Survivor: Blood vs Water - Episode 13
Out on a Limb
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analysis HOFer
December 12, 2013

Katie deserved a better fate.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to another thrilling Survivor: Blood vs. Water recap. Ben Willoughby is headed into the Great White North and has entrusted me with finishing up this, the 27th season of Survivor.

Before we get into tonight's episode, I want to catch up on a few thoughts I've had during this season. First up is that I hated the idea of a "loved ones" season. Blood vs. Water had an okay premise, but it was screwed up before it even started when RC and her dad (a blood pair) got pulled from the show and were replaced with Candice and John (a water pair). I think this messed up some of the logistics of the show. That being said...this season has really surprised me with the quality of episodes we've had. I've enjoyed it immensely. Second, I still hate Redemption Island. I don't like it as a concept, I don't like it in practice, I just don't like all. When you are voted out, you are out of the game. That's how it should be and how I hope it gets to be again. Third, we've seen some really good game play this season (Tyson and Hayden) and some absolutely horrible game play (Mrs. Rupert and Gervase).

That's right; I'm a huge fan of Tyson. I've liked him every time he's played and I'm pleased to see him doing well. He's always had the potential, but has always been hampered by the fact that he thinks he's so much smarter than everyone else. So smart, in fact, that he managed to vote himself out of Heroes vs. Villains. This season, however, he's managed to form and lead a solid alliance and he's managed to make all the right moves thus far. I don't know that I need to go into the details of the bad game play we saw from players like Laura B ( speak for your entire group and tell someone they're going home? Not good) and Brad Culpepper (In the NFL, you'll never hear them say a guy plays TOO hard. But this ain't the NFL, it is Survivor. And Brad - you played too hard).

I didn't have too much of an opinion of either Gervase or Hayden until last week's episode. That being said, Previously on...Survivor...

Hayden is incredibly likable but I hadn't been all that impressed with his game until last week. With his back against the wall, he realized that he only had one chance to flip someone to his side in order to stay in the game. So, he targeted Ciera. In the span of one masterful Tribal Council, Hayden managed to drive a wedge through what seemed to be, the unbreakable alliance of four: Tyson, Gervase, Monica and Ciera. He pointed out what he considered to be the pecking order and he just hammered and hammered it into Ciera's head until she had no choice but to join him.

Hayden's theatrics garnered wild reaction from the jury, which put everything on the table leading Ciera into a vote that would shatter her alliance and force the drawing of rocks for only the second time in the show's history. When you mix in Gervase's epically bad Tribal...essentially telling Ciera that she was fourth in line, you had Ciera in the unenviable position of either sticking with her alliance and looking like an idiot to the jury or making the move, alienating her alliance and possibly voting herself out of the game on the rock draw.

Now, some will say that Ciera was wicked smart to go with Hayden and force the rock draw. Saying that she wasn't satisfied to stay in fourth place and this move was a potential game winning move. I say that the move was necessary, but that any move like this when your best case scenario is a tie and a rock draw is never a good move. Ciera would have been better served to stick with her alliance and vote out Hayden. Then, Ciera, Katie and one of their moms (c'mon know either Tina or Laura are coming back in this game...probably Laura) can join up and force a rock draw then. Or maybe girl power up and pull in Monica to overthrow King Tyson and Court Jester Gervase. Instead, she forced a rock draw between three people where there was only one favorable outcome for her and that was for Tyson to draw the white rock.

I'll go one step farther and suggest that even if Tyson had drawn the white rock and Ciera, Hayden and Katie went all the way to the end, it would have made little difference to Ciera's finish as Hayden would be viewed as a master the way he flipped her like that. A move had to be made... but she really should have waited for her mom to get back from RI or at least waited until there was an odd number. As it turned out, her best option, Katie, left the game due to choosing the wrong colored rock.

As it is, Ciera's only option now is to try to sway Monica to join her. Monica, a member of the alliance she just screwed over. Monica, who is in the final three alliance with Tyson and Gervase and can (at best), be offered final three with Ciera. Monica, who can sit in a final tribal and lay claim to the fact that she kicked everyone's ass in challenges and was never the bad guy. So, anyone that is bitter at Tyson/Gervase may just cast a vote her way. That Monica. That's the one that Ciera has to try to flip in tonight's episode. Yeah, I just don't see that happening.

Last thing before we get into tonight's episode. I have to comment on the implosion that was Gervase last week. And a lot of that is due to the masterful play of Hayden. Hayden put the bug in everybody's ear that Tyson was set up to win the game. Gervase is playing for second place because everyone knows that Tyson's running the show. That was news to Gervase, so in an effort to prove he really was the guy in charge, he decided to show his ass at Tribal and let everyone know who the boss was and how things were gonna go. From repeatedly calling Ciera fourth to screaming out his vote for Hayden, Gervase took what could have been a decent argument for a win in this season and flushed it down the toilet by making himself look like a jerk to the jury. The collateral damage of his meltdown could be Tyson's game as the two are seen as partners in crime. Tyson did himself no favors by taunting Katie on her way out of Tribal, either. In a game where the final result is usually based around "who I like better," Gervase killed his game tonight and Tyson may have critically wounded his. If she plays her cards (and challenges) right, Monica could be in the catbird seat for a million bucks come Sunday.

Whew...that was a lot. I'm sure I had more, but that's all that is relevant at this let's start the show. We begin after Katie arrives at Redemption Island. Naturally, Tina is excited to see her, but bummed that she's out of the game. She tells them about the rock drawing and Tina and Laura seem proud of her. After a short minute, Tina starts worrying about beating Katie in the duel. Tina actually offers to let Katie win. To her credit, Katie said she thinks they should both just do their best.

Back at camp, Hayden is thrilled with Ciera's flip. Tyson says he was thrilled to be a part of it. Hayden does his best to let them all know that he was just fighting for his life in there. He tells us that he can't believe it actually worked to get them to the rocks. The pull of the rocks went against him, but it was still pretty awesome. Tyson tells the group, but names Gervase, that the result there was why you don't tell an insane person they're going home, and suggests that Hayden was running around like a crazy person the last three days. He tells us that you never let the person know they're going. You have to give them hope that they're staying, so crazy stuff like that does not happen at Tribal.

Monica tells the guys that she's so happy they stuck with her, like they actually had a choice. Monica's back to being Monica and is worried that one of Hayden or Ciera may have an idol. I mean, they just got back from Tribal and she's playing REALLY hard and is annoying Tyson and Gervase. She tells us that she's still a little bitter over Tyson's idol that she knew nothing about. As we prepare for the credits, Tyson tells Gervase that Monica isn't very good at Survivor, but she has come in pretty handy.

The next morning, Ciera tells us that she feels so much better having made a move instead of settling for fourth. She and Hayden are now determined to go down fighting. Ciera is very excited about the prospect of her mom coming back and giving them the numbers. Ciera sets out to find an idol and to find a crack in the alliance. Makes you wonder how pissed Monica is about the while idol thing.

Meanwhile, at Redemption Island Arena, Laura, Tina and Katie prepare to truel. Tina confesses that she is not sure she has what it takes to actually send her daughter home. Tonight's truel is an oldie and goodie. With twine, the players will connect sticks. These sticks will be used to retrieve three keys that will unlock three locks. First to unlock all three locks wins. Last to do so goes home.

As soon as Probst says go, Tina starts shouting suggestions to Katie. It doesn't matter a whole lot as Laura gets a pole together real quick and gets her first key. As Laura brings in her second key, Katie gets her first key. Tina is WAY behind at this point. As you would expect, Laura gets all three keys first and is the winner of this truel. As Laura is winning, Tina pulls in her first key and we are down to mother versus daughter. Each of them has one key when Tina's stick breaks. But just as it seems Katie is in control of this truel, she drops a key in the sand. While Katie struggles to get the key out of the sand, Tina pulls in key #2. Tina pulls in key #3 while Katie never gets the second key back. As she starts to unlock her locks, Tina asks Katie if she's okay with this. Katie tells her to go ahead and finish it off.

Tina is very upset at sending her daughter home. In all honesty, this was quite difficult to watch, Knowing what Tina (and Katie and the rest of the family) have gone through over the last week or so. Watching her talk about how important motherhood is to her and how it's her first real think that she just lost one of her children is amazingly heartbreaking, even though it was long after that scene was filmed. Katie, to her credit, is not nearly as upset as her mom is. I think she knows that Tina actually has a better shot at winning this game and she's okay with that.

The last thing to do is for Laura to give the idol clue to Ciera...and then head back to Redemption Island.

We come back from break and Operation Immunity Idol is in full swing. Ciera and Hayden read the clue and head out to find an idol. With little effort, Hayden heads directly to the tree that once held the immunity idol. As he searches, Monica comes along to disrupt the search. After searching, Hayden determines that the idol has already been found and he wonders if Tyson is holding it again. Gervase tells us that he plans to do whatever it takes to get his alliance to the final three. He starts by checking with Monica to see where they stand. Monica says she trusts Gervase and Tyson completely. She says she feels locked in with them because Tyson drew rocks instead of turning on her. However, she's not playing the game for Gervase and Tyson, she's playing for Monica.

Meanwhile, Ciera hatches a plan to try to swing Monica. She plans to tell Monica that Tyson and Gervase are talking bad about her, about how's she dumb and a puppet and she'll do whatever they say. We head to commercial as Ciera heads out to try to save her game.

And I stand corrected...we come back from commercial NOT to Ciera enacting her nefarious plan, but to a Probst sighting!!! It's an immunity challenge! Today's challenge will see the players diving into the water moving a small buoy along a rope. Once they get to the end, they'll untie a bag of puzzle pieces. First to put the puzzle together wins immunity and reward. Wanna know what they're playing for? They will have a menu with which to order an amazing meal that could give them strength and energy going into the end days of this game.

The challenge starts and Hayden and Tyson are quick out to the early lead. Monica is third, Gervase right behind and Ciera is far in the back of the pack. After the first obstacle, Tyson has taken a decent lead, with Hayden still in second. Tyson is first to the puzzle tiles and is starting his puzzle as Hayden finally gets his bag untied. Monica and Gervase have now caught up to Hayden and all four are starting on the puzzle. Ciera finally gets to the platform, but is pretty much out of it. The puzzle this time will form an eight-word phrase. The tiles will spell out many words, but they are looking for a specific eight-word phrase that is very common to Survivor.

By now, everyone is pretty much even as they all are creating the same words. Probst taunts them by telling them that they have all heard this. Gervase and Ciera are now in the lead. And there it is, "You are going to have to dig deep" and the winner? Ciera! Are you frickin' kidding me? This chick has about 15 lives. She gets to choose one person to eat with her and naturally she chooses Hayden. As they make their order, everyone heads back to camp and prepares to play Round 2 of "It's Anyone But Hayden!"

We come back to camp and Ciera is all smiles and cannot believe she won immunity. Join the crowd. She tells us that all those people that thought she was dumb for going against the mighty Tyson, well, in your face! And she chose Hayden to let them know that she's not scared of them and she's not going to kiss ass to stay in this game. Remember when we talked about Gervase getting awfully confident with the immunity necklace around his neck. Yeah, same thing.

As they dine, Hayden and Ciera are going to work on Monica to vote against Gervase. Ciera seems to think she can throw Tyson and Gervase under the bus. While I appreciate the attempt to throw us off here and make us think there's a chance that someone will flip...c'mon man. After the last Tribal where Tyson picked a rock to save her, Monica ain't flipping on nobody. But I'll play along. Ciera gets Monica alone and goes to work. Ciera says that Monica's a puppy on a leash, that she's weak and all kinds of rude hurtful things. Monica asks her why Tyson would have gone to rocks to save her. Ciera says it's because he knows he would be next. Monica tells us how bad this information makes her feel and that her feelings are really hurt. She also says that Tyson and Gervase are going to be on the defensive tonight and she now finds herself in the swing vote seat. Right before heading to Tribal Council, Tyson tells Gervase he's worried about Monica because Ciera came back from the beach talk with Monica smiling. Gervase guarantees that Monica will not flip...but Tyson knows better. He's very worried. Makes me wonder if we might not see another idol played tonight. I didn't think the talk would flip Monica, but now I'm worried.

We get to Tribal and Probst brings in the jury. Probst asks about the division in the tribe. Ciera and Hayden know they're on the bottom. Hayden says that the plan was to explain the truth to Monica and have her understand that the only reason Tyson is keeping her around was because she's the only person he can beat. Tyson interjects that he drew rocks because he knew Monica was one person he could trust. Gervase chimes in that Hayden has a perception but his perception is not the reality.

Jeff asks Monica if they came to her. She says that Ciera told her some horrible things that Tyson and Gervase said about her and she's been thinking about it all the way there. Tyson says that he's sure Ciera lied to her and that Monica knows what kind of person Tyson was. Ciera digs in on her lie about how vicious and rude the guys are. Gervase mentions that it's very convenient that this was never mentioned to Monica until they had absolutely no other chance in this game. Hayden starts talking about Tyson controlling the game, which Gervase is taking more and more exception to. "Hey guys, I'm controlling things too." Gervase does make an interesting point though when he asks Hayden if he is controlling his alliance. When Hayden says no, he asks if Ciera is controlling it. If not, that's their problem and why they're going home. Someone needs to tell Gervase to dig up. Up, my man...not down!

Ciera says she played in with them making fun of Monica because she was part of their group. But now that she's flipped sides, I guess, she wants to tell Monica the truth. Ciera continues on with the story about the horrible things that have been said. Monica makes a pretty long speech and I'm not sure what it all meant, but I think she was saying that if all that stuff has happened will eventually come back to them. Hayden and Ciera go in for the kill by suggesting that when her family is watching this will they feel about how she's playing? Tyson, to his credit, asks Monica, "Monica, do I ever tell you what to do? Or do I ask you what you want to do and we talk about it?" Ciera interrupts this to tell her how much she loves her and how it's time to start playing Monica's game, not Tyson's game.

Before we move on, I think it has to be said...flipping on the alliance that she's been in since day that Monica's game? Sounds a lot more like Ciera's game to me. I really don't like this type of bullying and manipulation. I get that it's a game and it's "do whatever it takes to win," but we have not seen anything through 13 episodes of this show that backs up Ciera's story about the horrible things allegedly being said about Monica. Tyson has mentioned several times that she plays too hard, that she gets a little crazy and that she needs to shut up. But that is nothing like what Ciera is telling her. I don't care for this type of game and I can't imagine the jury s liking it. With that, it's time to vote.

Jeff goes to tally the votes and Monica is just sitting with her head in her hands. Anyone want to play an immunity idol? After much deliberation...nope. And here are the votes: Hayden, Gervase, Hayden, Gervase and the final vote and the 14th person out of Survivor: Blood vs. Water - Hayden. And there it is, lies and bullying will not win you this game. Hayden, on Redemption Island, is pissed that Monica just keeps listening to Tyson. No, dude, you're pissed that she's NOT listening to you. Plain and simple. In all seriousness, it's like they told this lie to Monica so much they actually started to believe it. So, we are down to four. I would expect the next duel to get someone back into the game. Is there anyone that can come back and drive a wedge into the alliance? I really don't think so. I think no matter who comes back, Tyson, Gervase and Monica will be sitting in the final Tribal answering questions.

And that'll do it for tonight's episode. PROGRAMMING NOTE: Don't forget the finale of Survivor: Blood Vs. Water will be this Sunday at 7 p.m. While you're not forgetting that...don't forget that CBS also has football on in the afternoon. Football which almost every week bleeds into 60 Minutes and there is not a snowball's chance in hell that CBS will EVER pre-empt 60 Minutes. They will show it, in its entirety. So, be sure to set your DVRs to catch all three hours of Survivor (including Reunion - where it's rumored that the entire cast will get to sit on the stage) and schedule some time after to catch the run off. Until Sunday, my friends, take care!