Pre-credit sequence. Galang voted out Laura M last week. I barely remember that. Laura B says that it was sad to see somebody voted out first, but she’s relieved that it wasn’t her. “I feel like an octopus,” Tina says cryptically. Aras was the only person who looked into Laura M’s eye when she left and he hopes that she takes Redemption gracefully, rather than targeting Aras as a ringleader and singling him out. The next morning, Tyson and Gervase are planning for a Merge and anticipating that Aras will align with Vytas immediately, so they both agree that if they lose again, they may need to target Aras. This leads to Tyson talking about Aras’ Zen beliefs which leads to Tyson’s declaration, “I believe in magic. It’s awesome.” Tyson knows he has to tread lightly and agrees, “That’s the tricky part – When to dethrone King Aras,” Tyson isn’t pushing Gervase too hard, but Gervase is determined he doesn’t want to be viewed as a chess piece. He announced that he and Tyson are a power couple. Gervson? Tyvase? Yeah. Tyvase, for sure.
Counting to 100 is a challenge. It’s off to Redemption Island Arena, ostensibly for another Duel. John, Brad and Laura enter. Ciera says she’s had a weird feeling all day, which doesn’t surprise Laura. “She came from me. She’s part of me. We’re alright. We’re still in this,” Laura says, before saying there’s no chance she’s swapping with Ciera. In the Duel, competitors must race across a balance beam collecting numbered tiles and then putting them in order. That seems really simple and dumb. Let’s see if it’s more complicated than just knowing the numbers between 1 and 100. Yeah. This is stupid. Laura and John get out to an early lead as Brad struggles with his numbers between 1 and 10, but balance problems bring John back to Brad. Laura has a big lead on the fourth and final bag and wins the Duel with ease. It’s close, but John wins and Brad is heading home. “I’m so sorry,” Monica says. “Through my fault or no fault of my own, I probably became an anchor,” Brad tells Monica. “I’m going to have to do this all by myself,” Monica laments. Laura opts to give the Immunity Clue/target to Vytas, who continues the recent trend of dumping the clue in the fire. Twist! “After 14 days of playing against your loved ones, we’re going to switch things up,” Probst tells the tribes. Commercial!
Switcheroo time! We’re drawing for new tribes. New buffs are in covered tubes. Tyson insists on taking his buff last, to let fate decision. Tyson, Gervase and Aras all move to Tadhana, while Vytas and Katie move to Galang. So if you’re keeping score at home: Monica, Tina, Katie, Laura, Kat and Vytas are Galang, where Vytas is the only guy. Gervase, Caleb, Aras, Tyson, Hayden and Ciera are the only Tadhanas, where Ciera is the only woman. “I fancy myself a ladies man, Jeff, so this is the perfect place for me,” Vytas says. It seems as if New Tadhana is much younger and stronger than New Galang, which may or may not end up being a major advantage.
Food, glorious food. We start in the very masculine New Tadhana. Tyson thinks that his new beach is way cooler than the old one. Over in Tadhana, it’s 3-3 for Newbies and Returnees. There’s some question on how much information will be shared. Caleb doesn’t hesitate to tell folks what happened with John’s elimination, with Caleb and Hayden actually telling Tyson the clues to the Immunity Idol. “Stupid will be stupid,” Tyson sighs. The Returnees arrive at Tadhana with healthy appetites, which leaves Hayden feeling threatened. “It’s definitely a goal to eat and steal as much food from this tribe as I can,” Tyson declares, while downing a coconut and eating a banana. Tyson’s goal is to appear just helpful enough to be accepted, while also taking more than his share and vowing to be “a one-man wrecking ball” on the food.
New tribes, new targets. Over at New Galang, Tina is overjoyed to be reunited with Katie. It’s interesting that after the swap, there’s only one pair of loved ones together and it’s Tina and Katie. This is, as you’d imagine, what Tina had been hoping for. “I’ve been playing water and now I can play blood,” Tina says. Vytas feels like he has lost all control, which is probably pretty apt. Monica wants to force her fellow Galangs to agree to stick with the original alliance, which is exactly what you’d want to do if you’re Monica and you just watched your hubby leave the game. Kat is uninterested in any commitments. “You want to learn how to play ‘Survivor’? Shut it,” Kat declares. Because if there’s anybody whose advice I’d seek out on how to play “Survivor,” it would be Kat. The new arrivals at Tadhana are taking over, with Tyson deflecting blame onto Aras whenever possible. He’s apologizing for Aras’ bossiness and trying to make it clear that he isn’t in charge. “I have to do everything I can to get to Day 39,” Tyson says.
You’ve got to pray just to make it today. They’re praying over at Galang, or Kat is trying to pray. “There’s not a lot of play for me coming in here,” Vytas says. I’m confused by why we’re spending so long on Kat’s difficulties praying. We get it. She’s not great with words, but her heart was in the right place. Now Vytas is doing what Vytas does: He’s telling everybody about his time in the hoosegow. “It’s a neat part of a man that can share his emotions and feelings,” Laura says, comparing Aras’ sensitivity to Rupert’s willingness to be emotional. Vytas is making the ladies love him by talking about how all he wants to do is repair his relationship with Aras. I’d describe Laura as “smitten, but slightly cautious.”
Koi oh Koi. Immunity time! The challenge involves racing out to a cage at the bottom of the ocean. Each cage contains a fish trap. Each fish trap contains puzzle pieces. The usual. They’re also playing for Reward in the form of a picnic. “His swimming has improved quite a bit from Day One,” Probst says of Gervase. Wow. Tina and Laura open the cage, but they forget to bring back the first trap. Will that be it for the new Galang? Probst sure thinks it’s a catastrophe. Tadhana has a huge lead as they start puzzle-making. But Tyson and Aras struggle with the puzzle, as Tina and Monica begin coming back. “You never know in ‘Survivor,'” Probst crows. Galang thinks they’ve solved the puzzle. They celebrate. But they’re wrong. They think they’ve solved it again. But they’re wrong. Again. Tadhana thinks they have it and they do! “Wow,” Probst says.
More than one way to skin a Kat. So, now what for Galang? They’re all dejected. “On the inside, I’m so frustrated with Tina and Laura B,” Vytas says, knowing that he can’t act out. “If it’s me tonight, I don’t blame you. If it’s somebody else, I feel horrible guilt,” Tina says. Vytas keeps quiet. “Being a man in the midst of only women, whatever they choose to do is going to go down,” Vytas admits. Kat figures that Vytas is going out, but what she really wants to do is get rid of Monica, who won’t shut up. Kat goes to Tina to suggest booting Monica, which Tina’s kinda OK with, except for the possibility of being in a female minority post-Merge. Tina turns around and narcs to Monica, a situation which Monica calls “a little worrisome.” “I need to do what’s best for Monica,” Monica says, before going and confronting Kat, who lies to her face about the conversation with Tina. Kat lies and lies and lies, but ends up hugging Monica and saying that Vytas may need to go out. Monica has learned the “Survivor” Golden Rule, which is “Do unto others before the do unto you” and Vytas is more than willing to vote for anybody. Tina tells us that it’s a coin-toss as they head for Tribal.
Tribal Council. Kat begins by saying that she and Monica aren’t getting along, spinning more lies. Monica says that she just wants trust. “I genuinely love Monica and I love the girls,” Kat says. “Trust in this game is sticking with your alliance no matter what,” Vytas needles. Kat promises Monica that she’s always had her back, but Monica is hesitant. “I feel like the women should stick together,” Kat says. Vytas emphasizes that Kat has made mistakes in loyalties, while he has made no mistakes. Vytas says it’s up to the women to decide if they can trust him. Kat repeats that she loves them and she’s had their back. “I’ve heard stories about her not having people’s backs,” Vytas says. “It sucks to make mistakes, but I haven’t,” Vytas closes. Kat is red-faced as we go to vote.
The Vote. Kat votes for Vytus, or some variation on his name. Vytus votes for Kat. Probst tallies: Vytus. Kat. Kat. And that’s that already. Kat. KAT. An astounding piece of self-immolation is complete. “Thank you,” Vytas tells his ladies. “I’m worried about Hayden,” Kat says, worrying that this may have embarrassed Hayden, that he may not want to date somebody who didn’t even make the Merge. Those are truly words to live by. Dating is for Mergers.
Bottom Line, Part I. Farewell, Brad Culpepper. That’ll teach you to count to 100 faster. What a dumb, dumb Duel. And what a fittingly anti-climactic exit for the guy who was probably the dominant figure for the first 14 days of the game. We’ll see how reflective Brad has become regarding the mistakes he made in his handling of power at Tadhana. At least his tenure was memorable, I suppose.
Bottom Line, Part II. Kat was always a weird choice to be brought back to “Survivor.” Yes, she’s cute and yes she’s kinda goofy in a silly blonde way, but she wasn’t all that strategically clever in “Survivor: One World” and she didn’t prove to be strategically clever here. And yes, those were both understatements. I don’t care how annoying Monica is, if Monica wasn’t becoming an actual threat to Kat, there’s no excuse for Kat to decide this was the right moment to flip on a free-floating player without a loved one, rather than just cleanly knocking out one of the most sympathetic and strong players in the game, part of the most powerful remaining duo. Why would you do that? Kat went from having nobody even considering her to sending herself to Redemption Island in a matter of seconds. On the list of people who might have been targeted at this Tribal Council, you had Vytas as the Odd Man Out and really it should have been unanimous. You had Tina taking personal responsibility for blowing a challenge that she did, indeed, co-blow, so if you wanted to take the “strengthening the tribe” approach, she might have been the second pick. But nobody was ever going to get around to considering Kat until Kat forced them to. You’ve got to give Vytas some credit for the speed with which he ingratiated himself to his new tribe, while also taking credit away from all of the women for the obviousness of his ploy and its effectiveness. Side note, though: Did it benefit Tina to narc on Kat rather than just trying to push Kat to vote Vytas out now, while promising to get Monica out next? Or if you’re Tina do you figure that you’ve been dealt a really weak tribe and you’ll get more chances to vote Vytas out later, so you might as well jettison the person whose loyalty is somewhat in question? I dunno. Voting out Kat neither eliminates a real threat, nor does it make a weak tribe stronger, so it was just a vote of pique that Kat brought upon herself. I haven’t been especially impressed with Tina all season so far. She’s been a real dud at puzzles and those were allegedly her strength coming in.
Bottom Line, Part III. I really feel like there was a lot of bad acting, post-shuffle. Vytas pretty much announced, “You’re women, so I’m going to play on your sensitivities” and his tribe bought in totally. We’ll have to see if Tyson’s really, really, really vocal attempts to deflect to Aras will pay off. It’s hard to know if even Tyson expects it to pay off. Tyson strikes me as one of those players who create drama or little side-bets just to amuse himself. Since Tyson amusing himself is semi-amusing TV, I’m OK with it.
I need to go watch baseball… What’d you think of Wednesday’s episode?