As Jeff described the season’s premise, we saw a few pairs of players as they were being brought to their respective destinations. Aras and Vytas, Brad and Monica, Tyson and Rachel, Kat and Hayden were the first four pair shown while Rupert and Laura were on screen when Jeff told us what the players didn’t know, that they would be playing against each other.
Indeed, the initial twist practical joke played out mostly at the Pirate’s expense.
The first player that Jeff introduced was Gervase, saying he was returning from the very first season
Gervase: “I’m one of the originals…This time, I’m going to win.”
Marissa was quick to shoot him down: “It’s cute that he thinks he’s going to win after 13 years.”
Jeff then went to Kat, saying that her instability cost her the game. He also used the time to present Hayden as the winner of Big Brother.
Hayden: “Big Brother is Survivor in a house. So, as far as training or preparation, I’m going to be more prepared than anybody else who hasn’t played this game.”
Kat: “Hayden has already won a show before. This is my time, my game.”
Maybe as a prelude to a story that will show us that Survivor is quite different, we heard Hayden saying: “This is nuts” as they entered the jungle and were “greeted” by an angry monkey.
Jeff then moved to Laura who had played like a mother to her tribe in Samoa and now she would have to split her time with her daughter, Cierra, and the game.
Cierra: “I think that our ability to balance each other out is going to benefit us.”
Laura: “She is my heart and nothing is harder than seeing somebody that you love suffer.”
Next came the “fan favorite” Rupert who never made it to the end.
Rupert: “I am returning to Survivor for my 4th time.”
Laura: “This has always been about Rupert.”
Rupert: “Now, it’s time for Laura.”
Jeff told us about Colton’s controversial statements, his mysterious illness and that he didn’t have many fans.
Colton: “I don’t know how people will respond to me. Last time, I played with a big ball of anger. My goal, besides winning, is to show a different side of me.”
Caleb: “I’m worried about Colton’s reputation because he pissed a lot of people off but I know a different Colton. This is going to be like a redemption for him.”
Jeff then presented Candice who is now a doctor and so his her husband.
Candice: “We are two people who have been very successful and it could be something that people perceive as a threat.”
John: “Absolutely. We are young and athletic so we are going to have a big target on our back.”
Monica was presented as a former NFL wife who played the game for herself but must now share the spotlight with her famous husband.
Monica: “Normally, I am Brad’s wife but, when it comes to Survivor, I am the wily veteran here.”
Brad: “I am going to play second fiddle to Monica. I am the young rookie.”
Monica: “I am going to win and, this time, I brought some ammunition.”
Tina has her sights set on a second title but her daughter Katie has plans of her own.
Tina: “I’ve told Katie that our love transcends this game but our family is very competitive.”
Katie: “There can only be one winner and there are two of us and that poses a very difficult situation. I would love to beat my mother at her own game.”
Jeff reminded us how Tyson had been blindsided in Tocantins and had voted himself out in Heroes versus Villains. “Now, with girlfriend Rachel, he hopes to redeem himself.”
Tyson: “I’ve been disappointed by Survivor twice but this time, I feel like I am in a pretty good spot. In a game like this, I think the loved ones aren’t going to be prepared and I am going to slit their throats.”
Rachel: “Survivor was always Tyson’s game. I never thought in a million years that I would be out here. With the loved one season, it’s going to be a game changer. It’s going to be crazy out here.”
(As she said that, we saw Tyson carrying her to shore on his back which could symbolize her game)
Aras was presented as the likable winner of Exile Island and is playing the game with his brother Vytas who has a much darker past.
Vytas: “I was a drug addict. Heroin definitely led to my arrest. I spent a year in LA county jail. Aras still has a lot of resentment against me.”
Aras: “My brother was pretty abusive when we were younger and that inspired me to beat him in things I couldn’t beat him. I’m not sure going on Survivor made my brother envious but winning it certainly did.”
Hayden could have been given the lead only because of his notoriety but then Brad was only showed as Monica’s ammunition. If we look at the rest of the episode, it will come clear that Kat was merely an adjunct to the Big Brother winner.
Cierra’s words showed her naivety and would probably apply more if they were on the Amazing race than Survivor. Since Laura cannot stand seeing her daughter suffer, can there be any doubt that she would take her place in redemption island?
We jumped in immediately in Vytas’ life story and that means one of two things: He’s an early boot or he has legs. Since the tribe’s dynamics puts him in a nice place, we are led to count him as a long term player and could very well turn out to be our Villain.
Gervase was put down quite brutally by his niece which foreshadowed what was about to happen.
Tina and Katie had a nice bond, symbolized by the close-up image of holding hands, but Tina reminded us of her competitive spirit and we would see more of that later on. We are told immediately that these two are out to play the game.
While Rupert’s “Now is time for Laura” prepared us for his decision to go to Redemption Island, we realized that Tyson won’t be playing for his girlfriend. Her remark that she never expected to be on Survivor could be telling us that she is totally unprepared.
Candice did have a big target on her back.
Finally, with Caleb mentioning Colton’s possible redemption, we have to expect to see the One World contestant going to that island soon.
As the pairs realized they’d spend a night in the jungle alone, it was funny to see how each was portrayed:
– Gervase asked Marissa for suggestions, something to take as meaning he hasn’t learned much.
– Kat suggested they shouldn’t be sleeping off the ground
– Colton just sat there which is how he mostly acted in One World.
As Jeff went on, we had more confessionals:
– Kat told us that the most important thing in her life was to beat Hayden.
– Gervase said Marissa was a threat and that he had to get rid of her at some point.
– Vytas: “I want to win the money, I want to win this game and I am going to beat Aras to do it.”
While Vytas mentions winning the game, it seems that these three had the wrong focus: Beating their loved one won’t be enough. There are 18 more players to beat.
As soon as the 10 pairs assembled, Jeff immediately went to Hayden so that he could tell us the jungle wasn’t like anything on Big Brother.
Then Jeff told them they would be playing against their loved ones, we saw a disappointed Tina, a troubled Colton, a wide-eyed Rachel, a stunned Laura Boneham and an uncertain Kat.
When Jeff asked if anyone was looking forward to competing against their loved ones, Monica, Candice, Marissa, Kat and Aras were the first to raise their hands followed by Katie who said “sorry mom”.
When Jeff asked Katie about it, she said she was surprised that her mom didn’t raise her hand.
Tina explained: “Competing is great. I think it’s going to be the hardest thing any of us do is to get to that point where the tribes come out and you see your loved one might not be there. I think it’s going to be sad for any of our loved ones to go home.”
Like Tina said, this season will come down to “Competing is great but it’s going to be sad for any of the loved ones to go home.” It figures that the winner will display compassion for the situation but also determination to play the game. Rupert and Brad would soon show too much compassion while others, including Tyson, Kat, Gervase and Vytas showed too little.
It was a nice editing decision to highlight Katie’s “sorry mom” after Tina’s earlier confessional where she mentioned their competitive nature. Add the fact that Tina realized immediately the difficulty of the situation and that she didn’t raise her hand that would show a lack of compassion and it seems we are once more in the presence of the Outback’s cold-blooded strategist, the one some called Benedict Tina.
Brad put his foot in his mouth when he said “If there is a challenge for a tarp and it’s raining every day, and we are going to win and she is on the other team, part of me is going to say: “I need her to have the tarp instead of me.”
Marissa was quick to tell him: “You better not be on my team thinking that.”
Brad (confessional): “I answered with my heart instead of my head and, all of a sudden, I got stares and looks from every person down the line. I’m thinking to myself: Oh! My God! First five seconds of the game; way to go Brad.”
Brad would soon make amends to his tribe for this comment but we saw members of Galang listening to him also. We saw Tyson, Colton, Kat and Gervase on screen as he talked, telling us they realized he’d do anything for Monica. They could find a way to blindside him even if he isn’t at Tribal Council.
Caleb had a confessional: “My heart sank because I know Colton was hoping to have me with him…It was definitely a wake-up call.”
Rachel (confessional): “It was sad but it’s a game and I can play it on my own too.”
Aras: “Vytas and I have such a competitive relationship that there is no way that, if I lose a challenge to my brother out here, that I am not going to hear about it for the rest of my life.”
Rupert: “Watching my wife walk to the other tribe, it was a little bit of a relief and little bit of sadness at the same time. I didn’t have to worry at all about writing my wife’s name down but I also can’t protect her.”
The first reaction we had when Jeff mentioned the double elimination came from Tina making it twice that her reaction was used first.
Hayden (who should have been prepared to expect the unexpected!) was shocked and said it was early to vote someone out.
Colton: “In true Jeff Probst style, he has to twist the knife…Remember me? I’m probably going to be the one.”
As expected, Laura received all the votes shown from Tadhana.
Galang was a little more divided and it seems that attending Survivor functions played a role (or more likely served as the alibi) but there wasn’t any surprise to see Candice get the majority of votes. The surprise was that Colton and Rupert were sparred, Laura receiving most of the minority votes.
Rupert: “Watching my wife get voted out of her tribe just about killed me. Why would they do that? It’s a smack against me, everyone of those scared newbies saying we have to stop Rupert.”
John: “Every time that I saw her name come up, I felt like I was getting kicked in the head. I wanted to do every thing that I could to vote out every single person that wrote her name down and I am never going to forget that.”
Jeff then announced the return of Redemption Island and the swap twist. Again, we weren’t surprised to see Rupert take Laura’s place. What was surprising was Tina’s attempt to change his mind.
Rupert: “To put myself in a position where I am not safe is killing me but I would rather have myself in this position than have my wife. Laura deserves to play the game.”
Tina: “I was really ticked when Rupert switched with Laura. I understand the emotion behind it but we were counting on Rupert. Rupert is a fantastic shelter builder (she was already out of Saboga when Rupert built the worst shelter in history!) he’s a fantastic fisherman. Right off the bat, he weakens our tribe.”
After talking it over, John told Jeff that Candice can beat Rupert so he stayed on Tadhana.
Rupert: “If I can battle my ass off of Redemption Island and Laura is still there, you better watch out because we will be a hell of a team.”
John: “Watching Candice walk off was like having my heart torn out of my chest. The second I watched her walking off, I was like there is nothing that is going to be harder than not doing everything to save my wife’s butt in this game. Now, I have an opportunity to show these dumbasses how big a mistake they made.”
Will John have the opportunity to show them that they made a mistake? It could be the start of a long range story depending on how things evolve, if he ever meets up with Tina, Colton, Kat, Laura and Monica. I suspect Candice will meet up with a few of them on Redemption island and she will show them first hand their mistake.
Galang Day 1
The music, using lots of string instruments, was a theme befitting an adventure while a flock of bird flew overhead as the returning players reached their beach and hugged each other.
Gervase said that they would not be seeing Jeff at Tribal.
A woman (Monica?) joked “I’d much rather see Tyson running around naked” drawing general laughter.
Gervase: “It’s been 13 years since I’ve played Survivor. I think this is the longest layover anyone’s ever had. It’s going to be interesting to say the least. I know I’m up for it though. I was excited to see we had a box with supplies.” Just then Aras asked if they had flint, Tyson was quick to say that he saw how Boston Rob did it. “We can do it.” Gervase confessional continued: “I think Galang is a strong tribe just because we have returning players but Laura is not Galang. She is now but she didn’t start out that way. I wanted to play with Rupert, I didn’t want to play with Laura. If her ass gotta go; goodbye!”
Rupert’s wife showed her inexperience when she tried to open a coconut. She had a confessional: “Joining the returning players’ tribe is very intimidating. All these people are the experts (Aras is shown at this time giving her advice) “I have a lot of pressure on my back. I have to show how tough I am and how valuable I am to the tribe.” Aras then told her that he wished Rupert was there. “I think there are expectations that I am like Rupert but I’m not.”
As they started on the shelter, everyone was impressed when Tyson chopped down some bamboo. They were even more impressed when, with Monica’s help, he got the fire started.
Laura M.: “Being experienced players, we know how important it is to have fire. Don’t worry about your shelter, don’t worry about anything else because, unless you have fire, we are dead in the water. Within 15 minutes, Tyson went out there and started a fire. It’s been non-stop: We have been boiling our water; our canteens are full. We’re eating our rice; morale is good. It’s amazing. We are really comfortable at this point.”
Monica was observing Colton acting like a newby when he went to work with a saw. She had a confessional: “I’ve played not once but twice and both times, Colton’s been out here. He was seen as one of the most vindictive, villainous, mean people to ever play the game.” We heard her telling him that he hurt her to death the last time. She wanted to bury the hatchet and move on. Her confessional continued: “I played with him before, he stabbed me in the back. I’m not going to have happen to me what happened to me before.” He told her she could trust him. They hugged. “As he changed? As he not? I don’t know. Does a zebra change its stripes? Am I once again going to be bamboozled? I don’t know.”
We had very little strategic discussions on Galang. Gervase is out to boot Rupert’s wife, Aras doesn’t really want her there and Monica is worried about Colton. Since they didn’t go to Tribal Council, the editors decided to keep the alliance talk under wraps but there had to be some. We know from Brad that Monica was going to be hitting the beach running but we didn’t see her talking about alliances. Will she find herself on the outside once more? Is her focus on Colton misguided?
Instead of a flock of birds, we had a school of fish greeting the newbies. While the birds were flying in formation, the fish gave the impression of confusion. Even the music was more hectic with percussion dominating the theme. That isn’t an encouraging sign for the newbies but was it only to set the table for this episode? Samoa’s Laura told us that a tribe shouldn’t think about the shelter first yet the newbies were working on the shelter. It seemed like a message telling the viewers that the newbies didn’t have the right priorities.
Brad: “I have lived Monica’s One World experience a thousand times but we are dropped on a beach and woh! There’s nothing here! There are some butterflies but here we go. This is how it’s going to start. So we’re all working hard around camp. The boys are making a shelter, the girls are weaving palm fronds. We have no veterans here so we are going off what our loved ones told us and basically, it was a bit shocking. We don’t know anything. I feel I could be in trouble: 5 minutes into the game, I made a huge blunder about not going 100% in order to potentially help my wife cause she’s now the enemy.”
Brad gathered everyone to tell them that they would have his blessing to vote him out if he wasn’t going 100% in challenges.
Marissa had a confessional: “Brad said he wasn’t going to throw a challenge for his wife but it wasn’t an apology exactly. He’s one that I will have to keep my eye on and keep him close cause it seems he could be a loose canon.”
Just as she said she was going to keep her eyes on him, she lost sight of him! She asked Katie “where are the guys?”
Brad and John were exploring the island and found a waterfall.
Brad had another confessional: “There’s one thing I learned from Monica. She said: “You play this game, you better hit the ground running”. You hit the ground running talking to people. You make connections; you need to get an alliance fast!”
So, he went to work, first with John, selling him the idea of having the five guys sticking together.
John (confessional): “The idea of having the five guys together stemmed from Brad. It’s not a surprise at all: The guy who played in the NFL Football wants to keep his locker room together. But, the more he talks about that kind of stuff and asserts himself as the leader, the more that could potentially end up biting him in the ass later.”
Brad then went to the ex-Brigade member, Hayden, selling him the idea of the all-men’s alliance.Hayden thought it was gold.
Caleb was next and he thought it was genius. Brad even offered him the number 1 spot.
Caleb (confessional): “When Brad got me by myself, he was pretty much trying the buddy-buddy, the bromance-type thing. All guys to the end, blah-blah-blah.” We saw them shaking hands but Caleb went on: “I’m thinking: No, you’re trying to get yourself and your wife to the end and whoever she’s with. I’m not stupid. Whatever. I’ll agree to anything at this point with him because it’s going to shut him up.”
Vytas was the last to join and he was definitely up for it. Brad told him he feared the “John Cochrans” of Survivor: “Those are the people that win”.
Brad (confessional): “I got Caleb, I got John, I got Hayden, I got Vytas and I got me. That’s five. 4 in 9 equals out! No…OK…but 5 of 9 equals in!”
They laughed when Vytas said it was too easy.
As solid as this alliance could be, we already hear that there are cracks. The alliance shouldn’t have a very long life.
The shelter was coming along but not the fire.
Vytas: “There’s no flint and none of us know how to start a fire without flint. We can’t boil our water…I can feel the liquid leaving my body and I’m turning to sludge.”
The two guys talked to Cierra who told them about her family situation, saying that she had her first child when she was 16.
Cierra: “I was actually a teen mom…That was a huge game change for me and my mom. It was really a tough obstacle for us to get through. Embarrassing for my mom, probably.”
Vytas then told them about his jail experiences. Learning that his team mate was a drug addict shocked Brad.
Vytas went on: “My brother was the golden child…Straight-A student while I was the opposite…robbing people every day to get my fix”
Vytas (confessional): “My addiction impacted my family profoundly. Even my relationship with my brother to this day is still not fully mended. This is a great experience that I will have with my brother. The fact that we are on this together is pretty great. I think in a game where trust is the most important part, I wanted to share with my tribe my past. If you want somebody to trust you, you have to let them in a little bit. I don’t think people are going to think less of me. I don’t think people are going to see an ex-con that is conniving and a dope fiend that is willing to do whatever he can to get what he wants. I’ve got 14 years clean…I want to show that there is more to me than a yoga teacher. I think it will strengthen the bonds that I have with them and we can get further in this game.”
As he said that we saw the back of Brad’s head and his back, suggesting he could pay for trusting Vytas. This confessional is typical of Journey Players so it tells us that Vytas will stay in the game for a long time. He has to meet and play with Aras post-merge. The last part was shown with Vytas sitting on the beach watching a beautiful setting sun which tells us that the editors are investing us in his story. More than a simple journey player though, Vytas confessional also had strategic implications. He wants to bond with the others and he knows how to get their trusts. Add that with his stated desire to win this game and that he would do whatever he can to get it and we have a powerful player before us.
Galang Night 1
Colton was talking to the tribe by the fire.
Colton (confessional): “The last time I played this game, I had this mask on. I was rude…mean to everyone…It was all because I was insecure. I’m trying…to get them to understand me…When I was growing up, I was the sweetest kid in the world…I got tired of being called sissy and faggot and queer…I’m trying to change. I’m going in with positive thinking.”
He started to cry so Tina, Monica and Laura B. comforted him.
Monica (confessional): “For all of us to judge what decisions he makes is hard. We haven’t walked a mile in his shoes…If he’s changed: Wouldn’t that be a beautiful story? Then again; it’s Colton Cumbie.”
So, the editors decided to use some more airtime to redeem Colton and show that Monica is still focused almost exclusively on him. Revisiting this story so early makes it sound like a short term one.
Redemption Island Day 2
Candice was chopping a coconut thinking of Kat, Monica, Laura, Colton with each powerful chop!
Note that Tina’s name wasn’t heard.
Candice: “I definitely got my feelings hurt…I’m out for revenge…I’m trying to keep my mind focused…so that I can beat Rupert. Living with Rupert is extremely annoying to say the least. Rupert is either eating or sloshing around in the water.” We see her doing all the chores while Rupert remained seated in the ocean. “Rupert just enjoys the spoils. It’s infuriating.”
Rupert: “I am not going to do what I have done…One of the reasons why I have never an immunity challenge is that I kill myself going out fishing. This is more individual and, if I am going to beat Candice, I need every once of energy that I got. If Candice wants to kill herself…Great! I am not going to and I need to have in my head that I will eliminate her.”
Despite the nice helicopter shot, I have a feeling that this is the kiss of death for Rupert. Showing laziness is never good on Survivor. While Rupert is loved by many viewers, Candice has very few fans so, I take the fact that Candice looked more like the survivalist on Redemption Island as a sign that she will win the duel and eventually get rid of the four time player. Why else prop her up like this?
Tadhana Day 3 (already missing a day in camp!)
Brad and Rachel went to retrieve tree mail.
Brad told us in confessional how excited he was to get tree mail. “Until you’ve gotten tree mail, you haven’t really started the game.”
Galang had Tina and Colton retrieving the mail.
Laura had a confessional: “I feel great going into a challenge. The advantage we have…keep calm…anything can happen.”
Katie had a confessional for Tadhana: “Right away we are trying to think who’s the fastest swimmer, who’s good at sprinting, who’s good at puzzles.” Cierra told everyone that she knew her mom would do the puzzle but that she was better. Katie’s confessional went on: “My mom’s great at puzzles too so she’s probably on the puzzle. I’m on the puzzle so it’s going to be a mother-daughter duel.”
John thought it would be awesome if they were to beat their mothers.
Gervase was telling everyone that the puzzle would be key and indeed it was all that would matter.
Laura (confessional): “Puzzles are my strength and I have the experience of knowing: Think outside the box; how can we do this quicker.” Tina and Laura both knew that Katie and Cierra would be on the puzzle. Laura continued: “…As much as I love her, I am going to beat my daughter at this game. Sorry Cierra.”
I noted that, while Tina was determined to win the challenge, we didn’t hear her expressing her desire to beat Katie like the others did. We weren’t going to see anything that would hint at a lack of compassion from Tina, as if she already knew Katie would be in trouble. Laura was used to narrate the situation but, more than that, she was the one that talked about beating her daughter, choosing water over blood, thus going against the theme of the season.
Galang told Jeff that Tyson made fire. Laura told them it only took 15 minutes.
Brad said he didn’t know if they were telling the truth.
Tyson taunted them by asking “Do you guys not have fire?”
Brad lied: “We have fire.” Vytas even offered to share.
Hayden (confessional): “They probably have fire because they are experienced. We don’t because we’re a bunch of meat heads.”
Monica joined Laura and Tina on the puzzle while Caleb stayed with Katie and Cierra.
Tadhan had better teamwork over the obstacles, but while Brad and Hayden were the ones helping out, Jeff didn’t single them out.
“Tadhana continues to work together very well…John pulling Rachel, pulls Marissa over.”
“The returning players are struggling…Aras is last, on his own. Nobody helping Aras….Gervase having a really tough time in the water…Gervase can barely get up on the platform…Big lead for the new players…Gervase…really slowing his tribe down…Gervase…a horrible belly flop…Aras helping Gervase…
The returning players…don’t know how to paddle…”
An exasperated Colton yelled at Kat: “Shut up and paddle before I hit you with this ___ paddle.”
Galang reached the beach paddling backwards!
Tadhana had a huge advantage but then Galang’s women started on their puzzle and soon caught and overtook them.
Jeff noted that Katie was “trying to find her place…Katie struggling to get her pieces to fit. The women of Galng working together well…the advantage…is gone…The returning players are now in the lead…Absolute collapse at the puzzle stage for the new tribe. Two mothers schooling their daughters right now.”
Galang won immunity and Gervase lost his cool. Turning to Tadhana, he repeatedly yelled: “Don’t let that fool you” until Tyson got to him and brought him back to the group. Even Marissa gestured to tell her uncle that it was enough. Vytas simply said: “See you next time.”
After Jeff handed them the idol and flint, Colton started crying. Jeff asked if it was because he thought Caleb was in trouble or just for sending him to TC. Laura answered for him, saying it was a bitter-sweet moment, knowing their loved ones were in jeopardy.
Brad had the exit confessional: “That guy Gervase, for him to jump up and down kinda in your face; I was “Hey Bozo! Your loved one could go home. You’re cheering about that? You beat us. Great, but it’s like you are beating your own.”
Brad’s confessional continued once we saw them back in camp: “We lost the challenge and it stinks. I didn’t get to where I am in life by losing and I hate to lose.”
(Well, the early 90s Vikings and the late 90s Bucs weren’t exactly winning teams!)
With John, he told the puzzle makers not to get down about losing.
Katie (confessional): “After the challenge, my heart sank to the floor. It’s our first challenge and our first loss. I knew that I was part of why the team lost. I got creamed by my mother and the fact that the three of us, the puzzle people, were the reason that we didn’t pull through at the end, it makes me a little nervous because what are we going to judge the votes off of.”
When Vytas mentioned Gervase, Marissa was quick to disassociate herself from him by saying he was the loudest one.
Marissa had a confessional: “I do think the other tribe was celebrating too much…Yes you won but you are about to send one if us home…”
Vytas assembled the five guys to say they were in a great position.
The way the shot was presented, with Hayden joining the other four in the middle of the discussion, made me wonder if the Big Brother player is truly in that alliance.
Brad, John and Caleb continued the discussion at the water well, Brad saying he was happy Monica didn’t gloat so much. He then said he was “a little spoiled on Marissa right now because of the way Gervase acted.”
Brad (confessional): “Marissa; before the challenge, she was a little off the radar but there is a side of myself that saw Gervase jumping up and down..she’s going home. How do you like them apples?”
Not too bad how this worked out for Brad considering Marissa was the one that called him out originally.
Caleb then had a confessional: “With the puzzle, it was Cierra, Katie and me. Cierra jumped in, she was really helpful, it seemed like Katie was just the extra cook in the kitchen. I don’t want to see Katie go but if the majority’s in then I’m in with it.”
Vytas: “The girls probably know that the guys have bonded; we are not being subtle at all with these women. So it’s important for me to keep my alliances with the girls strong. I’m going to tell those girls which one the guys have decided which one will go first.” Note that Vytas said “alliances”, plural, which tells us he is a sneaky, devious player. He then told Rachel that Marissa was the target, he told Marissa it was Katie. His confessional continued: “Let’s be honest, in the end, it doesn’t matter whoever they choose to vote for because the guys have definitely bonded with each other. I mean, I feel bad for the girls but, at this point, it would be foolish to go against that.”
Brad gave us another confessional: “We are five guys strong. One of the girls has to go. It may be Marissa, it may be Katie, to me they are equal. The girls are both connected to the other tribe. We have to start thinking about who we vote out could potentially affect their tribe.”
Interesting hint that things could quickly turn against Brad if we go back to our earlier speculation.
(Note that Katie was positioned in the “hot seat”, right in the middle of the group, while Marissa was at the extreme left.)
Jeff asked Hayden what had been the most difficult part of the first three days.
Hayden said it was making fire so Jeff mentioned their lie. Hayden admitted their bluff as Brad and Vytas nodded.
Jeff turned to Cierra who said that, despite her mother’s stories, “actually being out here is completely different. I’ve never been this hungry…”
Jeff pointed out they were only 3 days in.
Brad answered that it was frustrating not having fire.
Caleb said the season’s twist complicates thing because “(Colton) doesn’t know what’s going on here and I don’t know what’s going on there. We just have to trust each other that we are going to do the right thing.”
John told Jeff he had “a lot of guilt about this decision.” On the verge of tears, he said that he thought Candice must have felt like he had let her down.
Vytas gave him a firendly pat on the shoulder and John told Jeff that he wanted to keep the tribe strong because the other side wasn’t pulling any punches. He said that, by doing that, it had the advantage that Candice could kick that person’s butt.
Brad told Jeff he didn’t know why the others were celebrating so much. He mentioned that Gervase stood out.
Marissa was shaking her head because she expected him to be more mature and wiser.
Vytas said it added insult to injury. He said that, in previous seasons, teams don’t worry when the other side goes to TC but “tonight, that team is worrying.”
Marissa said she was guilty by association.
Jeff said it would be devastating to be voted out for something she didn’t do.
Marissa wanted to be judged on her own character and performance.
Katie admitted that the guys did really well on the first leg of the race but that the puzzle makers fell behind. “The fear is that, based off of the challenge, that’s something to base our votes off of so there is some fear.” She added that she wouldn’t be surprised if she was voted out.
Brad said they weren’t going only on the puzzle.
When Jeff snuffed her torch, Marissa gave her tribe a prolonged death stare. The camera showed us Rachel, Brad and Hayden’s discomfort while Vytas looked at the stars as if nothing important happened, as if he wasn’t the one that ate the canary.
Jeff noted that their family members taught them well on the art of the blidside but that they didn’t teach them everything since they were at TC.
If the premiere is any indication then this Blood versus Water twist will give us much more character development than we have seen in recent seasons. By the format itself, the viewers have to be given some information on family stories and the connection between players. It started with each player receiving an introduction and at least one confessional.
As for the story itself, it seemed that the theme of this episode was that “Love transcends this game… but we are competitive.” Most of the players talked about their desire to beat their loved ones in competition, only a few mentioned the consequences of a victory. The players that will thrive are those that will grasp the importance of the twists, mostly how one tribe’s decisions can affect the other side. Tadhana decided to hurt one person on the other side but maybe they would have been better served to eliminate someone that had a stronger connection with the other side.
Falling in Love
These players received a lot of attention from the editors. While they will be the main characters early on, it makes it unlikely the winner will be in this group…but there are one or two exceptions.
Gervase: Many viewers were eager to see Gervase back in the game and now they are left wondering what happened to the guy that everyone loved in Borneo. Right away, we were told by his niece that he hasn’t learned much and we have to agree with her. I was expecting to see Gervase making an immediate alliance and maybe he did but it wasn’t seemed important to show. As far as we know, he is playing alone just like in season 1.
Colton: His redemption story started when he told us about his difficult childhood and when Caleb told us about his frailty. It ended when we heard him yelling at Kat during the challenge, threatening to hit her with the paddle. The editors may give him a few more good moments but we will see the old, the real, Colton soon enough. His redemption will be on the Island which awaits.
John: If the opening twist hurt Rupert’s game, it hurt John’s feelings. We heard his rage against the players that voted against Candice so that could set up a confrontation between them but will they ever meet? It could be that some of those that voted against Candice find themselves on Redemption island also and Candice can get her own revenge. Still, John vows to never forget and that puts him on a collision course with Laura and Tina, two players that seem to have the longevity to make the merge. John is in the male alliance but he isn’t sold on it, knowing that it’s only a tool for Brad to make it to the end with Monica. Much more than Rupert’s wife who has all the markings of a follower, this single player is now a free agent and could make surprising moves.
Monica: She was totally focused on Colton so it seems likely that she is missing something. While she thinks Brad could be her ammunition, he could turn out to be her downfall. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone’s life ended by friendly fire. As much as Brad needed to set the record straight with his tribe, Monica had to do it also yet she apparently didn’t sense the danger. That’s how one gets bamboozled.
Brad: He was all over our screen, from his faux-pas during the introductions to the formation of the 5 guys’ alliance and the decision in the end to boot Marissa. Of course, a former NFL player will be featured but the general feeling is that, despite is strong alliance, there are dangers looming around Brad. John and Caleb both voiced reservations about that alliance. Hayden didn’t seem too warm at the idea while Vytas has other alliances already. More importantly, the guys weren’t very subtle about their connection and that could be easily relayed to the other side. If Galang learns that Brad is leading an all-male alliance, they could strike him down by booting Monica. They also heard him saying that he’d do anything for her.
Vytas: He was the star of this episode: We got to hear his personal story, his conflicts with Aras and we also saw that he was deeply involved in the game, He is a member of the majority all-male alliance and he also has alliances with the girls. The scene that showed him alone on the beach was particularly powerful because he told us that they wouldn’t see him as a devious player. Vytas could become a delightful villain and the look he had at Tribal Council is the first sign. Hurting someone by blindsiding them won’t stop him from playing the game all out.
Caleb: Besides all the time spent on his relation with Colton, Caleb appeared to be a smart player. He isn’t fully into Brad’s alliance but he will go along for now and he wasn’t totally in agreement with the vote but he went with the majority. That’s a good plan for now and we were presented his strategy which is always a good sign. While he received less attention than Vytas, his chances to go long into the game are strong.
Let’s Stay Friends (…with benefits?)
These players had a good showing in the episode even if they didn’t have starring roles. We’d suspect that one will benefit from this start and that the winner will emerge from this group.
Laura B.: Rupert’s wife had to be shown because of the initial vote but we did hear how she will try to integrate the tribe even if it didn’t have to be shown. She may not be long for the game, as Gervase said, but as long as Rupert is on RI, Galang won’t want to vote her out. (That, by the way, is another weird consequence of these twists: Laura could outlast some players simply to keep Rupert happy) It will be interesting to see if she gets into an alliance on Galang or will simply be kept around to lure Rupert back into the fold. If she gets into an alliance and the tribe wins enough challenges then maybe Rupert’s words will prove right and it will be Laura’s time. Wouldn’t that be surprising?!
Cierra: She got the opportunity to tell us about her life story which is good but her story was partly about her mother and how that early pregnancy strained their relations. Since we heard that mom would do anything for Cierra then we can say that this served mostly to soften the image of Samoa’s tough woman.
Laura M.: She had a very complex edit: Her first confessional seemed to tell us that she would do everything for her daughter, that she didn’t want to see her suffering but then we heard her saying that she wanted to beat her during the challenge. For now, it seems that she could be Galang’s narrator, telling us about the fire, the shelter and the challenge. Her words also served to tell us that Tadhana had the wrong priorities. All in all, Laura seems to be in for the long haul.
Hayden: It wouldn’t be surprising if his original confidence about being well-prepared for the game served as a prelude to a story of struggles. I’d bet that production would love to show that Big Brother isn’t on the same level as Survivor, that it isn’t the equal to “Survivor in a house”. Hearing him saying “This is nuts” could be the start of that story arc but for now, Hayden had another, more interesting story: He is in the alliance of guys but doesn’t seem totally committed to it. They are, after all, meat heads. It seems Hayden is waiting to join Kat and the veterans to start playing the game. He could be in for a bad surprise.
Tyson: He clearly was on the side of the players that had no love to share for his opponents so that puts him at odds with the Theme of this episode. However, showing him as a true survivalist gives him legs in the story. He was a big part of building the shelter and his ability to make fire was noted nicely. We also heard that he learned from Boston Rob, something that could be a recurring theme like it was for Phillip. Still, Phillip didn’t last to the end. Tyson, once more, should be an interesting character, one to keep in mind.
Aras: As likable as Jeff finds him, Aras showed lack of social tact when he was the lone vote against Gervase and then telling Laura he’d prefer to have Rupert on the tribe instead of her. He had to know that “being a Redskins fan” wouldn’t get the majority votes so he should have tried to figure out how the others were thinking. At least, he repaired that initial affront by helping Gervase during the challenge. In the end, it was more problematic that his story seemed concentrated solely on beating Vytas. His athletic abilities and his easy going manners almost guarantee him a spot in the majority alliance but his mental game had its limitations and nothing here prepared us for an improvement.
Katie: As my pre-season pick, I wasn’t very optimistic going into Tribal Council. Normally, a player that gets called out by Jeff during a challenge isn’t the likely winner but there have been exceptions, Sandra and Chris to name two. Like Katie, Chris cost his team a challenge and was on the block but rallied to win in the end. Are we going to have a repeat of that story? It’s too early to tell. For the immediate future, the TC seating arrangements were interesting. Katie was the secondary target and they sat her right in the middle. They had to know she wasn’t really in trouble, that Marissa was getting all the votes but they made us worry about her, putting her front and center to get all her reactions. She could be in a stronger position within the tribe than we think. However, between Katie and Tina, it certainly felt that their respective portrayals favored mom over daughter. As Katie herself said: This is her mom’s game.
Tina: There were some interesting manipulations going on with Tina’s edit: She had first reaction shots to many of the twists and we heard Katie’s amplified “Sorry mom” when Jeff asked who wanted to beat their loved ones. She was also the first to note the main difficulty of this game: Watching the other tribe come out and seeing that your loved one wasn’t there anymore. Also, Candice mentioned the names of Kat, Laura, Monica and Colton when she was chopping the coconut in frustration but Tina was the first to vote against her and the editors didn’t let us hear her name.
This, more than ever, is a social game and Tina mastered the social game a long time ago. These new twists have many ramifications and it seems that Tadhana already missed an opportunity to affect the whole Galang tribe. I suspect that, if Tina has a say in it, Galang’s boots will hit Tadhana at its core.
Getting No Love
These players were only extras in the story even if they did get a confessional or two.
Kat: She was only an adjunct to Hayden’s story and while she told us she wanted to beat him, it’s doubtful that she will outlast him.
Rachel: Like Kat, Rachel only served to advance her loved one’s story. Her confessionals served only to set the stage for the upcoming events. She clearly wasn’t prepared to play this game and she wasn’t part of the story. She did have an alliance with Vytas though so maybe something could come of that, most likely her blindside.
Being voted out, these players had to be shown.
Candice: While it was expected that she would be the early victim, it was surprising to see her getting a better edit on RI than Rupert. That suggests that she outlasts him.
Rupert: He is still as delusional, thinking that the newbies’ vote was a slap against him. Laura was the oldest woman and she had been on the show before so it had very little to do with him. His decision to take her place was idiotic and his laziness didn’t have to be shown so things aren’t looking good for the fan favorite.
Marissa: The first victim of the season’s twist, she was Brad’s main opponent so it would be interesting to see how she would fare if she is still there when either Monica or Brad get to RI. As unlikely as it is to happen, her confessionals about Brad kind of set it up. Could Rupert lose to both Candice and Marissa? That could be what the editors are telling us.