Top Chef: Boston – Ep 9 – They’re All Gonna Laugh At You!

This very quirky and very entertaining season of Top Chef motors along with one excellent challenge and one not so much. And we shall see how the show finishes up after having its two most charismatic contestants eliminated in back-to-back weeks.

Let’s talk first about the bad challenge because it severely affected the good one. It’s all well and good when the show brings in a celebrity to spice up challenges. It’s when that celebrity seems to be very involved that risks are taken. Some celebrities are surprisingly knowledgeable about food – think about recent appearances from Shaileen Woodley and P!nk. Their input during the judging process is quite welcome. However, it’s when the celebrity really seems to bring nothing to the table (pun intended), that we have problems. Especially during the Quickfire challenges where that celebrity and Padma are the only voices that matter.

What makes it worse? That celebrity has a huge say in immunity. And at the Final Six…this is HUGE.

Huge.

Did I say huge?

I repeat this because huge is what describes Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots’ star tight end is the guest this week because he plays in New England and likes to eat. That’s all I was able to discern from this. He was also there to make Padma hot, and for that…I will always thank him and hate him. It’s not every week we get to see Padma swoon – she’s always the swoon-worthy. And it’s also not every week that we get to see Padma make jokes about wanting big sausages. That one still comes to me in my dreams.

Padma’s libido not withstanding, the problem with the Gronk challenge is that he had a big say in awarding George the Final Six immunity. George’s sausage burger may have been delicious but the skill level attached to it was so low compared to those – such as Zaphod – who actually made link sausage in the casing. This should have accounted for a lot in this challenge where the crux of the whole thing was to make something tasty and to actually try and make sausage in a short amount of time. True sausage. Kudos to George for nailing the first part but I believe he was the beneficiary of a judge who liked eating burgers that tasted like sausage.

Why did this matter? Because George took immunity and sat on it. Some chefs take big risks when they have immunity and often score Elimination Challenge wins with immunity in their pocket. George did not. I believe – based on the judges’ comments – that if he was exposed to elimination that he would have been sent to LCK. So, the bottom line – they wanted a football player on the show and as a result, had a key elimination influenced by his presence.
And it is quite the shame. Because I really liked the challenge. The chefs were presented with six famous writers who supposedly have a connection with New England. They had to select one and create a dish inspired by that writer. So cool. I love these interpretative challenges because they just open up these very creative chefs to the fullest levels of imagination. They had fun with this challenge – too much fun when you think about how the elimination unfolded.

Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Finale – Twinnie Coronation

Season 29 ends and you can tell it is not the best one when my favorite parts of the finale were seeing Keith break the fourth wall and do multiple takes on a confessional, and seeing Slackjaw Alec show up a couple of more times. Good times.

Anyway, it’s over. We move on to Season 30 after a rather subpar Season 29. But before we can move our attention to this new season, we need to wrap up Blood vs. Water 2. It was not a good season, but it wasn’t the worst. Things that this season had over bad seasons of the past – a number of likable players making the end, a lot of big moves, some great humor and a good winner.

We had five options, but only two of them would have been satisfying winners. Natalie was the one playing the hardest and playing the smartest. Keith was one of the most interesting and amusing Survivors in quite some time. BayMiss were playing, but it surely wasn’t all that interesting or likable. Jaclyn’s really hot. That’s about it. If Keith won, it would have been fun, but he would have simply been an older version of Fabio. He did ok with some aspects of the game – he won challenges, he charmed, and he managed to survive. But none of it was really due to his moves. He was never the master of his own destiny, except when he won challenges.

But he didn’t win. Natalie won. And I still can’t get over that I wound up rooting for a Twinnie this season. It is fascinating how she actually brought her A game to the show after losing her twin. They bookended the season – coming in first and last. I truly believe, and I think Natalie would agree, she would not have won if her twin didn’t get booted first. It’s almost as if that move snapped her into Game Mode.

I think she had already won the game with the moves made up to the Final Five, but she wasn’t done with making big moves. Natalie had an idol in her pocket and she wasn’t about to go home with a souviener. The question was going to be…how. Keith won immunity, so that option was gone. Jaclyn seemed the logical choice for the next vote, and the blonde beauty didn’t seem like she either had the ability to make it or the opportunity.

That was until Natalie chose an odd and somewhat brilliant move. If she took out Jaclyn, and Keith won immunity in the Final Four…she was done. Or at bare minimum, she had a fire challenge in her future. She realized that despite having her close alliance with BayMiss, her only move here was to break up that pair. She could have gathered up Keith and Jaclyn and told them to vote Baylor, but instead she chose a more dramatic move.

By playing her idol for Jaclyn and using just the two women’s votes as the deciding votes, she eliminated the Keith Wild Card. She remembered what happened to Reed. Plus, a dramatic idol play is one way to make a big show for the jury. It was an excellent move. It also made more sense to take out Baylor here because she may have had some votes on the jury and she was an immunity threat.

Top Chef: Boston – Ep 8 – How’s that for a plot twist!

It’s a 75-minute jam-packed episode so you know some wacky stuff is going down. The chefs look haggard after the grueling Restaurant Wars and are then dragged to the kitchen the next day for a Sudden Death Quickfire where they have to make a chowder. That’s rough!

What makes this even rougher and perhaps a bit unfair – the losing chef will not get to pick an opponent from the other remaining chefs. Instead, all of the eliminated chefs file in and pick one from their ranks to go against the doomed one. Only Blondie had to endure the fatigue from Restaurant Wars, and some of them have been rested for a while. Is this an unfair advantage? Does the experience of doing eight Quickfires vs. only one or a few equal the difference in physical capability? It’s a hard one to sort out. I like that twist that this produced, but I wonder about just how fair it is overall.

I’d give you the dishes made during the Quickfire, but the Bravo website seems to have decided that they were not all that important. I can’t find them. Basically, Fish Bitch steals all of the little neck clams and then gets pissed when the other chefs steal them back. Zaphod doesn’t care for chowder and is worried about getting enough clam flavor in such a short time. Gumby is using razor clams to make a Japanese dish, but gets called out by a passive-aggressive Zaphod for making a coconut curry again. Adam is trying to prove that Manhattan clam chowder doesn’t suck…in New England. Interesting. Katie is using tea, because, I guess, Boston? Kats is going Mexican. Of course. And it’s green. Happy St. Patty’s Day, says Adam. Zaphod and Kats make some bowls/balls jokes.

Fish Bitch doesn’t get good looks from hers. Kats admits to using oysters. Gumby’s sweet potato is given a shout out. Adam used tomato water, not tomato. Melissa must be a Yankees fan for using red. Zaphod used the clam juice for flavor. Katie thickened hers with sourdough bread.

Guest judge Jasper White – awesome name – puts Adam, Gumby and Melissa on top. Gumby wins and earns immunity – Adam is a close second. This bit of footage will sadly become rather important later on in the episode. Zaphod’s salty chowder, Kats’ tasteless oyster and Katie’s gummy sourdough land on the bottom. Katie loses and watches all of the eliminated chefs and Tom enter the room.

The fallen chefs vote for who will face off against Katie for the chance to re-enter the competition. Wow. Rebecca votes for George – remember him? The DC-chef, apprentice of Isabella, who lost in the first Sudden Death Quickfire in episode 1. Stacy votes for Joy. Blondie for James. Rorschack gives George another vote, as does Aa-Hole. Joy repays Stacy. George repays Aa-Hole. James votes for George and boom! George is back.

Katie and George have 45 minutes to cook rabbit. She made it once in culinary school, so she feels ok. The remaining chefs are all trying to help her out – they know her and are not threatened, but are all threatened by the unknown factor in George. Adam wonders about George’s retro glazed carrots and thus helps Katie with the butchering by giving some advice. George is worried about the legs so he makes a backup plan with the loins. Melissa is banking on George not knowing how to manage the clock – but they both plate with just seconds to spare.

George – Roasted Rabbit Loin, Barley Risotto, Glazed Carrots, and Mustard Rabbit Jus


Katie – Braised Rabbit Leg With Moroccan Tomato Sauce


Survivor: San Juan Del Sur – Ep 13 – The Red Wedding of Season 29

OK – Congrats to Blood vs. Water 2. You have now officially avoided the bottom of the barrel when it comes to seasons of Survivor. Between the idol madness that led to Fartman’s ouster and this episode – you now have a couple of big moments to cling to and it is actually possible that you may produce a worthy winner.

I said last week that Natalie had won me over despite my poor memories of her Amazing Race days. Well, now I can add that I am truly rooting for her to win this whole shooting match. And if not her, then I want Keith to be the most accidental winner this side of Fabio. At least Fabio made a couple of moves at the end. Keith is just hanging in there while the others around him make bizarre decisions and eat each other whole.

The big news this week – the APC is no more. It’s about time. Never can I recall a player who did so well in placement, came so close to winning, and had no idea what they were doing. And then came Other Jon.

He managed to survive each week and I have yet to truly understand how that happened – other than that others simply kept screwing up all around him. The APC has been a swing vote so often, and that was baffling to the APC. However, this is Survivor – being a swing vote is fairly common. How they wound up in that position week in and week out was because they were never actually in a strong alliance. They were never really trusted even if they were liked. As a result, no one felt true loyalty to them. When you are ready to flip your allegiance on fart-related reasons, you just can’t be taken seriously.

Other Jon made hjs big move by betraying Namesake, and the reason he chose to make that move was because he screwed up with the idol and Exile Island. That failure led to him making a secret enemy in Natalie who learned the old lesson that you keep your friends close and your enemies closer. This week she turned into Michael Corleone mixed with Walder Frey, or anyone else in pop culture you can think of who waited patiently to obliterate their grudges.

This was the Red Wedding of Survivor – with less bloodshed. I bet Reed wishes he pulled it off, as do I because The Reed Wedding would have been a much better title to the episode.

Some props to Jaclyn who did sense that something was up. Other Jon was so very clueless to the plot around him that he did not listen to her. Maybe he’s still busy trying to make sure he got credit for all the moves. Not playing the idol now was doubly confounding when you consider that there was only one more tribal left for him to play it. Now John and Other Jon get to go home with an idol in their pockets.

Natalie played him like a harp from hell and orchestrated a truly brilliant blindside. It was compounded by the unexpected complication of Missy failing to see the logic to it. She claimed to have given Other Jon her word and would not move against him even though her daughter – Her DAUGHTER – was telling her this was the move to make. I found it ironic that Baylor had to literally carry her mother on her back at one point in the episode since she’s been doing it figuratively for quite some time. The worst part of that? Baylor isn’t even very good at this!

Let’s talk for a minute about the other Missy news from the episode. She badly hurt her ankle during the Reward Challenge. She hurt it so badly that it swelled up and she was unable to put pressure on it. At the Reward spa day, Keith and Baylor must have whipped up some makeshift healing sock or something but it was clearly not sufficient. She was in great pain and needed medical attention. I think the Survivor medical rules are so squishy they are becoming super frustrating. On the early seasons, they wouldn’t give them anything to help with small injuries. I cannot recall any time in the past when a contestant was given a cast or rudimentary crutches. Why was Missy allowed to stay in the game if she needed these devices? It seems totally against the concept of the game. I can only guess that they didn’t want to remove a Final Six contestant unless she was in danger of death.

Top Chef: Boston – Episode 7 – It’s Time For Restaurant Wars

It wasn’t exactly the “Wars” that made the biggest pop culture impact of the week. That would be the one with the funky new lightsaber. However, for Top Chef fans and contestants, this is the signature episode of every season – Restaurant Wars. At times, I think that some chefs go on the show just to experience this challenge. And for the chefs, it is the moment that marks the endgame of the season – similar to the Merge in Survivor.

The chefs love this challenge and it shows. The enthusiasm they all show each season is infectious. That’s why it’s such a fun episode. You can see it and hear it when the challenge is revealed. The chefs are excited. Padma is insanely giddy. The show cuts out all extraneous footage and jam packs the hour with the creation of the start ups.

We get a knife draw for captains – Melissa and Katie get the honors. Surprisingly, Melissa takes Zaphod over Gumby. As it turns out, that was more brilliant than any of us realized. Katie took Gumby, Mel went with Fish Bitch and Katie took Kats. Also a surprise. Adam was the final pick, with Blondie being the last one standing.

Adam and Blondie are either volunteers (Adam) or volunteered (Blondie) to work the front of the house. Adam embraced the job – pure and simple. He loved doing it and it showed. Blondie got picked primarily because she would look good in heels. Really, that’s what was implied. Actually, the others really did not trust her in the kitchen, or respect her as a chef.

As they plan, Team Melissa discovers four decorative pigs and choose them as the restaurant’s name. Four Pigs. I love it. They also select a family style serving style which Adam freaks out a bit about – it is a difficult style with months to plan. Their aggressive nature is bold and it pays off.

Meanwhile, Team Katie probably didn’t realize the irony they were courting when they elected to name their world cuisine restaurant “Magellan.” I am certain none of them realized that Magellan didn’t survive his famous voyage. Instantly, they are set up to fail as Gumby elects to cook rather than lead. Katie is reluctantly put in as executive chef and she is not suited for it. Meanwhile, Zaphod has never done the job but he does a heck of a good job leading his team in the kitchen. Zaphod is a natural leader – he may only now be realizing this talent.

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.

Top Chef: Boston – Ep 6 – An Authentic Top Chef Thanksgiving

Yay Top Chef! A great Immunity Challenge. A decent Quickfire with a bonus Survivor-like physical challenge, despite a typical Product Placement Bonanza. A dramatic elimination moment – even if it resulted in an inevitable one instead of a shocking one.

But one thing I need to harp on again before getting into the episode. The stupid double elimination from earlier in the season. As I said then, if you are going to have one of these, use it right. Use it to make up for any Sudden Death Quickfire saves that happen. Or…use it when it is fair. This week, none of the chefs deserved to go home. The judges even said it to them when they were at Judges Table – they all made good dishes. If you can avoid it – and there are stages at the end of the season where it becomes much more difficult to do this – then don’t eliminate someone for succeeding in the basic set up of the show.

Top Chef is about successfully cooking gourmet quality dishes under extreme or bizarre circumstances. If the chef does this – then they don’t deserve to lose. When the judges are forced to nitpick – like this week – then keep them all and take out two the next time you can. All you have to do is tell them that they are all safe and that at some point in the near future they will take out two chefs when they feel there are two dishes that were subpar. If there are none going forward, then two get taken out at the Final Six even if there were none deserving of elimination.

If I were Stacy, I’d be pissed that I was out this week when Blondie continues to skate by. There have been several dishes that Blondie could have gotten axed for so far – and she has gotten very, very lucky. Stacy made a good clam dish and was taken out…why? Because they think she got some dirt in the dish? All we get is that there is an unidentified ingredient. How do they know it was dirt? Sure, Stacy plated it on the ground, but maybe these experts just couldn’t figure it out. And…AND…they liked it even with the dirt! That should be a bonus rather than a penalty – the dish was so good, they’d eat it even with a little bit of soil included.

Oh well, I liked Boston Stacy. She was good for a fun confessional and she has a perfect Good Will Hunting accent. I’ll gladly get thrown of Cheers with her someday. I loved her interaction with her Marine boyfriend after she struggled during another Quickfire. He asked her if she stabbed anyone yet. No. But LCK is still on the horizon. In tears, she yells at him, “This is me…being a GIRL! I didn’t have feelings until I met you. A-hole!” HAHAHAHA! Someone make a Boston Stacy and Marine Boy sitcom. Now. Bravo is doing scripted shows now – we have seen quite enough promos for that horrible Divorce show with the Seinfeld risotto lady. Make me my sitcom, Andy Cohen!

Anyway, I’ll get into the Quickfire in the notes at the end – but the main takeaway from it is that Katie earns the immunity win. For someone who made salads off the bat and lost a head-to-head to Aa-Hole, Katie is on a little mini roll here. Good for her.

The Immunity Challenge is really the best part of this episode, even if it is flawed at the core. I love the concept of having these gourmet chefs be forced to use 1620 technology to cook a Thanksgiving meal using the foodstuffs that was used at that fateful meal in Plymouth almost 400 years ago. Great idea.

However, by having descendants from the colonists and the Native Americans present, it makes it just a bit uncomfortable for those of us who have studied more than fourth grade level social studies. The history of Thanksgiving is not a pleasant tale as told by Linus in the Peanuts’ specials. European colonists traveled across the sea for a new home – except they found a place already occupied by others. Starving and falling apart, they were on the brink of destruction before the native population came to help them – and that was the day we honor with Thanksgiving. However, after the feast? Well, I think we all know what happened to the Native Americans. We all speak English after all.

So to me…it was a bit odd to see the descendants of these groups of people sitting around the table on a reality cooking show. That’s all, just…odd.

The challenge was a good one at the core – and educational. It’s very interesting to know what was served on that day – and how one of the items was not a turkey. Next thing you know we’ll learn that they didn’t play football or have massive sales on the next day.

Gumby decided to stretch (see what I did there?) and use the good will stemming from his recent winning streak and try to do something fairly difficult. He decided to go for the gold with a goose dish to ensure a bird made its way onto the table. It seems a goose is a very tough bird to cook – it can be, well, tough. And it’s probably a lot harder to make it using only an open fire pit.

Gumby’s goose was almost cooked. Sorry. I had to.

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.

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