Survivor: Nicaragua
Stuck in the Middle
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
November 17, 2010

Brenda's triumphant return from burying NaOnka at sea.

Previously on Survivor, Marty finally backed himself into a corner from which there was no escape. He’d been at the mercy of Brenda and Sash for a while now, but they’d finally decided it was time for him to go. This made Jane very, very happy.

The other aspect of the Marty vote that even the dumbest players have to recognize is that Brenda and Sash are now in complete control of the game. They have systematically eliminated everyone who they think may threaten them at the final vote. We have stressed all along that we think they’ve failed to focus on the short term. We’re about to find out whether they were right or we are.

Remember how we said even the dumbest player could recognize that Brenda and Sash are in control of the game? Hey, Holly has noticed that Brenda and Sash are in complete control of the game! She pulls Jane aside and they talk about the situation, with both of them agreeing that it is time to look into their options. In a clever bit of editing, Brenda is shown reveling in their dominance. She states that she and Sash are queen and king of Survivor, but stresses that Sash is more the queen while she is the king. This is fair warning to Chase that if they’re ever in a relationship, he will never make a decision again. Also, Brenda will call him a pussy for never making a decision.

Meanwhile, Holly is obsessing over the Brenda/Sash situation, which means that she’s going to talk about it with everyone she sees. The surprising thing is that she does get Benry to see her point of view. It’s readily apparent that Holly is going to do everything she can to get Brenda eliminated, up to and including asking Chase to vote against the girl of his dreams. As expected, Chase says, “Gee, I’d rather vote for Benry.” Benry is not as cute.

Jane also has her part to play in these machinations. “I don’t like to associate myself with villains. Not in real life. Not in this game,” she says…to NAONKA.

Fortunately, we don’t have to listen to that nonsense anymore, because it’s time for a Probst sighting. The Survivors are split into two teams of five. The reward is a visit to an active volcano, along with pizza, soft drinks and chocolate brownies. The blue team is Chase, Purple Kelly, Jane, NaOnka, Fabio, while the yellow team is Brenda, Sash, Holly, Dan and Benry. The challenge has them using four barrels, some rope and a couple of planks to move their entire team across the beach without touching the ground.

The blue team, under the guidance of Chase and with some very good communication and teamwork, gets on a roll very quickly. The yellow team only gets more discouraged when they fall off their barrels and have to go back to the beginning. This only gets the blue team more excited, and they quickly make their way to the end in dominant fashion.

Once the challenge winners arrive at the volcano, they go sledding (yes, sledding) down the side of it. In a Jackassian moment, Fabio goes hurtling down the side of the mountain and falls side over side in comic fashion. Jane does a little bit better, and tells us in a camera confessional that she’s ridden mechanical bulls, so this is nothing. She’s an X-Games superstar waiting to happen.

The group idly wonders what’s going on back at camp, and then decides they don’t care.

Perhaps they should, though. Their fire has gone crazy in the wind and burned the entire campsite. Before leaving for the challenge, they had created a barricade around the fire to keep it going in spite of the rain, including one chest of food. All of it has burned, including the food, the machetes, and even their tarp (which isn’t completely gone, but is at least partially melted). Benry says it’s a day from hell, and that their only choice is to wrangle whatever is still left.

As we know, the other group is busy not worrying about what’s going on back at the ranch. They’re instead discussing who will be the next person eliminated. Fabio brings it up, and before the conversation can get too far, NaOnka gets up and takes him aside, which causes the other three some consternation. Yes, she tells Fabio, the person she hates, that the vote will be for snaky Brenda. Fabio is delighted at this turn of events, as he may be the only person who realizes that it’s not necessary to play too far ahead in the game. All he wants to do is survive the next vote and fly under the radar.

Meanwhile, Chase tells Purple Kelly, “You hardly ever talk. It’s weird.” He’s right.

We come back from commercial break and Chase can hardly wait to tell Brenda that she is the person on the chopping block next. She scoffs, and Chase tells us all about how much he trusts her. Trust is clearly a synonym for lust. Then, he goes on to talk to NaOnka and wonders how she feels about the vote. He posits to her that perhaps Benry should be the target. She disagrees, and he immediately tells her that he has already informed Brenda about the plan. Chase, even NaOnka thinks this is obnoxious. Remember when we talked about Brenda never letting you make a decision earlier? Well, she would be right not to do so, because Little Chase is obviously the one in charge.

NaOnka tells Benry, Jane and Holly about what has transpired, to which Jane replies that she might just have to whoop his ass. Chase is clearly in a position to have to choose between pseudo-girlfriend and pseudo-mom. We know who Little Chase wants.

There’s been a lot of strategizing, but at least we’re up to the Immunity Challenge and a welcome viewing of Probsty-poo. The challenge has each player holding onto a rope at a difficult angle to keep themselves out of the water. It’s about endurance and some upper body strength. First to go is Sash (who really sucks in challenges, incidentally), followed by Purple Kelly, Holly, Brenda and then Dan. Fabio decides to give it up, and then NaOnka falls.

Of the people remaining (Chase, Benry and Jane), Dan is rooting for Jane, which would make Marty so mad! Benry knows that Chase is gunning for him, but can’t quite beat out the Carolinians. Jane struggles and nearly drops out, but Probst tells her to dig deep and she does. Jane wins Immunity once again.

Back at camp, it’s time to play It’s Anyone But…well, we don’t know. We’d like to say Brenda, but it’s been played up so strong in the first 40 minutes of the show, it feels like a swerve is in order. Even so, discussions at camp go very similarly to the way they have been the entire episode. Chase once again advises Brenda that she is in trouble, telling her that NaOnka has switched sides. “Nay’s not going to vote for me,” Brenda says. She says that she’s not going to scramble or panic. If she can keep her cool, her friends won’t vote for her.

The problem Brenda has kept NaOnka around all this time because she was useful, but the problem is, NaOnka is playing the game, too. As soon as Brenda crowned herself queen/king of the island, it rubbed people the wrong way, NaOnka most of all. Sash ponders giving Brenda his hidden idol, but we all know he’ll never do that – especially NaOnka, who has a perfect read on Sash. Besides which, he really gains nothing by saving her. If the two of them are still in the game, they don't have numbers. They don't have allies. They're next to go, regardless what happens. He sees this writing on the wall and he changes his gameplay accordingly.

At Tribal Council, there isn’t even much suspense about what is going to happen. The only highlight is Jeff asking Purple Kelly to weigh in with her 20 years of wisdom. “Well, let me tell you. Twenty years of wisdom. I think that…” after a long pause she spits out some garbled gobbledygook that makes no sense.

Jeff asks Brenda if she has been scrambling in the approach to this vote, and she looks at him with disdain. “Not scrambling,” she says. When Jeff asks her if scrambling is beneath her, she answers that it is. Kings don’t beg, Probst-serf.

And with that Brenda gets every vote except her own and Purple Kelly’s. The Queen/King is dead. Long live the Queen/King.