In the recap, Jeff said that the returning players were in control of the game and that they were led by a majority alliance of 5.
Their only worry was knowing their loved ones were being voted out.
At Redemption Island, Brad Culpepper was taking all the blame
<We heard Monica saying she didn’t believe Brad would make it to the merge>
For the Loved Ones, things went from bad to worse…when they lost their 4th immunity challenge in a row.
<We heard Laura saying that she wants Ciera to succeed but that she has a tribe counting on her.>
Facing another Tribal Council, the men planned to take out one of the girls…
<Ciera’s name was mentioned>
…but Caleb caught wind of another plan.
At Tribal Council, Caleb took the game into his own hands…
…convincing Tadhana to take out their leader, Brad.
<The camera focused on Caleb and Ciera when Jeff mentioned the big power shift>
If the returning players’ only worry is seeing their loved ones voted out then we can say they don’t have many obstacles on their road to the end. The narrative, the animal imagery and the choice of music still point to an end game domination by the original Galangs. However, note that we were reminded that Laura M. was committed to her tribe, already suggesting that this vote might not have been their best decision.
For Tadhana, it was a pretty straightforward narrative and, while it suggested that Caleb had more time to plan his move (he was shown in camp when he caught wind of another plan, not at TC), the first scene of this episode would tell us exactly what happened and how the players reacted to the move.
Threats and Assets
Tadhana – Night 10
Cierra’s first confessional![/caption]
We witnessed the tribe’s shock and Ciera gave us the first confessional: “What the heck! Tribal was unreal.” (The image briefly switched to Katie asking Vytas if he was upset. He said no, that it was Brad’s time) Ciera’s confessional continued: “Now I see that Hayden and Vytas had no clue that Caleb was going to do that. So, if I can get Caleb to switch over with me and Katie then me and Katie have the numbers. Either way, I am happy to be here another day.”
Ciera’s story continues to grow and we see a player thinking ahead even if this episode will not put her in danger. That is excellent for her longevity, especially considering how this episode will turn out. The viewers are already being told that Ciera can indeed fly on her own despite mom’s worries.
After telling the group that he hadn’t planned the move, that the situation just festered, Caleb gave us a confessional: “Going into Tribal Council I didn’t feel good about Brad anymore. I’d never trust him again so I just brought it out.”
Hayden told everyone that he had been blown away and then he had an interview: “Caleb pulled a fast one and, in doing so, screwed me and Vytas. I don’t know if that means that he’s now with the girls and Vytas and I are on the outs. I have no clue where I stand right now in the tribe.”
Caleb’s “I just brought it out” tells us once more that he acted on impulse, a sign of playing fast. Hayden’s confessional tells us that the guys have lost trust in Caleb and goes back to his comment in the last TC: “It’s really hard to regain someone’s trust once you distrust that person.” I’d worry in Caleb’s place.
We first heard a new confessional from Brad: “Caleb made a good move. Kudos to him. He knows the game. I guess he learned a little bit from Colton. I was a little nervous…I blindsided John and Candice had choice words the last time I saw her.”
After that, we saw a repeat of last week’s final scene: Brad raising the white flag and Candice telling us about the sweetest voice.
They added a confessional by John who first remarked derisively about the five guys alliance. His confessional: “I was expecting to see Brad at some point. People try…to make bold moves and sometimes it bites them in the ass. It looks like it did bite Brad in the ass so I feel a little bit of vindication there.”
Candice had another confessional: “Brad said no hard feelings but his wife voted me out on day 1 and he voted John out when John trusted him so I have no love for him. Brad can say all he wants but, in this game, it’s kill or be killed and he’s on our island now. I have my chance to put him out of the game for good.”
Galang – Night 10
Laura was giving a nice massage to Aras.
We heard her confessional in voice-over: “In this game, you need to get a group of people that you trust and you need to get people to like you. That’s what I am trying to do in this game. I like Aras and we like being around each other because we can just calm each other. I hope that Aras has the same feeling and the same trust in me that I have in him.”
Aras had his confessional: “I think Laura M, thinks that she is playing me by cuddling up next to me which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not thinking: Go ahead and flirt with me and now I’m going to treat you in my alliance. Right now, essentially, my core alliance is me, Monica, Tina, Tyson, Gervase. So, that’s three people that aren’t in the five: Kat, Laura B. and Laura M. I think Laura M. she’s smart, she’s perceptive, I think she knows that she’s on the outs so she’s doing whatever she can to get herself in the good graces of the people she thinks will help her get further in the game.”
If Laura didn’t read Aras right, we can say the same about Aras. Nothing in her confessional was threatening or sounded like she had ulterior motives. We cab say with certainty that Aras had a vote in his pocket if he wanted it. In a scene evoking memories of Sugar hounding Colby in HvV, I wonder if Aras will regret booting Laura. Colby and Aras…two guys who preferred their moms over women that were offering themselves to them!
Meanwhile, observing the scene, Laura B. was resting alone by the fireplace while we heard her confessional which started in voice-over: “Ha! Nighttime at camp. All of the veterans on the tribe have this unspoken bond: They’ve all done Survivor before. I have not. I’m still slowly getting to know everyone. I don’t have that total emotional connection that they all have and I still do kinda feel like the outsider, the new girl in town. Makes this game very difficult.”
I suggest that Rupert’s wife presence in this scene was mostly to set up the questions regarding the episode’s boot. Contrary to what we have seen from Katie and Ciera, I didn’t sense any longevity associated with the precarious role given to Mrs Boneham. The episode’s outcome looked more like a “wait until next time” for her than the start of an underdog story.
Even before Jeff offered, Monica asked Brad if he wanted her to take his place.
Macho Brad had none of it: “I’m going to battle, I’ll get back.”
Brad then addressed Galang: “I’m not here because I’m a jerk.”
Monica told Brad that her tribe knew that.
Jeff then pointed out that the negative energy thrown his way came from Candice. Jeff found it funny because Candice hadn’t spent a second at either camp.
Candice defended herself by saying that she was simply repeating things that had been said to her.
<The rattling sound inserted here was my first clue that I had been wrong about Candice’s story>
Monica told Candice that it was a good lesson to learn because she had hurt her feelings.
Not backing down, Candice said her feelings were also hurt when Monica wrote her name on day 1.
The most surprising part of the challenge was hearing Galang, starting with Kat, giving advice to Brad and cheering him on.
Candice was off to a quick start, Jeff (erroneously) saying that she owned Redemption island arena, that no one had beaten her.
What about her husband last week?
Candice slowed down towards the end of the bridge so John and Brad started on the puzzle before her.
John proved once again that he should have been doing puzzles for Tadhana as he finished first quite easily.
In what appeared as a nail biting finish, Brad stayed alive giving great joy to Galang while Tadhana sat in silence.
Candice told Jeff that this was the hardest moment for her. John felt miserable. They hugged and she threw her buff in the fire.
Last week, I wrote: “The inclusion of that line (a fun story to tell the kids) can only have two meanings: Either the editors wanted to twist the knife in the wound when Candice heard it replayed at home or they wanted to remind her that it was indeed a fun story with a good ending.”
I obviously chose the wrong alternative! The thing with being wrong though is that it offers us a surprise as gift. It seems that the complex story built around the Codys was meant for John, not Candice. At the risk of being wrong again, I will say, like Monica, that I don’t believe Brad will make it to the merge. Granted, we had a change of narrative with Brad getting somewhat of a redemption by being cheered by Galang and, more importantly, by Jeff when he took his defense by accusing Candice of repeating malicious gossip without even knowing Brad. However, we won’t forget that Brad was the bully, the one that gloated over taking John in on day one and then just throwing him away. The story is set up for John to get his revenge…I think!
In a repeat of last week, John gave the clue to Monica who put it in the fire, saying it wasn’t good.
The camera closed in on Hayden as he observed the burning clue, undoubtedly telling us that he’d like a clue or two.
Anyone want to bet that the tribal switch suggested by the previews was a last minute idea, the result of the strategy used for the idol clue. Production had to feel that Galang was too comfortable so they decided to screw with them. It would be much riskier to throw away the clue after a tribe shuffle.
Monica was thanking her tribe for the support given to Brad.
Tina said she would be very surprised if he didn’t come back in the game.
Monica had a confessional: “Today was probably the most demoralized I’ve been out here. I didn’t think Brad would be there but he will be fine, He’ll pull himself up by his bootstraps and he’ll come off Redemption Island and we can meet up and scramble our way to the end.”
Tina also gave us a confessional: “Brad and Monica are a very tight couple and that’s very threatening.” The two women were seen at the water well where Monica assured Tina that whatever happened with Brad wouldn’t affect their situation. Tina’s confessional continued: “I think Monica realizes she doesn’t have her guy out here as a back-up anymore so I think she’d going to step up her game play a little bit. I can’t say I 100% trust Monica. She’s either going to be a big threat or she is going to be a great asset. I just haven’t determined which one of those she is yet.”
This confessional shows us Tina’s deep understanding of people and that she is taking her time to evaluate her allies, not playing too fast. Unlike others, she isn’t ready to give her trust to Monica and knows it can go two ways. Unfortunately for Tina, we’ve already had hints that single players will be dangerous to those with a partner. Tina seems to think that Monica is only a threat if she is with Brad but she could be more dangerous on her own. Hearing that she will either be a threat or an asset suggests that Monica will be the key to the season. Like Dawn in Caramoan, Lisa in Philippines and maybe even Kim in One World, whichever side Monica chooses will be the winning side.
Tadhana – Day 11
Ciera had another confessional: “The game of Survivor has so many layers to it. There’s the basic layer of having to survive: Having to find food, having to find shelter, dealing with the heat. I haven’t brushed my teeth but, on top of that, having injuries. Scrapes on our legs. I’m covered in bug bites. I’ve never had so many, on my face, on my neck, on my back. We’re beat up. I don’t know if it can get any worse. At this point, we are losing, at this point our bodies are disintegrating. We’ve had it rough.”
Katie was having problems with her feet: “From wearing my shoes all the time, I got tenia which is like athlete’s foot. It burns and you get little sores and they can be very painful when you walk.”
Ciera commented on Katie’s feet: “I feel like she could break her toes off. They are red, they are crusty. Her toe nails are falling off.”
Vytas also added his comments: “It’s not something I choose to look at, it sickens me a little bit but I feel bad for the girl. We’re all licking our wounds, our egos are a little bit bruised from all this losing and, if we keep losing, how do I align myself at this point? How is this going to shake out and how do I make sure I come out on the other side as unscathed as possible.” Vytas then was seen with Caleb resting in the boat out as sea. Vytas said he loved Ciera’s spunk to which Caleb said he felt like she was his little sister. Vytas’ confessional continued: “There is no point in this game where anybody will ever be 100% with Caleb after what he did. Somebody that can turn on a dime like that, as Caleb did in Tribal Council, voting out Brad, is somebody that you have to really finesse and make sure that they feel OK emotionally. I can read people pretty well but I can’t get a read on Caleb, this quiet woodsman from Alabama. It’s important right now that I ensure Caleb is still with me so of course I’m trying to be nice to Caleb.”
It was Caleb’s turn to have a confessional: “After blindsiding Brad, I am in a position to where I can swing to the girls or I can swing to the guys. Do I feel powerful now? I think the word I heard is Big Kahuna! I think I hold a lot of power with my vote. It’s good to be the swing vote.”
This was a very interesting overview on the psychology of Tadhana. The easiest one to analyze is Caleb and the juxtaposition of his confessional on top of Vytas’ comments suggests that “Pride cometh before a fall”.
For Katie, we see that she is stuck in the moment, thinking only about (with?) her feet. While it can make us sympathize with her, it doesn’t give her any longevity.
Ciera has much more complexity, narrating the events but also transposing it in the whole context of the game of Survivor. Add the fact that both Vytas and Caleb made positive comments about her (Vytas loves her spunk while Caleb thinks of her as a sister) we can say that Ciera will go far in the game.
Vytas is even more interesting and his confessional takes us to the question of the merge. Hearing him say that he is trying to figure a way to come out of it unscathed suggests that it won’t be easy. Either he will manage the merge (or the swap) to his advantage or it will be his destruction. If he does manage to get to the “other side” unscathed then we will have to consider him as a possible winner again.
Hayden wasn’t shown in this scene.
Tadhana – Day 13
Vytas was doing yoga on a hill.
It was a beautiful scene, quite serene and the music, with a lot of flutes sounding new age, spiritual, really set the mood.
Vytas: “Since we voted Brad, it’s been so peaceful. It’s just a different energy around camp. I like hearing nature, I like enjoying this lagoon and Brad, a lot of the noise he came with, kinda polluted it. Just enjoying this peace and quiet is great, man! I’m never been anywhere more beautiful.”
The whole group was then seen on top of Vytas’ hill and Hayden was heard saying that he wanted to see the team chemistry without Brad. Vytas said the losing streak had to end. He went on to say that they could win if they tried their best.
Ciera had the last confessional: “I am so nervous going into the challenge. If we lose the challenge today and I have to come back here, it’s scramble time again because every single week I haven’t stopped (?) and this is my last shot. To win this next challenge would be sweet and perfect timing for us. Perfect timing.”
Once more Vytas and Ciera stand out in Tadhana. Devoting a scene to Vytas doing his yoga reminded us of Coach and we know how important he was to the story every time he played. It never ended well for Coach though so this could be Vytas’s swan song, the beginning of the end of his story arc. The way the sibling rivalry has been set up, we expect Vytas and Aras to meet so if he is eliminated, it should be after the merge but the swap could also be fatal.
Ciera, on the other, hand, reinforced her own underdog story in an episode where she wouldn’t be in danger. Her edit reminds me a lot of Erinn, the hairstylist that admitted being out of place in Tocantins. Like Erinn, Ciera’s nice role could be explained by being the last Tadhana standing.
Once more we saw a wink exchanged between Ciera and Laura.
Asked who was sitting out, Kat said she wasn’t sitting out so Monica and the two Lauras went to the bench.
Before the challenge started we heard Laura M and Monica saying they hated sitting out.
Gervase first went against Caleb who won it with his first toss.
Tyson took on Hayden and while we did see that the shoulder was bothering Tyson, he won it on his second toss.
Next, Katie beat Kat even if she almost came out of her bikini bottom during the slide!
The smiling Brothers Baskauskas faced off once more and this time Vytas won giving Tadhana a 3-1 lead.
Tina raced Ciera and showed that the returning players hadn’t said their last word.
Caleb scored a second point for Tadhana as he defeated Tyson this time.
Hayden got his revenge when he scored the winning point over Gervase.
They showed restraint in their celebration but it wasn’t noted by Jeff.
Of course, they chose the steaks over fishing gear even if Jeff seemed to disapprove.
Laura B. had a confessional as soon as we rejoined the tribe in camp: “This is my first Tribal Council but these guys have experienced it so there’s the nerves, first of all of going to Tribal Council and then the nerves of Oh! My God! It could be me. The first tribe ousted me right away and who’s to say this tribe won’t too. My strategy is just being very aware, keeping my eyes open all the time: Who is with who? What is going on? Try to mix it up.”
We saw her standing next to Tina and Kat, the two women that had participated in the challenge. Tyson was also nearby. Laura told Kat: “Your sweet friends were kind of bitching about you doing the challenge.”
Tina deflected the accusation by saying that nobody likes sitting out of a challenge.
Kat had a confessional: “Laura B., like what are you talking about? I looked to my left, I looked to Tyson; he’s baffled. When you know someone is at the bottom, all you can do is accommodate their conversation, make them feel better. She’s at the bottom so she’s going to say whatever she wants to say.”
Tyson then gave us a confessional: “We have the core alliance of me, Aras, Gervase, Tina and Monica and we are a solid five. Kat also feels like she’s in that alliance of five (we see Kat just then talking to her One World partner, Monica suggesting why she feels that way) and Laura Morrett has no clue what alliance is going on. (Laura is shown resting in the hammock, humming, which stressed her blindness) Right now, the plan is to vote out someone that everyone is super annoyed with and that’s Laura B.”
Hearing that Laura B. is super annoying isn’t the way to set up a likable underdog story. She had a reprieve but the story points to her not escaping her second Tribal Council.
Laura and Aras were next seen out in the boat, trying to catch fish. Laura asked Aras about the vote. Aras simply said: “Laura B, is the easy one.” Laura M. readily agreed.
Laura had a confessional: “Aras is the one that I completely, explicitly trust in this game. We don’t talk a lot of strategy, we don’t need to. Drop a name, tell me who it is and let’s go, let’s do this.”
As if in response, Aras gave us a confessional: “Laura B. is a very easy vote out. Everyone feels uncomfortable with her but, right now, easy votes are often the dumbest votes in this game. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean that we should do it.” We saw the army of ants again when Aras talked to Tyson. Tyson said he was thinking about voting out Laura B. Aras countered by saying: “If we put Laura M. on Redemption Island, she might beat Brad which would make Monica an asset for us.” Aras’ confessional continued: “Right now, Monica has got her husband on Redemption Arena and if Brad should lose…and not come back in this game, she’s a wonderful asset to have; she has nowhere to go. Laura M, is great in challenges, she’s great in puzzles. If she goes to Redemption Arena and knocks out Brad then Monica is ours so Laura M. seems like the best choice right now.”
The two guys tried selling the idea to Monica who hesitated.
Monica (solo): “Laura Morrett’s name is being thrown around. Could she beat Brad at Redemption Island? That’s my worry. It’s an odd position that I am in. Laura B. would be an easy win at Redemption Island for Brad. Laura M. she’s going to be a challenge.”
Before going to TC, Aras had the last confessional: “Tonight, I want Laura M. to go home but it’s not only my decision; it’s the tribe’s decision. People on my tribe know that I am playing the game. And the more I try to manipulate a vote, the more danger I put myself in.”
This was a very interesting segment especially in what wasn’t shown: How much did Aras have to do to sell the boot to the rest of the tribe? We saw him manipulating only Tyson and Monica but what about Gervase, Tina and Kat? We can also wonder if Aras miscalculated, missing the fact that Monica would be playing as a single, with the singles, if Brad is eliminated.
As Galang entered Tribal Council, the camera focused on Laura B. right before we saw a snake uncoiling to attack. Was it to suggest that Laura B. should have been the target? It’s fun imagining that it was.
Jeff first turned to his oldest “friend” Gervase, saying the game had changed a lot since he had played. Tina was shown nodding.
Gervase said: “It’s crazy that I am back here again, in front of this fire, in front of you…I came into this game expecting to play a certain way…but that is gone. These people make moves. They are wheeling and dealing from day 1.”
Tina said: “I remember thinking on day 5 that I had played more in five days than I played my entire season in Australia. It’s going that quickly. And the Blood versus Water thing? If you are playing this game just you then you can play balls to the walls but it’s not just you.”
Monica said the stakes were higher now when she gets to a duel and people are wondering who will have power at the merge, who will be playing as a team of two.
Aras said that he was letting Vytas do what Vytas needs to do and that he didn’t know if there was space for him in this tribe or not. He added: “I have to shore up all these relationships.”
Laura M, agreed: “There’s a time when I have to cut the apron strings and say: Ciera, you got to fly on your own. It sounds very cold but right now, this is our blood.”
Gervase was asked if Laura’s actions, beating her daughter in challenges, proved her loyalty to this tribe.
Gervase said that Laura and Ciera were close and that it was threatening.
Probst bluntly asked Laura B.: “Do you belong out here?”
Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, I really enjoy Probst’s prodding. Laura M also seemed to like the question.
Laura B said she felt very much a part of this tribe and the decision making process.
Kat’s expression, representing the audience’s point of view, was in disagreement.
Monica agreed though, saying that Laura had been with them since day 1.
Jeff said that was what people say before a blindside.
Mrs Boneham’s confidence wasn’t shaken.
Laura M added another thing: “She hasn’t been to tribal Council before so she hasn’t felt the sting of you putting our torch out and saying the game is over. That is still stinging in everyone of us.”
Jeff really liked that so he ended the discussion on that note and sent to vote.
Tyson turned towards Aras as if asking if the plan had changed but Aras was stone-faced.
We saw the two Lauras voting, both saying there was only room for one Laura on the island.
Guess what that made me realize? Look for the answer in Laura’s character analysis.
Laura M. winked at Aras when he came back from the voting booth.
It wasn’t long before she realized she had been duped. She looked shocked when she went to grab her torch and only Kat looked upset.
Laura never looked back on her tribe, never said a word.
Jeff sent them back to camp with this thought: “I would expect nothing less from a group of returning players than a blindside straight out of the gate and it illustrates that you can never predict what is going to happen next.”
The game is really boiling down to the theme of Blood versus Water and the players’ struggle to identify the threats from the assets. Some are already playing as “water” pairs, newly formed pairs coming out of the circumstances of the game. Will these pairs turn out to be bigger threats than the “Blood” pairs that haven’t had a chance to play together yet? “This is our Blood now” said Laura Morrett and maybe it will stay that way for some. Aras tried to turn Monica into an asset but she was already solidly into his alliance. Could his action turn her into a threat? She likely won’t be playing as a team of two anymore which means she’d be a better ally for the Coconut Bandits. Outside of RI, there are only three pairs left but 6 votes, at the merge, represent a very solid bloc if they stand together. Shouldn’t Aras and Tina try to shore up their relationships with Kat? They are lucky that she feels part of the alliance but how long will that last?
Laura B.: She isn’t a factor in this game and, like Jeff said, she really doesn’t belong in any category. We heard that she is super annoying so no one will want to play with her. While that would make her a super goat to drag to the end, she has no longevity signs associated with her edit in the way that Sherri had in Caramoan, never mind Phillip in RI who succeeded Clay and Dreamz as the king of the end-game goat clues. The mention that there wasn’t enough room for two Lauras on the island made me think that there will indeed be two Lauras soon on Redemption Island which means Morett has to survive at least one week.
John, Brad and Laura Morrett: The three players on Redemption Island are getting close to the returning point. Monica doesn’t believe that Brad will make the merge and, while it could be misdirection, we have to agree with her. Through the story he shared with Candice, John seems to have a role to play down the line while Laura has to stay at least one more week in order to have two Lauras on Redemption Island!
The eventual returning player is most likely one of these three so it’s interesting to note that John is the hardest one to categorize. Who would he join? We know that Brad would join Monica and Galang who smartly cheered him on. Laura would undoubtedly side with Ciera and be a threat to Galang who so unceremoniously sent her away. John is almost a total free agent even if he would feel more comfortable with Vytas, Caleb and Hayden than anyone else. Would he trust them though? It’s highly unlikely but where else could he go? Ciera and Katie? Maybe, but they’d be trying to fit in a new alliance themselves.
Threats or Assets?
Kat: This was the first episode in which Kat played a role. She obviously didn’t like the way the vote turned out but it seems she went along. Does that mean that Aras had to manipulate her to get her to vote against Morrett? Will that make Kat distrust Aras? Nearing the merge, she could soon find herself part of a team of two but will the “Blood” pairs coagulate? Fortunately, Vytas trusts Hayden but we all know that Vytas does is own thing and that may or may not include Aras.
Katie: She has two pairs to rely on: One Blood with mom Tina. One Water with Ciera. Will she bring them together or will she have to choose between the two? It’s unfortunate that we haven’t heard her thoughts on the game but Katie seems trapped in the moment. The merge, her rescue vessel, is closely approaching. If she makes it then she’d suddenly find herself in a much safer environment because she clearly isn’t a threat. She could be an asset to two opposing sides but there is nothing to make us think she will play a key role in the outcome of the game. Maybe we will see that Katie, unlike Ciera, hasn’t cut the apron strings and will simply side with Tina.
Caleb: A possible asset for Ciera and Katie, a definite threat to Vytas and Hayden, the Big Kahuna would be a good person to eliminate. Swinging between two sides has often been a way to bring those two sides to agree on eliminating the threat. We were told that no one will be able to trust Caleb in the future just before we heard him say that it’s good to be the swing vote. Caleb should have talked to Big Tom before starting the game!
Hayden: He forms a solid pair with Vytas while his Loved One connection with Kat hasn’t factored in any storyline up to now. Still, Hayden felt uncomfortable after the last Tribal Council so, if he doesn’t turn Ciera and Katie against Caleb, he will need to make new bonds and Kat thinks she is inside Galang’s main alliance. Could her naivety hurt Hayden’s game? Will he trust the people that Kat trusts and will they, like true veterans, turn that against him? Hayden has had a consistent, nice guy edit but he wasn’t heard during Tadhana’s character scene so is he really important to the whole story? Note that Hayden’s best confessionals happened just before TC so that could be the extent of his role. Once Tadhana stops to exist, maybe he will be the one sent to RI. The strong guy often leaves around merge time.
Gervase: He was mostly used to comment on the evolution of the game in his first Tribal Council in 13 years. I was almost hoping to hear him ask Jeff about the treasure chest that was missing on the set! I said pre-season that we should soon know about Gervase’s longevity by noting if he was part of the main alliance and he has fulfilled that requirement so I see Gervase going to the end. Being someone that enjoys irony a lot, I’m happy to see that Gervase could be heading for the Finals as the goat instead of the one that everyone likes. His relative absence in the first episode where Galang had to be wheeling and dealing doesn’t bode well for his winning possibilities but doesn’t hurt his chances of sitting in front of the jury. The Coconut Bandit is certainly an asset for Tyson and still an unknown threat to Aras and Tina.
Monica: She is playing a pivotal role in this story and it’s interesting that, from the start, we saw that she had the most solid bond out of the 10 pairs. Brad immediately talked about helping her by throwing challenges and Monica offered to switch places with Brad. Like Tina said, Brad and Monica are a very tight couple but it seems that Monica will soon be a single player. Aras thought that would make her an asset but Tyson is already counting on using single players to create numbers against the pairs. It would be very easy for Tyson to turn Monica against Aras by simply explaining why Aras targeted Laura Morrett. We would see the full fury of a woman scorned. Like I wrote above, it feels like Monica will play a key role in the outcome of the season. In her solid alliance of 5, Aras and Tina still have partners on the other side but the Coconut Bandits are singles. Will she, like Dawn and Lisa, be the enabler that will open the door to someone else’s victory or will she, like Kim, find the best option for herself? Right now, I see her more as the enabler because she hasn’t given us any end-game talk or even a simple winner’s quote.
Wheeling and Dealing:
Ciera: In actuality, Ciera hasn’t done much to save herself. We saw that it was Brad that pointed the target on Marissa and John, Vytas that planned for Rachel’s elimination and Caleb that turned the table on Brad but we still hear Ciera saying that she is fighting hard to save herself after every challenge and we heard that she has spunk. Her edit is perfect for the role of likable underdog and she should grow into a nice end-game player. Her story seems to lend itself more to be the last Tadhana standing than winner though because Galang is still dominating the game. We would need to connect a lot more with her for Ciera to become an acceptable winner. For one thing, we’d have to hear her wheeling and dealing before Tribal Council instead of just hearing her alluding to it.
Vytas: He has a very nice role to play this season but it would be very surprising to see him come out on the other side unscathed. He will probably be forced to sacrifice some of his bonds and then he will be left without recourse when the veterans take over. We heard John, on Redemption Island, mock the alliance of 5 guys so I don’t expect any of them to last to the very end but Vytas has received the biggest editorial investment so he should be the last of the 5 voted out. He is still a strong contender but his precarious position makes us back away from his chances to win at least for now.
Tina: Both her confessional and her Tribal Council intervention went directly to the theme of the season and the episode. She was the one wondering about Monica’s status as threat or asset and she told Jeff how much having a Loved One on the other side complicates what used to be an individual game. That tells us that Tina will be there for the long term. It seems that Tina needs “Blood” to beat “Water” though. Monica, Gervase and Tyson represent unknown threats right now and they could overtake the game. The story, up to now, has favored those that have been ready to break the Loved Ones connections, the ones that have made new connections but that would make for an incomplete story. I doubt that we are being told that Survivor is a game in which Loved Ones has no role to play so the pairs must certainly have their moment. The main question is how will the alliance of 5 react when joined by Vytas and Katie? Tina will certainly have a role to play at that moment and maybe it’s good that we know she loves Katie but is more interested in the competition. Tina could be the one to turn to the “Water” pairs, the Coconut Bandits and start playing the game individually before Katie gets the boot.
Tyson: He was the one shown talking to Aras when the vote was decided and we heard his appraisal of the whole tribe. His role as the “Coconut Bandit”, the single guy that wants to use the other singles to take over power from the pairs, is still unknown from his close allies so he can be a huge threat to the “Blood” connections. It will be quite interesting to see how he relates to Monica when Brad gets eliminated. Will he throw Aras under the bus? Will they wait for the right time to dethrone “King Aras”? With Gervase and Monica, he would be well served to let the King sit pretty for a while after the merge but will he be patient? Patience hasn’t been Tyson’s modus operandi in Survivor.
Aras: The question we have to ask is: Was Aras portrayed as a smart player or one that made a big mistake? I know many will see him as the smart player but then why were we shown that Laura trusted him completely? He had a vote in pocket and the episode told us that he simply threw it away. His reasons were questionable considering that John has shown greater skills at challenges than Brad. Did they need to send Laura there? It probably worried Kat unnecessarily and maybe it showed Gervase and Tina that he is there to play the game a bit too much. However, if Laura did beat Brad. like the “no room for two Lauras” comments suggested, then the move made by Aras looks great. Is he our winner? If Laura Morrett had been given a bigger role, I would have said that she was treated like a “Victim”, a player that had no chance to win against her tormentor, so that would look bad for Aras but Laura wasn’t edited to be well liked by the audience. Still, she played a big part in the “Blood versus Water” theme, the mom that had to let go of her daughter, a daughter that looked tragically frail but had spunk. I doubt that Aras won’t have to pay for dismissing an ally, one that would have fit in better in his alliance than any of the singles player.
So, it seems that the top contenders are Monica, Tina, Tyson and Aras but which will win? It’s interesting that we can’t really say yet even if I favor Tyson. Even Ciera and Vytas have roles that could carry them to victory but they are trailing a bit behind the top contenders in my mind. The merge is coming up soon and we’d like to decide by then so the next few episodes will be key.