Recap: 'Survivor: San Juan Del Sur' Finale - The Winner Is...
Pre-credit sequence. Poor Jaclyn is all alone and there's a scary creature in the trees. "You've gotta do what you've gotta do," Natalie tells Jaclyn, who also praises her fellow castaways for their acting and being fake. "I'm loyal to a fault in my life," Missy replies. Natalie and Jaclyn get into a shouting match about who does or doesn't know Jon. Jaclyn is particularly angry, which I guess makes sense. This, of course, is exactly what Natalie wanted, because she wants people to be wary about aligning with Jaclyn. She knows it'll take effort to maintain her ties to Missy and Baylor in the short term. "You've gotta put in work if you want to win this," Natalie says.
3-and-2. It's the morning of Day 36 and Baylor and Missy are talking about their shared dream of being in the Final 3. Baylor's currently still planning on going to the Final 3 with her mom and with Natalie, but Missy is worried about her foot -- she's diagnosed a fracture, which she's magically been able to do without X-rays -- and how that might impact strategy. Short version: Keith and Jaclyn aren't allowed to win.
A bridge too far. We transition into a challenge instantly appears to have enough stages that Missy isn't going to stand a chance. It's a Reward Challenge. Players are tethered to ropes and have to unspool the ropes, assemble a bridge, use sandbags to knock over a series of blocks. Wanna know what they're playing for? They're playing for an advantage in the next Immunity Challenge. As we've seen in recent seasons, this challenge is always won by the person the majority doesn't want to win. That's just how it goes. But does that also mean we didn't get a "Survivor" Auction this season? Boo. Probst tells Missy he has good news and bad news, chiding her first for being unable to compete, but telling her that the good news is that she's still in the game. Oh. That wasn't much good news at all, Jeff. "That. Will. Leave. A. Mark," Probst says as Jaclyn stumbles on the bridge-building. Where did Jaclyn suddenly get yoga pants? The editors are certainly pleased. Keith has the sandbag-tossing. I've been skeptical about his challenge-dominance, but Keith sure looks like he's got this under control. Indeed, Keith wins Reward. "That's crazy," he says, taking a sealed envelope Jeff. Keith has to send somebody to Exile. Yikes. This is a big deal. With Missy ineligible, he'd sure better send Jaclyn. And he does. "Getting beat by a 55-year-old man is not easy," Natalie says, since Keith is her first target.
A matter of perspective. Hmmm... With Jon out, is there any chance that there's an Immunity Idol hidden again at Exile? Apparently not, since Jaclyn reads the clue and it's the same one they got previously. Unable to make fire, Jaclyn is unhappy. She puts things in perspective by reminding us that she can't have kids. She envision's Jon advising her to rock it out and she's determined to fight through the night in Exile.
Flashover. "The Reward Challenge was sucky," Baylor says, as Keith goes off into the woods to read about his advantage. The other women agree that if Keith doesn't win, he's still out next. Keith's advantage is that he's got a table to practice for the Immunity Challenge, which involves transporting balls through a Rube Goldberg machine using spoons. Monkeys! He gets to practice for as long as he wants, but once he stops, he's done. "This is a big advantage, believe me," Keith says, comparing this to a flashover when fire-fighting and vowing to practice until dark. This isn't easy, especially with Keith saying he's losing focus.
Keith's got balls. Natalie is musing on her options. She tells Baylor that she's with them, but she tells us there's a chance she could decide to go to the end with Keith and Jaclyn. Interesting. Oh and don't forget that Natalie has an Idol already, so she's set for the Top 4 no matter what happens. Jaclyn returns for Immunity with a big, forced smile. Missy, wearing Jon's shoe, is ready to compete for Immunity. As we already know, the challenge is transferring three balls using the paddles. All four women are going through the learning curve that Keith faced yesterday. It takes a while for Keith to lock in, but he's the first to transfer a ball and then he begins to move like a tremendous machine. Keith deposits his second ball before any of the ladies have landed even one. Frustration is building as Keith completes an absurdly dominant Immunity win. It's his third Immunity victory. He compares this to making the NCAA Final 4.
Ladies Love Kool Keith. "Nobody got a ball? Really?" Keith asks the ladies, incredulously. We get to see the scatter-brained lead-up to Keith's confessional as he assumes that Jaclyn's heading to the Jury. Monkey! "Jaclyn's ready to go," Missy says, incorrectly. "If you want to vote one of them out, I'm down," Jaclyn tells Natalie, separated from the other three. Jaclyn thinks taking Missy out first would be smart, because Baylor does whatever her mom says. Wandering later, Baylor tells Natalie that it would be cool if Natalie played her Idol for Missy. Natalie tells us that big moves win the game and she's just thinking about herself. The choice is playing it safe and voting out Jaclyn, but taking out Missy or Baylor would be big.
Tribal Council, Part I. Jaclyn says that it's good not to worry about having the person she trusted, but it's bad because you don't have anybody you trust. Keith recalls the near-catfight after the last Tribal. Missy is confident about the Idol situation, which confuses both Jaclyn and Keith, who know nothing about Natalie's Idol. Missy feels good about her alignment. Natalie admits that Keith winning Immunity made things complicated and also says that Jaclyn came to her to negotiate. Missy feels that there are no cracks in their situation and that it's Jaclyn's time. Either this vote is going to be dull or the editors are blindsiding us.
The Vote, Part I. Baylor writes Jaclyn's name. "Natalie told me to do this and to just trust her," Jaclyn says, though we don't see her vote. Hmmm. Natalie takes out her Idol and announces that she's playing it for someone else. "Jaclyn, did you vote for who I told you to vote for?" Natalie asks. WOW. "I'm playing this for Jac," Natalie says. WOW. "I knew I liked her," Jon says on the Jury. Probst tallies: Jaclyn. Jaclyn. Jaclyn. Baylor. BAYLOR. Wow. I don't love the strategy on a game level, but I love the TV moment. The Jury is also pleased. "I feel surprised. That was a really good blindside," Baylor says, calling it "a really good move."
Hour One Bottom Line. So Natalie has to be hoping/assuming that she can get Missy out next, because otherwise she just guaranteed one vote for Missy. If that's her strategy, and I'm still not sure I love it, at least she made the right move in targeting Baylor, who might have accidentally won Immunity, assuming that the last Immunity Challenge will be something that Missy's foot makes difficult. But if she's doing that, she's going to the end with Jaclyn, who has Jon's vote no matter what, and Keith, who has Wes' vote. Or am I reading too much into the "Blood" ties? Is there a chance that Wes or Jon or even Baylor or Missy could be objective and vote Natalie over her loved one? I sure wouldn't think so. So Natalie's assuming that Jeremy, Reed and Josh will admire big moves and strategic gameplay. To me, going to the end with Missy and Baylor sure feels like the easier win. And even going to the end with one of them and Keith seems like a Natalie rout. I like Natalie was perhaps a bit enamored with making the big move. We'll see if that becomes a problem. One thing Natalie can say: Both Keith and Jaclyn are 100 percent, totally, unquestionably only in the game right now because of her. That's something.