Survivor 21.05 “Turf Wars” Recap

If you missed last week’s episode, check out a recap here.

“Turf Wars” opens with Espada, once again, having returned to camp after Tribal Council. As Marty stokes the fire, Holly comments that Jimmy T was really a good guy, who worked hard. She confesses to the camera that she had absolutely no idea Jimmy was being voted out. She thought they were voting out the weakest member of the tribe, which is clearly Dan. Now, she knows that she is on the outs with her tribe, so something needs to change, and quickly.

The next morning, Marty confides that Tribal Council was a “slam dunk.” It is now clear that he’s in charge. He tells Dan that they are in a good position. Dan says he was shocked that Jane and Holly voted against him. Marty replies that those omen have signed their own death warrants. Back to the camera, Marty says the other players just aren’t playing strategically; it is going to take something “whacked out” to disturb his game. Over at La Flor, NaOnka says her alliance is in charge. She’s very confident; so confident that she’s got “swag.” She has her hair done, and her shows washed. NaOnka sums up her current position thusly: “I look good. I feel good. I’ll do good.” There is no more time to gloat though as the tribes need to make their way to the…

…Reward Challenge. The tribes arrive at the Challenge arena. La Flor is shocked that Jimmy T was voted out at the last Tribal Council. Jeff gets right to it. “Drop your buffs.” It’s time to switch up the tribes! Jeff asks Marty what he thinks about the shuffle, and he responds that he was not counting on this at all because it is too early in the game (actually, Marty, it’s not. This is Day 12, an average time for tribe shuffles.). Jeff turns to Fabio’s apparent shock. He remarks that they had all just become really comfortable in their tribes, and now this throws everything up in the air. Here is how the switch will go down. Each player will blindly pick a rock out of a bag. The two players with the colored rocks will be captains. Brenda and Holly are the fortunate ones to select the colored rocks. Brenda chooses three members of Espada to move over to La Flor, and Holly chooses four members of La Flor to move to Espada, evening out the teams. Brenda picks Jane, Jill, and Marty; Holly picks Alina, NaOnka, Chase and Benry. Jeff gives them new buffs, stating that Old vs. Young is done. Moreover, the Medallion of Power is done!! (WOO-HOO!!) Jeff asks NaOnka how she feels about switching tribes. She responds that it is tough because she feels like she’s leaving her family. Marty says he’s fine with the switch because he’s moved to a tribe of proven winners. Well, we’ll see if they are still winners because it is time for the…

…Reward Challenge (for real this time). Each tribe has a very large Plinko-style board with an attached ramp. Two members of each tribe will roll balls up the ramp and over into the board. As the balls bounce their way to the ground, two players form the opposing tribe will attempt to catch the balls. If they drop one, the team rolling the ball earns a point. First tribe to three points wins Reward, which for this Challenge is two chickens and a rooster. In the first round, Benry and Chase catch for Espada, and Marty and Sash catch for La Flor. Sash drops the first ball, scoring Espada a point. Net up are Tyrone and Alina for Espada, and Fabio and Jill for La Flor. Holly has problems rolling the ball up the ramp for Espada. There are some nice catches by both teams, but Tyrone drops a ball. Score tied at one. The tribes swap points again (with Marty making some acrobatic catches), leading to a final round to decide Reward. The balls fly fast and furious, but it is Marty who can’t hold on to one of them. Espada wins Reward! Jeff gives Espada their chickens, and the tribes head back to camp.

Back at Espada, Tyrone confides that he wishes his old tribe was still together because they found a nice rhythm (of losing!). Further, he’s wary of the young girls that have arrived and the possibility that they will flirt their way further in the game. He immediately starts telling the new members of the tribe that Espada has a number of rules and responsibilities (e.g. If you go for a walk, bring back some wood). Alina confesses that it’s clear Tyrone is the leader of the tribe. His list of rules is “very older tribe,” she says. For her part, NaOnka confides that Tyrone is no “G” (that’s gangster for the uninformed, NaOnka helpfully tells us). Holly is psyched about the switch. The younger players seem just like her own kids, so she feels she can relate to them. She tells NaOnka and Alina that she has a lot of energy and can partner with them. NaOnka confesses that this is great news. With Holly, that means the former La Flor members have a 5-3 majority within the tribe. NaOnka will always go where the numbers are. She also says that her relationship with Alina has changed; it’s had to because they need to stay together to survive their new tribe.

Over at the new La Flor tribe, Fabio is “stoked” by how the switch worked out. He and the rest of the original La Flor members have a 5-3 majority. Marty starts asking if there are any rules that the tribe has previously established about chores, etc. As he prattles on, the younger players look dumbfounded. Brenda says that they are really just pretty chill. When she gets a chance to be alone with some of the original La Flor, Jane tells them not to trust Marty or Jill. They’re “tight as ticks.” Fabio tells Marty all about NaOnka shoving Kelly B down to get the Hidden Immunity Idol clue. Marty is shocked that the tribe put up with such shenanigans. “You guys let that fly?” he asks, incredulously. Marty says to the camera that it’s obvious the tribe has no leadership. He was able to take a leadership role and have his way with Espada, so he’ll look to do the same at La Flor.

Marty actually puts his plan immediately to work. He tells the whole tribe that he has not had to lie to anyone in the game so far. That’s why he’s telling them that he actually has an HII. He goes so far as to take out the HII and hang it on a tree! He confesses that he was sure Jane was going to rat him out anyway, so he took advantage of the situation, and told La Flor about the HII in hopes of winning their trust. Brenda is beside herself in wonderment that Marty could be so arrogant that he would actually tell them about the HII. “You don’t come into our home and start setting up like the king.”

Back at Espada, the rain is pounding the life out of the tribe. NaOnka, especially, hates the rain, and admits she loses it when she is cold. She tells Alina that she is hurting, breaking. Alina listens, but confesses that NaOnka is like an irrational high school girl on her period. It’s better for her if people want to go home, so she’s not looking to put forth too much of an effort to comfort NaOnka. She does tell NaOnka that she has “the rest of her life to be warm and comfortable.” Chase comes over to see what the matter is with NaOnka, and she tells him that she wants to leave. Chase tells her that if she does, she’ll regret it the rest of her life. He then tells a story about how on the day his father died, it was pouring rain. He was driving his truck, and when he looked into the rearview mirror, a rainbow appeared in the truck’s bed. Chase quickly turned around, and it was gone. That rainbow was how he knew his father was in a better place. The story doesn’t seem to cheer NaOnka up that much, as she complains deep into the night that she wants to go home. She has no time to complain the next morning as it is time for the…

…Immunity Challenge. Jeff asks Marty how life at his new tribe is. Marty replies that everything is good because he’s in the Taj Mahal of camps. Alina says that her new tribe has bonded differently because they were soaking wet the whole night. As for the Challenge, here is how it is played. Three members of each team will be strapped to a large pinwheel. Three other tribemates will spin that wheel, forcing each of the three strapped in to be dunked in a pool of water. When dunked, the player is to take some water into her mouth. As that player reaches the apex of the wheel, she is to spit the water into a funnel. The water will fill up a tube, containing a ball. Once the tube is sufficiently full, the tube will tip, releasing the ball to the remaining two tribe members. Those players will toss the ball in an attempt to break five tile targets. The first tribe to break all of the tiles wins Immunity. Kelly B, Purple Kelly and Brenda are strapped to the wheel for La Flor. Alina, Holly and Yve are strapped in for Esapda. “Survivors ready…..Go!”

Both tribes spin their wheel, but Espada is doing so at a much slower rate. Jeff first comments on this as if it is a bad strategy, but it quickly becomes clear that Espada has the right idea. Since they are moving slower, it is easier for the spitters to get more water into the funnel. La Flor is blowing by the funnel and often missing it completely. Fabio realizes this and yells to his tribemates to slow down the wheel, but it is Espada whose ball is released first. Tyrone and Benry (the expert sandbag tossers) are throwing for Espada, and miss their first couple throws. La Flor’s ball is released to Fabio and Jane. Tyrone breaks the first tile for Espada, but Jane quickly counters for La Flor. Fabio and Benry exchange tiles, so the score is 2-2. Fabio and Jane then knock out two more for La Flor, and only need one more, but Benry strikes back with two more tiles for his tribe. Benry attempts to knock out the last tile, but misses, giving Fabio a chance to break his final tile. He does! La Flor wins Immunity!! Jeff hands over the Immunity Idol to La Flor, and the tribes depart. NaOnka says she knew they were going to lose, and she thinks she is done with the game.

Back at their camp, NaOnka says that Espada, despite receiving the pick of the litter from La Flor, might just be cursed. Alina is hungry, so she proposes killing one of the chickens. Everyone is on board, except for Tyrone, who wants to wait a few more days so the chickens can produce more eggs. Tyrone’s opposition seems to quell the chicken fervor a moment, leading Holly to confide that it’s time for people to start standing up to Tyrone. A vote is called for, and the chicken’s death is ordered by a vote of 7-1. Chase grabs the chicken by the neck and, off camera, swings it until its neck is broken. They cook up their meal, but Tyrone isn’t interested in helping. He is interested in receiving his share, and then some. Benry notes that despite his opposition to cooking the chicken, Tyrone takes the largest piece, which Benry finds obnoxious. He continues, confessing that it is hard to be around Tyrone, and perhaps they shout oust him to bring the tribe together. Then again, NaOnka isn’t in the game mentally anymore. She is just out of it, leading Alina to say that she’ll just have to wait and see what everyone else wants before heading to…

…Tribal Council. Jeff asks how the new tribe is getting along. Alina says that there are a bit of “turf wars” going on, as Espada has a bunch of rules that La Flor never had. Benry says that Tyrone is clearly the leader of the tribe, which Tyrone does not deny. He says that leading the tribe is a huge responsibility, but he feels qualified to do it. He does not, however, make unilateral decisions and tries to get everyone’s input. Alina begs to differ, saying that Tyrone’s speech when the La Flor members first arrived was off-putting. It made her feel like a scolded child. Tyrone says he was just trying to inform the new members about how things had worked at camp, not trying to “lay down the law.”

Jeff asks NaOnka what the darkest moment for her has been in the game. She replies the previous night’s storm. Jeff asks if the game is the hardest thing she’s done in her life, but she replies that her divorce was because she took all the blame on herself. She continues, saying she has felt more love from her tribemates than she did from people close to her during her divorce. Further, she admits that she has doubted whether she wants to stay in the game; perhaps she should quit (one of Jeff’s major pet peeves). Jeff turns to Benry and asks, if he knows NaOnka is struggling, does Benry try to encourage NaOnka to feel better and get back in the game, or exploit her feelings because it is still a competition? Benry says he doesn’t understand the question, on which Jeff calls B.S. Jeff asks Yve, and she, after first equivocating, admits that yes, she does question NaOnka’s longevity in the game because of her breakdown. NaOnka does seem to perk up at this point, and says she wants to stay. With that, it’s time to vote.

As the players vote, Benry writes down Tyrone’s name and says “Benry is in the game now!” as if he’s made some major move the audience doesn’t know about. The tribe finished voting, and Jeff collects the ballots. The first vote is for NaOnka, then one for Tyrone. There is a second vote for Tyrone, and then one for NaOnka. The fifth vote is for Tyrone, as is the sixth. “The fifth person voted out of Survivor: Nicaragua…Tyrone!” Tyrone brings over his torch. Jeff snuffs it. Tyrone wishes them all good luck, and he marches off into the Blue Light of Death. Jeff congratulates the tribe on their first successful blindside, and orders them back to camp.

Next time on…Survivor!!

Dan says he wants to quit, and Marty admits to Sash that he is a chess Grandmaster. At the Immunity Challenge, Jeff tells the tribes that there is another surprise: they will not be competing for tribal immunity. To me, that is a clear signal that next week will be a double elimination. With twenty players at the beginning of the game, a double elimination would have to occur at some point so they can get down to the Final Three, and that most commonly happens before The Merge. I foresee the tribes competing in one challenge, but during the challenge, one player from each tribe will win individual immunity, with the full tribe that wins the challenge being able to watch the losing tribe’s Tribal Council. What I would prefer, is the double elimination where one player wins individual immunity. His or her tribe goes to Tribal Council. Then the individual immunity winner watches the losing tribe’s Tribal Council, and then selects who on that tribe gets individual immunity. It’s been done before, and I think it’s pretty badass.

Odds to Win

Well, one of my Top 5 has finally bit the dust. All in all, though, my Odds have been pretty spot on. So, how did the tribal shuffle effect the board? Let’s see.

Brenda: 2-1. Brenda had the best of all situations: she got to pick who came to her tribe. Further, she is still in the majority on her tribe, and has Jane helping her group out. Plus, she has Chase and NaOnka waiting to team back up with her post-Merge. Barring some very stupid move, Brenda is in the driving seat.

Sash: 6-1. Sash takes the largest jump up the board because of the position he finds himself in after the shuffle. He is in the majority alliance on La Flor, but he is playing a very solid, quiet game. He hasn’t been involved in any fights (that we’ve seen), and I think he’s smart enough to team with Brenda to eliminate Chase and any other “strong” competitors after The Merge.

Chase: 7-1. Moving back up the board, Chase takes a leap, mostly because I think the older players are in dire straits. Espada was moronic in voting out Tyrone because he has been the best player for the their tribe in challenges. Doing so left the former La Flor members and Holly in control of Espada. Even if Espada were to continue to lose Immunity Challenges, they are going to eliminate Dan, Yve, Holly and NaOnka before they get to Chase.

Fabio (Jud): 10-1. No, he’s not in the majority on his tribe, but I think La Flor is going to go to The Merge mostly in tact. If anything, they will likely blindside Marty, eliminate Jill and probably get rid of Kelly B long before they oust the lovable Fabio.

Purple Kelly (Kelly S.): 15-1. Is Purple Kelly the least interesting “hot girl” ever on Survivor? I mean seriously, she is never shown talking. Ever. We did learn one thing: she’s a good spitter. What, what? What did I say? Get your minds out of the gutter!

Yve: 20-1. Yve drops down because she finds herself in a very precarious position on Espada, being the only person (besides Tyrone) who voted for NaOnka. Clearly, she’s on the outside looking in. She was harmed most of any player by the tribe shuffle, and after the soon-to-be elimination of Dan, she is next on the Espada hit list. If somehow Espada can actually roll of some wins, and she can get to The Merge, one can bet Marty and Jill won’t be there. Her only hope then will be to become the swing vote between the remaining for La Florians.

Alina: 25-1. Alina takes a jump up because she seems to have repaired the rift with NaOnka, and has positioned herself in the Espada majority. Unfortunately, she faces a steep climb after The Merge as likely all of her old nemeses from La Flor will still be in the game.

Jane: 30-1. Falling in well with the younger folks on the new La Flor, Jane has helped her cause immensely. She was smart to immediately put the target on Marty and Jill, and she acquitted herself well in the Immunity Challenge. She could be used as a swing vote post-Merge, so I can now see a scenario in which Jane goes quite far.

Kelly B.: 32-1. A reprieve was granted to Kelly B with the arrival of the tribe shuffle. Her primary enemy, NaOnka, has been banished to Espada, and with Marty and Jill now in the spotlight, Kelly B can relax. She, like Alina, will still run into major opposition in a merged tribe, but her immediate departure is no longer certain.

Jill: 45-1. Jill was harmed the most by the tribe mixing. She went from a powerful majority, to a small minority on La Flor. Further, he closest teammate, Marty, went and told La Flor about his HII. I expect she is the first one to be eliminated on the new La Flor, unless the younger members of her tribe can successfully blindside Marty. If so, then she’ll be the second one eliminated. She needs to pray for a La Flor Immunity Challenge sweep.

Marty: 50-1. Yes, Jane would have told everyone about his HII, but if it was me, I’d rather they hear from Jane so I could try to deny it. To brazenly show off the HII and make yourself the king of the castle, while clearly in the minority, which is just the epitome of hubris. If La Flor has to go to Tribal Council, and the younger players have one ounce of brains in their heads (and I think Sash and Brenda do), Marty is going to be blindsided. He may be smart enough to play his HII, but he’ll be the next to go.

Benry: 55-1. You know, I was going to move Benry up after another solid Challenge performance, but then he had to go get all cocky during the vote (my description above doesn’t do justice to the attitude Benry brought while writing down Tyrone’s name). No cocky-ass player has won since Richard Hatch in Season One. There’s no reason to think it will happen here in Season Twenty-One. Benry needs to get himself in line.

Holly: 70-1. Oh, Holly. It’s so cute how you think the younger players will keep you around. It’s going to be so funny when they cut your throat.

NaOnka: 500-1. She wants to quit, but somehow, has been convinced otherwise. Her attitude aside, I don’t see how she’s going to withstand another twenty-odd days without food and with more storms. She won’t be eliminated from her tribe next (Dan and Holly are in the way there), but she is not going to win.

Dan: 1000-1. He’s finally going to be off the show after next week, either through quitting or a mercy vote, right? Right?!?!

That’s about it everybody. This tribal shuffle definitely had some strong implications for the game as Yve and Jill were big losers, and Sash was a big winner. Brenda seems to be even more solid in her position, and Espada shot themselves in the foot by eliminating a very strong challenge competitor. I’m of two minds about double eliminations, depending on how they are played, so next week should be very interesting. What did you think of the episode? How do you feel the players’ fortunes have changed after the tribal shuffle? Who were the big winners and losers? Please leave your questions and comments below. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to argue with winning.

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