SurvivorSurvivor: Blood vs Water

Survivor: Tyson Isn’t Unraveling. He’s Winding Up.

The recap

Jeff said : « For Tyson, life in the game was good. He was in a majority alliance with Gervase, Monica and Ciera and found another hidden immunity idol. But, at the last Tribal Council, his game started to unravel.  Ciera flipped on her alliance and for the second time in Survivor history, the game came down to choosing rocks.  Ciera and Tyson got lucky and Katie got sent to Redemption Island.

Did Tyson’s game really unravel?  Judging from the episode’s outcome, it feels that this recap was intended to make us doubt Tyson’s chances of winning the game than to give an accurate account of the previous events.  Life in the game had been good for Gervase also and he even won the immunity challenge so why not mention even him? True, it was Tyson that drew rocks but Gervase’s game would have unraveled also if Tyson had picked white. 

The Lap Dog

Redemption Island – Night 32

Accompanied by intense music, Tina told us that she was happy to see Katie but unhappy that she was out of the game.

Katie surprised them by saying they drew rocks and then had a confessional saying she could have gotten Tyson out but was rocked out instead.

Tina said: “I think it’s great that they were willing to draw rocks.” She added that it will be tough to compete against her daughter.

Katie said they should both try their hardest.



Kasama – Night 32


e13-haydenciera Hayden said he owed Ciera a hug[/caption]

Hayden said he owed Ciera a hug. Tyson (not seen hugging anyone this time) said it was a great play, adding that he was excited to have been part of it even if Katie must not be excited.


Hayden (solo): “Tribal Council tonight, was insane. I’m fighting for my life in the game and the very next moments we are drawing rocks. I realize I’m safe! Best case scenario would have been if Tyson drew the white rock and went home. That would have flipped the script. One thing that’s not going to change is that I’m going to be with Ciera all the way to the end.”


Back in the shelter, Hayden said he had to try something which led to Tyson’s remark: “That’s why you don’t tell an insane person they’re next to go, Gervase.”

Hayden: “Are you saying I’m insane?”

Tyson, jokingly, answered: “The last three days, probably pretty much, yeah!”

Hayden took it with a smile.


Some will say that Tyson showed bad social skills for calling Hayden insane to his face but it felt more like locker room banter than ill-will.  There seems to be a lot of respect between these two competitors even if Hayden has to resort to all the dirty tricks this game allows.


Tyson then had a confessional: “You can’t ever let the person on the bottom know that they are going home. That’s Survivor 101. It gives them a chance to be crazy. You have to give them hope. You have to tell them somebody else’s name because then, the fireworks wouldn’t have happened.”


Monica showed her gratitude to the two guys for sticking with her. She then had a confessional: “We have a good alliance and I feel I am in a good position but I am concerned if they have an idol, one of us is going home.” She brought that concern to Tyson and Gervase which prompted Tyson to say he had the idol.


Tyson had a second confessional: “Monica, she is crucial to my game right now but she will not stop talking and it’s annoying. I was like: Stop playing the game Monica, you are playing too hard right now.”

Monica was still talking about splitting votes so Tyson had to repeat that he had the idol.


Monica, in confessional: “I’m in this with Tyson and Gerv but I don’t know if I have any respect here. I felt like withholding that crucial piece of information of having an idol the whole time, it hurt me and I’ll never forget it.”


This confessional could have been given after Tyson played his first idol but used to create the “Monica might flip” scenario for this episode instead. Tyson certainly held the first idol for a much longer time before surprising everyone during Tribal Council. He’d only had this one for a couple of days so saying he held the idol “the whole time” sounds more appropriate if Monica said it after the first idol was played. If we had heard Monica questioning Tyson that early it would have been a lot like the boy who cried wolf. The impact, the doubt cast over Tyson, is much bigger when questions about the idol are coupled with Ciera’s revelations during the same episode.


Lying in the hammock with Gervase, Tyson wished Monica a good night. As she left, he turned to Gervase and said: “She’s not great at Survivor but she’s really come in handy.”

Gervase laughed in agreement.


Russell didn’t think that Natalie was any good at Survivor either so is Tyson making the same mistake?  The editors did a lot to make Natalie look as good as possible (some will say better than she actually was) while Monica has been shown to be bad at Survivor.  That would seem to answer our question.


Kasama – Day 33



It didn’t pan out the way she hoped.

It started with Ciera’s confessional: “After tribal last night, I feel like a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders. I knew I was number 4 so my mind just went: You know what Ciera, this is the move and if it’s the move that sends you home at least you went out trying to make a move versus riding to the 4 and not being able to say you even tried anything. Obviously, it didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. Katie went out so we are down in numbers 2 to 3 but my mom, just based on her track record, will be the one coming back which would give me and Hayden the numbers and, for the first time, I want her to come out. Hayden and I are bound and determined to find an hidden immunity idol, to win a challenge and to find the crack in the alliance between Gervase, Tyson and Monica. We’re going to go all out because the great thing about my position right now: I have nothing to lose.”


Why place this confessional here? It bodes well for Ciera that she wasn’t ignored after that big move but it really didn’t tell us anything new. The focus of the confessional seemed to be more on Laura and, by talking about her track record, the editors added a new layer of doubt on Tyson’s chances. If that interpretation is right then we should be ready to see Laura being the player returning from Redemption Island.  


Redemption Island


Laura easily won, which caused Ciera to tell everyone: “She’s a freak.”

Tina, despite her qualms, finished second, sending Katie to the chair that Tyson had mentioned. Tina had very nice words about her relations with Katie.

Laura gave the clue to Ciera while Tina told Hayden to win the challenge.


Seeing Tina and Laura leave the arena hand in hand reminded us one of the biggest flaws of RI: Having a chance to bond with all the future jury members, the RI returnee has such an unfair advantage that they should never be allowed to make it to the F3. They will always have to win the last 2 immunity challenges.


Kasama – Day 33.


Ciera read the clue which told them the idol was out on a limb.

(Is this the first time that the episode’s title comes from tree mail? Maybe not but it is rare)

Ciera in confessional, talked about her mom’s win she added: “One of us has to win the challenge, one of us has to find the immunity idol cause then we are safe and Monica, Tyson and Gervase have to vote against each other.”


Hayden had to stop his search because Monica came “strolling up to the well to get some water.”  Hayden added that even if he wins the challenge then Ciera’s going home.


It’s strange that he didn’t realize that if Tyson and Gervase weren’t spying on him then it had to mean they already had the idol. It had been Tyson’s MO to follow the searchers and Hayden knew that so it should have told him immediately that he was wasting his time. It was only after looking everywhere that Hayden said: “Tyson might have the idol.”


Back in the shelter, Tyson and Monica were talking about Laura and Tina, saying they were still against them. Monica repeated Tina’s encouragements to Hayden.


That exchange probably played a role in Monica’s vote.  It always baffle me to see that jurors (or future jurors in this case) do not hide their preferences.  The best way to see their favorite voted out is to advertise their preference.  Monica had to know that Aras, Vytas and Caleb would favor Hayden over her but now even Tina and Laura were in the Big Brother winner’s corner. It would have been asinine to vote with him.    


We heard Gervase’s thoughts: “This game is crazy and changes all the time. After that last tribal Council, I know I have to work to get to that Final 4 spot. So, she’s a wild card. I need Monica to get to the end so I have to do everything to make sure that nothing messes up this three person alliance. I need to do everything in my power to make sure us three are sitting in the final.” Back at the water well, Gervase talked about trust with Monica after which he continued: “She said “I trust you and Tyson to a 10.” I definitely wanted to hear that. The trust that Monica is giving us, you couldn’t pay for.”


You know that when I hear a player mentioning a number, I automatically think that he won’t make it further. Will Gervase be voted out at the next Final 4?  It’s seems very unlikely but then, wouldn’t that leave Tyson with a few moms in the end?     



Playing this game for Monica, not Tyson and Gervase.

Monica had a confessional: “I’m still here because Tyson drew the rocks. They are both my guys. I’ve tried to play very selfless out here and the act that those two guys did was selfless too. What they did last night for me meant something. I genuinely like these guys and I feel that they genuinely like me. I feel that we will have a bond with those two guys forever. But, you have got to be able to separate real life and the game in Survivor so I am playing this game for Monica, not Tyson and Gervase. Monica.”


This sounds more like what Monica would say right after the last Tribal Council, reinforcing our idea that her previous confessional about the idol was taken from a few days ago. 


Hayden and Ciera had to come up with a plan and they agreed Monica was the weak link, that they needed to say anything they could to throw the guys under the bus in order to make her flip.


Hayden’s confessional: “The Hail Mary play for me and Ciera is to tell Monica that Tyson and Gervase are talking crap about her and see if we can get her to flip over to the good guys. Come see the light, Monica. We are the good guys. The good guys need to win this.”


The ethics of the game would be discussed at Tribal Council so this confessional served to tell us that Hayden and Ciera were the ones lying, doing anything they could to throw the guys under the bus. Tyson and Gervase aren’t without their faults as witnessed by Tyson’s “she’s been handy” comment but we are told that Hayden and Ciera are trying anything to get Monica to flip.

(The Others also claimed to be the “good guys”!) 


Day 35 – The Immunity Challenge.


Despite Jeff saying that she was doing poorly in the challenge, pointing out that even Gervase was faster in the water than she was, Ciera kept her calm and, in a move reminiscent of the first challenge of the season, she overcame her deficit during the word puzzle.


Jeff said: “Gervase is no star in the water” and this game of Blood vs Water is pretty much down to water only so that was something that made me go hum. Tyson and Hayden were cruising through this but didn’t win so does that mean that their cruise through the game will also end badly?  Will Ciera make as big a comeback in the game as she did in the challenge? 


Kasama – Day 35



Ciera won and chose Hayden

Ciera had a happy confessional: “Oh! My God! I just won! I just won immunity and it is unreal!” In the shelter, she told everyone that her first thought was about the pride her mom will feel hearing the news. She addressed us directly in confessional: “All of you people who are looking at me like I made a stupid decision trying to go against almighty Tyson, in your face because I just did it. Don’t ever count me out. My mom is potentially coming back into this game and then you have two Morretts to worry about, not just one. I think that the fact that I chose Hayden also shows that we are not scared. I’m not trying to kiss Tyson’s ass and it’s the best feeling ever and now that I know what it feels like, I am going to be going for that every single time.”


The underdog story continues to build. I found it interesting that Ciera addressed us directly, breaking the 4th wall but it underlined a troubling feeling I had during the previous TC.  Did Ciera decide to draw rocks because it was her best move or did she do it because she felt it was what Jeff wanted her to do? In other words: Was she playing to please the audience? This confessional is almost proof that she played to be re-invited for another season instead of thinking about this one. If she thinks the viewers saw it as a stupid decision then that means she feels like it was at least partly a stupid decision.  We will be soon able to show just how poor the decision really was.  


Ciera and Hayden chose a hamburger and pizza over steak and lobster. Fast food over steak and lobster?


Hayden had a confessional of his own: “…I needed to win today and, what do you know? I freakin’ lay an egg. So, I got to pull a rabbit out of my hat if I want to stick around. The good news is Ciera did win and we got to crush some food.”


The plan was to tell Monica to vote against Gervase which led to a continuation of Ciera’s confessional: “…Now, our only choice is to figure out who is the crack in the alliance…Monica is definitely the crack. She’s an emotional wreck out here right now so, if I can play on that and if I can throw Tyson and Gervase under the bus, maybe she’d be willing to work with me and Hayden.”


Here we see the enormity of Ciera’s error last week: Her plan this week is great but it would have had a much better chance of succeeding if Hayden wasn’t there. First of all, Ciera would have stayed true to Monica and the alliance by eliminating Hayden so she wouldn’t be approaching Monica as a rival. Ciera could have told Monica that they were equally guilty of giving in to Tyson, that they had been both under his control. She could have pleaded women’s lib, saying they both needed to emancipate themselves from the men.

Second, Monica wouldn’t have feared sitting next to Katie at the Final Tribal Council the way she feared Hayden. Imagine if Ciera could have said: “Maybe (Monica) would be willing to work with me and Katie” instead of “me and Hayden” and you realize her odds of flipping Monica would have been much better.


Ciera doesn’t see that her mom’s return may not be good.


Ciera talked to Monica in the ocean: “Tyson is the villain in this game…He was talking mad crap about you…He said you are weak, he said you are paranoid, and he said you are a puppy on his leash and you’ll vote whatever…”


Monica asked her why he decided to pick a rock then. Ciera said it was simply because he knew that he would have been next if he had flipped and voted against Monica.


Monica (solo): “I’m glad I got the information but damn! it hurt me. It was like a gut punch. I said coming in that to get to the end, I might have to mislead and misdirect but I can (   ) guarantee you that I would never hurt someone and there’s a big difference. So, guess what? It’s now become a me game. Tonight, Tyson and Gervase, they are going to be on the defense for the first time and Monica is going to be on the offense because, if I am their puppy dog, they better stand corrected. Looks like, in a matter of moments, I am the swing vote. Ciera and Hayden need me to go with them, Tyson and Gervase need me to go with them. It’s up to Monica and what she decides.”


Tyson and Gervase noticed that Monica was talking to Ciera. Gervase was confident that Monica wouldn’t swing but Tyson was feeling nervous. Did they do anything about it? We don’t know because we were off to Tribal Council before we saw them talk to Monica.


It seems very likely that Monica confronted Tyson and Gervase before TC just like she did when Kat lied to her. The indication would be that Tyson and Gervase got to clear the air and that Monica was back firmly with them even before meeting Jeff.


Tribal Council


Ciera said it was still “them three versus two and one of us had to pull out a win.”

Hayden said he felt the pressure but that there were aspects of the game that you can control. Hayden said they focused on “the truth.” He added: “There is one reason they keep Monica around and that is because they think they can beat her in the end. They drew rock last time because Tyson knows that if Monica is not around, he can’t beat anybody else.”

Tyson refuted that, saying: I drew rocks because I knew I could trust Monica to the end.”

Gervase talked about perception and reality. “That is what people do when they are on the bottom: You just keep throwing as much trash at the wall and hope that something sticks.”

<It does seem that Tyson and Gervase talked to Monica before TC and knew there had been some trash talk.>

Monica told Jeff that Ciera told her some unbecoming things that had been said by Gervase and Tyson.

Tyson pointed out that Ciera said she wanted to go to the end with Monica because she could beat her. He added: “I’m sure she told her lies and that’s how Survivor is played but Monica knows what kind of character I am.”

Hayden countered: “Monica knows what kind of character you are to her face not behind her back.”

Ciera interjected: “Let me say this: I told Monica, woman to woman, I wanted you to know who you are playing with and, when you get to the final three and they beat you and then you see sitting at home, the trash they talked about you to get you to that point, you are going to be like what was I doing?”

Gervase jumped in: “It’s funny how they are telling Monica this stuff now when they are desperate to stay in the game. Nobody said this stuff to Monica when it happened. Why not?”

Gervase and Hayden got into an argument over who was controlling the game.

Ciera said she went along because she was content with number 4 but when she felt controlled, she didn’t want to stand for it. She repeated that mean, rude things had been said about Monica.

Monica told Jeff she had to dig deep.  She added that she liked these people and that’s what made it so hard. She started crying when she spoke about being hurt by what Ciera told her. She added that she was resilient.

<Katie seemed to sympathize with Monica.>

Gervase said he was worried about things that get into people’s head.

Hayden said that Gervase and Tyson played a superior game and the perception that he and Ciera had was that she was Tyson’s lap dog and that he was using her all the way to the end. He added that Brad and the kids were going to see that but that she could show she was a strong, independent woman.

Tyson asked if he tells Monica what to do or if he asks for her opinion.

Ciera said she loved Monica and that they were manipulating her. She also brought up the family’s reaction. She ended by saying: “Your family is going to be cheering.”

It was time to vote.


Tyson and Gervase exchanged glances but Tyson felt safe enough to hold on to the idol.

Hayden left by encouraging Ciera to get ‘em. He added “Good game, fellas” excluding Monica.


With nothing better to say that it was 3 against 1 (Ciera’s expression at this evidence was priceless) Jeff talked about the RI wild card and how the returning player could change the game.


Arriving on Redemption Island, Hayden told Laura and Tina that Monica was a lap dog.

The Story


The story has been reduced to Tyson’s adventure. If you aren’t convinced, I’d suggest you read the recap again. It was only about Tyson. So, the question is simple: Is the story showing us why Tyson loses or was it a panegyric to his skills?


To answer, let’s look at the characters.


Laura’s chances: First she has to beat Hayden which won’t be easy. (I’m dismissing Tina who hasn’t once come close to beating Laura and who saw her story end when Katie left). Still, Laura has been dominating the challenges while we see Hayden continually laying eggs.  There has to be a reason why we keep hearing how good Laura is at challenges and the most obvious one is that her presence during the next IC will cast doubts on Tyson’s chances.  Laura could make it to the F3 but her story outside of Redemption Island is so thin that we don’t see her as the winner.


Hayden’s chances: He has to beat Laura and then win 2 ICs. Not impossible but we’ve had no indication that he can win a single challenge.  No one has ever said that Hayden could be a challenge threat so that suggests he won’t start winning now.


Monica’s chances: This episode placed Monica at the center of attention and it all came to a boil at Tribal council. It got very heated but certainly not as nasty as the F5 TC in Marquesas. There, Kathy showed us how a swing vote should act: Without saying it out loud, she told everyone why she was going to vote against Sean. Monica stayed on the swing too long and it made her appear weak. As noted above, she had most probably already made up her mind to vote against Hayden but the abuse she endured went so far that it completely destroyed her game. Even if she was holding her ground against their assault, the jury saw it as indecision and, in the end, they must have felt that she made the wrong decision.  Monica should have simply said: “Hayden, I am not going to give you the victory.”

Sophie also had a rough F5 TC but her tears humanized her to the jury. Monica’s F5 TC reminded us much more of Amanda who saw her game destroyed when Todd decided he didn’t have to wait for the final TC to plead his case to the jury.   Can Monica win? Not if she goes up against Tyson but her chances against Ciera or Laura (or Hayden or Tina if they make it back) are even worse.



Losing his cool

Gervase’s chances: Once more we saw Gervase losing his cool during TC when he started yelling at Hayden, telling him why he was about to leave. We had an episode this season telling us that everything you say can get you eliminated and it’s also true that everything you say can be held against you during the final “trial”.   It doesn’t look like Gervase will get a single vote from that jury. That in itself will be hilarious.


Ciera’s chances: Yes, Ciera made a huge mistake that makes her road to the F3 much harder but she’s still only 1 immunity win away. The Returning Player is so dangerous that Tyson’s alliance has to take immediate action against him or her.  That could shield Ciera during the F5 vote.  The biggest stain on Ciera’s story had been her dismal showing in challenges where we kept hearing that she was useless.  It’s rare that winners are put down like this. Instead ,we’ve seen challenges get edited to hide an eventual winner’s failure.  However, Ciera won this immunity challenge even if she had been as useless as usual in the first part. The challenge told us that we shouldn’t count her out. In fact, Ciera wins the title of Sole Survivor if she wins her way to the F3. Will she do it?  My opinion is that she will fall short because her edit still feels like a Journey edit, that we were told why Ciera was the last rookie standing…or at least the last rookie to be voted out.


Tyson’s chances: He only needs to make sure that neither of the two Morrets wins the F4 IC.  Or maybe it will be Hayden standing in his way.  (If Hayden is the one returning then we will almost know for sure that Tyson’s confessional about worrying that the game could all slip away came from day 38, just before the Final IC.)

There certainly are stains on Tyson’s story and his arrogance can still cost him the game but if Tyson manages to get to the F3 with Gervase and Monica then he will be our Sole Survivor.  The “Coconut Bandit” scene suggested that these three would sit side by side in the end even if it happened before we knew there even was a formal alliance between the three so we have to go with the evidence we’ve gathered along the way.

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