Survivor: Nicaragua
Not Sure Where I Stand
By Jim Van Nest
December 13, 2010

The Michael Jordan tongue thing didn't work for him.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Nicaragua. I'm your fill-in host, Jim Van Nest, and I can't wait to see who plans to quit this week. Rather than a quickie recap of the obnoxiousness that was last week's episode, let's leave it at "Quitting Bitch and Purple Quitter are gone." more comment about the Quitters. I absolutely love that one day after she destroyed her alliance, sending Brenda home, Quitting Bitch leaves the game with Brenda looking on. This is the ultimate Reality show murder/suicide. The real issue, though, is what does that do to the game and the current alliances, if anything?

As it is, we have two clear-cut 3-person alliances right now in Chase/Holly/Jane and Benry/Dan/Fabio. But Jim, there's seven people left in the game. Why yes, that's true. After completely misplaying his hand over the last couple weeks, Sash was given a great gift last week as the biggest wildcard left in the game decided everyone she knew would be proud of her for getting within nine days of a million bucks. As it is right now, he's on good terms with both alliances in the game and he'll have the benefit of weighing his options and deciding which team he wants to play for. (For what it's worth, Shannon is pretty sure he knows what team Sash plays for.) The key for Sash now is to determine if he stands a better chance with the girls or the guys. If you ask me, he stands a better chance against the guys as only Fabio could potentially beat him, in my opinion. That being said, that pretty much guarantees that he'll join the girls where only Chase could potentially lose to Sash. But, there haven't been many good decisions made in this game, so why should I expect it now?

Since we started it last week, we're going to try to make the Weekly Player Rankings a new feature here at BOP. So, without further ado, here they are going into this week's episode:

Holly: 2-1. Holly leapfrogged Jane in last week's episode. First, we see her trying to talk Purple Quitter into staying in the game and we know she's played a motherly role for Quitting Bitch in the past as well. Then, throw in the whole "giving up reward for the good of the tribe" thing and Holly has really started to separate herself from the pack. At this point, if the alliances break in her favor, Holly has to be the huge favorite to win.

Jane: 3-1. Jane didn't do anything wrong last week, she just lost ground because Holly had a fantastic week. Jane is still a serious threat to win this thing, but I can see her becoming a target before Holly due to her strength in challenges.

Sash: 8-1. Sash is my biggest jumper this week and oddly enough he didn't even have to do anything to jump up like this. He was damn near a dead man walking (with only the idol stopping that from being true) and then in a blink of an eye, all the power shifted right into his lap as he'll be the deciding vote in tonight's three-on-three Tribal Council. If he chooses wisely, he'll move up in next week's rankings. If he chooses poorly, he can drop right back down where he was.

Jud (Fabio): 10-1. Fabio drops a bit this week, but only because the Quitters really improved Sash's place in the game. I still think he's in a very good spot to go far in this game. Again, depending on the alliance break tonight, Fabio could end up a shoe-in for the Final 3 and as likable as he is, he could walk out with the money.

Chase: 12-1. Chase remains the same only because if Sash chooses the girls, Chase may come to the Final 3 on the coattails of Jane and Holly. He does have an idol, but he's shown no kind of strategy throughout this game, so I don't expect the idol will do much to enhance his standing in the game.

Dan: 20-1. Dan hasn't changed, either. He's in no danger to go home this week, but he's also in no danger of actually winning this game. He's contributed nothing to the tribe (or to our viewing, for that matter) and will be seen as an under the radar kinda guy who was only kept because there was always someone more important to get rid of.

Benry - 25-1 Benry also doesn't change this week. I still think he's an idiot and yet, he seems like he could be the first target of the girl alliance, should Sash decide to join them. Benry doesn't seem well liked and he puts out 120% in the challenges. I think he'll easily take the bullet before Fabio and Dan. And if Sash makes the wrong choice, we could see Benry's torch extinguished tonight. Okay, let's get to the episode.

Wow, I'd like to welcome you all to the Sash Show. The recap all focuses on Sash and how he was affected by the quitters. I mean, I knew that he would be a focal point being a perceived swing vote and all, but I didn't realize he would be THE focal point. This should set us up for some mind-numbing game play.

We join the Survivors at camp after Tribal. Holly's pissed that they had to go to Tribal and get soaked so that the quitters could quit and go be dry. She is thoroughly pissed that they would go that far and then voluntarily leave. The rest of the tribe decided to name their chicken Kelly-Nay, since they were both chickens. The star of the Sash Show tells us how he's on the outs of both alliances but because he has an idol, he's in a good position.

We come back from break to find Sash talking with Chase, Fabio and Benry and telling them he plans to play the idol because he thinks it puts a target on his back. I'd explain this more, but honestly, I have no idea what he's actually saying. Not one bit of it makes any sense at all. Chase tries to get Sash to come with the girls’ alliance. Sash then gets confirmation from Chase that he'll take Sash to the finals over Jane. Chase also mentions that Holly and Sash should both be in line for some good rewards. Sash has gone the longest without one and Holly gave up a reward, so everyone feels like she deserves a reward. That brings us to a...

Probst sighting! And this week's reward challenge is the ol' "redo old challenges" challenge. In the first round they'll dive in the mud and crawl under a rig, dig a ball out of a pile of hay and then bounce the ball into their barrel. First four to complete that move on. Second round is maneuvering a key off a tall spiral pole. Unlock a box and get four sand bags. Land all four on the barrel and you're through. First two to do that move to the finals. Here they will need to dig into sand with a paddle and dig up three rings. They need to ring toss the rings and the first person to land all three wins reward. This week's reward is a trip to a resort where they'll get a great meal and a shower and a good night's sleep.

The first part of this challenge, the diving in the mud thing, was a great idea early in the game when the hotties were still in the game. Now, it's just a bit annoying and not near enough attention is paid to Dan struggling to get through. After the first round, Chase, Benry, Jane and Holly move on. Chase and Benry blow through this portion of the challenge and move to the finals. The finals are interesting and I say that because something like this happens every season. Chase digs up his rings with like three shovels full; meanwhile Benry has dug halfway to China before he gets his first ring. While I'm sure everything is fair and square, it always seems like in these challenges, some have an easier time digging up their stuff than others. As it is, Chase wins easily.

Now for the fun part of these challenges. Chase gets to take two people with him on reward. Obviously, the first is Holly. And everyone agrees she deserves it. As Chase mentioned earlier, Sash has needed a reward for awhile, so as you would expect, Chase chooses Jane to go with them. Wha..WHA...WHAT?!?!?!?! This is one of the more stunning decisions I've ever seen in this kind of situation. I mean, I knew Chase was game-dumb, but this goes beyond game-dumb. Dude, you have a three-person alliance. You're battling another three-person alliance. There's one guy in the middle. Hmmmm...let's see, do you take your alliance mates and hang out with them, or do you do the smart thing and take the swing vote with you so you can convince him to be on your side? Wow, that's a tough one. Not to mention, while Chase's alliance is eating and showering, Ben/Fabio/Dan will have all day and all night to work on getting Sash to join them. Good God man, even Sash can see how stupid that was. Chase is already closer to the money than he ever deserved. Dumbest. Cast. Ever.

After break, we join the guys as they come back to camp. They're actually pretty excited the way it went down. There's more room in the shelter and he took his alliance with him. Sash tells the guys that he realizes he is a swing vote and he wants to know what they're thinking. Um Sash, dumbass, if you want to make a deal, you have to take the guys off to the side. You don't ask them all at the same time, because when you do, you get comments like this from Dan: "Well, we vote those three off and us four go." As Dan asks him about whether he's sided with them, Sash's response sounds an awful lot like, "It's K-K-K-Ken c-c-c-coming to k-k-k-kill me." He honestly stuttered more than Porky Pig riding a jackhammer. I've actually had to pause the show to calm down a little bit. As a devoted fan of this show and someone who has analyzed more than half of the seasons, watching people butcher the game like this is seriously pissing me off.

When I restart the show, we're at the "watch the winners enjoy their reward" portion of the episode. They eat. They get to stay in a tiki-hut. They see themselves in a mirror. They get to shower (way to check out the MILF and GILF in the shower, Chase.) Meanwhile, Holly tells us that she can't believe how dumb Chase was to leave Sash behind. Right about then, Chase calls Holly in and admits that he totally screwed up by not bringing Sash. At least you realized how stupid you were before you got voted out, Big Guy. He tells us that he's going to have to do some serious damage control when he gets back.

Of course, the one thing Chase hasn't considered is that this is the Dumbest. Cast. Ever. Which means that it's not a foregone conclusion that Sash will join the guys. And when your brain trust is Benry and Fabio, well, that doesn't bode well for your team. After discussing strategy a little more they decide to kill and cook Kelly-Nay. They all acknowledge that Jane will probably be upset that they killed the chicken, but they really don't seem to care.

When Jane and Co. come back, Jane is literally in tears over the chicken. She says they didn't have to eat her and they had plenty of rice. Because, who wouldn't rather have rice than chicken? Oh yeah, that's one!

Talk turns to the game and Holly is paranoid about trusting Sash. Chase comes up with a strategy that Sash has to believe that Holly and Chase will take him (over Jane) to the Final 3. Chase is still agonizing over not taking Sash on the reward with them. As the guys return to camp all talk turns to the reward and how cool it was. Benry then tells us that he feels pretty concerned as he may be considered the strongest of the guy alliance. He goes to Chase to talk a little and Chase FINALLY uses a bit of strategy. As Ben asks him how close he is to Holly and Jane, Chase tells him that he plans to vote Jane out as he can't win against her. Benry is down with that. And right in the middle of the Jane talk, he says, "Why not Fabio?" and Benry is real quick to jump on board. He's decided at Day 30 to play the "as long as it ain't me" game.

Chase pulls Sash aside to tell him how sorry he was for not taking him on the reward. Sash and Chase do seem to have a little side alliance here and he gets Chase to agree to take him to the Final 3 or Final 2. In the middle of this, as she does so often, Holly comes right in and interrupts. As they talk, the discussion comes to who should go home. Everyone is choosing between Fabio and Benry. Benry sees the three of them talking and figures out that their plan is screwed. He realizes his alliance is toast and decides maybe he needs to rethink his alliance. He goes up to the conference and Fabio's name is coming up and everyone seems to down with that. As it is right now, we have no idea who's going home as no one there can seem to figure out the best plan of action.

And it's time for some Probst. The Immunity Challenge starts with the players tethered to a rope that's wrapped around a hitching rail. As they go over and under, they'll release some of the rope. When you think you have enough, you can run over to where a bag of coins is resting. If your rope is long enough, you move on. If not, you go back. First three to get their coins move on to Round 2. Round 2 is a 3D puzzle of coins that, when completed, will fill a box. First one to complete the puzzle gets immunity.

Fabio is the first one to try to reach his coins. Benry and Sash each take off, but their ropes come up short. Jane takes a stab at it, but her rope is WAY too short. Benry and Sash try again and this time, both of them get to their pieces. As Jeff is doing the play-by-play, you can hear Jane cheering them on...and as Jeff says their name, she also says their name. All three players seem to be getting annoyed by that. After quite the struggle, Sash finishes his puzzle right before Fabio and Sash wins immunity and a 1/6 chance at becoming the next Sole Survivor.

When the Sash Show returns, our hero is telling us how cool he is. He's a triple threat because he has an idol, a necklace and he's in the power alliance. He also tells us he's been sandbagging the challenges and that he can really do better than he has been. He says Benry and Fabio are much bigger physical threats.

Fabio comes to Sash and asks if his name has come up. Naturally, Sash says no. Fabio still seems to think that Sash is with him. He tells us that Sash is still a swing vote but that they're close enough that Sash will tell him if his name comes up. Sash, Chase and Dan all get together and Chase tells Dan that Fabio is the vote. Dan's down. Sash tells us that Fabio and Benry are the two choices tonight and he plans to keep them guessing until he feels like telling them. Oh please, please Survivor Karma Gods...if you really exist, please let all six of the alliance members get sick of Sash and his swing vote and punch him out of the game for being a little too obsessed with his own "power."

Dan asks who they're going to tell Fabio they're voting for. They want to tell him Jane and Benry doesn't think Fabio will buy that, so they switch and tell Fabs that Holly is the vote. Naturally, he's down with that. After his chat with Benry, Fabio feels much better now. Ya know, just when I think his stupid surfer bit is an act, he proves to be every bit as dumb as he seems. Cue the soft happy music as Sash tells Jane she's like a second mother to him. What's blowing me away is how Sash seems to think he's a serious part of this four-person alliance. Dude, you're fourth on the totem pole. You can't really be so dumb as to think that because you talk nice to them, they'll replace one of their alliance mates with you. You're a hired gun to the girl alliance. Nothing more, nothing less. You stand a better chance with the guys.

Gotta love Jeff as he announces the two quitters coming back into the jury box. Right off the bat, Jeff hits Chase with his challenge decision. Chase acknowledges that it was a tough position to be in. Jeff then asks Chase and Benry if they're worried about being perceived as physical threats. Chase is quick to point out that he hasn't actually won any Immunity Challenges yet, so he may not be such a threat. Benry acknowledges that they're physical threats; hence, they have targets on them.

Next up, Jeff asks Jane about her comparison to Fabio. She says that he's definitely a big physical threat. Fabio says that he's friendly and always talking to people to help make them feel better about keeping him in the game. Jeff asks Benry how confident he is that everything will swing his way. He says he's pretty confident. Sash talks about how good it feels to have immunity around his neck. Fabio says he saw all kinds of people approaching Sash but he's not worried about it. Holly says a couple of things, but honestly, this episode just needs to end. It's time to vote.

We are shown no votes this time around and as Jeff counts; they come up Holly, Fabio, Fabio and then four straight Benrys. Dumbest. Cast. Ever. Sash is starting to seem like one of the dumbest players ever. He just threw his lot in with a group of people HE CAN'T BEAT IN THE FINALS instead of a group of guys that he could easily beat. Jeff ends by saying that we've hit the tricky part of alliances, the part when you can no longer trust your own alliance. At this point, it seem like we're headed to the most boring finale ever: Jane/Holly/Chase. UGH!

Next time on Survivor: there are only two episodes remaining. The challenge proves to have enough luxury to keep them strong until the end. As for the losers, "They will be taken and executed." Um, okay. Not sure what that means, but I do know that I will be back next week to tell you all about it. So until then, take care.