Survivor: Blood vs Water - Episode 9
My Brother's Keeper
By Ben Willoughby
November 14, 2013

Every one of these people has been voted out of the game yet Tyson remains. It's maddening.

No Survivor recap this week can begin without an appeal for donations to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which blew across the Philippines earlier this week, causing widespread devastation and killing thousands. If you would like to support the relief effort, you can make a donation here through the Red Cross, or here through UNICEF. Please, give generously.

Previously on Survivor, there was a merge, reuniting the returnees with whatever loved ones were left. Aras and Tina were feeling so confident that their alliance would stick with them that they didn’t even seem to be looking out for trouble, even after Tina told Monica “never satisfied” Culpepper that she would be fifth.

Tyson executed his strategy with his new alliance, even bringing in Monica and finding the hidden immunity idol along the way, “and at Tribal Council, Aras was the victim of a vicious blind-side.” Who will be voted out tonight?

The castaways arrive back at camp on night 21. Vytas is quick to say “That was a great move, as a fan of the show. Aras did not see that coming, and neither did I, so congratulations. That’s was awesome.” In interview, Vytas declares that vengeance will be his, and even in aside to Tyson he says “Knives out, bro. Let’s get it on and we’ll see how bad I can get you.”

Tina is less charitable. “I can’t keep my mouth shut, so I’ve got to say something. Bravo to you. That was a great move. Monica and Tyson, you won the battle, but you didn’t win the war because you’ve got five jury votes that you’ll never get, for flipping.” Does Tina have her math straight? Or is she including Gervase, one of the flippers, in the five votes she is speaking for?

Tyson rebuts that Tina, Katie and Vytas “pushed us out.” Tina swears that she didn’t push anyone out, but Tyson recalls that getting rid of Tyson and Monica was part of Aras’ plan. Tina feigns innocence. “Plan? I don’t know what his plan was… You all were never in the alliance,” she protests, but Laura? says “That’s not true, I had an alliance with Aras”. So did Ciera. So did everyone.

There’s a scramble from everyone to get words in, but Tyson talks and everyone else shuts up. “We all thought we were in his top three. There is one person who was flipping on everyone and he’s out of the game right now. And you need to understand that because you’ve accused me of something I’m not guilty of.”

Of course everyone on Survivor has top three alliances with pretty much everyone else, and at some point they’re going to have to flip on them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, and it’s all part of the game. But no one wants to turn up at the final Tribal Council where they are seen as a sneaky “flipper”, because they prefer their own version of the narrative, which is invariably “I was loyal to my true alliance.” It’s all about perception, and Tyson is right to challenge that perception right away. Tina does not look satisfied with this argument.

“Survivor’s broken my heart twice,” Tyson says in interview “but tonight I think I fell back in love.” Oh Tyson, you old softie! It’s as though Survivor has shown up crying on Tyson’s front doorstep with some flowers and a “Baby, I can change! I’m going to change” speech. He talks about how he knew Aras was never going to take him to the end and Tina had “prioritized Katie in front of me,” so he didn’t really appreciate Tina saying how honestly she has been playing the game.

The next morning, Tina and Katie are talking on the beach. “It’s not looking too good for the home team,” says Tina. She apologizes to Katie for her alliance not working out, and tells her daughter to do anything she can to further herself in the game, and that Katie shouldn’t feel that she has to bring Tina along into anything. “You’re not mad at me, are ya?” asks Tina. Katie is not.

So on Day 22, Katie has to come up with a game plan. “How do I sell myself when I have my mom on the line?” She doesn’t really know how to say “Keep me instead of her.” Somehow, I don’t think Katie will have to say that.

Probst sighting! “Come on in, guys!” It’s immunity challenge time, and there’s a table set up. It’s time for the return of the gross food challenge. “A race to get down local delicacies,” as Probst says.

First up are mealworms, 40 of them. They are live and wriggling in a glass espresso cup. The castaways are divided into two groups of five, with the first three from each group going through to the next round. “Survivors ready!”

The first group is Vytas, Laura?, Katie, Monica and Tyson. Tyson finishes first, while Vytas coughs up some of his onto the ground. He has to pick them up and re-eat them. Monica is done, and then Vytas finishes strongly. Those three are through to the next round, and Laura? and Katie are out.

The next group – Hayden, Ciera, Tina, Gervase and Caleb – stroll up to take their punishment. “They are just like gummi worms, except they’re grosser,” says Tyson supportively. They all down their shots of mealworms, and Gervase is jumping up and down to psych himself into swallowing them, while Ciera spits hers out on the sand almost immediately. Probst says that Tina is making faces “like they are biting her.” They probably are. Hayden gets his down first, and then “look at that,” Gervase has finished all of his mealworms. Probst is recalling Gervase’s pathetic grub-eating performance in Season 1. Tina spits hers out while Caleb swallows his down, and the three men are moving on.

The lucky six get to see what they’re eating next. “What the f--- is that?” asks Gervase. It’s pig intestines. Three ounces of them. And I’m sure there’s some half-digested pig food inside. Actually, half-digested sounds too appetizing. I’m sure there’s some pig food that is very close to becoming pig crap inside. “How are they prepared?” asks Tyson. “Beautifully,” replies Probst.

Go! Gervase digs right in and is “not messing around.” Has Probst found his new sweetheart? Meanwhile, Tyson spits his up onto his plate. But it’s Monica, that dark horse, who finishes first. Who will be in the final against her? Vytas and Gervase are both down to their last bites, but Vytas can’t quite get there and Gervase has it.

So “we are down to two,” says Probst. (According to the twitters, there was also a cow eyeball course, which didn’t make the cut). Probst has to take Gervase back to his first season of Survivor where the original eating challenge ended in glorious failure. And it’s the very same thing – a grub!

“I can’t do that! Ohhh!” complains Gervase, with his head in his hands. “You know I can’t do this,” he continues before beating himself around the head. On “go!” he picks them up, but misses his mouth entirely. He has to grab them up and cram them in, then he does star jumps to help them down. Monica is taking hers one at a time. “Fight through it, Culpepper!” says Probst. Has Monica graduated to last-name status?

Chewing continues, and then Monica runs towards Probst and opens her mouth. It is her first ever individual immunity win, and someone other than Monica will be voted out.

The castaways arrive back at camp, but it seems like no one congratulates Monica because we are straight into “split the vote” conversations. It seems like Vytas will get four votes from the men, and Katie three from the women.

Laura?, who has no real say in how the vote should go down, suggests the split because of her concern that someone may have the idol, and Tyson has to “roll with it” because he doesn’t want to tell everyone to relax because he has the idol. Vytas asks the group “which one of us is next?” and Tyson replies “Only time will tell.”

Obviously that is not a good enough answer for Vytas, so he has a private conversation with Hayden. “At least give it to me straight. You owe me that,” as though Hayden owes Vytas anything and would be the biggest bastard in the world if he doesn’t give Vytas what Vytas wants. Hayden tells him that it’s either Vytas or Katie. Dummy. Why doesn’t Hayden just say something else, like “we want to break up Tina and Katie”? Is he already thinking about jury votes?

“Give me one more,” Vytas urges. In interview, Vytas says that while he doesn’t want to beg, it’s really all he has left. “At this point, I’ll put Katie’s name down if it gets me further.” Katie arrives to see what Hayden and Vytas are talking about, and Vytas fills her in that it’s one of them. “I think in the end, it’s about not turning on each other. I mean, I’m not turning on your girls,” he says as though that’s believable.

Meanwhile, even though she has immunity, Monica is getting nervous. She rightly sees the plan to split the vote as riskier, and she is wondering why there is a mad scramble going on around camp when the plan is supposedly settled. Instead of Occam’s Razor-ing it and determining that Vytas, Katie and Tina are all trying to plead their case, she believes that the scramble is because it was Monica who was actually going to go next, and now they need someone to vote for instead. Laura? thinks Monica is coo-coo for cocoa puffs.

Vytas seems to have a keen idea that the vote will be for him, because he goes to Tyson and asks if he can have three votes in the split instead of four. Vytas talks about how it would “add a little salt in the wound” to go right after Aras, that “a pair can be dangerous” and that he might be more amenable to throwing his jury vote Tyson’s way.

Tyson accepts that these are all valid points, and in interview talks about his concern that the women may team up into an all-female alliance. He would actually prefer Katie to go next, but he doesn’t want to be seen as a kingpin. Also, there’s a good reason for Tyson to want Vytas out. Voting out Katie would make Vytas and Tina free agents, which provides opportunities to the people at the bottom of his five. Voting out Tyson keeps Tina and Katie in the game as a pair, and everyone in his alliance will see that as a threat.

The five plus Monica but not Laura? go to talk about the vote and they weigh the options, but Ciera says “if we’re solid, it doesn’t matter.” Yes, “if we’re solid.”

Tribal Council. Probst asks what happened after the last vote, and Tina says that she called out Tyson and Monica, and admits that she “should have just kept my big mouth shut.”

Vytas says that he was happy that Tina said all that, because he certainly felt it. As in “F--- you, you vote out my brother, I’m gonna f--- you up, how dare you vote out my little brother.” Vytas really lets the mask slip when he says this, and everyone else seems to be taken aback at his hidden depths of anger. “I mean, I couldn’t say that then,” Vytas back-pedals, but Probst is quick to point out that Vytas just said it now. I get that Vytas probably knows he is going home and wants to get in a few shots, but that’s hardly going to dent this alliance.

Gervase calms things down by saying that he understands the emotions, and when Marissa was voted off he was talking about “throwing salt in your wounds” and “winning all the immunity challenges.” Vytas says that the vote for Aras at the last Tribal Council was a great move, and Survivor is “all about betrayal,” then adds that sure, Aras “had a couple of alliances” and people “intimidated by Aras or myself blew a little bit of air into that fire, like Monica who’s already paranoid – she fell for it right away. Just tell her ‘she’s a doormat’ and she’s like ‘I don’t want to be a doormat, I’m with you.’”

Monica is quick to come back, pointing out that even though Vytas flopped on Brad, she “stuck [her] neck out for [her] alliance,” helping to keep Vytas from being voted out. “You were getting yourself further at the same time,” says Vytas, as though he wasn’t doing the same thing. “This Monica the Benevolent thing is a little bit over-all to win the million dollars. We had a bond, it was ‘I’m trusting you and you’re trusting me’ and you broke that trust.”

Probst asks Katie whether it could be her, her mother or Vytas tonight. Katie agrees, and says that if it’s not her, she’ll be “looking for the cracks” and “hopefully there’ll be someone here who makes a move.”

Vytas isn’t done fighting, and says that if he is voted out, the “women would behoove themselves to rally” and “Tyson and Gervase... should be the guys that these girls get out.” Time to vote.

Monica votes for Vytas, with a “what up, Brad?” That’s about as current as saying “I’m voting for Katie... not!” Ciera votes for Katie. And when Probst “tallies” the votes, they are for Vytas, Katie, “Thai Sun”, Vytas, Vytas, Vytas and Vytas. How come Katie only has one vote? It turns out that only Ciera voted for Katie. Laura? voted for Vytas, as did Tina and Katie. Probst’s parting words are that the bad news for Tina and Katie is that they are on the bottom, but the good news is they have nothing left to lose.

The castaways arrive back at camp and Tina mocks the departed Vytas by saying to Monica “let me just tell you a thing or two.” Monica happily proclaims to the group that she flipped her vote to Vytas after “the vitriol attack” at Tribal Council, and even repeats her “what up, Brad?” comment as though it was the most cutting thing ever. Hayden fake-laughs.

Understandably not everyone is enthusiastic about this. Gervase interviews about how annoyed he is that Monica didn’t stick with the plan, and that he would have lost it if someone other than Vytas had been voted out. They really should have interviewed Tyson, who actually did do this in the Heroes vs. Villains season. But it’s Gervase. “Don’t rock the boat,” he says. “Moves like that make me say, ‘let’s get rid of Monica next’. One more straw and the camel’s back will be broke.” Can we trust Monica to go through a whole half-episode without saying anything stupid?

On Redemption Island, “I did not expect to see you,” lies Aras. Vytas is quick to blame Aras for his downfall. “You’re the one that got us out of the game, bro.” “There’s just no way I could have seen it.” “There were signs,” Vytas’ hindsight is 20/20.

In interview, Vytas is still blaming Aras. “He said he was good,” and now Vytas was voted out due to “guilt by association.” So, Vytas who last episode was talking about dominating the game with his brother, and before that was only kept in the game because of his alliance with his brother, is now pleading “I’m just here from guilt by association?” That’s some sense of entitlement. Let’s give Vytas some time to calm down. I liked him a lot better when he wasn’t believing his own cock-and-bull stories.

Vytas continues bickering with Aras about whether they are still in the game or not. Aras is definite they are still in the game, because if they weren’t he would be eating a cheeseburger. Vytas is less optimistic. “It’s different. It’s purgatory.” “I’m going to come back and I’m going to win the game,” bright-sides Aras. Vytas belches loudly.

Aras interviews about how he has positive energy, while Vytas is more negative. Then he tells Vytas that he would be just as happy if Vytas won Redemption Island as if he won himself. “I can’t say the same for you,” says Vytas. Let’s give Vytas some more time.

There’s no time for any more camp life, because it’s already time for another Probst sighting! Immunity challenge! He takes back the necklace from Monica. In this immunity challenge, the castaways will balance a sword upright on a shield, and at Probst’s direction they will stack a series of coins on the sword hilt. When any coins fall, that person is out, and the last person with a stack of coins standing wins immunity.

Everyone grabs their sword and places it on the shield. Then they place a small coin on the hilt. Then a medium. Another small. Large. Medium. Then Monica drops some coins and she is out. Ciera too. Probst does that hypnotic thing with his voice where he drones on about focusing in a way that’s guaranteed to distract you. But it doesn’t work.

Several coins later, Probst is asking for a medium coin to be added to the stack when Tina wobbles and drops the coin in her hand. She is out. Then Gervase’s pile tumbles and Laura?’s topples. Probst calls out more coin sizes as we see shot after shot of sweat beads dripping off Tyson’s nose. Caleb’s stack falls and he is out. Now it’s just Tyson, Hayden and Katie.

Probst commentates that the wind is picking up, but what sets things moving is when he asks for a large coin to be placed on top. Tyson and Hayden both lose their stacks and Katie! Wins! Immunity! and is safe at tonight’s vote. Tina claps, yays and hugs her daughter anyway. “It looks so good on you, honey,” she says about the immunity necklace. They all grab their stuff and head back to camp.

Back at camp, Katie says that winning immunity “feels like winning the lottery.” I’d have given Katie better odds at winning the lottery, so I completely understand. Now the clock is ticking on Tina, who says she has “five hours to find the idol.” Meanwhile, Tyson is saying that if Tina goes looking for the idol, “someone should hang with her.”

Tina doesn’t have any idol clues, except that Katie said it was between salt and fresh water. Katie didn’t even have the serpentine tree clue? Tyson interviews about how it would be nice to reveal that he has the idol, so they could all take naps, but then he becomes a target.

Anyway, Tina manages to lose her followers for a little while, but they eventually find her. “Are we ready to go back and eat?” Tyson asks her. “Yeah,” says Tina, not budging. “Or you can stay, we don’t care.” “Okay.” “We’ll stay with you,” says Tyson, and he, Hayden and Caleb go back into the forest to chat. Tina has to squat and wait until they forget about her. She says she doesn’t want to start searching because then they’ll know she doesn’t have it. But it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t have it, because she wouldn’t be waiting them out if she did.

Do you know who thinks Tina might have it? Monica. She asks Tyson and Laura? what they should do if Tina has it. “We split the votes” says Laura? as though it’s that simple. “We could split the vote,” hedges Tyson. “Split the votes between...?” asks Monica. Both Tyson and Laura? realize this is where it gets complicated. Tyson has to reassure Monica that Katie and Tina will not find the idol – but without showing her that he has it, obviously.

Tyson doesn’t want to split the vote, because it will make Monica feel on the bottom. “She’s a real wild card, that girl. You never know what she’s going to do and that makes her dangerous.” And in discussion with Gervase, he says that Monica is “super-paranoid and she has reason to be paranoid.”

Gervase talks about the benefits of “sticking with the damn plan.” In interview he says “loose cannons will always shoot off, and when they do, nine times out of ten they’re going to sink something you’re riding on.” He talks about it with Hayden too, and says that “in the off-chance that Tina has the idol, it’s Monica” before saying “you can’t have people go renegade.” Maverick and going rogue are so 2008! Hayden passes this all along to Caleb.

Tribal Council. Probst helpfully recaps that from the results of the last Tribal Council, it would be either Tina or Katie at this one. So now Katie has won immunity, what is Tina to do? Tina explains amusedly that she went looking for the idol, but had “baby-sitters all day.” However, she jabs in that she managed to get away from them twice.

Probst asks about the people who are not Katie or Tina, and points out the seven in the alliance and says “It cannot be all these people,” followed by “poor Monica! Guess what, you’re at the bottom!” I wouldn’t exactly say that. At this point, there’d be no one I’d want to go to the final three with more than Monica.

Monica brushes it off with “that’s fine, people have opinions, and... I’ve had relationships since Day One”, which isn’t smart when your alliance of seven contains yourself, three people who weren’t on your tribe on Day One, and another person that you voted out on Day 13. “So you’re saying you don’t feel you’re on the bottom?” presses Tina.

Monica admits that Tyson and Gervase are together, Hayden and Caleb are together and both sets of mothers and daughters are together, so sure, sometimes she does feel that way. Tina doesn’t let up, saying that Monica is on the bottom as she is always the last one told about voting decisions, and it’s because she “talks way too much and it makes people scared to death.”

Probst asks Gervase when someone talking too much becomes a liability. “Instantaneously. I don’t like wild cards because they can ruin everything just like that.”

Probst then asks Monica what is to stop them getting rid of her tonight. After all, they can get rid of Tina any time they want. Monica admits that there is always doubt, and recaps the vote-splitting discussion. She says “maybe I’m on the bottom.”

Probst asks Hayden why they should split the vote, and he blah-blahs about how they have run through all the scenarios. He ends on “Should we split the vote and maybe take out the bottom? Maybe we should.” Monica jumps up that “splitting the vote is a really silly plan” and claims that she is “extremely trustworthy” and to her alliance, “I don’t know how you could ask for a better player.”

It’s also a silly plan because if they split the vote 4-3 between Tina and Monica, Tina and Katie could just vote for Monica and survive without even playing an idol if they had one. I suppose they could vote for Tina, two for Monica, and then unanimously on the re-vote, but that’s pretty risky.

Probst gives the last words to Tina. “Why keep you?” She argues that if Monica were voted out, it wouldn’t be crucial to the numbers. There’d be a blind-side sooner or later, but the only way to ensure a blind-side tonight would be if she had the idol. “Maybe I have the idol, maybe I haven’t. We’ll just have to see.” Time to vote.

We see Katie’s vote for Monica and Monica’s vote for Tina. When Probst comes back from “tallying” the votes, he asks if anyone has a hidden immunity idol and Tina starts rummaging through her bag. But she’s playing. “I wish I found it, but I didn’t.”

The votes are for Monica, Tyson, Tina, Tina, Tina and the tenth person voted out of Survivor: Blood vs. Water is Tina. She doesn’t take it badly, giving Katie a kiss and saying “see y’all tomorrow” after Probst snuffs her torch. Probst does “good news/bad news” again. Good news, Katie is that the alliance of seven is not as tight as they seem. Bad news, your mother is gone!

Next time on Survivor, Laura? is excitedly talking to Ciera. “Can you believe we’re the last couple?” Ciera interviews: “My mom needs to go!”

Tina arrives at Redemption Island talking about how nice it is to have a second shot. To stay in the game, I think she’ll need a third. Vytas claims to be happy to “give Tina a hug, give her a blanket and send her on her way tomorrow.” With that sort of interview, maybe it won’t work out that way.