Survivor: Blood vs Water - Episode 8
Skin of my Teeth
By Ben Willoughby
November 7, 2013

Everyone is happy before the season begins. There should be an After shot alongside the Before one.

Previously on Survivor, on Galang “the women were in control,” leaving Vytas “on the outside looking in,” while on Tadhana “Aras thought he was in control.” However, Tyson was “pulling the strings... gathering idol information and putting together an alliance of five.” And after Galang lost the immunity challenge, Rupert’s Laura - who told Vytas the vote would be for him to save his feelings - ended up “saving Vytas’ feelings by getting voted out.”

Galang arrives back at camp and Vytas thanks everyone “so much” and says that he “feels so much trust” in this group. He talks about how this group, with Aras, is “my five.” Does Vytas have any other setting besides “lay it on real thick”? “It’s locked,” he says.

Monica knows that five doesn’t make a controlling vote of 11. “So you think that Aras has Gervase 100% and he won’t waver?” “Yep,” says Tina. “I believe that too,” says Vytas. Vytas is more open in interview, confirming that all that trust baloney about “we’re going to be moral, we’re going to be honest” is “not what I feel, but it’s what I’m rapping to them.” I do appreciate Vytas’ ability to remain detached from his blatant cow-plops.

Anyway, now it’s just the four of them, Tina feels that she can be honest. She says in front of Vytas that Monica “has done more to stick her neck out than Gervase has” and that therefore she should be “in the five spot” with Tina, Katie, Aras and Vytas “instead of the sixth spot. Loyalty should be rewarded.” Monica thanks Tina politely. “That means a lot, especially from you.” I speak fluent Monica now, and my translation is “This sucks. I’m supposed to take #5 and like it? And I know this is their plan because it came from Tina.” And in interview, Monica confirms she is less than thrilled with being #5 and will be looking at other options “better than five.”

Well, on the one hand Tina can’t just say in front of Vytas “After final five, we cut the guys and it’s you, me and Katie for final three.” But on the other hand, Tina could have played that better by having a private side-conversation with Monica promising final three. And it would be believable, because no way are Aras, Vytas, Katie and Tina getting to final four and then picking rocks.

Rupert’s Laura arrives at Redemption Island very grumpy. She calls the decision to vote her out “ridiculous,” “horrible” and “non-strategic” and she believes that the six men are going to team up after the merge and vote out the five women. I don’t think Rupert’s Laura understands how important relationships are in Survivor. Trust trumps gender, and that’s why she’s on Redemption Island.

The next morning, the three Redemption islanders get tree-mail that today’s duel will be their last, and the winner will re-enter the game. Losers will drool. John gets an interview about how this duel is the only one that really matters. Laura? gets an interview about how she has to win it, because she needs to be there for her daughter. Rupert’s Laura doesn’t get an interview at all, which is your final clue that she doesn’t have a chance. Cue credits.

Probst sighting! Tadhana gets their first look at the new Galang tribe and they’re obviously wondering “why is Vytas still there?” I think Vytas’ continued presence has to solidify that new Tadhana alliance, because they are all looking for a reason why Vytas is being kept around. Meanwhile, Ciera admits that she has mixed feelings about her mother maybe coming back into the game, because Laura?’s relationships on the returnees tribe obviously “weren’t that strong, and... it could really ruin my game if she came back.” Moms completely cramp your style.

Anyway, the Redemption Island duel is the one where they have to hang onto a pole for as long as possible, and if any part of their body touches the ground they are out. “Everyone is in position, this duel is on!” Rupert’s Laura is already starting to slip down the pole before Probst notes that John should be familiar with this because Candice competed in the same challenge on her second season. Why would John be familiar with this? Did Candice erect ten foot poles in the back yard for them to practice on? Actually, I wouldn’t put it past her.

After 20 minutes, everyone is still grabbing onto their poles. John starts to slide, so he kicks off his shoes so he stands a better chance at getting a toehold. Then he tries to work his way back up. “Now the socks are slipping!” Probst says excitedly, as though the shorts might be next. Rupert’s Laura isn’t even using the footholds, she is “wrapped around it like a baby holding onto her mom.” Probst can’t quite keep the cruelty out of his tone. However, John slips again and eventually slips all the way to the bottom. Everyone claps and tells him “good job.” Who will be Probst’s man-crush now? Is Hayden clean-cut enough?

Now it’s Rupert’s Laura’s turn to slide down, and she even gets below the final foothold but hangs on. Laura? tells her to give up because she isn’t moving. “My daughter’s on the line for this,” says Laura? “Quit telling yourself you’re sliding, start telling yourself you’re glue” says Drill Sergeant Probst. There’s some footage of Laura? having some momentary difficulty to build some fake tension, but Rupert’s Laura eventually touches down and Laura? has “earned her way back into this game.”

Time for farewells. Rupert’s Laura is first, which is utter bollocks because John was eliminated before her. Probst is still bitter and heart-broken that Rupert didn’t play this season, because his intro is “You were voted out on Day One, got another shot and couldn’t get it done.” Rupert’s Laura talks about how she was a “quiet farm girl” and will “go back the strongest woman I’ve ever been in my life.”

John talks about how he thought about that challenge for 12 days, and while he didn’t get to play with Candice he did get to spend two days on Redemption Island with her. As well as another 20 in a nice resort starting right now. Probst wants to talk to John some more, so he asks how Survivor compares to other tough things that John has done. John says it was like his first year at West Point, probably just to keep Probst happy.

One more announcement from Probst. Drop your buffs, it’s merge time! And wait, who gets the clue to the hidden immunity idol? Laura? decides to keep it for herself, and to Probst’s disappointment she throws it right in the fire. Oh well. Aras and Vytas hug, and then Aras interviews that he wants to go “Galang strong” with Vytas and Katie. He thinks that seven against four gives a “distinct advantage” in the votes, but he’s failed to figure out that #5, #6 and #7 may go looking for better options.

The merged tribe arrives back at camp. “Where’s the foo-oo-ood?” They find the crate and start eating salami sandwiches and drinking wine and rum straight from the bottle. Hayden talks about how he was liking the eating, but he was also wondering what to do – stick with his five and hope Ciera is able to pull Laura? in, or worry that the Laura?-Ciera couple will feel safer with the other couples of Aras-Vytas and Tina-Katie.

Laura? interviews that the “couples have to stay together, because that’s six right there” before going off with Ciera to talk. Gervase and Tyson have a chat about how it all comes down to Laura?, and that Ciera will be working her.

At the other end of the beach, Ciera downloads about her own alliance and says that the basis of her alliance is “having no loved ones in the game.” “So thanks for screwing that up for me, mom,” she doesn’t say. Ciera shares that the next vote is for Aras, and she wants Laura? to be on board and not to talk to anyone. Laura? is beside herself with excitement that she and Ciera are going to decide what will happen in the next vote. “Just don’t play hard,” Ciera orders, but I’m pretty sure that’s against her mother’s nature.

“You going for a walk, Tyson?” asks Aras. Tyson says he is, and away he goes to look for the hidden immunity idol. Thanks to the clues Caleb and Hayden gave him (and never acted on), he’s pretty sure it’s at the giant vine tree on the way to the waterfall. There’s cagey music playing that makes you think he’s going to be busted, but Tyson finds the idol. “Right now, nobody needs to know I have it,” he says. So maybe wear baggier shorts next time? He notes that he’s never had an idol before and never won the show before, and he hopes there’s a correlation.

After the commercials, Aras and Vytas congratulate each other for having made the merge. They set out their path forward, which has the two of them, Katie and Tina, Monica on board and Gervase makes six.

Aras also says he wants to keep Tyson around. Vytas is concerned about an immunity run, but Aras dismisses this due to Tyson’s broken arm. He wants to get rid of Laura?, who “is the scariest person in this game.” “Everyone feels uncomfortable with her,” he says. Vytas tempts fate by saying “if people were smart they would mobilize against us right away... but they’re not going to,” and in interview says “Blood vs. Water should really be called Vytas vs. Aras, because we would have to be real stupid at this point not to get to the end.” That needs a sad trombone sound effect right there.

That night, Tyson and Monica get a chance to swap notes, which is very interesting because I didn’t think they’d trust one another enough for this conversation to happen. Monica talks about the conversation with Tina where she learned she should be happy with #5. Tyson says that he and Gervase are tight, and Monica immediately says that Gervase thinks he is final three with Tina and Aras.

Tyson details his whole plan to vote out Aras, but Monica keeps asking if he is sure about Gervase being on his side. “Are you sure that Gervase is with you?” “I’m sure.” “You’re sure?” I understand why Monica is nervous and wants to make absolutely sure because Tina and Vytas are completely convinced Gervase is with them. But I also think that if Gervase was with that group, then Monica would already have heard about it and be looking forward to the next day’s blind-side of Tyson. That she has heard nothing means that Gervase is with Tyson.

Tyson is patient in person, but in interview he says “At some point you have to be like ‘Monica, shut up’” and “Give me a rusty spoon so I can dig both my eyeballs out, and then jam it through my eye socket into my brain.” He promises to go to the end with Monica and Gervase, which is a good plan for Tyson because Monica drives everyone crazy, and Monica replies that this is a better option than the “reality sandwich” of “you’re #5.”

Probst sighting! Begone, tribe immunity idol! It’s time to reveal the ugly-as-ever individual immunity necklace. After the oohs and ahhs are done, Probst explains the challenge. It’s a memory test. Probst will hold up a series of symbols and then the castaways will repeat the series back to him.

Probst shows the first set of symbols. Barrel, crate, cannon, ship, compass, lantern. Everyone gets barrel right, but Monica gets crate wrong and she is out. Then Caleb and Katie get cannon wrong and they are out. Tina and Tyson get ship wrong, Hayden gets compass wrong and after five symbols half of the castaways are sitting on the bench. This could be the fastest immunity challenge ever. Everyone gets lantern correct, and it’s onto Round 2.

Barrel, lantern, cannon, lantern, compass, barrel, cannon. Everyone gets barrel right again, but Laura? is out at lantern and Ciera follows at cannon. Everyone gets the second lantern right, but Gervase misses compass and it’s the Aras-Vytas showdown that Probst has been waiting for! Again! On the last one for the round, Vytas picks cannon and Aras picks lantern, but Aras knows he is wrong.

Vytas! Wins! Immunity! And more importantly, bragging rights over memory games for the next two decades. Anyway, Vytas must feel pretty relieved to be safe after his last two tribal councils. Now that he’s put in his four minutes of work for the day, Probst wishes everyone a “very interesting afternoon, ha ha ha.” OK, the “ha ha ha” was implied.

Kasama is the name of the merged tribe, and now that you know it you can start forgetting it. Everyone congratulates Vytas, who interviews that he didn’t really need immunity, and he never wants to be in a position where he needs immunity. “I didn’t need it today, but I needed to beat my brother.” But he says that he and Aras are the biggest threats in the game, and “no one on this beach has the guts to do anything about it.” Does that mean their sinister-plot-detection radar will be on full blast?

Aras is plotting the vote for Laura?, and he is worried that she may have found an immunity idol that she didn’t have a clue for, didn’t lose when she was voted out and didn’t have an opportunity to look for while she was on Redemption Island. So on Aras’ plan, Tina, Katie and Monica will vote for Ciera and Gervase, Aras, Vytas and Tyson will vote for Laura? He asks Katie if she is OK with voting for her friend Ciera. “It’s a game, beyotch!”

Laura? and Ciera are having another chat. Here’s the gist: “Does Aras have the idol?” “Aras is so comfortable.” “Because he has an idol?” Laura? comes up with some crazy plan to throw four votes for Tina and three for Aras, as though changing the plan at the last minute is going to be easy and not scare anyone. Ciera interviews about how she wants to listen to her mother, but she is here to play her own game. Shut up, mom!

Caleb and Gervase are collecting huge pieces of driftwood when Tyson comes up to confirm the vote for Aras. “King Aras,” “Sir Aras”. Gervase interviews about Tyson’s plan and that he is not sure everyone is on the same page for this vote. However, he cannot wait to see how it will all shake out.

Tribal Council. The first question goes to Tyson, and it’s about how they have the old alliances from the original tribes, the new alliances from the switched tribe, and the loved ones alliances. Tyson says that the couples will naturally want to work together. He oversteps by saying “if my brother were here, that’s what I’d want to do.” Either he forgot that he came into the game with his girlfriend, or more likely he wants Aras to know it was Tyson all along.

Probst asks if this is fair, but Aras dismisses the idea of power couples, saying that for this vote six people have to come together, so any couple has to find four other people that they really trust. True, but when four of the people are two pairs, anyone else is going to be cagey about joining that alliance.

Probst says that the three couples could stick together, but going by Survivor history, Laura? who has come back into the game, would normally get sent right back there. Does that make Laura? and Ciera swing votes? Hayden says that he has to assume that all the pairs will work together, and could possibly be swing votes. Katie basically confirms she’s working with Tina by saying she “came into the merge with an idea of who I would work with.”

Tyson downplays the idea of the couples taking over the game, saying that while it’s threatening, it could just as easily be the six men against the five women. There are “a lot of different ways you could cut the pie” and he “hopes to get the largest portion.”

Laura? What’s your best play? She avoids the question by saying that everyone has been avoiding her like the “kid with the chicken pox” but she can “filter through Ciera” who is “a great social player” and is “putting her in check.” Way to make your daughter a bigger target. Good work, mother’s love! Ciera says that the situation is a “total reversal” from real life for her to say “just calm down ‘cause you’re freaking me out.” I wonder if Laura? understood Ciera’s secret message?

Probst asks Gervase what changes after tonight’s vote. He underlines the need to stay calm because the “game can change like that” and when it does, you have to be ready and take advantage of it. Time to vote!

We see Katie vote for Ciera. “We’ve been friends since the beginning, but I’m sorry,” Gervase for Aras, “this is my power move” and Aras for Laura? “might as well vote you down twice.” Probst goes to “tally” the votes, and as expected since we saw Gervase’s swing vote it’s Laura?, Laura?, Ciera, Sierra, then Aras, Aras, Aras, Aras, Aras. With every vote revealed for Aras, you can see Tina’s lips ratchet even tighter.

Sorry Aras, it’s time to go. You will have a chance to get back in this game. “Well played, guys, well played,” says Aras before telling Vytas to have lots of fun. Probst’s parting comment is that there were a lot of questions coming in to Tribal Council, and there’s some clarity now it’s over.

Well, that was a pretty successful blind-side. Tyson managed to put together an alliance to vote out Aras comprising of everyone on the tribe but Aras, including someone Aras thought was a very close ally. All without anyone outside getting wind that something was up, when experienced players like Aras and Tina should have known that seven was too many people to have in their alliance.

And while it may have been too early, from Tina’s conversation with Monica at the beginning of the episode, Tyson was no higher than #7 so it probably was something he had to pull the trigger on quickly. Of course, now it’s “King Aras is dead! Long live King Tyson!”, but at least he has an idol.

Next Time On Survivor, Tina does not take the vote well. “Bravo, bravo, that’s five jury votes you’ll never get.” I don’t know, it didn’t seem like Aras took the vote that personally. Maybe there’ll be one or two votes that Tyson won’t get, but I don’t think he was counting on those anyway. And we have the return of the gross food challenge, and this one makes them all gag. How many gross Filipino delicacies are there?

Aras arrives on Redemption Island, and there is no one there but him. He is still in shock, especially because he was never voted out before. He laments that Vytas is in a “really tough position now,” and he expects to see him next. But presumably Vytas will say “Hey guys, I don’t have any loved ones in the game so I’m in the same situation as you. Let’s start building some wonderful trust together.”