Another season is behind us and for our penultimate top 10 for 2014 Noah Groves sits down and brings you the ten things he thinks make San Juan Del Sur a memorable season! Following on from his 10 things to look forward to in San Juan Del Sur as well as his wrap up top 10 from Cagayan earlier this year, Noah is the man to bring you another top 10 in the series! With the season fresh on our minds and people still celebrating the newest winner of Survivor, will the moments that made it memorable for you make it to this list? Click below to find out!
10. Survival/Old School Elements
Fans have been expressing their desire for the return of survival elements for years and this season we finally got it. Ok, it wasn’t like the old days but compared to other recent seasons it was something. Straight off the bat in the premiere we saw an entire segment dedicated to the making of fire and the different methods to do so, the building of both tribe shelters and the poisonous leaves around the Coyopa tribe. Further on in the season we saw the Hunahpu tribe struggle with the loss of flint and for the first time since season two had a tribe barter with Jeff for new flint. Then of course were the issues with the rice and the way in which the different tribes deployed their rations. Hunahpu ate more rice than they realistically had and won almost all the challenges while Coyopa was the opposite. Once again we saw the trade with Jeff for new rice. Some fans were frustrated with the constant trading but it added a new addition that has been rarely seen in the show and of course small segments of survival are welcome.
9. The Episode 10 Immunity Challenge
Some may question this one challenge warranting a spot in this list but this is by far one of the best challenges in Survivor. The actual challenge of standing on the perch isn’t overly interesting but so much happened within that challenge that makes it one of the greats. Of course there are the multiple Wes moments which singlehandedly gave us more character from him in this one challenge then the entire season. Wes went from wanting a “donut burger” to boasting about eating fifty chicken nuggets in five minutes in the chicken nugget eating competition, something that really seemed to impress Jeff Probst…and finally the now famous Two and a Half Men reference that Probst didn’t seem all too happy to talk about but Wes “loved that show.” But Wes wasn’t the only great thing about this challenge, we had Jeff Probst taking a chunk out of the candy bar and Jon’s shout for joy over “SUGAR!” There was kickass Keith moments, Natalie spitting on herself, Baylor calling her mother “Homie G” straight after Missy was boasting about being able to walk in the sand. This challenge supplied so many memorable moments and is a true highlight in the long list of great immunity challenges.
8. Differences to Blood vs Water One
One of the stronger points of San Juan Del Sur is that the game didn’t play out identically as the original Blood vs Water. There is always that risk when producing a sequel of anything but thankfully San Juan Del Sur was different. There as a fear that all the singles would get together and vote out the couples and there would be an all singles final three. Instead we saw two couples, Jon/Jaclyn and Missy/Baylor as major players in the game who weren’t targeted solely for being couples. That in turn led to Jon and Baylor as jury members voting for their loved ones in the final. The simple fact that there were so many pairs at the merge showed that the Blood vs Water twist had more potential in it and that the twist was worthy to return. On top of this were the new couples we had with the most interesting being the Twinnies and how their dynamic lasted even though Nadiya was voted out first. While those are the main points many other smaller differences added to the strength of this season such as the lack of Redemption Island. Hopefully if there is a Blood vs Water three this trend will continue.
7. The Final Three
I don’t think anyone would have predicted this final three going into the season and few predicted even going into the final episode. None of the players who made the final three were floaters and they were all worthy or played a part in getting themselves to that spot. Natalie’s story was so fascinating based on Nadiya being the first voted out and created a perfect bookend for a Blood vs Water season. Few would have thought Jaclyn of all people would be the last Coyopa member standing and she really morphed from a nobody to a major player in the game, her fight from the final five to get to the end also made for a great storyline. Along with those players we then had Missy who spent the last ten or so days on one leg, having to sit out of challenges but not giving up on the game. Baylor seemed like a goat that would be brought to the end but in the end the mum took over and earned her spot at the end. This is only the second time we have had a final three of all women and the fact that this season started with uneven gender numbers with less women made it all the more better. What a great an unexpected final three even if Natalie did win in a fairly big margin!
6. Josh vs Jeremy
This really was a great rivalry that transcended more than the few episodes they were going head to head. Some argued that the rivalry was too short to be anything great but it really was a season long storyline. In the early days Josh and Jeremy were very similar in which they were practically viewed as the head of the tribe or the constant between all the tribe members. Everyone said that Josh was the most likeable and trustworthy on the Coyopa tribe and the way the Hunahpu members reacted when Keith accused Jeremy of having an idol proves much the same. The rivalry was present online in articles and podcasts where many agreed either Josh or Jeremy would be the winner of the season. The edit gave these two players more screen time than anyone else and it started as their story. That was actually a complaint from the fans that San Juan Del Sur was the Josh and Jeremy show. Obviously the rivalry came to its peak at the merge when an epic tribal council was set up that would see either Josh or Jeremy dethroned. In the end after the Julie quit Josh took the fall but it was what came next that made the rivalry all the more epic. After Josh was voted out a huge portion of the fan community (including myself) thought that it was a given that Jeremy would be the winner of the season so to have him blindsided one tribal council after Josh was poetic. What a brilliant storyline for the early portion of the season!
5 Fleshed Out Characters and Everyone Playing the Game
I don’t get the argument that nobody was playing the game this season, what’s with that? While there certainly were some bad players, I could make an argument for everyone in this season playing the game in some regards. Early Coyopa characters Nadiya, Val and Rocker all had their own strategies and attempted to work things their way while Drew on Hunahpu was one of the worst players ever but was still attempting to win the game. The same goes for Dale and Kelley who were the final pre merge boots and had she stayed longer, Kelley really could have made an impact on the season. Josh and Jeremy were obviously major players in the game (or the edit?) and followed the trend of over the top and determined players becoming early jury members. Both players made mistakes but they knew the game and didn’t play quietly. Wes, Reed and Alec were lesser players in the edit but just because we rarely saw them doesn’t mean they weren’t playing as all three created alliances and debated strategies. From then on in the final six is pretty self-explanatory and while Keith may not be a strong player he did learn the game over the course of the season. While the editing was a bit off this season we really did have fleshed out characters, got to know everyone and had some moments that took place “outside” of the game so to speak. There isn’t really a single player who we didn’t really know or have some idea of their personality. Even the lesser edited Wes, Alec and Reed had their fair share of character moments in the spotlight. It is so often the case that we won’t get to really know a huge portion of the cast but in the case of San Juan Del Sur, it’s at the best Survivor has been in a long while.
I loved this pair and this really was something lacking from Blood vs Water. Both Jon and Jaclyn started the game quietly but soon grew to be major characters and players, sticking together since the moment they could. Jon and Jaclyn brought so much to the season and really is the closest a couple has played together since Boston Rob and Amber. We really got to know both Jon and Jaclyn and we got to see their personalities and learn so much of their characters. From Jaclyn’s terribly sad condition and the touching reward challenge to Jon’s father’s condition and his wine connection. Neither Jon nor Jaclyn were boring on their own and together were a delight to watch and seeing this morphed Survivor contestant hash plans out was a welcome. On top of this they were both fairly strong Survivor players, each with their issues but ultimately were as good as each other and bounced gameplay back and forth. Jon’s blindside was predictable but was a great vote out nonetheless and Jaclyn’s fight to the finish was an easy to root for storyline perfectly finished with Jon voting his girlfriend to win the game. Jon and Jaclyn with their love, fights and strategy represent the water aspect of the season near perfectly. What great additions to the Survivor’s legacy!
3. The Drew Episode
Not often do we get particularly stand alone or notable episodes of Survivor but episode four of San Juan Del Sur fills the obligatory role for the season. This episode was great in so many ways. Firstly the bigger characters of the first three episodes took a backseat in this episode as we saw less of Josh and Jeremy and more of these others that we were just getting to know. Of course the most prominent being the star of the episode Drew. We didn’t see much of Drew before the episode but we did have small hints of what was to come. No one would have expected him to come out of nowhere, try and attempt to “manipulate minds” and receive such a massive edit. But thank the editors of Survivor it did happen! Drew has perhaps the best one episode story arc of all time and one of the best downfalls. Everything he said was so wrong and was so entertaining. Drew could have easily been edited completely different without any real explanation for his vote out but instead we took a side step from the lead story to watch Drew perve on Jaclyn, throw the challenge and get himself voted out. Apart from the obvious greatness of the Drew, the episode also had a close dual between Jon and Jaclyn, drama regarding Keith and Jeremy vs the idol and finally a close vote that could have went multiple ways to end off a top episode. San Juan Del Sur had many great moments and even whole episodes but nothing beats the now infamous Drew Episode.
Can you seriously name anyone who isn’t a Keith fan; surely he is one of the greatest characters in a long time? There is so much to love about Keith and it is hard to not cheer for him no matter what he did. Keith received one of the biggest edits in the season, receiving the second most amount of confessionals in the season and constantly being a part of the storyline. He is by far one of the funniest characters the show has produced and he just seems happy to be a part of everything to do with the game and post season interviews. Keith is definitely not the best player but he did learn from his mistakes and was aware of mistakes that he had made but learnt the game. Keith would more than likely play a stronger game on a second attempt. Who would have ever thought that he would be such a threat in challenges of all people and if only we had more rewards in the spirit on the spa, as you can’t beat Keith and his goobers! Perhaps the greatest thing about Keith is that despite everybody calling him a terrible player, he more than likely would have won the game had he made it to the end. He can’t be that terrible surely then? Just picture Keith as a winner of Survivor, now that would be amazing. It is hard to get more perfect characters in this demographic than you did with Keith. Make sure to follow him on twitter to ensure further maximum laughs!
1. Unpredictability and Misleading Edits
The one thing that ties everything together and what made San Juan Del Sur so enjoyable is how unpredictable it was and how much the viewers were lead on. Of course major examples being Josh and Jeremy who made up 80% of the story line in the pre merge where most agreed one of them was getting the “winners edit” only for them both to be ripped from the game and leaving us shocked. Especially the Jeremy vote which was the number one viewer blindside in the history of Survivor. Just when we thought we could get a grasp of this season, something would shift or we would be shocked yet again. This season was anything but predictable and made the season so damn fun. Even looking at the winner Natalie, she had a well-crafted early edit but was never painted as a major player or someone who would make as much as a presence as she eventually did. The early edits lead most people to not expect to see Jaclyn make it deep into the game let alone becoming the runner up of the season. The unpredictable nature of the season and the misleading and unique edits really encompasses most of everything written prior to this entry and is the constant and theme that made San Juan Del Sur such a great, an underrated season of Survivor.
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!
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