Last week’s Tribal Council was a lot of fun and turned my predicted direction of the show on its head. Gervase and Tyson lost face in front of the jury. Monica was left looking relatively sane and balanced. Ciera, who earlier in the episode was saying she didn’t want to work with Hayden and Katie, flipped back to their side. Everyone agreed to draw rocks, even the people who were immune from the draw. And the biggest surprise of all was that Hayden actually did something.
Survivor: Blood vs Water - Power Rankings
By Ben Willoughby
December 9, 2013
Here are the power rankings for this week:
Monica is in the swing vote position, which at this stage is both a huge opportunity and a terrifying decision. The fault lines between Tyson-Gervase and Ciera-Hayden were made pretty clear at the Tribal Council. In theory, she could go either way.
But obviously Monica’s best option is to “be loyal to my true alliance,” which conveniently means going to the end with the people who masterminded the ouster of everyone on the jury and are possibly toxic. It’s a much better move than flipping on her alliance – again – and going to the end with players the jury is openly rooting for.
Even so, Monica has some clear obstacles in front of a jury where performance in challenges counts for nothing. She is seen as an impulsive, over-strategizer who is prone to paranoid freak-outs. Her flip against the alliance led by Aras and Tina – however justified it was – looks a lot more like opportunistic majority-siding than strategic leadership. If Monica makes it to the end, she will need to be prepared with some convincing, sugar-coated arguments – though I fully expect she’ll say something like “You told me I was #5. Did you expect me to not flip?”
Before the last tribal Council, Tyson was looking to go to the end with Monica and Gervase, or possibly Monica and Ciera, or possibly even Ciera and Gervase. Now his options are looking more limited, as he certainly won’t be able to control the votes from this point.
Looking ahead to the jury, Tyson’s problems are just beginning. Juries on Survivor are sometimes okay with voting for the strategic cut-throat player, provided they respect that person’s game and (this is important) they feel that player respected their game.
Prior to last night, there were lots of examples of Tyson showing respect to others, even if he was sarcastic in interview. He listened to Monica over-strategize, he empathized with Hayden about how it felt to not take your loved one’s place, and he talked through with Ciera how much he appreciated her vote for Laura?
But a lot of that goodwill was lost with his comments to Katie after her torch was snuffed. He didn’t need to say anything, but it was a blatant and personal disrespect to her at the moment she was down and it was right in front of everyone, in a game with loved ones. That is going to come back to bite him.
I think Gervase feels he is in a bind. Previously, he was content to let Tyson take the leadership of the alliance and also all of the hits that came along with that. But now as we get towards the end and (from his perspective) locked into a Tyson-Monica-Gervase final three, he is worrying about what the jury will think. Will the jury see him as a patient eminence grise who controlled things from the shadows and made the right moves at the right time? Or a tag-along who lucked his way into the right alliance and did what he was told thereon out? I think he thinks the latter. So now he feels he has to change up his game, claim that Tyson is his puppet in front of everyone at camp and mouth off at Tribal Council.
While Gervase’s big mouth has cost him more than once this season, when he keeps his thoughts and words under control he is an effective and convincing communicator. But will he be able to keep himself on lock-down in front of a jury? Last week’s “easy vote, up until when Gervase started talking” Tribal Council suggests no.
As said in the recap, I personally think that Ciera would have done better to wait to make her move against Tyson and Gervase. I believe that she got caught up in the moment, and couldn’t resist thinking “this would be a big move, everyone will see it, and look how many people on the bench like the sound of it." And if it works out for her, I’ll be happy.
But switching alliances limits her options, and she is now a target. Her best move - her only move, really - will be to try and swing Monica over to her and Hayden (or after that, her and whoever makes it back from Redemption Island), and it appears from the previews that she’ll give this approach a try. But Ciera can’t offer Monica anything better than what she already has with Tyson and Gervase, and Monica will be aware that if Laura? comes back into the game she could very easily back-slide to #4. Ciera’s only hope is that Monica shoots from the hip.
In front of a jury, Ciera is going to have to tread carefully because she has now betrayed two alliances in three episodes, and few players succeed with the “I did whatever I needed to make it further in the game” argument. If she felt under pressure at the last Tribal Council, it's nothing compared to performing in front of a jury.
Hayden had one objective at the last Tribal Council – to avoid elimination. And he succeeded by stirring things up enough that Ciera was convinced that her best option lay in drawing rocks – even though that meant she could possibly leave the game, while Hayden would certainly stay.
However, Hayden is still in a two against three alliance, and to stay in the game, Hayden probably needs to win immunity (current tally of Hayden immunity wins: zero), or hope that whoever comes back from Redemption Island comes back next episode and is willing to draw rocks.
On Redemption Island:
Laura? is the undisputed Redemption Island challenge monster, and has to be the most likely to re-enter the game. In past seasons, the Redemption Island returnee has been voted out at the earliest possible Tribal Council. And that looks to be repeated, with Laura? being seen as a challenge threat and Ciera-Laura? being a pair.
On the other hand, Laura? is not a bad person to take to the end. She has been voted out of the game twice and we haven’t seen her build any relationships thanks to a mix of Redemption Island isolation and following Ciera’s advice not to talk with anyone. (Maybe this will change as more jury members pass through Redemption Island, though surely it won’t include Vytas) And her inevitable “I fought my way back into this game, twice!” won’t hold much water with people who don’t count Redemption Island as playing Survivor.
Tina only made it through her first Redemption Island challenge because Laura? wanted to get rid of Vytas, and her second when Caleb’s stack had the bad timing to fall 30 seconds before deadline. She’s jury-bound.
Tina has shellacked Katie a couple of times at challenges, and Next Time On Survivor advertises Tina offering to throw the Redemption Island challenge for her daughter’s sake. If there is more than one Redemption Island challenge remaining, it’s a certainty that Katie will be sitting on the jury.
There are the final power rankings for the season, and also the final column from me as I have drawn the white rock in real life and am moving to another city next week. BOP Survivor favorite Jim, who has been champing at the bit to tell you all what a good player Tyson is, will be recapping Wednesday’s episode and the finale on the weekend.