Survivor: Blood vs Water - Episode 12
Rustle Feathers
By Ben Willoughby
December 5, 2013

At least he'll always be remembered as a hard worker.

Previously on Survivor, there were no sentimental attachments or Survivor obstacles left to get in the way of cut-throat gameplay. “Caleb and Hayden saw a chance to blind-side Tyson,” but Ciera informed on their plans and Tyson was “ready to fight fire with fire.” At Tribal Council, Tyson ensured his safety by playing his hidden immunity idol, but he turned out not to need it as Ciera stuck with him along with Gervase and Monica, and Caleb was sent home. Six are left. Who will be voted out tonight?

“That was fun,” Hayden says sarcastically as he arrives back from Tribal Council on Night 29. He congratulates Tyson on a great move, and in interview says “Kat would say ‘touché.'” That’s right, she would say that. Hayden would prefer to stick to calling them “sons of... ... ... guns."

Then Hayden announces to the whole camp that “I hope everyone here likes second place, because if Tyson goes to the end, he’s winning."

Gervase is quick to pop up. “Tyson can’t do nothing if it wasn’t for me!” and “I got my hand on his back?” He has a huge smile while he’s saying this.

“Hey, why you gotta throw me under the bus like that, dude?” asks Tyson, who is also smiling. It’s the same “joking around but really, we mean it” stuff that they did with Aras right after the merge. And in interview, Tyson says he didn’t really like Hayden calling him out.

Tyson then interviews that he regrets playing his idol last night because it leaves him defenseless, but he says he trusts his alliance enough. Of course, if he trusted his alliance 30 minutes ago, he’d still have his idol. The four of them get together and agree that the next vote will be for Hayden, or if he wins immunity, Katie.

Redemption Island. In come Tina, Laura? and Caleb. Probst quickly points out that Caleb doesn’t look at the remaining players. Caleb says that he still likes Hayden and Katie, but “a man’s word is a man’s word, in the South it means something, and in the game of Survivor and Utah and Philly it does not mean as much." That’s disappointingly self-serving from Caleb. Once your plans to vote someone out are made public, all future handshake deals with that person are null and void.

After the credits, Probst explains for the slow viewers that Utah means Tyson and Philly means Gervase. But Gervase’s response is “we made a bond with Caleb and Hayden, and from what I heard they tried to do us dirty first… That’s sore loser status there!”

Anyway, time to explain the challenge. Each challenger has 150 tiles which they have to assemble into a house of cards at least eight feet high, or as high as you can after 30 minutes. Because who wants to sit in the hot sun all afternoon watching idiots stack tiles? Not Probst. Also, there’s an idol clue for whoever wins to hand out.

The challenge gets underway and Probst immediately starts commentating about how “there’s a learning curve” and “you can’t let it be demoralizing”, while there’s a lot of footage of people knocking over tiles. It must have been riveting, because we fast-forward to 24 minutes later where Laura? has a seven-foot high stack while Tina and Caleb are at three feet and two and a half respectively. A few tiles fall from the top of Laura?’s stack, which is also leaning, and if that were me, I would have said “that’s high enough” and hoped it didn’t fall over in the next six minutes.

Laura? has more nerve than I do, and after a couple of tense moments where more tiles fall off, she gets her stack above eight feet and wins the duel. As for Tina and Caleb, there are just three minutes left and whoever has the highest stack at the deadline will stay alive. They are both doing better, with Caleb about six inches higher than Tina and “on a tear.”

At the one-minute-to-go mark, Tina nearly loses her stack while Caleb’s stack gets higher but also crooked. And with 30 seconds to go, his stack falls over as though it as felled by a lumberjack. Tina just has to sit there, knowing that he can’t catch her, and with Probst’s encouragement she counts down the last 10 seconds. De-fault! The two sweetest words in the English language! When Probst calls it, Tina hugs Caleb and apologizes to him.

So Caleb is out. Probst says that after 30 days in the game, “I’m guessing you impressed a lot of people with your work ethic and the way you handled Colton”, whose relationship [with Caleb] is “still a mystery” to Probst. That’s it? “Work ethic” is the consolation prize, the Survivor “we can’t think of anything else to say about him” award. Man, don’t trust Probst to write your eulogy.

But Probst wants to get to the bottom of why Colton and Caleb are together. I mean, sure, it’s a mystery to me too, but who comes out and asks that? Instead of telling Probst to pull his head out of his ass, Caleb says that opposites attract, but he and Colton are similar in many ways. “How are you similar?” challenges Probst. “We’re both guys.” Mystery solved! Though Caleb admits that Colton’s “estrogen level is a little higher than mine.” Laura? gets to give out the clue, and she gives it to Ciera, who decides to keep it.

When the castaways arrive back at camp, Hayden points out that Laura? has won every single Redemption Island challenge so far. No one seems to pay much attention. Ciera interviews that this week she wanted the clue because she knew the idol would be in play. Her plan is to reveal the idol to her alliance so they can find it and use it as a group. Apparently it’s not too far from the water and not too close to the ground.

Tyson, Monica, Ciera and Gervase scramble to look for the idol and Hayden and Katie decide to go spy on them. They see everyone hunting, and Hayden says that the idol is his last hope so he has to look too. “This is stupid,” he says as the camera pans up to the idol’s location.

Tyson also feels he has to find the idol, and in a different interview he talks about how he is seen as the #1 threat and tearfully admits that he feels he has to get to the end, because it’s the only way it would be worth having kept his spot and not taking Rachel’s place on Redemption Island. “I feel so close, and I feel it’s getting pulled away from me.” Man, that is some hero edit.

Obviously, Tyson goes climbing a tree, and “Boom!” he finds the idol. He tucks it into his crotch because he has no pockets, and “nobody will suspect a bulge.” Is Tyson walking around camp with an erection? “Don’t mind me! I’m just trying to walk off a situation!” Tyson claims that he will keep it to himself, and that he’s earned a nap.

Looking at the gameplay, I don’t think Ciera had much choice in sharing the clue after deciding to keep it. She is in an alliance with three returning players, she is not entirely trusted, and if she were to go idol-hunting on her own it would look super-sketchy to the other three. Her best option probably was to share it with the group and “prove her loyalty.” Of course, in Survivor “proving loyalty” also means “proving sucker-hood” as now Tyson has found the idol and at this late stage in the game, is probably not going to use it for the group’s benefit.

Meanwhile, Hayden is connecting with Gervase. “Where’s your head at, bro?”

“In the game, as always,” replies Gervase. Hayden talks about getting rid of Tyson, but Gervase says “I don’t see a move, tell me a move.” Hayden suggests that he could get Ciera on-side and Gervase says “but you gotta get Ciera.” In interview, Gervase says he doesn’t really trust Hayden, but he still wants options in the game.

After the break it’s Day 32, so we’ve missed a whole day once again. Probst sighting! “You guys ready to get to today’s immunity challenge?” The castaways will have to race through an obstacle while balancing a ball on a pole. At each section of the course they will add a length of pole, making the ball harder to balance. Drop the ball and you go back to the beginning of the section and start again. When they’re done with the course, the ball will release a key which will open a box which contains sandbags which they will throw at bamboo targets. First to get all nine targets on the ground, wins.

And we’re playing for immunity and reward – an afternoon of ice cream. There’ll be a cart brought around to camp so the unpopular losers have something to look at. And while everyone else is scrambling, you’ll have “a belly full of ice cream,” which is probably not the best feeling on Day 32.

The challenge gets underway, and Monica is the only person to make it through the first section without having to go back. Tyson drops his ball after five seconds. Gervase and Tyson are not too far behind.

Monica, veins popping on her arms, also finishes the second part of the course first, though Gervase and Tyson are closer this time. Hayden also gets through the second section while Katie drops her ball and “took it on the head.”

Monica leads the third section, but Gervase is right behind her while Tyson has to go back and re-start. Gervase and Monica release their keys, open their boxes and get the sandbags out. Gervase is good at throwing and gets a few lucky multiples, and soon he is down to three targets left while Monica has only knocked down two.

More throwing. Gervase is on his last target while Monica has five, then four, then two. Tyson has caught up and he starts throwing his sandbags wildly. But Gervase scrambles to collect more bags, and finally gets one to hit the last target. Gervase! Wins! Individual immunity! And reward!

Gervase goes to collect the necklace, and obviously he has to pick one other person to share the reward with. He picks Monica, which fair enough as she gave up food for everyone two weeks ago and he doesn’t want her to feel she is on the bottom. And one more! Gervase picks Tyson, his “left-hand man,” which is obviously an over-confident move. All right. Back to camp!

After the break, everyone congratulates Gervase and he gets an interview to talk about how he finally won immunity and what a good position he is in. The ice cream cart arrives and they start eating it in front of the others. There’s some complaint, but the deal was the ice cream would be at camp so it’s on anyone who doesn’t want to watch to go to get water or whatever.

Anyway, this gives Hayden the opportunity he’s been waiting for – to pitch to Ciera about a move. He says it’s either him or Katie tonight, and asks who will be going this week. But Ciera doesn’t bite and says “I would hope it’s one of you two.” She interviews that she has “no intention of doing anything with Hayden or Katie.” I’m really interested to know why she’s so adamant about this, but I suspect it has something to do with how they didn’t want Laura? back in the game.

Hayden asks Ciera whether she would vote with them if he put together a majority. Ciera says it depends who the majority is, and Hayden ships “Gervase is on board if you’re on board” then says he has two options – cause a stink at Tribal to flush Tyson’s idol and then vote Monica, or try and get Tyson on the sly. “You have to have a resumé, you have to have said you made a big move,” insists Hayden. Ciera points out that would be a 3-3 vote, and she is not doing that.

Then Hayden, Ciera and Gervase are sitting at camp and Hayden is pushing the “you do not want second place” motif again. His plan is Tyson tonight, then Katie next week.

“I think I can beat Tyson, because he’s committed the same crimes that I have,” says Gervase.

“Yes, but he’s played the game,” says Hayden. Ciera says she agrees with Gervase, because she feels her biggest threat is Katie. “Second place is the first loser,” pressures Hayden. Hayden admits in interview that he is getting nowhere. “I don’t like to lose. I am the worst loser.”

A little later, Monica and Katie are sitting there Hayden sees that Tyson is watching. He says “I’m trying to get everybody to blind-side you, but it’s not working.”

“Good,” says Tyson. He knows Hayden is playing the game, but “that’s the way it goes”. Then Hayden gives a voice-over about how he’ll be going to Tribal Council guns blazing and maybe it might not be him.

Tribal Council. In comes the jury. Probst begins by pointing out the clear division at last week’s Tribal Council and asks if it is still Tyson-Gervase-Monica-Ciera against Hayden-Katie. Hayden says it’s still that way and the four are “being controlled by Tyson.” Ciera says that Hayden is thinking what he wants to think and she is comfortable, but Probst points out that Ciera was not chosen to go on reward. Ciera says she didn’t take offense because she’s had a lot of food rewards. Of course, so has Tyson.

Then Gervase, completely unprompted (and maybe due to some shady editing) decides to point out that Monica and Tyson are original Galang, just like him, and they’ve shed the same blood, sweat and tears for 32 days. Ciera doesn’t need Probst to explain that it doesn’t sound good for her, but he does anyway. Ciera juts her jaw.

Probst points out the opportunity to Hayden, who repeats that Tyson is controlling his people and he picks who goes home while Caleb and Hayden were just sitting back. But Tyson asks Ciera, “Was I the one that voted your mom out?” and Ciera says that actually it was Hayden and Caleb who wanted Laura? gone.

Probst asks Katie where she fits, being left out and she says “during this whole political...”

“That is Survivor!” exclaims Probst. “Do you get that?” Katie gets it fine, but as she explains she is on the bottom of the heap and not involved in these conversations. Maybe she could do more to get involved in these conversations, but she’s probably also seen as toxic by almost everyone else on the tribe.

Probst asks Monica whether she thinks it makes sense for Ciera to flip, and she replies that it would be a bad move as “four is better than six” and regardless of what promises have been made in the past, everyone is starting to think about who they can beat. Hayden points out to Ciera that means she’s #4, but Ciera is way ahead of him. Being #4 isn’t a bad place to be though – the #4 out of #4 has a lot of opportunity to shake things up, which I think is what Monica was getting at. While with them they would be “1, 2 and 3.”

“That’s incorrect,” says Gervase. The jury cracks a smile but Gervase explains “what she has on that side is a backstabber, a backstabber, a liar, a liar. What she has here is honest words, people who keep their word and people who keep it together.”

The jury openly laughs, and Hayden says “why is the jury laughing?”

“They’re laughing because they tried to stab us in the back and they got played first!” Frowny face from Aras, and it’s true, we never saw Aras considering a move against Gervase.

“Nobody’s entertaining any ideas of jumping ship. It’s one, two, three and four. And guess what? Hayden, you’re going on the jury, belieeeeve that.” Probst points out that Gervase said Ciera was #4 again. Gervase hand-waves it away (on seating position, I guess) while Hayden is whispering to Katie “Monica.”

Gervase says that Ciera’s not going home tonight. “If she wants to go home, the time to make a move is now.” Probst points out that’s not true – Ciera could flip, tie things up 3-3 and they could all draw rocks.

“I don’t think Ciera is #4” is Tyson’s somber response.

“Yeah right,” says Hayden.

Probst assumes that means Monica would be #4. “Perhaps,” she admits uneasily.

Hayden pushes that there’s no perhaps about it, because Tyson and Gervase are #1 and #2. Tyson makes another deadpan response, and then says “Ciera, I’m telling you right now, I’ve never betrayed you, these guys have both written your name down and protected us, and I’m planning on staying with that.”

“You can be #4 all day long. You can come with us, we can draw rocks. And that’s a big move.”

Gervase wants to interrupt. “What did he say when we came back to camp after Caleb went home. Who’s getting his vote? Tyson!”

“But that was to rustle your feathers,” says Katie. “Do you want to trust people who are wishy-washy? Or people who are real with you? We’ve been one hundred with you.”

“Ciera, it was totally to rustle feathers, it was totally to rile Gerv up.”

“Ruffle,” says Tyson. Hayden doesn’t know what Tyson’s talking about. “Ruffle feathers. You said Russell Feathers. Russell is a first name”.

Hayden says he doesn’t care, then explains that it’s r-u-s-t-l-e- like rustling leaves before making a “why doesn’t he understand?” face. Do feathers make a rustling sound? I hope Kat brings this up frequently whenever Hayden laughs at her made up words. Also, I’d like to meet Russell Feathers, feather rustler. Or at least see the pilot episode. But anyway, the tension seems broken, a little.

Still, there is more discussion about who will be #4 and more pressure on Ciera. “You make a big move, and it works out, you’re a millionaire at the end of the game.” Tyson tells Ciera that if it doesn’t work out, she could be going home tonight by drawing a rock. Time to vote.

In the voting booth, Gervase gives his vote-for-Haydone message so everyone can hear it. “Don’t hate the players homie, hate the game. This isn’t Big Brother, this is Survivor! We do things different here. You’re about to get a lesson in how to play the game!”

Tyson whispers to Ciera “Stick with me and Monica; we can do this.” Then he says while voting for Hayden “Never tell an insane person they're going home next.” Ciera hesitates over her vote. No one plays a hidden immunity idol.

When Probst “tallies”, the votes are for Haydone, Hayden, Monica, Monica, Hayden and Monica. We have a tie! “What are you doing?” Tyson whispers to Ciera. Probst explains the re-vote, which is that Monica and Hayden cannot vote and everyone else can only vote for Hayden or Monica.

Everyone votes and Probst “tallies”. Ciera has a huge grin on her face as she votes this time, but the “tally” has not changed. Monica, Hayden, Monica, Hayden. There’s a deadlock, and the jury is very excited.

Probst explains the next set of rules. If Katie, Monica, Tyson and Gervase can unanimously come up with one name to vote for, that person’s torch is getting snuffed. If not, Hayden and Monica are safe, as is Gervase because he won immunity (which is a different rule from the past) and they’ll draw rocks to determine who gets voted out.

There’s some discussion where Ciera says “I’m #4. Don’t bulls--- me” and Monica says “How can you say that?” while Gervase says “Then cool, let’s draw rocks!”, even though – or probably because - he won’t be drawing any.

Probst gets the bag of rocks, and explains that the white rock means that you are out while the black rock means you are safe. They all take a rock out of the bag, hold out their palm and reveal. Katie has drawn the white rock, and is the 13th person out of the game.

Tyson asks Katie if she wants a hug. He says “dangerous move, ballsy, didn’t think you had the balls to do that,” then whispers “that’s your chair over there." That was unnecessary. Tyson’s really pushing for those jury votes!

“Don’t glare at me,” Ciera tells Tyson, Tyson denies glaring.

Probst sends them packing by saying, “no words can top what just happened.” Well, certainly no words from Probst, who couldn’t think of anything to say about Caleb after 30 days other than his work ethic and how awful Caleb’s boyfriend is.

On the way out, Hayden forgets his torch, and Tyson calls him back. “I need that, don’t I?”

“If you want it.”

That was a fun Tribal Council, but it was also a huge mess. I have no idea what was up with Gervase saying over and over, unprompted, that Ciera was the fourth person in their alliance. Her flipping worked out well for him because now everyone knows they cannot trust her in the game and he, Tyson and Monica should form a tighter three.

It could have worked out even better for him if Tyson had drawn the white rock and been sent packing without a blind-side from Gervase. It was so opposite the interests of his alliance that I am left wondering whether it was deliberate. It could be, but could we really credit Gervase with that level of duplicity? But checking the tape, the jury laughed hardest about the point on which Gervase was most serious – his claim that Hayden and Caleb were backstabbers and liars while his alliance was all truth-tellers. More likely Gervase came down with a case of “I won immunity” fever and felt he could say whatever the hell he wanted.

However, I do think Ciera made a snap decision with pressure winning over careful consideration. With the tied vote rules, there was only a one-in-three chance the rock draw would work out in her favor. Sure, Ciera felt she was #4 but that didn’t mean Monica, Gervase and Tyson were all thinking “us three Galangs, all to the end.” Only Gervase appeared to be thinking that.

If Ciera’s main concern was to get to the end with a story about a big move to tell the jury instead of as an easy-beat goat led by Tyson, I wonder if she would have done better to wait. It is about time for someone to come back from Redemption Island and based on form there's a good chance it would be Laura? (and if not Laura, Hayden). Based on tonight’s discussion, she would have had the opportunity to build a majority with Katie and Monica, and then move against Tyson and Gervase. That relies on a couple of unpredictable variables - Laura? coming back into the game, Monica being willing to flip, neither Tyson or Gervase winning immunity - but she would still have her story to tell and a bunch of people on the jury. Worst-case scenario, she would have been drawing rocks again.

All of that said, it was great to see these people going to rocks.

Next Time On Survivor, Tina tells Katie that she would not be opposed to letting her daughter win the Redemption Island challenge. If Tina has any say in it. And Ciera gets Monica’s back up by telling her Tyson was saying mean things about her. “If I am their ‘puppy dog’, it’s now become a me game,” Monica declares.

Katie arrives at Redemption Island, and Tina and Laura? gasp at the big reveal that they drew rocks. “I was rocked out,” says Katie.

And in sadder, real-world news, Tina and Katie lost Taylor, a son and a brother, in a fatal car accident earlier this week. Our hearts go out to them and their family.