Survivor San Juan Del Sur Recap
Episode 3
Actions vs. Accusations
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
October 13, 2014

His Survivor playing is bad and he should feel bad.

Previously on Survivor, a person claimed to have two immunity idols. More amusingly, the person to whom she made this claim already had an immunity idol. Most amusingly, the other person totally believed the lie then was flabbergasted at Tribal Council when he discovered the truth. We say again that John Rocker is a big honkin’ doofus.

Suffice to say that Survivor: San Juan del Sur is not off to a roaring start. One tribe is 4-0 in challenges, which makes the other tribe the Oakland Raiders. And you cannot fire your coach on Survivor. Well, you can fire Coach by voting him out, and that is always funny, but Coach is not playing this season. In his absence, we consider John Rocker the new Coach, basically the worst insult we can give to a Survivor player over 5’5” tall.

Actually, the worst insult would go to anyone smaller than that but equally stupid and dishonest. Such a person is an ELR clone. The last one of those we saw was Brandon Hantz, who is probably still crying and throwing a tantrum, assuming he is not currently stalking a woman who is an evil temptress simply because she stirs a tickling sensation in Brandon’s trousers. These are the Survivor rules we have established over the years, and they have worked beautifully so far. Just once, it would be nice if the show cast a batch of contestants predicated upon survival skill, but we all know that will never happen.

Tonight’s episode promises to be the first step in determining just how far John Rocker goes this season. He made a promise last week to protect someone who was then voted out of the show. The man to whom he made the promise is still around, while the people who voted Rocker’s ally off the show have a solid alliance of which he is not a member. The only good news is that he does have an idol.

Well, we say that but the other good news is that since there is no non-zombie apocalypse scenario in which John Rocker wins Survivor, he should be dragged along for another dozen episodes. We really hope that doesn’t happen, though. The previews indicate that he threatens to beat up a woman tonight, which makes him Roger Goodell’s favorite contestant. It is probably not something that a person comfortable about their position in the game does, though.

What we are saying with all of the above is that John Rocker could easily make the final vote or he could just as easily go home tonight. Before you point out that he has an immunity idol to protect him tonight, consider this. Doesn’t John Rocker strike you as exactly the sort of player who would get voted out with an immunity idol in his back pocket? I mean, he couldn’t even count to three last week and the only read he made about another contestant was so bad that if it were the World Series of Poker, that YouTube clip would become the most popular video since David visited the dentist. “I’m holding trip aces, but you’re telling me that you have four aces. I know that I can’t beat that, so I better fold…”

We hate that CBS is getting exactly what they wanted out of the John Rocker casting thus far.

The Coyopa tribe returns from Tribal Council on night six, and Baylor is worrying that her position in the game is not safe. She thinks that perhaps Josh is using her as a human shield rather than teaming with her as a true ally. Honestly, it's pretty tough to imagine her getting a deep run in the game considering that her name does come up in every vote. Josh may even be loyal to her, but he's got the Bro alliance to consider as well.

We cut to Rocker complaining about Val and how he told her to play her idol. Why didn't she play her idol? That's right, John Rocker is still too dumb to have figured out that she never had one in the first place. Jeff Probst should be ashamed of himself for casting Rocker instead of a real fan of the show. Rocker doesn't even have rudimentary gameplay skills.

Speaking of which, Josh takes this opportunity to describe how the last Tribal Council vote unfolded. When he realized that John Rocker was walking around with Val, someone he'd never really talked to before, Josh knew something must be up. After determining that Val and Jaclyn planned to vote for Baylor, he decided that Rocker was up to no good, which definitely gives him doubts about a continued alliance with the former pitcher. At the same time, he ruthlessly states that Baylor and Jaclyn are probably next on the chopping block. Josh is an extremely utilitarian player. He only evaluates people in terms of their usefulness to his game.

Hunahpu is so bored with the game so far that they're talking about the weather. They're weaving a better roof as they worry about an impending storm, but Drew can only handle a few minutes of work before he has to lay down and take a nap. Let's just say that the tribe does not respond favorably to his laziness. Has a narcoleptic ever won Survivor before?

Naturally, remaining Amazing Race twin Natalie jumps in to criticize Drew, pointing out how self-centered he is. This is like Nic Cage criticizing the film choices of other actors. More important from a game perspective, Drew appears to have so little respect among his peers that we could see him being voted off instead of Natalie if his group ever goes to Tribal Council - which it won't, because John Rocker.

It's already time for a Probst sighting! And Jeremy is shaking his head the moment he sees that his wife has been voted out on the other tribe. He tells Koyopa that it's pretty clear that the guys have an alliance and are just voting off the women, and that they should do something about it. (Of course, they really don't have numbers at this point, so we're not really sure what they're supposed to do other than scramble.)

John Rocker starts talking, and it's a textbook example of how not to play Survivor. He tells Jeremy that he knows he gave him his word about keeping Val in the game and says that he tried to sway his alliance so the vote would go a different way. These comments only confirm Josh's suspicions that John had gone outside the alliance, and all the Bros react with shock and annoyance. Over at Hunahpu, Jeremy is shaking his head in disbelief. With one stupid move, Rocker has alienated both tribes. He didn't need to smooth things with the other tribe at this point, and he could have thought of some sort of plausible story by the merge to smooth things over. We suspect that his vision for this season was that he could redeem himself by playing the game with honesty and integrity. It... hasn't worked.

In today's Reward Challenge, the reward is either tarps and blankets or the fishing gear that Hunahpu gave up last time. It's Keith versus Wes in a challenge that combines speed and precision. They basically have to walk across a balance beam and use a big pizza paddle to pick up a set of wooden pieces that they will then stack at the other end. Early on, Keith has a lead, but Wes makes a move and jumps ahead. Soon, Keith has dropped one of his pieces, which gives the younger Louisiana fireman an opportunity to get the win for his tribe. Keith is going to Exile Island for a second time, which brings about some tears from both father and son. When it comes time for Wes to choose a tribemate to send to Exile Island, he chooses Josh because he feels like his dad can bond with him. This is a fairly savvy move and shows that Wes is thinking ahead a little bit. Koyopa will take fishing gear home with them since he won reward.

As they leave, John whispers to Jeremy, "I did everything I could, brother. I swear to you." Jeremy thinks this is... untrue. We do wonder what Jeremy is thinking now that he's watching the show and realizes that Rocker was telling the truth and things just spiraled out of his control. Anyway, Jeremy states that he's out to get Rocker now.

Back at Hunahpu, Julie goes off by herself to cry, which gives the rest of her tribe the chance to go off on Rocker. Jeremy tells them that he shook his hand and said he'd save Val, but that he clearly lied. He then goes on to inform them about Rocker's checkered past. He says that he was a former pitcher for the Braves who said a lot of racist and homophobic stuff, and that up to now, he'd given Julie the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately for her, she's just collateral damage in Rocker's poor gameplay (and karmic retribution).

We check in over at Exile Island, which Josh says "sucks." They pick their idol clues, and Keith is smart enough this time to suggest that they share their information. Josh gets the blank, but it doesn't matter much. They both read the clue together and Josh instantly realizes that Rocker probably has an idol. They both figure that Jeremy does as well, although they'd be incorrect in this deduction (so far, at least).

A humorous exchange occurs wherein Josh talks about how much he's enjoying meeting someone from a different walk of life, while Keith says that Josh may be "a good ol' boy, but he's not my good ol' boy." It's an interesting generational difference to observe. Keith's son Wes is already pretty close to Josh and considers him one of his closer friends and allies in the game. Meanwhile, Keith is worried about Josh "spooning" him. Whenever people say things like this, we presume they're worried they'll like it too much.

Koyopa is enjoying the fruits of the Reward Challenge, as Rocker catches them some fish. It's only a momentary happiness, though, because Baylor starts playing up Rocker's negativity to the younger guys. They agree that he's a ticking time bomb to her face, but then say that she's next on the chopping block when she's not around. The editing in this episode is working hard to have us believe that Baylor is the next person voted out. Almost 30 seasons of watching Survivor tells us that's not true.

It's another briskly moving episode, which means that it's time for more Probst. Two people from each tribe will be tethered together. They have to navigate an obstacle course to retrieve a ball, which they will then try to throw into a basket. First team to get the basket wins the point for their team. Three points wins the challenge. Early on, Josh and Baylor are taking on Jon and Natalie. It's a close round (with Rocker telling his team "run them over"), but Jon scores the basket for his team.

When Wes and Alec take the course against Julie and Missy. Alec hip checks Julie into one of the wooden stakes. The women are far slower on this leg and it's an easy score for Wes and Alec. We're all tied up.

Next up are Drew and Reed versus Rocker and Jaclyn. Rocker immediately goes after Reed, and the Hunahpu tribe is pretty annoyed with his sportsmanship at this point. (Probst, on the other hand, loves it. His dimples are practically gleaming.) Rocker wins the round with a nice left-handed shooting touch and then claps loudly for himself and gestures rudely at his opponents (including his girlfriend). We haven't Googled around for this, but we don't think that John Rocker won any citizenship awards during his time in Major League Baseball. It's 2-1 Koyopa.

Josh and Baylor are back in against Jeremy and Kelley. Both teams absolutely fly through the course, but Baylor can't hit the shot. Jeremy sinks it (despite Rocker saying "Noonan, Noonan") and we're all tied up.

We're up to the final match, and it's Alec and Wes versus Jon and Natalie. Wes tries to mix it up with Natalie, but they both wind up shooting their balls at the same time. Both miss, and have to retrieve their balls (huh huh, huh huh). Jon, who is proving to be quite the challenge stud, sinks the next shot and wins immunity for Hunahpu yet again.

Oddly, that is not the most contested moment of the Immunity Challenge. For whatever reason, the remaining loathsome twin (Natalie) chooses this moment to get lippy. We presume that this is because she believes that John Rocker orchestrated her twin's elimination, when in reality it was her twin's personality that orchestrated the ouster. Natalie says, "Change it up. You guys are getting rid of all the strongest people. Change it up."

Let's fact check that statement. Nadiya was a unanimous choice because she added nothing in challenges and her teammates couldn't stand to breathe the same air as her. Val claimed to have two idols knowing someone else had one, when the theoretical maximum number of idols in existence at that moment was two. She was also point blank told that she needed to play an idol to avoid elimination, and rather than come clean, she continued to bluff with a losing hand. What does it say about Natalie if she considers players like that to be her strongest opponents?

Because she so loves the sound of her own voice, she adds that Koyopa is following a racist. Rocker tells her to shut up, while we debate whose side to take here. The optimal solution would be the mute button. By now, Probst is sporting so much Survivor wood that he needs to put a textbook over his crotch. He gleefully asks why there's so much hate against John Rocker. This is the moment he's been fantasizing about since the casting department said, "Hey what if we..."

Julie is asked why everyone is so mad at her boyfriend. She sincerely believes it's because he is the mastermind orchestrating everything. If her tribe honestly believes that, we still expect a Koyopa player to win despite their dwindling numbers, because good lord, that's stupid. If John Rocker played chess against a monkey, the monkey would checkmate him and then eat three of the pawns.

After several moments of persecution, Rocker eventually gives John Rocker haters exactly what they want. "If you were a man, I would knock your teeth out," he tells Natalie. This is the moment where Julie re-evaluates all her life decisions. Well, the most recent moment, anyway. He later adds, "Take all the stuff down; let's fight."

For once, Probst is speechless, and we're pretty sure that John Rocker just talked his way out of Survivor. While that part makes us happy, we are sickened by the thought that Natalie will believe it happened because of her. No matter what the cause, several participants grew extremely uncomfortable at Rocker's threat of physical violence towards a woman - and rightfully so. Probst gave Rocker just enough rope to hang himself, and that's exactly what happened. The awkward moment we just experienced is exactly what the Survivor producers intended when they cast not only Rocker but also the Anderson twins. As we said in the first recap, it's also exactly why we didn't want to watch this season. When did Survivor become a show about loathsome people behaving badly?

Reviewing this episode from the perspective of John Rocker as a player, he has acknowledged that he tried to ruin his alliance's voting strategy last week. He tried to suck up to someone whose opinion of him is utterly irrelevant right now (twice). And he has threatened physical violence against several opponents. Stating the obvious, it's time to play "It's Anyone But John Rocker."

And the production team immediately goes back to the "We swear it's Baylor. We wouldn't lie to you" approach. For her part, she thinks that the other tribe put on kind of an embarrassing display with the way they screamed at Rocker.

Meanwhile, Rocker continues his terrible gameplay by going to just about everyone on the island and trying to make voting plans. With Baylor and Jaclyn, he discusses voting out Dale. With the Bros, he talks about voting out Baylor. We don't even know what he's hoping to accomplish here. When he goes to Josh, his "ally" makes an excuse about needing to go get in the saltwater to stop the bleeding on some wound from the challenge. In confessional, Josh, who we mentioned has been pragmatic in just allying with people who are useful to him, says that he's rethinking whether he's even willing to work with Rocker anymore. He's just not comfortable with what Rocker stands for.

In fact, Josh goes to Wes and Baylor to set up the Rocker vote. For her part, Baylor is thrilled. Alec hems and haws about how Rocker is a physical asset, but let's be honest. Despite Hunahpu's belief that Rocker is running the Koyopa tribe, it's Josh and Wes who are driving this boat.

Tribal Council has a lot more discussion designed to make us think that maybe Baylor is getting voted out. Jaclyn states that she thinks the alliances are shifting, while Wes and Josh both state that they're very comfortable with where their alliance stands. The women do act confident enough of their position that Rocker should probably play his idol here, but his reactions don't look like those of a guy who is nervous about his position...

...And lo and behold, when Probst asks if anyone wants to play an idol, Rocker holds tight. Dale and John vote for Baylor, while the rest of the tribe votes for Rocker.

"I had a damn idol right in my pocket, too." As we said earlier, if there is anyone who is likely to be voted out while still holding an idol, it's John Rocker.

For his part, Rocker's farewell speech is a pretty decent display of sportsmanship. He says he had a good time playing the game and that he'll just enjoy the idol as a souvenir. How anticlimactic. On the plus side, two of the three people who made us not want to watch this season have been eliminated after three episodes - and Natalie is not exactly making friends and influencing people. Isn't it about time for Hunahpu to throw a challenge so they can vote her out?