Posts Tagged ‘Survivor: Nicaragua’

Survivor Survival Guide: “Company Will Be Arriving Soon”

I want her to know I have her back, even though I don’t.”

—NaOnka on Alina

The merge* episode is traditionally one of the most intriguing of a Survivor season. Usually, you get each tribe buffering its fortifications and trying desperately to come out on top of the numbers. With Espada and La Flor each having six members left coming into last night’s merge, it could have been an especially significant episode.

*Does it bother anyone else that Survivor always uses “merge” as the noun and not “merger”? No? Okay, carry on.

Of course, it wasn’t really significant at all because there aren’t really two distinct alliances. There were barely two distinct tribes. There’s Brenda, Sash, NaOnka, and Chase—and then there’s everybody else. Dan is tight with Marty but no one else. Jane is close with the BS Alliance but not really “in” since she keeps voting for Marty. Purple Kelly and Benry haven’t done anything strategically yet. JudFabio listens to everyone but has yet to go against the group. As of now, there is a large group of castaways who are simply willing to go with what the group wants, which will be fine until we get down to eight and everyone is tied, in some way, to that group.
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Survivor Survival Guide: “What Goes Around, Comes Around”

“I want the cake, I want to eat it, too, and I want those two to go home.”


There are often early, subtle clues in a Survivor episode that hint at its basic structure: “What Goes Around, Comes Around” had an especially long “Previously on…” and the full intro sequence, which accurately portended a rather light episode. The Reward and Immunity Challenges both ran a bit longer than usual, and there wasn’t much time at all dedicated to strategy and camp plotlines.

After a brief shot of Espada, with Dan thankful to be back yet again and Chase saying Alina should be the next to go, the action went back to La Flor, where Marty was upset Jane (bless her soul) had turned on him last Tribal. Marty told Jane that he never lied to her, never misrepresented himself, and never wrote her name down, and he confronted her about voting for him last time. Jane responded to this about as non-confrontationally as possible, by laughing off the idea while simultaneously making it very clear that she had indeed voted for Marty. This is what passed for early tension.

The Reward Challenge involved castaways leaping off a platform and trying to throw a ball into a net past a “defender,” standing on a pole halfway between the platform and the goal.* It looked fun. JudFabio and Chase served as their tribes’ respective defenders, and Espada was able to win despite the fact that Dan’s attempt — weak as it was — didn’t count because he was unable to jump off the platform. At this point, I think it’s reasonable to call him the worst participant in Survivor history.

*Calling the position “the defender” is a more subtle than usual way for Survivor to market another CBS show: The Defenders.

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Survivor Survival Guide: “Worst Case Scenario”

“Don’t ever fluff on a Southern woman. I ain’t no sittin’ duck, honey.”

–Jane (bless her soul)

Man, where to begin?

The twin tribal council episode is another Survivor contrivance, but one I’ve grown to accept more so than the tribe switcheroo. Within a season, it’s a change-of-pace runner: the Dave Meggett to the rest of the season’s Rodney Hampton. Things move more quickly — the Immunity Challenge begins at about 8:10 — and the majority of the episode is spent in the taut setting of Tribal Council.

Before we get there, we had a long “Previously on…” segment that established Marty and Yve on the outsides of their tribes. This was not too surprising; last week I predicted Yve would be the next to go from Espada precisely because Dan had changed his vote while she had not.

Dan threw a wrench into that thought early, by telling Holly he was thinking of quitting. Now, I understand Survivor is hard, and I also understand that Survivor is still harder than I think it is. But I’m getting pretty sick of people considering quitting. This didn’t use to happen, right? I mean, I know people do occasionally quit. But this is the third time in six episodes we’ve had a “___ might want to quit” storyline. That’s too much.

Over at La Flor, Brenda outlined her plan to flush out Marty’s idol with the help of Jane. Jane’s vote gave Brenda six votes to work with against two, meaning her alliance could split three and three for Marty and Jill while not risking any of their own.

The Immunity Challenge involved digging with a paddle for small rope circles, tossing them into a bucket on your back, and then hanging them on a pole. First to three would win individual immunity, represented by some pretty sweet immunity necklaces. It didn’t look too difficult, which is kind of a theme when it comes to twin tribal episodes: The Immunity is always forgettable and unclimactic. Holly and Jill won in forgettable and unclimactic fashion, setting up a final duel for the reward, which was to “feast” on chicken and beef kabobs during the other tribe’s Tribal Council. Jill won, forgettably and unclimactically.*

*The only thing that interested me about this whole challenge was the draw for spots. Probst always talks about drawing for spots, but they never actually show this draw. Apparently, there was a Rock-Paper-Scissors contest to see which tribe went first in the challenge, which begs a lot of questions. Who played? Was it a series? What did they go with? They don’t even show this in the bonus content online.

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Survivor Survival Guide: “Turf Wars”

“NaOnka just seems like a high school girl. She’s irrational, she’s crazy, she just seems like she’s on her period all the time. Rain is not that big of a deal here.”


As far as Survivor contrivances go, not much tops shaking up the tribes, or as JudFabio put it, “the old switcheroo.” In fact, I once called it “the single most manipulative thing that can happen during a season.” Everyone, especially JudFabio as I’ve officially decided to call him, looked pretty shocked, leading Josh to tweet, “There is little better on Survivor than the reaction shots to tribal merge/switch announcements.”

As far as tribe switches go, though, this one was fairly mild. The “Previously on…” created more of a Marty versus Jimmy T. conflict in the old Espada tribe* than there was (or at least, than we were led to believe as recently as last episode). Truth be told, alliances hadn’t really emerged yet. I suppose you could say Marty and Jill were tight — and they still are. Brenda was cool with both Chase and NaOnka, but they hadn’t gotten the chance to really work together, since they had only been to Tribal once. Does the swap shake up the game? Absolutely. Does it ruin people’s strategic plans? Not ruin as much as challenge. I was with Marty when he said, “It would take something extraordinary, off-the-charts, completely whacked-out to destroy my plans now.” He was right; it was very difficult to imagine a scenario in which his fellow (at-the-time) Espadians would have voted him out (and even then, he has a hidden immunity idol). Now, with Marty moving to La Flor, his plan is altered but not ruined. It’s more expedited than anything else.

*Get the double meaning?

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Survivor Survival Guide: Pulling the Trigger

“That’s just obnoxious…. All you need to is give him, Jimmy T., a little rope and he’ll hang himself from the nearest branch.”

“Anyone who calls out Jimmy Johnson and says that Jimmy Johnson might be insecure because of Jimmy T.’s leadership capabilities has got some issues going on.”

“He just doesn’t get this game.”

–Marty on Jimmy T.

“I’m easy to get along with — I think.”

–Jimmy T.

In the wake of Jimmy Johnson’s dismissal last week, Wednesday’s fourth episode of Survivor: Nicaragua, “Pulling the Trigger,” was bound to deal with the aftermath in the older, Espada tribe. More specifically, it was bound to deal with the tension between Marty, the man who largely orchestrated Johnson’s departure, and Jimmy T., the man who thought Johnson was threatened by his leadership skills, even as he (Jimmy T.) was the one who beseeched “Coach” to “put him in” the week before.

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Survivor Survival Guide: “Glitter in Their Eyes”

“I hate to say it, but I’m looking forward to Tribal Council. We’re finally going to get this tribe to play the game. This is real, and it starts now.”


You might even have been able to tell from the episode’s title — “Glitter in Their Eyes” — that last night’s third installment of Survivor: Nicaragua was going to be about Marty’s attempt to take down Jimmy Johnson.

Marty’s anti-JJ agenda has been clear for some time now, and he wanted to establish himself as the leader of Espada, the older tribe. It started while they were out searching for fruit, with Jimmy playfully making monkey noises and several of the tribemates practically swooning over him. “His soul is inspiring,” said Yve. Marty was having none of it, saying he couldn’t risk taking Jimmy to the merge, when his celebrity and leadership could win over a whole new tribe of converts.*

*It’s interesting and telling that Marty seems to have never considered the potential advantages of this. For instance, if the two tribes merge at roughly equal numbers, and Jimmy’s charisma is able to win over someone from La Flor, it can tilt the balance in Espada’s favor post-merge. Marty, it seems, is thinking even longer-term than that.

Marty won himself some dap by revealing to the tribe that he had found the Hidden Immunity Idol, doing so almost begrudgingly on Jill’s counsel. It was a calculated but, from his perspective, low-risk move: Keeping the idol secret only benefits him if he’s on the chopping block, and Marty doesn’t plan on being on the chopping block until after the merge.* It’s also clear that he doesn’t plan on letting anyone else use it anytime soon, but Marty had won at least one fan in his tribe. “That move just strengthened this tribe about five times,” Jimmy T. said. “I was like, ‘What a guy! Way to go, Marty!’ I wouldn’t have done that.”** In the process, Jimmy T. firmly reminded us that Espada is a tribe of the elderly by using “What a guy” and “Way to go” as his primary means of exclamation.

* Of course, if someone from Espada turns and lets La Flor know about the HII post-merge, well, it can come back to bite Marty.

**He also didn’t mention, at least in the footage we saw, Jill’s role in finding the idol at all. Hmm.

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Survivor Survival Guide: “How to Make Fire with a Coconut”

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want another girl to win. We already get owned in marriage. Pretty soon, we’ll have a woman president. A guy needs to sack up, and we need to win this one.”

–Shannon (who is a guy)

Let’s face facts: The first episode of a Survivor season is never any good. There’s way too many people with way too many names explaining the same tried-and-true Survivor principles. Fire is important. I’d like to make an alliance or two, but I don’t want to be overaggressive. Being a leader requires a deft touch this early in the game so as not to become a target. Survivor is really hard. I don’t even want the million dollars.

Okay, so the last one is new this season, and it comes from the biggest star the series has ever been able to nab: Former NFL head coach Jimmy Johnson. Johnson’s appearance on Survivor is, going in, easily the most interesting reason to watch this iteration of the show. Johnson, to me a shocking 66 years old, was fairly easily recognized by most of the castaways,* and he came clean early, saying he was there for the adventure and not the money — which his tribemates did not believe.

*The last thing I wanted was a weird, “Nobody recognizes me???” plot.

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