It’s difficult to write something about Kelley when the edit only showed bits and pieces of her. In Episode 4, Drew perceived her as a social threat, maybe yes, but it might have been better if these bits and pieces of airtime revealed a Kelley who was an active strategist and not only as an under-the-radar supporting character of the story. As I see it, Kelley was eliminated for the following reasons:
Reason 1: Tribe Swap. Kelley became a new member of the Coyopa tribe along with her dad and two other pairs (Jon & Jaclyn, Missy & Baylor) plus Keith. The switch negatively changed Kelley’s game considering her original alliance was left at Hunahpu’s. She tried to build a new alliance with Jon and Jaclyn but it failed. Kelley was a threat in Jaclyn’s game. Jaclyn took a calculated risk and chose to side with Missy and Baylor to vote Kelley out.
Reason 2: Hopeless. Sometimes, things were out of control even how you try. That’s how I summarized Kelley’s overall game. She tried to save herself. She understood the possibilities and made a number of things happen. The new numbers, however, were against her. She allowed Jon and Jaclyn to destroy her kingdom before she could destroy theirs.
Episode 6: 9.07 Million Viewers
Indeed, this was the first Blood vs. Water season in which a pair was eliminated in back-to-back episodes. Dale failed to recover and was voted out before the merge.
Reason 1: Inflexible. Dale played an inflexible strategic game. He continued to make deals with people who eliminated her daughter. I was confused why. Perhaps, Dale felt he couldn’t trust Missy and Baylor at all and would rather assume he could change Jon’s mind.
Reason 2: Fake Idol = Failure. The strategy of having immunity idol was already overused. It won’t worked anymore. It’s a bad lie too. I remembered even Russel Hantz never used the strategy to save himself way back in Heroes vs. Villains.
Drew was a camera favorite in three previous episodes. The edit showed his arrogance, overconfidence and camp idleness. He was perceived as the baby of the group, which resulted nothing but disappointment. Drew became the first eliminated Hunahpu member for the following reasons:
Reason 1: Breakable Alliance. Drew was part of a male alliance. He, Jon and Jeremy made plans but no one attempted to maneuver these plans in the right direction. Jon (the Bernard Tomic look-alike) wanted to get rid of Julie (the season’s Angelina Jolie). Jeremy felt Keith was the right choice and Drew attempted to take down Kelley.
Kelley could have been the better choice. It’s a proof Drew started playing his strategic game. His biggest problem, though was his lack of tender touch. There’s this one scene in which he’s trying to convince Jon and Jeremy to vote off Kelley and I observed his approach was aggressive.
Reason 2: Leadership vs. Management. Drew wanted to do things in his own terms. He got the balls to negotiate with Jeff Probst even if the idea sounded silly. He wanted to throw the immunity challenge. He wanted Jon and Jeremy to eliminate Kelley. Seems strong and unbreakable, right?
There’s nothing wrong with making firm decisions for yourself but sometimes, inflexibility results to bad management. Things will spiral down immediately when a leader doesn’t know how to properly manage his people.
Reason 3: Throwing A Challenge Was/Is A Crime. Drew might have forgotten the past events. Throwing a challenge wouldn’t yield positive results. Every tribe who decided to throw a challenge ended up losing the game and losing the season, as well (as I remembered it). One clear example was the Zapatera Tribe in Season 22. When the tribe threw the challenge to knock down Russel Hantz in Episode 3, Ometepe started winning more challenges. Rob as their leader won the season.
Immunity Challenge Alert: 3 Hunahpu, 1 Coyopa
Who would have thought Coyopa would win the most difficult immunity group challenge to date? Drew probably knew. I also knew when Hunahpu chose Jon, Kelley and Jeremy chose not to participate.
John Rocker established himself as one of the popular faces before the premiere. Unfortunately, names were only names. Rocker was voted out just three episodes in. He’s still, however, the star. The camera loved him and gave him more airtime than Alec and Dale combined. So, why Rocker was unwanted?
Reason 1: Bad Reputation. Rocker’s reputation (as a former MLB pitcher) could have helped him build trust. He could have sealed a deal with Josh. Things went the other side, however. Rocker allowed his past to haunt him. His alliance became weak and the majority wanted to get rid of him not because he’s competitive but he’s perceived as negative and obnoxious.
Perhaps, Josh got other reasons to vote him out. It seemed Josh wanted to keep Rocker but his alliance with Baylor was more unbreakable. He knew he can get far with Baylor by his side than Rocker.
Reason 2: He felt too confident. Overconfidence was a crime. It wouldn’t save anyone, even the popular John Rocker. Should he played the idol, Rocker could have stayed for three more days or longer. He could have made the merge. He could have used the time to change his reputation, but nothing happened. All hopes still disappeared due to his overconfidence.
One hour wasn’t enough for this episode. It seemed the number of events went fast. The layers of stories went boom after boom after boom and just like that, Val went home.
Edit-wise, Val was one of the vocal characters this season. She talks clearly and wasn’t afraid to air out what she thinks. She was also given a good amount of airtime during the premiere. Just the first ten minutes, Val competed against and lost to her husband (Jeremy) in the first duel. She was sent to Exile Island and luckily, found the first clue for the hidden immunity idol. Strategy-wise though, the clue didn’t help her game. Val’s game still went downhill and didn’t have a chance to recover.
Reason 1: She lied too much. Let’s face it, even the greatest villain of the show (Russel Hantz) learned to trust some people for his survival. Val chose not to trust any, even John Rocker who made a deal with Jeremy during their stay in the Exile Island.
Reason 2: She was overthinking. Val sounded unsure in her confessionals. She wanted to play big moves to save herself but without a little trust in the mix, things won’t work at all.
Reason 3: She hated Baylor too much. Baylor put herself in a good position when she voted against Nadiya so, Val should have asked for her help instead of going against her.
Immunity Challenge Alert: 2 Hunahpu, 0 Coyopa
Blood vs. Water was put in the test during the Sumo At The Sea Challenge. Eight pairs squared off (Jaclyn vs. Kelley, Alec vs. Drew, Wes vs. Jeremy, Val vs. Natalie, John vs. Jon, Baylor vs. Missy, Josh vs. Reed, Dale vs. Keith) and teams were tied at 4-4. Jaclyn won the first point for her team but Kelley sealed Hunahpu’s second immunity victory, outplaying Jaclyn during the deciding point 5-4.
Watching the premiere episode made me realize a Blood vs. Water season can be two-times better with all new players and without Redemption Island. With no single returnee around, this season started fresh. It felt a lot different too. It opened a new chapter of adventure and excitement, unlike in season 27 – where things were successful, ratings-wise (9.73 million viewers during the pilot), but were too experimental.
The nine pairs were divided into two tribes. “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 (CBS).”
With Nadiya’s gone for good, only seventeen new faces were left and I already made up my mind who my first impression favorites are. It’s my pre-season routine since Borneo to choose a set of favorites based on what I read and watch in their bios and cast videos, respectively. Whoever I choose, I seem to expect one-two-three-four or if not impossible, all of them will either make the merge, make the final 4 or one of them wins.
This feels pressure, yeah, but will my instincts still work this season?
First Pick: JON MISCH
This 26-year-old Hunahpu member plays against his college sweetheart, Jaclyn. In his bio, Jon reveals he’s an outgoing, unpredictable and intuitive financial assistant residing in Waterford, Michigan. His hobbies include working out, playing piano and researching wine. He believes he can win the season because he’s physically and socially fit to outwit, outplay and outlast others.
Jon reminds me of Hayden in season 27. Both have the right combination of class and charisma to last longer. Other players will like Jon due to his camp abilities to start a fire and de-bone a fish but may perceive him as a tripe threat considering his social skill to tell people what they only need to hear.
Second Pick: JEREMY COLLINS
This 36-year-old Hunahpu member plays against his wife, Val. He reveals in his bio he’s an athletic, straight-forward and smiling firefighter residing in Foxbro, Massachusetts. His hobbies include basketball, working out, watching fantasy football and coaching his daughters. He believes he can win the season due to his ability to bring people to his side. He claims he’s a monster in physical challenges.
I remembered Jeremy as one of the standout characters during the pilot episode. Upon arrival in the arena, he outplayed his wife in the very first duel of the season. His wife was sent to Exile Island and he chose Keith to accompany her.
Third Pick: BAYLOR WILSON
This 20-year-old Coyopa member plays against her mom, Missy. She reveals in her bio she’s an entertaining, determined and passionate student residing in Nashville, Tennessee (Dallas Texas according to her cast video). Her hobbies include songwriting, snow skiing and yoga. She believes she can win the season because she feels secure and confident to not allow others’ opinions affect her game.
Baylor joined the show to compete with herself. She wants to challenge her limitations and hopefully, she becomes a better version of herself. Baylor seems to have a different game plan but I still can’t help but ask, will she play like Ciera Eastin? Will she also vote her mom out just to get far?
Fourth Pick: KELLEY WENTWORTH
This 28-year-old Hunahpu member plays against her dad, Dale. She reveals in her bio she’s a competitive, reliable and stubborn marketing manager residing in Seattle, Washington. Her hobbies include playing soccer, tennis and board games particularly Scrabble. She believes she can win the season because she never gives up. Her positive belief to complete various challenges might help her get on top.
Even with a competitive personality, Kelley was an under-the-radar type of character during the pilot. The edit didn’t give her enough airtime, except for that one moment wherein Jeremy approached her for an alliance.
Immunity Challenge Alert: 1 Hunahpu, 0 Coyopa
The first immunity challenge of the season was a tight race between the two teams. It involved racing up a giant tower and solving a complicated puzzle. During the final stages of the challenge, Coyopa was already working on the puzzle while Hunahpu was still climbing the third tower. However, Jon, Reed, Kelley and Julie brought victory for Hunahpu as they finished the puzzle first.