SurvivorSurvivor: Blood vs Water

Survivor: The game remains the same – 11/02/13

Once more, Jeff told us that the Returning players were in control of the game but a surprise switch shook things up, leaving Ciera as the only woman on Tadhana and Vytas the only man on Galang.


On the new Tadhana, Tyson and Gervase went to work on tarnishing Aras’ image.

<Gervase: “Way to cut away the shade, Aras.”

Tyson: “You’re just digging yourself in deeper, Aras.”>


While at the new Galang, the plan was obvious…

<Monica to Kat: “It would be, maybe, Vytas?”

Kat: “Vytas because he is not a girl.”>

..but after Galang lost the immunity challenge, Kat was caught turning on her alliance.

<Monica: “If Kat’s gunning for me, I have to do what’s best for Monica.”>


At Tribal Council, she made one final plea but in the end, her betrayal was too much to overlook.


The recap reminded us that Ciera and Vytas are important to the story. However, it was quite noticeable that Vytas’ social game wasn’t featured. The vote was totally presented as being Kat’s own fault while Vytas finding a way to the women’s hearts didn’t play a role despite what we saw last week. Of course, it could be that the recap didn’t want to make Vytas appear too safe for tonight’s vote but it still feels that an opportunity was missed to underline Vytas’ social skills.

On Tadhana, two things were remarkable:  Jeff distributed the blame evenly between Gervase and Tyson. Last week, the confessionals showed that Tyson was much more actively working on tarnishing Aras’ image but now it appears more like a shared mission. Also, there is the choice of words. “Went to work” is a much more positive way to describe Tyson and Gervase’s actions than what we could have heard. Jeff could have said “used dirty tactics to hurt Aras” or maybe “took cheap shots at Aras”.  The viewers are left to consider that Tyson and Gervase are playing smartly and within the “ethics” of the game.


Looking Out For Number One.


Redemption Island – Night 16

e7-hayden Kat is more important than the game.[/caption]


The initial segment was entirely devoted to Kat. Since she’s no longer part of the game, it’s pointless to look at the way she was edited. We can almost jump ahead to the challenge because none of this affected the story of Survivor. 


I’ll just point out that the first thing Kat was heard saying when she approached RI’s shelter was: “At least I didn’t cry”. Then, the next morning while sitting on the beach, she cried in front of all the viewers. She shed more tears at the arena.

Kat did have the episode’s title quote when she said “Vytas swooped in for the kill.”


Hayden told Jeff that his relation with Kat was more important than the game…but he didn’t take her place. They agreed he had a better chance of winning the game and Kat said that no one had a bad thing to say about Hayden, that he is a good player and an honorable person.

(Those are actually things that make someone a threat on Survivor!)


I noted that Tyson and Monica joined Hayden in encouraging Kat.

Aras offered some comfort to Ciera who was the only one pulling for her mom.

John had no fans so he received only timid “golf claps” when he won.

Laura started looking at John’s completed puzzle, upsetting Kat who accused her of cheating. Jeff corrected her, saying that looking over was perfectly fine.

All the women of Galang then told Kat to look over at Laura’s puzzle, trying to help her win. Gervase started describing the shape of the pieces that Kat needed.

There wasn’t a single clap accompanying Laura’s finish; we only saw Ciera’s relief.


John told Jeff to give the clue to Monica and she put it in the fire once more.


I wonder if there was really no applause when Laura finished her puzzle or if the sound was simply turned off. It seems that there had to be some claps even if they weren’t heartfelt. It reinforces our impression that Laura will return to the game because it gives no indication on how Laura will be received. From our perspective, everyone except Ciera is against her. However, with Kat gone, Hayden, Tyson and Gervase shouldn’t have a problem getting her on their side and she should prove useful in their fight against Aras. 



Tadhana – Day 17

We saw Tyson giving a hug to Hayden, saying that he had been there himself.

Hayden’s confessional started here. In camp, we saw Tyson telling everyone that it was harder than they figured but they just had to win and go in with huge numbers.

Aras added: “I know Vytas will come with us.”


Hayden’s confessional: “I feel responsible…I feel guilt and responsible because Kat is a little naïve sometimes…I was in a position to help her but I didn’t do it…With Kat being gone, you do feel a little bit of relief because I can play my game. I don’t have to worry about somebody else; I’m only looking out for me now. I can play a little bit more cut-throat if I have to. I think it can strengthen my relationship with this tribe because the majority of the tribe over here, they don’t have loved ones. It’s one more thing that we all have in common. Except Aras.”


When Hayden said he only had to look out for himself, the camera showed a close-up of Aras who, contrary to Hayden, is looking at playing with his Loved One. I really think that is why we heard Vytas’ story a few times: Vytas abandoned Aras once before so maybe he will abandon him in this game also. Making things worse, this was the moment that showed Aras going out on his own to meditate, leaving the single players alone to conspire.


Despite the sunny day, the editors inserted the image of clouds moving in before we joined Aras on the hill where he was meditating and giving a confessional in voice-over: “I couldn’t have asked for a better situation when I came here than to have two of the people that I was really, really tight with, Gervase and Tyson, to come on over to this side. Obviously, Vytas is my core partner at the end of the day. When we get back together, I feel we have a really dominant position in the game. I just need to let go, listen, be intuitive and I will be guided to the right places. Every day when I meditate, I visualize Jeff’s voice saying: The winner of Survivor – Blood versus Water: Aras. I do my best to just trust that I am being taken care of.”


This confessional ended once more with the image of clouds superimposing themselves on Aras’ face. Maybe he is visualizing Jeff at the reunion but, symbolically, his vision is clouded. We were going to hear how Tadhana planned to “take care” of Aras so letting us hear right at this moment that Aras considers that Vytas is his core partner validates Tyson’s words. 


Tyson: “Are you guys ready for this? We could be going to merge by tomorrow and I don’t know whose name you hear most out of Aras’ mouth? Maybe you can guess: His brother. All he wants to do is get to Vytas. That’s a problem for me. They have been the most dangerous couple in the game since day 1 and they are one of the only couples still left in the game. (a rattling sound was heard just then and Ciera was shown) We have to take out Aras or Vytas sooner than later.”

Gervase reinforced the idea: “His final 4 already has two spots taken: Him and Vytas. There are only two other spots in the Final 4.”

Tyson: “The merge is going to happen soon. If we stick together, we can get to the end; no problem. I’m telling you know: I will stick with all you guys to the Final 5, 100%. My word.”


Ciera had a confessional: “I was really shocked that it was Tyson that proposed the plan. He seemed very close with Aras. But, on the same hand; Tyson’s smart. Something right now we all have in common is that we know we can trust each other because we don’t have anyone over there that we trust more.”


Tyson then asked if everyone was cool with the five so that they could have smooth sailing.

Caleb and Hayden both said they were solid with that.

Tyson concluded: “We have to have each other’s back. I am very happy.”



Tyson in confessional: “Aras was playing a good game at first but everyone else is recognizing his main motivation right now which is get to Vytas and then take control of the game. Meditate all day long if that’s what you need. I think he is getting really comfortable (the camera showed Aras deep in thoughts, looking indeed very comfortable) that plays right in to my game plan.”


We are right back to the same question we had last week: Do you think that Aras is painted as the underdog that will prevail or is Tyson going to outlast Aras? I think that we now have all the material we need to say that Tyson will succeed. Aras isn’t shown as a smart player anymore, going off on his own and hoping others will take care of him. Instead, we have lots of moments for Tyson to explain his whole strategy and no one contradicts him, no one says: “That idiot, Tyson.” When we heard the rattling sound after Tyson mentioned one of the last couples left and we saw Ciera, I was expecting Ciera to say something like: “if Tyson is going after couples, I have to worry because I want mom to make it back”. On the contrary, we heard her praising his intellect. We don’t hear Caleb or Hayden in rebuttal confessionals. The viewers could think that they aren’t afraid of Aras giving Vytas a spot in the F4 because Caleb and Hayden are part of Vytas’ Final 3 but we heard them say that they are solid with Tyson’s F5. If viewers thought that Aras was in good shape because all the doubts were being placed on him, now the picture has gotten clearer: The doubts are actually on Tyson’s plan working because Aras and Vytas are staying in the game and will both make the merger.


Galang- Day 18

We are halfway through the episode and this is our first look at this tribe. The kooky melody even showed that this scene wasn’t to be taken too seriously.  New Galang is probably not the victor’s tribe.


Is Katie into Vytas?


Vytas and Katie were waking up on the beach which made Tina very happy.

(If I heard it right, Tina said: “Good morning, princess” so it was funny to hear Vytas’ manly voice answering: “Good morning to you too!”)


Tina had a confessional: “Even though he’s not part of our alliance, I’ve really come to like Vytas. He’s been through the school of hard knocks and lots of time when people get knocked down, they pick themselves back up and they are a whole new person. I would be honored if he took an interest in Katie just because he seems like a straight up guy. However the guy that gets Katie is going to have to hit her over the head with a club and drag her into his cave because Katie is not a very flirtatious girl. But, one can dream: I am ready for grand-babies.”


Matchmaking? Is this really the Outback’s Benedict Tina? No it isn’t because this Tina is playing “Blood” not “Water”, messing up the goal of her game completely. 


Vytas had a confessional: “The tribe swap was tough being the one guy with a bunch of girls but yoga has taught me a lot about dealing with the feminine energy…I have a feeling I have an idea of what’s going to help ingratiate me in the tribe more. In my experience, women love a bad boy but what they like even more than a bad boy is a newly reformed bad boy. I am putting forward the part of me that I want these women to see. I’m a likable person, I am a trustworthy guy. It’s all very calculated but it’s working.”


He was telling Tina and Monica that he had trouble with the dishonesty of the game, that he was such a trusting person.

Laura (solo): “Vytas: He’s a wonderful man…Coming into this game, one of my insecurities was my social game…I’m kind of a quiet girl that’s slowly coming out of my shell and I am coming more at peace with where I am in the game. I like Vytas but he is a threat so I am willing to stick with the girls if that is what the consensus is.”


I think that beyond setting up the vote, we are being told that Vytas underestimates the women. He thinks he knows how to fool them into trusting him but we keep seeing that he isn’t really succeeding. He is still their target and, while he will stay safe once more, we saw that it wasn’t through his own actions. Like Kat before her, Laura will soon get herself voted out.



Galang – Day 18


We saw the army of ants once more.


Katie and Tina brought in tree mail which led to a confessional by Vytas: “Going into a challenge with two women in their forties, one woman in her fifties against a tribe of five strong dudes and a girl is tough. We are underdogs no matter how the cookie crumbles in this case. I’m not getting my hopes too high.”


This goes back to the “One armed dude and three mothers” episode where we figured that the players shouldn’t underestimate the women. Vytas was talking about the challenge but maybe we should interpret his words another way: He shouldn’t get his hopes of winning the game too high.


Tina asked the women what would happen if they lost. They agreed it would have to be Vytas so they had to win.

Laura pretty much repeated her previous confessional while Tina was seen behind a cloud of smoke which, on Survivor, often pictures a player lost in the fogs of war.


The Challenge


Ciera sat out for Tadhana


Some comments to consider:

“Caleb trying to get out, he’s tied up behind Monica. Vytas has got his brother Aras tied up. Monica is blocking Aras, she’s not letting him through. Aras cannot get through. Vytas has gotten him tied up.”

“Tina falls short again, in the dirt.”

In the end, it was very close between Tina and Tyson but the one armed dude won it for Tadhana.


If any of Jeff’s words can be seen as foreshadowing the end game then the least we can say is that it doesn’t look good for Caleb and Aras, who will be all tied up, or Tina who will fall short.


We finally had a reward scene and it showed Tadhana racing towards the picnic table.

Hayden had a confessional: “I started off the game with a four game losing streak in challenges and that sucked. Now, we’re on a roll. Tadhana can’t be stopped right now. I feel great and the future is bright.”


After telling everyone that they can do whatever they want, Tyson had a confessional: “I didn’t need this reward at all. I don’t think I’ve gone to bed hungry one night since I’ve been here. We’ve been eating rice like crazy. I’ve convinced everyone that eating maximum amounts of rice is the proper strategy and everyone seems to just agree. I’m a three time veteran of this game so of course what I say is going to be right.”


Their thoughts turned to the other tribe, Tyson saying he didn’t know who was in charge because the Kat vote baffled him. Hayden thought Vytas was safe but admitted he was wrong when he thought that Kat was safe.


It was probably not the best thing to hear that Tyson isn’t suffering from the rigors of the game but it showed that he even had a strategy when it came to food. We certainly see that it has been working so what he says has to be considered right.




Vytas is going home?


The five of them were huddled when Laura turned to Vytas and said: “I respect you so much…but we’ve decided the four girls that you are the next one to go.”

She went to give him a hug as if that would be comforting. Even Katie was rolling her eyes at such a rookie mistake. Laura went on to say that he was a threat but he was so wonderful that a blindside wouldn’t be fair.

She should have realized that no one was jumping in to confirm the decision or even offering words of comfort to Vytas.


Laura had a confessional: “Vytas is the odd man out…It was really hard for me but I feel that I did take the bull by the horn by taking more of a leadership position in the tribe. I may have put a target on my back but, hopefully, I’ll get some respect out of this and the women will look up to me a little.”


We saw Monica going to the well with Katie and heard her confessional: “I am flabbergasted. Ha! Ha! I mean, Survivor 101: Don’t you meet with your alliance before you make an executive decision to tell someone that they are going home? This morning, I felt like I could trust Laura B but now? I just don’t know. Blindsides are terrible and I’ve been a victim of one too but this game is built on trust.”


Tina also had a confessional: “The plan was to vote out Vytas. You know, we are getting down to the nutcracking…He’s a threat just because everyone seems to like him. However, Laura B is unpredictable and that makes me nervous.”


Vytas was in the ocean with Tina when he asked if it was his time. She told him that she didn’t think so, adding: “I think that it could be Laura B.”

After thanking Tina, Vytas had a confessional: “When Laura B told me it was my turn tonight, for a moment I thought that I was screwed but Tina is telling me that Laura is going home. It would be super easy for them to write my name down on the parchment tonight but I feel like I’ve done my due diligence when it comes to building trust with these women. It’s not going to be me tonight. Here’ the deal: It’s like a pride alliance: Females are in control but they always need an alpha male to keep around otherwise there is no future for the pride.”


It’s very interesting to hear the way Vytas phrased his position in the game considering the abundance of alpha males that will soon come together. Will the females retain control and if so, which male will they choose? Are we back to one dude and three moms going to the end? If so, I suspect it won’t be Vytas who is already a target but Tyson. Due diligence would have required one more step from Vytas: He should have taken onto account that Laura was right, that he was their target up to that moment. The women didn’t base their vote on trust but on predictability.


Hearing her mom talk about the repercussions of both choices, Katie had a long overdue confessional: “Tonight, we have to make a tough decision. In my head, I think it’s very smart if we get rid of Vytas because, at some point, you have to think long term and if he makes it to the final Tribal Council, it would be difficult to beat him. But, at the same time, Laura B, she’s sort of the wild card. She makes these decisions without consulting anyone and, to keep someone like that? That could hit the fan and explode right back in my face. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen but whatever goes down, it’s not going to be pretty.”


Katie talking about Vytas making the Final TC will encourage his fans and it opens the possibility that he outlasts many of the other alpha males but it’s much too early to consider it as a clear indication that he makes it to the end. We even heard Katie say that they will be thinking long term “at some point” so we are still confident in our assessment that this is only a reprieve for Vytas.


Tribal Council


If Laura had been to enough of these, she’d realize immediately that she was in the hot seat instead of Vytas. Production is so predictable.


Immediately, Laura told Jeff that they are four girls in the tribe so she took it upon herself to let Vytas know he was going.

Vytas said it was discouraging to hear but he was trustworthy. “To get that kind of news? It didn’t feel good.”

Monica agreed with Jeff that it was risky to let someone know, adding we “might want to talk about it first.”

Katie told Jeff she agreed with Monica and that they were all taken aback.

Vytas defended his cause by saying: “It doesn’t matter how many girls you have. It matters how many trustworthy people you have.”

Tina told Jeff that Vytas was a lot like his brother, that he reeked of honesty and sincerity. She added: “Could they be fooling you? Absolutely. This is Survivor. But, if you were going on instinct, that’s what you would feel.”

Vytas told Jeff that his story would come down to the swap if he was voted out, that Aras would still be proud of him but bummed that he was out.

Laura told Jeff that a reason she wanted to vote for Vytas is because of his bond with Aras who won before.

<That seemed to set alarms in Tina’s mind>

Laura told Jeff that her story would be mostly of trying to fit in, letting people know who she is.

Tina said she does like making friends, that it is part of the joy she takes out of a hard game.

Before Jeff sent them to vote, Vytas said the vote should come down to trust.


We heard Vytas voting confessional: “It was a neat speech you gave to me but it should have been switched around.”


Vytas was laughing when Laura made the walk of shame.

Jeff’s last word was a hard reminder: “Every time you open your mouth, you risk saying something that will get you voted out.”


The Story


Despite all the twists introduced this season, we have been constantly reminded that this is still the same game. Playing too hard, too fast has proven to be wrong while making solid alliances and earning trust have worked very well. While we wondered for a while if the theme would favor players playing with their Loved Ones, the point was clearly made that Survivor is an individual game, that it is easier to make the cut-throat decisions playing only for yourself.

What if they are wrong? The premiere left us with the impression that players had to balance compassion with competition. That theme doesn’t exactly fit with a season ending by telling us that Survivor is truly an individual game.

Looking back at the premiere, the three rookies that we noticed talking before their partners, Hayden, Ciera and Vytas, have indeed grown into big roles. That tells us we shouldn’t forget about the hints we picked up in that first episode.

One thing is sure: The Veterans will need all their tricks to come out on top despite the fact that they have dominated the game so far.



The Characters


We now know that the player returning to the game will be either one of the Lauras or John. On a side note, it was fun to see that we were right, that there would have to be a place for two Lauras on Redemption Island! Letting us hear them both have the same reflection while voting for each other meant that they had to join up again. There really wasn’t any other way it could have come down. Now, truly, there is only place for one Laura and, as it should always be, it will come down to determination…mostly. We’ve seen this challenge before (Was production hoping that Candice would make it here? She did well twice before in this same challenge.) As Yul explained, elephants don’t climb on trees so holding on to a pole favors someone light with small feet. It makes us feel good about our prediction that Laura Morrett will make it back even if we didn’t see her (or John) on RI this week.

Laura Boneham’s last words told us that she won’t align with the women so that could be a set-up for her return but it seems too little too late. Hearing her say at TC that Rupert will be proud of her sounded like her last chapter was already written.


Tina: By showing her playing matchmaker instead of Survivor, we should say that Tina has lost all chances of winning the game but her story could still be about adapting to these new circumstances. Playing “blood” has distracted her but she is in such a safe position right now that there is time to show us how she will evolve into someone that can handle this new type of game. If the morale of the season isn’t that Survivor is an individual game then Tina really stands out as the player that is conflicted between compassion and the competition. If the females regain control of the game after the merger we know she will have adapted but will she win or will she celebrate too early? The images of that challenge could come back to haunt her.


Caleb: While he was the star of one episode, Caleb has reversed to anonymity. We have nothing to add to our previous assessment because the story doesn’t include him anymore. Just like we heard in the challenge, Caleb’s story is boxed in.


Katie: A simple tag-along, at least she had a confessional but it told us that a showmance isn’t in the works because she wanted to vote against Vytas.  It was a bit disappointing to hear that Ciera didn’t even mention Katie when she talked about having no one on the other side that she trusts more.  Still, if the women do regain control, we should see the two Tadhana women reunite.


Aras: “I do my best to just trust that I am being taken care of.” That is probably the worst quote possible for someone that had been playing well enough to be considered for the win. Letting us hear that Vytas is his core partner even excused Tyson and Gervase, legitimizing their plan to boot him before the most dangerous couple in the game unite. The editing had prepared us for this reunion but now we know for sure that it will happen. Therefore, the doubts weren’t on Aras chances but rather on whether or not Tyson and Gervase can succeed.  On the surface, we hear that Aras and Vytas will now dominate the game, that it is too late to stop them but there is much more brewing below the surface.


Vytas : His wonderful story continues and it should get him many votes for fan favorite (although fans of Big Brother will be stuffing the box for Hayden) but can it get him the win? While everyone loves Vytas and we are reminded that he would be a huge threat, we see that Vytas is much too sure of himself. While he talks a big game, saying he knows how to ingratiate himself with women, we immediately hear the same women say that they still want to vote him out. Vytas sees himself as the alpha male that will guide the pride to a good future but his own pride blinds him to the fact that he isn’t trusted. He said that the vote should be based on trustworthiness but Tina’s words to Jeff showed that they are well aware that his honesty and sincerity are only a ruse.

Jeff’s final words always have importance (and if they don’t, the editors make sure it seems like they do!) so it should be remembered that Vytas keeps talking too much at Tribal Council. Kat and Laura didn’t stand a chance so his interventions sounded a lot like overkill. At the very least, it told everyone that he is very eloquent so he shouldn’t be given a chance to make it to the end.


Ciera : Her edit is really remarkable because it can go in so many different directions. Will she simply be a follower in Tyson’s 5? Will her spunk lead her to new allies? Will she convince Katie to leave her mother so that they can use the rookies’ numbers against the veterans? Will she get her mom in Tyson’s 5?


So many things are left unsaid, the most notable one being that she hasn’t given us a confessional about her mother being on Redemption Island. We did hear her talk about it with Jeff in the arena and the swap overshadowed her own situation once she returned to the game but it still felt like something was missing. Laura won’t want to go with Aras but Ciera might tell her that Tyson is gunning for couples. Their safest option could be the Galang women where Ciera would rejoin Katie and Laura can come to terms with Tina and Monica who had nothing to do with her elimination. Yet, we hear nothing of these possibilities. Maybe Ciera’s mom doesn’t return to the game but it feels more like building the suspense, making us wonder where they will go?  The most likely scenario is that Laura joins Tyson’s five for at least one vote. If so then Aras is in real trouble.



Tyson’s passenger

Gervase : He is simply the passenger sitting besides Tyson, the player with his hands on the wheel. Not only that but he is already getting part of the blame for working against Aras. We heard him give a real solid argument in favor of Tyson’s proposal so he is still a factor in the story. That argument was about the Final 4 so Gervase clearly has the end game in mind which tells us he should make it there.


Hayden: His first confessional went directly to the theme of the season and how Survivor is still best played individually. The thing about Hayden though is that we never hear his plan. His second confessional at the reward was only narration about the tribe’s situation. While receiving the narrator role indicates that he isn’t in immediate danger, it gives him no end game connections. There was a perfect occasion to let us in on his thoughts when Gervase said that Aras already had one spot taken in his Final 4. Hayden must have talked about this in a confessional but it wasn’t considered useful to the story.


Monica: She is the one that talked most often about looking out for what is best for Monica. Does that make her the top candidate? Some will say yes but we heard that she has trust issues. She booted Kat and Laura because she didn’t trust them but their confessionals told us that they were much less dangerous than Vytas. We have to conclude that Monica will look in the wrong direction, that her trust issue will guide her to players that aren’t going to help her.


Tyson: He is clearly given the role of mastermind this season. We hear his thoughts and the players tell us that he is smart so there is no doubt that Tyson will make it deep into the game. But will he win? In this season about Loved Ones, isn’t the player gunning to eliminate the couples the Villain instead of the Winner? Shouldn’t the winner be presented as someone showing some compassion?

To this argument, I will say that we were reminded in this episode that Tyson is playing for Rachel. We saw him go to Hayden to say he understood, having been there himself.

Rachel’s elimination was not only a way to weaken Galang because Tyson was one of their strongest but also a way to weaken Tyson personally like Vytas pointed out at the time. In the compassion versus competition theme, Tyson doesn’t fit simply because of circumstances that have nothing to do with editing. It’s still quite remarkable that we heard Tyson’s motivation came from Rachel’s elimination. Motivation was the one thing lacking from his previous incarnations where he didn’t take the game and his rivals seriously. This time, we heard him say: “It was hard to see Rachel at Redemption Island… Now, I have to get all the way to the end…” That was his Survivor moment and we will certainly see a clip of that confessional played back when Tyson rushes to Rachel for the victory hug.

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