Survivor: Blood vs. Water - Episode 6
One Man Wrecking Ball
By Ben Willoughby
October 24, 2013

Previously on Survivor, the returnees dominated their loved ones. Who saw that coming? But after 13 days, Tadhana finally won a challenge thanks in part due to Brad not being there and keeping everyone so wired up they couldn’t think straight. Rupert’s Laura looked like being an easy vote for Galang, as they all think she is weird, but Aras shifted the vote to Laura?, on the chance that her puzzle savancy might knock Brad out from Exile Island.

The Galangs arrive back at camp and commiserate about how “brutal” Tribal Council was. Rupert’s Laura is thrilled that the rest of the tribe didn’t get their Lauras mixed up and that she is still here as a result. She says that Rupert gave up his spot so she could stay in the game, and she doesn’t want to go out like a chump.

They all discuss whether they made eye contact with Laura? before she left. Aras says she gave him a look that means “you’re a jerk.” In interview, he says he is crossing his fingers that there will be none of the now-traditional Redemption Island blowback, and now that he has dug himself into the ring-leader role, he is wondering how to get out of it. Why didn’t he think of this before?

The next morning, Tyson and Gervase have a conversation about what their options are for getting rid of Aras. Tyson says he feels “OK with him right now,” but if they lose their next challenge it might be their last opportunity to get rid of him before the merge. Which begs the question “why not wait until the merge?” Everyone likes Aras, he’s an immunity challenge threat, he’s a strategic threat, and no one really wants to go to the end with him. Leave it until then.

But Tyson’s concern is that Aras will become more dangerous after the merge because he will pair up with Vytas. Gervase says that he has no problem writing Aras’s name down, but he’s clearly not as enthusiastic about the idea as Tyson is – though in interview he says that “Tyson raises some good points” and “this may be our last chance to get rid of Aras.”

Back with Gervase, Tyson backs off, saying “just something to think about” and “I want to do what you want to do.” And Gervase’s interview continues with him saying that he “screwed up in my first season being a chess piece,” and he doesn’t want to go down in Survivor history as “a player who played it twice and didn’t play.”

The pirate-theme music goes into overdrive as we check into Redemption Island arena where Tadhana gets their first look at the new Galang tribe, with Laura? voted out. Probst must feel bad for Ciera getting stomped by her mother at every challenge, so he points out that Ciera “the rookie” survived four tribal Councils while Laura? couldn’t even make it through one.

Ciera claims that she had this “weird feeling” that the vote was for Laura? and Probst asks Laura if it surprises her that Ciera “felt some energy?” Laura? is not surprised because it’s all part of the mystical power of motherhood, and of course they have a psychic connection. Probst starts the next part of his spiel about the Redemption Island twist, but Laura? thankfully cuts him off, saying she would “not even hear of” swapping with Ciera.

Anyway, the challenge is another one we’ve seen before, but I can’t be bothered looking up exactly when we saw it. The duelists will compete by racing along a balance beam, collecting a bag of numbered tiles and putting the tiles in order in a frame. When they’ve finished their bag, they go back, collect the next bag and do the same thing. There are 100 tiles in total, each with a number from 1 to 100. Let the duel begin!

Laura? makes quick work of the balance beam, with John and then Brad behind. She is done first with the puzzle portion too, while Brad appears to have some difficulty putting the numbers 1 to 10 in order. Laura? has her second bag in hand before Brad is done.

However, Brad almost catches up thanks to a bunch of unforced errors by John. First he drops his bag, and has to start again, then he falls off the beam. Laura has her third bag while John and Brad are finishing their second, and to no one’s surprise finishes first. Things do look pretty close between John and Brad, with them both in the 90s at the same time, and John pulls out a second-place effort. “Brad is out,” declares Probst, who has seemingly stripped the castaway formerly known as Culpepper of honored last-name status. Four tribe immunity losses and one second-place finish at Redemption Island just isn’t good enough. Feel the burn of Probst’s disdain!

Probst asks Brad how Survivor compares against playing in the NFL, because they are both completely the same, but Brad would much rather talk about how he came into the game as a shield for Monica though he became an anchor, and now “you’re free, wind’s blowing, sail, sail hard, it’s all good.” So long, Brad. I’m going to have to find someone new to pick on now. Also notable - Aras’s plan from last episode actually worked.

Laura?, as winner of the challenge, has to decide who to give the Hidden Immunity Idol clue to. She picks Vytas, and Vytas follows Probst right down to the fire to toss it in. Brad didn’t even have to tell him to do it. Can’t people actually think of a better way to play it? This is even less interesting than seeing Russell Hantz find idols with nothing but a few hints from the production stuff.

I realise that precedent has been set about how these clues are going to be played this season, but seriously, this is the third clue for Tadhana and the clue is going to say “these are the precise directions to the idol, dimwit”. Tadhana knows they are heading into a merge soon and will be the minority. What would be the issue with Vytas saying “I’m going to get the idol and use it to protect us at the merge”? Even if no one trusts Vytas 100%, they probably still trust him enough to not target him immediately. The only person I see being upset would be Caleb, because the idol would take away his power as the swing vote. Instead, everyone on Galang knows that no one on Tadhana has a hidden immunity idol, and if it comes down to tribe against tribe, they don’t have to think too hard about who they target.

Before the tribes head back to their camps, there’s just one more piece of business. “After 14 days of playing against your loved ones, we’re going to switch things up” so it’s new buffs for everyone. Probst starts to hand them out, and Tyson asks “can I take mine last? I’ll let fate decide where I’m at.” Probst humors him.

As fate would have it, Aras, Gervase and Tyson all switch to Tadhana where they will join Ciera, Caleb and Hayden, while Vytas and Katie are moving to Galang, which also has Monica, Tina, Kat, Rupert’s Laura and Vytas. It’s the weirdest tribe switch in a while, as we have one tribe with all men plus Ciera, and another with all women plus Vytas. Vytas puts on a brave face: “I fancy myself a ladies man, this is a perfect place for me.” Also, Tina and her daughter Katie are on the same tribe, while the only other two pairs in the game – Kat and Hayden, and Aras and Vytas, are split up.

The new Tadhanas arrive to see how crappy the new camp is, without the comfy cushions or the swim-up cocktail bar. “This beach is way cooler,” says Tyson. Then the new arrivals start drilling the original Tadhanas about how the votes went and they spill their guts. They even give up what they heard about John’s hidden immunity idol clues, like that it was on the way to fresh water and near a “serpent-like tree.” Tyson interviews that this level of idiocy is probably not credible, but on the other hand “stupid will be stupid.”

The arrival of “three big dudes” has Hayden worried because he thinks they will eat all of the food. There’s a montage of Tyson, Aras and Gervase helping themselves out and checking out supplies while calling each other “dude.” “That’s my stuff dude!” interviews Hayden. Tyson admits to the camera that it’s a Survivor “social faux pas” to eat more food than everybody else, so he has to do it very quietly. He is able to drink half a coconut while everyone else is out swimming. Is this “Tyson is sneaking food” story ever going to go anywhere?

Over at Galang, it is Tina’s “dream come true to have Katie on her tribe,” presumably because the look on Katie’s face with Tina votes her out will be hilarious. Vytas is disappointed, as before he felt he was in a pretty good position, but now he has no control as he is one of only two Tadhanas came over and the other one is Tina’s daughter.

Meanwhile, Monica is driving Kat crazy, because Monica won’t stop talking about what to do next. “The original Galangs,” says Monica to Tina and Kat, “what do you think?” When Kat demurs, Monica suggests voting for Vytas because she’s not going to suggest Katie when Tina is right there. Kat, Survivor expert, says to camera “don’t over-strategize, all that does is put heat on your back. If you want to learn how to play Survivor, shut it.” Though Monica’s strategizing all sounded pretty reasonable to me. I think it’s more that Kat really doesn’t like Monica.

Back at Tadhana, Aras, Tyson and Gervase are still making jokes about eating all the food. I think they are all expecting the merge to come soon, and they want to chow down on everything before they will be made to switch camps again. They have probably also twigged to the bonus that it annoys Hayden. Tyson is putting most of his effort into making it look as though Aras is bossing everyone around, by obediently doing whatever Aras tells him and apologizing to the original Tadhanas for Aras’s behavior.

Galang again, and Vytas is complaining again about how “there’s not a lot of play” because “the women have bonded.” He says it in pretty much the same way as when he said “the men have bonded” back in the first episode, so I think he gets the irony.

Anyway, Vytas admits to not knowing a lot about women, but he does know that women like men who open up about their feelings and vulnerabilities, so he tells them about his junkie past. Understandably, he focuses on the eight months he spent in prison as a scared 19-year-old who was presumably passed around between bank robbers and murderers like a pack of cigarettes, and glosses over the time he robbed an old lady for some spare change.

Vytas also talks about his relationship with Aras, and the 13 years they have spent trying to rebuild their relationship, which segues into another well-worn conversation about how Aras is better than him at everything. The women all tell Vytas not to sell himself short. Rupert’s Laura thinks that men who share emotions are “neat,” which is unsurprising because Rupert is all about sharing emotions. She feels connected to Vytas already.

Probst sighting! The Immunity Challenge grunting music is in overkill mode as we have our first immunity challenge with the switched tribes. In this challenge, one pair will swim out and dive down to an underwater cage and open a gate to release a fish trap, then bring it back to shore. Then the next pair goes, and the next one. When they are all back with their three fish traps, the tribe can open the traps and use the pieces inside to solve a vertical puzzle. The reward is picnic day on Survivor.

Going out first are Tina and Rupert’s Laura from Galang and Aras and Gervase from Tadhana. They start swimming and Probst comments that Gervase’s swimming has improved markedly from Day One. Gervase opens the gate, Aras collects the trap and they both swim back to shore.

Things do not go as smoothly for Galang, as both Rupert’s Laura and Tina forget the part about bringing back the fish trap and leave it floating out there in the ocean. “Tina and [Rupert’s Laura] swimming back without their fish trap,” calls out Probst, but they are back on shore before they hear the helpful advice being shouted by the rest of their tribe, and even then they stand around dimly trying to understand for a while. Out they go again.

As you would expect, Tadhana is first to complete the swimming, and Aras and Tyson start working on the puzzle before Kat and Katie have reached the trap. Tadhana looks pretty close to finishing before they realize that every one of their pieces has to be moved over a slot, which gives Galang puzzle-solvers Monica and Tina precious catch-up time. And they do! All the Galangs jump up and down while Probst is called over to tell them they do not have it. Tyson and Aras continue working.

Monica and Tina rearrange a piece or two and then the Galangs start jumping and cheering again! Only Probst tells them again that they do not have it. I wonder if Galang will be as excited the third time? Tyson and Aras think they have finished now, and Probst confirms their puzzle is correct. Tadhana win immunity! Picnic for them, Tribal Council for Galang.

The Galangs arrive back at camp. Vytas is incredibly frustrated with Tina and Rupert’s Laura, but of course he can’t actually say anything about it. Tina, who must be pretty confident that she’s staying, says “I’m so sorry, if it’s me tonight I don’t blame ya. If it’s someone else I feel horrible guilt because I feel partly responsible.” Monica says, “You never gave up”.

Poor Vytas is left despondent. “It took everything in me to not let ‘em know how I felt about the mistakes they made. Because, being a man in the midst of only women, whatever they choose to do is going to go down.” What will the women choose?

Kat confirms that the plan for tonight is to vote out Vytas, but she would like to get rid of “the person who won’t stop talking” – Monica. Kat clearly overestimates her own standing, as evidenced by the statement “I’m the one who’s going to kick you out of this game if you don’t stop talking.”

Kat goes to confer with Tina, who says she wants to “keep girl-strong.” Kat says “I think that the girl thing is great, but sometimes Monica makes me worry and I feel like we should vote out Monica instead of Vytas.” Tina’s immediate concern is that she does not want men to out-number women if there is a merge, but in interview Tina talks about how Kat’s loyalty is not as strong as she thought and “that’s just information that needs to be out there for everybody to know.”

So Tina goes to tell Monica that Kat brought her name up, and for some reason she tells Monica while Vytas is right there. Tina explains that it’s about overstrategizing, and Monica complains that “we made a pact, we were going to vote out Vytas, sorry about that, we were going with a girls’ alliance and she’s saying ‘I want Monica gone.’” Monica didn’t even miss a beat apologizing to Vytas, which tells you she wants Kat out immediately.

Monica goes and confronts Kat about her conversation with Tina. Totally busted, Kat claims it was about whether they should tell Vytas he would be going, and Monica asks if there was anything about her. Kat denies it, and Monica says she doesn’t believe Kat’s denial. “People have said that you have brought my name up.”

“From who?”

“People have said that you have said my name.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” protests Kat.

Monica interviews about how Kat won’t tell her the truth and she has decided to “do unto others before they do unto you.” Kat interviews that Monica’s dangerous because people actually listen to her.

There’s a bunch of footage of Kat confirming with Rupert’s Laura that the vote is for Vytas and Monica asking Vytas how he would feel about writing Kat’s name down. We don’t see Vytas’ reply of “rapturous.” Tina interviews about how she wants to stick with Plan Vytas, but Kat’s loyalty is seriously in question. I’m not sure I fully understand this argument, because what assurance do they have about Vytas’ loyalty? “Honestly, it is a coin-toss, it is fifty-fifty,” which is exactly what I would say if I wanted to get the pre-Tribal Council camera time.

Anyway, Tribal Council. Probst asks Kat “who is not getting along” after the tribe switch, and she says that there is discord between her and Monica. Kat says that “Monica was looking sort of down, and I went over to talk to her, and the conversation didn’t end up where I thought it would.”

Monica says the conversation was about “the game and trust issues” and she would like to see some trust from Kat. Kat argues that tonight’s vote shouldn’t be about Monica and her, but instead for the greater good of making it to the merge and sticking together. “I genuinely love Monica and I love these girls and I always have their back and if we all make it to the merge I feel like we should always stick together. No offense, Vytas”.

Vytas says that Kat is writing his name down, and “I feel for their relationship, but trust in this game is about sticking with your alliance no matter what,” while he has established good relationships. Kat says that she too has established good relationships and “has all of their backs and they know it.” “Oh Kat, there’s nothing more I want to do than to trust you,” says Monica. Kat is basically pleading at this point.

Vytas stirs the pot by saying “I’m hearing a lot of ‘I’m sorry.’ She’s obviously made some mistakes in building trust with her partners, but I haven’t made any with any one of you.” Vytas is talking about the three days they have spent on the same tribe and ignoring the alliances he built with his former tribe, but he would prefer to focus on the argument that “one of us has demonstrated that she can’t be trusted.”

“That’s not true,” argues Kat. “Just because Vytas comes in and he’s genuine to everyone for 24 hours, we don’t know anything. We do know that I will stay here and I love these people and they know that.”

Probst asks Tina about the two different arguments, and she completely avoids the question by talking about Katie being on her tribe. She says she will make her decision on what gets her further tonight and in the future.

Probst asks Vytas what he can do to make sure it’s not him, and he says “be open, be a little bit vulnerable... and the rest is up to them.” Kat’s closing argument is “I love you guys and I’ve always had y’alls back,” as though they have been through several street fights together. Kat, did you throw a trident?

Vytas is shaking his head, so Probst prompts him. “I’ve heard stories about her not having peoples’ back, it sounds like somebody with their back up against a wall saying ‘I got caught. I’ve thrown peoples’ names out, I’ll never do it again.’” Kat claims that none of this is true, and begs “please stay together.” Vytas says in his smooth yoga voice “we will stay together, and we will stay strong.” Is anyone seriously buying what he’s shoveling? Time to vote!

Vytas votes for Kat, suggesting she enjoy the ambience at Redemption Island. And when Probst “tallies” the votes, they are for “Vetus”, Kat, Kat, Kat and Kat, The tribe has spoken and off Kat goes to fight on Redemption Island.

That was exceptionally badly played by Kat, who has no one to blame but herself. Kat definitely knew that she was on the bottom of her alliance – or at least, she has been sullen and gloomy all season, which makes me think she believes she is at the bottom of her alliance. The right move for her at this stage of the game was to hunker down and wait it out until the merge. But she didn’t follow her own advice of (a) not over-strategizing and (b) shutting it.

But why did the other Galangs go with Vytas over Kat? The question of Kat’s loyalty came up a lot, but Kat is right to point out that Vytas has done nothing to prove his loyalty to his new tribe, and with the “everyone for themselves” stage rapidly approaching and a loved one on the other tribe, doesn’t really have much incentive to. I believe that Tina felt that voting out Vytas would have repercussions on her alliance with Aras, and I wonder if Aras has a standing order of “nobody votes out my brother until I say.”

Next time on Survivor, it’s a “tale of two brothers.” On Galang, Vytas makes friends on his new tribe – he even has Tina’s seal of approval to start making grand-babies with her daughter! And on Tadhana, Tyson is getting everyone on board to vote for Aras. They all say they are good with it, which means it is a certainty that it won’t happen.

Arriving at Redemption Island, Kat’s emotions can be described as “majorly bummed.” She is mostly worried about how disappointed Hayden will be and it will ruin their relationship, because on a “one-to-ten scale of coolness, I just got a negative two.” As she says to the other Redemption Islanders, “No one wants to date someone who didn’t make the merge.” I guess Hayden will be making moves on Ciera, then?