Survivor: Nicaragua Recap
Glitter in Their Eyes
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
October 4, 2010

Jimmy T, is that you? Get off the line!

Previously on Survivor, the contestants were broken up into two tribes: the young people, and the people with no hope whatsoever. Of course, the person voted off last week came from the younger tribe, but Shannon’s elimination was a certainty from the first moment he opened his mouth (take a hint, NaOnka).

Also, Jimmy Johnson is there.

The big news last week is that Jill deciphered a clue for a hidden Immunity Idol, figured out the location and then let someone else find it. No, we don’t understand that, either. She even allows Marty to take most of the credit, allowing him to perceive himself as the alpha dog. Jill seems to want to be the king-maker rather than the king so that she can be perceived as a less aggressive player in comparison. It’s a passive way of throwing him under the bus.

What we’re really wondering is…are you gay?

As the La Flor tribe returns from Tribal Council, a few tribe members profess that they will follow Probst’s advice to become more unified. This makes NaOnka’s head bob. To her mind, her alliance has just won the game, with the remaining trio of Alina plus Na’s two sworn enemies of Jud (aka Fabio) and Kelly B. on the outs. From a gameplay perspective, she may be right. Thus far, we find ourselves wondering if the older tribe has any hope of making it to the merge with more than a couple of members. Ergo, the dominant La Flor alliance could feasibly make up the body of the jury. We generally don’t think it’s a good idea to extrapolate a month of behavior based on a week of results, but when we look at Dan, Holly, Jimmy Johnson and Yve, we do not see strong physical competitors. The challenges will have to be more and more imbalanced toward the side of wits if they are to survive.

All of this is irrelevant to the fact that NaOnka is the worst person in the world (after Shannon). After the show is over, we expect her to go back to luring children into her gingerbread house.

If you are wondering how many days it took Jimmy Johnson to go crazy, the answer is seven. He starts relating to the howler monkeys and tries to start communicating with them in their language. This might seem ridiculous, but we would point out that he’s had to do something similar with Jerry Jones in the past.

Jimmy Johnson isn’t the only crazy one, though. For some reason, Marty sees Jimmy Johnson as his only impediment to winning Survivor, and he’s fixated on the former football coach. He is truly agitated that a celebrity is on his tribe (perhaps because Marty thought he would be the only millionaire there), and is convinced that his tribemates have “glitter in their eyes” for Jimmy Johnson. Marty wants to be the only alpha dog, and in his view, he’s battling Jimmy Johnson for that spot.

For her part, Jill starts chipping away at the crazy by telling Marty that he ought to reveal the hidden Immunity Idol to the entire tribe. She seems to be deciding how easy it is to manipulate him. If he really wants to be the domination, he won’t fall for this.

It’s time for the goofy Fabio music. “My whole strategy, bro, is to be out in the open and kinda make people laugh and be all crazy. But it goes deeper than just ‘Ha ha, let’s keep him because he’s funny,’ it’s like [cue even goofier music]… hermit crab on my foot!”

Back over at Espada, Jill’s cunning plan has worked. Marty reveals the idol to the entire group. Jimmy T. speaks up and talks about how much of a stand up guy Marty is, but Tyrone thinks Marty is shady and has ulterior motives.

We next see Dan psyching himself up. He admits to being tired, but claims to be as strong as any of the women, even if there might be tougher men on the tribe. While he’s having this self-talk, we can’t help but look at his gruesome knee in all of its high definition glory. He has obviously had at least one major surgery if not more, and it is approximately three times the size of his other knee (which also has a sizable scar). Yve correctly points out that he is a vulnerability for Espada in challenges – unless he’s sandbagging.

The dominant group at La Flor – Sash, Purple Kelly, Chase, Brenda, Benry and NaOnka – is discussing the biggest threat amongst the other three tribe members (Alina, Kelly B. and Fabio). For NaOnka’s part, she doesn’t view Benry as part of “her group,” but for all we know, the other five don’t consider her part of theirs. Really, you only need five out of nine to make the alliance work, and if she continues being vile, she might get eliminated purely because she is horrible to be around.

Probst sighting! Once again, we’re combining Reward and Immunity. Reward is some fruit and some spices, and the younger tribe is given the option to use the Medallion of Power. If they do, the will start with a two barrel lead in the contest, which has each team tossing beanbags on top of ten aforementioned barrels. Before they can do that, they have to retrieve the barrels from a field. The younger tribe figures they can win without the extra advantage, and Jeff leaves both sides to strategize.

Jimmy Johnson acts very coach-y, asking his teammates about their strengths. People are assigned tasks that are best suited to them. The tribes are pretty even after barrel retrieval, though Benry takes the La Flor tribe to a slight early lead. Tyrone quickly gets Espada back in the game, and puts them solidly ahead by a score of 6-3. At this point, Tyrone goes into a slump for the ages, allowing Benry to get the younger tribe back even. Jimmy T. bitches the whole time, and begs Jimmy Johnson to “put him in.” He seems to be blaming the coach for their troubles, though it’s pretty clear that Tyrone isn’t willing to exit the game, either.

Eventually, Tyrone gets the score to 7 versus La Flor’s 9, and Jimmy T. finally gets to come in and take it to 9-8. However, Benry throws the killshot to end the game, giving the younger tribe the win. There are a lot of frustrated looks over at Espada.

The end of this segment and the start of the next one are difficult to watch. When Kelly B. and NaOnka go to pick up the fruit basket they won, Kelly notices that there is a piece of paper hidden in the basket – another Immunity Idol clue. She slyly tries to get NaOnka to put down the basket to verify what she sees, but it backfires. There might as well be a giant sign pointing at the clue as far as NaOnka is concerned. They carry the basket back to camp together, and then, well, there’s no way to say it other than “it’s on.”

In the world of Surivor, it is absolutely true that you should do whatever you can within reason to get your hands on a hidden Immunity Idol – or a clue that leads you to it. This particularly holds true if the other person who knows about it is in a different alliance than you are. However, NaOnka takes it too far.

She literally pushes a crippled person down to the ground, taking advantage of her disability. Once Kelly B. Loses balance, NaOnka is able to gain enough leverage to grab the clue.

“Sorry about smushing your bananas,” says NaOnka to the tribe.

Jud says, “There was a note?” and “She smushed all the bananas?” He doesn’t understand why there would be a fight, much less why food would have to be destroyed in the process. Essentially, the reason is that NaOnka hates Kelly B. for her disability. We hate to say it, but it’s true. We noticed it in the very first episode, and it hasn’t gotten any better.

“Don’t think I’m going to be nice to you because you have one leg,” says NaOnka. She doesn’t need to worry about that.

“My name is NaOnka, not fool,” she notes. We don’t know about that.

NaOnka approaches Brenda and offers to share the clue with her. This is strategic, because she specifically wants to pick the person who is calling the shots in her alliance. Instead, she probably should have picked someone who could have figured out the clue – although we’re not entirely sure who in her group that would be.

When Espada returns to camp, you see the emerging dynamics of the tribe. They’re all looking at Jimmy Johnson as a legendary coach – who failed them. Jimmy T. is mad because he didn’t get to go in soon enough and feels is talents are being wasted in the challenges…even though he wasn’t supposed to throw. Conversely, Tyrone is mad that everyone is acting like they should get to play and points out that it’s about winning the game rather than getting a participation award. He denies it, but the vibe he gives is that he’s mad about being taken out. So, Jimmy Johnson gets blamed for both sides of it, and presumably remembers why he was so happy on the day he announced his retirement from coaching.

Marty is just glad they’re finally going to be “playing the game.” He seems to be one of those Survivor people who believe the game isn’t worthwhile until people are eliminated. We’ve liked a lot of what he’s done in the first two episodes, but any time someone starts talking about how it would be better if their tribe had fewer people, we want to slap them. Prior to the merge, Survivor is a game of numbers. If your numbers dwindle, you are automatically losing.

It’s time to play It’s Anyone But Dan. Probst called him out during the challenge and he seems both mentally and physically exhausted. He is…old. And has at least one bad knee. We wondered why the tribe sat him for last week’s challenge, but it’s obvious tat he is a huge liability.

But wait. The editing suggests that Jimmy Johnson is in quite a bit of trouble. The concerns us, as well as the people at Nielsen (and CBS). What’s clear is that Marty is fantasizing about how much of a legend he’ll be if he is the person who eliminates Jimmy Johnson. Two of the other alpha males, Dan and Jimmy T., both have cause to go along with that plan. Dan is happy it’s someone other than him, while Jimmy T. is a Patriots fan and therefore hates the coach of the former Miami Dolphins. Tyrone is reticent to go along with the plan, as he wants to eliminate the weakest players so that the tribe gets better.

Although we’re clearly meant to believe that either Dan or Jimmy Johnson is going home, we have to believe that Dan is the vote tonight. The tribe is weaker without Jimmy Johnson.

At Tribal Council, Probst asks each member of Espada whether they believe they are one of the weakest players there. Most of them lie and say they are not. Jimmy Johnson says that he is. Uh oh.

And in fact, his tribe has judged him to be the weak link. Jimmy Johnson lasted three episodes with a huge target on his back, but he looks tired and it’s obvious that Espada’s failure in the challenge is largely being attributed to him. We find this ludicrous, but we’re not “Fire the Coach” people. Unfortunately, for Jimmy Johnson, Marty started the website on the first day at camp, and everyone - including Tyrone and the crazy woman who filled Dan’s shoes with sand - has bookmarked it. To our amazement, Jimmy Johnson is voted off, while Dan lives to compete in another episode. Marty believes he is in complete control of this tribe now…as does Jill. It’s not going to matter when they all get picked off over the next several votes.