SurvivorSurvivor: Blood vs Water

Survivor: It Isn’t Easy To Get To The End. – 11/16/13

Jeff told us that the Returning players and the Loved Ones were finally reunited.

<Hayden: “This is were Survivor really becomes Survivor.”>

Back at camp, Tyson found the Hidden Immunity Idol…

<”I’m definitely not sharing this with anybody else.”>

…and two pairs of Loved Ones, Aras and Vytas and Tina and Katie, thought they were sitting pretty…

<Aras: “And Tyson’s our 7th.”>

…but that was far from the truth.

<Tyson to Monica: “You are with us. We take Aras out first.”>

At Tribal Council, Aras was the victim of a vicious blindside.

<Aras: “Well played guys. Well played.” Tina shown shaking her head while Tyson smiled.>

 

The recap sums up nicely our dilemma regarding Tyson’s edit. On one hand, he is clearly presented as the mastermind of the season, the one that not only is able to find the immunity idol but who is able to turn the table on two powerful ex-winners and their Loved Ones. We are even reminded that his move is completely justified because Aras thought he had the game in hand and he was putting Tyson in 7th place. Yet, on the other, Jeff used the word “vicious” to describe the move and Tyson was seen smiling at his victim. Jeff could have called it a huge blindside but an adjective like “vicious” used to be reserved for Villains. The same used to apply to the satisfied smile after a vote. So which is it? This episode, I feel, will answer that question.

 

I would have titled this episode:

 

It Isn’t Easy To Get To The End.

 

Kasama – Night 21

 

e7-vytas “That was a great move.”[/caption]

Vytas: “That was a great move. As a fan of the show…Aras did not see that coming and neither did I. Congratulations, that was awesome.”

Tyson, hugging Vytas, said: “I loved Aras too, we all did.”

 

Vytas in confessional: “Aras, Tina, Katie and I got blindsided. I want to get… vengeance is going to be mine at some point. I want to see how bad I can get you.”

(We saw him with Tyson while the last was heard in voice-over.)

 

Whenever we hear someone say that he is a fan of the show, I feel we are being told that they represent the audience’s conscience, expressing the way the viewers should feel. The night’s first hint tells us we should find that the “vicious blindside” was awesome. With Vytas out before the end of the episode, we have to wonder what his vengeance pledge meant.  It could be that he won’t vote for Tyson or it was used to put doubt in Tyson’s direction.

 

Tina couldn’t keep her mouth shut: “Bravo to you, that was a great move. Monica and Tyson, you won the battle but you didn’t win the war because you have 5 jury votes that you will never get for flipping.”

Tyson replied: “You, Vytas and Katie pushed us out.”

Everyone told Tina that they had an alliance with Aras. Tyson added: “There was one person that was flipping on everybody and he’s out of the game right now. You accuse me of something that I am not guilty of.”

 

Tyson in confessional: “Survivor’s broken my heart twice and I think that tonight I fell back in love. I knew Aras wasn’t going to take me to the end. And I knew Tina had prioritized Katie in front of me so for her to come out and say that you should be ashamed of yourself because that’s not the way I play the game, I’m like: Tina, if everybody played the game the way you do, I would win 100% of the time.”

 

It’s interesting that Gervase got away unscathed from his big move. Tina thought that Gervase was still with them because she thought there were 5 votes against Tyson and Monica. Even later on, we’d see Tina pat Gervase on the knee before leaving for Redemption Island. She’ll come to realize that Tyson and Gervase are together but the viewers are told that Gervase isn’t blamed for the “vicious blindside”. That will lead many to say that Gervase will win the jury vote. He might but let’s wait before we crown him because there are better hints later on. Even now, note how Tyson was allowed to explain his move not only to the tribe and to the viewers. Like him, many of us have had our hearts broken by lame seasons but we sometimes fall back in love. The scene where Tina was complaining about a blindside made me wonder what Mitchell, Jerri and Amber said while watching the episode.

 

The next morning, Tina was alone with Katie, saying it didn’t look good for the home team. She added: “You’ve got to figure your game because I’ve got a much, much bigger target on me. Don’t feel like you have to pull me into anything.”

 

Katie (solo): “My mom mentioned that I need to have a game plan because, if tribal happens and I’m a sitting duck, it’s not going to be pretty. She told me to try and build my own individual alliances and talk to people and sell my vote. How do I sell myself when I have my mom on the line? The idea of blood versus water, it’s hard trying to sell myself without throwing my loved one under the bus and that’s the kind of issue I’m faced with. I don’t really know how to say keep me instead of her.”

 

The familiar Survivor horn blew just then, making it sound more than just the show’s score. It was as if it underlined the theme for the season: “How to say: Keep me instead of my Loved One.” While we see that Katie wasn’t able to come up with a game plan of her own and got only a temporary reprieve by winning immunity, we have been prepared to see Ciera doing just that. With this kind of set-up, it seems logical to expect that Ciera’s decision to boot her mother will be presented as a good decision, something that will enable her to go further than expected. It won’t be presented like Aras’ vote against Laura, where we saw he got rid of someone that wasn’t threatening him and would have been loyal. I expect we will see that Ciera is forced to throw her mother under the bus to save her own skin.

 

The 1st Immunity Challenge. – A Classic

 

Some fun comments:

–         “Aww fudge” from Gervase when Vytas joined Tyson and Monica into round 2

–         “Ciera has given up.”

–         After seeing the pig intestines, Tyson asked: “How are they prepared?”

–         Monica: “I can do this, come on Monica.”

–         Jeff: “It isn’t easy to get to the end of Survivor, it isn’t easy to get a shot at a million dollar. You’re earning it right now.” (That was said right after Tyson was seen spitting out most of the beautifully prepared intestines, Monica was seen choking while Hayden was coughing up. It was also right before someone was heard saying: “Good job, Gerv.”)

–         That led Jeff to say: “Gervase, surprising everybody; he could barely do this thirteen years ago in the first season. Here he is still competing, still alive.”

–         We never saw Tyson eating after he spit up the intestines. He most likely gave up but it wasn’t shown and Jeff didn’t comment on it.

 

The last round was a Gervase-special!

–         Gervase said: “This is season one. You know I can’t do this.”

–          Someone answered: “You gotta go for it” while another added: “You gotta.”

–         Jeff: “Come on Gervase. Change history right here. Fight through it, Culpepper.”

Gervase gave a valiant effort. “Culpepper” won and it was the first time Jeff gave the preferential “last name” treatment to a woman. After winning and giving Probst a “Bob Barker” hug, Monica turned to Gervase and said: “This has been a dream of mine for a long time. Thanks for helping me.”

 

The most interesting editing choice was that a round was skipped. The previews had prepared us for the following scenario:

Round 1: 5 dreamteamers attempt mealworms. 3 advance.
Round 2: 5 dreamteamers attempt mealworms. 3 advance.
Round 3: 6 DTs attempt pig intestine. 3 advance.
Round 4: 3 DTs attempt cow eyeball. 2 advance.
Round 5: 2 DTs attempt witchetty grub. 1 wins.

So Round 4 wasn’t shown (Monica confirmed that it took place) and the third place finisher of Round 3 was simply ignored. Jeff’s comment “2 people from this round are moving on” was heard in voice-over before round 3 so it was taken from the following round. From the other previews we figured that either Hayden or Caleb was the 3rd finalist so ignoring one of them tells us that person can’t be our winner. But which one?! The way we saw it, that round came down to Gervase and Vytas but we saw Vytas spitting out his last bite in disgust so he obviously wasn’t the third place finisher. We had a shot of a disgusted Hayden turning away from the table when Jeff announced the players moving on. At that time, Caleb was seen in the background still facing the table, expressionless, probably already focusing on the next round. Caleb was most likely the 3rd player that moved on. Therefore, this line of reasoning tells us that Caleb won’t win.

 

I believe the editing of the challenge also tells us who wins. This will be a lengthy explanation but, while the recaps are often the best guides we have to determine a winner, the way some challenges are edited can also be very telling.  If you remember, we were able to confirm our impression that Natalie was going to win Samoa when she wasn’t shown refusing to drink her gross milkshake. The first immunity victory by the women in One World also confirmed that Kim would win because it was her voice that guided Sabrina to finish the puzzle.

What’s great about this challenge is that it practically tells us that Gervase and Monica will make it to the end. Gervase will indeed surprise everybody because not only couldn’t eat grub 13 years ago but he couldn’t play the game either. “It isn’t easy to get to the end of Survivor, it isn’t easy to get a shot at a million dollar. You’re earning it right now” Jeff was heard saying just when Monica and Gervase won their second round, sending them to the “finals”. Why was a round cut? In part it was to save time, yes, but enough time could have been saved in each round. I believe the round was skipped because it was simply perfect to have Monica and Gervase going directly to the final round, symbolizing that they will be in the finale. They didn’t need to include that 4th round where Caleb would have simply stood in the way. It seems more and more likely that Caleb will be the doormat so why give him a nice moment? Long forgotten is the Big Kahuna so we can put that scenario to rest.

 

The questions are: Will either Monica or Gervase win or will the 3rd member of the F3 win it all? Who will be that 3rd member?

Even without taking into account that no one seems to like Monica, I don’t think she’ll win. Culpepper will get to the end and fulfill that dream of hers but, like we saw just when Jeff talked about earning the million, she will choke. I expect she will have a difficult FTC performance.

Gervase could have changed history but he fell short and we even heard him say he couldn’t do “this”. I believe he won’t be able to do “that” either, “that” being winning the jury vote. We heard all this foreshadowing because that’s exactly what will happen: Gervase will finish second again at the end.

 

So, who is the 3rd member of the F3, the one that will get the win? Not Ciera because Jeff told us that  she “has given up”. That picture could have been cut out and I have no doubt we wouldn’t have seen the eventual winner in a scene where she simply gave up. (Sandra notwithstanding. No one is like Sandra.)

What’s more interesting is that someone did give up but wasn’t shown and Jeff didn’t tell us about it: Tyson will win the game and the way this challenge was edited is the best hint we’ve had up to now.  I should rest my case and stop writing!

 

 

Kasama – Day 22

 

e7-tyson

“Guys are doing Vytas, girls are doing Katie.”

Tyson, standing in front of the group of 7, asked about Tribal Council. Laura answered: “Guys are doing Vytas, girls are doing Katie.” Hayden and Caleb were shown simply listening in silence as two of their ex-tribe mates were being sentenced to “death row”.

 

The “doormat” treatment is given to both ex-Tadhana men but Hayden still gets some confessionals. That means he will probably show more fight than Caleb in the end.  If Caleb outlasts other members of Tadhana it will be because he is dragged along much like Nicaragua Dan or So Pathetic Cowboy Rick.

 

Laura had a confessional: “Tonight, the plan is 4 votes Vytas’ way, three votes Katie’s way. As of right now, we don’t know if anyone’s found the hidden immunity idol. Vytas may have it, Tina may have it, Katie may have it.”

 

Tyson also had a confessional: “I wasn’t the one that came up with the idea to split the votes. Laura M was like: If there is an idol out there, we need to split the votes. It’s one of those things where it’s like do I tell them I have the idol so we don’t have to worry about splitting votes? Or, is that going to make me too big of a target? I don’t want to tell people that I have the idol so I have to kinda roll with it.” (Monica was shown when he said the last sentence.)

 

We continue to see Laura playing hard despite her daughter’s warning. Those confessionals set up her elimination which should happen soon.

On the other hand, with every new confessional, Tyson tells us that it isn’t easy to get to the end of Survivor. He is well aware of all the dangers looming and he keeps telling us what he plans to do about them. That way, the viewers will be able to say he earned the million dollar check and the title of Sole Survivor. Jeff said the title had to be earned and does anyone believe that Katie, for example, has done anything to earn it? I fear the same can be said of Caleb, Hayden and Ciera who were all saved by the tribal swap and haven’t been shown doing much since. Monica earned that immunity win but has she done anything else? Some will say that she booted Laura and Kat but that was called a terrible strategy. Saving Vytas put her in a bad situation but Tyson came to her rescue after the merge. Has Gervase earned it? This is a tricky one and maybe he is worthy just because he’s learned so much since season one. But why are we hearing the game from Tyson’s perspective?   

 

Vytas came back from the ocean and was very direct: “How was the talk? Which one of us is next?”

Tyson spoke up: “Only time will tell.”

Vytas (solo) “I knew I needed to win immunity. It’s a little bit low to beg for my position on the tribe but I have no other play. Just another 2 days in this game could lead to another 12 days in this game, could lead to a million dollars.”

Vytas asked Hayden to give it to him straight adding: “You owe me that.”

Hayden answered that he was going to be honest so he said: “It’s going to be you or Katie.”

Vytas pleaded: “Hopefully 4 will go to Katie. Give me one more, man.”

Vytas ended his confessional saying he’d vote against Katie and, just then, she joined the guys. Of course, Vytas told Katie: “I’m not turning on you girls.”

 

What a great villain we could have had in Vytas. I feel they softened his edit somewhat in order to make him likable, preparing him for an eventual return.  I’d have preferred to see the villain right here and now.

 

Katie had a confessional of her own: “I’m in a very tight jam. I don’t know what alliance people have right now. My mom told me that I have to do what’s best for me so I need to figure out a different game plan, one that includes just me or me and my mother.”

 

Another confessional telling us that Katie is only talk, that she isn’t doing a thing to earn her way to the end. I’m almost tempted to write that her bark is worse than her bite. I’d be amazed if the editors thought of linking her in this way to the “dog that didn’t bark” edit her mother received in her original season. Now that would be far-fetched.

 

Monica also had a confessional: “I am getting nervous. Seven of us made a pact that we would split the votes between Gervase and Katie…I am not really quite sure what’s happening or who’s saying what or who is driving the boat but why the sudden scramble? It makes me feel very uncomfortable.”

 

After hearing Monica’s paranoia, Laura had a confessional: “Monica is asking why everybody’s scattering around? What the hell does she care for? She has the necklace around. You are not going home and that just goes to show you what kind of paranoid person Monica is.”

 

With Caleb apparently listening, Vytas pleaded with Tyson to put only 3 votes on him which would break another pair. He added that he would give him his jury vote at the end if he kept him one more round.

 

Tyson had a confessional: “Vytas made some valid points but the main concern for me right now is: If the girls wise up they could perhaps form an all-girl alliance. Sending a girl home would keep Vytas here and still keep the guys in the strong majority. So, my list, optimally right now, would be to have Katie go next.” Huddling everyone, he asked if they should vote Katie out but Ciera countered: “If we are solid, it doesn’t matter which order they go. Tyson’s confessional continued: “This is where it gets dangerous for someone like me because I don’t want to come like the lynchpin or the decision maker. I want everyone to feel that their input is what matters and not just mine. I have to be very careful about this vote tonight.”

 

Could booting Vytas be seen as a mistake for Tyson? We just heard him say that Vytas had a valid point and booting him may have cost Tyson a jury vote. Fortunately, we had another Tribal Council in this episode so we didn’t have to worry about this question: Booting Vytas immediately didn’t matter because, just like Ciera said, the order didn’t matter. That little exchange told us that Tyson has a solid bunch of followers.

By the way, the editors let us hear Vytas talking to Tyson about his jury vote. That is another huge hint that Tyson makes the F3 and wins. It may even be the proof most will accept. Vytas probably threatened to take away his jury votes to others or at least to Gervase but that wasn’t included because it wasn’t needed. Jean Robert told us after China that he had threatened Amanda the same way he did Todd but we heard his threat to Todd in episode 1, not the one he made Amanda because the doubts had to be around Todd. The same applies here.

 

Tribal Council

 

Jeff asked Tina to explain what happened after Aras was voted out.

Tina said she should have kept her mouth shut but she “called out Tyson and Monica.”

Vytas said he was happy that Tina spoke out because he was feeling it. He added: “F___ you, you vote out my brother. I’m gonna ___ you up man. How dare you? I’m my brother’s keeper and I’m going to do my best to get you back. I couldn’t say that then.”

<Tyson, Hayden, Gervase and Jeff were surprised by these words.>

Jeff pointed out: “But you just said it!”

Vytas stumbled for a few seconds before recovering and saying it was a natural reaction.

Gervase said he understood his anger.

Vytas went on to say that it was a great move. He gave them credit for using Monica’s paranoia: “She fell for it right away. You just tell her that she is a doormat, she’s like: I don’t want to be a doormat, I’m with you.”

Monica countered saying: “Wow…I think you flopped on my husband and my husband’s gone but I stuck my neck out for your brother and for Tina and the people in my alliance to get you there.”

Vytas replied: “You were getting yourself further at the same time. This “Monica the Benevolent” thing is over, it is to win a million dollars. When we left Galang, we had a bond…You broke that trust.”

Katie agreed with Jeff that it was either herself, her mom or Vytas, adding she was going to look for the cracks.

<She now sounds like Palau’s Gregg waiting to make his move against Tom>

Vytas tried to sell that the girls could have the numbers. “If I go tonight, the women would behoove themselves to rally and I think Tyson and Gervase have the most power in their alliance right now and those are the guys these girls should get out.”

<Tyson looked at Gervase as if saying let’s get him.>

 

Jeff sent them to vote.

We saw Monica voting against Vytas, saying it was for Brad.

There was one vote for Katie, one for Tyson (Thai Sun) that seemed to come from Vytas himself. (At least the camera showed Vytas smiling when Jeff revealed that vote) and five votes for Vytas.

Vytas left without saying a word.

Jeff said the bad news for Tina and Katie was that they were on the bottom. The bad news for everybody else was that they had nothing to lose.

 

This first part lasted well over the hour’s half-way point, showing that most of the important events had already taken place, that nothing was going to change in the last portion of the show. But, we had to get through it anyway…

 

Kasama – Night 22

 

e3-monica

“I was told to vote Katie but…”

Monica had a confessional: “I was told to vote Katie but, with the pressure that I had been given by Vytas and the vitriol attack that I had been given by him at Tribal, I chose to write down Vytas.”

She told everyone that she said “What, up, Brad” when she voted Vytas.

That didn’t go well with Gervase who had a confessional: “Monica at Tribal Council decided to switch her vote. She was supposed to vote for Katie but she decided to vote for Vytas. If anything happened and that was the reason why Tyson got voted out, I got voted out or anybody else in my alliance, I would have lost it. It’s simple: Don’t rock the boat. Moves like that make me say: Let’s get rid of Monica next. One more straw and the camel’s back will be broke.”

 

It’s strange that Monica was the only one to get blamed. Did Laura convince them that she voted for Katie? Could they be that gullible, believing that Jeff would have kept that vote a secret?  I wouldn’t be surprised if Gervase included Laura in his rant, first saying something like: “I expected it from Laura but not from Monica. Monica decided to switch her vote…”

 

Redemption Island – Day 23

 

Like Jacob and the Man in Black, Aras and Vytas talked about life and death on the beach.

Vytas: “You’re the one that got us out of the game.”

Aras: “There was no way I could have seen it.”

Vytas: “There were signs.” (His confessional was inserted here.)

Aras replied: “I’m still in this game, bro. I don’t know if you know that? So are you.”

Vytas: “It’s different. We are not actually in the game.”

Aras: “We’re in the f___ing game.”

Vytas: “It’s purgatory.” (How many times do the producers have to say that it wasn’t purgatory…oops; wrong show!)

Aras: “It’s not purgatory… If I wasn’t in the game, I’d be eating a cheeseburger…I’m going to come back and win the game. Or I won’t.”

<Vytas burped right then as if he had eaten too many cheeseburgers!>

(Aras’ confessional was then heard.)

Vytas said: “You’re not going to beat me out at Redemption. I’m the one that’s gonna get out.”

Aras: “That would be great: If you get out of Redemption, I will be just as happy as if I get out of Redemption.”

Vytas: “I can’t say the same for you. I’m sorry.”

 

Vytas’ confessional that was inserted above: “I think Aras is responsible for getting me here because he said he was good. I’m not going to bring anybody in an alliance with my brother and say we are 100% if we are not 100%. He made that mistake and now I am here just by guilt by association.”

 

Aras: “My brother has a lot of negative energy and I have a much more positive energy. I love him no matter what but best things don’t come when you’re pessimistic. They come when you’re open in your life.”

 

Very interesting portrayal of the two brothers. Up to that point, I believed that Vytas would outlast Aras but this scene made me change my mind. Aras is the positive one. Note that Vytas doesn’t even consider his own mistake: He didn’t even try to bring Caleb and Hayden to his side for at least a few votes. That’s what got him sent to RI. (It would amuse me greatly to hear that Vytas’ burp was deliberately included to symbolize that he will be eating cheeseburgers soon!)

 

Showing that nothing important happened in camp, Day 23 was skipped. We were already at Day 24 and the Immunity Challenge.

 

It certainly wasn’t as interesting, editing-wise, as the first.

Monica, Cierra, Tina, Gervase, Laura and Caleb dropped out in order, leaving Katie, Hayden and Tyson.

Tina kept encouraging Katie even if she had to know it meant she’d be voted out.

Tyson and Hayden dropped their coins back-to-back which meant Katie won immunity.

Tina looked genuinely happy.

 

Katie had a confessional: “Winning immunity felt like winning the lottery but right now, we don’t have an alliance. It’s just me and my mom.”

<Still no cracks…>

The two talked by the beach, Tina saying she had 5 hours to find that idol.

<What about the cracks?>

Tyson told Hayden and Caleb that they would have to hang out with Tina so they followed her.

Tina, in confessional, confirmed that Katie knew part of the clue, that the idol was in the direction of fresh water. She even ended up at the right tree.

<Strange that Hayden and Caleb didn’t seem to recognize the serpentine tree from the clues. Are they that dense?>

The guys lost her for a while which gave us a confessional from Caleb: “We head out and we lose her. We lost her on the waterfall trail. What the heck, she did give the slip on us.”

Tyson also had a confessional: “The idea was that a few people would follow Tina around in case she found the idol but we don’t have to. I could go to everybody and say: I have the Hidden Immunity Idol, we can just take naps but then I become a target. So, today, we have to baby-sit Tina all the time. She looked in the right spot but it was gone because I moved it to a safe place.”

Unable to continue her search secretly, Tina wound up in a Mexican stand-off and just sat there.

<Why not use the time to… I don’t know…look for cracks? Anyway, wouldn’t it have been better to stroll back in camp with a huge smile?>

 

Finally, everyone was back in camp where Monica asked what happens if Tina has the idol.

Laura said they’d simply split the votes.

Monica replied: “Split the votes between? If she finds the idol and her daughter is immune…”

 

Monica had another panicked confessional: “I’m not sure what’s happening. We’ll just split the votes… between who? Somebody’s gonna go home so the question is: Could it be me?”

 

Tyson also had a confessional: “Tonight, it’s more complicated than I thought it was going to be. The thing is we can’t split the votes because then Monica feels like she’s on the bottom  and she’s a real wild card that girl. You never know what’s she’s going to do and that makes her dangerous.”

 

I’m sure you’ve noticed that Tyson is once more telling us he is earning his way to the end.

 

Tyson and Gervase talked about Monica’s paranoia which they said she had reason to be because she went renegade on the Vytas vote.

Gervase had a confessional: “Loose canons will always shoot off and, when they do, 9 times out of 10, they are going to sink something you are riding on. I wouldn’t mind voting Monica out and keeping Tina and Katie for another day.”

Gervase and Hayden agreed a split vote would have to include Monica.

Hayden had a confessional: “Monica is on the outs because we can’t trust her. So, even if Tina does not have the idol, we could cut our ties and say sorry Monica, we have to cut you loose.”

 

Another example of Hayden talking but doing nothing. He’s happy to be Tyson’s doormat.  What this tells us is that Hayden is confident in his position in the pecking order. He won’t rock the boat because he doesn’t see himself being on the bottom.

 

Tribal Council

 

By process of elimination, Jeff said it was all on Tina.

Tina said she tried to find the immunity idol but that it was hysterical to see she had babysitters all day. “They followed me everywhere so I had to pull a fast one and go and hide.”

<Monica looked distressed hearing that>

Jeff said: “you did have time free of your captors.”

Tina, coyly, replied: “Twice today.”

<That gave Monica more pain.>

Asked about finding a crack, Tina said it couldn’t be all 7 in the final three. She added: “Poor Monica. Guess what? You’re on the bottom.”

Monica said she was working inside the alliance of seven. She added: “I have relationships with people from day 1. Hopefully those relationships will pull through and we’ll see where we stand.”

<Laura and Caleb smiled when they heard Monica say she had relations. Laura even rolled her eyes.>

Challenged by Tina, Monica hesitated, which pleased Tina but then she said: “Whether or not I am on the bottom, it’s clear and apparent that Tyson and Gervase are together, that Hayden and Caleb are together and that both sets of mothers and daughters are together. So, do I sometimes feel like I am number 7? Sure.”

<Tyson nodded at that>

Tina even added that “Monica is always the last one told who to vote for because she talks way too much and it makes people scared to death.”

Gervase said that talking too much makes someone an instant liability. “I don’t like wild cards because they can ruin everything (snapping his fingers) just like that. I like to know what my hand looks like all the time.”

Jeff tried to save Tina by saying they could get her out any time they wanted.

Monica answered: “Sure, you always have that little bit of doubt. Even today, everybody said we are going to vote Tina tonight and I said has anybody thought if Tina has the idol? The response was “well, we’ll split votes. I said: If she plays the idol and one has the necklace, who are we splitting votes with? Then, it was Oh! Yeah, you’re right.,,It could very well meant that I’m on the bottom.”

Hayden said they looked at all the scenarios and concluded that maybe they should split the votes and take out the bottom.

Monica said: “That is a really silly plan because I am extremely trustworthy and I have not made a deal with a single person here or asked for one in return. I don’t know how you could ask for a better player.”

<Laura really rolled her eyes then.>

Tina explained the strategy of keeping her: “They need to know that to lose Monica tonight would not be that crucial as far as numbers are concerned. They were going to plan a blindside on somebody but they didn’t want to do it unless they absolutely had to. The only way to insure a blindside tonight would be if I found the idol. So, maybe I have, maybe I haven’t. We’ll just have to see.”

<Tyson didn’t look happy then.>

 

We saw Katie voting against Monica while Monica voted for Tina.

When asked for the idol, Tina bluffed but we only saw Hayden and Laura looking anxious before she told Jeff she wished she had it but didn’t.

Tyson received another vote so mother and daughter didn’t vote alike which is weird. They found the crack and it was between them!

Tina left, patting Gervase on the knee and kissing Katie. She thanked everyone and said she’d see them the following day.

Jeff told Katie that the alliance of 7 wasn’t as tight as it seemed. “You just need to find your way in.”

 

Redemption Island.

 

Tina had a confessional: “It’s nice having redemption island because I’ve got a second shot. I’m going up against two very tough competitors but everybody has a chance.”

Vytas also had a confessional: “I’m just really happy we can give Tina a hug and send home tomorrow.”

 

That last scene made me think that Vytas doesn’t even outlast Tina!

 

The Story.

 

It’s rare that Jeff pushes a theme so forcefully so I was very pleased to see how his words were used during the challenge. Viewers are often left with the impression that the winner didn’t have to do a lot to get to the end but with Jeff’s words, we can be sure that this season’s winner will have been shown earning it, fighting through tough circumstances to get that title of Sole Survivor. So, let’s look once more at the players to see which are fighting to earn it.

 

The Characters

 

The 3 Redemption Island residents would certainly be earning it if they get to the end, needing to survive many challenges. As a purist, I always say that anyone who has been voted out doesn’t deserve the title but that isn’t production’s opinion and their’s is the one that counts.  We still have to consider them as contenders but they aren’t really part of the story.

 

Although he looked like a great contender for a long time, Vytas has lost most of his plumage lately. In recaps, he was never credited for saving himself while he was on Galang and he was very arrogant when he talked about being unbeatable in the F3. Now, we even heard his brother saying he was too negative to have something good happen. Technically, Vytas has those 2 extra days in the game that he wanted in order to turn them into 12 days and the million dollars. That is the lifeline his backers will be holding but we have to consider that Vytas considers that he isn’t in the game anymore.

Aras has the positive energy to have good things go his way but does he have the will? His quote: ‘I’m going to come back and win the game. Or I won’t” isn’t exactly a model of determination. He could very well get half his wish and simply come back. He was presented as being totally oblivious to the threats around him so we have to question if winning his way back would be enough to portray him as a worthy winner.

Tina is facing two tough competitors but RI has been the land of puzzles so we can’t count her out.  Still, her story pretty much ended when she started playing Blood, messing her game up completely.

 

e1-katie

:Katie certainly isn’t very loud.”

Katie: While her mother’s edit in Australia was dubbed “the dog that didn’t bark” we hear Katie barking but she certainly isn’t very loud. Yet, even that unimpressive bark is still worse than her bite. It’s funny to note that she attended all but 1 pre-merge Tribal Councils but no one even thinks of comparing her to Denise or even Samoa’s Natalie. The editors didn’t want us to think of her as a true survivor.

 

Laura: She is certainly playing hard and being the first Redemption Island returning player to make it to the end would certainly show that winning the game wasn’t easy. She’s set a nice record for a RI returning player by lasting 3 Tribal Councils without immunity but she went against her daughter’s advice of not playing hard. Laura, like Monica, most likely switched her vote for Vytas during the first TC so, while we didn’t hear about it, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was also considered a loose cannon.

 

Caleb and Hayden: They are poster boys for not earning it. The tribe was talking about eliminating their former closest ally and they just sat silently, two bumps on a log. With Laura’s plan to split votes, Hayden and Caleb could have joined Tina, Vytas and Katie to form the new majority but we see that they are confident of their position in Tyson’s alliance. Hayden said it was time to start playing Survivor. His fans are still waiting to see him turn the key in the ignition. Of course, there’s still that rainbow image from episode 1 and it seems more and more like Hayden has a better shot at simply finding a pot of gold than earning it. As for Caleb, it’s strange that his boat scene with Vytas amounted to nothing more than two guys wasting…I mean spending time on a fishing boat. The Big Kahuna sounds more and more like one of those tall fisherman’s tale.

 

Ciera: If Ciera finds herself in the Final 3, she could certainly make a case that it wasn’t easy to get to the end of Survivor. She was in danger in all the Tadhana Tribal Councils before the swap and she’s now a member of the last pair standing which means she has a big target on her back. She will probably also be the only player to vote against her loved one which no one would have expected before the season started. It was one of Jeff’s big questions and she will demonstrate that it could be done, that it should be done when the time is right. Yet, despite that hard road and her great edit, there’s very little the viewers saw of her game. She witnessed the game more than she played it. Then Jeff’s comment that she gave up during the IC made it on the air, killing her story. No more can she be seen as the spunky little girl that fought hard. I expect she will be voted out just before the end, the last Tadhana standing.

 

Monica: Has Survivor been hard for Monica? Absolutely. We’ve heard her telling us it was hard the moment she saw Colton land on the same beach. Would she have earned her victory? Jeff calling her Culpepper tells us he thinks so and we have to agree. She saw threats and she acted to get rid of them.  Her paranoia really serves to blind Hayden and Caleb to their true position in the alliance.  I don’t know if it’s an act, if Tyson and Monica agreed to make her appear to be at the bottom but I really doubt that she is really at the bottom.  Tyson and Monica are together or else she would have already voted against him.  So, is Monica the winner?  I think she will choke instead. Her big moves have been called bad strategy and her paranoia makes her appear to be a bad player despite her claim that she is the best player there. That poor choice of words could cost Monica many votes. She should have said that having made no deals made her the ideal partner, not the best player.

 

Gervase: He’s certainly played just as hard as Tyson and proved he can change history. Hatch, in fear of a women’s alliance, seriously considered aligning with Gervase at some point during Borneo’s end game but realized he couldn’t give the man from Pagong the smallest hope of making it to the end because Gervase would charm the jury into giving him the money.  So, in effect, we have been waiting 13 years to see what Gervase would do in front of a jury! Can he win the votes? Of course he could. Right now, we have to say that he is the one that is most likely to win them all! Tina said Tyson and Monica lost all those votes. Vytas promised his vote to Tyson if he kept him around but Tyson wound up rejecting the offer. Gervase is a shoe in to win…so, at the risk of missing a Denise or a JT again, I will say he won’t win. Denise and JT were shoe ins to get the votes but there were lot of doubts surrounding their chances to make it to the end. We’ve seen Gervase as a member of the Final 3 ever since the Coconut Bandits scene was presented so where would be the suspense? Of course, Survivor isn’t always about the suspense so…

 

Tyson: This is where we find the suspense though. From the moment Rachel was voted out, Tyson showed a resolve that we hadn’t seen in him before and he tells us about all the dangers that lurk in every new situation and how he will have to deal with them. Most of the time, (Hatch, Brian, Chris, Tom, Yul, Earl and many others) the editors reserve that treatment to the winner, especially in a season where a theme of needing to earn the title has surfaced. It could be objected that Guatemala had a theme of deserving players and that Rafe was the one that exposed his strategy but let’s not forget that Danni was always mentioned as a deserving player.

There are questions on Tyson’s chances of making it to the end and even more on his ability to get enough votes so it won’t be easy and he will have to earn it. That should satisfy Jeff’s theme.

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