“A charging horse”: Survivor Blood vs. Water December 15 2013 Season Finale Recap

19 Dec

Hayden trudges to Redemption Island and notes “getting voted out sucks.” He’s never experienced this, since he won the season of
“Big Brother” that he was on. But of course he can get back into the game if he beats Laura and Tina at the duel.

The duel involves putting one’s foot on one end of a seesaw contraption (pciture a seesaw that can also rotate left and right). On the other end is a vase, and balancing it is not easy. Fifteen minutes in, Hayden rubs his eye, perhaps losing a bit of concentration, and his vase falls and he’s out of the game. Laura tells Tina “Let me have it, please.” Tina replies, “No way, sister! I love ya but this is a million dollar challenge, honey.” Thirty minutes in, both women are in obvious pain and have lost and regained their balance a couple of times. Finally Laura’s vase drops!

Thus, Hayden and Laura throw their buffs in the fire and exit, the latter after getting confirmation that her daughter Ciera is proud of her. Incidentally, I have no idea if this was new or if I spent 20-plus seasons overlooking it, but the buffs actually each have a logo on them that says “Buff!”

In my previous post, I painstakingly worked out what every combination of jury would likely vote with every combination of finalists. To keep the permutations somewhat in check, I made the logical assumption that Tina would be on the jury and couldn’t possibly beat two challenge monsters in Hayden and Laura. Oops!

The remaining players soon have to participate in the second-to-last challenge of the season. It involves setting blocks upright on a wobbly table, then having to walk backwards quite a ways to get more blocks while holding onto the rope that steadies the table. It’s difficult, and everyone has all of their blocks fall down more than once. But Tyson triumphs.

Tyson tells the camera “I’m not gonna celebrate because I’m not done.” But he says he wants to keep his immunity idol to give to his girlfriend! He wouldn’t be that foolish, would he? Remember, this is the last point in the game at which an idol can be used.

Tyson, Gervase, and Monica now have to debate whether they want to vote out Ciera or Tina. Gervase advocates Ciera: she made a big move that might impress the jury, she’s a young mother who should get some sympathy, and unlike Tina, she hasn’t already won a million dollars. Monica wants to vote Tina out, because not one person currently on the jury was voted out by Tina. What comes next is surprising to me: Monica says she’s tired of being bullied by Tina. Monica seems like just about the toughest woman around, so this is a surprising accusation indeed.

Obviously Tina and Ciera won’t get anywhere voting two-against-three, so they make a pitch to Monica… who signals she’s willing to vote Gervase out! Ciera gives the same spiel as she did previously: You would show your kids how admirable you are, etc. etc. At tribal council Monica tells everyone that this is all about her, and that this Tribal is her big strategic move (!).

Everyone votes, and Jeff notes that this is the last night an idol can be played, and does anyone want to play one? Cut to a commercial, arrgh! (Not quite as agonizing when you’re watching it on TiVo, but still). After the word from our sponsor, Tyson reaches into his bag and wordlessly hands the idol to Gervase, who plays it. Jeff reads the votes. There are two for Gervase that don’t count, and … two for Ciera. That’s enough, and she is out of the game. But what about Monica’s vote? It’s revealed during Ciera’s confessional that Monica did indeed vote for Ciera also.

Of course, Monica’s paranoia knows no bounds. She says “I walked away from tribal council blindsided,” i.e. that Tyson and Gervase didn’t trust her enough not to use the idol. What is with this woman, she’s so annoying! My gosh, if you spend all of tribal council talking about your strategic move and how it’s all about you, that’s not a show of unity! The guys would have been utter fools not to play the idol.

So you could say that Tyson didn’t really need his idol either time he played it… on the other hand, the fact that Monica knew Tyson had the idol most likely helped Tyson.

Soon it’s time for the final challenge, and alas there is no “Fallen Comrades” tribute along the way this season. The final challenge appears to be nothing new: go down a slide, collect bags, solve a puzzle, ho hum. However, one part was kind of cool: as part of the puzzle the players, had to know the number of steps in the stairway, so Tyson had to venture back into that part of the challenge even though he was almost done. It could have added a lot of extra drama to the final stretch if anyone had been close to him.. but nobody really was, and Tyson wins!

So Tina’s only shot is now to try and get Monica to vote with her and force a 2-2 tie. In the round of four, drawing rocks is no longer used as a tiebreaker, instead there is a fire-making challenge, and Tina thinks she could beat Gervase in the finals now. Surely Monica can’t be foolish enough to take Tina to the finals, for the reasons Monica herself enumerated earlier? Anyway, once again tribal council is largely about Monica. Probst asks Gervase before the vote if big moves at this late stage could sway a jury, and shockingly, Gervase says yes! You’d think he’s want to discourage Monica from any such thing!

Still, Monica does not switch things up. Tina is voted out, and afterwards she says she would have won the game if they had kept her. I definitely agree.

Time for the tribal council with the final three of Tyson, Gervase, and Monica.

Vytas says “Tyson, the name of the game is to get before you get got, and you definitely did that.”

Katie asks Tyson about his incredibly jerky moment when she was voted out: you’ll recall he acted like he was going to hug her, then pointed to the jury area and said “there’s your chair.” Tyson says he’s sorry and that this was his one regret of the game.

Caleb asks Gervase what his game-changing move supposedly was: Gervase says it was voting out Aras (i.e. Gervase played a bigger role in the decision than people think, according to him).

Interspersed between all of this is jury member after jury member saying to Monica some version of “I don’t feel I really know you, and can you show some vulnerability for a change?” I find this really weird. My gosh, the woman was in tears at every tribal council near the end of the season! Plus, even after one questioner had asked this, others said the exact same thing! Maybe they couldn’t think of anything else at short notice.

When it’s Hayden’s turn, he asks Tyson if he already had the idol when they drew rocks (yes). And by the way, where the heck was it? (Tyson tells him). And then Hayden… starts in on Monica with the same line of questioning everybody else used! She can’t take it any more and just cries, “Have you all never met a nice person?”

Finally Aras is up. Refreshingly, he seems to have no major axe to grind. Instead, he asks each of the players who played the best game (and of course they’re not allowed to say themselves). Gervase picks Tyson: he had great awareness in his social game. Monica picks Tyson: he won the last two immunities when he absolutely had to, plus “He was a charging horse for 39 days.” Tyson picks … Monica! “She always wanted everyone to think she was on the bottom.” Now, this choice of Tyson’s clearly infuriates Gervase. How can he not pick his buddy? But Tyson, going last, had a moment to think about it, and surely the best move was to plug whoever was unlikely to steal votes away. The tone of the questioners revealed hostility toward Monica, so he was safe in pumping up Monica.

The only two votes we are shown are Caleb voting for Tyson and Vytas voting for Monica. What, none for Gervase, my pick to win it all?

Alas, this was not one of the seasons where Jeff Probst is shown hopping some death-defying macho-man-type transportation to get himself and the urn full of votes to the reunion show site. Bummer. At the reunion, Gervase has a suit on, while Tyson wears a shirt that is so Tyson: a T-shirt with a tuxedo pattern printed on it. One vote is for Monica…. and the rest are for Tyson! What a rare thing, the jury actually voted for the best player!

So this means Vytas was the only person to vote for Monica, and Tyson even got the vote of Katie who he was a jerk to. Perhaps Gervase’s trash-talking earlier in the season caught up with him. One of the few things I got right in my predictions was that going to the finals with these two was a bad combination for Gervase:

Duo to avoid taking: Monica and Tyson! Yes, those two are part of his core alliance of three. But in that trio he is neither the one who played the best game (Tyson is) nor can he claim to be the one whose “hands are the cleanest” (Monica is) or the best challenge competitor (again Monica).

At the reunion, Tyson says in his inimitable style, “other times i played I’ve had brain farts.” Not much else of interest happens. I was hoping Probst would ask Monica how she felt when she found out that all of the  mean things Tyson and Gervase had supposedly said were really all made up by Hayden and Ciera! He didn’t ask, so perhaps I’ll never know.

Probst closes by announcing that the theme of next season will be Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty. Interesting!

So where does this season rank all-time? Well, I’ll be back as soon as I can with that and some other final thoughts.


One Response to ““A charging horse”: Survivor Blood vs. Water December 15 2013 Season Finale Recap”


  1. “You’re my ‘it girl’ out there.” Survivor Game Changers May 10 2017 recap | Barry's Reality Blog - May 13, 2017

    […] say in the matter. On the reward, Brad talks to Monica, who is a great advisor to have since she made it all the way to the final three of a season. Monica points out that Michaela was obviously angry she wasn’t chosen and is therefore a […]

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