Hello, good people!! My name is Jim Van Nest. David and Kim are tied up in my basement so I can give you my spin on the finale of Survivor: San Juan Del Sur! I'll be your guide through the first hour of the finale because, honestly, that's about as much of Missy and Baylor as I'll be able to take before I want to throw my laptop out the window! Also, David should be able to chew through the ropes in time to bring you the second hour and the reveal of the worst winner in Survivor history.
Survivor: San Juan Del Sur - Episode 14
This is My Time - Part 1
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Viking
December 18, 2014
You probably already noticed that I have a bit of disdain for this season, this cast and the choices for Sole Survivor of Survivor: Season 29. Well, it's because this season will go down as one of the worst ever. There's been very little of note in this season. I mean, come on. Let's break it down. We stunt casted one of the most notorious professional athletes we could find (OJ being in prison and all) and we also crossed over one of the most disliked teams in the history of our other reality juggernaut, The Amazing Race. Who'd-a-thunk that John Rocker's inclusion would backfire?? I mean, we got three episodes out of him before he had a mini-meltdown and threatened to punch a girl. His inclusion also got us a nice "one night of rain makes me cry" quit from his girlfriend. The Blood vs Water concept, while really solid with returning players, is a complete bust with newbies. Let's face it, Josh and Reed aside; we had half the cast made up of fans and the other half made up of family members they drug out into the jungle. Again, who'd-a-thunk that this concept would backfire???
What we've been subjected to is a virtual clinic on how NOT to play Survivor and how to not even be interesting. When we're on the final episode and I've finally chosen a Twinnie as the person I'm rooting for, you KNOW it's been a horrendous experiment. Before we get to the recap, I want to offer some suggestions on how NOT to have another suck-ass season like this one.
1. If a tribe loses their flint, tell them to find some sticks. If a tribe eats all their food, tell them to find some coconuts. Do not barter with these people. It kills two of the most basic ideas behind the show. Survival and fair play. One tribe decimated their supplies and dominated the game. And in response to this...you GAVE. THEM. MORE. FOOD! And for what, some comfort items? Where is the fairness in that? Another tribe acted responsibly and made plans to last for 39 days on their beach and as their reward, they lost every single challenge and then watched you give more food to the people beating them. At the very least, if a tribe wants more food, the answer moving forward should be, "You want more rice? Then we're having Tribal Council right now. I'm trading rice for one of your members." Nothing less should be acceptable on a game predicated on effing survival!
2. Seriously, what’s with the idols? At one Tribal Council, a third of the players sitting there had a hidden idol. Really? Is that what we really want? And once a couple of those idols were played you inserted ANOTHER idol into the game? There's a saying, "too much of a good thing"...you found it and you pulverized it. Stop with the hidden idols, for crying out loud!
3. So, in the "pecking order" challenges, we can just discuss among ourselves who we want to win? That's how it goes now? In 29 seasons of Survivor, I've never seen Probst call a challenge based on his own "Are you frickin' kidding me?" reaction. And he was dead on to cancel it. Frankly, I'd have canceled the reward if I were in charge. Oh, you're not gonna play my game? Time for you to learn who the Gamemaker is! Related - please stop with the giving up of rewards. It's not nice, it's not altruistic. It's transparent and just annoying. Once again...what's the point of having reward challenges if the players are going to just decide who gets to go on the reward regardless of the results? And, while we're talking challenges, I used to complain about every challenge being the same: obstacle course followed by puzzle. Thankfully, they've limited those. Unthankfully, they've just replaced them with, as Ben Willoughby so eloquently put it, "the balance this thing on this other thing for a really long time" challenges. For real, there's a happy medium out there for challenges, I just know it!
4. And by all means, this is the most important one of all. STOP. STUNT. CASTING! And do not do another all newbies Blood vs Water season. Just don't. You had 18 people out there and maybe five of them knew how to play this game. And maybe three or four more actually wanted to play the game. The rest were just a waste of our, the viewers, time. This has been the worst example of Survivor play we've seen since the very first season when Pagong refused to vote together because they felt that was cheating the game.
Okay, let me break down my impression of the final five and then we'll get to the festivities!
Keith - First off, Keith is the same age as Jeff Probst. Swirl that around in your nugget for a minute. Second, Keith has no idea how to play Survivor. Third, he's got the best chance to actually win this season! An idol found Keith; he sabotaged his own alliance and is only in the game because Natalie decided to use him as a pawn to get revenge on Jon. However, Keith's son in on the jury and they are bro-ing down over at Ponderosa and I would give Keith a 75% chance to win this game if he makes it to the end. Against ANYBody.
Natalie - Of the remaining five, Natalie has played the best game. But in all honesty, that's like saying she's the tallest Washington General. Forced to go rogue after her sister and then her surrogate Twinnie, Jeremy, were voted out...Natalie has played a neurotic game that I can't quite follow. She wanted revenge on Jon for the Jeremy vote; so naturally, she talks him into playing his idol and saving himself. All this so she could hatch an elaborate plan to take out Jon by changing up a split vote (never a good idea - ask Tyson about it sometime). She saved Keith so she could use him to blindside Jon, whom she just saved from a blindside two Tribals ago. See what I mean? Sure, her plan with Alec/Keith/Jon worked, I guess. But what was the point of it? That being said, she's been a challenge beast and, in my opinion, is the most deserving in this, the worst final five in Survivor history.
Jaclyn - I like Jaclyn for the most part. She's had a really weird edit for me. We've seen a dozen talks between her and Jon where it is VERY clear that she's the brains of the couple. She has an uncanny read of situations, whereas Jon had NO read. And yet, with one notable exception, she ended up going with Jon instead of the other way around. It's all about him and his play and his speech at the final Tribal and even though it caused a tiff at camp...Jaclyn still ended up going with Jon. I had mad respect for her sniffing out situations and then lost it all when, against her better judgment, she went with the boyfriend. Not only does it show a kind of weakness, but it makes her look like a coattail rider to the rest of the players. She made the one decision to dump the boys. That was her. And why? Because the boys were too stupid to hang out and talk with the hot chick, who, by the way, was in their alliance. It was yet another example of stupid, horrible gameplay. When all is said and done, unless she has a killer final tribal speech OR is against Missy and Baylor - I don't see Jaclyn bringing home the prize.
Missy - I give Missy a 0% chance of winning this game and she still has a better chance than Baylor. I'm not 100% sure that she doesn't end up med-evac'd though. Either way, she's made some moves but has never been out front as the catalyst. She's not very liked on the jury as the guys don't care for her or her daughter. With all due respect, Missy - maybe it's you. Anyway, she and her daughter are perfect goats to take to the end, so the possibility that one or both of them will be sitting at the final tribal is very high.
Baylor - And that brings me to Baylor. Look, I'm sure she's a sweet girl in real life. But she's got herself into another Sticky Situation (YouTube it...you'll thank me later). She had the opportunity to be a major cog in a dominant alliance with Josh, but shut him down so she could get in the back seat and let her mom drive. EVERYone out there saw that. Everyone out there knows that Baylor has done little besides follow Mommy all over this game. She's lazy at camp, entitled at challenges and completely 100% untrustable in this game. Looking at the remaining players, I see no scenario in which Baylor gets a vote from anyone but her mom. But I definitely see her sitting in the final three and her jury speech should be stunning.
My predictions at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning: Keith, Natalie and Baylor in the final 3 and Keith is your winner of Survivor: San Juan Del Sur - Dumb vs Dumber. So...move over Fabio and Vecepia...there's likely to be a new worst winner in Survivor history. Now, let's get to the action!
We begin in a seemingly empty studio in Los Angeles where we have our first Probst sighting of the night. Jeff welcomes us to the finale and then begins the first of several weird live shots that we'll see during the finale. We learn that he's not in an empty studio; he's actually watching the finale with 500 of his closest friends, at least 50 of whom will probably speak at the reunion (while players like Julie will get skipped over). While I appreciate the little live break-ins, they're just kinda weird. I mean, if you don't really have anything to say, Jeff, just get to the show. And with that, he rolls the season recap that always begins the finale episode.
You've all read David and Kim's recaps all season, so you know what's happened so far. I'm not going to recap a recap. They tell us all about the season from Day 1 to now, Day 37. Jeff gives a breakdown of the final five and how they're all ready to buckle down and win this thing. We're some seven and a half minutes into the show before we finally get to camp after the Jon blindside. I'm very interested to see how Jaclyn responds to this. Will she curl up into a ball and cry or will she choke Natalie out on national television?
Looks like it's closer to the latter. Jaclyn is pissed at the fakeness and lying that she just saw at Tribal. Missy tries to smooth it over by saying something about being loyal to a fault. While I'm wondering if Jeremy would agree with that, Natalie tries to be logical and point out that Jon was not loyal in this game and therefore was not owed loyalty. At this, Jaclyn snaps. She's already emotional but the thought that Natalie would be attacking Jon's character after sending him home just really pisses her off. Nat does her best to explain to Jaclyn that she's only referring to Jon within the context of the game. She doesn't know him outside of it, but inside the game, he flipped and burned people. But the claws are already out and there's little hope of smoothing this one over. Jaclyn has stuff to say, and she's going to be heard.
In confessional, Jaclyn breaks down and tells us that she's never heard anyone say bad things about Jon and she just snapped. Natalie tells us she's glad Jaclyn exploded like that and that it might make her harder to work with. She is, however, concerned that her fate in this game is in the hands of Missy and Baylor. And as we know, that is not where ANYone wants to be. She tells us that it takes a lot of work to win Survivor and she plans on putting in the work to get it done. She just hopes that Missy and Baylor really do plan on going to the final three with her. And with that, the opening credits roll!
We come back from break to Missy and Baylor taking a minute to talk about possibly being in the final three together. Baylor seems really excited for them to be so close to that outcome. Missy, in typical Missy fashion, reminds Baylor that the goal here is to win, not just make the final three. It almost sounds as though she has other plans about a final three, which would be pretty typical. We've seen all season long that Missy's wants/needs in this game have superseded Baylor's. You have to wonder if that's how it always is in their world. And for a second, just a small one, my Grinch heart grew a size and I actually feel kind of sorry for Baylor. After a little back and forth, they decide they want to go to the final three with Natalie. Missy tells us that since her foot is busted, she's pretty much out of all the challenges and it'll be up to Baylor and Natalie to not allow Keith and/or Jaclyn to win anything.
Cue our first official Probst sighting!! Today's reward challenge is a rough one. Each player will have a rope tied around their waist. They'll rush to an octagon shaped structure and have to untangle their rope. Once they think they have enough slack, they'll move onto a ladder-type bridge they need to assemble. Once assembled, they'll cross the bridge and finish up with the carnival game of knocking the pyramid of cans off a table. Wanna know what they're playing for? Today's reward is an advantage in the next immunity challenge. As we've seen in the past, the advantage is usually pretty solid and unless you’re Malcolm, it will pay dividends. Before we start, Missy agrees that she will not be able to compete, so Missy is out of the challenge.
There's not a lot to recap here. Keith, Natalie and Baylor untangle their rope pretty quickly while Jaclyn struggles. Again, at 6' tall, trying to navigate this little structure is just not easy for her. Natalie and Keith are pretty much neck and neck leading this challenge. As Keith heads back for the last three rungs of his bridge, Natalie heads back for her last bundle. However, her bundle is too big for her, so she has to split it in two. Keith gets his last three rungs in and gets to the carnival game while Natalie heads back to get her last three pieces. Keith starts throwing and delivers some huge shots. He's down to about three blocks on the table as Natalie begins throwing. The editing makes it seem as if Natalie is catching up, but the outcome was never really in question. Keith wins reward!! I guess now we'll see if the advantage they give his is really an advantage at all. Oh yeah...and don't forget. Keith has to send someone to Exile Island. Everyone but Missy has gone to Exile at some point, but her leg is busted. Keith wanted to send Missy, but just can't do it to her. So, he chooses Jaclyn. Wow, she's had a real shitty last 24 hours, hasn't she? As we head to break, Natalie tells us that she desperately wanted that advantage and that her entire goal right now is to stop Keith from winning immunity.
Now is time for a weird break where Jeff shows us what people on Survivor eat everyday vs. what normal people eat every day. This was a couple minutes of potential show wasted. I just don't get it. Anyway, after that nonsense and a commercial break, we join Jaclyn as she arrives at Exile Island. She checks for an immunity idol clue and it's the same clue everyone else has received...which means Jon's idol is NOT back in play. And now is when Jaclyn really lets it out. He dude is gone and she's stuck on Exile Island. She takes this time to break down a little. She tells us that Jon would tell her that it's only one night and to just "rock it out," so that's what she's going to do.
Back at camp, Baylor is, like, really bummed that Keith won reward. She says he's the biggest threat and really didn't need any help. The trio of girls discuss that Keith has to go if he doesn't win immunity. Keith walks off to the side to read his advantage. The note tells him that a challenge table has been delivered to a remote location. He can go there and practice for as long as he wants. But once he stops practicing, he's done. He arrives at the location and the challenge table is basically a Rube Goldberg looking machine where the players will use these flat spoon-ish looking things to transport three balls through a maze of metal. First person to get all three balls through the course will win. In 29 seasons of Survivor, I've never seen anything like one person getting to practice a challenge before it happens. We're treated to several shots of Keith struggling with this challenge. He tells us that with this practice time, he might not be out of the game just yet. He also tells us that he plans to stay there until dark practicing. And with a million bucks on the line, I certainly agree with that decision.
We're back from break and Baylor is confirming with Natalie that she's going to the final three. To her credit, Natalie is actually thinking about her chances with Missy and Baylor and the possibility of jumping to Keith and Jaclyn. She reminds us that she has an idol and she has no issue playing it to guarantee her spot in the final four. She's kind of just agonizing over which way is the best way to go. Once the idol is played, if she doesn't win immunity, she has to trust other people to take her to the final three. And with Missy and Baylor controlling half the votes, they'll be her only option.
And with that, it's another Probst sighting!! I've already described the challenge, so let's get to it. By the way, since this is a stationary challenge, Missy WILL play. She found one of Rocker's shoes in camp and they cut it up to fit over her cast so she can have a little extra support while standing. The challenge begins and no one, including Keith, is having any luck moving these balls through the course. After a handful of tries, Keith seems to have regained a feel for the course and he starts moving that first ball through. Once he drops it off at the end of the course, he never looks back. Keith quickly moves all three balls through while only Baylor actually got a ball past the half-way point of the course. Looks that reward challenge advantage clue really paid off as Keith. Wins. Immunity!!
Okay, so I'm totally stoked for the Make a Wish kid who designed the big challenge. I think it's great that he was able to do it and it's even better that he gets to attend the finale live and get a mention from Jeff Probst. We don't, however, need three to four full minutes of it when that time could be devoted to the show. Just sayin'. Anyway, back to the action. We get back to camp and Keith is shocked that no one was able to get a ball to the end. Natalie decides it's because Keith is good with balls. Get it? Get it? Anyway, Keith tells us that it's Jaclyn's time to go tonight, which seems pretty likely. While Keith, Missy and Baylor discuss Jaclyn heading to Ponderosa, Jaclyn is down making a pitch to Natalie to keep her in the game. She says she is down for taking out either Missy or Baylor if Natalie wants to. Jaclyn tells Nat that she wants to get rid of Missy because Baylor does whatever her mother tells her. Natalie tells her that she feels comfortable that Missy and Baylor will bring her to the final three, but they are blood and there's no breaking that.
We now join Baylor and Natalie firming up their plans for tonight. This conversation is amazing. Baylor asks Natalie about her idol and says, "Hey, I was thinking tonight, you're gonna play your idol, right...cause you have to. Play it for my mom." In my house, this is where you hear the needle scratched across the record. Really? Are you really THAT effing entitled? With a million dollars on the line, did you really just suggest that Natalie give the one assurance she has to your mother?? And you meant it???? That's a lot of balls right there. Even Keith couldn't handle that many balls. Anyway, Natalie never really commits to doing that, but kind of just nods. They discuss that everyone is voting for Jaclyn, except Jac...and she'll probably vote for Missy. Natalie tells us that she feels that she has made some big moves in the game, but she's not sure if they're big enough and if enough people know they were her moves. She suggests that getting rid of Missy or Baylor might be the big move she needs, but it could kill her chance of making the final three. But, without the big move she might not win in the final three. In her word, "Scary."
And we finally get to Tribal. Jeff begins by talking to Jaclyn. He asks how her game is different now that Jon is out. She says she has no one she can totally trust anymore. He asks Keith about the reactions at camp after Jon's boot. He said it was like a catfight, but his name never came up, so he's good to go. Jeff now asks Missy about idols. She says she's confident about the idol situation because she knows who has it. Jeff asks Jaclyn about that comment, and she and Keith had no idea there was an idol even out there. He then asks Missy if there's a concern about being the only pair left in the game. She feels they're in a danger zone, but she's confident in her alliance. Jeff asks Natalie what the mood at camp was like after Keith won immunity. She says that there was a lot of talk around camp and that Jaclyn came to her trying to cut a deal. Jaclyn admits that Keith was next to go if he didn't win. She knows it's her time now that he did win. When asked, Missy says she doesn't think there is anything Jaclyn can do to save her game. Basically she says Jaclyn should just accept it and say, "It's my time." Speaking of time, it is time to vote.
We see Baylor's vote for Jaclyn saying it was really fun playing with her and that it's nothing personal. We don't see Jaclyn's vote, but we hear her say, "Natalie told me to vote for you and that I can trust her." Hmmm, could there be something up Nat's sleeve? Jeff heads up to tally the votes. Does anyone have an immunity idol they want to play? Natalie takes a minute to dig through her bag of tricks (#TeamTV) and pulls out her idol to take to Jeff. As she walks up, she says, "I was going to play this idol for myself tonight, but idols are more fun when you play them for someone else." She turns to the players, "Jaclyn, did you vote for who I told you to vote for?" Why, yes...yes she did. "I'm playing this for Jac." BOOM!!! From the jury box, you can hear Jon saying, "I knew I liked her." Missy looks over and says, "I'm going home." Really? For the love of God...it's NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!!! Do you really feel that even on a broken leg you're THAT big of a threat?? For crying out loud, get over yourself. Oh yeah, sorry. First three votes are for Jaclyn and they don't count. Next two votes: Baylor.
And with that, Natalie has her big move. And everyone saw it. She could just have easily given Jaclyn the idol back at camp and told her to play it. But where are the theatrics in that? And how would the jury know that it was really HER idol and HER play. By doing it right there in front of the jury, there can be no doubt who made the move. Not since Parvati gave idols to Sandra and Jerri has there been a more perfect, timely use of an idol. I was very much anti-Twinnie coming into this season, but for me, she just won the game.
There's just one little thing...she has to make it past one more challenge and one more vote. And as much as I love this move, she most definitely put an amazingly huge target directly on her back. I'll go so far as to say that she pretty much has to win immunity if she wants to make it to the end.
And that's my time, kids! Thanks for playing with me tonight; it was good to be back in the saddle. David and Kim will be back to tie a nice bow around this season. Y'all take care!