Survivor: San Juan Del Sur Power Rankings
Week 9
By Ben Willoughby
November 26, 2014

The Blue Lagoon rebooted as a reality tv show.

Last week, we arrived at the traditional Survivor dilemma where the “weaker” players team up to vote out the “best” players. But if the “best” players are voted out, aren’t the “weaker” players really the best players? Jeremy and Josh before him both seemed like they had an idea of how to play the game, and it didn’t hurt that they were nice guys who came off well in interview by talking about strategy and not taking things personally. In Jeremy’s defense, he probably realized that he would be targeted at some stage, but believed that Episode 9 would have been too early to pull the trigger. Poor Jeremy – that’s when they get you!

Anyway, votes to get rid of obvious potential victors have been part of the game since the first season, when a bunch of misfit no-hopers – Sue, Kelly, Rudy and Richard Hatch – formed an alliance to vote out the perceived natural leaders. It’s a rare season – like Yul in the Cook Islands or Kim in One World – where there’s a coronation of the obvious candidate at the final Tribal Council. And those seasons were boring.

The big question for me – which we will see unfold in coming weeks – is whether getting rid of Jeremy was the right move or a strategic error. It’s part of Survivor that all alliances eventually have to eat themselves, but you really have to pick the right moment. Personally, I think Jon, Missy, etc. should have listened to their inner Wilson Phillips, and held on for one more day.

Here are the power rankings for this week:

1. Natalie

I completely understand that this seems a bizarre choice for #1, because at first glance no remaining player lost more at the last Tribal Council than Natalie, who is now alone with no alliances. When Probst asked what has to happen for Natalie at this Tribal Council, Natalie’s response was something like “my alliance has to stick to the plan and its long-term goals.” Post-Tribal Council comment from Natalie: “What the f---, Missy?!”

But Jeremy’s ouster actually puts Natalie in a great position. She doesn’t have any remaining alliances in the game, and the other players are very cleanly divided four against four. No one trusts Missy and Baylor, and Jon and Jaclyn have burned their trustworthiness with everyone else, so there’s no obvious flip to their side. Both alliances need Natalie’s vote to stay in the game. It’s nice to be needed.

2. Missy

Missy orchestrated the Jeremy blindside. Jon was the one who came to her, but Missy had to have been thinking about how to get rid of Jeremy to increase her own chances in the game, so when she saw the opportunity she took it. It was a well-executed blindside as well – she knew that four votes would be all they would need and therefore no one outside that group of four needed to know anything.

It will be interesting to see how much blowback she gets, because the preview editing suggests that everyone is mad at Jon. Season 1 is obviously on my mind, because if you divide the remaining players into rats and snakes, Missy is obviously a snake and everyone knows that she is a snake. But as a snake, everyone accepts her for what she is, while the players perceived as rats are despised and shunned.

This may be what she’s planning to say at the final Tribal Council, but it doesn’t help her chances of getting there. Frankly, if the others don’t pull it together and target her at the next vote, they are dumber than a bag of leaves.

3. Jon

Jon actually did some independent thinking about Jeremy and the hidden immunity idol. Of course, this independent thinking happened about 24 hours after he really needed it. His immediate response was to go panicking to Missy to get rid of Jeremy as soon as possible.

Personally, I think Jon would have been better placed to keep his alliance intact, rather than fracture it before the numbers are solidified. Instead of being in a dominant alliance, he’s a tarnished golden boy that no one trusts. Maybe in about 24 hours he’ll realize that he made the wrong move.

4. Jaclyn

Jaclyn took a back seat to events this week. No wonder the outcome was a broken alliance and a weaker position.

5. Reed

Reed was desperate enough to go rogue last week, and it paid off. Even though I think Reed is a bit of a dope, I do admire his relentless confidence in himself. His belief that he can shake up the game – whether by rummaging through others’ possessions or speaking up at Tribal Council – means that the game does get shaken up every now and then.

Also, I really want to know what he meant when he said the “manipulate objects with your feet” immunity challenge was custom-made for him. Oh wait, no I don’t.

6. Keith

Plenty of great Keith moments last week. Thinking that Wes saying “I don’t want to be hashtag-blindsided” was a “subtle hint” that Wes did not want to be blind-sided. Feeling the need to keep his “here is what you do with your hidden immunity idol” instructions. Revealing that he does not talk with any of the women on the tribe except Missy. None of these things are hallmarks of someone good at the game.

7. Baylor

Poor Baylor, forbidden by Probst – who called her a “young un” – to have even a sip of champagne at the reward challenge even though the drinking age in Nicaragua is 18. But at least she got an individual immunity win, a result I don’t think any of us saw coming.

8. Wes

Wes has a lot in common with his father, but without the benefit of years of experience.

9. Alec

Alec was also invisible last episode, which only means he must not have done anything especially bone-headed. That probably means he is due.

Those are the power rankings for this week. Tune in tonight to see if everyone really does hate Jon, and then come back tomorrow for David and Kim’s recap, where everyone really does hate Missy and Baylor.