On Wednesday night's episode of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water," Probst ended the night by saying the following: "There are probably more layers to votes than we've ever had before." Boy is he right. And in Episode 2, new ripples of strategy and thought - like we've never seen before on the show - came in to play as members of both tribes tried to make sense of the numerous new twists in the game. There are so many things to think about this season and each decision can have a ripple effect throughout the game. Take Marissa, for example, who was voted out last week and sent to Redemption Island mainly because of the gloating of her Uncle Gervase following his tribe's Immunity victory. Let's get to recapping Episode 2:
Redemption Island. The episode began with Marissa's arrival at Redemption Island, where she joined both Rupert and Candice. The three would soon compete in the season's first three-person Duel and none of them seemed to be happy with the early cards they were dealt. "Welcome to Redemption Island," Rupert told her. "A bunch of people sitting around pissed off."
Count to Zen. Day 4 on the island and already Colton is super-annoyed with his tribe. It is sort of strange that we see many of them lined up giving simultaneous back rubs to one another, an activity that Colton opts out of. Yes, the feeling around camp is one of Zen, a peaceful, yoga-minded spirit of calmness and oneness. Colton can't stand it and the others are starting to pick up on his grumpiness. Nobody will talk game with him. Says Aras about Colton's temporary attempt at redefining himself: "You can only fake it for so long."
A Man's World. Over at the newbie camp, Tyson's girlfriend Rachel ponders her place in the game, summarizing that she is probably in a worse spot than Tyson is on his tribe. Her intuition is correct. "I'm living in a man's world right now," Rachel says. She seems to be close with Candice's husband, John, a friendship that Ciera seems to pick up on. It is clear that the five-man alliance I'm calling "The Brigade 2.0" (a nod to Hayden's Big Brother alliance) does seem to be firmly in charge of the new player tribe.
Another Twist or Two. This year - or at least for this Duel - both entire tribes were invited to watch the elimination Duel between the three Redemption Island contestants. Instantly, there were tears. Upon arriving though, Marissa had some words for Gervase, letting him know that his antics - rubbing salt in her tribe's wounds after their challenge loss - was what got her voted out. "I'm going to rub some more, I promise you that," said a defiant Gervase. On to the Duel...a challenge that reminded me of the board game Operation. The players would have to navigate 10 spools through a maze using a long rod, then balancing the 10 spools on the top of the maze in order to win. The entire maze itself was on a spring, meaning that even the slightest touch with the rod would send all of the player's spools tumbling. Before the challenge, Probst revealed yet another twist: That the winner of the Duel would get to choose a player remaining in the game and that player would receive a clue to a hidden Immunity Idol. Of course, the person coming in last place would be the first person eliminated from the game. One more twist: Gervase could choose to swap places with Marissa if he chose to do so before the challenge - as each loved one will have the chance to do each week - but he chose not to do so. So it was Rupert vs. Candice vs. Marissa.
The Duel. So it was a close challenge, but nearing his tenth spool, Rupert saw his tower and his hopes in the game tumble. Soon after, Candice finished in first and then she was followed by Marissa. That left Rupert the odd-man out...and the first person eliminated from Survivor: Blood vs. Water, in this, his fourth time playing. There were tears between Rupert and his wife, but he assured her he was OK. When asked by Probst if he regretted anything, Rupert replied: "No regrets. I love Survivor, but I love my wife more." With that he was off...in only two episodes on the show this time around, Rupert left the game as he entered it...a true hero.
Get A Clue. After Rupert's exit, it was time for Candice to give the Immunity Idol clue to someone and...duh!...she chose to give it to John, her husband. A good move? As Brad mentions to the camera, having the clue could be both a blessing and a curse: On one hand John could find an Immunity Idol and on the other, he is now an instant target.
Analyze This. Upon returning to their camp, Aras's brother Vytas begins analyzing the new Duel "swap" twist. He surmises that a good strategy to weaken the other tribe could be to vote out someone who could then swap out with a strong player. The Brigade 2.0 decides that a strong player like Tyson may also be a likely person who may swap, if Rachel was sent to RI. So by getting out Rachel, they could in turn possibly get Tyson out of the game. John however, isn't too keen to this idea. Not only does he have a friendship with Rachel, but if Tyson were to swap with her, that means that a strong competitor like Tyson would be competing against his wife, Candice. Do you see the many layers of strategy this new loved ones twist has created? Very compelling stuff.
Snake In the Grass. Back to the unfolding drama that is Colton Cumbie. He has finally, seemingly, given up his "nice guy" approach to the game and he begins planting little seeds of uneasiness on his tribe. Kat doesn't want to be on Colton's bad side, so she tells him that Tina mentioned he was over-strategizing. But Kat's kindness backfires big time when Colton decides to create a scene and pulls Tina over to have her confront Kat directly to find out what exactly was said. Colton tells the camera that he can "rule in chaos," but Zen-master Aras quickly shuts him down after Colton tries to address the entire tribe at once. Says Tyson: "Colton's going to probably end up over-thinking his way out of the game."
Re-birth. In the middle of the camp drama, Monica vows to the camera that she is in this game for herself. The old Monica, in fact, "Died in Samoa," she says, and she is ready to play. Aras calls Colton, "A gay Russell Hantz," and uniting against their mutual uneasiness towards Colton, a new alliance of five is born: Aras, Gervase, Tina, Monica and Tyson.
Immunity Challenge. Playing for Immunity and Reward (in the form of a bunch of fishing gear), three people strapped together would have to push a barrel along a course to receive four bags of balls. One note: There would be a person in the barrel and that person would have to untie the knots to release the ball bags. In each barrel was Laura M. for the returnees and Katie for the newbies. After they got all of the balls, it would be skee-ball time, pitting Hayden against Gervase. With a bit of a lead going into skee-ball, Gervase pulled out a number of great shots to secure yet another win for the returning player tribe...meaning that Colton would remain safe for now. But the new players would be sending another one of their own to Redemption Island. Upon winning, Gervase was a bit calmer than last time, but did manage to scream out, "Marissa! That's for you, baby!"
The End of an Alliance? Already? The new players are down after their loss, but Brad is more on the pissed side. "Is it just me or is Gervase as stupid as he looks?" he tells the others as they listen uncomfortably. He then tells them he may body slam Gervase in the water if they ever have a physical challenge. When they get time alone, The Brigade 2.0 discuss voting out Rachel. John again vocally raises concern, which in turn causes Vytas to question John's loyalties. Ciera and Katie - the other two females on the tribe - are approached and are told to vote out Rachel, while Rachel was told to vote out Ciera. But the crafty Ciera has other ideas. What if John found the Idol and gives it to Rachel? That could potentially send Ciera home. The answer then? Katie and Ciera will throw two votes John's way just in case this were to happen. I love watching players who can play their own games and Ciera is definitely one to watch. Unbeknownst to them though, Vytas and the other guys are actually floating the possibility of blindsiding John...he's been sketchy about Rachel plus he may have the Idol...both could be a problem for them.
Tribal Council. So many things to think about this season, but it was time to vote. No Idol was played (and if John did find it, it wasn't shown on TV and he didn't use it). Rachel voted for Ciera as she was told and Ciera and Katie stuck to their plan, sending two votes John's way. So who did The Brigade 2.0 vote for? They stuck together and unanimously voted out Rachel. So in a 5-2-1 vote, Rachel's torch was snuffed and she was sent to Redemption Island. Apparently, John found it in his best interest to vote along with his alliance, even if that means that his wife may have to compete against Tyson at RI.
Analysis. My detailed thoughts on Episode 2 can be found at TheTVKing.com! There I'll discuss the many twists of the game, whether or not I thought it was a good move to target Rachel and who seems to be in the best position moving forward.
Next Time On...So will The Brigade 2.0's plan work? Will Tyson swap with Rachel like they had planned? The preview for next week ends with a crying Colton jumping into the lap of his fiance Caleb in the stands at Redemption Island, as it is implied that Colton may have quit the game...really? We shall find out next week.
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