Archive | November, 2013

“Too sneaky and too smart”: Survivor Blood vs. Water November 27 2013 recap

29 Nov

This episode’s duel has Laura, who is back on Redemption Island again, taking on Vytas and Tina. The players have to stack blocks such that no side of the resulting column shows the same color more than once. Laura finishes first, then promptly begins coaching Tina! But when Vytas tries to peek at Laura’s column, she gives it a  spin so he can’t see anything. It works only because Tina is in the middle, between Laura and Vytas. Tina gets the solution literally just a second before Vytas, and saves herself from elimination. When it’s over, Laura hugs Tina, then tells Vytas “good try.” He grunts and waves her off… understandably! So he’s out of the game, but something tells me he’ll be back for an all-star season.

Laura gets to decide who receives an immunity idol clue, and she chooses her daughter Ciera, who throws it in the fire.

Tyson tells his allies that Katie must be the next one to go because she has the votes of Aras, Vytas, and Tina locked up. Everyone says they’re on board, but Hayden realizes that this might be the chance for him and his closest ally Caleb to make their big move. And that move is getting rid of Tyson. They quickly get Ciera to sign on … unfortunately she’s lying to them and thinks they would never be loyal to her. So she tells Tyson about their plan, and that she’ll vote with him from here on out.

Tyson had his doubts about Caleb and Hayden, but trusts Gervase and Monica. He says “I was hoping to make it to [the round of] six before I made my move and really locked the game down,” saying that instead he’ll just lock it down right now. Surprisingly (to me), he targets Caleb rather than Hayden, on the grounds that Caleb is “so likable.” Maybe they think the jury would be less likely to give Hayden $1 million since he already won $500,000 on Big Brother?

It all looks like a fairly easy blindside of Caleb… but Ciera blows it by suddenly being too chummy with Tyson. Hayden picks up on it and gets suspicious.

Time for the challenge, which involves holding onto a kind of winch to keep a bucket suspended in the air. But before they get started, Jeff Probst announces that anyone who feels safe can pass up the immunity challenge and instead eat a hearty meal while the others compete. Unlike some previous seasons, everyone has to reveal their decision at once, so they can’t base it on what anybody else decides. Tyson, Gervase, and Ciera are the only ones who decide to eat, and Tyson somehow feels the need to rub it in about just how good the food is.

Hayden and Monica are the last two players remaining in the challenge, and while Hayden needs immunity much more, Monica wins her third immunity challenge.

Back at camp, Hayden and Caleb are now convinced that Ciera is with Tyson, which means the two guys only have three votes for their plan: themselves and Katie. That’s not enough, so they know they’re in trouble. They decide to simply confront Tyson with the rumor that he wants to take them out. He replies that he heard the same about them, and the two guys argue that Ciera is playing both sides and therefore she cannot be trusted. He sees their point. As he tells Gervase, “[Ciera was a] teenage mom… [so she was probably a] hellraiser… [which means] she can look into your eyes and lie better than anybody.” Laura could confirm that, no doubt. So Tyson and Gervase have a decision to make.

At tribal council, Probst, having failed to fan the flames of jealousy about the feasting players during the challenge (though not for lack of trying), tries his hardest once again to get some animosity going and mostly fails. After the vote, he asks if anyone has an idol to play and Tyson dramatically reaches into his bag… and doesn’t come up with the idol. He says it’s in there somewhere and dumps out the entire bag, prompting someone to say “seriously dude?” I thought this might just be a bit of comedy, but he really does hand over his idol!

It’s a waste of a perfectly good idol, as Caleb is voted out with four votes (presumably Tyson, Gervase, Ciera, and Monica) to three for Ciera. Still: not playing the idol would have meant trusting that Ciera wasn’t putting him on, so I understand that Tyson didn’t want to do that. Of course, if he had won the immunity challenge that he declined to even participate in, he wouldn’t have had to waste his idol!

Initially I thought that voting Caleb out was a mistake, but upon further reflection it makes sense. Ciera might prove to be a loyal ally after all (or at least for one more vote), and she might actually be the best candidate to take to the finals! This ending to the season is a bit unusual: usually you’d want to go to the finals with someone who either a) is a villain everybody hates (e.g. Russell Hantz), b) is someone everyone is just annoyed by (e.g. Phillip Shepard), or c) someone who just did nothing the whole season (e.g. Natalie Tenerelli in Redemption Island). There is no real villain left in the game and no Phillip type. There is someone who did nothing in Katie, but as discussed, being Tina’s daughter means she has the votes of Tina and all of her buddies locked up, so she wouldn’t be a good choice.

It would seem that the ideal two people to take to the finals would be Monica and Ciera. Even though Ciera’s mother is in the game, Laura doesn’t seem too tight with any other returning players, and I think some players are annoyed by Laura. And Monica is the wife of Brad Culpepper who’s not a well-liked guy. But I’m not super-confident in those choices, which means the players must really be agonizing over whom to go to the end with.

Favorites to win: 1) Gervase, 2) Tyson, 3) Hayden, 4) Monica, 5) Laura, 6) Caleb, 7) Tina

No-chance list: Katie, Ciera.

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Aras (Katie), Vytas (Katie)

“Smarter than we thought originally”: Survivor Blood vs. Water November 20 2013 recap

26 Nov

After a few preliminaries, this episode saw the first of the second round of Redemption Island duels, with Jeff Probst announcing that the loser of the duel would be the first jury member.

You’ll recall that at this point a player has the opportunity to switch with his or her loved one. Katie doesn’t seem too eager to volunteer, but it’s moot because Tina will have none of it. “No way Jose” is how she puts it.

The duel, or at least the last phase of it, involves manipulating ropes to angle a disc that has a maze on top of it, such that a ball gets to the center of the maze without falling through one of many holes in the disc. The challenge is about as exciting as such a challenge can be, and ultimately Vytas wins with Tina coming in second. That means Aras is out of the game. Probst asks Aras and Vytas if they have put their sibling rivalry aside, and it’s obvious that the answer is no. Before leaving, Aras tells all of the other players,”No hard feelings, guys. You outplayed me. Good job.” Of course, having won the game before, he can afford to be lower-key about it than some.

Vytas, as the winner, gets to decide who gets the clue to the hidden immunity idol, and he chooses Katie. Refreshingly, she doesn’t burn it.

Back at camp, Tyson wants the four guys to vote Laura, to make sure to break up the Laura/Ciera duo. But Ciera has also figured out that it would make sense for the guys to do this. Ciera takes her mother aside and says Laura might have to be willing to sacrifice her game to give Ciera the chance to win, and Ciera can’t talk about all of this to the camera without crying. However: I think Ciera’s premise that she has a better chance to win the game than Laura does is just plain wrong. After all, the whole reason Tyson and Co. are gunning for Laura is that they think she is a threat to win the game!

Katie is determined to use her clue to try and find the idol. She sneaks off at daybreak, but walks too slowly, enabling Laura to tail her and catch up with her.

Now comes an odd strategic move: Tyson takes Ciera aside and tells her he and his allies want to vote Laura. Why the heck did he do that, especially after having said earlier that he wanted this to be a sneak attack on Laura?

For the immunity challenge, it’s an endurance test that has the players standing on the edge of a bridge with only a knotted rope to hold onto. They have to gradually work down to lower and lower knots on the rope, making it harder and harder for their arms to hold on. Monica wins both immunity and a reward of hamburgers and hot dogs. Jeff Probst tells her she can choose one person to join her on the feast. Of course, this is an old “Survivor” trick to drive a wedge into an alliance by making a player choose sides. But instead, Monica says the immunity is reward enough and she wants all of the other players to have the food instead of her. A good strategic move, but given how skinny Monica looks it was obviously a very tough move to make!

So Laura and Katie seem to be the ones on the chopping block. Ciera tells Katie that everyone is targeting Laura. Remember these two were pals earlier in the season, though a few weeks back Katie voted for Ciera, telling one of her allies “It’s a game, bitch.” Anyway, the following conversation ensues (all of this is paraphrased):

Katie: Yep, I found the idol.

Ciera: You can’t have it because I have it.

Katie: No way, you have it? No wonder I didn’t find it.

Ciera, emboldened by the success of her lie, proceeds to tell everyone Katie definitely doesn’t have the idol, in an effort to swing votes away from Laura. However, her maneuvering has the opposite effect of what she wanted: Tyson realizes that if Ciera is suddenly playing so hard, it’s even more important than ever to break up the duo of her and Laura! “Ciera, smarter than we thought originally, is makin’ moves as well,” Tyson notes. He realizes his earlier conversation with Ciera was a mistake.

In the end, Laura is indeed voted out, with even Ciera voting for her.

By the way, this entire episode Gervase remained very low-key. I still think he’s positioning himself perfectly to be the winner.

Favorites to win: 1) Gervase, 2) Tyson, 3) Hayden, 4) Caleb, 5) Monica, 6) Vytas, 7) Laura, 8) Tina

No-chance list: Katie, Ciera.

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Aras (Vytas)

“Loose cannons will always shoot off”: Survivor Blood vs. Water November 13 2013 recap

13 Nov

When the merged tribe returns to its camp after last episode’s tribal council, Tina rips Tyson and Monica and says they’ve cost themselves a lot of jury votes with their big move. It’s a betrayal of the original alliance with Aras, according to her. One problem: others quickly speak up to point out that they were in alliances with Aras too, unbeknownst to Tina, and among the ones who thought they were allies were Laura and Ciera, the two people Aras was targeting. This takes the wind out of Tina’s sails pretty quickly.

Aaaaand we’re off to the immunity challenge… just 7 minutes into the show? It’s the more or less annual “eat disgusting local foods” challenge. The first round involves eating mealworms… live, wriggling mealworms. And each player has to eat 40 of them! Among the players who advance is Vytas, who has to pick some off the ground to pop them back in his mouth, yuck! The second round involves pig intestines (no word on whether they have been cooked), and the third, contested by the final two of Gervase and Monica, involves eating two live grubs, i.e. the very food Gervase wasn’t able to eat in the first season. By the way, many other reality shows would be turning the screen black and white at this point to show flashback footage of the moment in question from Season 1. I kind of like the fact that “Survivor” doesn’t do this and thus interrupt the flow of the story at hand. (Of course, it could be that they don’t do it because they’re afraid showing something in standard definition will cause people to adjust their sets and frighten young children). Anyway, Monica wins.

Back at camp, the plan is to split votes between Vytas (guys’ votes) and Katie (girls’ votes), just in case either has an idol (why is Katie the target and not Tina? This isn’t explained). This pains Tyson, because splitting a vote carries with it a bit of uncertainty, but the alternative is to reveal that he has the idol, which he just doesn’t want to do. Hayden more or less blabs the split plan to Vytas, and meanwhile Monica is being generally paranoid.

We are off to tribal council just 22 minutes into the show…. no tribal council could possibly be worth 40 minutes of airtime, so we can now assume a double-elimination episode is at hand. Once everyone is settled in, Jeff Probst asks how Vytas felt when Aras was voted out. He gets surprisingly vocal and said his feeling was “f— you, you voted out my brother” and that he was determined to exact revenge. This is in stark contrast with the I’m-OK-you’re-OK act he had been putting on earlier in the season! He really makes himself unlikable, and then on top of that he decides to go off on Monica.

When it’s time to vote, Monica writes down Vytas’ name and then says what could be either “What a brat” or “Whaddup Brad” (she later clarifies that it’s the latter). Vytas is voted out over Katie, with one vote mysteriously going to Tyson.

As the episode continues, the tribe returns to camp and Monica reveals that though she was supposed to vote Katie as part of the plan, she switched it to Vytas after hearing his insults. Gervase tells the camera that this makes him nervous… when someone deviates from the plan you wonder if they can be trusted (Gervase, have you met Caleb?).

The next immunity challenge seems vaguely familiar: players have to hold a sword with one hand and stack coins on the pommel with the other. Katie is the surprise winner.

With Katie wearing the immunity necklace, Tina is the obvious next one to go, so her one chance is to find the immunity idol. She goes looking for it and actually looks in the precise spot where it had once been. However, Tyson wisely moved it after he found it. Now once again, Tyson needs to use a lot of willpower not to tell everyone about the idol, especially since Monica is fretting about being on the chopping block if Tina plays an idol. But Tyson stays cool and tells his mates that they should all shadow Tina so she can’t search alone. (Tyson is a great character, I can see now why he was brought back twice).

Gervase still has an eye on Monica. He notes “loose cannons will always shoot off… and sink something you’re ridin’ on.”

Monica notes at tribal council that Tyson and Gervase seem tight, and Caleb and Hayden also seem tight… meaning she’s the only one without a close buddy or loved one in the game. Tina makes a stab at convincing people that she might have found the idol in the few minutes she shook off her pursuers, but nobody’s buying it, and she’s voted out, with one vote going to Tyson yet again.

Favorites to win: 1) Gervase, 2) Tyson, 3) Laura, 4) Hayden, 5) Caleb, 6) Monica, 7) Aras, 8) Vytas, 9) Tina

No-chance list: Katie, Ciera.

“That’s what I’m rappin’ to them” : Survivor Blood vs. Water Nov. 6 2013 recap

12 Nov

This wasn’t one of those episodes that I was counting the days and impatiently waiting for. Maybe I should have been, it was great!

We begin with Vytas laying it on super-thick about how much trust there is amid his remaining group. He says that this group (Monica, Tina, and Katie) plus Aras is his final five… yeah right! He tells the camera he’s preaching honesty above all… “That’s not how I feel but that’s what I’m rappin’ to them.” The group thinks Gervase will probably be with them after the merge.

That’s when Tina does something quite odd: she announces magnanimously that Monica will have the #5 spot in this coming alliance, edging out Gervase who will be #6. Not something Monica is thrilled to hear! Really this was almost as dumb as the mistake Laura Boneham made in the previous episode.

Time for the duel, at which only one of the three contestants will earn a spot back in the game. Ciera tells the camera that she’s not necessarily rooting for her mother (Laura from Samoa) to win. After all, Laura must have made some enemies to have been voted out, would her return hurt Ciera’s game?

The challenge involves holding onto a pole (with only tiny footholds) without slipping down. As always this challenge favors people with small feet, so John is out, and Laura Boneham too. So Laura from Samoa is back in the game, and Jeff Probst announces that the tribes have now merged.

Let me try and keep a scorecard of who envisions what alliance at this stage.

Laura says wants the three couples to stay together, so: Vytas, Aras, Tina, Katie, Laura, and Ciera.

Aras wants Vytas to join his original tribe, thus: Vytas, Aras, Tina, Gervase, Tyson, Laura, and Monica (presumably Ciera and Katie too)

Vytas envisions Vytas, Aras, Gervase, Tina, Katie, and Monica. He asks Aras if they even need Tyson, and Aras says yes, just to make it 7 out of 11.

Ciera envisions a non-loved-one alliance of Gervase, Tyson, Hayden, Caleb, and Monica (presumably including one loved one in her mother Laura)

Laura and Ciera are evidently seen as the swing votes by all concerned. Aras thinks Laura is the scariest person in the game in terms of being a threat to win. Vytas says he and Aras would have to be really stupid not to get to the end.

Meanwhile, Tyson decides he needs some added security, and since Hayden & Co. generously blabbed out all the clues to the location of the hidden immunity idol they knew about previously, Tyson has a pretty good idea where the idol might be. Sure enough, he finds it, and the producers immediately superimpose their idol-related Twitter hashtag of choice. Groan.

Tyson is a busy guy: he also tells Monica about his plan to get Aras out.

Time for the first individual challenge: it’s a memory game, sort of like a low-tech version of that beloved 1980s electronic game Simon. Anyway, Vytas wins.

Back at camp, Aras tells “his” girls (Tina, Katie, and Monica) to vote for Ciera while “his” guys (himself, Vytas, Tyson, and Gervase) will vote for Laura… just in case Laura has an idol. Vytas crows that he and Aras have the beach “locked down” and that nobody would have the guts to do anything about it.

Well guess what: Tyson and Gervase make their move, and Aras is voted out (alas, Redemption Island continues so he’s not totally out of the game.

The shakeup in this episode means a shakeup in my rankings, with Vytas vacating the top spot and Laura moving up.

Favorites to win: 1) Gervase, 2) Tyson, 3) Laura, 4) Vytas, 5) Hayden, 6) Caleb, 7) Monica, 8) Tina, 9) Aras

No-chance list: Katie, Ciera.