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RecapsDecember 30, 2014

The Tribe Has Spoken: Survivor San Juan Del Sur Episodes 13 & 14

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Another season of the best show in the world is in the can and it’s bloody great news that we have an absolute stunner of a winner to add to the pantheon of Sole Survivors.

Natalie played one hell of a game that felt like a cross between Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands, Heroes vs Villains) and Tony Vlachos (Cagayan). She played a beautiful and chaotic game of human chess that perfectly married her brutal ruthlessness with her endless likability. Shouts to Nat. First Asian woman to win Survivor too! And a boon to Sri Lankan dreamers everywhere after the way we fully punished their national cricket team in Christchurch earlier this week. Truly Natalie played a better innings than Kumar Sangakkara ever has.

A bit more of a recap at the end of the post with special guest insight from charismatic news boy charm machine (and day one Survivor superfan!) Matty Mclean. But for now, here are your Power Rankings (double dosage super special!):

15) Channel Four

Hey, good on you for bringing us the good show, but you dropped the ball on this FOUR. The finale aired in America almost two weeks ago! Do you even know how easy it would have been for this shit to have been spoiled for me if I had stuck to the rules and abstained till you finally got around to airing this masterpiece!?

You’re normally a few days behind – I can deal with that. But it’s not up to scratch to just lag behind the yanks for weeks on end. Sort it out for Season 30 imho. And retweet my good blogs.

14) New Doctor

new doc

So this is a bit of a tragedy. Survivor used to have a staff doctor who was a New Zealander. It was the closest any of us antipodean losers would ever get to being on the show. And now they’ve gone and replaced her with this drongo from Australia! Tragedy.

13) Nat’s Lie

Natalie pretending she accidentally voted for the wrong person is the most obvious lie I’ve ever seen! It’s crazy that it worked. CRAZY!

12) Missy Owned

missy owned

I’ve certainly not been the biggest Missy fan through this season, but it seemed pretty tough and cool that she was so desperate to stay in the game despite breaking her foot. Good on ya mate.

11) Keith in the spa

Keith going to have a wee spa with Baylor and Missy was a very good and funny scene. The best part was obvo when his head was in a toilet for some reason.

keith toilet

10) Nat Ballin’ Out

million dollar idol move

This move was one of the sickest pieces of gameplay this season. Probably the sickest. So sick! Not only is it mean as drama, not only does Natalie openly (and maybe needlessly) stab her closest ally in the back, but SHE DOES IT DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE JURY AND MAKES SURE THEY KNOW SHE’S RUNNING SHIT BY BEING LIKE, “you voted for who I told you to vote for right?”


GREAT MOVE. She can’t lose after that if she makes the final 3. You win 100% of the time you do that.

9) Goodbye Jon

At least he went out in the best possible way: towering over Jeff Probst while holding back tears and trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

tall jon

8) Finally we get some our super surreal scenes of IRL Jeff Probst

How many innocent moles died to make this weird as shit moleskin jacket thing?!


7) Keith’s Final Beautiful Survivor Look


keith elegant look (1)

Wow Keith is a ray of pure delight. How great was his wife?!

6) Alec 420 Blaze Till You Die

alec 420

Alec is an IRL version of this guy and I love it. He almost stole the finale tbqh.

5) Keith Master of Balls

keith master of balls

Keith was great in these last few eps. Maybe the greatest Keith highlight of the whole season was when he botched and restarted a confessional! It’s such a rare treat for the Survivor editors to give us that weird fourth wall break. Love it. Love it!

4) Jaclyn’s got the clutch gene

jac the beast

Loved Jaclyn winning the final four challenge. A great and dramatic challenge. I reckon if she made the obvious right call and voted out Nat, Jaclyn would have had a real shot at the million. Ah well, you live and you learn.

3) The Final Three

final 3

A pretty great final three imho. I like how having three women really symbolises how dominant the fairer sex was in this season. All the strong male players made the same mistakes (deathly hubris) and paid dearly for it. Tbh it was the foregone conclusion that Nat would sweep it, but the other two were deserving finalists. Even if Missy probably wasn’t playing to win.

2) When Jeff gave some kid a bowl of rice

lil girl 1

lil girl 2

Wow. Good TV.

1) Natalie is the Sole Survivor

happy nat

Natalie was a beast this whole season. From the moment she saw her sister had been voted out she set course for victory. With Jeremy she managed to take control and choose the direction of the game, and once he was voted out she used her cunning and elite gameplay to put herself in the privy council of pretty much every player in the game. Masterful stuff. A great win. Maybe the best female winner since Kim Spradlin. Also pretty much took the season on her back and elevated it out of the doldrums it dug itself into during the pre-merge.

Congratulations to Natalie.

Final Thoughts feat. Matty Mclean

To sum up Survivor San Juan Del Sur, I talked to TVNZ reporter Matty Mclean for his take on the show, this season, and Survivor fandom.

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MM: I’ve been a fervent fan since day one. I can’t even describe what it is about it. I’m just obsessed. I’ve seen every season and most of them twice. I was probably only 13 when the first season came out, but I just remember thinking it was amazing TV! It was so dramatic every week, but it wasn’t a scripted drama. It was even more compelling than most dramas on TV.

JH: Do you have a favourite season?

MM: I reckon my favourite season is probably Micronesia (Survivor Fans vs Favourites 1). I think it was one of the first seasons where you saw massive moves being made – all the time, week after week. It was also one of the earliest seasons with idols, like I think it was one of the earliest seasons where an idol actually came into play. That moment where Amanda played her idol! It was just incredible. I love those moments. I remember Eliza had these incredible reactions from the jury, and I feel like they were perfectly mirroring the audience reactions. It was a great season.

I feel like though, I get sucked into every season when it’s on. Every season is great when it’s happening. Except for maybe Fiji.

JH: I have a soft spot for Fiji just because I loved Yau Man so much. It was so gutwrenching then he got tricked by that homeless guy-

MM: Dreamz

JH: Yeah Dreamz.

MM: Dreamz the formerly homeless cheerleading coach! Such brilliant casting.

JH: A bizarre character for sure. I loved the way Yau Man as an older guy was able to just dominate all the buff jock model/actors on the season. Like every time he showed up to a challenge he’s skewer it in a weird way by pulling out some awesome physics trick. So great.

MM: My favourite character is definitely Stephanie from Palau. Such a powerful woman. I loved her.

JH: Yeah Palau’s a really great season. Do you ever read Survivor Sucks or any of those fan forums? On there they give so much shit to that guy Ian for stepping down from the final immunity challenge. But I thought it was great. Such amazing television.

MM: Yeah and I think moments like that are what make the show. Seeing these dilemmas from your couch and thinking ‘If I was on I’d be so cutthroat. I’d chop everyone in a second to get to the end.’ But then when you’re actually out there… I mean they’re real people who form real relationships.

JH: What do you think about this season?

MM: I’ve had a real love hate relationship with this season. I love the Blood vs Water format.

JH: Did you like the last one?

MM: Yeah it was great.

JH: I loved Tyson, one of my favourite winners.

MM: For me, Ciera was a real standout. The fact that she was able to vote out her own mum! That was the pinnacle of the Blood vs Water format right? I bet the producers were just desperate for that to happen. And she provided, and then the fact she was willing to draw rocks! I hate watching when a player knows they’re at the bottom of an alliance but will refuse to make moves. Ciera made moves. It takes a lot of guts.

I read Dalton Ross’ recaps on Entertainment Weekly, and sometimes he talks to Jeff who always says, if you don’t make big moves, you will never win. Even if you get to the end, you need those big moves to show the jury that you were a player.

JH: I don’t understand this season why they got rid of the Redemption Island aspect. Normally I don’t care for it, but in Blood vs Water it actually worked really well where as Exile Island, is 1) boring to watch and 2) it’s basically a free idol because they’re so easy to find with a clue. I’m not sure how I feel about the way they’ve used idols this season. They were just too easy to find.

MM: I was really pissed off at the core alliance this season. I hate the smarmy attitudes they had when they gave up their awards for each other. It was so transparent. Like, as if a jury member would ever be swayed by that kind of thing.

JH: It’s pretty astounding how that backfires almost 100% of the time, too. The other players will see through that ‘selflessness’ and they will punish you for it. It’s weird that they haven’t learned that lesson yet. Like, right back to Survivor Amazon, you give up a reward, people are going to be suspicious and probably kick your ass out.

MM: Getting back to this season, I didn’t really know was to make of it at the start. But one thing that really impressed me was this: y’know how there are these guys every season who, when you’re watching at home, you’re like, ‘why didn’t you vote them out!? They’re obviously gonna win!’ and you always see people talking about voting them off – but they never do it. Whereas this season they actually go! It’s like, boom Josh goes, boom Jeremy goes, Jon goes! It’s really great.

JH: I wonder if that’s a side effect of most of these people not being great players. Like, in previous seasons, people are looking three or four moves ahead, whereas some of these guys just looked at what was immediately in front of them.

MM: Which led to a final five that you never would have picked which is pretty cool. The only downside is that it meant we had a final five where I don’t particularly want anyone to win.

JH: Did you have a favourite?

MM: Probably Natalie. I started out hating her. I found her and her sister very annoying. Only towards the end I started to warm to her. She set herself up to win really well though. Big moves. The only other one I thought could win was Jaclyn.

JH: Yeah Jaclyn had a weird edit. You’d see her making these moves with Jon, and often see that she had better instincts, like when she predicted Jon getting blindsided, but Jon was the one who got all the screen time and the glory.

MM: It’s a bit sexist eh?

JH: Yeah I reckon that has a lot to do with it.

MM: Like, he was the man so he must have made the decisions, but that’s not the case. It’s like Rob and Amber back in the day (Survivor All Stars). They were such a tight alliance, and obviously he wasn’t making all the decisions, but they made it seem like he was. But in the end Amber won I guess. Jaclyn could have done that.

JH: One really cool thing about a Natalie win is that her identical twin sister got voted out first! I think that says so much about the game. They’re basically the same person, and they’re games basically turned out on exact opposite ends of the spectrum.

MM: Where do you think this season ranks?

JH: I don’t know. To be honest – probably near the bottom. I think the format probably makes it hard to cast. Finding two people who are friends or family or whatever who are both interesting characters and might be good at the game. Seems tough. The Jon Rocker stunt cast was a bit of a flop. And his girlfriend-

MM: Ugh. I hate people who quit the game.

JH: Other than a few bright sparks, the pre-merge was pretty dull. The home stretch was great though and full of surprises. It’s pretty amazing that they’re still able to surprise us after 29 seasons.

MM: I say that to people all the time. People can’t believe it’s still on TV. I mean, the format’s basically the same – but every season is totally unique. So different. It’s great.

Watch the dramatic, moleskin-tastic Survivor San Juan Del Sur finale on FOUR Now here


Keep going!