Survivor tribe swap scratches open new wounds

As last week’s promo spoiled, the tribes switched on Survivor Blood vs. Water, leaving tribes of essentially men versus women, with the exceptions of Vytas and Ciera as the one member of the opposite sex on their new tribe. That opened up a brand new dynamic and led to yet another surprising vote, though this one was not a blindside.

Kat was scratched from her tribe because of her strategizing against Monica, a member of her own alliance. After being voted out, she joked on Twitter, “old hags did it to me again!”

At first, I thought Monica’s name being floated by Kat was simply the editors diverting our attention. However, it led to a dramatic cascade that led the tribe to turn on Kat. It was a dramatic turnaround, especially for Vytas, who started off doing so much ass-kissing that he even praised Kat’s mangling of the English language: “the point of language is to get the idea across.”

Kat became the Brad of her tribe, turning on her alliance and wanting to target Monica. Tina told Monica, and then Monica immediately revealed the plan to vote out Vytas in front of him. “Sorry about that,” she added. Then Monica confronted Kat. The tribe seemed conflicted going into Tribal Council, but Kat knew she was done.

“I will do anything,” Kat nearly cried at Tribal. Vytas jumped into that opening, pointing out that he was more trustworthy than Kat. She practically begged, “Please stay together guys, please.” And Vytas said, “We will stay together.” Ooh, snap!

Earlier, Monica said that Survivor is all about “do unto others before they do unto you,” which is not a bad way to describe it, and she certainly did that to Kat.

The women + Vytas tribe lost immunity mostly because of Tina’s double screw-ups. It was another water challenge for immunity–and that’s great, since we’ve been deprived of them for so long. Tina and Laura B. initially swam out and back without retrieving the puzzle pieces (“a huge catastrophe,” Probst overstated it), and then later Tina and Monica kept celebrating finishing their puzzle even though it was, you know, not finished. Tina actually apologized to her tribe, essentially defusing attention.

Meanwhile, at the guys + Ciera tribe, there’s ongoing talk about getting rid of Aras, and the “new power couple” is Gervase and Tyson. Tyson, who no longer has an ally, seemed to view his time at the new tribe as temporary and his role as a secret antagonist, as he said he planned to “eat and steal as much food from this tribe as possible.” But he also seems to be plotting against his own alliance so basically he is a free agent, which is probably a great place to be.

Before the tribes swapped by drawing random buffs, we said goodbye to Fuck You Brad Culpepper, who lost the challenge. Laura dominated it, as her tribe expected she would, and John came in a relatively easy second. (She gave the immunity idol clue to Vytas, who burned it, exasperating Probst–“nobody wants the idol!”–but making what Laura said explicitly clear: “We all know it’s a target.”)

Calling the duel puzzle “a puzzle” was a wild exaggeration, since it was, at most, a kids’ game that required them to put 100 tiles in numerical order. That the bags contained groups of pieces in numerical order made it seem even less challenging. However, it did increase in difficulty (there were 10 more pieces in each subsequent bag), and because they were putting numbers in order, we knew exactly how far along someone was.

As Fuck You Brad Culpepper left, Monica said, “I’m so sorry.” Brad shrugged as if to say, Yeah, you should have put those tiles in order faster. Then, after Probst took a broment to stroke Brad’s ego, Brad told Monica, “You’re free.”

So are we.

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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.