Survivor: Blood vs. Water - Preview, Part 2
By Ben Willoughby
September 17, 2013

Knoxville represent!

We resume our look at the upcoming Survivor: Blood vs Water, as we meet the remaining six loved ones and remind ourselves who the other six returnees are.

Laura and Ciera

I have absolutely no memory of Laura. I read her page on the Survivor wiki and then went and watched YouTube clips of her playing Survivor, and I still have no memory of her. I’m not even convinced she was ever on the show. I probably won’t remember her this season either, what with the two Lauras. Anyway, allegedly Laura was on the Samoa season, made the merge and won a couple of individual immunity challenges before overseeing the defeat of her alliance at the hands of Russell, finally going out when another forgettable person didn’t want to pick a rock.

Laura is a mother of three and explains that she is here with her daughter Ciera rather than her two sons because they are yin and yang. “As far as advice, she’s full of it,” says Ciera. There’s more than one way to take that. Laura gushes about her daughter and how she should be herself. “She is just the most likeable, sweet, charming person.” Laura describes herself as more competitive, and that she could have gone for 50 more days in the Samoa season, not that it would help me remember her. But she also notes that being super-competitive is not always a good thing in Survivor. “We always say you took it too far,” says Ciera. Laura repeats the line.

EW asks “How surprised were you?” and I think they were probably as surprised as I was to see them on Survivor. But it appears EW is talking about the lack of Hantzes this season. Laura claims to have forgotten all about it. So I'm not the only one forgetting people.

Laura says that her daughter’s biggest weakness will be missing her family. “The plane ride over tore her up.” Ciera tears up in interview at the mention of her family. Oh dear. Ciera says that her mother’s biggest weakness is her social game, and that she has to learn not to be clique-y. Laura talks about not always having to be right and letting things go.

Are this loving mother and daughter prepared to tear into each other at the final two? “No need, as it will be obvious that I’ll be the winner,” says Ciera. Over Laura? Well, sure.

Assessment: I doubt Laura’s going to overcome her personality this time. She’s going to take it too far. Ciera seems nice, but if she’s crying about missing her family in interview, I don’t think she’s really prepared mentally for this game.

Gervase and Marissa

The Playstation 2 had only been out a week when Gervase first appeared on the first season of Survivor, but he says he remembers it “like it was yesterday” and it was “one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.” He claims that coming out here now it like second nature to him, even though it was 13 years ago and he wasn’t really very good at Survivor. I mean, in Season 1, he was on the tribe that decided it was unfair to have alliances.

Gervase has picked his niece Marissa to play with him because she is like him. “A younger version of myself.” Marissa was in fourth grade when Gervase’s season was on the air, and naturally she’s very excited to be here.

Gervase claims to have watched “pretty much” every season of Survivor since his season, and saw “the same dumb mistakes made time and time again,” so you know he’s confident he’s not going to make any mistakes like those. Nosiree Bob, not in a million years.

EW leads with the now standard “why are you putting your loved one through this agony? Don’t you like them?” question, and Gervase talks again about how Marissa is the one in his family most like him, and is the closest he’ll get to playing with himself. It’ll be tough for Gervase to beat a younger version of himself. But he probably thinks that if anyone can do it, he can.

On the other hand, he still claims that Marissa won’t do better than him because he didn’t teach her all his secrets. Marissa rubs it in that it has been 13 years since Gervase was on Survivor and it’s a different game now, Zimmer frame. She even says that Gervase’s biggest weakness is his age, although she concedes that he was still able to beat her in a footrace.

Is there a scenario where one votes out the other? “Absolutely,” confirms Marissa. She thinks the distant niece-uncle relationship is a lot easier to betray than a parent-child relationship.

Also, while it has been 13 years, Gervase has not psyched himself up to eat beetle larva. He explains that eating something dead is one thing, but eating something that is alive and fighting to get out of your mouth is something Marissa will have to do.

Assessment: I don’t find Gervase’s claim to be a student of the game who has been plotting a seamless victory for the past 13 years to be convincing, but I’m prepared to wait and see. I like that Marissa talks back to Uncle Gervase, but I don't think she'll have much impact.

Tina and Katie

Tina was the winner of Survivor’s second season in Australia and she was also the first person voted out in Survivor: All-Stars – mostly because she had already won, and then she landed on the same tribe as Jerri Manthey. Tina is playing with her daughter Katie.

Tina enthuses to CBS about how tough her daughter is, and says that “even if she’s not the most athletic person, she has great social skills”. Katie talks about how Tina has skills that she doesn’t. Tina is “much more competitive” and “has relationships with past Survivors,” which worked out so well for her last time she played. But Tina thinks she’ll be able to see how the numbers are going to fall as soon as she hits the beach.

Tina also talks about the “phenomenal” concept behind this season. But when it comes to possibly voting out family, “My philosophy is that this is a game, and our love for each other transcends the game of Survivor.” “We’re going to hug it out at Christmas” translates Katie. “Christmas may be too soon” is Tina’s mock-tart response. Ha!

EW asks the same questions – why are you doing this to someone you love? Tina says that she gave Katie the option, and while she didn’t threaten to disown her, she did say she’d be cut out of the will. Katie agrees that her mother didn’t glamorize things, but did highlight all of the weight she would lose. So Tina’s one of those mothers. When they have the Survivor auction, Tina's going to say “those chicken wing will go straight to your thighs”

Is first to worst playing on Tina’s mind? Tina “absolutely” wants some redemption, and she also wants to do her small town (Knoxville, home of the Sunsphere) proud. When asked if anyone will bring Tina to an end after that Colby did in the All-Stars season, Katie doesn’t think so. When none of the other contestants can match the intellectual and game-playing capacity of Colby Donaldson, you know it’s a weak field. Also, did Colby actually do anything to get rid of Tina? Being on a different tribe and not having much opportunity to exchange words with her tribemates and being focused on his own rivalry with Jerri and all.

Anyway, this season Tina would like to work with the only fellow winner Aras. No matter how much CBS is trumpeting three million-dollar winners this season, I don’t count Rupert. “It would be a dream if the two of us… I mean the three...” Ooops. Poor Katie.

Assessment: Tina will either do really well or really poorly. There’s no middle ground for her. But I don’t think anyone will begrudge her the long-spent million she won 12 years ago. I’d like her to do well, because I didn’t appreciate her game much the first time around and would like another chance to see it. Katie seems nice, but as so much of these interviews are about the returning players and asking the newbies about the returning players, I don’t have much of a read.

Candice and John

This is Candice’s third season on Survivor, which is pretty remarkable given not many people would be able to name a Candice moment from her first two seasons. “Ummm... was there a mutiny of some sort?” Candice was a last-minute replacement for RC, who was going to play with her father this season. They made it all the way out to the Philippines for filming, but unfortunately her father didn’t pass the medical test, and the pair had to be pulled. That sucks for both of them, but most of the complaints about RC not being there are actually about RC’s boobs not being there, which says a lot about RC’s gameplay.

Anyway, Candice is playing with John, her husband of three years, and as her name was Woodcock, she’s made the non-difficult choice to chang her name. Candice and John met shortly after Candice filmed her first season of Survivor (Cook Islands, the one with the racially divided tribes), so John was dating Candice while he was watching her on TV, which must have been awkward.

For Candice, there was only one choice about who to bring, because she and John “finish each other’s sentences.” “Much to her chagrin,” adds John. I don’t think that’s how Candice wanted that sentence to end. Maybe he’s not very good at finishing her sentences? Anyway, Candice has been micro-managing John by force-feeding him a lot of details – how to light a fire, how to lie believably, how to keep stories straight and so on. “The most important thing is not getting caught in a lie,” says Candice, and “Weaving a truth into a lie is key.”

Candice readily admits that John would be a better person to put in front of a jury as he is much more personable and naturally likeable, and to EW she says that one would vote the other out “if it was something we decided.” John won’t be writing Candice’s name down unless they have talked about it, for “sweetening the jury.” They are the first couple to mention this, so they’re probably the first couple to think closely about the game rather than just fantasize about winning it. “Going to the final two” like Rupert and Laura want to, is for chumps.

When asked about Candice’s weakness, John launches into how beautiful, smart and athletic she is, before saying “timing” and that she gets “ants in her pants” and feels she has to make a quick decision, like with the mutiny on Cook Islands and... Candice interrupts to say that’s quite enough on the weaknesses. I wonder if John’s armchair Survivor grinds Candice’s cookies, and it’s half the reason he’s here. “You think you know it all, hot shot?” Candice will say around Day 6.

Is there anyone they would like to work with? John says that Candice knows some people from Heroes vs Villains, so he really should have let her answer. Candice isn’t happy to see Rupert here again, and says “I think we all know why.” I thought I knew just based on Rupert’s behavior, but it turns out Candice flipped on the heroes to ally with Russell Hantz, and later went home because Rupert faked having an immunity idol. So there’s an actual history there.

Assessment: I think Candice will be this season’s Andrea Boehlke. She’s not a bad player who has thought about how to play the game and has learned from past mistakes. Maybe it’ll come together for her but I personally doubt it. John comes across as that “I’m a natural leader” type who never does well on Survivor.

Tyson and Rachel

Tyson is one of three players having their third season, his first being Tocantins and his second – like Rupert and Candice – Heroes vs Villains. He’s probably the only castaway I’m actually looking forward to seeing again, but that’s against a very low bar. Tyson is playing with his girlfriend of five years, Rachel.

Tyson is probably only back because his dry sarcasm makes for good side interviews – even if Tina thinks he is “hateful.” Tyson thinks he was asked to come back just so people could see what sort of woman would date Tyson. I will admit to being not uncurious.

Rachel was “definitely unsure in the beginning” about going on the show, as “Survivor was his thing” and she had never pictured herself doing it. Rachel says that Tyson’s best advice was to be “friends with everyone out there” which is going to be hard if everyone believes you’re telling the camera what a moron the other castaways are. Tyson adds “everybody can be used until they are voted out.” A better Survivor player would have said “everybody can be used, even after they are voted out.”

Tyson claims that he wants to get people to turn on their loved ones, and points out that the loved one of the first player voted out immediately becomes a “major wild card.” Anyway, Rachel Amazing-Races it by claiming that Survivor is “going to make us stronger.” “Stronger than we already are,” Tyson says, with a silent question mark at the end.

“Why would you put your girlfriend through this?” I am so sick of this question from EW. “The closer it gets, the more I ask myself that,” says Tyson, and that Rachel has “no clue about the train that is about to hit her.” “But you know how tough I am, right? I mean, look at me.” “Yeah,” Tyson is forced to deadpan, “you’re very tough.”

EW claims that Tyson is “the big Survivor guy” and asks if it would be a blow to Tyson’s ego if Rachel outplays him? Tyson asks “why am I the Survivor guy?” and EW claims that in Utah Tyson must strut around and stuff. Tyson says “More incompetent people have beaten me at this game so it’s not insulting in the least because she’s not the least competent person in this game to beat me” “I guess that’s a compliment,” says Rachel.

Anyway, Tyson continues with this motif. “People get better when they come back. I’ve gotten progressively worse.” says Tyson, and says that on current form he’ll see EW again in three days. This is why I don’t mind Tyson. Sure his snark is a way of getting attention and camera time, but he’s not delusional and is willing to mock himself.

But it’s back to mocking other people, as Tyson is dismissive of all the players from Survivor: One World. “They are all children.” He describes Monica as a 45-year-old who dresses like she’s 30, and Colton as an emotional child. He thinks it won’t be difficult to turn them against each other.

Assessment: Tyson has probably been reliving his dumb move from Heroes vs. Villains since it aired, but I think he knows the game reasonably well. Making the right alliances can take him far, but I don't think the others will like him much as they will always be wondering what he's saying to the cameras. Rachel doesn't look like she has what it takes for Survivor, no matter how tough Tyson says she is.

Colton and Caleb

Personally, I’m not happy to see Colton back. He’s one of those people who was picked on in high school and found his niche by hanging out with the mean girls' clique. I don’t begrudge Colton for this. High school’s like prison, in that you do what you have to do to survive, but once you’re out you have to leave it behind. You can’t be that person forever. Brooks didn’t learn this in The Shawshank Redemption, Henry Hill didn’t learn it in Goodfellas, but Colton should have learned it by now. Instead, he’s stuck being Gretchen Weiners well into adulthood.

If that isn’t enough, he describes himself as “adorable” and reminds me of Canada’s Prime Minister. I'm not sure which is creepier. No wait, it's the Canada thing.

Anyway, Colton was on the One World season and became most notorious when he suggested his tribe to go to Tribal Council despite winning a challenge, and vote someone off for being “loud” and “obnoxious.” Many viewers cracked Colton’s secret code where those words actually mean “black.” The worst thing about it was that it worked, with every dope on that tribe, including the bootee, voting to go to Tribal Council, where Colton was forced to admit smirkingly that his only African-American “friend” was his house-keeper. Viewers were robbed of Colton’s inevitable comeuppance and vote-off when he developed appendicitis and was medevac’d the next episode. So here’s hoping for a walk of shame this season.

Colton is playing with his fiancé Caleb, who he has been with for three and a half years. Are they waiting until gay marriage becomes legal in Alabama? Caleb isn’t an avid fan of Survivor like Colton is, but he likes the show.

Colton thinks his reputation from One World will precede him, and his job is to convince these people that he is who he is now. He says that “hindsight is 20/20, a lot has happened since then. I don’t think that was my time I don’t think I deserved to win that season.” He says a lot of stuff about he is a different person blah blah blah, but never actually says how it is that he’s different. It just seems like a lot of stuff he’s saying to the camera, as though his only mistake last time was saying what he thought.

EW also dances around the history by saying that Colton had a “controversial time last time out” and “spoke about that at the reunion about how you had some regrets.” I don’t remember him regretting anything except how persecuted he felt by people failing to understand his country club ways. I do remember him talking smugly about how people stopped watching once he was off the show.

When asked if he wants to show how he has matured, Colton says that once you say “I’ve changed” America stops listening, which is exactly what Colton does not want America to do. He would rather let his actions speak for themselves (fair enough, because he's right that just saying "I've changed" is not credible), and “people can form their own opinions, we know they love to,” which is a pretty brave card for a self-described "bitch with teeth" to play. I guess only Colton can have opinions without being condescended to. Personally, I would love not to have an opinion on Colton.

In another excerpt from the interview, Caleb discusses Colton's biggest weakness - which is "people coming in knowing who Colton is... because of how he played the game last time." Colton talks about how people may perceive this new, allegedly kinder Colton as "fake," and he doesn't want that to happen, but "I don't think I've ever come across as fake. I think people pretty much know that what I'm doing is what you're getting." Because Colton finds harsh opinions charming when they are his opinions.

Colton goes on to say that "I know where I am at in my life," and that Survivor: One World was "a catalyst for a lot of things going on in my life personally." He credits Caleb, who "pulled me up by my bootstraps." "I'm in a good place, I'm really happy... I'm a lot more at peace," which is what people who are confronting unpleasant issues always say when they haven't quite worked through those issues yet.

But Colton does a fair job of owning it. "Last time, I was completely erratic and filled with hate and anger, and I had adopted this mentality of bite before bitten." "My lashing out... it was out of fear and way I had been treated, and I thought, 'I have got to come across as a bitch or people will walk all over me.' And I realize that's not an effective method in Survivor or life in general." Of course, none of that really explains why he convinced his tribe to go to Tribal Council.

Colton and Caleb have a plan – their goal is to get to the final four, and then they will assess the jury because they appeal to different demographics. Then, because who are we kidding, Colton will be voted out to be a guaranteed jury vote for Caleb, and maybe Colton will convince a couple of the more impressionable jurors to vote for Caleb too.

When asked about the other castaways from the One World season, Colton says he is not completely opposed to working with Monica, which doesn’t show much confidence. He says it would be a great ruse to have two people who didn’t like each other the first time working together. It probably would be a decent ruse if anyone actually remembered that season. He adds that “Kat will try to play like Kim,” which he compares to “giving an eight-year-old a machine gun. Duck!” is his advice. Fair point.

Assessment: Colton continues to think he’s a lot more charming than he is. It’s possible he'll be voted off early because of his history. But maybe he’ll be as successful a Survivor player as Phillip Shepherd. There was next to no time spent with Caleb, who seems quiet and more supportive than Colton deserves. He and Rupert's Laura will probably get along great.

So those are our 10 pairs of returning castaways and their loved ones. When I first heard about the loved ones and read the casting spoilers, I thought this was going to be a total disaster of a season. Then I thought more about the dynamics of pairs in an individual game, and heard about some of the set-up and twists and started thinking “maybe this could be OK after all”. But now I’ve seen the cast videos, I’m back to “yep, total disaster."

The returning castaways are barely whelming, with most wanting another crack at being noticed on the street, or living in just plain denial. Aras and Tina are the obvious front-runners to me, but we saw last season some of the unmemorable returnees were actually more interested in playing Survivor than getting camera time, so I am hoping for more of that this season.

As for the loved ones, they don’t get much of a chance to shine in the interviews, but I don’t see much reason why this season should go any differently from past seasons where the experienced Survivor veterans were able to run rings around the newbies. If I had to pick one, it would be Vytas. The rest seem very nice people, but in terms of their chances of winning, they seem very nice people.

But nothing is set in stone. We’ll see how things turn out when our latest batch of castaways hit the beach next week.