Survivor 21.10 “Stuck in the Middle” Recap

Did you miss last week’s Survivor Nicaragua? Catch up with my recap here.

This week’s episode begins with Libertad returning to camp after ousting Marty. Brenda confesses that the votes at Tribal Council revealed to Fabio, Benry and Dan that she and Sash aren’t in their alliance. She agrees that it appears she and Sash are the kind and queen of the tribe, but Sash is more of the queen and she is the king (was this a hidden sexuality reference, or is Brenda just saying she wears the pants in their partnership. I think the latter). Holly approaches Jane and tells her that Brenda and Sash are just going to pick all of them off. She, Jane, Chase and NaOnka were always tight, so they should make a move against Brenda and Sash. Holly confides to the camera that a power move must be makes against Brenda and Sash before the next Tribal Council. She has nothing to lose, so she might as well be the one. “Something has to change soon,” she concludes.

The next morning, Day 25, Fabio suggests moving the fire closer to the shelter and surround it with the wooden chests to protect it from the impending rains. Holly tells the camera that on Day 5, she was ready to quit, but she’s still there and is energized. She approaches Benry about Brenda and Sash’s power, pointing out that Sash backstabbed Marty and the other guys. How can they trust Brenda or Sash? Purple Kelly has “crawled up Brenda’s butt,” and Brenda is good at challenges. One of them needs to go. Jane then talks to NaOnka about the same topic. NaOnka points out that Brenda has become Marty Jr. in the way she thinks she runs the camp. Jane says that she doesn’t like to be around villains in life or in the game, and that is what Brenda is. NaOnka confesses that Brenda is her best friend there, but this is a game, not a time to make friends. She has no problem ousting Brenda. Holly approaches Chase about getting rid of Brenda, but he wants Benry out. Chase doesn’t think Brenda or Sash will lie to him, but Benry will. Holly decides that she’ll need to keep an eye on Chase after they get back from the…

…Reward Challenge. For this Challenge, the players will be divided into two teams of five. Using four barrels, two planks of wood and ten feet of rope, the players must get from one end of a stretch of beach to the other, without touching the ground. If any player touches the ground, the entire team must start over. The first team to get all five members to the finish platform will go to the active Cerro Negro volcano for some volcano-boarding, pizza, sodas and chocolate brownies. After the random draw, the Blue Team is Chase, Purple Kelly, Jane, NaOnka and Fabio. The Yellow Team is Sash, Brenda, Dan, Holly and Benry. Survivors ready…go!

The Blue Team, led by Chase, puts one barrel on its side, rolls it a bit of the way out, and balances a board between it and another barrel. Fabio walks down the board, rolling a third barrel. He then takes the second plank of wood and stretches it between the second and third barrels. All of the Blue Team members then position themselves between the second and third barrels, while the first plank of wood is used to roll the first barrel to the front. The Yellow Team is utterly confused by the Challenge. Further, Dan’s knees are giving out on him. The Yellow Team crumples in a heap to the sand, with Dan crushing his hand. They hurry back to the start to begin again. Brenda tries standing on a barrel to roll it forward, earning Jeff’s dry “Yeah, that’ll work….For a minute.” (The disdain and mockery with which Probst delivered that line is not done justice in transcribing it. It was a thing of beauty from the multi-Emmy winner). Barring a huge mistake from the Blue Team, the Yellow Team is out of it. No such Blue error is in the offing, however, as Fabio is the first to jump onto the finish platform. He is quickly followed by the rest of his team. Blue wins Reward!! They will be leaving for the volcano immediately, via helicopter.

During the flight, Fabio is beside himself due to the awesomeness of the volcano. Walking around, Jane feels like she’s walking on the moon. The five put on orange jumpsuits (to protect them from the potentially dangerous ash), and mount thin plywood sleds to cruise down the caldera. Fabio completely wipes out on the way down, but everyone seems to have a blast. Jane is pretty psyched that she can hang with the kids. When she makes it to the bottom, she exclaims, “That was as fun as crap!” Chase wonders what’s happening at camp, but Fabio could care less.

Well, he should care, because thanks to his brilliant plan to protect the fire with wooden crates, the darn camp goes up in flames! When the Yellow Team returns, they find the chests (which were full of food), the machetes, and a third of the tarp all burned to ashes. They are all in shock; all Benry can say is, “This is the day from Hell.” Back at the volcano (Flames…volcano…Hell. How poetic?), the Blue Team dines. Jane could care less what’s going on back at camp, she’s just excited to have chocolate. Chase asks the group who they think is “running the show.” Fabio shouts that this is exactly what he was wondering. Immediately, NaOnka asks Fabio if she can speak to him alone (suspicious much?). She pulls him aside and tells him that she wants to get Brenda out. Fabio is more than down with that. What about Chase, though? NaOnka says that he’s whipped by Brenda so he can’t be told. NaOnka confides to the camera that in order to win Survivor, one has to be willing to make power moves, and she is willing to do so to get farther in the game.

When the arrive back at camp, Chase immediately tells Brenda (he evidently didn’t worry about the fire that destroyed camp, that Holly is freaking out and starting to stir up a plan to oust Brenda. For whatever reason, Chase trusts Brenda so he needed to give her that information. Brenda confides that she doesn’t have to do anything crazy in reaction to Chase’s news. She should be able to work the target off her back. Chase then goes to NaOnka and asks her who she wants out. She wants Brenda out. Chase responds by informing NaOnka that he told Brenda about the plan to oust her. NaOnka then tells the camera that Chase is running around with his head cut off an dis becoming unpredictable. The tides are turning, so she needs to side with Holly against Brenda.

NaOnka finds Benry and tells him that they can’t trust Chase. Benry wants to know if she is in on voting for Brenda. “I’ve been in,” she replies. Benry answers that Chase is being played by Brenda. NaOnka then goes to Jane and tells her that Chase can’t be trusted. Jane agrees, saying that Chase wants into Brenda’s pants or something. NaOnka then runs to Holly and informs her that Chase told Brenda about their plans to oust her. NaOnka calls Chase stupid, but Holly sums up their feelings about Chase more succinctly, “What the f*#k is wrong with Chase?” NaOnka doesn’t have a chance to answer as it is time for the…

…Immunity Challenge. Each player will stand on a small, pivoting platform, and grab a rope that will force the player to lean backwards over a pool of water (yes, the same pool Fabio peed in a few episodes back). Every five minutes, the players are required to move their hands further down the rope, causing them to lean farther and farther backward. The last player hanging wins Immunity. They randomly draw positions, grab their ropes, and the Challenge begins. Almost immediately, Sash and Purple Kelly fall into the water. Holly and Brenda struggle, their pain written on their faces, and eventually Holly falls. Dan slips, but is able to regain his balance thanks to his rather impressive biceps. Well, at least Jeff is impressed by Dan’s “guns.” Brenda finally gives in to the pain and falls. Dan does, too. Fabio jumps into the water, apparently feeling safe. NaOnka succumbs as well, leaving Benry, Chase and Jane, who looks like she can dangle there all day.

Jeff tells the remaining players to move down to the next knot, which puts a load of stress on the three. Probst encourages them to think of the rope and nothing else (except his voice, I guess). Benry huffs and puffs (dude, breathe!), but eventually falls, leaving he North Carolina contingent. Chase tells Jane that he’s good and has no plan to drop. Jane says that her fingers are going numb so she might concede Immunity. Jeff says, “Don’t you dare give up!” (Can you remember a time Jeff has been so talkative and encouraging during a Challenge? I think he’s trying to make up for the kind of lame cast they have.) Jane does stay in, and it’s a good thing, because Chase eventually slips off his platform. Jane wins Immunity!! Jeff helps her up because she doesn’t want to fall in the water (like how she didn’t want to break her tile a couple episodes ago). As they return to camp, Benry confides that he wanted to win, but Jane is just a Superwoman.

Back at camp, Jane says she feels on top of the world after her Immunity win. Further, Brenda will be going home unless she is given a Hidden Immunity Idol. Sash and Chase convene a meeting about the impending vote. Chase suggests that Benry is the biggest threat because he is untrustworthy, and they need to protect Brenda. NaOnka then speaks with Sash and says that Chase is driving her cray with his paranoia. Despite that, she tells Sash that the two of them can make a power move and vote out Brenda. Sash confesses to the camera that he’s starting to worry about his and Brenda’s position in the game. Chase approaches Fabio to talk strategy, but Holly arrives on the scene immediately. Chase admits that he’s been playing with his heart, and not his head, but that he may need to vote out Brenda to stay in the rest of the tribe’s good graces.

Covering his bases, Chase runs to Brenda and tells her that NaOnka is responsible for turning the tribe against her. Brenda says that she doesn’t want to scramble for votes, because it will make her look weak and an admission of defeat. Holly sees Chase and Brenda talking and states that Chase needs to learn to “shut the hell up.” Brenda confides that she wants the HII so she can stay and keep her small alliance in power. Brenda thought she had a good alliance with NaOnka, but she will try to blindside her at…

…Tribal Council. Alina and Marty, with fancy slicked back hair, take their seats in the Jury Box. Jeff asks if, with Marty voted out at the last Tribal Council, there has been some movement in the alliances at camp. Sash admits that there has been some reshuffling, and that he now finds himself out of the loop. Chase says that his strong alliance is gone. Brenda acknowledges that she didn’t actually want to vote out Marty, but did so in order to prove to her alliance that she was loyal to them. Brenda then calls out NaOnka directly for jumping ship on their alliance. When Jeff asks NaOnka if that is true, she says she doesn’t “think” that’s true. Jeff immediately calls her on her phrasing, so NaOnka confirms that it wasn’t her, but Chase that was running around between alliances. Chase says that he trusts Brenda and is true to her. Jeff mockingly asks Purple Kelly, based on her twenty years of experience in the world, what she is seeing. Kelly confirms Jeff’s mocking tone when she admits she has no idea whatsoever is going on (and is evidenced by her vote a few minutes later, voting for Benry when no one else does).

Jeff wonders if Brenda can trust her alliance. Brenda replies that Sash is too smart to break their alliance, and Chase ran right to her with information, so it must be NaOnka who flipped on them. Jeff asks Brenda if she tried garnering votes back at camp. She says that she was trying to stay in the game, but she wasn’t “scrambling.” Jeff inquires if she has something against that word. Is “scrambling” beneath her? Brenda admits that it is, that she’s better than that, which irritates Alina over in The Jury. Sash says that alliances have now changed, and he has a new outlook on the game. It’s time to vote, so the players do. Holly votes for Brenda, saying that Brenda should have scrambled. Brenda votes for NaOnka, saying that she thought they were friends, but obviously not.

Jeff gathers the votes and asks if anyone wants to play an HII. Brenda looks plaintively at Sash, but he does not stir. It may be the editing, but Brenda looks very disappointed, as if she expected him to give her the HII. Jeff then reads the votes. The first is for Brenda, then there is one for NaOnka. Purple Kelly’s inexplicable vote for Benry is next, followed by a vote for Brenda. Votes five and six are for Brenda, and the writing is on the wall. Jeff reads the seventh vote, “The eleventh person voted out of Survivor: Nicaragua and the third member of The Jury…Brenda!” Without giving anyone a hug, she brings Jeff her torch and says, “Ouch,” when it is snuffed. Off she marches into the Blue Light of Death. Jeff comments that if you want to win the million dollars, you have to fight for it, and sends Libertad back to camp.

Next time on…Survivor!!

NaOnka goes nuts again, causing everyone else to just be flabbergasted by her antics. Also, eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed that the promo department gave away next week’s Immunity winner by showing a clip of that person making a comment about NaOnka with the Immunity necklace on. I won’t say who in case you missed it, but that’s a huge error by the editors. Granted, that may be the first time it has ever happened in twenty-one seasons, so I guess they can be forgiven.

As far as what we’ll see next week, I expect Sash to start scrambling (to use a word) now that he’s on the wrong side of the majority. Finally, an HII might be played, or at least take a prominent role in vote negotiations. Chase will continue to be “stupid,” and Purple Kelly will continue to have no idea what is going on around her. Personally, I’m upset Brenda is gone because she and Marty were the two players really playing the game, so their ouster will only make the show less interesting. Further, Brenda’s dismissal means a major blow to my Odds to Win. Let’s take a look.

Odds to Win

For the first time, my Odds took a significant hit, with my favorite since before the season even started being knocked off. Brenda’s ouster also has major implications for the remaining players and their positions in the game. I am having a hard time pointing to someone who can really seize the game and win, so there really isn’t a “favorite” per se. I think it will take another week to see who will step into the power vacuum left by Brenda. So, let’s see how the board looks now.

Holly: 8-1. I can’t believe it, but I had to jump Holly to the top. As she herself said, she wanted out on Day 5, but is still there, and now seems to be the head of the majority alliance. Further, she seems smart enough to know who she needs to bring to the Final Three with her so she can win the vote. My only concern is that she isn’t a great Challenge performer and may not be able to win an Immunity when she needs it most. That said, she’s probably in the best position of everyone left; let’s see what she does with it.

Fabio (Jud): 12-1. Like Holly, Fabio finds himself now in a power position as a member of the majority alliance. He’s pretty good at the Challenges (I think he purposely gave up this week), and is obviously well-liked if even NaOnka made up with him. If he can make it to the Final Three, he will likely win, but that is a huge “If.” Depending on who gets to choose the Final Three, those people might be too scared of Fabio’s popularity and cut him. If he can be the one to make that decision, however, Fabio will win the game.

Sash: 14-1. His partner in crime, Brenda, is gone, but he saw what was happening and made sure he voted with the rest of the group. He’s the smartest player remaining, but with an HII, he still has a target on his back. I expect his HII will be flushed next week, and then he’ll likely be gone a week later, but Sash seems like he might be a better social player than Brenda was, so he could become a swing vote between remaining players in a couple episodes. He will have the strongest case for winning of anyone if he can make it to the end.

Benry: 25-1. I hate jumping people this much, but as Sash said at Tribal Council, alliances have changed, and Benry is in the majority. He’s not as great a player as he thinks he is, but he puts up a fight in Challenges, so he’s always a threat to win Immunity at an ideal time. He no longer needs to worry about Chase, unless the latter can really make a significant move. If I were Benry, first, I would hate myself for working on Girls Gone Wild, but then, I wouldn’t be too worried about Chase outwitting anyone.

Jane: 33-1. Jane is awesome. In an ideal world, Jane will win Survivor: Nicaragua for playing an almost perfect game so far. This is, however, not an ideal world. If anyone else remaining is really smart (and I’m not sure if there is), they will know that Jane cannot make the Final Three if that smart person wants to win. Even Marty will vote for Jane to win. There is the chance, though, that Jane will just win every Immunity Challenge from here on out, and I wouldn’t put it past her.

Chase: 45-1. I honestly have no idea what Chase is doing. He’s trying to play both sides, but is doing it soooo poorly. He says he trusts Brenda, but then votes against her. I can see Chase accidentally making the Final Three (and, in fact, I predicted he would), but there’s almost no way he would win the vote. He can only win if he’ sup against Dan and Purple Kelly, and even then, he might not win.

NaOnka: 57-1. NaOnka is in a great position, having jumped alliances at the ideal moment, and she still has an HII, but she’s too darn hot-headed to win. Evidently, she’ll blow up again next week, so this mightbe the straw that broke the collective camel’s back. With Brenda gone, the Holly alliance can get rid of NaOnka and still maintain numbers over Sash. If anyone else has any kind of skill they should be able to blindside NaOnka without her using her HII next week. Will they be smart enough to do so?

Purple Kelly (Kelly S.): 95-1. I know I picked Purple Kelly to get to the Final Three, and I won’t be surprised if she gets there because she is a final vote void. She has no freaking clue what is going on, is terrible in Challenges. Seriously, what could she possibly say at the Final Tribal Council that could earn her a vote? Nothing, absolutely nothing. My hope is that she gets one vote so there could be a Final Vote tie, which would be pretty awesome.

Dan: 500-1. Dan is going to make it to the Final Three. I just have a sick feeling. Why, God, Why?

Alright, that’s what I’ve got for this week. What did you think of the episode? Are you as sad to see Brenda go as I am? Will the season suffer even more than it has with her gone? Who do you think the Final Three will be? Please leave your questions, comments and theories below. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to catch hell in North Carolina.

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