Brad Culpepper was an NFL defensive tackle for nine years and was used to going in straight for the kill, occasionally scoring a blindside from time to time. On Survivor, his approach was no different. And although he is still in the game, consider the actions of Wednesday night's episode of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" a setback for this fierce competitor. An opposing player went full-speed ahead, squared him up and knocked him down. It was definitely not a play that Culpepper saw coming.
In fact, there were a lot of unexpected plays in the old Survivor playbook that were pulled out in Episode 4. Let's get recappin':
Redemption Island Reunion. Following last week's blindside courtesy of Brad, John arrived in the middle of the night to find his wife, Candice, and Marissa on Redemption Island. "I knew you were going to be too trusting of people," Candice told him. John and Candice would soon be facing off against each other - and Marissa - and somebody would be going home.
Strength in Numbers. Back at Tadhana, Brad begins to boast a bit about how he was able to hook John early on. He explains to the others that it is beneficial to target single players in the game instead of those with a loved one on the other side. This raises some red flags for current ally Caleb, who is the only one left on his tribe without a loved one (Colton) in the game. Did Brad just tip his hand to Caleb?
The Bird is the Word. The next morning, everyone arrived at Redemption Island Arena and Candice greeted Brad with her middle finger. Candice and John both had a lot of venom to spit towards Brad, with Candice at one point calling him "a child." John tells the others, "Maybe start thinking about knocking the king off of his throne." Brad tells Jeff and the rest of the players, "I think he made a wrong decision in trusting me." Monica on the other hand, is beginning to have serious worries about her husband, since every time she shows up to one of these Duels, there seems to be a lot of bad vibes thrown Brad's way.
The Duel. After the fighting subsided, it was Duel time. John, Candice and Marissa had to navigate a key through a ladder maze that led to a complex block puzzle. Breezing through, John finished in first place, meaning that if Candice could just finish in second, both of them could actually survive this week. Wouldn't you know, Marissa struggled with the challenge and Candice indeed took second place. That meant that Gervase's niece Marissa was officially out of the game, after just nine days...six of which were spent on Redemption Island. She said her good-byes and threw her buff into the fire (be sure to check back tomorrow for my exclusive interview with Marissa).
No Clue. Winning the challenge, John got to choose a person to receive a clue to the hidden Immunity Idol. As a form of payback - since having a clue himself had made him a huge target - he decided to hurt Brad by giving the clue to his wife, Monica..only after Candice basically told him to do so. Monica though, quickly turned the tables on them when she threw the clue into the fire without looking at it, per Brad's suggestion. "Doing what she's told," commented Candice, which was ironic since she had just given John a direct order to give the clue to Monica!
Together Again. John and Candice were able to survive this week and they returned to Redemption Island a little bittersweet. Sure they are happy to finally get to spend some time together, but they still understand they have a long road ahead - not to mention a lot of adversity to overcome - if they are to both return to the game at some future point. "I guess we have to take what we can get," Candice said.
Repercussions. The abuse Brad is receiving at the Arena is taking its toll on Monica over at Galang. "If he makes it to the merge, I won't believe it," she tells us. Gervase gave some good words of wisdom when he pointed out that, "You don't want to believe that your loved one is the one being the bad guy," but that somebody's loved one over there must be calling the shots. Over at Tadhana, the boys talk about Brad's behavior as well, but Hayden points out that they should definitely keep Brad around at least until the merge to deflect some attention away from them. Caleb feels tight with Hayden and Vytas and considers Brad the low man on the totem pole.
Coconut Bandits. Tyson continues to nurse his shoulder, which he reveals to us isn't all that bad...he just is going to milk it for all it's worth in the game. Speaking of "milking it," Tyson has also teamed up with Gervase quite tightly, explaining that they both are now without loved ones in the game, which makes them a pair to be reckoned with. Best of all, they have secretly decided to sneak off together and drink coconuts all by themselves, puncturing them in a way that others blame on the island crabs. "Operation Coconut is still running smooth," Gervase informs us.
Immunity Challenge. Playing for Immunity along with Reward (in the form of coffee, tea and other goodies), it was a strenuous challenge that involved boating out to retrieve several heavy crates that were tethered on the ocean floor. Once retrieved, they had to bring them back to shore, stack them correctly and then solve a puzzle that would reveal a combination to a lock that would release their flag and thus, win them the challenge. Once again, the new players of Tedhana had a slight lead going into the puzzle portion and once again Laura M. kicked her daughter, Ciera's butt. Galang was victorious for the fourth straight time, remaining undefeated in challenges and sending Tadhana back to Tribal yet again.
Choose a Side. Hayden is starting to feel disheartened with all of the losing. But nonetheless, he gathers his guy alliance together to go "get water," which Ciera informs us is code for "get together to decide who to vote out." Oddly, Brad lingers around camp after the other three boys wander off. His motive? To tell Ciera and Katie to vote out Caleb. When Brad eventually joins the boys, Caleb takes notice of how long it took Brad to join them. After just watching Brad tell the girls to vote out Caleb, he tells the camera that he is "definitely" voting out Ciera tonight. So which is it?
Tribal Council. Brad begins Tribal by calling out Ciera on her less-than-ideal puzzle skills. But the interesting part would be when Brad and Caleb began arguing. "You campaigned against me today," Caleb tells Brad. "Well, campaign is a strong word," says Brad. They bickered for a while and Hayden talked a bit about trust: "Once you distrust someone in this game it's hard to trust them again." Then Caleb made things great. Talking to Ciera and Katie but loud enough for everyone to hear, he announced that he was going to vote out Brad no matter what. This seemed to shock Hayden and Vytas quite hard. Brad reiterated that despite their fall-out, Brad was still voting out Ciera tonight. Throwing out this Brad vote seemed to be very unexpected, a rarity in the past several seasons of Survivor. Even more of a rarity? That a last-minute play at Tribal Council could actually change people's votes. But it was time to vote...would the guys back Brad? Would the girls vote along with Caleb to blindside Brad?
The Vote. "You mess with the bull, you get the horns," Caleb says as he votes for Brad. Following his vote, the remaining votes were read: Ciera - Ciera - Brad - Ciera....and finally, Brad. It was a 3-3 tie vote! So basically, Caleb, Ciera and Katie voted for Brad, with Brad, Hayden and Vytas sticking together to vote out Ciera - not Caleb - after all. A tie-vote means a re-vote, with Brad and Ciera not being able to vote.
The Re-Vote. Hayden seemed to really struggle with his vote at the urn, something that used to be commonplace on Survivor but that we rarely see these days. At one point he began to write down Ciera's name and then scribbled it out, before pausing again. Would we see a fire-making tie-breaker between Brad and Ciera if the votes remained the same? Jeff read the re-votes: Brad - Ciera - Brad....and....Brad! With a 3-1 re-vote, Brad was sent from the game to Redemption Island, where he would join his good pals John and Candice. "That should be fun," Brad murmured after his torch was snuffed. Before leaving, he made a point to tell Caleb that he wasn't mad at him and even said, "I made a bad move." And with that, Brad was gone.
Analysis. For all of my thoughts and opinions on tonight's episode, go to this link.
Next Time On...Caleb begins feeling like a king himself, in control of the game. And is there another shocking move at the Arena? It is teased that perhaps Monica trades places with Brad before the next Duel! The last clip of the night shows Brad arriving at Redemption Island, saying to John and Candice, "Before you guys hit me, I'm waiving the white flag." "Now I have my chance to put him out of the game for good," Candice says.
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