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'Survivor: Blood vs Water', Episode 12 preview: Spoiler alert

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An unthinkable tragedy occurred on Tuesday of this week in the Survivor community. Current contestants Tina Wesson and her daughter Katie Collins lost a loved one, when Tina's son - Katie's brother - Taylor Lee Collins was killed in a car accident in Chattanooga. What horrible, stunning news. My deepest sympathies, thoughts and love go out to Tina, Katie and all of those personally affected. Please feel free to leave your support for both Katie and Tina on Twitter, or right here on this page in the comment section.

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It is easy to lose perspective when watching a TV show like Survivor. There are more important things in the world, like family, which is ironically the theme of this season. But let's continue on with tonight's episode, remembering that when we call it a "hugely important!" or "shocking!" episode, that we do so knowing how trivial it all really is.

Ponderosa Recap. A new little segment to this column, here is what is going on at Ponderosa. What is Ponderosa, you might ask? As Vytas called it, it's basically the "Loser's Lounge," the nice, comfortable abode that the voted out jury members stay at while the game is still going on. You can usually watch at least a segment or two each week from Ponderosa on CBS.com. The drama at Ponderosa is sometimes as entertaining as what is happening in the game and there is handy information to be gathered as we approach the Finale Episode on December 15. So with that out of the way, what's currently going on at Ponderosa? Vytas joined his brother, Aras, and the two still seem a bit shocked at how their games shook out. Vytas seemed very bitter towards Laura for helping Tina out in the final Duel that cost him his game, but equally bitter towards his brother, Aras's game, for being the downfall of his own. The two await the third jury member who will join them shortly.

As for tonight's episode, CBS made a huge blunder this past week in releasing their TV promo with more than one humongous spoiler included in it. We have to talk about it, but I will be as kind as possible for those that missed it. Here is the synopsis from CBS:

Episode 12 – “Rustle Feathers” - CASTAWAYS TRY TO FIND BALANCE AT A FRUSTRATING IMMUNITY CHALLENGE, ON “SURVIVOR” WEDNESDAY, DEC. 4. Castaways try to find balance at a frustrating immunity challenge and a ruthless game of tug of war leads to an incredibly rare tribal council, on SURVIVOR, Wednesday, Dec. 4 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Analysis. The most blatant and unfortunate spoiler revealed in the promo was that it included a quick shot of the three members of the jury...even though it hasn't yet been revealed on the show whom the third jury member actually is. I won't spoil that here.

But the biggest reveal of all is that the "incredibly rare tribal council" is actually the dreaded "purple rock" draw. This event has only happened once in the history of the game, during Season 4 (Survivor: Marquesas), which resulted in the exit of poor Paschal English. Here is the rule from the mouth of Jeff Probst, as told to Dalton Ross of EW:

“When we have a tie, we do one re-vote and the rules are that if nobody changes their vote and we remain tied, then the two people tied are now immune (yes, immune) and the rest of the tribe must draw rocks to see who goes home. The person who draws the odd rock is out. So it’s a massive move to ‘go to rocks’ — you really have to feel it is your only way to last in the game, otherwise somebody is going to change their vote.”

We can debate the purpose of this rule all we want (I for one, think it is a horrible way to break a tie!), but it is a rule that still stands today and this is how things will play out tonight. This crazy rule is so bad and so random that it has deterred others from drawing rocks for what has now been 23 seasons. Many have come close, but none have dared risk their lives in the game for such a thing. It could have happened earlier this season, when Caleb switched his vote to get rid of Brad. Had Vytas not switched his vote upon the re-vote - according to the rule - Brad and Ciera would have then been immune and Vytas, Caleb, Hayden and Katie would have drawn for rocks. Not worth it, right?

As Probst said, "You have to feel it is your only way to last in the game." So who could be so desperate? What could lead to this tie vote tonight?

Well, we saw Tyson turn on Caleb and Hayden last week, so entering tonight's episode you would think that Hayden and Katie would be on the outs. The preview of this week's episode suggested that Hayden actually gets Gervase to possibly flip on Tyson. While that would be very interesting, I find that highly unlikely to happen. Instead, I think the "swing" vote tonight could very well be Monica. There are six left and we saw how clearly Ciera drew her line in the sand: She is with Tyson. Tyson, Gervase and Ciera could be the three and they would likely target Hayden before Katie. So I see three votes going to Hayden. We know we are "going to the rocks" tonight, so Monica must become convinced that Tyson is against her...why else risk the move?

It should be dramatic, it should be crazy and it will most definitely be entertaining. But man does the rock draw suck. One of these players is going to have their game end on account of a random draw of a rock, not a twist introduced by the game, but a rock draw that everyone is unanimously opting into. At least this person will have Redemption Island. Where was that safety net when Paschal was in the game?

Be sure to be thinking about Tina, Katie and their families as you watch tonight. Then please join me afterwards for my full episode recap.

How This Works: As the Survivor Examiner, I'm here for you each and every season to bring you the most wall-to-wall Survivor coverage out there. Each week, you can expect an episode preview on Wednesday morning detailing the upcoming episode and getting you up to speed in case you missed anything from the previous week. Then later on Wednesday night, expect my full episode recap. My recaps tend to be very detailed from start to finish...there's enough smarmy comedians out there recapping the show each week, I'd rather provide you with the entire rundown of the episode. That doesn't mean it's devoid of opinion...because linked to every episode recap article is my Survivor Episode Analysis column, which I write following each episode over at TheTVKing.com, giving you all of my personal opinions on each week's episode.

And that's not all. Every Thursday, you can join me for my exclusive one-on-one exit interview with each voted off castaway.

Of course to make things easy on you, you can either Subscribe to the Survivor Examiner (click "subscribe" above by my name at the top of this article) or you can follow me on Twitter, @tomsantilli. I happen to be a film critic too, so let me know what you think of my film reviews each week as well!

Last but certainly not least, make sure you check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, Survivor Fever.

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