Thursday, September 26, 2013

Survivor Blood vs Water Episode 2: Rule in Chaos

After a promising premiere episode, the second episode of Survivor: Blood vs Water kicks things into high gear as Marissa is sent off to Redemption Island looking as pissed as we've seen anyone voted off the game in recent times. Rachel, one of my favorites (not to win though, but I love her as a character), is sent off to Redemption Island together with Candice and Marissa to fight for her life in the game. Before we discuss that further, let's go back to the episode and see what happened (I will be chiming in my thoughts from time to time).

The Truel & Hidden Immunity Idol

Few minutes into the episode, Jeff shows up at the Redemption Island arena, which I have to point out is the best looking arena we've had on the show so far. Curiosity might have ran high at the returning castaways' camp to see who got voted off of the other tribe. Upon seeing that it was Marissa, Gervase tried to play it cool while the others could not keep their emotions in check. Kat, Tina, and Monica were visibly in tears from what they pointed out as relief to see their loved ones still on their tribe.

The truel, apparently because there has been so many discussions on social media about how using the term "duel" is incorrect, is a re-dux of the One World immunity challenge. From seeing the mechanics of this competition, I knew that Rupert was in serious trouble. The challenge requires dexterity, patience, and concentration, of which individual challenges are characterized by. Rupert's brawn served him no advantage whatsoever; in fact, he exhibited careless sense of urgency as we see him dropping the first plate on his first attempt as he tried to speed by the course.

Candice, on the other hand, was the picture of focus as she masterfully placed one plate after another eventually earning her the first place finish. Marissa, who was behind initially, caught up after Rupert knocked off his plates forcing him to start over. Guess the strategy to be lazy in Redemption Island wasn't as promising as envisioned, right? And with that, Rupert goes home first. It also officially puts an end to the Boneham family's quest for another million dollars! The idea of Laura going all the way to win it is a long shot.

In true Jeff Probst fashion, he also introduced another twist during the duel wherein he revealed that the first to finish the challenge will get to award any of the other castaways a clue to the hidden immunity idol. With Candice, it was a no-brainer decision to give it to John. But then again, this decision is a double-edged sword. By giving him the clue to the idol, it also puts a huge target on John's back (as if he doesn't already have one) and this was evidenced in tonight's episode when his own alliance mates were having doubts on John's unwillingness to share information about the immunity idol location. And while a part of me is thinking it was a bad move on Candice's part to give the clue to John, if he can find that idol and share the information with the right people (or not), or know how to use the idol to protect himself, then it might be worth taking the risk! Nonetheless, it draws suspicion and John will have a lot of work to do to win that trust back from his all-male alliance.

Men vs Women at Tadhana

The divide between gender at Tadhana (aka Loved Ones) tribe is giving the men's alliance a clear advantage in numbers. Rachel admits to feeling vulnerable by being in the minority, but there is a bigger source of worry for her as Katie and Ciera are starting to get suspicious when Rachel fails to attempt to bond with the women. Instead, she is becoming more close to John and they fear that the two have formed a secret sub-alliance.

The men are also plotting against Rachel citing how they are using her as bait to have Tyson swap out places with her in Redemption Island. With the possibility of Tyson swapping, they automatically weaken the other tribe (as Tyson is perceived as the strongest physical competitor on the other tribe) and also take out a weak player off of their tribe. But this proposition does not sit well with John because not only does he have an alliance with Rachel, but he also fears for Candice's life in the game should she be forced to go up against Tyson in the Redemption Island duel.

Colton = Chaos

The old Colton is back! Seems like everywhere he goes, he brings chaos with him. The other castaways are starting to notice the paranoia and drama he brings to the tribe. The anti-social, whiny Colton that we knew in One World is back in its true form. Aras and Tyson were starting to take notice. But Colton can't sit still. He started plotting against the other castaways behind their backs noting how he wanted the camp to erupt in chaos because that is where he thrives.Sadly for him, this isn't a group of newbies that he can intimidate by his mean threats.

Aras earns my nod tonight for calling Colton the "gay Russell Hantz" for his intimidatory antics in an attempt to build mistrust around the camp.

The Case of the 5-Person Alliance

Last week, we saw Brad spearhead the formation of a five-person alliance within their tribe consisting of all males. This time out, another alliance is brewing over at the Galang tribe with Aras, Tyson, Gervase, Tina, and Monica. The bond was solidified after Colton tried to bring chaos by pitting his own tribe mates against each other.

Gervase Redeems Himself

Hold on - I am not being a fan girl here. When I say Gervase redeemed himself, it was nice to see him step up with the non-swimming challenges. And it is interesting to note that the Galang tribe assigned him to handle that stage of the competition because I felt that he let the team down during the first challenge. It certainly helped his self-esteem to win that for the team but he's still no Tyson! And yet, that does not keep him from cheering on to his heart's content, staying true to his promise to Marissa prior to the start of the duel.

John Escapes Duel vs Wife

This week's vote at Tadhana's second trip to tribal council was all over the place compared to last week's unanimous vote. The men voted for Rachel, while Ciera and Katie voted for John, and Rachel voted for Ciera. Even though John escapes the vote, he is in a vulnerable spot in the tribe right now because the guys are starting to doubt his loyalty to their alliance and his immunity idol clue poses a huge threat. It makes even more critical for John to find that idol if he wants to save his butt at the next time they go to tribal council.

Do you think that voting off Rachel was the best move for Tadhana? Is Tyson willing to swap with Rachel's spot at Redemption Island? Share your thoughts below at the comments section.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Survivor Blood vs Water Episode 2 Sneak Peek

It's less than 24 hours until the airing of the second episode for Survivor's 27th season, Blood vs Water. With the first Redemption Island duel and another immunity challenge in tow, fans are excited to see how this promising season will shape up. The first video is a sneak peek into first Redemption Island duel wherein the first boot of the season will be determined. Candice, Rupert, and Marissa (who was earlier voted off Tadhana) are the three competitors fighting to stay alive in the game. Meanwhile, the second video is for the second immunity challenge between Galang and Tadhana.

Are you excited yet? Any predictions for Episode 2?

Disclaimer: All videos credit to Survivor on CBS YouTube channel

Friday, September 20, 2013

Survivor Blood vs Water Episode 1: Guilty by Association

When Jeff Probst and CBS unveiled the new twist and cast list for Survivor Blood vs Water, I had a lot of doubts. Too many twists that are too ambitious. That's what first came into my mind. But until the premiere episode aired, I did not realize it would be as emotionally-ridden as they tried to hype it up. See, Survivor is already a complicated game by design. You have to cheat, lie, and backstab at some point! But when family members and real relationships are at stake, I feared that the concept might not be strewn well enough into what Survivor is really about.

Day Zero

I thought that this Day Zero thing was a lousy entrance to the game. They could've done without it, really. They could have simply greeted the castaways on the beach and sent them off with the shock that they won't be playing together. No more charades, just get down to the business. I get that they wanted the castaways and their loved ones to immerse themselves in the experience of spending 39 days on an island by each other's side, but then again weren't they already assuming that mindset few days heading into the game?

But here's the harder part.... just when we witness the dismay in Colton's face in realizing that he won't be spending time with his fiance, Jeff drew another dagger. Each tribe will have to vote off one tribe member right off the bat. Uh-oh. This looked like a flashback into Survivor: Palau wherein Wanda and Jonathan were sent home after only spending 24 hours in the game. That would be ridiculous, right? The Loved Ones tribe (aka Tadhana) unanimously voted off Laura, Rupert's wife. Rupert looked pissed as Laura tried to hold back her tears. As she approached the mat beside Jeff, she quipped "Got get 'em honey" to Rupert.

Then, Candice suffered the same fate, although it was not as unanimous a vote, she still got the majority. Ouch! That was more shocking than the Laura vote on the other side because Candice is actually a pretty strong competitor. But the majority vote sticks and she looked dismayed as John looked on helplessly.

As Jeff revealed the return of the Redemption Island twist, things got even crazier only within less than 30 minutes into the episode. When offered the opportunity to replace their loved ones' spot in Redemption Island, Rupert made what appeared to be a sweet and heroic gesture in one regard, but a stupid move that cost his tribe. We hear Tina pleading from behind for him not to do it. But Rupert's mind was already made up the moment he stepped off that mat, I believe. This particular move, on the surface, might seem like such a heroic thing to do, such a gentlemanly act that showed how far he'd go for and what sacrifices he'll make for his wife. But he put himself in a vulnerable position - he now has to fight to stay alive in the game! What a huge shift after just one episode! Meanwhile, Laura is thrust into a tribe that she feels alienated and intimidated by. These are all Survivor vets who knew each other in and out of the game. Laura struggled to fit in right off the bat. If there is any strategy at all, it was clearly not implemented here because now both of them have no or slim chance to potentially win the game.

As for Candice, John was put in the hot seat. Most people probably expected John to make the same sacrifice for his wife, too. But then again, we all knew it would be a dumb move. So I heaved a sigh of relief when he opted to let Candice stay in Redemption Island. She is a strong woman who can survive on her own, whereas I would picture Laura to lie in fetal position waiting for Rupert to come and save her.

When all the chaos is over and done with, Jeff sent each tribe off to their respective beaches to start a 39-day adventure on the Philippine islands.

Tribes Settling In

The Galang or Returning Castaways tribe made use of their experience to build fire within an hour or so since arriving at their beach. They also quickly put together their shelter but some of the castaways can't stop pointing out how big of a difference Rupert's sacrifice made in terms of putting the camp together. The apologetic Laura felt all the more alienated by it.

Then, we saw a different side to Colton professing his insecurities as one of the main reasons why he was mean the last time he played. But Monica is on the fence about Colton - has he changed or is he still the same? Are those crocodile tears? For now, the two former rivals made their pact.

Meanwhile, an alpha male alliance is brewing over at Tadhana's camp. Brad Culpepper, Monica's husband, spearheaded the alliance of the muscles. Most are quick to jump onboard at the idea even shaking on it. But Caleb was quick to catch up (smart cookie). Thankfully, he was smart enough to go along with the plan for now noting that he will agree to anything that is thrown at him at this point.

Poor Sportsmanship

The first immunity challenge was another classic Survivor multi-leg challenge with the first half consisting of the physical aspect and the latter half involving puzzles. Thank you, Survivor challenge producers, for sparing us of those tossing challenges that plagued Caramoan. But before we were treated to a thrilling comeback of the mommy trio in Laura, Tina, and Monica, we saw a dismal showing on Gervase's part in the swimming leg. At one point, he was so winded that he took a sweet 10-15 seconds of his time in the final platform before launching himself in the water. I had to give props to Aras' patience waiting on him. If that would've been me in Aras' position, I would have seriously pushed his lazy ass off the platform.

Then, he asked Aras to help him out in the swim so they can get to the boat. Good thing, Tyson and the rest of the tribe quickly released their boat so they can paddle back and Gervase could get to the safety of the boat. The lapse-marred performance of Galang did not end there because they were paddling in the wrong direction as the Tadhana rowers did a flawless job. The Galang tribe looked like the rookies in this challenge - they looked jittery in every aspect of that obstacle run!

But the puzzle solvers for Galang made up for serious time! They eventually took home the immunity idol and Gervase was so pumped by the comeback win that he yelled at the losing tribe! Uh, weren't you just so close to drowning earlier that Aras had to come to your rescue? Wow! The audacity of some people. I guess Gervase played such a long time ago that he forgot how to play the game at all.

Fast forward to tribal council... the big question is this: Katie or Marissa? If you were watching the episode intently, the answer would've been a no-brainer. Katie stepped up to do the puzzle but fumbled all over. Marissa, on the other hand, looked strong and competent and seemed like a good asset to the tribe when it comes to challenges. But with only few days in, there are only as little reason to be basing your votes on. Sadly, the majority of the Tadhana tribe felt that Gervase' unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the immunity challenge merited a vote for Marissa. She looked pissed, stone-faced as Jeff snuffed her torch. For one last time, she gave the rest of her tribe a cold stare. Welcome to Survivor, Marissa!

Thankfully, the two people at Redemption Island welcomed her with open arms, which is quite ironic because these are the three that are going to fight each other to determine who gets to stay in the game!

Next week, we will finally have our first boot off this season.. any guesses? Be sure to vote on the poll so we can determine what everybody else thinks about Tadhana's vote at the first TC!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Survivor Blood vs Water: My Pre-Show Picks

The 27th season of Survivor is set to premiere this week and fans are excited to witness one of the craziest twists that the game has had since the racial tribal split in Cook Islands. This means that it is also time to make my picks on who I think has the best chance to win the season. It was a difficult choice for me having to pick who I thought would have the best chances to win, particularly in the Returning Players side.

Returning Castaways

Tyson Apostol

Who doesn't love Tyson? He is goofy and does not take himself seriously. It's rare to find a personality in the show like this and Tyson is definitely a gem. Having said that, I pick Tyson mainly for the entertainment value he offers. But that does not mean he is not capable to win this game, either. He is physically up to par with the best competitors out there, especially in this batch of castaways. He is also right to point out that he is in the middle of the pack in terms of the age and athletic ability. Thus, he will not be singled out for being a huge physical threat right off the bat nor will he be on the outs socially.

The biggest challenge for Tyson in this season is his ability to maintain his focus in the game. We saw him make one of the worst moves in Survivor history last time he played, which got himself voted off by his own doing. If only he can be more calculated about what moves to make and when to make them, I think he has a pretty decent shot.

Aras Baskauskas

I am not full-on riding on the idea that Aras can win this game for a second time. I could be wrong. I thought the same of Sandra, too, in Heroes vs Villains. But then again, Aras and Sandra are two different types of winners. Aras is perceived more as a physical and strategic threat whereas Sandra likes to orchestrate behind people's backs. If Aras can strike before he can be struck at, he might be in good shape.  

Loved Ones

Katie, Tina's Daughter

I don't know why I picked Katie - I simply have a good vibe about her. She is charming, lovely, and seems pleasant to be around. These characteristics are going to help her in the social aspect of Survivor because she is definitely going to be fun to hang with. Katie also appears to love the outdoors, as I've seen in her CBS bio, so the elements might not be that much of a big deal for her.

The strategic side is the biggest question mark. When her mother, Tina, played and won Survivor, the strategic game wasn't as cutthroat as it is now. I am doubting her ability to go there if needed to - of course, they would say they would do anything. I could be wrong. But I have good vibes towards Katie so I am counting on her to pull through.

Vytas, Aras' Brother

I am picking Vytas to win because I believe that Aras is going to have a bigger target on his back simply for being a former winner. Not that I don't think Aras won't do good or go far, but the target is going to be there. Vytas appears to have the same personality as Aras is, plus they are both athletic and sociable.

My initial perception of Vytas is that he is smart and is able to read people and situations around him really well. In their pre-show interview, both he and Aras noted adaptability as going to be a crucial aspect of their individual games and I don't see Vytas having problem with that. He is going to be well liked by both male and female castaways on his tribe, plus he is going to be a force in challenges, too. In addition to his athleticism, Vytas also practices yoga (as with Aras) and that is going to help him channel his energies where they need to be and maintain proper mental focus in a game that is more mental than physical. It'll be interesting to see how far he goes or if he can go all the way.

Caleb, Colton's Fiance

I cannot believe that I would pick someone that has some sort of association with Colton, probably one of the most hated player in Survivor history. But Caleb is a wildcard pick for me. He has enough likability that I think people will overcome the fact that he's Colton's fiance to want to be around him, and that he is going to be a lot of use around camp. I don't think that Colton has any chance at all to win this game so having him around is also going to help Caleb's game because much of the animosity is going to be focused towards Colton.

The strategic part of Caleb's game is going to be the biggest question mark, though. This is when he might be able to use Colton to his advantage because he appears to be a highly grounded person to me that I don't think he will be as cunning or manipulative as Colton can be. One thing that might work against Caleb is if and when he proves to be likeable, he might be perceived as a threat to win and if the other castaways catch up to that, he will be in big trouble.

Who I Think Has No Chance to Win

Rupert - A lot of people might hate me for this, but even Jeff won't deny in the TV Guide Network special that he does not believe Rupert can win again (even in his fourth run). It's a different scenario with Boston Rob wherein he became more strategic and sharper as a player with every stint. With Rupert, it seems to work in reverse. His poor performance at the Heroes vs Villains was dismal, to say the least. I don't even get why they even invited him back because I thought for sure he's done with Survivor.

Colton - Duh.

Kat - She's fun and bubbly, but unfortunately these aren't characteristics that merit a win in this game. Even when she does improve her game from last time, I am not sure if she can convince a jury to respect her game.

What did you think of my picks? Let's compare notes by sharing your picks in the comments section.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Survivor Blood vs Water: Behind-The-Scenes of First Immunity Challenge

It is a little over a week until the premiere episode of Survivor: Blood vs Water. As the 27th season of the longest-running reality TV show, Survivor strives for novelty by introducing lots of new twists to the game. One of the most notable new twist would be the return of Redemption Island, which most Survivor fans have a love-hate relationship with. Nonetheless, Jeff Probst and the show producers promise that there will be more layers to the Redemption Island twist to further complicate the game.

But with the premiere episode of each new season, the first immunity challenge is probably the most awaited. Castaways work hard to win the first challenge to ensure that they do not end up in the tribe that goes to tribal council first.

This season's first immunity challenge is scheduled to take place on Day Three. The challenge goes like this:

Image: Xfinity TV Blog

Six members will start off the challenge by sprinting to the beach and overcome a series of obstacles (net, rolling logs, platform with a stack of crates). Once they successfully navigate these obstacles, the castaways must make their way back to the water and towards the tribal boat. One of the six tribe members need to swim down to release the boat that is tied to a buoy and then row it back to the shore while collecting a chest containing puzzle pieces on their way back. When they reach the shore, the tribe must crack the chest open in order to retrieve the puzzle pieces. Three other tribe members will take those pieces to form a puzzle wheel. The first tribe to build the puzzle wheel must use it to raise a flag and win immunity for their tribe.

Final puzzle station (image courtesy of Xfinity TV Blog)
Feeling fired up for the first immunity challenge yet? Don't miss the 90-minute premiere on September 18!

Disclaimer: Photos and details courtesy of Xfinity TV Blog