Jeff Pitman's Survivor: Blood vs. Water recaps

Even with the twist of newly shuffled tribes, this one felt a little flat. Maybe it was that Mister Plum's pre-game pics spoiled the likely boot. Maybe it was that the intense focus on Aras and Vytas felt like pure misdirection, since both emerged unscathed without really doing much more than making friends with the right people. Maybe it was that Kat had no story line whatsoever until this episode, so her boot lacked emotional weight, or meaning. It was still good Survivor, but it felt like it could have been better.


Monica and the bandit

Monica and the bandit: Bludgeoning with a smile


Tyson put on an impressive show this episode, getting away with blatantly bagging on Aras's game (to his face, no less), in front of the entire new Tadhana tribe. Why did it work? Simply because he did it in a (half-) joking manner. This is a tactic we haven't really seen before (maybe Sandra's "I'm against you, Russell"?), perhaps because it required such finesse to pull off without seeming overtly threatening. And it's the type of play that Survivor should be pursuing, because it's entertaining to watch, in and of itself. Who can stay mad at the seemingly lackadaisical joker? Combined with his gleeful pilfering of Tadhana's food supply, we're thoroughly enjoying the Tyson Show this time around.



Monica and the bandit: Monica ascendant


Monica, as implied by the snake skin analogy the show used several episodes back, has already shed one scar of seasons past, when Colton quit. Brad, when he departed early in the episode, urged her to "sail" free of his perceived anchor. In ditching her last tie to loved ones or past seasons (Kat), Monica is truly playing for herself now. And despite her Culpeppery tendency to talk about herself in the third person, she's doing a credible job of it, remaining atop the Survivometer for the third straight week. At this point, if the winner is not a Baskauskas (which is seeming less likely each week), only Monica and Tyson seem to be getting winner-level attention from the edit. She's the honor, trust and integrity player, contrasting nicely with Tyson's rakish skullduggery. Is it too much to hope for a straight Monica/Tyson final two? Ha ha, just kidding. We know better than to hope for a final two.


Adieu, Brad Culpepper!


For all the fireworks at the previous Redemption Island duels, the ones in which Brad has been competing have been positively genteel. Which is a bit sad, and sadder still that there's now no chance of future Brad-related outbursts. Still, we were happy with Brad's calm, balanced exit, which gave proof to his professed "it's a game" mentality. And finally: Thank you, thank you, thank you, Brad Culpepper, for refusing to honor Probst's pandering pleas for you to wax poetic about football before leaving Redemption Island. This is Survivor, not The NFL Today. When Candice left, did Probst ask her, "Which is tougher, Candice? Performing surgery, or stacking spools on a springy thing?" No, so thank you for being humble. In return, we forgive you for whatever.


I can count to 100!

All or nothing


Last week there were two puzzles at Redemption Island, and none at an immunity challenge that could have been staged at the local Chuck E. Cheese to save on set building. This week, the formula was reversed, and the duel was the designated "challenge your kindergartener can do in your back yard," and the immunity challenge was both physically grueling and was equalized by a devilishly difficult puzzle. A little better balance wouldn't hurt, guys. And by the way, when every person watching criticizes a challenge the first time it's used (the duel was "A Numbers Game" from Redemption Island), maybe it would be a good idea to dig a little deeper when exhuming your past work for a duel.


Fair enough

Fair enough


Just a few months ago, during Caramoan's tribe swap, we complained at length about the gross unfairness of the swap mechanism, one that was ridiculously gerrymandered to engineer a returning player majority on each new tribe. So in the spirit of fairness, we feel obligated to record our support for the way the switch was done here. Leaving it completely up to chance created an interesting dynamic in the new tribes. While a schoolyard pick might have exposed a few more hidden agendas, this was still interesting to watch unfold. And above all, it was fair.


The man who wasn't there


Vytas so successfully blended into the environment of New Galang that multiple times, people talked openly about taking him out while he was standing (or sitting) right there. Monica coming back from the well: "We made a pact. We were gonna vote out Vytas... sorry about that." Kat at Tribal Council: "If we [the women] all make it to the merge, I feel that we should always stick together!... [turning to Vytas] I mean... no offense. No offense." None taken, Kat! Your One World is big enough for everyone, especially after you leave it.



Overselling it, just a tad


Even though he did a masterful job of avoiding an otherwise easy boot, Vytas's "We will stay strong" attempt at solidifying his position with the women of Galang at Tribal Council seemed more than a bit forced and awkward. Vytas, as far as we were shown, was not promised anything beyond that one-time Tribal vote. Even if he did make some long-term pact that wasn't shown, nobody in their right mind ought to believe that post-merge, he's going to stick with a bunch of randomly selected women he's just met, certainly not over Hayden/Caleb and/or his brother. Come on.


Overselling... wait, why are you even advertising it?


Perhaps the most bizarre Tribal Council sequence, however, was Tina's completely unforced gushing of "Hey everyone! Look at me and my daughter, Katie! We're together, on the same tribe! We're a pair!" For unknown reasons, while everyone in the game is worried about the Aras/Vytas pair, not one person on New Galang seemed the least bit concerned about the Tina/Katie duo. Good call bringing it to everyone's attention right before the vote, Tina!



Postscript: Shifting balance of power


In previous seasons, Probst made note that the jury phase marked the gradual shift of power from those playing the game to those who will ultimately decide the winner. This season, a second balance has shifted - between those with a loved one still playing, and those without. Early single life adopters Tyson and Gervase seem to have a lot of power to go with their freedom, while the Baskauskas brothers, one of two active pairs remaining, each seem to be in danger because their loved one is still playing. Even with Kat's boot, New Galang still has a majority of paired-up members (Tina, Katie, Vytas) in its five. New Tadhana, in contrast, has a majority of solo players (Tyson, Gervase, Caleb), two with a loved one on Redemption Island (Ciera, Hayden), and just Aras with a still-active loved one. So much for any hoped-for Philippines-esque confederacy of pairs at the merge.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water Ep.6 image gallery

Recaps and commentary


Exit interviews - Brad Culpepper

  • Rob Cesternino at RobHasAPodcast: "Talking with the Latest Player Eliminated from Survivor -- 10/24/13"
  • Gordon Holmes at "Brad -- 'The Screaming Was Worse Than You Saw on TV'"
  • Dalton Ross & Jessica Shaw at EW's Inside TV Podcast: "Brad Culpepper Defends Survivor Strategy"