Archive | April, 2014

“Staahht spending your money”: Survivor Cagayan April 30 2014 recap

30 Apr

The episode begins with Jefra discussing why she ended up voting for Jeremiah after all: it’s because she doesn’t want to go against Tasha or Spencer in the end. That’s smart. By the way, I just realized I have been spelling Jefra with two Fs this entire season when in fact her name only has one. I also see that her last name is Bland. That’s fitting.

The contestants find out that the reward challenge will be the annual food auction. Now, to reiterate what I say every single season: there is only one correct way to play the auction: bid not a single dollar on food and wait for the auction lot that represents an advantage in the game. When that lot comes up, instantly bid the full $500. Nobody can outbid you and you have a great chance to last another week in the game. Season after season, there’s at least one player who seems to be smart yet isn’t smart enough to do this … a notable example being Jonathan Penner in the Philippines season. Tony swears that he will hold firm and save his money for the advantage.

Kass, Jefra, and Trish obviously have no such plans as they bid on the very first lot, and Tasha bids on, but doesn’t win, food as well. Kass wins a steak sandwich and when she goes back to sit with her tribemates and eat it, she asks Probst if she can share it. Probst zings back, “It’s so good [that] you can’t. That way you can say you want to.” Meanwhile Trish, no strategist she, keeps asking Tony and others why they aren’t bidding, and the Bostonian adds, “Staaaht spending your money, you cheapo-deapos.”

Speaking of not being a strategist: when some ribs are unveiled, Woo bids 40 dollars instead of the minimum 20, despite nobody bidding against him!

This whole time Tony and Spencer have held firm, with pained expressions on their faces. Finally Probst, playing dumb, asks them why they’re not bidding. When they say they’re waiting for an advantage, Probst says let’s just get to it. He unveils the advantage and one microsecond later Tony calls out “$500!” Good job Tony. But not so fast, Probst says. If the bidding reaches the maximum amount of $500, any player who wants in and has that much money can bid. If more than one person does, the bidding is not for the advantage but for the chance to draw rocks to randomly determine which participant wins the advantage. Now, this is completely new, but for all we know they came up with the rule years ago, and the situation just hasn’t come up to date. Shame on all the players who didn’t make it come up!

Tony and Spencer say they want to participate. Tasha still has all of her money too, but she shakes her head. Probst announced that the person who draws the black rock wins the advantage, and the white rock loses. Spencer and Tony hold the rocks in their fists, then they reveal and… Tony wins. Tasha later tells the camera that she was hoping there would be one more round with an idol clue, but there wasn’t. So three people didn’t eat, and two of them didn’t get the advantage either.

When Tony unwraps the advantage back at camp, he sees that it’s the clue to a hidden immunity idol! Well, not so much a clue as a description of the precise location. But when he goes looking, he can’t find the big white tree that is referred to in the note. When he gets back, Tasha is having a swim with Kass, Jefra, and Trish. Spencer sees the opportunity to make Tony paranoid, and when he sees it working, keeps at it. Tony makes it a point to look for the idol some more and does find it. It’s the third idol he has found in this game. He shows it to everyone in his alliance and says he would use it for anyone in the group.

The challenge is a table maze, which can be surprisingly suspenseful but isn’t this time. Tasha wins her third immunity in a row, something that certainly wouldn’t hurt her case if she got to the end.

Tasha would love Tony to freak out about the possibility of an all-girl alliance. After all, if this makes him vote out a girl, it won’t be her, because she’s immune. And boy, Tony is freaking out all right. Though the completely obvious move is to vote out Spencer, Tony is tormented by the thought that if Spencer is gone only two men are left. As he sees it, he has to turn on one of the women in his own alliance, and the only one he can plausibly turn on is Jefra, who contemplated voting Tony out just last episode. So he convinces Woo to vote Jefra along with him. If Spencer and Tasha join in that’s four people, enough to vote Jefra out.

There is one huge, glaring flaw in Tony’s reasoning here. If Tasha is willing to join in and vote Jefra out, that means Tasha is not in an all-female alliance, and therefore there is no reason to vote Jefra out!

The only other thing that happens before Tribal Council is that Spencer goes looking for the super-powered idol, not knowing that Tony already has it.

Tribal Council is a very unpredictable one. Surely Tony will come to his senses and vote Spencer out, right? After the votes are cast, Probst asks if anyone wants to play an idol, but although Tony hung the idol around his neck at the beginning of Tribal Council to scare everyone, he doesn’t use it, naturally. Jefra is indeed voted out (with Jefra, Kass, and Trish voting for Spencer), meaning the Beauty tribe is now completely out of the game, and we are left with three Brains and three Brawn.

The other problem I have with Tony’s move, despite what I already stated, was that the man had two idols. So he was guaranteed to get to the final five no matter what, and had a great chance at the final three. He was in a position to worry more about how best to get votes in the endgame rather than worrying about getting there. But now Jefra, an easy person to defeat at the end, is gone, and worse still he has cheesed off Trish and Kass yet again by keeping them in the dark about one of his moves.

Favorites to win, in order: Tasha, Spencer, Trish, Tony, Woo

No chance: Kass

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Sarah (Trish), Morgan (Tasha), L.J. (Tony), Jeremiah (Spencer), Jefra (Trish)


I’m a model, you know what I mean: Survivor Cagayan April 23 2014 recap

23 Apr

We’re just coming off of the blindside elimination of L.J. as masterminded by Tony. However, Trish says she understands why Tony didn’t clue her in, and that she still trusts him.

You’ll recall that Tony built a little “spy shack” near the beginning of the season. Now he decides to do so again, near the well where players tend to go if they want to talk privately. We see Jefra and Trish stroll over to have a conversation, and we’re shown shots of “Tony spying” from every conceivable angle short of a helicopter flyover.

The reward challenge involves rowing out into the ocean to collect oars with letters on them, then bringing them back and arranging them to spell a Survivor catchphrase. The team that wins is Tasha, Jeremiah, Spencer, and Jefra. It couldn’t be more perfect for the first three, because they’re all alone with the one person who’s the most natural potential recruit for them. The getaway they are treated to involves exploring a spectacular cave … I thought I was watching The Bachelor for a second there! They are also brought letters from home, and Jefra starts crying as soon as she lays eyes on the envelopes! As usual, I hope there will be no “loved ones” episode to follow, but these hopes tend to be in vain.

The four who didn’t win the challenge do more worrying than strategizing, though Kass says she wants to stick with Woo, Tony, Trish, and Jefra. Trish is more interested in some big, juicy papayas high in a nearby tree. She cracks, “they look like Morgan’s boobs.” Woo climbs up to shake them loose but takes a nasty fall from what looks like a height of 10 feet. True to form as a martial arts expert, he’s not seriously hurt.

The immunity challenge entails standing on a balance beam balancing a ball on a disc that’s at the end of a stick. Every so often the players have to step onto a narrower part of the beam and move their hands further down the stick. Within the first couple of minutes, half of the players are already out. It comes down to Tasha and Spencer, with Tasha winning.

At least four people and maybe more are thinking about voting out Tony, a fact not lost on Tony himself. So he goes on an absolutely frenzied search for an idol. He assumes Spencer found the one that Tony already knows the clue to, but that still leaves the super-powered idol that was mentioned a few episodes back. He decides to simply look for anything that’s a notable landmark. After some false alarms, he finds an idol near the roots of an enormous tree! He says “I love you so much, man.” (To the idol, mind you.)

Tony loves it even more when he reads the instructions to find out that this is indeed the super-powered idol. Unlike regular idols, it can be used after all the votes have been read (similar to the idols in some of the early seasons when it appeared). But there’s a catch: it only protects the person who finds it and cannot be given to anyone else. The second part certainly makes sense: it’s powerful enough in the hands of one person, and would be too powerful if it could essentially protect an entire tribe.

While Tony was searching, Trish was calming Jeffra down, the latter being very anti-Tony lately. Trish says that the two of them and Kass have a better chance of beating Tony and Woo in the end than beating Spencer, Tasha, or Jeremiah. When Tony joins this discussion, the others call his shady ways into question. He swears on his baby, his father, his mother, and “on everybody” that he will stick with them. In this same discussion, Kass says she thinks Spencer has an idol, and she explains that she can read people in that way.

Soon thereafter, Jefra looks up Jeremiah and lets him know she won’t be voting with him, despite the promise she made when they were on their cave trip.

By the way: the first half hour of this episode made for perhaps the most (only?) boring one of the season, but boy, does it heat up in the last half hour!

Jeremiah tells Tasha and Spencer the bad news. Since they’re alliance-mates and all, he discloses a shocking revelation: he’s a model. I don’t believe we had been told that he was keeping this secret, and Spencer is amused that Jeremiah thinks it’s a big deal: “What would you expect from the beauty tribe.” Spencer has a revelation of his own to the two others: he has an idol. As to whom to vote out, Spencer pushes for Woo, since Woo seems to be the biggest challenge threat.

At Tribal Council, Spencer makes his argument as to why Jefra and others should vote out Tony. He points out that Tony has lied, though he says “I’m not admonishing you for breaking promises. I’ve done that too, I’ve lied too.” He continues, “If Tony and any combination of you guys is in the end my vote goes to Tony. [Tasha chimes in “Mine too.”] Because Tony has been steering this game and you haven’t.” As to why people should vote out Jeremiah rather than Spencer, Spencer notes how likeable Jeremiah is.

Time to vote. Spencer holds up the name Woo and gives his best imitation of the Californian surfer: “Broooooooo, this vote is a real bummer, duuuuude.” We don’t see any of the other votes.

Probst announces that this would be the time to play an idol. Spencer stands up and says “You can steal as many clues as you want, Woo. I got the real thing.” Meanwhile, Tony is fumbling with the cloth bag that has his own idol in it! Jeffra whispers to Spencer that Tony’s idol is not real. Spencer pauses for a moment, then hands his idol to Jeff, to the delight of juror Morgan.

Tony announces that Spencer is an inexperienced lad and says Spencer was about to give his idol to “Jeremy” (sic). Tony says about the bag he was fooling with, “This is a fake idol by the way.”

Jeremiah is voted out over Woo, 5-3. So it looks like Spencer’s idol was played in vain.

Favorites to win, in order: Tasha, Spencer, Tony, Trish, Woo

No chance: Kass, Jefra

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Sarah (Trish), Morgan (Tasha), L.J. (Tony), Jeremiah (Spencer)

L.J. is a stand-up guy: Survivor Cagayan April 16 2014 recap

21 Apr

As the episode begins, we are told that the new tribe’s name is Solarrion. I don’t believe we were ever shown or told why they chose that name, but that’s probably because there were more interesting things to show.

With Morgan being voted out, Tony’s group has a 6-3 edge, though he says “But it’s never that easy.” His plan is to make everyone else suspicious of L.J., since he sees L.J. as the biggest threat.

The reward at stake in the challenge is … no, not a Grilled Pineapple ‘Rita from Outback Steakhouse, or any other kind of product placement, but rather a spa treatment. The challenge involves bouncing sandbags off of trampolines into baskets, and the team of Tony, Spencer, and Jeremiah wins. Tony would like to involve these two in some kind of scheme to oust L.J. They’re all for playing along to get further in the game, but don’t trust Tony.

Speaking of Tony, L.J. has no idea the cop is campaigning against him. In fact, he says he and Tony are in it to the end. After all, didn’t Tony use his idol to try to keep L.J. in the game? Yes, but of course it served Tony’s purposes to do so at that time.

Meanwhile Trish worries that if any of the trio of Tasha, Spencer, and Jeremiah goes to the finals, that person will win the game. I do agree with two-thirds of that statement, as you’ll see from my rankings below.

Tasha is certainly thinking about some kind of move, and she whispers to L.J. that he should meet her away from camp in a couple of minutes. She sidles away to the meeting spot, but after waiting awhile she realizes she has been stood up. L.J. just doesn’t want his tribe to be suspicious of him if they should happen to see him talking with Tasha.

The immunity challenge is a memory game. This was just done last season and was pretty boring then. It certainly lacks drama this time too. Tasha is the winner.

That being the case, Tony’s group’s official plan for the moment is to split their six votes between Spencer and Jeremiah, in case either has an idol. It’s a foolproof plan, and even “Chaos Kass” says “nobody needs to mess this up.” However, Tony has other plans. He tells his ally Woo that L.J. is out to get him, causing Woo to become paranoid. Tony tries the same story on Trish, but she’s not buying it (you’ll recall from earlier in the season that she loves L.J., who is from Massachusetts like her, in addition to being a hunk). Trish says “I’m gullible but I’m not stupid.” Tony knows Trish is his closest ally and that she’s not convinced … is that enough to make him scuttle his plan?

At Tribal Council, Tony begins by holding up his bag and saying he brought his “bag of tricks.” The rest of the council is relatively tame, though two different people use “air quotes” within five minutes, as good an excuse as any to link to this fondly remembered issue of the late, great Spy magazine.

Oh, one other oddity: Jeff Probst asks a question about how one’s profession relates to the game. In this vein he asks Tony what his job is, and Tony answers “construction.” Now, earlier in the season we saw that he initially claimed to be a construction worker, but then confessed to his whole tribe (at the time) that he was actually a cop. So I was surprised to see he was still keeping up this particular pretense.

The votes are cast, and Jeff says this would be the time to play an idol. Spencer stands pat. He receives one vote, three go to Jeremiah, and five go to L.J. who is voted out. Woo did join with Tony, Spencer, Tasha, and Jeremiah to oust L.J.

What we still haven’t seen is the idol with special powers, the presence of which was announced two episodes ago!

Favorites, in order: Tasha, Spencer, Tony, Woo, Trish, Jeremiah

No chance: Kass, Jeffra

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Sarah (Trish), Morgan (Jeffra), L.J. (Tony)

“You forgot your pants over here.” Survivor Cagayan April 9 2014 recap

9 Apr

Featuring: the classic moment when Woo runs off with Spencer’s idol clue.

Unsurprisingly, a few people argued with “Chaos Kass” when everyone got back to camp, following Kass’s big defection to vote out Sarah the previous episode.

Soon it’s time for a reward challenge, or rather: the Outback Steakhouse reward challenge. It seems like there used to be a lot more sponsorship on Survivor, but there hasn’t been much lately. Hmm, I wonder when the car challenge will come back? Anyway, Jeff Probst lays it on pretty thick, including special mention of the new drink known as the Grilled Pineapple Rita. He seems to have a tough time keeping a straight face as he talks about it. I briefly hoped for a blast-from-the-past tie-in with Survivor: The Australian Outback (season two of the show), but it was not to be.

The cookie-cutter challenge is won by the randomly selected tribe of L.J., Spencer, Morgan, Jeremiah, and Jeffra, mostly thanks to L.J. who has proven to be quite the puzzle solver. They arrive at the makeshift Outback Steakhouse to enjoy the Grilled Pineapple Rita. They all say how much they love the food, and Morgan gamely mentions the Grilled Pineapple Rita. Of course, since they’re starving, I hardly think they would have turned their nose up at the food if it had been from TGI Friday’s instead.

They’re too busy chowing down to worry about using a napkin, but once Spencer does use his, he finds a piece of paper inside. He tucks it away without anyone noticing.

Once everyone’s back at camp, it’s raining hard, but Spencer doesn’t want to wait too long to read his idol clue, so he slips away and does so, then starts trying to find the idol. However, Woo, being a fan of the show, knows that off-site rewards often mean idol clues, so he stealthily trails Spencer. We see Spencer take off his pants so he can wade through some water and put the clue in between his pants. Then the camera swings over to where Woo is hiding, and even though you, the viewer,  know he’s behind the bush, you can barely make him out.

But perhaps Spencer heard him, because he starts walking over near where Woo is, without first putting his pants back on. Woo casually appears and says he was out taking a walk. Then he says “You forgot your pants over here,” and picks them up and tosses them at Spencer. When he does so, the clue falls out. “Who’s gonna take that clue and hand it back to him? No way!” Woo tells the camera. Spencer soon realizes Woo has the clue, so in Woo’s words “I hightail it Sonic the Hedgehog style.” All of this is incredibly entertaining!

Spencer can’t catch him, so Woo heads back to camp and tells L.J. about the clue. And Spencer does the same and tells his tribemates, so the search is on by everyone. Tony notes that you know it’s a serious matter at hand if it’s something that makes Morgan get off her butt. Not only is everyone searching, but they’re also keeping an eye on everyone else. But while Spencer and Kass are semi-sniping with each other, Spencer finds the idol. He keeps a pokerface and waits for Kass to look away, then pockets it. When he reads the instructions later, they’re quite lengthy but it appears this is a regular idol, not the one with special powers that was announced last episode.

The immunity challenge is, I believe, a completely new one. Each Survivor stands on a piece of wood, and there’s another piece about a foot and a half above each person’s head (it’s measured off to match each person’s height). They have to stand on their tiptoes and press a block against the board above their heads… using only the tops of their heads. After 25 minutes just six people are left, after an hour four. Then Tasha and Spencer keep going another half hour after that, but Spencer wins his first immunity.

So the group of Tony-Woo-LJ-Jeffra-Trish-Kass has the numbers versus Spencer-Tasha-Morgan-Jeremiah. But who has an idol? And will Kass flip? Spencer has no choice but to make an appeal to Kass. Kass sees her suspicions confirmed that the people she “betrayed” would get over it (I don’t know if they’re really confirmed though).

At Tribal Council, talk turns to Morgan (whom Tony’s group has decided to target, thinking she’s the least likely to be given an immunity idol). Morgan says everyone should keep her around: she’s not a threat to them in challenges, and since everyone seems to hate her, she won’t get votes. Probst asks (in so many words) if she gets by on her looks in the real world. Morgan says “If any person in the world could decide to be ugly or cute, most would pick cute.” Even Jeffra the pageant contestant can’t believe that statement.

When it comes time to vote, Morgan is voted out 6-4, with the other group’s votes going to Tony.

Favorites, in order: Tasha, L.J., Woo, Spencer, Tony, Trish, Jeremiah

No chance: Kass, Jeffra

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Sarah (Trish), Morgan (Jeffra)

“I want to have the preemptive strike.” Survivor Cagayan April 2 2014 recap

2 Apr

This season, which wasn’t hyped very much in advance as far as I know, is turning out to be even more entertaining than some of the recent seasons that did get a lot of hype! It has simply been awesome so far.

We begin with the tribe that just voted out Alexis. They have a 6-5 advantage and they know that if there’s a merge that week, they control the game. They promise one another that they’ll be the final six. Soon thereafter Kass goes on a walk with Sarah and admits Sarah and Jeremiah are the ones she has doubts about. Kass points out to the camera that just because Sarah voted with her one time because it suited her to do so, that in itself is no proof of loyalty.

Over at the other tribe, Tony tells the camera that his new group has no spying or trickery going on, which to him is a negative. But they soon learn that they must now go join the other tribe, and it’s time for a merge. Soon after they hear the news, there’s a funny scene where L.J. and Tony both sneak off to retrieve their immunity idols from their respective hiding places.

Speaking of idols, the new merged tribe gets a note that “an idol with different powers is hidden somewhere near your camp.” But that’s all we hear of it for this episode.

A few people from the group of six soon begin strategizing as to whom they should vote out. Sarah says L.J. does not have an idol (oops) but Kass thinks he does. And for some reason Kass wants to target Trish. Much of this episode is Kass talking to Sarah, and listening to them make me decide that neither of them has a chance to win the game. Though I had already come to that decision in Kass’s case. Anyway, Sarah is too sensitive and Kass is too blunt. By the way, Kass has had as much camera time this episode as in the whole season put together.

Sarah is seen as the swing vote by all parties, and Tony gives her a sales pitch. But he closes it by asking her to swear on her badge that she’s with them, and she won’t.

There hasn’t been a truly tough challenge yet, but this one fills the bill. It’s the one introduced in Survivor Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites II, in which the players have to balance on what looks like a half-submerged floating doghouse, with their feet on narrow ledges on the sides, and work their way up to balancing on the top. (You may recall the previous outing ended with Andrea and Brenda outlasting everyone by hours, including that doofus Eddie who quit to have a doughnut despite facing elimination). This starts out well, as not one person is eliminated in the early stages. That’s impressive in itself, as most seasons have at least one person who’s a joke at challenges and goes out right away or quits. This season doesn’t, or rather they have been weeded out.

Things get interesting when the players have to ascend to the very top. Some can’t get their balance and fall right off, and others gesticulate wildly as they try to stay upright but can’t manage it. And it doesn’t help that a tremendous wind comes up at that moment! It comes down to Tony and Woo, and Woo comes out on top. However, in this final phase you can see that Woo is wearing those special “barefoot” sneakers they make where each toe is in its own separate compartment. Isn’t this a tremendous advantage in this type of challenge? To me this tarnishes Woo’s victory.

Back at camp, Sarah tells the camera that she’s decided she’s going with her new group, not Tony’s group. In fact, when she next talks to her tribemates, she suggests Tony’s name as the person to be voted out! Sarah says “I can guarantee Tony doesn’t have an idol.” Yes, she said the same thing about L.J. minutes earlier, and yes, she’s wrong about both. So the group agrees on Tony. However, Kass wanted Jeffra or Trish. And Kass is extremely enraged that Sarah thinks she can make the decision on her own, and that the rest of the tribe is letting “Queen Sarah” do so. Kass says of Sarah: “If she’s going to destroy the game, I want to have the preemptive strike. I want to destroy it.”

Tony and Sarah talk again. Tony points out that if she went with him, she’d be in the top three of a six-person group along with Tony and Trish, whereas if she stands pat, she’s number 6 out of 6 in her current group. But instead of considering the merits of the idea, Sarah just gets irritated with the thought that Tony thinks she didn’t already know all of this. She’s decided he’s the one who has to go anyway: “Getting rid of Tony is nothing personal. It’s actually a huge compliment to him. He’s just like me and I’d get rid of me if I could.” Meanwhile Tony vows that if anything at Tribal Council sounds “iffy-iffy,” he’s playing the idol.

Now for a twist I did not see coming. Trish, no master strategist in my mind, tells Kass she’s observed that Kass’s tribe has some dissension. Who would Kass vote out if she could? Kass obviously says Sarah, but says it would be too late to organize any such thing. Trish says that’s doable, and when she tells Tony and L.J. they’re both on board. Now, when all of this happened I questioned whether doing so would help Trish and company at all, since Sarah was the swing vote anyway and not really at the core of the other tribe. But I’m sure they’re thinking: better Sarah than one of their own fivesome. Now, was Kass serious about this? She does tell the camera, “I love that Sarah thinks she’s running the show.”

Tribal council hasn’t been going long (or at least we haven’t been shown much of it) when Jeff Probst asks L.J. about possible immunity idols. L.J. has a pretty good, evasive answer going, but Tony interrupts: “There’s idols. ‘Cause I got one.” A skeptical Spencer wants proof, so Tony pulls it out and announces he wouldn’t just use it for himself: “It’s a community idol.”At this time Spencer and his group say to each other something like “Vote for the other one” while the LJ/Tony group agrees amongst themselves “Same person.”

Shockingly, Jeff Probst says “Shall we just end the suspense and get to the vote?” I felt like shouting “Yes — this week and every other week!”

The votes are cast, and Tony brings his idol to Probst asking him to “validate” it. Once he does, Tony says he’ll use it for L.J. OK, time to read the votes. “Hold on Jeff,” L.J. says. “I’d like to cover Tony’s ass myself.” And he uses his idol for Tony.

But then the first vote is read: Jeffra. L.J.’s face falls — was all this for naught? And indeed, Spencer and company had been discussing Jeffra as someone who nobody would give an idol to, and thus a vote that would be sure to go through.  Jeffra starts crying the second she hears her name. The next vote is Sarah, and the votes go back and forth until we’re tied. One vote left. And the first member of the jury is … Sarah!

As she walks out (not being a bad sport at all), her tribemates ask each other “who flipped?” and Spencer guesses Kass. Spencer does have the look of a sore loser. He soon adds “Kass… zero chance of winning the game.” She responds “It’s a long way to go.”

Now, the one move that was probably unnecessary was the one by L.J. If Tony announces he has an idol and the others say “vote for the other one,” surely that means the vote will be for anybody but Tony? But I do understand that probabilities are one thing when you’re watching at home, and different when you’re the one sitting at Tribal Council.

Favorites, in order: Tasha, L.J., Woo, Spencer, Tony, Trish, Jeremiah

No chance: Kass, Morgan, Jeffra

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Sarah (Tony)