Jeff Pitman's Survivor: Blood vs. Water recaps



This one was the Tyson Show from start to finish (with guest appearances by Hayden and Ciera). Which means, obviously, that it was funny and lighthearted while also being solid on the strategy. It had idols, flips, feasts, and blisters. Hayden made an attempt at a big play at the traditional Final 7 slot, although it ended up not working. Despite that, he's still the only person with zero votes against. Of the seven people left at the start of the episode, four were officially boot targets at some point, which is the mark of the game being played. There were certainly parts that could have been better (such as: who is this Caleb guy?), but on the whole, one of the better post-merge episodes so far.


Seems familiar

Hooray for new challenges... someday. Maybe?


Admittedly, Survivor has had a lot of challenges over the years, and as such, it becomes increasingly difficult to come up with new ones. We get it. We also agree it's probably not worth the effort to expend energy coming up with a new challenge, only to waste it on a duel. But even so, this season has had 12 full challenges, of which maybe one (the first) was completely new, two were variants of it, and several combined overused elements (ring toss, bolo toss, puzzles) with other old challenge elements. Worse yet, three of the last five were direct copies from Survivor: Nicaragua, hardly renowned for its challenge richness (except the dunking wheel, which none of these were), and the other two were seen less than a year ago in Philippines and Caramoan. Furthermore, nobody has had to swim for five straight episodes.


So it was somewhat refreshing to see the opening of the duel was entirely new, even if it was just moving cubes along a tubular net. And then it ended in a repeat of a duel puzzle from South Pacific, one that just happened to be lifted from Samoa... and that Laura Morett (and Galu) won in its first iteration. Sigh.


Yeah. Whatevs.

Go ahead and help. Who cares?


Even though Laura had a seemingly unfair advantage in the duel, we weren't particularly bothered that she was then able to coach Tina to a second-place finish. There is no cheating if it's not expressly forbidden. If producers don't want duel competitors copying each other, they'll put up blinds between the stations. (In theory. In practice the layout of Redemption Arena probably prohibits this, either because it would block the attendees from seeing all but the closest puzzle, or because it would block the cameras from doing so, or both.) But still, a true competitor seizes every advantage to which they have access, so why shouldn't Laura help Tina? It's perhaps not a great plan if Laura plans to re-enter the game, and wants Vytas's jury vote (and Aras's, probably). But she should certainly be given every opportunity to make that mistake.


At least this alliance has good catering.

Ciera's choice


Sure, sticking with (1) the guy who's seen as calling all the shots, (2) his genial, beloved sidekick, and (3) the badass challenge beast may seem like an unwise decision if you're playing to win, but it may have been the best option Ciera had. As the episode opened, the remaining six (Ciera, Monica, and the Tyson/Gervase and Caleb/Hayden pairs) should have been unified in voting out Katie, the last remainder of the merge minority alliance. Katie as a target made sense, since as Tyson noted, she has at least one, probably three jury votes currently at RI or on the jury, should she reach the finals.


Booting Katie was the easiest choice, so of course, everyone promptly abandoned it. Ciera's best chance at a win is to face a jury that contains her mom and all three of the other original Tadhanas. So an alliance with Katie, Hayden, and Caleb featured the worst of all options. In contrast, sticking with Tyson kept Katie as a target, unless the focus switched to getting rid of Hayden and Caleb (which it of course did, although that was an eventual goal, anyway). It probably won't get Ciera the million, but it wasn't terrible.


Oh, this is too much

Tyson eats


It's probably not coincidental that the last time Tyson was faced with an eat-or-compete decision was in his boot episode in Tocantins. Prior to that, Tyson had won the first two individual immunities, establishing himself as a threat. This season, Monica has taken two of the first four necklaces, and she'd just beaten Tyson (and his shoulder) in the previous challenge, which was only slightly different from this one. At this point in Tocantins, J.T. and Stephen opted to eat (as did Coach), while Tyson played shuffleboard. Tyson was in a solid position to win until the very last shot, which was made by Debbie, who won instead. Here in Blood vs. Water, Tyson's now in the driver's seat, and his idol gives him the assurance of no repercussions for sitting out, so why not eat here? Why suffer, and potentially come in second again, while others feast? With fellow Coconut Bandit Gervase joining him, a good time was had by all. Except Hayden, apparently.


No, this isn't it

Tyson flushes his own idol


On the one hand, Tyson guaranteed he would not be booted at one of the most frequent game-changing Tribal Councils (Final Seven) with an idol in his backpack. On the other hand, in playing the idol, he probably irritated more than a few of his alliancemates, who have spent the past few episodes shadowing people who were looking for idols that weren't even there. Often at Tyson's behest.


Tyson probably defused some potential anger with his comical charade of belaboredly digging through his bag to find it. Will that be enough? Working in Tyson's favor is the all-but-guaranteed prospect of the idol being re-hidden in the next episode, and the idol itself should still be functional for three more Tribal Councils. Assuming he can divert everyone's attention to the fact that there actually is an idol somehere out there to find now, Tyson can probably escape from this unscathed. But it will take a bit of finesse to play it properly once the tribe returns to camp.


And you are...?

Why Caleb? Why not Hayden? Also: Who are these people?


We'll admit it: We have no idea why Caleb was targeted over Hayden. Part of the problem here is that Caleb has been mute and invisible since the immediate aftermath of Brad Culpepper's boot. Nobody talks about him. But then again, nobody really talks about Hayden, either (although at least he gets the occasional confessional). So while we saw Hayden kick into high gear this episode, and make a solid, alberit unsuccessful, attempt at a Big Blindside, it's near-impossible to compare how Caleb and Hayden are viewed by the remaining players. Thanks, editors! We, the viewers, know Hayden won Big Brother (and even then, it hasn't really come up on the show, so many viewers may not know this). Does the Kasama tribe know this? Who knows? All we've really heard said about either of them is Tyson's asserton that Caleb is too likable, and thus was the guy to target, lest he reach the finals. On paper, this seems like the wrong decision, but in the context of the show, maybe it made perfect sense. Again, who knows? And again: thanks, editors!


Survivor: Blood vs. Water Ep.11 image gallery

Recaps and commentary


Exit interviews - Vytas Baskauskas

  • Gordon Holmes at (12/2/13): "Vytas: Laura Coaching Tina 'Was a Dirty Move'"
  • Dalton Ross at (12/2/13): "Ousted Vytas talks about Laura's 'low blow' that knocked him out of the game"
  • Daniel Fienberg at (12/4/13): "Vytas Baskauskas talks Survivor: Blood vs. Water"