SURVIVOR Insights 158: San Juan Del Sur – It’s Blood vs. Water Again! (Episode 1)

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).”

Survivor San Juan Del Sur Cast

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.

For the record, I picked the winner six times. Aras Baskauskas in season 12, Parvati Shallow in season 16, JT in season 18, Kim Spradlin in season 24, John Cochran in season 26 and Tyson Apostol in season 27. In B-B-B, Woo would have became my seventh.

This feels pressure, yeah, but will my instincts still work this season?

First Pick: JON MISCH

Survivor San Juan Del Sur Jon & Jeremy

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.


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.


Survivor San Juan Del Sur Baylor and Kelley

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?


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.

Poll Time:

Photos Courtesy of: CBS