Survivor: Nicaragua Recap
Turf Wars
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpwer
October 13, 2010

I love rules.

Previously on Survivor, we missed Jimmy Johnson so much – and so did his tribe. If you’re a football fan, you’ll remember that before Jimmy Johnson arrived as coach for the Dallas Cowboys, that team couldn’t win a thing. Since he left 13 years ago (excluding the year after he left when Barry Switzer won with all of Johnson’s players), that team hasn’t won. The elder tribe is experiencing a similar effect. The moment they voted him out, they had no direction and completely lost their way. Buyer’s remorse set in immediately, especially since they had no real strategic reason to vote him off other than the fact that he was the oldest member of the tribe and they wanted the thrill of voting off the big celebrity.

The net result of this tragic vote was that the older tribe was left with Dan, a guy who really can’t compete in challenges, still a member of their tribe. Even worse, they were also stuck with Jimmy T., who took every opportunity to remind them that he is actually the most annoying person in the world – and he is on a team with Holly. In terms of personality flaws, Jimmy T. is pretty high up there. He’s oddly self-absorbed for a man his age, and absolutely cannot stand to sit on the sidelines. To his own detriment, he never shut up for a moment, and this led to his demise. In the end, Espada chose to keep peace and quiet (Dan) over loud and obnoxious (Jimmy T.). The only people not to vote for Jimmy T. (other than him, of course) were Holly and Jane. We learned in Probst’s blog that Tribal Council was spent telling Jimmy T. about his many defects and making him feel generally bad about himself.

Now, the group is left with two dudes who can compete well enough in challenges (Marty and Tyrone) and everyone else. The show is called Survivor, and we don’t think the old people can. Seriously, if the camera crew left, all of these people would die – and Marty would claim that everything is going exactly as he planned. Seriously, he has to be the worst real-life manager in the world.

As the show begins, Holly is telling us that Tribal Council did not go as she had expected. She had used the logic that they should vote off the weakest player (Dan), which is frankly better strategy than we had expected of Holly. However, she was a big proponent of Jimmy T.’s notion that he should be put in charge for a while. This would like telling someone that you wanted to fire them and then promoting them to CEO. You don’t often see the last guy on the bench come in, miss six shots, then get rewarded by being named the new head coach. In theory, she is a swim coach, but we’re not sure what her qualifications are. For that matter, we’re not sure she can swim.

The previews have promised us that the tribes are going to be realigned, and this is probably really bad news for Holly, not to mention Dan and Jane. Marty, on the other hand, is probably going to get new life, as his current tribe is probably only a vote or two away from realizing he’s to blame for many of their woes.

Another interesting prospect of tribal realignment is that if NaOnka continues her horrible, bullying, evil ways, she could be eliminated, too – though she could throw a wrench into things by playing her hidden idol. If everyone voted for her and she played the idol, the person NaOnka voted for would be the one eliminated.

But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves.

Marty talks about how his game plan is solid and he can’t see anything messing him up. That sounds about right.

NaOnka talks for a few minutes. We don’t listen.

Probst sighting! And as it was foretold, our dimpled host instructs the Survivors to drop their buffs. It’s time for new tribes. Each contestant draws a rock to determine who will be the two captains, and the “winners” are Brenda and Holly. Probst tells Brenda that she must choose three older people to join her tribe, while Holly will select four younger ones to join hers. That means that the new tribal alignments are:

La Flor – Brenda, Kelly B. Kelly S., Marty, Jud (Fabio), Jill, Sash and Jane

Espada – Yve, Benry, Dan, Holly, Chase, NaOnka, Tyone and Alina

What we’ve learned here is that Yve thought she and Marty had an alliance – they are exchanging looks the whole time. Along with the two of them, the voting patterns show that they were also aligned with Dan, Tyrone and Jill. On the other side, NaOnka now may be forced to work with Alina, whom she hates, as well as relying on her alliance with Benry and Chase, which wasn’t necessarily that solid to begin with (it was all based on Brenda).

On the other side, Marty still has Jill, but had alienated Jane with the last Tribal Council vote. Brenda is solid with Purple Kelly and Sash, and we think Jud aka Fabio is probably with them even though he wasn’t a member of their alliance previously.

This week, we actually have a Reward Challenge that is separate from the Immunity Challenge. Reward is for some chickens, and the game is basically Plinko. Survivors from each tribe will drop balls down a pegged maze, and contestants who stand at the bottom have to catch those balls or risk their opponents scoring a point. First team to three points wins.

During this challenge, there are a couple of legitimate bad hops causing people to miss their balls, along with some chokes by Marty (who drops two that he shouldn’t have), Tyrone and Alina. In the end, Espada wins only its second challenge of the season, and we’re sure this is part of Marty’s master plan.

Espada arrives back at camp with their chickens – and Tyrone’s rules. Seriously, he tells them where to put the machete, when to take the machete, how to announce they’re taking the machete, and not to use the machete to chop the chickens. The younger tribe members roll their eyes. Amusingly, this is the first subject Alina and NaOnka have ever agreed on.

Holly has a different strategy for alienating 20-somethings. She keeps telling them how much they remind them of her children. Let’s be honest, folks. If Holly is talking to you at a party, you are intently reading whatever label is right in front of you, or maybe even begging for the fire alarm to go off (even if it’s a party at your house). Based on a couple of awkward conversations, Holly is ready to swear allegiance to NaOnka and Alina, and also to give them her power of attorney. We’re pretty sure she was the first person to ever fall for the Nigerian prince scam.

NaOnka talks about how her relationship has evolved now that she and Alina are forced together with the only other young members being Chase and Benry. Basically, it boils down to, “I like Alina a lot better now that she’s not hanging out with that horrible one-legged girl.” We wonder how she’ll feel about Dan’s knee. Yes, he has two legs, but one of them works poorly. When does NaOnka draw the line on when to shove someone down because they can’t defend themselves? Maybe his enormous arms will give her pause.

Over at La Flor, aka the “please vote Marty out” camp, Jud is happy that the younger tribe has numbers, but his smile fades when Marty starts talking about all the rules they should have at camp. You’d think that since the older tribe had so much structure, they would have done a lot better at the challenges.

Oh, right. Marty’s plan.

Jane tells the 20-somethings to beware of Marty and Jill because they are schemers, and a moment later, Marty is telling the entire group that he has an Immunity Idol. He totally wants them to know because it proves NaOnka was dishonest and backstabbing over on the other side. Obviously, this a power play on his part, but we can see the wheels turning for Brenda and Sash, who are probably smart enough to engineer a way to make him play it to their benefit.

In fact, if we go back to the first episode, one of the first things we saw on the show was Brenda making comments about Marty’s arrogance. He either reminds her of boyfriend, a father or a boss, and his behavior reinforces all of her first impressions.

Back over at Espada, NaOnka is losing it (more so), and Alina is relishing in her tears. It is pouring down rain and freezing cold, and she doesn’t feel like she has the fortitude to carry through the oppressive conditions. “It’s so hard. I just want to go home,” she says. It’s odd for a person who is in the “controlling” group to give up (and even though they’re split, Na’s alliance still has the numbers). Surely she won’t do this.

Thankfully, we have another Probst sighting! Tonight’s Immunity Challenge is a Rube Goldberg machine. Three Survivors will be strapped to a wheel where they take in a mouthful of water as they are spun by three of their tribemates. They have to spit their water into a bucket, and the water then flows down to release a ball. Once the ball is released, the remaining teammates will toss their balls in a game of “toss across” to break a set of tiles. Although Espada’s “slow down the wheel” strategy works to get them to the tile toss first, some good tossing from La Flor gets them ahead. Finally, they are neck and neck, and a toss from Fabio allows La Flor to take home the immunity prize. Marty is safe this week, and can dig himself a deeper hole.

After their loss, NaOnka says she knew going into the challenge that they would lose, and she’s done with the game. Again, we find this very hard to believe. We don’t think it’s time to play “It’s Anyone But NaOnka” just yet.

Before they go to Tribal Council, a bunch of Espada members decide they want to eat some chicken, and Tyrone voices disagreement. He thinks they should save the chickens for their egg production and more desperate days, but the other tribe members say that the question should be put to vote. Tyrone is the lone dissenter, and Espada dines on chicken. Holly in particular seems to have some insecurities regarding Tyrone, and has perhaps been intimidated by him up to now, but feels like she has new life now that she has some theoretical young allies “with” her. If this is an indication of the way the Tribal Council will vote, Tyrone is in some trouble.

For what it’s worth, though, NaOnka mopes in the background and has nothing to do with this discussion at all.

She may continue to be safe in her position in the tribe, though, because Holly and Benry notice that even though Tyrone was against killing the chicken, he eats more of it than anyone else. He does not have many fans at Espada, and clearly could use a class in banana etiquette. If NaOnka does not bow out herself, Tyrone seems to be in real trouble.

It’s also noteworthy that neither Dan nor Holly seem to be up for consideration at all.

“We should just be happy that we have Holly,” Later on, remember that you said this, Alina.

Tribal Council is extremely uneventful. Tyrone is very agitated, and while we were led to think that NaOnka might choose to take herself out of the game, Tyrone is clearly convinced he’s in danger of going home if not done. This season, we’ve seen several votes that did nothing to strengthen the tribe. Sending home one of the strongest players in the game as well as someone who is able to get them organized seems inconceivable. The curse of Jimmy Johnson strikes again and Tyrone is voted out. People are just not thinking about their tribal immunity at all; however, since the preview seems to show that individual immunity may be at stake next time, maybe they’re wrong and we’re right. Show us the way, Marty, because we clearly don’t get it.