Survivor is a very difficult game to play both mentally and physically. A contestant is constantly struggling to not only survive the elements, but also outwit their fellow competitors to be the last person standing. So it's no surprise that once a Survivor contestant is voted out of the game, it can be a truly heartbreaking experience. Think about it from their perspective. Imagine spending all that time living in bad weather conditions and eating very little food only to find out that you've now been voted out of the game and you will definitely not have a shot at winning one million dollars. That would be a hard pill for anyone to swallow. But if you've made it to the jury phase of the game, then that pill is a little easier to swallow than it normally would be. If you go to the CBS website and look up Survivor, you will find a section of internet videos on that site under the word "Ponderosa". The Ponderosa is where the jury members go to live once they've been voted out of Survivor. I've always found these clips to be very interesting and informative in past seasons, so I've decided to write a review about some of this season's Ponderosa videos in the hopes that they'll give us a better perspective on some of our cast members from this year. It's time to take a closer look at life for our Survivors after they have been voted off of the island to become a part of the jury. How do they feel now that they've left the game? What do they think of the contestants still in the game? Who are they thinking about voting for to win the one million dollars at the end? We'll try to find the answers to these questions and more as we review Survivor Nicaragua: Ponderosa.
We begin by going back to Episode 8 of Survivor Nicaragua (which can be read in its entirety here: http://lunch.com/t/5ori ). The merged Libertad tribe has just had its first tribal council and Alina became the ninth person voted off of Survivor Nicaragua. However, Alina has successfully made it to the halfway point of the game, so she will now become the first member of the jury. As a jury member, Alina will get to cast a vote as to who she wants to win Survivor Nicaragua at the end of the game. As Alina leaves tribal council in defeat, she has mixed feelings about being voted off. She says that even though she wishes that she could have stayed in the game longer, she's happy that she can now look forward to eating chocolate and drinking wine. Next, Alina gets into a van and she is driven to the Ponderosa site. While she is sitting in the van, she mentions that she would have been really mad had she been voted off right before the jury began, so she is happy to have at least made it to this point. Then Alina drinks a bottle of water and comments on how the simplest things like a bottle of water can make you so happy after having to drink from a well for the past three weeks, lol. The van finally reaches the Ponderosa and Alina goes off to her room. But once she gets inside her room, Alina becomes uncomfortable. She says that after three weeks of sleeping on the ground, a plush room seems very strange and alien to her. She says that it's very awkward to go from sitting by a fire for 21 days to now having light switches and fans all of a sudden. It was quite interesting to see how Alina reacted to her room here. You'd think a survivor contestant would be dying to have a great room like this right after they've left the game, but most Survivor contestants tend to have the same reaction that Alina did. They see the new environment as foreboding and they desire the comfort of the wilderness instead. It might seem like a strange reaction to have, but think about it. Over time, people can get used to almost anything, even if it's sleeping in a hard shelter or having bugs fly around you all the time. Once that familiarity sets in, that environment serves as a comfort zone for you. So when you're finally removed from it, the new environment, no matter how nice and clean it is, is uncomfortable because you're not used to it anymore. I never get tired of seeing Survivor cast members attempting to reacclimate to the normal world. It's a fascinating look at how the human mind works after having gone through an ordeal such as this one.
Next, Alina is weighed by a doctor, who tells her that she has lost eight pounds. She says that she hasn't been that skinny since her freshman year of high school, lol. Then Alina goes to look at herself in a mirror and she is stunned at what she sees. She says that she looks like a skeleton and I have to agree, she is quite skinny. Shortly afterwards, Alina eats some kabobs and brownies for dinner. She enjoys the food and comments on how weird it feels to not have to ration food with other people anymore. Soon after her dinner, Alina goes to bed. The next morning, Alina wakes up and eats a hamburger and french fries. Then she goes out to the pool and decides to drink a beer. So far, Alina loves the easy going Ponderosa lifestyle, but she says it'll get better when more people show up. I agree. Usually, when it's just one person there, not much happens. It's not until the other cast members start trickling in that things become interesting. I remember last season when Coach arrived first at the Ponderosa. That was quite boring for a while because we got nothing but Coach talking crazy to himself the whole time, lol. But once the other contestants arrived after him, things started to spice up and I assume this will be true for Alina as well. The next day, we see Alina preparing to go to her first tribal council as a jury member. She's happy that she now has a wide variety of clothes to choose from instead of being forced to wear the same thing every day when she was in the game. She also says that she will be ready with a personal food item for the next person that gets voted off. She says that if it's Holly, she'll have a chocolate chip cookie for her. If it's Purple Kelly, she'll have popcorn ready. If it's Naonka, she'll have a snickers and peanut butter for her. And if it's Marty, she'll have a glass of red wine ready for him. It's pretty cool how Alina knows what everyone wants to eat (or drink) and is willing to have it ready for the next jury member who arrives at the Ponderosa. I don't think I could have remembered what everyone likes to eat, so I give kudos to Alina for being able to remember all that, lol. Soon afterwards, Alina gets in the van and heads off to tribal council. Who will be the next member of the jury. Let's find out.
We now fast forward to Episode 9 of Survivor Nicaragua (which can be read in its entirety at this link: http://lunch.com/t/5orr ) where Marty has become the latest casualty of the Libertad tribe. He is now the second member of the jury and he will now be joining Alina at the Ponderosa. As Marty walks away from tribal council, he says that he is very disappointed in having been voted off. He believes that if he had gotten past tonight, he would have had a great chance at making the final three and winning the game. Next, Marty gets into the van and is driven to the Ponderosa. While in the van, Marty's delusions of grandeur blossom to new heights. Marty says that he was one of the only smart people out there (rolls eyes) and he also adds that he was so good at this game (umm....what game were you watching, Marty? Cause from what I saw, you sucked terribly in this game on all fronts, lol) that it was going to catch the attention of somebody, but he didn't think it would be this soon. Get over yourself, Marty. Jesus Christ. Later, Marty arrives at the Ponderosa and Alina greets him right away. They hug and Alina gives him a glass of red wine just like she promised. Later, Alina and Marty sit down to eat dinner and this is when Marty really begins to register high on the "whack job" meter. Marty talks to Alina non-stop about how great he is, how he never lied, how he never back-stabbed, blah, blah, blaaaaah and Alina looks like she wants to kill herself right there on the spot, rofl. Alina says later that she had to hold her tongue and not go off on Marty because of how obnoxious he was being during dinner, lol. But the real clincher comes from one particular comment that Marty makes in a confessional later on. He says (and I'm not making this up) that giving Sash the idol was the right move because it bought him more time in the game and if he had known that he was going home tonight, he says that all he would've had to do was ask Sash for the idol back and he would've given it back to him. Uuummmmm......WHAT???? My god, Marty!!!! Do you have any perception of reality???? I can't believe that you honestly think that Sash would have given you back the idol if you had asked. What part of "Sash ain't your buddy" don't you understand?? I had to look at this clip several times just to make sure that Marty actually said this. Wow. Congratulations, Marty. You are now officially the dumbest, most idiotic, insane, looney tunes, survivor to ever play this game. I hope you're proud. lol.
The next day arrives and our two jury members receive some new treemail (yes, even the losers get to still have treemail, which is a nice gesture from the producers, I must say. It makes the jury members kind of feel as though they're still in the game in some way, so that's nice). The note in the treemail box says "For the jury of two, enjoy the day. Rivas is where you'll get away." Alina and Marty correctly guess that they'll be going to the town of Rivas to hang out for the day. They both get into a van and are driven to the town. As they're both riding along in the van, they're both surprised to see cars and pavement for the first time in a long while. I guess after going through the Survivor experience, everyday things look fascinating to you after you've been away from those things for a while. Once they arrive at the town, they decide to ride a little mini rivas taxi around (which is basically a two person buggy looking thing that's driven around by a guy riding a bike) and they enjoy themselves quite a bit. Later, Marty and Alina do some shopping and sightseeing. Then they both go and have dinner at a restaurant called the "gran diamante". Marty is worried that he'll get sick if he eats the local food, but Alina tells him not to worry about it. The food turns out to be very well prepared and both Alina and Marty enjoy the food very much. Moments like these are another reason why I love the Ponderosa clips so much. It's nice to see the contestants just enjoying life without having to worry about the game. This is a well deserved vacation that these two deserve after going through what they've been through, so it's nice to see them be able to relax and just be themselves from now on. Even though Alina and Marty probably feel as if they're still in the game somewhat (due to being on jury and also due to not being able to stop thinking about it), it's still obvious that they've both let their guard down a little now that it's over for them. It's cool to see contestants not always in "game mode" and that's one of the appeals of Ponderosa.
Another day goes by at Ponderosa. Alina and Marty lounge around the pool taking in some sun rays. Later, Alina and Marty receive new treemail. Inside the treemail box is a flag, along with a note. The note says "The banner of Ponderosa for you to raise high." The jury has now officially received their tribal flag. Marty notes that the flag has the swords of "Espada" and "La Flor" on it, which is important to note since Espada and La Flor were the names of the two tribes that existed at the beginning of the game. Alina and Marty raise their flag up on the flagpole and watch it blow in the wind. Again, this is merely another attempt to let the jury members still feel as if they're in the game (even though they're not), but I think little things like this are really cool since it gives the jury something to do. It also boosts morale in the jury as well and these sorts of gesture can help them not feel as depressed about being voted out. The flag, as stupid as it may be, gives the jury a sense of unity and that's something that's very much needed out there. Very nice. Soon afterwards, it's time for the next tribal council. Alina says that going to tribal councils now are bittersweet because you get back into the game, but it sucks to get back in the game and not be fully part of it. That's very understandable. Plus, you're angry at the people who voted you out, so it would be hard to look at them after what they've done to you. It's a mixed bag of emotions, so I believe her when she says that it can be hard to go to tribal councils as a jury member. Anyway, Alina and Marty get into the van and head off to the Libertad tribe's third tribal council. Who will be the next person to join the jury? We'll find out right now.
We skip ahead one more time to Episode 10 of Survivor Nicaragua (which can be read in its entirety at this link: http://lunch.com/t/5olw ). In a shocking tribal council, Brenda became the eleventh person voted out of the tribe and she is now the third member of the jury. Brenda walks away from tribal council and she is surprisingly in good spirits about the whole thing. She says that she's excited to be able to eat regular food now. She wants to eat lasagna, garlic rolls, and cheeseburgers among other things. She says that she doesn't want to see or eat a crab ever again for a year, lol. Later, Brenda reaches the Ponderosa and she is greeted by Alina and Marty. Marty says that he was rooting for her the whole way and if she had made it to the finals, he would've voted for her to win. Alina gives Brenda a brownie to much on and she quickly gobbles it up. Later, it's time for dinner and our jury members are treated to a pasta meal. Brenda in particular enjoyed the pasta very much and she is very full after the meal is over. Shortly afterwards, Brenda heads to her room for the evening and this gives Alina an opportunity to do some trash talking behind Brenda's back. Alina says that she's happy that Brenda got voted out because she didn't deserve to win. Alina describes Brenda as being cocky and even though Alina's happy that she's out of the game, she's mad that she has to socially interact with her at Ponderosa now. I agree that Brenda was a little cocky during the game, but I also think that Alina is slightly overreacting here. I think Alina is just jealous that Brenda a) played a better game than she did and b) got further in the game than she did. I smell a bit of jealousy in Alina's voice, I must say, lol. Meanwhile, Brenda is in her room looking at herself in the mirror amazed at how skinny she's gotten. She says that now that she's been voted off, there is complete chaos in the game (because her alliance is not as tight as it once was) and anyone could be the next to go. I agree with her. I'm sure Brenda wasn't excepting to be at Ponderosa so soon, but now that she's arrived, there's no telling who will be next. It's a complete open book moving forward as far as I'm concerned.
The next day, our three jury members are eating some tortillas for breakfast. Brenda replays the game again in her head in front of Alina and Marty. Brenda says that she wishes that she would've asked Sash for his idol because if she had gotten it, she could've kept herself safe and voted out Naonka, who had betrayed her alliance. Marty and Brenda talk back and forth about this issue and Alina decides to excuse herself from the conversation. Next, we see Alina hanging out by herself in the pool complaining about Brenda and Marty. She says that for two people who claim to not be emotional about the game, they are doing a bad job of it because she feels that they're both extremely emotional. Alina hates that Marty and Brenda have not given any credit to the people that are still in the game. She adds that Brenda and Marty are egotistical and think they've played a great game, but it can't be all that great if they both got voted out, lol. Alina concludes by saying Ponderosa is like high school in that she doesn't want to hang with the cool kids clique of Marty and Brenda. I think Alina is only half right about her assessment here. With Marty, she is dead on the money. Marty has a big ego, he thinks he's better than everybody else, he's very emotional, and he talks down to you. So I can understand why Alina would have major problems with him. However, I don't agree with Alina's point of view about Brenda. There isn't one incident of Brenda acting smug or superior in any of the Ponderosa clips. If anything, I'd say that Brenda has been the calmest of the three jury members so far. Plus, Brenda doesn't walk around claiming that her game is picture perfect. Unlike Marty, Brenda is able to critique her game realistically and realize that she made mistakes in certain places. Looking at all the evidence, I still come back to the conclusion that I drew before which is that Alina is simply jealous of Brenda and how she performed better in the game than her. Brenda had a better alliance than Alina. Brenda went further in the game than Alina. Brenda comes off as a nicer person than Alina. For all of these reasons, Alina is jealous and can't stand her. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it, lol.
Later on in the day, our jury members are sitting out by the pool taking it easy. Suddenly, Alina comes by with some new treemail. Inside is a note which says "Tonight's Main Event: Tribal." The three jury members are shocked to hear that there will be a tribal council later tonight (you can see the shocked look on their faces just by looking at the picture accompanying this paragraph, lol). It was only just yesterday that Brenda was voted out of the tribe and usually, a few days pass in between tribals. But this time, there are two tribal councils on two consecutive days. Alina thinks that something crazy happened at camp in order for there to be a tribal council so soon after the last one. Brenda says that it'll be hard to look at the people who voted her out since she wants to be back in the game so badly. Later, our three jury members get into the van and head to the next tribal council, where one more jury member will join them at Ponderosa.
That ends this look at Survivor Nicaragua's Ponderosa. I probably won't be reviewing any more of the Ponderosas this season (I'm going to focus on the tv episodes themselves instead), but I just wanted to give a little insight as to how the jury members live after they've been voted out of the game. I've always found the Ponderosas interesting to watch and I hope that my review sheds a little light on life after the game for our contestants. I'll be back with a new episode review next week. Till then. :-)
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