Survivor: Blood vs. Water - Episode 7
Swoop In For The Kill
By Ben Willoughby
October 31, 2013

I wonder what reality person she can date after Hayden dumped her.

Previously on Survivor, “in the battle of blood versus water, the returning players were in control” until there was a “surprise” switch that anyone who has watched the show previously was expecting. However, while other tribe switches have tried for gender balance, this one was truly random and we ended up with a Tadhana comprised of all men plus Ciera and Galang with all women plus Vytas.

After Galang lost their immunity challenge, the ladies were all prepared to vote out Vytas, but Kat happened to mention that Monica should go next and according to Probst “her betrayal was too much to overlook”, and she was sent to Redemption Island where she found a “I’m breaking up with you” tree-mail from Hayden. At least, in Kat’s imagination. Eleven are left, who will be voted out tonight?

Kat’s post-boot interview starts with “at least I didn’t cry”. She says there were some issues with trust, with Monica and also Rupert’s Laura “feeling on the outs”. To John and Laura?, her Redemption Island companions, she goes through everyone. “over-strategiser, which is Monica, a social [expletive deleted], which is [Rupert’s Laura], a woman who has a target on her back for being a million-dollar player, then her daughter who’s a tag-along, and then the one guy on the all-women’s tribe, and then they all flip on me”. That was amazingly succinct. Maybe she should be recapping Survivor instead of playing it?

But Kat’s biggest concern is her relationship with her boyfriend and current shag Hayden. “No one wants to date someone who didn’t make the merge. He is going to dump me!” The risks of reality show-mances! “Come on!” says John.

On the beach the next morning, Kat sure is crying a lot. The Redemption Island duel is approaching, where she will be put in the stocks and booed by the other castaways while Probst mocks her and Hayden throws rotten fruit and a bucket of fish-heads at her. “Hayden will be embarrassed,” she blubs. Not quite as embarrassed as when he’s watching this. But she hopes she can win the duel and Hayden’s heart again. I’m barely exaggerating.

Time for the duel! Come on in guys! Everyone on Tadhana looks surprised that Kat has been voted out, and Aras gives a consoling grip to Hayden’s knee. Kat, who is bright purple under the eyes, immediately asks him to come down and hug her while saying “I’m so sorry”. For someone who wanted to look cool in front of her boyfriend, this is the worst effort ever.

Probst asks Kat why she is so upset. Kat says that “our plan was to play together”, and she feels embarrassed and that she is letting him down and that she’s really worried about her relationship now. Probst asks Hayden if that is true and he is really going to dump Kat, but he basically replies he is used to seeing Kat as a dork and wouldn’t have their relationship any other way. “My relationship with Kat is even more important than this game,” Hayden adds.

Probst puts all the dry scepticism he can into his next statement. “Really?” Probst takes the cue to try to push Hayden into taking Kat’s spot at the Redemption Island duel. I accept that Probst has to do this as part of his job, but all Hayden needs to do to prove that his relationship with Kat is more important than the game is not break up with her. It's not like Kat said “Take my place or we’re through.” Hayden giving up his spot in the game would prove nothing except that he shouldn’t be playing Survivor.

After the break, it’s back-pedalling time for Hayden. Hayden asks Kat what she thinks, and she asks how he is placed. Hayden says he is in a good spot. Kat says she wants to switch, because she feels she can’t do well because “it’s a puzzle and I can’t spell”. But Hayden changes the subject to “what about us long-term?” and “who has the better shot to win the game?”, and Kat agrees that Hayden has a much better chance to win than she does because Hayden is so “genuine” and “honorable” and no one has ever said anything bad about him, ever. So Kat will play and Hayden will stay.

Poor Kat. It was obvious that is what had to happen game-wise. It would have been a terrible move for Hayden to switch places, as he would have to survive this challenge against two other strong competitors, and then win the pre-merge Redemption Island duel, while weakening his own alliance and having them decide they cannot trust him.

Let’s move onto the challenge. It’s exactly the same fire puzzle challenge that we saw last season, which was very similar to another puzzle we saw the season before that. In fact, I’d be surprised if they didn’t use exactly the same puzzle pieces, just painted in different colours. Way to cheap out, Mark Burnett Productions. The only difference is the competitors have to untie a machete and use it to chop a rope to release a bag with the puzzle pieces in it.

The challenge gets underway. John has his machete free first, followed by Kat, then Laura? Several returnees low-key cheer for Kat, probably because they just feel bad for her. At the puzzle stage, John takes a lead, and Laura? makes progress by copying John. Kat, who was last to get her pieces out of the bag, gets advice from the bench, who urge her to copy Laura?’s puzzle. Kat thinks that’s cheating, but even Probst is saying that “anything goes”. John finishes first, and shortly after Laura has three pieces to go, then two, then one, then done. Kat is gone.

Kat says goodbye to Hayden. “You’re not going to break up with me, are you?”. Well, not before the Reunion episode, at least. John gives the hidden immunity idol clue to Monica, who still doesn’t feel secure enough in her alliance to take it. “No disrespect, I am so flattered and honored... but I feel like it’s poison” she says. “It’s a gift, do whatever you want with it,” says John. “Well, thank you for the kind gesture”. Even when it’s insincere, I love Monica’s knee-jerk Southern politeness.

When Tadhana arrive back, they all commiserate with Hayden. The theme for the season continues, Hayden gives one of those tearful interviews about how he feels guilt for not taking Kat’s place. “Kat is a little naïve sometimes and doesn’t always know which way is up, and I’m the one who helps her,” he says. The bedrock of a successful relationship! “I was in a position where I could help her and I didn’t do it.”

But on the bright-side, Hayden also feels “a little relief”, because now he “can play more cut-throat” without the old ball-and-chain around. He notes that everyone on the tribe has lost their loved one, except for Aras. (And also Ciera, but Hayden has forgotten that Redemption Island still counts.)

Aras takes some time to go off for a peaceful walk and meditation. He says he is in a great situation, joining the tribe with his close allies Gervase and Tyson, and also with his “core partner” Vytas still in the game. He says his meditation helps guide him, in particular the part where he visualizes Probst declaring Aras the winner of Survivor: Blood vs. Water.

Meanwhile, Tyson has grouped everyone together to talk about voting out Aras. He says they’ll probably be merging soon, and if Aras and Vytas join up at the merge they’ll be a power couple, and one of them will have to be taken out. Otherwise, as Gervase says, “this final four has two spots taken”. Tyson suggests that this five – himself, Hayden, Ciera, Caleb and Gervase – be the final five. Ciera interviews that she was shocked it was Tyson to say this, but to Tyson everyone says they are happy with that.

The next morning at Galang, “morning princess,” says Tina to Katie, before commenting that she is a “late sleeper-inner”. “Good morning to you too,” replies Vytas, one of the girls. Tina interviews how much she likes Vytas, who has been through “the school of hard knocks” and says she would “be honored if he took an interest in Katie”, before adding that he will “have to hit her over the head with a club and drag her into his cave” because Katie isn’t the flirty type. “But one can dream. I’m ready for grand-babies.” Consolation message to Kat: playing Survivor with your mother is inevitably more embarrassing than playing Survivor with your boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Vytas is talking about how his yoga helps him deal with “feminine energy”, so he feels he knows what will help him “ingratiate more”. He says that “women love a bad boy, but what they like even more... is a newly-reformed bad boy”. He admits to the camera that it’s all very calculated, but it seems to be working. He tells the rest of the tribe about the time someone at his yoga class wanted to borrow a hundred dollars and he lent it to them, because he didn’t want to live in a mean world where people assume other people don’t pay back their debts. Did you understand the moral of the story, ladies?

Rupert’s Laura starts to gush about how wonderful Vytas is, which segues into how comfortable she is with her tribe now and she finally feels like she can be herself. No no no! The rest of your tribe already find you weird and alienating! Under no circumstances, be yourself!

Galang again, on Day 18. There’s tree-mail for a challenge, and it’s about being chained together. Vytas notes to camera that based on gender and age Galang will be the underdogs in any physical challenge. The rest of Galang is already preparing for a loss, with Tina informing everyone that it has to be Vytas when they do. “We’ve been together since the beginning,” says Tina, and then to Rupert’s Laura “Are you OK with this?” “No,” she replies, “but we have to be”. Everyone says “poor Vytas” and Rupert’s Laura goes off to have a cry.

Probst sighting! Immunity challenge! Four members of each tribe will be chained at the ankles, and the two on the outsides will have their wrists attached to a coil. After releasing from the coil, the chain gang make their way through an obstacle course then under a bamboo frame where they will gather bags hanging from the frame and get in each others’ way. Then they’ll do it again. When they have all the bags, they’ll hand them over to a fifth tribe member, who will assemble what is in the bags into bolas and toss them at a frame. First tribe to get three bolas on their frame wins immunity and reward! And Probst really works it when he reveals it is “all the fried chicken you can eat”, as well corn on the cob and mac and cheese. All the Southerners get excited - even Caleb cracks a wide smile.

The chain gangs are Vytas, Monica, Katie and Rupert’s Laura for Galang, and Gervase, Hayden, Caleb and Aras for Tadhana. It’s reasonably close, with Galang clearing out of the first frame just ahead of Tadhana, but Tadhana make it out from under the second frame and would have been further ahead if not for some blocking by Galang.

Both tribes begin at the bola stage at more or less the same time, with Tyson finishing a little in front of Tina. He lands one bola, and just misses another. Tina scores with her first try and Tyson misses again, but then gets a second one on. Tina falls short, Tyson misses, and then Tina scores a second time. There’s more footage of both of them just missing, but eventually Tyson gets a bola to loop on the frame and Tadhana! Win! Immunity! Tribal Council for Galang.

After the break, Tadhana sprint over to the fried chicken. “Prayer, bro” suggests Hayden but Tyson says he doesn’t have time. As they chow down, Hayden says “we got so lucky with the swap” and Tyson says “You guys did”. Caleb asks permission to take ice out of the lemonade with his hands, and Tyson magnanimously grants it, saying “we’re all equal partners in this, so you can do whatever you want. That’s the way I play it”.

Aras seems to have clued into Tyson’s efforts to undermine him, because he points out “plus he came to your beach and ate all your food”. “I’m a one-man wrecking ball,” says Tyson happily. In interview, Tyson boasts about how he hasn’t gone hungry so far this game, and as the three-time veteran he has everyone convinced “eating maximum amounts of rice is the proper strategy”.

Over on Galang, Rupert’s Laura holds it in for about thirty seconds before saying “Vytas, I respect you so much, I have already cried about this” and spilling the obvious that the four women have an alliance and are going to vote him out. “You’re such a huge threat in this game, your brother’s won before, you are the most amazing man I’ve met, you’ve brought calm to the tribe, I just don’t think a blind-side is fair.” She tells him to enjoy the afternoon while everyone else looks around awkwardly.

“You think that makes me want to have a good afternoon?” asks Vytas. Ha! But then “I appreciate you telling me.” I’m sure he does! Vytas is as good at meaningless platitudes as Monica.

In interview, Rupert’s Laura says that “I feel I did take the bull by the horns by taking more of a leadership position in this tribe. It may put a target on my back but hopefully I’ll get some respect out of it”, says Rupert’s Laura, who just flushed away any respect as a Survivor player the others had for her. In interview, Monica is “flabbergasted” and says Rupert’s Laura should have at least met with her alliance to discuss before her big power-play of “me and the others decided you’re out next”. She and Katie get together to talk about how they cannot trust Rupert’s Laura. “We got rid of Kat because she was doing that” says Katie.

Tina interviews that the plan is still to get rid of Vytas, but Rupert’s Laura is “unpredictable”. Out in the bay, Vytas asks “Is it my time?” and Tina replies “It could be [Rupert’s] Laura.” That’s exactly what I’d tell Vytas just to keep him quiet, but he feels he has “done my due diligence when it comes to building trust with these women”. In particular, with the woman who is just about to be voted out. “Females are in control, but they always need an alpha male to keep around. Otherwise there’s no future for the pride” he observes.

Tina and Katie talk about their upcoming decision, and Tina says that there are “repercussions both ways”. But it’s Katie who gets the pre-Tribal Council footage. She wants to eliminate Vytas, the long-term threat, but Rupert’s Laura is a time-bomb. But she doesn’t know what will go down, she just knows it won’t be pretty.

Tribal Council. Probst asks what happened when the tribe got back to camp, and Rupert’s Laura confesses that she “took it upon herself to let Vytas know he was going home”. “Wow,” says Probst, totally not surprised at all. Vytas talks about how “discouraged” he felt and how “trustworthy” he is.

Probst asks Monica what she thought about the reveal, and Monica says that telling people they are going is “risky, very risky” and that she would have liked to talk about it first. Katie agrees with Monica, especially the part about discussing with her alliance first. Rupert’s Laura seems to realise now that she made a huge mistake.

Probst says to Vytas that it seems like he is going unless he can convince the other Galangs to vote for someone else. “And it sounds like that could be [Rupert’s Laura] for doing the honorable thing in a game that is anything but honorable”. Well, as Vytas not-so-subtlely pointed out at the time, Rupert’s Laura didn’t do it to make him feel better. She did it to make herself feel better. It was a tough emotional decision and she wanted to allay her guilt. That’s understandable, but it’s also the opposite of honorable.

Vytas’ argument is that while he hasn’t called anyone out by name, that Kat went home because she was not trustworthy, and that “it doesn’t matter how many girls we have, but how many trustworthy people we have”. I think Vytas is about as trustworthy as he is female, but whatever. I do like his “I haven’t stabbed anyone in the back because I haven’t mentioned any names, even though it’s completely obvious who I’m talking about” argument.

Probst says to Tina that this sounds like a decent argument from a guy who has nothing to lose. Tina agrees, saying that Vytas is like his brother, and “their honesty and their sincerity, they reek of it” and if she were only going “on instinct” she would trust Vytas. I think Tina’s partly playing Vytas here.

Vytas, what would Aras say if you were voted out tonight? He says that Aras would be proud, but “pretty bummed that I’m gone” because they are still trying to build a closer relationship and they would miss “a few more steps to grow that much closer together”.

It’s time for Rupert’s Laura to make her defence. She correctly highlights the close bond between Aras and Vytas and points out that it makes them a huge threat. She admits that she struggles with the social side of the game, and says that Rupert would be proud of how she played, and also that it has been good to get out from his shadow. “I feel like I’m coming into my own and it feels good”.

Tough decision says Probst, comparing the “I want to bond closer with my brother” and “I’m a forty year-old finally coming out of my shell” stories. Tina agrees how horrible it is, and says that while she doesn’t come here to make friends, the stories people share with her “are part of the joy I take away from a hard, hard game”.

Vytas says that everyone here has an amazing story, but his vote will be based on who he thinks is the least trustworthy, and “based on our present, not on our past” and “how they have played the last 18 days”. Well, Vytas is full of it, because who was it that brought up his own amazing story in the first place as a reason for him to stay? Vytas. But when Rupert’s Laura has her own story of emotional journey to tell, story is suddenly irrelevant and the vote is all about trust. But these are things you only realise long after Tribal Council is over. He’s really, really good at this.

We see Rupert’s Laura vote for Vytas and Vytas vote for Laura, saying that her speech at camp “should have been switched around the other way”.

Probst goes to “tally” the votes, and it’s Vytas, then Rupert’s Laura, Rupert’s Laura, Rupert’s Laura. “That’s three, that’s enough”, and her torch is snuffed. “Bye guys,” she says. If Rupert’s Laura thought two Lauras on a tribe of eight was one too many, just wait until she gets to Redemption Island.

Probst warns everyone else that one of the trickiest things about Survivor is that “every time you open your mouth, you risk saying something that can get you voted out”. I think they already realise that, Probst. Maybe you should have told Rupert’s Laura before the immunity challenge.

Next time on Survivor, the winner of the Redemption Island duel will re-enter the game and the merged tribe. It’s the return of the “who can hang onto a pole the longest” challenge, which I always like.

Rupert’s Laura can’t believe the others didn’t stick with the plan to vote out Vytas. “If I get back in, I’m certainly not siding with the girls”. There are maybe three people left playing who haven’t voted for Rupert’s Laura, so she’s running out of options.