“The quintessential wicked stepmother”: Survivor San Juan Del Sur December 17 2014 Finale recap

20 Dec

Jaclyn is stunned at Jon having been voted out, and she’s in no mood to hear Missy say of herself that outside the game “I’m loyal to a fault.” “So is he!” she snaps, referring to Jon.

The reward challenge is won by Keith, and the prize is an advantage in the next immunity challenge. In previous seasons, this advantage has essentially handed the immunity win to that person … will that be the case here? Jaclyn is sent to Exile Island. Yes there is a clue to an immunity idol there, but the same clue others have already read, which led to the idol that Jon found.

Keith’s reward instructions specified that he could only read them by himself and not share the information with anyone. The reward turns out to be a “challenge table” (the regular challenge, but set up for one person) in a private spot at camp. The note says the person can practice as long as he wants, but if he walks away he cannot go back. Keith takes this very seriously and practices the challenge until he can’t think straight. It involves transporting ping pong balls across a tabletop obstacle course at the end of tiny paddles.

On the strategy front, Natalie tells the camera she is considering allying with Keith and Jaclyn rather than Missy and Baylor. Natalie has an idol, don’t forget.

In the challenge, we find out how critical practice was. Keith transfers all three of his balls to the other end of the table before anyone else has done a single one … though it still takes him a long time. He wins his third immunity of the season.

Unfortunately the show handled the finale the same way they did last year — by starting with Jeff Probst and the live studio audience and going back to this several times during the broadcast so he can chat with some fan or other in the stands. I can’t fast-forward through this fast enough.

Before tribal, Jaclyn makes her pitch to Natalie, while Baylor tells Natalie that since she has an idol she should play it for Missy just in case. Not that this really makes sense.

At tribal council Jeff asks Missy what she thinks about the possibility of idols, and Missy says she knows who has one, which is news to at least one of the other contestants. Also, it is pointed out a couple of times in the course of the show that there is only one pair of loved ones left in the game, Missy and Baylor.

After the voting, Natalie takes out her idol (this is the last round an idol can be used, remember). The walks up to Probst and asks, “Jaclyn, did you vote for who I told you to vote for?” Jacyln nods. Natalie: “I’m playing this for Jac.” Shocker: Baylor is voted out! A really good blindside!

After some pointless crowd interviews at the live show by Probst, we find out Natalie’s thinking: “Trusting two family members in a situation where I could be the outsider just seemed like a really dangerous thing.” She adds “I can get rid of a couple but not be the main threat.” She also says Missy’s case in final three would be much better if Baylor were there, I don’t understand that part. By the way, the same Missy who goes into hysterics if her daughter gets a hangnail seems surprisingly calm about her daughter being voted out of the game.

Alas, for at least the second year in a row there is no fallen comrades tribute. I always enjoyed it, but apparently many didn’t, and we may never see it again. Anyway, time for the final immunity challenge.

What seems to be standard stuff, ending with solving a puzzle at the top of a tower, includes a new twist: the final puzzle includes a few empty shapes, and contestants need to run back down one more time, memorize numbers that go with those shapes, and go back up to solve a combination. The injured Missy sits out, so only three participate. Jaclyn is so far behind that Probst declares she’s out of it, but Keith and Natalie both have so much trouble with the puzzle that Jaclyn not only catches up, but beats Natalie, with the puzzle knocking Keith from first to third. It’s Jaclyn’s only individual challenge win of the season.

Time for everyone to campaign, right? And presumably everyone should be convincing Jaclyn to help knock out the obvious threat to win, Natalie? Actually the only lukewarm effort from Keith we see is to convince her to vote out Missy — Keith thinks Missy would get the sympathy vote in addition to an automatic vote from Baylor. Meanwhile, Missy just advises Jaclyn to go with her gut feeling.This sequence is disappointing, is this all the other players are going to do at this critical moment?

Well, come tribal council it seems Jaclyn is more worried about Keith and his friends on the jury … though as I discussed in my previous post, I’m not sure who all of these friends are supposed to be. Keith is voted out, and we see Jon on the jury grimacing — he knows Jaclyn made a big mistake.

Keith, however, tells the camera “No hard feelings, I love ’em all.”

Nothing interesting ever happens between this last regular vote and the final tribal council, so let’s get right to it. But I should note that the final tribal does not start until the 1 hour 51 minute mark of a 2 hour show! So that’s quite a giveaway that not a lot of interesting content is forthcoming.

Indeed, the jury is lofting up plenty of softballs. Jon, astutely recognizing his girlfriend’s perceived weakness, asks Jaclyn to name a big move or decision that she is solely responsible for. She says the Josh vote. Then Alec asks Natalie what her biggest move was and she says … getting Alec out. That strokes his ego big-time. Then it’s time for Josh’s question and he asks Jaclyn… what one big move is that she was solely responsible for. C’mon man, we covered that! And Wes asks each contestant what it was like to play with their respective loved one. Groan! What’s next, asking “if you were a tree, what tree would you be?” Jeremy doesn’t ask questions but just makes a statement, namely that Natalie “balled out.” Yawn.

Ah, but then it’s time for Reed as the last juror, and he puts his focus squarely on Missy. He tells Missy she is a stock character in fiction, the wicked stepmother. “She spoils her children by giving them more rice at dinner… she takes things she’s either not entitled to or didn’t earn herself … You got more gimmes in this game than anyone and performed the worst than anyone (sic) at challenges… You made the quintessential wicked stepmother move by abusing the help” (by making sure everyone in minority alliances felt inferior). And Reed notes with satisfaction “The people you were so rude and terrible to are going to decide your fate this evening.” BOOM! Just what I thought about Missy all season! Reed saved a lame tribal council with a moment that has to be one of the all-time top five for this season-ending event.

No big surprise when the votes are read: Natalie wins. At the aftershow, Jaclyn’s move to vote out Keith is discussed, and she says she misread the situation: Probst then asks for a show of hands: what would the vote have been with a final three of Jaclyn, Missy, and Keith? Probst obviously thinks the result will be that Jaclyn would have won, but no: it actually turns out that that trio would have resulted in Keith winning. So Jaclyn didn’t have a chance no matter what. Nor do I think she deserved to win over Natalie … and perhaps not over Keith either.

Probst announces that the following season will be entitled “Survivor: Worlds Apart” and the concept will be “white collar vs. blue collar vs. no collar” (the latter meaning  free-spirit types).

I’ll be back soon with final thoughts to wrap up the season.

 

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