Nut cutting on Survivor gets the nut cut

Wow. For a season with returnees and far too many unnecessary twists, Survivor Blood vs. Water continues to deliver some exceptional entertainment from the most basic elements of the game. In yet another stunning Tribal Council, Fuck You Brad Culpepper’s bad game play finally turned against him, thanks to a great move by Caleb.

Once again, the cold open was all about Fuck You Brad Culpepper, with Candice started things off by giving him the finger. She also called him out for his sexist behavior, which was then illustrated by Brad ordering his wife to burn the hidden immunity idol clue that John gave her after his challenge victory. “Doin’ what she’s told,” Candice said.

Brad justified his behavior later by saying, “It’s just natural for me to lead my family, and I have become leader of this group.” Bow to the power of the penis, everyone.

Redemption Island’s challenges are weak and I am still not thrilled with the way it changes the game, but I absolutely love what it’s offering this season, thanks to the smart decision to let the entire cast attend every challenge. The drama they bring is more interesting than the game play; Marissa’s exit was basically overshadowed by all the Culppepering.

Speaking of weak challenges, the immunity challenge was pretty much a rehash of one we’ve already seen, though since it has boats and boats require teamwork, never mind take a lot of construction to build, I can see why they’d want to repeat it. While the newbies are better at boating than their loved ones, they cannot close, and that makes me officially bored with this season’s immunity challenges.

It’s especially boring because the constant wins mean the returnees literally have nothing to do except invent ways to amuse themselves, such as Tyson and Gervase secretly eating coconuts and opening them in different ways to throw suspicion off themselves, as if coconuts are a finite resource and/or their tribemates are going to act as if they’re on CSI: Island.

Over at the newbie tribe, Brad’s strategy also started contradicting himself. Previously he argued for getting rid of John so that if Candice came back they wouldn’t be a strong alliance; now he’s arguing that “couples can become a unified power” and that they should dump the single people, like Caleb, saying it was “nut cuttin’ time.” Of course, it also helps that single people are easy targets without loved ones to yell “Fuck you, Brad Culpepper” at Redemption Island.

Because of Brad’s targeting of their own alliance, Brad’s name came up, but Hayden argued for keeping Brad as to “keep the heat off of us” post-merge, which is now a pretty standard Survivor strategy, and not necessarily a bad one.

Ultimately, Brad seemed to have settled on Ciera, arguing at Tribal Council that her failures with puzzles led to their loss (nope; try again, person in the boat that nearly tipped over and blew your lead).

That’s when things got interesting. Caleb brought up that Brad floated the idea of dumping him: “you campaigned against me today.” Brad tried to back away from that–“campaigned’s a bad word”–but Caleb said, definitively, “I’m gonna write Brad’s name down.” Counting the votes out loud, he said, “that’s three up front; the guys back there, ya’ll can decide what you want to do.”

I admit I may be blinded by my general dislike of Fuck You Brad Culpepper and his game play, but that was a brilliant strategic move for Caleb: He protects himself and does so in a way that doesn’t seem like he’s bullying or forcing his agenda. He simply declared his intention and let the rest of the tribe decide.

The result was a tie, meaning a re-vote without Brad or Ciera voting. That left the men with basically the same decision again, since it just made a 2-2 tie possible. It was a tough decision, at least for Hayden, who agonized, and wrote and crossed off letters repeatedly as he tried to figure out what to do. In fairness to Hayden, Big Brother never involved anything so complicated, such as writing.

Vytas, however, changed his mind, and voted for Brad, sending him to Redemption Island. And that’s what Brad gets for murdering Nemo in cold blood.

Earlier at Tribal Council, Jeff Probst said, “So Brad, when you sit at home, and you fantasize about playing Survivor, this is not how it goes.” He was talking about their challenge losses, but ended up foreshadowing Brad’s exit.

Brad did exit the game graciously–though still in a way that was annoying. “I’m not mad at you,” he said repeatedly, as if the others were concerned about that. But he confessed, “I made a bad move.” And when he arrived at Redemption Island, he said to Candice and John, “Before you guys hit me, I’m waving the white flag.”

Owning his bad strategy may be Brad’s best move. He may have had interesting ideas about how to play a game affected by cross-tribe connections, but his complete lack of subtly and inability to play a smart social game got this nut cut from the game.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.