Survivor: Nicaragua
You Started, You're Finishing
By Jim Van Nest
December 5, 2010


Hello, good people, and welcome to another thrilling edition of Survivor: Nicaragua. David and Kim have other commitments this evening, so you guys get stuck with me. Been a while since I've done a Survivor recap, but I have a feeling I can remember how to do it.

Before we get into tonight's episode, how about I chime in on this season thus far and how I see things potentially playing out the rest of the way? First off, this is easily one of the dumbest casts I can remember in the history of the game. Every decision seems to defy logic and every vote is an adventure - from Marty voting out Jimmy Johnson, just so he could tell his drinking buddies that he voted out Jimmy Johnson, to Sash spending the last two votes knocking out two-thirds of his actual alliance, essentially leaving himself as a one man gang with an immunity idol.

The older tribe basically destroyed themselves with stupid votes. They continually voted out strong players while letting people like Dan, who can barely even walk, slide by. The younger tribe apparently got scared by a prosthetic leg and spent the better part of the first half of the season plotting to get rid of it. Once the tribes swapped, the stupid just intensified. Marty decided to come clean about having an idol and then because he backed himself into a corner, he gave it away to Sash for one more night in the game. NaOnka stole the tribe's food, refused to accept blame and somehow she ended up propped up to be in the strongest position in the game. And don't even get me started about using wood as a way to block the wind from their fire.

This has just been one dumb decision after another. Quite possibly the dumbest decision yet is that they continue to keep Jane in this game, despite the fact that she's dominating challenges and WILL win the jury votes at the end. If she even gets a whiff of the final tribal, she's a millionaire. (Actually, she'll probably be a $1.1 millionaire as she has to be a lock for the fan favorite $100 grand.)

One last thing before I get into this recap...I'm gonna break down the chances each player has to win this game and let’s see how it turns out.

Jane: Even money. She's a workhorse, she has more will power than anyone I've ever seen and everyone loves her (save Marty). Again, if she makes it to the end, she wins.

Holly: 4-1. Holly has really turned herself into a player and I think if the tribe wises up and dumps Jane, Holly could be the beneficiary. She shook things up by starting the talk of dumping Brenda last week and I think she could be rewarded for that.

Jud (Fabio): 8-1. I realize Fabio isn't hooked up with the power alliance. Then again, he hasn't been throughout the game. He's not as dumb as he seems and I think he's likable enough that if he can find a way into that final tribal, he could be Jane's only competition. I just don't know that he's got as good a shot at the final three as Holly.

NaOnka: 10-1. Na seems to be hooked into the right alliance right now. I think she has a good shot as making the final three, but little to no shot of actually getting the cash.

Chase: 12-1. Chase has a shot at getting to the end, but he's been so wishy-washy and because he spent the first month of this game being Brenda's bitch, I don't think he has a chance in hell of getting the votes to win this game.

Sash: 15-1. If you had asked me three weeks ago, Sash would have been right behind Jane. But voting out his strongest allies two weeks in a row was not one of the brighter things for him to do. He has an idol, but that will only get him so far. He has pretty much screwed the pooch on what could have been an easy ride to the finals. As it is now, he'll really have to step up his game if he's to make it to the end.

Dan: 20-1. He's such a non-threat that it's possible that the entire cast will be trying to figure out just how Dan managed to make it into the final tribal. And wouldn't THAT be a gem of a speech? Dude should have been the first one voted out (well, that first chick WAS annoying) Okay, second one voted out. And yet, he still hobbles along.

Benry - 25-1 Benry is pretty much an idiot. He's there for the ride and despite performing relatively well in the challenges, he still hasn't actually won one. His alliance is with Dan and Fabio and I suppose they could ride a wave to the end, but I really don't see that happening. And since he's more of a threat at challenges than Dan, he'll be taken out first.

Purple Kelly - 1 gazillion to 1 She gets these odds because I'm still not convinced she exists.

Okay, enough stalling...let's get to tonight's episode, shall we?

I'm not even through the opening "Jeff tells us what's been going on" segment and already the theme of the night seems to be "quitting." Oh, joy. Nothing makes me happier that when people quit Survivor. Mainly because those losers took up a spot that I could have had...and I can guarantee you I would never quit. As Jeff goes on, he seems to target NaOnka and Kelly. And I know it's the little recappy thing, but watching Brenda go down in flames again was very sweet.

Back at camp after tribal, we're reminded that while we can see the castaways with the night vision cameras, they are in the pitch dark. Kelly tells us that she's completely messed up now that Brenda is gone. The fact that no one even told her what was going on seems to let her know that she's at the bottom of the totem pole no matter which alliance she joins.

NaOnka has a confessional where she insults someone. I'm not even sure who anymore. Chase and Holly are discussing their core alliance of them and Jane and NaOnka. Chase tells Holly they need to target Sash to get rid of him and the idol. And with that, roll the credits.

When we come back, the heavens have opened up. The pond is gone and has been replaced by a river roaring out to sea. As the storm pounds the players (ya know, since they only have half a tarp), NaOnka and Kelly tell us how they feel like they can't take this weather and the conditions anymore. Fabio tells us that it really is mind over matter and you just have to make up your mind that you can handle it.

Once the rain stops, Benry and Fabio take a walk and discuss how much they'd love it if NaOnka and Kelly decided to step out of the game. It gets them closer to a million dollars. We join Chase and NaOnka discussing whether or not she wants to quit. And in a move that pretty much seals the deal for me, NaOnka hands over her immunity idol to Chase. The way she's played this game, there's not a chance in hell that she would give up this idol unless she had mentally checked out.

Jane and Holly start talking about their plans if both players quit. They say that Chase and Sash will make them a solid four that they can ride all the way to the end. Sash agrees to this and then tells us that he does not trust Jane, Holly and Chase. He has all his trust with NaOnka and Kelly, so he realizes that if they both leave, he'll be totally screwed.

We come back from break to a Probst sighting! They are lined up for a reward challenge. They will be divided into two teams and tethered together. They will each have an eight foot stuffed dummy, nicknamed "Gulliver". Seriously? Are we really sticking product placement into the reward challenge? We are? Well, I ain't playing ball. The challenge is to untie the dummy and then carry it through an obstacle course. First team through gets to go to the Survivor Cinema to see a movie that shall remain nameless. They will also have all kinds of movie snacks (popcorn, hot dogs, nachos and tons of candy.) Worth playing for? I thought so.

They divide the teams up and Jane, Fabio, Sash and Kelly are one team. Holly, NaOnka, Chase and Benry are the other team. Dan was not selected, so he gets to back a team. If that team wins, he gets to go on the reward. This is really an interesting and competitive challenge. I could just do without the horrible product placement. As it goes, both teams are neck and neck throughout the challenge. As they get to the end, the Fabio team slows down a little, which is just enough to let the Holly/NaOnka group pass them up and win the challenge.

After the challenge, as Jeff is describing what the winning team will get and how that's going to work, NaOnka raises her hand and says that she has given 110% to this game and that she gave everything she had into this last challenge. She tells Jeff that this will be her last day. Jeff confirms that she's quitting and then asks if anyone else wants to quit. At this time, Kelly speaks up and says that she's quitting too and that this is her last day. She can't live on a couple spoonfuls of rice. She's physically and mentally exhausted. Kelly explains herself and ends with "I'm good." Jeff's reply, "Well, I'm not good." He gives them the afternoon to decide if that's what they really want. He's calling a Tribal and if they still want to quit at that point, they can.

Jeff makes one last offer to the winning team...if one of them wants to skip reward and stay behind, they will earn a new tarp for camp as well as enough rice to last the rest of the game. After looking back and forth at each other, Holly finally says that she'll skip reward. As she stands with the losing team looking at NaOnka, she is completely amazed that the quitter didn't take a hit for the team, considering she's getting ready to have all she can eat meals at Ponderosa. As Holly is telling Jeff that she has to take care of the tribe, Benry is telling NaOnka that she should be doing this.

Holly is bummed because she feels like she misjudged NaOnka. Really? This shocks you??? I mean, all she's done so far is steal someone's socks and then berate them for questioning her, knocked over a one-legged girl for having the audacity to be, ya know, one-legged, stolen the tribe's food and just been an all around bitch from day one. She's just a terrible person all the way to her core. She's been terrible this entire game and it's right in her character to let Holly take the hit for the team, while she goes and has a bunch of food right before she walks out of the game to get, that’s right, a bunch of food. It's a good damn thing that we have a commercial break here; I need a break to calm down.

Okay, I grabbed a new drink, some chips and I feel much better. We come back to the game joining the losing team (with Purple Kelly on it) as they return to camp from the challenge. Talk turns to how awesome Holly was for getting the tarp and rice. Fabio's loving life since he wasn't going on the reward anyway.

Holly takes Kelly to get wood and decides to hand out some free motherly advice. "You came here for one reason and the reason was to play Survivor. You need to suck it up and you need to play the game. If you quit, you'll always be remembered as the girl who quit Survivor: Nicaragua 21." Holly essentially tells her that they have more food and a new tarp and she shouldn't have any reason to want to leave. Kelly then has the line of the season, "I've been sucking it up for 28 days. I have nothing left to suck." Somewhere Little Chase is weeping.

Back to Holly for a second, though...she is REALLY turning it on. After last week's power play to dump the self-proclaimed King, now she's winning rewards, giving them up for the good of the tribe, talking people into staying. If she wins the million, we'll be able to look back to this episode as the exact moment she overtook Jane.

On to the people having their reward. Chase and Benry are pissed at NaOnka for not stepping out and helping the tribe. Naturally, NaOnka feels she was 100% justified in taking the reward. She worked real hard to win that reward and she'll be damned if integrity is going to keep her from it. Meanwhile, they feast on movie snacks and candy while watching their movie. NaOnka tells us how much energy she has now and that if she stays she could win a million dollars. Hmmm...could this be much ado about nothing and both of them are gonna stay? Kinda starting to sound that way.

Back at camp, Kelly is telling Holly how good of a move she made. She tells us that she doesn't think that the rice and tarp will be enough to keep her there. Honestly, Kelly has not made one decision on her own this entire game. I have no doubts in my mind that she will not start now. If NaOnka leaves, Kelly will leave. If NaOnka stays, I'll bet my salary that Kelly will manage to find something else to suck.

Jeff jumps right into it and recaps the events that led to the special Tribal. As he says it, the three jury members' jaws drop to the floor. Jeff asks Holly about wanting to quit. For the umpteenth time, she tells us about how Jimmy Johnson kept her in the game. She reiterates how ridiculous it is to leave the game after 28 days. He talks to NaOnka about quitting. She says that her joints hurt in the rain and that the weather has been so bad and cold and she's just had enough. She then mentions something about being the only African-American left, despite the fact that Sash is still there. Oh yeah, and she's a strong black woman. Not sure that has anything to do with anything, but she felt it important to point out her strength as she is making one of the weakest plays in the history of the game.

On to Kelly. She says the storm that day was just too much. She feels like her body is breaking down. Jeff asks Benry what he thinks. He's frustrated listening to them whine. Fabio says he thinks it's all about willpower and that they obviously don't have it. Jeff then asks NaOnka about the reward. She goes on about how great of a time she had. He then asks her if she realistically thinks she could win the game. She says definitely. This brings us to the Probst line of the episode, "This is amazing. Please go on. Regale me with a story, woman." She talks about being strong and having drive and basically everything that she's NOT showing right now.

Jeff asks about the reward and the movie and watching Benry try to find a way around saying the movie sucked is quite comical. Next up is the topic of giving up the reward for a tarp and food. He hits NaOnka on not stepping down and she simply says "I didn't want to." I mean WHAT. A. BITCH! I think I'm done talking about her now and I certainly will not type her name again. So here we are, "The Decision." He starts with her and she quits. Next up is Kelly. She, too, quits. The jury is thoroughly pissed. Marty literally looks like he could run over there and kill someone. Alina starts to tear up and Brenda seems to still be pondering how these pieces of Samsonite stayed in the game over her.

The next order of business is what to do with their torches. So Jeff asks Quitting Bitch what she thinks. She says they should be "smuffed". Purple Quitter also thinks they should be snuffed. The torches will be kept at Tribal as a reminder to them every time they come back on the jury of the decision they made. Hold the phone...they get to come back on the jury?!?!?!? What the hell kind of decision is that? First off, they don't get their torches snuffed! They quit. Probst should have taken both torches, broken them over his knees and thrown them in the fire. You want to quit? Then it's like you were never here. You DON'T get to go live it up at Ponderosa. You DON'T get to do all the interviews and press tomorrow morning. You DON'T get to come to the reunion. And you sure as hell DON'T get to be part of the Jury, for crying out loud! What kind of idiocy is this? In a couple weeks, three people will be asking for a jury to award them a million dollars and two Quitters will get to help make that decision. There is not one thing even remotely close to right with any of this.

Forget for a minute the three people sitting on the jury who would give anything to get back in the game. What about the thousands (of which I'm one, by the way) who would give anything for just the opportunity to play this game? I've been saying for years that I thought I could play this game and win it. Even if I'm seriously overestimating myself, the one thing I know for sure is that I sure as hell would never entertain the thought of quitting! There are a lot of things I don't like to see players do in this game, but quitting is the number one worst thing anyone can do. We've had six quitters in the history of this game and that's six too many. And to think these two losers got to keep playing while Jimmy Johnson was sent home. The two wastes of my television airtime got to keep playing while Marty and Brenda got sent off to the Jury.

Some of you may think that maybe I'm a little too upset about this. And maybe you're right. But what I know is this: I've watched every episode of every season of this show and I've recapped some eight to ten seasons of it. I've put a lot of time and work into this show. That's because I love the concept of the show. It's the 1 reality show that I still watch. And to watch people who've never seen the show before (if I've read correctly, Purple Quitter has never seen an episode) treat it like shit, after everything I've personally put into it...well that pisses me off. A Lot. And to see them get to continue wasting my airspace makes me want to puke.

That all being said, let's discuss the ramifications of these decisions for a minute. Suddenly, the man without an alliance (Sash) finds himself as the swing vote between two three-person alliances. Jane, Holly and Chase and Dan, Benry and Fabio. Everyone else will go on as planned, but Sash becomes a HUGE part of this game now, with the power to end an alliance and oh by the way, an immunity idol. What impact will Chase's new-found idol have on the game? So far, no one else knows he has it. Even if Sash sides with the other alliance, Chase has the power to thwart that attempt and take control of the game anyway. Hell, even the previews don't seem to know what's happening. In our ten second promo I heard four different names of people who are definitely "going".

One thing's for sure, David and Kim picked THE PERFECT time to need me to fill in. Hopefully I haven't been too offensive and you're not missing them too much. If so, um, I hate to tell you that you're stuck with me for the next two episodes. David and Kim will be back for the season finale, so have no fear; you'll be back in their good hands soon. Until next week, take care.