Two episodes into “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” and it’s pretty clear that John Rocker will have to deal with his past in some way, shape, or form, over the course of this season. On Wednesday night’s episode, Rocker was at the center of much of the action, and if anything it appears that he will need to be able to overcome when things don’t go his way. Is that possible? Is he a changed man or will he fulfill all of our fears based on our assumption of him? If you missed Episode 2, you can catch the full recap here.
If the preview for next week’s Episode 3 is any indication, the safe bet is that Rocker is who we thought he is. One or two comments doesn’t define a man, nor does one’s portrayal on a Reality TV show give us a definitive look at that person’s inner being. With Rocker though, we all had a hesitation of sorts coming into this season, an “I hope he’s a more well-rounded person than his reputation may tell us” sort of reaction. Others immediately had a person to root against, an instant villain to target. Truthfully, he hasn’t been an awful person or an awful player just yet, although this is a concern that is seemingly bubbling under the surface through just two episodes.
Tonight was the John Rocker-roller-coaster ride. Up, down, up, down. Rocker began the episode involved in the Hero Arena challenge, losing, surprisingly, to his girlfriend Julie. He then made an off-handed comment that what bothered him the most was that he lost to a girl. Just when you are thinking “uh oh, here he goes,” we soon after see Jeremy sharing a clue with him to a hidden Idol, despite recognizing him. We all would have bet that if Coyopa was going to win at least one sumo duo during the Immunity Challenge, that it would be Rocker dominating the other puny humans, but ex-football player Jon got the best of Rocker. Down but not out, Rocker returned to camp not crying or moaning, but intent on finding an Immunity Idol…which he did, to his credit.
His overall game strategy isn’t too clear at this point, other than it does seem like he is in lock-step with the other men of Coyopa. Give him credit too, as it appears he did what he could to honor his agreement with Jeremy, to protect Val if possible. It ended up not being possible. Not his fault.
Speaking of Val, her exit goes to show you how luck does play in to every season of Survivor. There is no question that her time away at Exile Island so early in the game affected her ability to mix into her tribe. But creating a lie about having two Idols? That’s pretty idiotic game play. One Idol is a threat, two Idols just sounds unbelievable, not to mention, it almost invites votes being cast against you. She of course had zero Idols and probably knew she was going home, so why not try anything? She really was fighting an uphill battle after her Day One trip to Exile, so perhaps it didn’t really matter what she tried in the end.
So who is really running things over at Coyopa? We have not seen too much strategy from Wes and Alec, but they might be the driving force, along with Josh, who is likeable but also seems to be working too many angles to be a true threat.
The problem with tonight’s episode – a definite step back or at least sideways from last week’s premiere – was that there wasn’t much strategy at all. But it was all made worth it to see Jeff Probst put the Hunahpu tribe in their place after they tried bartering for flint…and Betty White gets Emmys for Best Reality Host???
Hopefully we will start seeing some inner-workings of power alliances in the coming weeks. Part of what made the last few seasons of Survivor so strong were that they had an intense focus on strategic gameplay, featuring players who were not afraid to make big moves in order to get ahead. It is still early, but I for one am starting to jones a bit for a strategic move, or at least a move that answers on air, the integral question: Why that person?