Friday, October 25, 2013

Survivor Blood vs Water Episode 6: One Man Wrecking Ball

Tonight's episode is probably the turning point of the season, thus far. We've already seen the preview of a tribal shuffle from last episode and with the first Galang member competing at Redemption Island (since Candice, of course), I suspect this was going to be a big episode!

The Beginning of the End for Aras?

As suspected, Aras is feeling vulnerable and responsible for the Laura M blindside. He acknowledges the fact that Laura M feels most connected to him and so having him propose her name for the vote is going to put a huge target on his back. However, Laura M isn't the only one who felt the sting of the last vote as his allies Gervase and Tyson also talk about possibly voting for Aras at the next opportunity.

The idea of Aras joining forces with Vytas post-merge is highly likely and when they do, that is a power duo right there. The strategic side to Tyson's game is finally coming out, along with his goofy side too (more on that later). He addresses the issue to Gervase in such a manner that Gervase would feel like it was a mutual understanding amongst them that Aras is a threat and that they would potentially write his name before merge time, if the opportunity presents itself. Tyson even manages to inject some questions to get Gervase to speak up about the plan, rather than outright blurting his idea. This means that Tyson is going to play big. In a way, it also cements the relationship between the two of them. It is also important to note that these two no longer have their loved ones in the game.

Bye, Brad!

The tyrant is out of the game for good. No wonder he was getting way too much airtime during the first three episodes or so because his numbers were up! The Galang tribe's strategy to send Laura M to Redemption Island has paid off as she ended up in first place with John narrowly beating Brad in the puzzle.

This type of challenge, however, is well suited for women because it requires balance and dexterity. It was clear by the way the two men (bulky and heavy men, at that) were struggling to untie the bags of puzzle pieces while trying to balance in a narrow beam. I thought that the puzzle was pretty lame, though. Did not know that counting to a hundred can be classified as a "puzzle"? But the odds aren't in Brad's favor here - remember episode one when he can't even correctly count how 4 is the minority in a tribe of 9? (insert evil laugh here)

As the first person to finish the puzzle, Laura M is also tasked to hand out the immunity idol clue. Vytas followed the Culpeppers' lead by throwing the clue to the fire. Clearly, that is a strong message towards Aras about her blindside. Then again, all these 'throwing the clue to the fire' charades has got to stop soon. Obviously, there are lots of con's to keeping the clue but there are also ways that you can use that tool to your advantage and even help out your alliance further down the road. It'll be interesting to see if anyone decides to take the idol clue in the future and what they do with it.

Tribal Shuffle

the new Galang tribe
The two tribes were in for a shock as Jeff Probst announces a tribal shakeup after the duel. It was interesting how Aras, Gervase and Tyson ended up on the same tribe (the new Tadhana) because that means that Gervase and Tyson could still push through with their plan. However, some of the former Tadhana tribe members committed a fatal (?) mistake of sharing too much information. The veteran players were clearly trying to get information and they fell for the bait and even gave some points about the possible location of the hidden immunity idol. (Note: It is also important to point out how they were not even making an attempt to look for the idol if they knew a bit of information about the location of the idol.)

The veteran players might have had a warm welcome upfront but Hayden is reeling from the idea of the veteran intruders, so to speak, rummaging through their food supplies non-stop. Tyson also lets out his goofy side (this is probably the most confessional he's had since the season started) playing up the coconut bandit tricks he's been doing in the other tribe. But what Tyson is doing by being goofy isn't purely for his tribe's entertainment, however. By playing up the "funny guy" role, no one would take him seriously or deem him a threat. It was already pointed out earlier that the Tadhana tribe was threatened by his athleticism in challenges that prompted them to vote out Rachel to lure him to swap. Thus, putting on this front will make him perceived as not as big a threat as Aras is.

On the flip side, Vytas feels like he is on the bottom of the totem pole in his new tribe. Not only is he the sole male on the tribe but the other tribe member from the former Tadhana tribe he's switched with, Katie, is Tina's daughter. The odds are stacked against him, no doubt. Uh-oh. It looks like the Baskauskas brothers are in a tight spot in their respective tribes.

Buoy Oh Buoy

Always love swimming challenges in Survivor and this week's was full of them. After an early blunder for the Galang tribe (courtesy of Tina and Laura), Tadhana is looking poised to take this win. I was initially scared for Gervase, though, given his dismal performance at the first immunity challenge. But it looks like he's improved immensely, even managing to keep up with Aras in retrieving the fish trap.

But the highlight of this challenge was how the Galang tribe prematurely celebrated even after Jeff called them out twice for being wrong at the puzzle. Aras and Tyson remained composed after losing all of the lead they had at the first portion of the challenge. All I can say is glad that Ciera has finally stepped off the role of puzzle solver. The boys + Ciera get to take a break from tribal council, at least for this week. Although Aras is safe, I am now worrying for Vytas until...

Shut Up, Kat!

When you've been watching Survivor since the second season, you probably should be able to read through the edit. The moment Kat spoke up about Monica over-strategizing with her alliance, I knew she was in trouble (or set up for a downfall soon). It's cute how Kat was lecturing Monica (via a confessional) about how to play Survivor. Geez. But a confessional rant is passable, though. The moment she opened up her mouth to Tina about her decision to possibly vote off Monica instead of Vytas, she basically dug her own grave. Again, Survivor 101 here - do not be the first one to aggressively pitch someone from your own alliance's name for a vote. If you pick the target, you become THE target! It does not help that Monica and Tina were in on an alliance of five prior to the switch, so of course Tina's loyalty towards Monica is stronger than towards Kat.

Kat also did not do a great job of saving herself afterwards when Monica tried to confront her about it. She was caught up in her own lie. And I felt at that point there was no saving Kat. The gloves come off for Vytas at tribal as Kat wanted to raise the point of staying true to the alliance of the girls, but Vytas is not hearing any of it. Kat's cry of desperation at tribal has fallen on deaf ear as she is sent to Redemption Island. I guess Monica stayed true to her initial conviction to "do unto others before they do it to you".

Next week is going to be interesting as Vytas is finally putting his flirtatious card to good use. Seems like he's got Tina's approval. Meanwhile, will Hayden swap places with Kat at Redemption Island? Chime in your thoughts at the comments below.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs Water Episode 5 Insights

Image: CBS
The latest episode of Blood vs Water is rather predictable no matter how much CBS tried to hype up a blindside. Really, the network has to learn not to give anything away in their previews because them promoting a blindside in their social media channels only meant that we knew which Laura was going home. If that's not enough, the beginning of the episode was also rather suspicious. Four episodes in, we haven't seen much from Laura except for some exchange of looks and winks between her and her daughter, and yet she is seen desperately trying to flirt with Aras and her confiding to the camera that she "explicitly trusts" him. I am not sure about the conversations she's had with Aras but to proclaim that in Survivor is like a kiss of death. And that is exactly what went down this previous episode.

The big story for this episode, though, isn't the blindside. It's the battle between the Cody's and Brad at Redemption Island. Candice, to be specific, has been highly outspoken about her dislike towards Brad and it was one of the anticipated moments of the episode for me to see them finally confront each other face to face.

Image: CBS

I was pretty impressed with how Brad handled himself gracefully from his exit at tribal council and into the Redemption Island. However, we see that Candice is not buying it and has not changed her opinion of Brad. She seems ready to kick Brad off the game for good and called Redemption "her island". I am rooting for Candice to defeat the Culpeppers but her proclamation of the Redemption Island being "theirs" is not a good thing at all. It seems that her angst and frustration has taken Candice's focus away from the bigger picture of the game and is fixated on exacting revenge on Brad.

Monica showed sympathy for Brad having to go to Redemption Island and fight for his life in the game. She offers Brad the opportunity to swap spots but the latter wanted to fight for his life back in the game. Ironically, he ended up beating Candice to stay alive and was one of the most exciting finish the duel has ever had. I was seriously gritting my teeth because I wanted Candice to win so bad. The look on John's face was indescribable when he saw that Brad finished the puzzle first. Must be really heartbreaking to see your spouse leave the game and you've got nothing to do to try and save them. But now, John is left to fend for himself. I think he has a better chance of competing again without Candice there because everybody else seemed to be threatened by the power couple should both of them make it back into the game post-merge. However, we've seen how John easily trusts people who pretend to be friends with him and use him for their own advantage. Without Candice there to be his voice of reason, he will have to be extra cautious and strategic every step of the way from here on out.

Image: CBS

Going back to the actual game, Tadhana has finally broken their losing streak. This was another predictable edit. We saw the remaining five members of the Tadhana tribes go off on top of the mountain cliff and enjoying this majestic view while exchanging words of encouragement to each other. At the same time, I feel empathy for them. They are finally looking like a unified tribe without Brad's tyranny hovering at them. But I seriously questioned their decision to opt for the steaks, though, instead of the fishing gear. Amateur mistake, I guess. There are still a few days left to play before merge arrives and opting for one good meal versus sustainability isn't such a good choice, to say the least.

Image: CBS
There are three major things to look into with the coming episode following the Laura M vote:

1) If Laura can beat Brad at the duel - This was one of the primary reasons cited by the returning players at Galang for voting off Laura M. It is, therefore, an important factor to look into next episode if they succeed in doing so. And if Brad does exit from the game, will this further cement the five-person alliance in that tribe? With a looming tribal shuffle next episode, it is also significant to look into whether that alliance can remain tight and survive until the merge.

2) Speaking of the five-person alliance, it seems like Tyson and Gervase are taking a page off of Brad's strategy by planning to take out Aras as they're afraid he might be too threatening post-merge especially when he joins Vytas there. If this plan pans out, is it too early a move to make? Or is this alliance as strong as it initially appeared?

3) Will Laura B finally fit in? We saw Jeff ask Laura B a rather awkward question about fitting in in her tribe of former Survivor castaways, plus she was also pointed out as the "easy vote" in the previous episode. But since she escapes getting her torch snuffed, where will her loyalties lie? Will the veterans regret their decision to cut her before the shuffle?

I know. The drama never ends in Survivor: Blood vs Water. In fact, it's only getting started. Here are some press images for next episode to whet your appetite (courtesy of TVGN).

Who will be booted off next episode from Redemption Island? Share your predictions below.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Insights on Survivor: Blood vs Water Episode 4

Last week on Survivor Blood vs Water was intense with Tyson confronting Brad Culpepper at Redemption Island arena for being the architect to Rachel's ouster and this week was equally fired up! New layers continue to pile up each week and it's exciting to see how it all ties up in the end.

Read on to find out what my thoughts are about this episode and some insights into the game moving forward...

1. This week's episode experienced a plateau after having an intense start with the Redemption Island arena confrontation between Candice and Brad (what else is new?) and tribal council that went bananas (more on this later)! First off, Monica comes to her husband's defense when loved ones of the voted off castaways were attacking him at the arena. She made an excellent point, however, that Brad was not the only person who voted for these people but rather they voted as a tribe. John retaliated with a warning to his former tribe mates to watch out for Brad because he isn't someone to be trusted. Duh. He also pointed out that all of the castaways sent to Redemption Island were Brad's idea - well, it wasn't but he took all the blame for it. And I cannot see why Brad is willing to take the blame although at this point there is not much he can do to mend that reputation!

2. Oh Monica... I feel your pain for what your husband has gone through. But he's not a victim here - he shot himself in the foot and all the dirty laundry is coming back to haunt him. In fact, I don't think it was a smart move at all to openly declare to everyone at the Redemption Island arena that John made a mistake in trusting him. Really? In front of everybody else with whom you are competing against? Brad should really learn to censor himself before opening his mouth next time.

3. Sad to see Marissa go because she seems to be a great character and a hardcore competitor. She was simply put in an unfortunate situation having to fight her way back into the game. And a wrong kind of Redemption Island challenge at that! I mean, going up against two doctors in a puzzle that requires concentration and analytical skills seem to be right up Candice and John's alley!

4. The move to throw the hidden immunity idol clue into the fire was somewhat of a shocker to me. But a smart move for Monica to deflect the target that the Cody's are trying to put on her. I thought for sure that Candice and John would be the one to throw the clue to the fire. The immunity idol is, therefore, a curious factor going into the merge. Is anyone going to have the balls to look for it? Can they find it without a clue? Obviously, no one is going to be willing to get that clue from here on out as it automatically puts a huge target on the recipient's back.

5. Candice also shoots herself in the foot. Not only was flipping out on Brad a classless move, despite my adoration for Candice's physical prowess at Redemption Island or her entire Survivor stint, I think that she dug her grave deeper with that tirade at Redemption Island. She not only makes an enemy of Brad but also of Monica while simultaneously alienating herself from either of the tribes. It therefore makes all of her work in Redemption Island pointless because even if she goes back into the game, she has basically no one to work with. John has a better chance than her to align with some people if he makes it back into the game, but even then the chances are quite slim.

6. Tyson's injury seems to be improving, which is good for me because I picked him as one of my favorites to win! In fact, he even competed in a strenuous challenge despite having a sling on one of his shoulders. But he is trying to play up his injury to get less work around camp. Heh. That guy is so smart, huh?

7. Speaking of Tyson, it seems that a strong duo is building up between him and Gervase. We already know that they are both part of the five-person alliance at Galang. But going off on a secret rendezvous wherein they'd become "coconut bandits" was a really light and funny break from all the chaos that we were bombarded with earlier in the episode. It'll be interesting if this bond will go beyond simply sneaking out to drink coconut water.

8. Caleb makes the BIG move! Obviously, there are a lot of pro's and con's for everyone involved with this particular move. Starting off with Caleb, the moment Brad came up with the idea to blindside John last episode might've fueled that mistrust going on between the two of them (probably more so from Caleb's end). But he blatantly declared that he trusted Hayden and Vytas, but not Brad, during tribal council. Hayden also points out that once that trust is broken, it'll be difficult to regain especially in a game like Survivor wherein trust is hard to come by. Going back to last week's vote, the moment Caleb realized that Brad was willing to vote out his own (of the five-person male alliance at Tadhana), he might've felt vulnerable that he would be the next target. It also did not help that Brad openly expressed voting out someone who no longer has a loved one on the other side to prevent irking them out (again his own loud mouth costing him). I thought it was ballsy to do it out loud at tribal council, in front of Brad and the rest of the tribe, because it puts the other two guys up against the wall. Should they jump shift or stay loyal to their kingpin? Obviously, Vytas switched his vote on the re-vote while Hayden stayed true to Brad (but not without thinking over long and hard).

9. Caleb totally saved Ciera and most of the shock stems from the weird editing that showed little to none pre-tribal council. The gain he can get from this move is that he can control his own fate in the game. He no longer has to play second fiddle to Brad and putting his fate in the game in his hand. It'll be too early to tell if that move paid off. But if he and the other two guys can stay loyal, I still think that one of the two girls are in trouble should they go to tribal council next episode. 

10. The big question going into the next episode: is Hayden in trouble? I don't think so. He becomes the biggest physical asset in the tribe now that Brad is gone. But it certainly hurt his game to some extent because he has nobody to hide behind. Kat is not in a good spot in her own tribe, too, so it will be a challenge for them to get the numbers once they merge and they decide to work together (if both are still there). At least he can find consolation for having produced the episode title for two weeks in a row, right?

11. An even bigger question next episode: how will Candice and John handle Redemption Island with Brad? It'll be a sweet revenge on either Candice or John's part if they can boot him out. But the preview shows Monica offering Brad the opportunity to swap places. Will he take it? More questions to be answered (or not) next episode...

Did you like Episode 4 of Survivor Blood vs Water? Who do you think played the best strategy this week?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Update on Tyson's Injury at Survivor: Blood vs Water

The most recent reward/immunity challenge at Survivor: Blood vs Water was a highly physical one. Castaways will have to go up on a platform one at a time to go head to head with an opponent from the competing tribe via a sumo style wrestling competition. Indeed, as the tree mail noted, it is not your average pillow fight as some of the matchups got really intense.

In one of those matchups, Tyson suffered an injury to his shoulder claiming that it popped out of place such that he cannot lift it. Most of you, like I am were probably curious about what happened with his injury because it did not get much airtime after that happened.

Here is a longer video of the doctors examining Tyson's injury and their diagnosis:

Do you think this injury will hurt Tyson's game? Will he be medevac'd?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thoughts on Survivor: Blood vs Water Episode 3

Okay... where do I begin? Three episodes in and Survivor already has me gritting my teeth as I watch from the couch. And yet, the fact that it is only Episode 3 means there is a lot of game left to watch (aka scheming, strategizing, and lots of blindsides for sure!).

The CBS promos leading up to this week's episode has promised that the first 10 minutes of the game is going to be a shocker! Actually, I expected that Colton wouldn't quit at all because if the promos suggested the same, then that wouldn't be a shocker, right? Turns out that Colton went ahead and quit the game as the rest of the tribes looked on in shock and distaste. The first few minutes of the episode exemplified a lack of social skills in Colton as he insisted on playing strategy. Not to say that Colton had perfected the social game last time out, at least he did a better job of trying to connect with certain people whereas this season he alienated himself from everyone else and did not even feign attempt to build relationships. Although strategy might be an integral part of the game, you are not one to jump ahead of your tribe. Aras points it out to him but he does not seem to grasp the idea that while he is in danger, his game is not over yet.

A clearly ticked off Jeff Probst called out Colton during the duel about feigning his illness the last time. But because Colton has insisted on his initial decision to quit, Jeff let him leave the game but refused to give him the opportunity to throw his buff in the urn on his way out. What a waste of another person's spot in the game!

Meanwhile, when the Galang tribe found out that Rachel was voted off, Tyson was smart enough to catch up to the other tribe's strategy. Thankfully, he and Rachel outsmarted the male alliance's strategy of trying to get Tyson to switch. Rachel also outed Brad as being the orchestrator over at Tadhana, to which Marissa seconded with some vulgarities at him. Brad gets the brunt of the wrath from the castaways (and their loved ones) that had been voted off so far. This is where Vytas' excellent ploy last episode worked for him because it was his plan to vote off Rachel to weaken the other tribe, but he did present it in a form of question so it would appear as Brad's idea.

As for the actual duel, Candice smoked this challenge yet again. She finished the challenge way ahead of everybody else. The competition between Marissa and Rachel end up being neck-and-neck with Rachel being a few seconds behind Marissa. And with that, allow me to highlight one of the sweetest and most touching moments we've seen in Survivor as Tyson walks up to Rachel after she lost the duel.

With Candice winning, she also hands the second immunity idol clue to John. Again, I cannot fault Candice for giving the clue to John yet again! However, it can put a lot of ideas into the other castaway's mind about not only John gaining a huge advantage in the game by finding the idol but also in terms of solidifying Candice and John as a unit. But John finally comes to his senses and decides to share the clue to Brad. At this point, I thought it was a good move for John to share the idol clue to Brad because it would create a sense of security in Brad's mind about being the kingpin of his tribe. In a sense, Brad is also the head of their all-male alliance and there is no need for him to share the information to the rest of his alliance-mates. In Survivor, it is important to keep the information under control.

John, however, lacked proper execution here. He shared the clue to Brad but he is still holding back. This causes Brad to feel like John is being shady as he won't commit to looking for the idol together. As soon as that doubt starts to creep in (and it's not like this is the first time that they had been skeptical about John), people within your tribe are going to start wondering if you have the idol or not, especially if you are being secretive about it.

As for the immunity challenge, it was a physical one. Even before this challenge started, I already thought that Tadhana will finally get their first win and Monica might be in serious trouble. Her loved one, Brad, had been in the heat of things at the duel so they can orchestrate a revenge by voting off his wife. That is not going to happen, though, as the girls of Tadhana had a poor showing. Katie was beat twice by older ladies (her mom Tina and Laura) and same goes with Ciera. Thus, Tadhana books another date with Jeff at tribal council.

Initially, the ideal scenario is to vote off Brad. But if the rest of the guys are smart, like they've shown they are, they decided to get rid of John. In doing so, they eliminate two threats - John as a strong physical and strategic player who can potentially reunite with Candice post-merge, and the hidden immunity idol. The idol has been put in the air over the past couple of episodes. Since John got the first clue (publicly at that), everyone in his tribe has been kind of tip-toeing around the idea that he might have already found it. It is almost a cardinal sin to not have shared it to his alliance. But his decision to keep his tribe in the shadows about the status of the idol might've been too big of a threat to ignore. They can take care of Brad later. And with the amount of hate that he's been getting so far, he is actually the ideal guy to sit next to.

What do you think of this episode? Personally, loved it although the first half was too intense that the second half might have paled in comparison. Excited to see what comes down at the duel next week though as this time it's going to be Candice vs Brad!