This will be a very short look at episode 12 of Survivor 21 because frankly, the show doesn’t deserve much more of my time. I love the game and I love watching the interpersonal dealings of the cast, but this season has seen very little gamesmanship and the events of this past week were simply incomprehensible.
So here’s what went down. The elements in Nicaragua are clearly taking their toll as more torrential rains pummel the camp and a newly formed river of mud cut a pathway through the calm pools the tribe once used for bathing. The tribe huddles together, but NaOnka is once again blubbering about her joints and Kelly Purple is starting to crack.
In the first of many strange moments this week, NaOnka goes off with Chase and gives him her immunity idol. She tells Chase that she’s done and that her heart isn’t in the game. Chase now has a safety net going forward. He attempts to align with Holly, Jane and Sash, but Sash feels more comfortable working with NaOnka and Kelly so he doesn’t leap at the alliance with Chase.
The reward challenge, essentially a fifteen minute infomercial for the upcoming Gulliver’s Travels movie staring Jack Black, almost gets the game back on track.
The tribes are split in to two teams and compete to get an eight-foot stuffed Gulliver across a tricky obstacle course. It’s muddy and the course is quite difficult and you cannot let Gulliver hit the ground. The teams are playing for the reward of watching a preview screening of the movie (is this really a reward?) at the Survivor Cinema with popcorn, candy and all the trimmings.
The teams are Fabio, Sash, Jane and Kelly S. versus Holly, NaOnka, Chase and Benry. Danny is the odd man out and goes with Holly’s team to win. If they win, he gets to share the reward. After a grueling and physically demanding challenge, Holly’s side does in fact win the reward. As Jeff begins to explain the reward, NaOnka informs him that this will be her last day in the game. Still reeling from NaOnka’s news, Kelly Purple also informs Jeff that she’ll be leaving the game. I’ve never seen Jeff so shocked. He refuses to let them walk away and tells them they have the day to reconsider their decisions to quit.
Jeff then offers the winners the opportunity to sacrifice for the benefit of the entire tribe. If one winner agrees to pass on the reward, the tribe will get a much needed new tarp to help deal with the rain and additional rice to help them get through the remaining days. Holly decides to do what’s best for the group and sacrifices her reward. The tribe is shocked that NaOnka, on the verge of quitting, doesn’t offer to sacrifice for the tribe – I, for one, was not surprised.
So, the winners (and Danny) watch the movie and pig-out on theatre snacks while the losers (and Holly) get the new tarp in place. Holly desperately tries to get Kelly Purple to reconsider her decision to quit, while Benry is happy to see himself get two steps closer to the million bucks.
With no need for an immunity challenge, the tribe heads to tribal council where Jeff informs the jury of Brenda, Marty and Alina about NaOnka and Kelly deciding to leave the game – needless to say, the jury is shocked and a little pissed as they would do anything to get back in the game. Jeff also appears completely disgusted by the unprecedented double-tap-out and decides to snuff out the torches but not allow the ladies to leave with them. They will remain at tribal as a constant reminder of their decision to quit.
Here’s what I think – NaOnka and Kelly should not be allowed to cast a vote or be a part of the jury in any way, shape or form. Why should they have any further impact on the game? If you quit, you quit it all in my opinion. The producers need to fix this for coming seasons and give players further incentive to stay in the game. Another cool twist could have been to ask the tribe to vote one jury member back in to the game to take the place of the departed. That would have made for some interesting TV…not the drivel we’ve been presented by Survivor Nicaragua for the past 12 weeks.
What once made Survivor so compelling was the apparent agility of the producers to adjust mid-season and add elements based on the cast and flow of the game. That hasn’t been the case this season and it’s too bad.