Survivor: Blood vs. Water - Episode 4
One-Armed Dude and Three Moms
By Ben Willoughby
October 10, 2013

You can tell by her smile that she played doctor with Candice and John.

Previously on Survivor, the castaways were separated into returnees and loved ones, yada yada yada. The loved ones kept losing, Brad picked who would be voted out and the other tribe plus the bootees got upset with him. And “Colton took the easy way out, quitting on the game and his tribemates for the second time.”

Predictably, the returning players won immunity, but less predictably Brad decided that John should be voted out over Ciera, and the rest of his tribe followed suit, “sending John to Redemption Island to battle against his wife."

Night eight on Redemption Island, and John arrives, completely shocked. Candice says “I knew you were going to be too trusting of people,” and interviews how disappointed she is that she wasn’t there to give him pointers. “He’s so trusting, but it doesn’t help you win Survivor.” Maybe she should have re-thought her loved one choice?

Back at Tadhana, it’s the post-Tribal recap where everyone talks about how hard it was to vote out John. “He’s not a good liar,” says Brad but I don’t think we ever saw John lying. If anything, we saw the opposite. He probably really did think it would be sketchy to look for the idol with Brad, but forgot that saying this would look sketchy to Brad. In interview, Brad says that in any other season it would have been five guys to the end, but with loved ones in the mix he wanted to get rid of someone without connections. Like John, whose wife is still in the game.

Around the fire, Brad lectures everyone about how the other tribe needs to realize that Tadhana isn’t going to win unless Galang stuffs up big time. “They need to understand the strategy of this Survivor. This is not us against them, this is some against others.” Sure, but in a way the strategy for this Survivor is like every other season – you want to eliminate the people you want out of the game, without making it obvious that it’s your hand guiding the knife. This season it’s a lot harder to do that, and Brad has been blatantly unsuccessful at it.

Caleb interviews that he is feeling pretty vulnerable after the vote for John and Brad’s big speech, because he is the only one left without a loved one on the other tribe. “I definitely see myself in trouble."

Probst sighting! Redemption Island duel. “Come on in, guys!” Galang sees that John was voted out, and they all have big smiles. Particularly Tina, who probably thought that Katie could be next out.

In come the competitors, and it’s time for the segment of the show we all know and love – it’s “F--- you, Brad Culpepper!” Candice gives a big middle finger to Brad, which is not recommended in the pages of Modern Maturity Magazine. She tells Probst that she was “really upset” when John arrived at Redemption Island. “Upset sad? Upset mad?” asks Probst and Candice says “Upset all.” She wanted to duel against “somebody I could hate, like Brad Culpepper.” Credits.

“Just... you know, look away,” says Candice, and then “You’re a child.” So far, Brad hasn’t said or done anything.

Probst asks Monica how she feels, with everyone picking on Brad. Monica points out that “there’s not just one person voting,” but Candice says that everyone who gets voted off talks about how Brad is “shushing the women.” “He’s never shushed a woman,” says Monica. “Have I shushed a woman?” demands Brad. John sits on the fence: “I didn’t see it.”

I don’t think I’ve seen Brad actually shush a woman either. But there’s inarguably a tribe dynamic where the men all go off to talk about who gets voted off, and then come back to camp to tell the women what to do. Sure, the guys are all, “the men have bonded” but when the tribe is so clearly divided along gender lines, people on the bottom are going to feel that they are treated differently because of their gender. And the attitude of “neither of the women are much use in challenges, so let’s base the vote on who does more cooking and cleaning” – as John (not Brad) did last week – doesn’t help, either.

Anyway, there’s arguing and no one is listening. “When Marissa came to camp, she felt about this small.” Candice has her hands close together. “Ask your husband if I’ve hushed anybody.” “He didn’t hush me,” volunteers John, still on the fence. “He didn’t hush a man who’s bigger than him and could beat his ass!” says Candice, giving her husband way, way too much credit.

John takes the chair and says that “accusations aside, everybody that’s been voted out… every time it was Brad’s idea. He lied to me all the time, and he’s not someone to be trusted and maybe people should start thinking about that. Maybe they should think about knocking the king off his throne.” Brad says “then you made a wrong decision in trusting me.” That’s exactly John’s point!

Stay tuned for next week’s edition of “F---- you, Brad Culpepper,” but now we have a Redemption Island duel. John, Marissa and Candice will be maneuvering a key attached to a buoy along a rope that’s looped to a ladder bridge. When they reach the end of the rope, they will use the key to open a lock and release a bag filled with puzzle pieces. First to solve the puzzle wins – and it’s a tough puzzle too. Imagine a cube-shaped potato cut into French fries, and then every one of the French fries is snapped in two and you have to reassemble them all back into a potato. The bottoms of the French fries are fixed in place, and the tops have a pattern on the end, but still...

Anyway, the three duellists all start moving along their ladder with John and Marissa done first and Candice lagging. John gets started on the puzzle and “it’s like he designed this himself,” gushes Probst. Brad thinks he can get “John to like me again,” and helpfully points out an error John made. John wins the challenge, and also bragging rights over Candice.

In the battle to avoid last place, Marissa is getting frustrated while Candice is staying calm. She is organizing her pieces by length, while Marissa has a more ad hoc style. Gervase encourages Marissa by telling her to look at John’s puzzle, but Candice catches up, overtakes, finishes her puzzle and survives for the next duel and Marissa is out of the game.

Probst asks Gervase for his thoughts, and Gervase says how impressed and proud he is of his niece, but I think Marissa is too busy being upset to listen or care. I feel sorry for her too, as she never really had much chance to play the game.

Probst hands the clue to John and says he can give it to anyone up on the benches. “Let’s give it to Monica!” suggests Candice. Probst needles John about being bossed around by a woman, and John says that Candice always tells him what to do, though he doesn’t always listen. “That’s what husbands and wives do,” says Candice.

John does listen to his wife in this case, and Probst says “So you’re trying to take a Culpepper down!” “It’s a game, Jeff. It’s nothing personal.” It wasn’t convincing when Michael Corleone said it, and John is no Michael Corleone.

Probst hands the clue to Monica, who is not immediately sure what to do with it. “Walk it down, put it on the fire!” says Brad urgently, repeating it even as she is walking down and doing it. “Doing what she’s told,” mocks Candice, but Monica plays the immunity idol clue better than Candice’s husband did, and burns it. Aras interviews about how Monica was smart to do this, so it must be true! Monica says it worries her that everyone is so aggressive to her husband. When she was an NFL wife did she wonder why all those big dudes were rushing in to pummel her precious baby?

Anyway, we get some Redemption Island footage of Candice and John going fishing. Candice catches more than John, but John claims to be cool with it because he’ll get to eat more. Even though they talk about winning, they seem pretty resigned to the opposite outcome. Candice says that this will be a fun story to tell the kids, and John says “Huh, what, kids? Hey, slow it down, babe!” (Not really.)

Day nine, and back at Galang Monica is still not getting why everyone is mad at her husband. “The ultimate sacrifice is being made by the loved ones on the other side,” she protests, ignoring that Brad is determining which loved ones have to make that “ultimate sacrifice.” “If anyone has any logic they can bestow upon me, I’d appreciate it.”

Monica is sure that Brad is doing everything around camp he can to make the loves ones do better, and interviews that “leaders have followers, and... someone’s buying what he’s selling,” as though everyone should be mad at the followers instead. That’s like getting mad at the flying monkeys while not giving the Wicked Witch of the West her bath.

Gervase is left to explain it. “You know Brad... from Tampa, you don’t know Brad from Survivor”, but he is quick to say that he looks at it as a game. I can’t wait until Monica trades notes with Brad about Gervase. “I guess you don’t want to believe that your loved one is the bad guy, quote-unquote that’s getting rid of people, but somebody has to be over there. One of our loved ones has to be running the show,” Gervase interviews, and he knows it’s not his. Anyway, Monica claims that she won’t let the other Galangs down.

Over at Tadhana, it is Brad’s turn to complain about Redemption Island drama. “Why is everybody mad at me, the grand poobah with the power of every Tadhana’s life in the game in my hands?” is a pretty accurate summary. Brad muses that with Colton gone, Caleb has no connection to anyone in the game and a vote for him would offend no one. “I’ve been a target all my life, this is nothing new,” he claims. But he’s certainly acting like it’s new.

While Brad goes out fishing, Caleb, Vytas and Hayden are left to discuss how important it is to keep Brad in the game, because it takes all the heat off them. Hayden says “we just have to make sure we don’t get Johnned.” Brad has a successful time fishing – he finds Nemo and kills him.

Back at Galang, Tyson is still slinged up. He says it is getting better but admits to playing it up so he doesn’t have to do as much. While both Lauras are out fishing, he and Gervase go off for a secret walk to drink coconuts. They have a system where they use a tent peg to drill a hole in the coconuts to drink from, so they still appear whole.

However, they get very close to being busted when Rupert’s Laura and Monica bring coconuts back to camp and notice the holes and the emptiness of the coconuts. Fortunately for “the coconut bandits,” Monica blames it on crabs and Gervase is relieved to say “Operation Coconut is still running smooth.” That’s what counts for drama on Galang this week.

Probst sighting! It’s an immunity challenge, so he takes back the idol despite Tyson’s suggestion that he “can just leave it here.” The editors are sure to include an eye-roll from Brad in response. Anyway, the two teams will paddle out in a boat and around a flag, then release five crates that are tethered to the sea floor, load them onto their boat, paddle back to shore, arrange the crates into a stair, then solve a puzzle, which gives the combination required to release a key, and if it’s the right key they’ll be able to climb the stairs and release a flag. Got all that?

The tribes are also playing for the absolutely huge reward of a continental breakfast! Tea! Coffee! Biscotti! Croissants! Probst tries to pump it up like it’s a big thing, but I bet both tribes would trade it for the fishing gear, even though they both have loads of fishing gear already.

Tina and Kat sit out the challenge, and Probst questions their sanity – probably for liability reasons - by saying that sling-arm Tyson should be taking it easy. But, no. Tyson thinks he is better than most of his tribe with one arm and he wants to win.

Galang, as you’ll recall from the first episode, is terrible at rowing and Tadhana is out to an early lead with the crate-gathering. However, at their last crate, the Tadhana boat tips over and they are left struggling to load the crates and tribe members back on the boat and Galang makes it back first.

Both tribes start working on their stair, and while Tadhana finishes first, it’s pretty close when the tribes start working on their puzzles. Vytas and Ciera are solving for Tadhana while Tyson and Laura? are doing the job for Galang. Unsurprisingly, Galang solves their puzzle first, start working on their combination, release a key, confirm it’s the right one and Galang wins immunity again. I don’t think Probst even bothers with exclamation points this time.

Laura? and Ciera exchange glances, because Laura? knows that Ciera will be up against it today. But in interview Laura? says that while she wants Ciera to succeed, her tribe was counting on her. Then she rubs it in by saying she knew that Ciera had no chance of beating her. Sorry Tadhana, but “you know the routine.” We don't even see Galang toast each other with their croissants.

After the break, Tadhana has their usual post-challenge misery session. “We suck,” interviews Hayden. He says it is “so disheartening... because clearly we’re a bigger, stronger, more athletic team but today we lost to a one-armed dude and three moms. That’s brutal. Brutal.” Even more brutal – one of the moms sat this one out.

Ciera describes the post-challenge routine, which is that the guys go “get water” which means “go strategize against the girls” while she and Katie “make rice,” which means “how do we save our asses?” Ciera is great.

However, something’s different today because Brad is lingering behind to talk with Ciera and Katie, even though Vytas is calling for Brad to come help with “the water.” Brad tells them that the “no-brainer” vote tonight is for Caleb.

This doesn’t get the enthusiasm Brad was looking for, and he asks “you don’t believe me?” Ciera is quick to say she absolutely trusts Brad because “you have not lied to me yet,” but in interview she is less convinced. Brad probably takes his honesty a step too far when he says “if we lose another challenge, it’s nut-cutting time,” which is Brad-speak for “cut the people without nuts.”

At the waterhole, Vytas is saying the vote should be for Ciera because of her performance on the puzzle challenges this season. But because Brad still isn’t there, Caleb is wondering what he is up to. When Brad arrives, he explains that he has “the girls convinced it’s Caleb.” Brad then gives another interview where he says “as the de facto leader, I got to make some decisions,” and he claims that he’s not worried about Redemption Island heat from Ciera’s mom, which is completely the opposite from his usual “I’m not really the leader. Okay, I am. But why does everyone think I am?” interview

Tribal Council. Probst says that when you’re sitting in your living room fantasizing about playing Survivor, four straight immunity losses is not how things go. Brad agrees, and says that they have lost two challenges so far due to poor puzzle performance, i.e. Ciera.

Probst points out to Ciera that she was beaten by her own mother, and Ciera owns it, agreeing that she now feels that maybe she’s not as good at puzzles as she thought. But she isn’t going to whine – she’s going to focus on getting further in the game and looking at where she can be of benefit to people.

Probst points out that poor Brad takes grief at every Redemption Island, and he talks about how everyone thinks he’s a bad guy. Poor Brad! I don’t think Brad’s a bad guy, just a bad Survivor player. Being “the leader” is as close to a Survivor death-sentence as you can get – which is why Probst likes to force tribes into picking leaders. This goes double in a season where everyone you vote out has a connection to the other tribe and quadruple when they have a chance to air their grievances in front of everyone. Hayden realized this. Vytas realized this. John realized this. Brad only started to realize this in Episode 3, and by then he was already the leader, which he shouldn’t have wanted to be in the first place in any normal season. Being the leader only works when you know how to play Survivor, like Boston Rob or Yul Kwon.

Probst nudges Brad along, by saying that it would be great to vote out someone without a loved one. No one would be mad and there’d be no Redemption Island comeuppance! Brad admits, after spending a long time scratching his stubble, that this is a factor in tonight’s vote. Again, too much honesty from Brad. There is nothing wrong or immoral about lying to Probst.

Probst asks Caleb, the only one without a Galang connection, if he is feeling the pressure. Caleb talks about the “taste in the mouth” from a blind-side and that maybe people want more of that. While Caleb loves blind-sides and is fine being the goat, he doesn’t want to be blind-sided himself.

Caleb says he knows that he is low on the totem pole and Brad tries to assure him that is not the case and that Caleb is a valued member of the tribe. Caleb’s comeback is “you campaigned against me today.” Brad admits that “there were conversations,” but “campaigning’s a bad word.”

Probst asks Hayden about the cracks appearing in Tadhana. Hayden says that there is some “patchwork” to do, and that once you’ve lost someone’s trust in the game, it’s very hard to regain it.

Probst then points out that as someone without a loved one, Caleb has value as a vote – he can go any direction he wants without risking his relationship with his horrible, immature fiancé. What does the tribe have to do to get Caleb’s trust back? He says he trusts Vytas and Hayden while Brad is on the fence, and then he says to Ciera “I don’t want you to go home. I’ll just write Brad’s name down. You can do what you want to.” Katie’s hands are up, but not even close to hiding her huge grin. Ciera’s poker face is better.

What are Ciera’s thoughts? She says that “It’s like, you come into this game and you make this whole plan out and this happens.” Brad tries to get across to Caleb that he won’t be writing down "Caleb," and Caleb says that’s fine, but he’ll still be writing down Brad. Vytas is shocked that his alliance is falling apart in front of him, but he tells Brad straight that he is not going to write Brad’s name down. Probst is actually excited to see what happens. Time to vote!

Caleb’s vote for Brad comes with the message “Sorry dude. You mess with the bull, you get the horns.” Brad votes for Ciera. Probst goes to “tally” the votes. It’s Brad, Ciera, Ciera, Brad, Ciera, Brad. A tie! How many seasons is it since we’ve had an actual tie? Not a tie engineered to flush an immunity idol, but an actual tie, where the tribe is actually divided and the vote actually matters. Everyone has been too afraid of drawing rocks. When was the last time anyone was forced to change their mind at Tribal Council? Time to re-vote! Brad and Ciera aren’t voting, and the other four can only vote for Brad or Ciera.

We don’t see any of the re-votes. Hayden is last, and he starts to write down Ciera, then gives this great sly smirk as he scribbles out the ‘Ci’. But he takes his time with the actual decision, and we don’t see it. Probst has to “tally” the votes again, and they are for Brad, Ciera (Hayden voted for her after all), Brad and... Brad. Wow. After seeing Hayden’s scribbled vote, I thought we’d end up with another tie and rocks.

“I’m not mad at you, I’m not angry, I made a bad move,” Brad assures the Tadhanas, “I’m not like everybody else,” he says on his way over to Probst. That’s great, but we have seen other examples of Brad taking things personally. Brad, the tribe has spoken. He’s looking forward to Redemption Island with Candice and John already! Probst says to the remaining Tadhanas that this could be one of the biggest shifts of power in the game ever. Well, if Tadhana had any power. Still, Katie looks completely relieved, as though God Himself is currently giving her a back-rub.

Next time on Survivor, Caleb is already in the catbird seat saying he can control of the game, when he has no close ally and is on a tribe down 8-5. But he thinks the word is “big kahunas." And Monica asks Brad if he wants her to take his spot at the Redemption Island duel! Based on everything we’ve seen this season about manly men and their duties towards their women, I can’t see him agreeing to that. Besides, Monica is in a good position, while at this point Brad has no chance of winning.

Arriving on Redemption Island, Brad wakes up John and Candice saying that he is “waving a white flag.” I think a better approach would have just been to bunk down and go right to sleep, just to see their faces in the morning. Candice is thrilled Brad is there, seeing a chance to put him out of the game for good. Doesn’t she want to get to know him better?

Well, that was a solid episode and a great tribal council. It would have been great no matter who went home, but while Caleb gets the credit I don't see this giving him long-term security in the game. If anything, Ciera and Katie are the big winners from tonight. Anyway, this season is looking a lot better that I dared hope at the first episode, with Rupert and Colton out of the game already, and a bunch of relative normals left in the competition. To sanity!