“The wrath of Jane will break out tonight.”
Survivor: Nicaragua’s penultimate episode finally gave us what we’ve been waiting for all along: shots of Dan’s grown son kissing him repeatedly. The last episode before Sunday’s finale was the traditional family show, with castaways meeting family members—or in the Survivor parlance, “loved ones”—before competing for a chance to spend even more time with them. The family episode is always an interesting one because it provides us with glimpses into these contestants’ home lives, teaching us things like Dan’s grown son is overly affectionate, JudFabio loves his mom even though he doesn’t get to see her, and that Jane works on her farm only with her daughter. It’s also an overly sentimental one, with plenty of tears and emoting, which to be frank grows tiresome to the loyal Survivor viewer since we see the same emotional outpouring each season.
“This Is Going to Hurt” opened with a “Previously on…” that established Chase as a capricious villain. JudFabio was on “high alert” after thinking he would be voted out at the prior Tribal, and Sash reassured him that it was Benry who tried to get him out—right before Sash told the camera that JF is definitely gone provided he doesn’t win immunity.
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Then it was time for treemail, delivered so expertly by the world’s first 4G phone, the Sprint Evo. It’s the world’s first 4G phone. It’s an amazing phone. I don’t know if you absorbed this information during the episode, but the Sprint Evo—the world’s first 4G phone—is unbelievably fantastic. Some say it’s even better than Gulliver’s Travels.
The half-dozen castaways all gathered around the Sprint Evo to watch their family’s video messages in sparkling HD—now I’m just making stuff up…I don’t know if it was HD or not. They all cried a little, with JudFabio perhaps emoting the most at the sight of his mom. “I just want to see my family, man,” he said, channeling Tom Jane. Before heading off to the challenge, Chase and JudFabio agree to bring along the other one and Sash if they do win the reward. Sigh…we’ve seen this before.
The Reward Challenge was proceeded by the arrival—in person—of each castaway’s loved one. Chase, JudFabio, and Sash all greeted their mothers, Dan hugged and kissed his son (while making a ridiculous noise that sounded as if it came from Krusty’s Komeback Special hug of Sideshow Mel), Jane met her daughter, and Holly got to see her husband.
The challenge itself consisted of two parts: The castaway would run up a ramp and jump in water to retrieve two bags of puzzle pieces (letters), and the loved one would try to solve the puzzle (which spelled out “Family Comes First”). I don’t like it when the family member is actually involved in the challenge; it doesn’t seem entirely fair, and it can get a little awkward.
That said, Chase and his mom edged out the win over Holly and her husband, meaning Chase got to go on a reward for the fourth time in a row.* Probst told him he could pick one other player, and Chase picked Sash, who had not been on a reward since the men vs. women obstacle course. At that point, Dan leaned in to his son to tell him that Sash “was a scumbag.” Jeff then told Chase he could take one more, and for the second episode in a row, Chase spurned his pre-challenge agreement, taking Holly over JudFabio.
*Only his indefensible decision to back the women in the obstacle course prevented Chase from winning every post-merge reward.
Probst handed Chase the Sprint Evo to “use it to record all the great memories.” Chase excitedly asked, “Video? Pictures?” to which Jeff replied, “Everything.” Survivor doesn’t even try anymore.
On the trip—where the three sailed down the coast and enjoyed a regular meal and some champagne—they toasted to being the Final Three while explaining the nuances of their alliance to their loved ones. It was almost a Hurley-explains-the-island-to-his-mom kind of moment, but not as meta.
The three who weren’t chosen sulked back at camp, each taking it pretty hard. JudFabio was as angry as he’s been the entire season, lamenting the fact that he only gets to see his mom twice a year while Holly lives with her husband. This was an odd criticism: If anything, shouldn’t that make it easier for JudFabio to NOT see his mom? Jane, meanwhile, viewed Chase’s selections as a clear display of her alliance’s pecking order: “It appears I’m the fourth person in a four-man alliance, and that worries me.” She was also angry because this was her daughter’s last summer before college, and she hasn’t gotten the chance to spend time with her.*
*If it’s such a big deal, don’t go on Survivor.
When Chase and Co. came back, JudFabio wasn’t shy in expressing his displeasure in one of the season’s best exchanges:
JUDFABIO: How was it, buddy?
CHASE: It was great.
JUDFABIO: That was a rhetorical question, man. ‘Cuz I knew it was great.
That led up to the Immunity Challenge, which involved working your way blindfolded over and under hitching rails to a shield with symbols on it, memorizing those symbols (still blindfolded), bringing three bags of symbols back to where you started and a different shield, and assembling the symbols in the same order (still blindfolded). JudFabio was first back with the pieces while Chase took a really long time memorizing the display shield. Once he came back, though, he started placing pieces quickly. JF, though, was able to overcome one early misplacement to come back and claim the necklace for the second time. “When you need it, you get it,” Probst said to him as he slipped the necklace on.
Back at camp, Chase pushed to vote Dan off while everyone else wanted to use the chance to eliminate Jane. Chase called voting off Dan “a win/win situation,” although I don’t know what he’s referring to with either of those wins. When Sash and Holly met with Chase to convince him on Jane, Jane herself arrived and asked them if they were still a strong four. The way it was edited at least, Sash, Holly, and Chase all shuffled nervously and looked at one another before admitting to Jane that there was discussion of voting her out. Jane gave them the finger and stormed off, feeling betrayed by each one of them. “If I was Chase, I wouldn’t show my face back in Carolina” and saying Sash’s comparing her to his mom can’t be true because “I wouldn’t raise a liar.” Jane later dumped water on the fire: “I started it; I’ll put it out.” Hell hath no fury, am I right?
At Tribal, Jane spoke openly of her alliance’s betraying her, continuing the season-long trend of airing any and all grievances at Tribal Council. It was also a landmark Tribal for Probst, who tried his darndest to affect how everyone was going to vote and delivered the profound “Alliances are only as good as they are…good.”* He called out Chase and his alliance on betraying Jane, then asked them who was next. After conferring, they said JudFabio or Dan would probably be voted out next, which was pretty obvious but hadn’t really been fully considered by either of those two. Jane suggested they band together and vote for Holly, since she didn’t have a hidden immunity idol. It got tense.
*I wonder if Probst had an editor fired for leaving that in. Or worse yet, he actually thought it was profound.
Chase and Sash each played their hidden immunity idols for themselves, turning down what I thought was a clear and relatively risk-free chance to use the idol to protect Holly in case the others listened to Jane’s proposal.* At the same time, the viewer can never really be sure just how much danger any one player is in during Tribal.
*Risk-free because they wouldn’t have had the chance to strategize on how to split votes in case Chase/Sash used the idol to protect Holly. None of them would see it coming.
It turned out Holly was in none. Jane received five of the six votes and became the seventh member of the jury. I ended up surprised that Chase was convinced to vote Jane off this early; I thought he’d do even more to keep her around longer. Just last week, I figured Sash would have to use his immunity idol in some way to get rid of Jane, although I ignored the relatively high probability that JudFabio could win the immunity challenge. I suppose I underestimated Chase, or at least Holly’s ability to change his mind. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s as quick on the uptake in figuring out how big a threat Holly is.
We’ll save the Aristocracy and Finale Preview for this weekend. Should be an interesting one.