Survivor San Juan Del Sur Recap
Episode 6
Make Some Magic Happen
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
October 29, 2014

You realize you got us both voted out, right?

Previously on Survivor, the tribes were shaken up. One was made up of three couples and one singleton, while the other was five singletons and one couple. Something had to give, and in the last Tribal Council that something was Kelley. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t play poorly, but her father made enough enemies that the two of them were the Odd Couple when it came time for a vote.

Previews tell us that Dale will try to use his fake Immunity Idol to his advantage. Meanwhile, Dale’s tribemate Keith has an actual idol. If that group goes to Tribal Council again, it could get interesting.

We were also left on a bit of a cliffhanger last week, as Hunahpu played “Let’s Make a Deal” with Probst in order to get some food that they can, you know, live on. Probst said that he’d be visiting them later, and that they should be prepared to give up something significant. What could that something significant be? A mandatory trip to Tribal Council? It’s very hard to imagine what they might offer TV’s snarkiest host.

But… we begin at Coyopa, with that group returning from Tribal Council. Dale says it was as bad as it could get. He had to watch people “slaughter” his daughter right in front of his own eyes. That’s a little hyperbolic, but he does tear up when he talks about how proud he is of Kelley. Blood vs. Water makes for a really interesting dynamic in that there is always someone left behind when you vote out their loved one. Now, tribes are going to have to live with that person when they do that.

Since Dale knows he’s next on the chopping block, he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to keep from being voted out. He shows Jon his “Immunity Idol,” which obviously shocks the former football player, who buys the lie without even the slightest of doubt. It’s still not as bad as John Rocker believing an ally had two Immunity Idols over and above Rocker’s own idol, though.

Over at Hunahpu, they’re speculating about what Probst might do to them. “I hope he doesn’t tear down our camp,” says Alec. Jeremy is quiet amongst his tribe, but in confessional he says that he thinks they’re all idiots. If they can wait just one day and win the Reward Challenge, they might have a feast. Of course, without food, they’ll be weak for the challenge, so his counterparts are right to be concerned.

And here comes Probst with a big bag of rice on his shoulder. He’s such a manly man. Jeff tells the Hunahpu tribe to gather around so he can talk to them. When he asks how much rice they have left, Natalie shows him their empty bag. It’s basically a handful. He lectures them about their wastefulness (though to be fair, three of the people on this tribe had no part in overeating the supplies), saying that only one other tribe had ever run out of food before. That was during the season in Australia, which was Season Two, and they had what he calls extenuating circumstances. (In that season, he gave them new rice in exchange for their tarp and Colby’s personal item, a Texas flag.)

Probst quizzes them on why they allowed the situation to get so dire, and Reed explains that the former Hunahpu was full of strong personalities, and you didn’t want to get into an argument with one of those people or you might wind up with a target on your back. To his credit, Jeff asks the new Hunahpu members what they think, and Josh is disappointed and annoyed. They’d worked so hard to preserve their food, and now he’s suffering for other people’s incompetence. (We should note that “other people” does include his boyfriend.)

Jeremy makes the weird point that it wasn’t like Josh, Alec and Co. were coming to their camp to stop them from eating too much. Huh? How and why would they even do that? Has Jeremy ever seen Survivor? We’re starting to think not.

Finally, Probst gets down to it. “I gotta say, there has never been a tribe in the history of Survivor that has needed as much help as you guys have, and only 14 days in. First, you lose your flint. You lose fire – and have to trade your entire fishing reward to get a new one. And now, you’re completely out of rice, and you need help again. It’s not lost on me that the disproportionate amount of food you guys have had is probably a big part of the reason you guys have dominated in this game so far in the challenges.”

Here comes the hammer.

He has enough rice to last the rest of the game, but the penalty will be stiff. Here is Probst’s list of what he wants in exchange for the rice:

Bed roll
A pot
The extra flint

They will be left with a pot, a machete and a flint. Hunahpu is effectively starting over if they take this rice deal. The former Koyopa guys angrily start rounding up the comfort stuff to hand over to Jeff, while Reed says that the trade is totally worth it. That’s easy for him to say since he’s allied with Josh (obviously), who is also tight with Alec and Wes. The four of them are enough for a majority, and none of Natalie, Julie or Jeremy is going to have an easy time breaking through the grudge that will be borne against them.

Jeremy is pissed about this turn of events, while Julie is worried about being cold.

And we’re only just now getting to the opening credits.

It’s going to be a very Probst-y episode, because we’re headed straight into the Reward Challenge. Hunahpu would probably love to pick something up here to replace the bounty they just surrendered.

Seeing that Kelley was voted out, Natalie and Julie gasp. Clearly there was a small alliance there, and they’re realizing that some scrambling will be necessary if they do manage to survive as long as the merge.

We’re back to the old format of pitting one person from a tribe against an individual from the other tribe. Of course, we’re getting to the point now where there may not be a “loved one” to fight, so the concept loses something. When Probst shows that the prize will be a barbecue, including the grill and loads of skewers of food, Jeremy just shakes his head. This was exactly what he was thinking could happen. Of course, you also have to pin your hopes on the gameplay of a single person in your tribe. It’s basically a coin flip. The rice was guaranteed. And there was no Door #3.

Probst points out that they can put up their strongest competitors since Blood vs. Water is no longer a thing. Hunahpu chooses Reed, while Coyopa chooses… Baylor? Oooookay. We suppose anything’s possible, but it seems an especially odd choice.

Both Reed and Baylor are blindfolded before being sent into an obstacle course. Reed gets through the first portion pretty quickly. He grabs his first bag of puzzle pieces and takes a moment to carefully feel the example puzzle that shows him what he’ll have to construct to win. Baylor takes a different approach, just grabbing her bag and heading back to the other side. It doesn’t really gain her any time, because Reed has soon caught up and is already feeling his initial set of puzzle pieces to see where they belong.

He’s back into the course before she is, and touching the sample puzzle once again before heading back. He’s got the course, down, so it’s easy for him to get well ahead of her. Now that he has two bags, he is feeling the pieces he has to see how they should fit together.

Baylor has her third bag and finally takes a moment with her puzzle before heading back. Reed is slightly behind, but is back with his pieces pretty quick. He gets off to an solid start, though he has a wrong piece in the puzzle. He realizes his error, though, and swaps out for the correct piece before asking Jeff to look it over. Reed! Wins! Reward! (For Hunahpu!)

Coyopa continues to suck in every possible way. Baylor is going to Exile Island, and Reed has to choose someone from his own tribe to accompany her. He says that he wants to send Julie so she can show John how much better she is than him at playing Survivor, but Natalie speaks up and says she wants to volunteer to go. She notes that Julie has already done her part in Reward Challenges, beating John head-to-head, but Natalie hasn’t really done anything yet. This is… an admirable stance for the lonely twin. We honestly don’t know how to feel at this moment. How about we go the cynical route and assume she’s only doing it so she can talk to Baylor about a potential merge alliance? Yeah, that feels better.

Reed agrees that Natalie can go ahead and go if she wants to volunteer. And yes, we hear from Missy (Baylor’s mom) that she has an alliance with Natalie, so perhaps this altruistic streak isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Whatever the case may be, Natalie and Baylor head off, Hunahpu gathers the spoils of their victory and the loser Coyopas walk back to camp with their heads hung low.

Thankfully, we’re back to the brisk episode pace this week. We spend a bit of time with Coyopa, where Keith is trying to fish. He’s getting some nibbles, but the fish are too small to even bother with.

Jon, Jaclyn and Missy are walking around together, and Missy is all excited to tell them about her alliance with Natalie. She gets shut down pretty quickly, as Jon tells them both that Dale showed him an Immunity Idol earlier. Missy’s face looks like she just sucked a lemon.

It could get very interesting if this group does go to Tribal Council tonight, because they’re probably going to pivot the vote to Keith versus Dale at this point. He can play an actual Immunity Idol here, which means Baylor is the likely victim of Dale’s calculated gameplay. Anyway, that’s what it feels like the editors want us to believe.

Exile Island has Baylor and Natalie wandering around like hobbits looking for Mordor before they finally happen upon their camp area. Baylor gets the Immunity Idol clue and shares it with Natalie, who does in fact state that sharing information with Baylor was more important to her than some food challenge. (Of course it is. She’s been eating plenty of food up to now thanks to the old Hunahpu tribe’s profligate ways.) To her credit, she has figured out the obvious: she and Jeremy need to find the Idol. There’s one snag in that plan: Keith already has it unless they’ve buried another one since the tribe switch.

Hunahpu is whooping it up. Josh is a proud boyfriend and hugs Reed, which sets Jeremy off. To be fair, Jeremy seems to be easily riled. He’s got a persistent frown of consternation on his face and doesn’t hide his feelings well. He says that he thinks Josh and Reed are walking around like they own the place and hates their PDA. If Val were on the island with Jeremy, he says, you wouldn’t even know they were a couple because they’d stay so separate. We assume this is because Val gets tired of him badmouthing everyone and everything.

He does bring up a good point, though. Because Josh and Reed are a couple, they are more likely to be perceived as a threat. It would only take one person out of Wes and Alec to affect a change in the dynamic, and last week showed us that Alec is on about the same level strategically as his older brother. So we’re saying there’s a chance.

The tribe enjoys their meat skewers (and Alec claims to be a meat collector. We don’t know, either). Jeremy gripes some more about losing the tarp because obviously he just assumes they’re going to win every Reward Challenge and this time he was right so…

It’s getting cold and is about to rain. Jeremy is going to hold this grudge for a long time, even if they never win another challenge or see any other food again. They’re soaking wet pretty quickly, which past Survivor seasons have shown us is an absolutely miserable experience.

At least they’re smart enough to set up the grill and use it for warmth. It’s not enough for Julie, though. She starts crying and saying she isn’t sure if she can keep it up, which of course causes Jeremy to sneer derisively. Of course, she might be on the verge of blowing up his alliance. He says that’s fine as long as she just goes before he does. He’s just playing to make it to the merge.

Jeremy tries to give Julie a pep talk, but she says that she simply can’t deal with another night like the one they just had. Alec points out that the show is called Survivor and says if she can’t deal with it, she should go home. Since we’re not seeing much strategy at Hunahpu, I think it’s safe to assume that 1) They’re going to win the Immunity Challenge or 2) Reed+Josh, Alec and Wes are going to pick off one of the weaker group if they do go to Tribal Council.

Probst returns to host our newest Immunity Challenge. Hunahpu sits Julie (a prelude to eliminating her?), and the two tribes are off. First they most scale a wall as a group, and then move a heavy cube across the course to a spot where they will climb atop the cube to retrieve a bag. They’re even through the first bag, but soon Coyopa gets ahead when Jon is a lot better at bag retrieval than Jeremy (a prelude to eliminating him?).

Although Coyopa gets their pieces done and ready first, Josh and Reed are now working together to complete their final flag puzzle. Thy make a great team, and despite a solid lead for Jon, the brains of Reed and Josh take control. Jon tries to copy off of them, but that’s not a way to win the challenge.

Hunahpu wins Immunity. Again. Ho-hum.

It’s Day 15 at Coyopa, and Missy congratulates the group for their teamwork. Sure, sure. Keith mentions that he needs to get rid of Dale tonight, because that vote will set him on the path to reuniting with Wes. He also mentions his backup plan of the Idol, which he has wisely kept to himself. He asks Missy if he can go ahead and take a nap. She tells him yes, presumably so she can proceed to stab him in the back.

Dale comes up with one of the most nefarious strategies we’ve ever seen on the game of Survivor. He tells Jon that if they don’t vote for him tonight, he will give Jon his “Idol.” This is kind of brilliant. It allows him to hang around for at least three more days and then he can blindside Jon later. All he asks is that Jon take him to the merge.

This guy is evil in a fun way (as opposed to being evil in an evil way like John Rocker).

At least Jon is smart enough to realize that Missy has the most ties over at Hunahpu, so rather than make Keith his target, he’s going after her tonight (or so he says). He and Dale shake hands on their deal.

In confessional, however, Jon says that he hasn’t decided anything yet. We can only hope that his spidey senses are tingling (to complete the effect, Survivor shows us a big hairy spider crawling around camp). Rather than keep this info to himself, Jon runs to Missy, Baylor and Jaclyn to tell them what Dale has proposed. They decide that three people will vote Dale and two will vote Keith. Or will they?

Jon and Jaclyn sit on the beach together to discuss their options. They’re still in control of this ship. When Jaclyn is dubious about Dale’s idol, Jon tells her he believes it’s real. Before they go to Tribal, Jon states that he feels their best option is to align with Dale, with either Keith or Missy being the target for the vote. Their biggest concern is maintaining their “power couple” status into the merge, which probably leans toward a Missy vote.

There are no conversations with Keith at all, which should possibly concern him.

There is absolutely no conversation of interest at Tribal Council until Probst asks Dale how his game has changed. He says that he went from having a long-term strategy to employing a 12-hour strategy. When Probst asks Jon if he noticed the alteration, he notes that he and Dale talked quite a bit. The camera cuts to a pensive Keith, who does seem to be considering what this might mean for his game.

When Jaclyn says, “Yeah, it was kind of nice to get a different viewpoint on things,” loud alarms should be going off for Keith, Missy and Baylor. And indeed Missy notes that neither she nor Baylor are feeling particularly comfortable at the moment. For his part, Dale astutely points out that he’s putting his trust in the people who just voted his daughter out. He says as a lone vote, all he can really offer is his loyalty.

Baylor responds that she’s more loyal than he is, which sends us off in that downward spiral about who stabbed who in the back first back in the early days of Coyopa. Jon comments that since they’re coming to the merge, he needs to know that he has real allies he can count on.

And with that, it’s time to vote. We see Keith’s vote for Dale, Dale’s vote for Missy, and Missy’s vote for Keith. It’s time for Probst to read the votes, and no one plays an idol. (Well, obviously Dale doesn’t.)

The order goes Dale, Keith, Missy, Keith, Dale, Dale.

It was a good, scrappy effort on Dale’s part. Ultimately, we think Jaclyn saw through the ruse. He overplayed his hand by offering the idol to Jon. If he’d just used it as a threat instead, they might have gone with the Missy or Keith vote. Instead, Jon and Jaclyn figured that if Dale is giving them the idol, why not just eliminate a guy who has proven to be unpleasant?

“You’re beautiful,” Jon tells Jaclyn, probably admiring her brains more than her beauty in this instance.

Keith breathes a sigh of relief.

Next week, we merge. The game changes again. Alliances as we see them are Missy, Baylor, Natalie, Jeremy and Julie and then Josh, Reed, Alec, Wes and presumably Keith since Wes is his son. These dynamics change fast, but a lot of people are about to be very relieved.