SurvivorSurvivor: Blood vs Water

WIGGLE ROOM: Survivor Is Lost – 11/01/13

If you know me at all, you know two things: (1) Survivor is my all-time favorite television show, and (2) Lost is my all-time favorite television show.

Don’t ask me to pick between the two. I won’t do it. It’s like asking me to pick a favorite movie between Aliens and Ghostbusters 2. Not going to happen.

(And please note, before we get into a thing here, I’m talking favorite, not best. We all know Milk Money is the best movie of all time.)

With that in mind, you can imagine how tickled I am that Lost keeps popping up on RHAP. Sarah described Vytas as Benjamin Linus in her most recent blog. Rob compared Aras and Vytas to Jacob and the Man in Black on the most recent Know-It-Alls. Let it be known, for here and for always: there is no surer way to my heart than putting Survivor and Lost in the same conversation.

So, with that in mind, I can’t resist getting in on the fun myself. As we head into the merge with next week’s episode, I want to look at the current Survivors through a Lostian lens. Let’s talk about who each of the remaining Blood Vs. Water players are as Lost characters, presented in no particular order.

It goes without saying that MASSIVE LOST SPOILERS are ahead.



“I’m supposed to do this, damn it!”

Depending on your perspective, Locke is the great hero of Lost. Sure, he led Boone to his death. Yeah, he clocked Sayid on the head and thwarted the radio signal. He sided with The Others over the Oceanic Survivors from time to time. But he was always a man on a path toward destiny, and in the end, he was the only one who had it right from the beginning: “This place is special, and I’m a special part of it.”

Aras is similar in that he’s been to the island before. He’s won before. He knows what it’s like for the wind to break just so, for everything to fall into place so serendipitously, because — what else? — faith. In the most recent episode alone, Aras talked about visualizing Jeff Probst crowning him the winner of Survivor: Blood Vs. Water. This is a man who knows he’s on this special island for a special purpose.

Except he’s wrong, at least in part. Just like Locke, Aras will soon learn the hard way that he is on a special island, and he does have a special role to play, but not as the winner: he’s a catalyst, a martyr, a man who has to fall in order for others to rise. It won’t be long before Aras, like Locke, is proverbially choked to death just when everything seems to be turning a corner. And the choker? Well, that would be …


e7-tyson Nobody on Lost got beat up worse than the artist formerly known as Henry Gale.[/caption]

“You guys got any milk?”

Nobody on Lost got beat up worse than the artist formerly known as Henry Gale. Whether it was Sayid torturing him in the hatch or Sawyer punching his punchable face into oblivion, someone was always around to beat the snot out of bad old Ben.

Tyson can relate. He was blindsided by allies in Tocantins. He stepped on his very own land-mine in Heroes Vs. Villains. (There’s a “Tyson as Arzt” argument here.) He dislocated his shoulder at the top of this current season. Tyson knows what it’s like to get a good old fashioned Survivor beat-down, better than most.

But Ben and today’s Tyson have more than bruises in common. Like Ben, Tyson knows how to use his reputation to his advantage. Everyone on Lost knew that Ben couldn’t be trusted: he was a liar and a manipulator, and yet, his lies and manipulations continued to serve him right up to the end. Likewise, Tyson is a known prankster, someone who cuts tension with a quip. But sharp tools cut both ways. Tyson’s jokes aren’t just jokes, but weapons he uses to rally allies against common foes.

He also knows how to bide his time. Sometimes, it’s best to stay in the hatch and play a role, if you have a longer-game in mind. Sometimes, it’s best to feed a man’s ego and let him think that he has all of the power in the world. Ben consistently played with Locke’s messiah complex as a way of ultimately taking him down, and Tyson’s doing exactly that with Aras.

It doesn’t hurt the metaphor that Ben ultimately killed Locke. It doesn’t take a whole lot of mental gymnastics to visualize the one-man wrecking ball headed Aras’ way.


“I could kill you and every single one of your friends, and there’s not a thing you can do to stop me.”

I’m inclined to believe the guy, whether we’re talking about the Smoke Monster Personified, or ex-heroin addict Vytas Baskauskas. No one on Blood Vs. Water has received more attention from the edit. If there’s a breakout character on this very odd season of Survivor, it’s Vytas, without question.

The same can be said of Lost’s very odd final season: of the many things the writers got wrong, they got the Monster very right. The Man in Black was the greatest character of the season, if not because of his actions, then certainly because of his performance. Terry O’Quinn leaned on viewers’ sentimentality for John Locke and subverted those expectations with something twisted and awful and awesome.

Just as MIB was the glorious Anti-Locke, Vytas is the glorious Anti-Aras. When you look back on it, Locke was never the best-suited King of the Island: he was, quite literally, the right guy in the right place at the right time, as it suited both Jacob and MIB’s needs. And when you look back on Exile Island, Aras was also the right guy in the right place at the right time, as the only competitor with a real chance to overturn Terry Deitz’s epic immunity run. With respect, Aras very likely wouldn’t be a millionaire if not for the ever-present threat of Terry.

But Vytas. Now, here’s a guy who is poised to get what he wants. He’s a man with a deliciously dark past, he’s a brilliant liar, he’s a fantastic athlete … he’s a full-package deal. He adjusts and pivots with the wind, without a moment’s hesitation. Just think back on how immediately and precisely he responded to Laura Boneham, as she declared in front of the whole tribe that he’d be the next to go home. “I’m supposed to be happy about this?” he snapped back, grinning ever-so-slightly and staring into her soul with those narrowed, Voldemortish eyes. Vytas is as intimidating as he is alluring — just like the Man in Black. You know it’s a mistake to take him along for the ride, but you can’t help yourself because he’s so damn compelling.

The Man in Black’s end-game began with John Locke’s death. Locke needed to die so that MIB could have a chance to escape the island. Lost was never going to end with the Smoke Monster’s victory, but Survivor ain’t Lost — bad boys win all the time. Vytas could very well take that Monstrous energy and bring home the bacon, especially if/when his “Locke” is out of the picture. But it’s just as likely that he could end up smashed on the rocks.

Virtually everyone knows who and what Vytas is: a threat that must be stopped, as quickly and decisively as possible. But knowing and acting upon knowledge are two very different things.


“Stay away from my baby!”

I want to give Tina more respect than this, but the comparison is there. Claire hailed from Australia. Tina hails from Australia, so to speak. Claire’s entire story centered on baby Aaron. Tina’s story is deeply tied to her own daughter. Claire fell for the Man in Black’s bullshit. Tina has tied herself to Vytas with these past two Tribal Councils.

In fairness, Claire wasn’t a pawn all the way through the end. She eventually shook herself free of MIB’s influence and made it off the island, thanks to some helpful reminders from old friends like Kate. And I truly believe that Tina is more aware of the dangers of her island’s MIB than Claire ever was.

But Tina knows that war is coming. She would have to choose a side, if a side wasn’t already chosen for her. Tina won’t vote her daughter out. Not yet, certainly, and very likely not ever. The best way to keep her safe is to align with the Man in Black and his pair. Keep the pairs alive and convince at least one of The Unloved (as coined by Stephen Fishbach) to join the cause as a swing-vote.

But I don’t think the numbers (Ha! “The numbers,” he says!) are necessarily there. When the Oceanic Survivors finally rallied against the forces of the Man in Black, they emerged victorious. When the Unloved challenge the Loved, I think the singles will come out on top of the pairs. If and when that happens, expect Tina to act as Claire very likely would: she’ll sacrifice her own well-being to keep her baby safe and sound for one more round.


“zzzzzzzz, waaah, zzzzzzzz”


Aaron had potential.

I wish I had a better quote from Aaron but man there really isn’t one is there? That kid just sleeeept and criiiiiiied and sleeeeept some moooooore. Katie has much better dialogue.

But if Tina’s Claire, I need to call Katie as Aaron. And in the comparison’s defense, it’s not entirely an insult. Aaron had potential. From the very beginning, the existence of a baby on this horrible island was a hugely compelling plot point. It only got more interesting when we were led to believe that Aaron was “special” and couldn’t be raised by anyone other than Tina, or else all of the bad things would happen.

That never quite panned out on Lost, but maybe it will on Survivor. If Katie ever has to fly without Tina nearby, she’ll be able to handle it. She did a very admirable job surviving on the original Tadhana without any help from her mother whatsoever. She’s shrewd, she’s smart, she’s social. She’s the daughter of a Survivor winner, for crying out loud. Perhaps Katie will live up to her potential in a way that Aaron never really did.


“We hafta go baaaaaaack.”

Mostly because he’s a doctor and because his actions on the island could very well drive him to drink and ruinous regret. But also because in the event that he makes it back on the island, John has a real chance to change the game. He has the skills to succeed, assuming he can learn from his mistakes. He has no loyalties to anyone, and can serve as a useful swing vote for whoever has the best offer.

Can John win the whole thing? Possibly, but probably not. As with Jack, I think John’s best possible outcome is returning to the island, saving some lives (ie pushing one of the two dominant alliances closer to the finish line), and dying in the process.


“The toilet still works.”

Okay, okay, that’s mean. And credit where it’s due: Laura did much better in this game than I ever expected her to. Likewise, the Nikki/Paolo-centric “Expose” is an extremely funny and underrated episode of Lost. But “Expose’s” greatest triumph was ending a storyline that never should have started. The same will be true for Laura at next week’s duel.


“It killed them. It killed them all.”

She’s stranded on an island with no idea how she got there. She’s separated from her daughter. Every few days she’s forced to fight for her life. All she knows is this: when she finds whoever’s responsible for her current predicament, that person is going to pay dearly.

Now, who am I talking about: Laura Morett or the French Chick? It works both ways. Laura has no real idea why Aras voted her out. She certainly trusted him with her life in the game, and paid dearly for the mistake. But she’s driven to reclaim her life, and to reunite with her daughter. That fire and fury is present in each and every one of her Red-Eye performances. Most Survivor prognosticators agree that it’s Cody or Morett returning to the game this week. My money’s on Morett.

If LoMo gets another crack at the game, she’ll have two immediate goals in mind: (1) reuniting with her daughter, and (2) making her enemy suffer. That means she’ll play ball with Ciera and she’ll go after Aras and friends. But once those goals are met, is there anything left for Laura and her story? Sadly, probably not: like Rousseau, her journey will end with an unexpected bullet to the back.


“My mother’s dead.”

Alex lived her entire life on the island thinking that very thing, but she was wrong. Conversely, with Redemption Island in play, Ciera knows that her mom’s still alive in the game. But Ciera has to play under the assumption that Mama Morett’s days are done. Ciera has defined “survival” this season, pushing on through a combination of luck, benefiting from other people’s in-fighting, and closely-knit alliances. But how much further will that take her?

Right now, it appears that Ciera is under the wing of Tyson, the figurative Benjamin Linus. What remains to be seen is how things will move forward if her mother reenters the picture. Will the “Rousseaus” team up and dominate the island? Or will they both meet grisly ends, with “Alex” eating a bullet when “Ben” chooses to value his place on the island over her life in the game?



The comparison holds up right now.

“This music is quite depressing.”

I don’t know if the comparison holds up for Hayden’s entire arc, but it does right now. Sayid spent a lot of time on Lost depressed over the deaths of loved ones. He held Shannon in his arms as she died. Same with Nadia. Both deaths drove him into dark depressions. Right now, Hayden’s dealing with similar survivor’s guilt, having watched Kat die on Redemption Island, and knowing that he could have done something to stop it.

But Hayden’s similar to Sayid in another fundamental way: the dude’s a badass. He won a reality competition before. He’s one of the best challenge competitors on the island. He’s not a human lie-detector in the way Sayid is, at least not as far as I’ve seen (and I have not seen his season (or any season) of Big Brother so I can’t weigh in there), but he’s got the physical prowess and the social ability to get himself on the right side of the numbers.

Still, I don’t anticipate a happy ending for Hayden. At least, not a million-dollar ending. He’s too much of an obvious threat to be left alive for too long. Just as Sayid had to die to atone for his sins, Hayden will likely fall for forsaking Kat … unless the rest of the game requires him to do little more than kick the crap out of other people in challenges. If that was all it took for Sayid to survive, he would’ve been the last man standing on Lost. Same goes for Hayden.


“It’s every man for himself, freckles.”

Any guesses who the other half is?

Colton and Caleb entered this game with a plan. One would stand, the other would fall. Colton claims his decision to quit was a calculated one, a tactic designed to benefit Caleb’s game. There’s no doubt in my mind that these two discussed the possibility of Colton quitting before the game even began. In other words, it was a long con: Colton/Caleb played casting, and created a situation where at least one of them would make it deep on the show. James Ford would be proud.

Caleb’s like Sawyer in other ways, too. He’s a charming Southern boy. He’ll flip on his allies if the money’s right. He’s a bit of a badass. But he’s Sawyer before Sawyer hopped off the helicopter. He’s not the one who sacrificed himself for Colton; it was the other way around. We’ve seen Caleb’s Ninja Moment in taking out Brad, but we haven’t seen his Hero Moment. Which isn’t to say the man won’t win — but it does mean that he’s not selfless in the game. Caleb is looking out for precisely one person in this game: himself.

That attitude might work in Caleb’s favor. But as we saw with Sawyer, sometimes you need to let people in in order to succeed. Caleb’s tendency to make moves that only benefit himself could leave him tied up to a tree in a jungle of mystery.


“I can do this. I’m spry.”

Hurley is the man. He’s the most loved person on the island. He’s not the strongest or cleverest of the bunch, but he’s got the biggest heart, and that counts for a lot.

Gervase is similar, despite a rocky start of barely being able to swim, talking smack at rivals and promising to smack-talk some more. He’s not the strongest swimmer. He’s not the toughest competitor. But he’s all heart. He tells it like it is, and he’s hilarious about it. Gervase is the most likable and lovable person on Blood Vs. Water. That’s Hurley to the letter.

Both of these men are highly underestimated, too. Everyone thought Hurley was nuts for trekking off into the jungle in pursuit of Rousseau. But he dodged that battering-ram-thing like a champ, and made it across the bridge no problem. Dude even pulled an unconscious human being out of a sinking submarine at one point. Hurley’s a lot tougher than he’s given credit for. Same deal with Gervase. He lost his loved one before anyone else did, and it didn’t rattle him. It only made him stronger. His views on the game are deep-rooted, wide-eyed and full of heart. He knows what needs to be done to survive in this world, and he’s going to do it with as big a smile as he can muster.

Don’t forget that Hurley was, in a way, the last man standing on Lost. He leaves the series as the new Jacob, with Benjamin as his Richard Alpert. Will we see a similar outcome for the Coconut Bandits? If he lets Tyson take credit for the dirty work, Gervase’s winning smile and infectious laugh could be more than enough to earn that million-dollar check.


“I’m calling my bloody constant!”

In an ocean of power-players, Desmond was perhaps the most pivotal. He was unique in his relationship with time and electromagnetism, crucial elements of the Lost mythology. He was high on the Man in Black’s to-kill list, and instrumental in preventing the island from blowing up. But he was also the man who crashed Oceanic 815, so, you know, he isn’t perfect, brotha.

Monica finds herself in a similar position as Blood Vs. Water bleeds toward the end-game. She’s close with the paired Tina now, but she herself is unpaired. With Brad gone, Monica is “out of the hatch,” so to speak. What does she do from there? Does she stick with her close alliance with Tina (and, by extension, Katie, Aras and Vytas), or does she move toward the Unloved? Desmond was always a romantic at heart, and we know how much Monica loves Brad, but the hope of “Penny” coming to the rescue is officially dead. Brad’s out of the game. Time to move on.

So, in moving on, what does Monica choose? Do the “men of faith” stick together, and Monica sides with the “Locke” of the season? Does she move toward “Ben,” the guy who views things purely as a game and doesn’t believe in anything except magic because it’s awesome? Or does she carve out her own path, as Desmond is wont to do?

I don’t know that Monica can win the game. She has so much Brad baggage (Bradggage?) and she’s not the most likable person on the island. But she’s in a more interesting place in the game than just about anybody. For my money, she’s the biggest wildcard moving forward, just like good ol’ Des.


And now it’s your turn: make your best/worst Survivor-Lost comparisons in the comments section or spam me on Twitter @roundhoward (like Ron Howard but rounder), and we’ll keep the conversation moving. Otherwise, I’ll see you in another Wiggle Room column, brothers.

Become a patron of RHAP