretted the comments he made in 1999. It’s hard to believe him if you’ve ever read his right-wing blogging or his Twitter feed.
9 – Jaclyn ain’t just hot – she’s got some one-liner talent – “Grow some balls and stop picking on me and Baylor.” Snerk.
10 – I completely, totally thought Rocker was playing that idol. I find it even more fulfilling that Rocker left this game with an idol in his pocket.

Votes – Rocker 5 (Wes, Alec, Josh, Jaclyn, Baylor), Baylor 2 (Rocker, Dale)

Next Week – Is Drew a badass or a moron? Let’s find out.

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Survivor: San Juan Del Sur: Blood vs. Water 2 – Ep 2 – The Terrible Lie

I am just happy I got to make a reference to a Nine Inch Nails’ song in the title.

That mea culpa I made last week about Rocker? I’m taking it back. Next week seems to indicate that the old John Rocker is about to come out and play. This week we learned that he doesn’t really truly understand how to play Survivor – even if he is trying to play the game. And incredibly, despite his mistakes, he didn’t make the worst one. That goes to Val who told one of the dumbest lies I can remember ever being told on the show.

And speaking of terrible lies, I have to mention one that Rocker told last week that I didn’t even notice. The “Previously On Survivor” segment replayed it and I finally read the subtitle that went along with the stupidity. Wes confronted Rocker about his identity. Rocker obviously didn’t want him to know his last name, his notoriety, his athletic career and his wealth. It makes sense.

So, why did he pretend that his last name was not Rocker but Wetteland? The show misspelled it as “Wetland” because clearly the post-production team did not have any baseball fans who grew up watching games in the 1990s. John Wetteland was a top notch, All-Star closer for the Montreal Expos, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. He was the MVP of the 1996 World Series for the Yankees , and was the mentor for future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. John Rocker was the closer for the Atlanta Braves in generally the same time frame. He was the closer for the 1999 Braves who lost to Rivera’s Yankees in the World Series.

Why, oh why, would you try to hide your fame and wealth by picking the name of someone who shared your fame and wealth? And was better at it! They only thing Wetteland wasn’t as good at was making racist remarks to newspaper reporters. At least the other athletes on Survivor had the good sense not to pretend to be other athletes when they tried to hide their identities. Yeesh. Strategery at its best.

As for Val, telling her tribe that she had two idols in her pocket after one week on the island was sheer madness. I understand her need to put doubt in their minds at that first Tribal – it is a good bit of early self-preservation. However, doubling down and claiming two idols is insanity. Val has said in post-elimination interviews that most of the tribe had never experienced Exile Island as viewers so they didn’t know the rules. Besides making me feel rather old, this still doesn’t excuse the fact that claiming two idols is nuts. It paints a giant target on your back. At this stage of the game, the tribal majority can easily target you and someone else with a split vote to either flush out the idol(s) or send you home. Why give them an excuse?

As it turns out, her lie and Rocker’s poor game play became a toxic mix that led to her ouster – and leads to some horrible awkwardness for Rocker going forward. Rocker got sent to Exile – more on that poor decision of his in a bit. Jeremy, my Namesake, got sent by Julie to join him. Namesake knew who Rocker was but tried to make the best of it. While there, the two men agreed to watch out for each other’s spouses. Uh oh.

Rocker decided that the best way to take care of Val was to blatantly show the rest of the tribe that they were working together by walking off into the woods to talk strategy. They might as well have been wearing signs that said – “Secret allies.” Then he chose to protect her by telling the rest of the tribe that she had two idols and they should vote for her and Baylor. I assume they all wanted to get her and this was his way of saving her – I hope that was it, because otherwise it is a moronic move. Why would you sell out your ally? Especially if you think that you have an idol and she has two. That’s a powerful combo.

So, Rocker tells Val the plan and that she should obviously play one of her idols. She has none. So when the votes are cast and we have a 4-4 split between Val and Baylor, Rocker is rather peeved she didn’t play the idol. Now the other six have to revote and Rocker chooses to vote with the four-person majority. At least he could have tried to plead his case with Namesake that he fought for her until the end. Now he has shown himself to be shady to his remaining tribemates, he has made an enemy of Namesake, and has put Julie in serious danger. And next week’s previews does not seem to bode well for him as his secrets become well known.