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Season 29: Episode 1 - Suck It Up and Survive
Posted on Sep 24, 2014 11:00pm

THE DAY BEFORE...

Jeff Probst, the host, reveals that this season of SURVIVOR will once again pit loved ones against each other for 39 days. Nine pairs of loved ones are scattered in the jungles of Nicaragua to begin their adventure of a lifetime even before the 39-day countdown begins. Each pair has been given flint and a note. The flint gives them a chance to work together and practice making fire. The note informs them that this may be their only chance to be together in the game, since the next morning they will leave and follow the path on their maps. Jon Misch, a 26-old financial assistant from Waterford, MI is with his girlfriend Jaclyn Schultz, who is a 25-year old media buyer residing in Las Vegas, NV. Both of them are used to winning, since Jaclyn won the title of Miss Michigan USA 2013 and Jon played football for Michigan State. Jaclyn reveals, “I don’t want people to hate us and think that we’re this, like crazy perfect couple.” A few miles down the beach are John Rocker, the 39-year old former MLB player, from Atlanta, GA and his 34-year old girlfriend Julie McGee who is a model and business owner. John admits, “The media has loved over the years to just label me racist, bigot, homophobe and everything else. Calling somebody a bigot, those are fighting words right there.” He has worked hard to prove them wrong. His long time girlfriend Julie knows that she might be perceived as just the girl with the hair, boobs and famous boyfriend, but she is sure that she has the brains and the strength to succeed on her own. Deep in the jungle, Missy Payne, a 47-year old competitive cheerleading gym owner from Dallas TX is attempting to make fire with her daughter, Baylor Wilson, who is a college student in Nashville, TN. Missy and Baylor stick together when surrounded by howler monkeys in the trees above them, just as Baylor has supported her mom through three divorces. Missy confirms, “There’s no stopping us.” Elsewhere in the jungle, two brothers are also trying to start a fire. Drew Christy is the 25-year old older brother, who is a sales representative from Winter Park, FL. Alec Christy is a 22-year old student also from Winter Park, FL. Always competing with each other, Alec admits, “I’m hoping to prove to him that I can beat him at this game.” Meanwhile, Kelley Wentworth, a 28-year old marketing manager, from Seattle WA, is cautioning her dad, Dale Wentworth, a 55-year old farmer from Ephrata, WA, to conserve his energy as he is working hard to build a structure and start a fire for their camp. Dale and Kelley hope their time on SURVIVOR will strengthen their relationship, which has had difficulties in the past. In another part of the jungle, Josh Canfield, a 32-year old, NY Broadway performer is delighted to capture a huge crab with his partner, Reed Kelly, who is a 31-year old NY Broadway performer. As they celebrate making fire, Josh reveals, “We both are such fans of the game. This guy, for our first Valentine’s Day gives me flint.” The next pair of loved ones is comprised of husband and wife team Jeremy and Val Collins from Foxboro, MA. Jeremy is a 36-year old Cambridge firefighter who enjoys competing with his wife Val Collins, who is a 35-year old police officer. Val comments, “I know that we’re both in it to win it, so may the best profession win.” Over in another part of the Nicaraguan jungle are 28-year old twin sisters Natalie and Nadiya Anderson, who grew up in Sri Lanka. They are both Crossfit coaches and Natalie is also a physical therapy student. Natalie and Nadiya have competed on Amazing Race twice and hope to win on SURVIVOR. Nadiya admits, “Our blood is thicker than anybody else’s blood out here. I can guarantee you that.” The final pair of loved ones is a father and a son from Shreveport, LA. The father, Keith Nale is a 53-year old fire captain. His son Wes Nale, is a 23-year old firefighter, who is following in the footsteps of his father. They both enjoy the outdoors and are proud of their survival skills, but they get off to a rocky start when they lose the striker for their fire. The game of SURVIVOR will test all of their relationships. After 39 days, only one will remain to claim the million dollar prize.

SURVIVOR BEGINS
The next morning each pair of loved ones makes their way into an arena, where Jeff Probst welcomes them to SURVIVOR: SAN JUAN DEL SUR BLOOD VS WATER. Jeff hands out buffs to the castaways and informs them that they will be playing on opposite tribes from their loved ones. As Nadiya says goodbye to her twin sister Natalie, she reveals, “Being separated and not knowing how a tribe is going to treat us, it was gut wrenching.” The Coyopa tribe with orange buffs is made up of Jaclyn, Val, Josh, Alec, John Rocker, Wes, Baylor, Nadiya and Dale. The Hunahpu tribe with blue buffs is made up of Jon Misch, Jeremy, Reed, Julie, Natalie, Keith, Missy, Drew and Kelley. As Keith looks over at the Coyopa tribes he comments, “I’m pretty damn sure this is John Rocker, the relief pitcher for the Braves. He was an ass, when he played then and he might still be an ass now.” Jeremy admits that it is hard being on a different tribe than his wife Val, since he cannot help her. Val responds, “I don’t need his help.”

REWARD CHALLENGE: MAN IN THE BOX
Jeff introduces the first reward challenge. One person from each tribe will race through a wood cube, while untangling rope and searching for two rings. When they reach the first ring, they will use it to retrieve a platform and drag it back. They will then head back into the cube to untangle the rest of the rope and get the second ring. It will be used to retrieve a second platform. The first person to retrieve both platforms and get them across the finish line wins reward for their tribe. Reed from the Hunahpu tribe goes against Dale from the Coyopa tribe in a rock, paper, scissors duel to determine which tribe chooses who will compete first. Reed wins the duel for the Hunahpu tribe. Jeremy volunteers from the Hunahpu tribe to compete for his tribe in the reward challenge. Jeff then informs Jeremy that he will be competing against his wife from the Coyopa tribe. The winner of the challenge will win fire in the form of flint and a bag of beans for their tribe. The loser will be sent to Exile Island where they will have no shelter and very little food. This is bad news for the loser, since they will miss out on being back at camp with the rest of their tribe while they are forming critical alliances. The good news is that the loser is not out of the game, but will return from Exile in time for the Immunity challenge. This Reward challenge is a true test of Blood vs. Water, since they have to defeat their loved one to benefit their tribe. Husband and wife, Jeremy and Val both get off to a fast start in the challenge as they maneuver through their wooden boxes to untangle the rope and get to their first ring. They stay neck and neck until they have to jump up and over one side of the box to follow the rope. Jeremy gets through this part very quickly and gets to his first ring. Meanwhile, Val struggles with this section and gets behind in the challenge. Jeremy uses his rope and ring to try and lasso his first platform. As he makes many attempts to do this, Val finally gets to her first ring and starts trying to hook her first platform. Jeremy is able to pull his first platform across the finish line first. He then heads back to the box to retrieve his second ring. Val is still trying to retrieve her first platform. Just as she gets it across her finish line, Jeremy retrieves his second platform and wins the challenge. So, Jeremy wins the flint and beans for his tribe. He feels really bad about sending his wife to Exile Island. Jeff then tells him that he gets to choose someone from his own tribe to go with his wife to Exile Island. Jeremy chooses Keith, since he is comfortable with the outdoors and therefore, should be able to help his wife Val on Exile Island. Keith gets emotional over the news. He feels bad that they all have to separate from their loved ones and realizes how tough it must be for Jeremy to send Val to Exile. Keith says, “We’ll make it work.” Jeff sends Val and Keith off to Exile Island with a map to show them the way. Jeremy comments, “My worst nightmare was to do this to my wife and now she’s just gone.” Jeff then gives Coyopa and Hunahpu maps to their camps.

HUNAHPU ARRIVES AT CAMP
The Hunahpu tribe arrives at their camp and is excited to start setting it up. They all thank Jeremy for winning the reward challenge for them and feel bad that the win meant sending his wife to Exile Island. He doesn’t want to show it in front of the others, but Jeremy is really upset that Val had to go to Exile and be separated from her tribe. He comments, “That’s my wife, you know I need to take care of her and like I didn’t do that.” Jeremy decides to focus on building alliances. He first checks in with Kelley as she is searching for shelter building materials. Kelley’s first impression of Jeremy is positive, so she agrees to be in his alliance. Next, he talks to Natalie, who agrees to work with him and Kelley. Natalie reveals, “I would say if I had to choose one person as my designated twinee, its Jeremy. Everybody loves a firefighter.” Jeremy approaches Missy next. Missy agrees with Jeremy that they need people with both strength and intelligence on their tribe and decides to join his alliance. As he carries bamboo back to camp, Jeremy feels much better about the game. He admits, “Everybody’s on my side and I’m the popular guy. Everybody wants to date the prom king. So this is perfect.”

COYOPA SETS UP CAMP
Over at the Coyopa camp, everyone is busy. Some people are building the shelter, others are searching for food and another group is trying to start fire. At age 55, Dale feels like he is 25 years older than most of his tribe. In addition, he is a farmer who works alone with little social interaction. Dale admits, “My biggest challenge on SURVIVOR is I’m not used to being in a big group of strangers.” He vows to find a way to be seen as valuable to his tribe. Dale decides to try and start fire by using his glasses to magnify the sun and ignite dry twigs. At the same time, Josh, Wes and Baylor try to start a fire by rubbing two pieces of bamboo together. Both groups are getting frustrated. Dale breaks his glasses in two, so he can put both lenses on top of each other to double the magnification. He hopes his sacrifice of not being able to see well without glasses will pay off by starting a fire. Much to his delight it works. The Coyopa tribe now sees Dale as their hero, since he provided the essential fire for boiling water and cooking food. Josh comments, “At first you look at the oldest guy in the tribe and you know they’re immediately a target and then Dale is the one who saved us all.” Dale is happy to be playing a valuable role and feels better about his position in the tribe.

VAL & KEITH ON EXILE ISLAND
Val and Keith arrive at Exile Island and see that it is not an easy place to live with no shelter, rocky beaches and rough surf. Val vents, “Exile Island friggin’ sucks!” Both Keith and Val are worried about being away from their tribes when first impressions and alliances are being made. They worry that they may be easy targets to be the first one voted out. As explore the island, they discover a post with two urns sitting on top and instructions to each pick an urn. Keith chooses his urn first, so Val picks up the remaining one. They both find notes inside the urns. Keith’s note is blank, but Val’s note contains a clue to a hidden immunity idol back at camp. Keith comments, “Mine was blank. The story of my life.” Val decides not share her note with Keith. Keith figures the note has to do something with Val’s tribe camp and not his. As they try to start a fire and set up their camp on Exile Island, Val and Keith discover that their families have something in common. Keith, Wes and Val’s husband Jeremy are all firefighters. Keith hopes that this will establish a bond between Jeremy and him back at Hunahpu. He reveals, “I don’t know what I’m going to walk into going back there. Worst case, all eight of them hate me and then that’s the end of my SURVIVOR career.”

DREW IS PROUD OF HIMSELF
Back at the Hunahpu camp, Drew and Jon work on the shelter, while Jeremy, Kelley, Missy and Natalie cool off in the ocean. Drew admits, “I didn’t really want to, but I kind of was forced to step in and really take control of the construction of the shelter.” Drew hopes that the tribe will appreciate all his hard work. He is used to being a model, not really doing construction. Drew comments, “I’m not here to be a model at all. I’m here to be a Survivor.” He makes sure that everyone in his tribe knows how hard he worked on the shelter. Julie is amused by Drew being so full of himself. Being John Rocker’s girlfriend, she is used to type A personalities. Julie comments, “Drew, I mean he’s just kind of a young, dumb guy.”

WES REALIZES WHO JOHN ROCKER IS
Meanwhile at the Coyopa tribe, John Rocker is walking along the beach by himself. Wes takes this opportunity to ask Alec if he knows John’s last name, because he looks familiar to him. Wes explains, “I had a suspicion about John the minute I saw him. “ The Atlanta Braves are one of Wes’ favorite teams and he is pretty sure that John used to play for them. Later as he is collecting palm fronds, Wes gets the chance to ask John what his last name is. John lies and tells him that it is Wetland. He reveals, “I’ve been hoping to skate through this game anonymous. You know I wanted to stay under the radar.” Wes doesn’t give up though and starts talking about the Atlanta Braves. John realizes that his cover has been blown and admits to Wes that he is John Rocker, the retired Major League Baseball player. Wes is happy to have correctly identified John and feels like they have a connection, since they are both from the south and enjoy baseball. John asks Wes to not tell anyone who he is, but he not sure that he can trust Wes. John reveals, “First council we go to, I will get a little jumpy. So, I may try to get Wes out.”

POISONOUS PLANTS AT COYOPA
It’s now day 3 and Josh’s eyes are hurting. He explains, “All of a sudden my eye starts flaring up and now it’s just burning and just constant watering. SURVIVOR always throws a curve ball at you.” Baylor is really worried about Josh and hopes that his condition does not spread to others in the tribe. Josh remembers that there is a poisonous plant around and wonders if this is the same plant that they used to cover their shelter. Natalie thinks it may the sap from the shelter cover that is causing Josh’s discomfort. The whole tribe pitches in to remove the poisonous branches from the roof. Alex comments, “There are definite dangers far from anything I know about in Florida around here.”

I HOPE I CAN MAKE HIM PROUD
Over at the Hunahpu camp, Jon is mimicking the sounds made by the howler monkeys in the trees above him and they are responding to him. Jon comments, “I’ve always been a goof ball, but I’ve actually got a lot more depth to me than it would appear.” He has not told his tribe mates, but his dad has a non-curable brain tumor and has a limited time left to live. Jon admits that it was very hard to decide whether to leave his dad, so he could be on SURVIVOR. His dad is a SURVIVOR fan and gave him his blessing. John reveals, “I just hope that I can watch it with him and just hope I can make him proud out here.”

IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: TEMPLE OF SYRINX
The Coyopa and Hunahpu tribes arrive at the first immunity challenge. Keith and Val return from Exile Island and are welcomed by their tribes. Jeff Probst explains the challenge to everyone. Each tribe will race through a series of obstacles to get to the top of a giant tower. First both tribes will crawl under an obstacle. They will then work together to retrieve three bags, which contain pieces they will need to get to the top. For the first wall of the tower they will use a rope to get over it. For the second wall they will use pegs. For the third and final wall they will have only each other to help climb it. Once the entire tribe is at the top of the tower, four people from each tribe will solve a puzzle. The first tribe to finish wins immunity. Jeff then reveals the tribe immunity idol and explains that immunity will keep them safe in the game. The losing tribe will not have immunity and one of them will be voted out at Tribal Council. If Coyopa wins the challenge, they will get fire in the form of flint in addition to immunity. The challenge begins. Both tribes dive to crawl under the first obstacle. Alec gets scraped up in the dirt. The tribes are tied as they exit the obstacle and go to get their bags. John Rocker lifts Baylor up on his shoulders, so she can untie the bags for the Coyopa tribe. The Hunahpu tribe uses a different group of people to untie each of the three bags. The Coyopa tribe method proves to be the most efficient, since Baylor unties all three bags before Hunahpu does. John Rocker takes the rope from the first bag for Coyopa and throws it trying to hook it on top of the first wall, so they can all climb up it. Kelley retrieves the third and final bag for Hunahpu, allowing Keith to start throwing their rope. John finally hooks their rope after several attempts and Coyopa starts climbing the wall with the help of the rope one by one. Drew takes over for Keith and gets the Hunahpu rope hooked, but now Coyopa has a big lead as they are working on their second wall. Here they are using pegs to climb the wall. Hunahpu tries their best to catch up to Coyopa, but they are a wall behind. For the final wall, where they have to help each other get up, John Rocker allows his tribe mates to climb on him to get up the wall. Meanwhile, Hunahpu is still working on the second wall with the pegs. By the time Coyopa starts working on their puzzle, Hunahpu still has two people to get up their final wall. The puzzle has big symmetrical pieces that can fit together in a lot of different ways. In the end, after many different attempts Hunahpu comes from behind and wins the challenge by completing their puzzle first. Both Missy and Natalie are worried about the loved ones on the Coyopa tribe potentially being voted out tonight. Dale is worried that he might be sent home tonight. He comments, “I’m the oldest guy in this damned bunch. So you never know what’s going to happen.”

THE WINNERS RETURN TO CAMP
The Hunahpu tribe cheers as they arrive back at camp with the immunity idol knowing they are victorious and safe. Keith admits, “I’m trying to work my way into this tribe, since I’ve been gone.” He compliments them for their performance in the challenge and introduces himself to his tribe mates. Later, Jeremy takes Keith aside and thanks him for going to Exile Island with his wife Val. Jeremy reveals, “I feel like I owe him something.” He assures Keith that he is a member of the tribe and not on the outs. As a fellow firefighter, Keith feels he can trust Jeremy, but he is not sure of where he stands with his other seven tribe mates. He comments, “Give me a day or two and we’ll figure all this out.”

COYOPA HAS TO MAKE A DECISION
The Coyopa tribe returns to camp after losing the challenge. Josh gives Val a quick tour of where things are at camp. Val admits, “Pretty much I’ve haven’t got to play the game and now my game might be over.” So, she immediately starts searching for the hidden immunity idol down by the well using the clue that she got at Exile Island. If she finds the idol, then she would be protected from tonight’s vote. Over by the fire, Dale asks Nadiya how SURVIVOR compares to Amazing Race. She admits they are very different. Dale comments, “She’s been on the Amazing Race and she’s shown that she can backstab somebody.” Later Dale meets with Alec, Wes and Josh. He suggests that even though Val is an easy vote, they should give her a chance and vote out Nadiya instead. Alec, Wes and Josh agree. Next, Nadiya approaches Josh and recommends that he votes with the women to vote out Dale. Nadiya tells Josh she considers him one of the girls. Josh is happy that both sides are talking to him and sharing their strategy, but his does not like being called a girl. He admits, “I’m kind of keeping my options open right now. I feel like I have a lot of choices.” Val decides to get the ladies together and suggests an all girl alliance. Nadiya, Baylor, Jaclyn and Val all agree to form an alliance and vote together. They need one more person though to have a majority vote. Nadiya assures them that she can convince Josh to vote with them tonight. Next, they discuss which of the guys to vote out and agree on Dale. Baylor reveals, “If I don’t go with the women, I would definitely do whatever Josh is doing.” So she meets with Josh and tells him that the women are voting for Dale. Josh tells her that the men are voting for Nadiya. Baylor assures Josh that she will vote with him. Josh realizes that he is in the middle of the two alliances and has a lot of power tonight. He worries, “Sometimes the people with the swing vote end up in the worst position.” He decides to wait until Tribal Council to make his final decision.

TRIBAL COUNCIL
Jeff Probst greets the Coyopa tribe as they enter Tribal Council. He instructs each tribe member to light his or her torch. The fire represents their life. So, when their torch is snuffed, they are out of the game. John Rocker admits that it is not an easy choice tonight, since the tribe dislikes no one. Nadiya recommends they stay positive and not let this loss get them down. Val admits that she feels at a disadvantage by not having been with her tribe since the beginning. She does point out that Exile Island has its advantages too, since things can be found there that ease her mind. Dale points out that he tried to prove his worth to the tribe by starting fire with his glasses. He hopes this will encourage them to keep him around even though he is 20 years older than many of them. Wes compliments Josh for being so well liked by the tribe. He points out that Josh is a good listener and can relate to what people are feeling. Josh is unsure if everyone is being genuine tonight. Now it is time to vote. Before counting the votes, Jeff asks if there is an immunity idol to be played. None are offered. Jeff reveals the votes. Nadiya receives five votes. Dales gets three votes and Baylor gets one. So, Nadiya Anderson, the 28 year old Crossfit coach from Edgewater, NJ becomes the first person to be voted out of SURVIVOR: SAN JUAN DEL SUR.