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'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' recap, 'Blood is Thicker than Anything'

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We’re back for another season of "Survivor," and the gimmick for the 27th season is "Blood vs. Water." Previous contestants are being brought back, along with one of their loved ones. Some returning players I’m glad so see, some not so much. Lord save me, Rupert is back.

The 10 separate couples are dropped off in separate locations; here is the list of Survivors:

Gervase from Season 1 and his niece, Marissa;

Kat from "One World" and her boyfriend, Hayden, who won "Big Brother" last season;

Laura from "Survivor Samoa" and her daughter, Ciera;

Rupert (sigh) and his wife, Laura;

Colton from "One World" and his fiancé, Caleb;

Candice from "Cook Islands" and her husband, John;

Monica and her husband, ex-NFL player Brad Culpepper (he gets a last name because he’s famous);

Tina, winner of Season 2, and her daughter, Katie;

Tyson from "Heroes and Villains" and his girlfriend, Rachel;

Aras, winner of "Cook Islands," and his brother, Vytas.

Jeff breaks it to the Survivors that they will be playing against their loved ones, not with them. That should keep anyone from banding together in the beginning, and you had better believe they will stick together if any of the pairs make it to the merge. It also gives the loved ones a chance to stand on their own and not just be the tagalong.

As soon as Jeff divides the teams, he announces that they will be voting someone out. Colton thinks there will be a big old target on his back because he was so awful last time. They start with the Tadhana tribe, of the loved ones, and boom! Laura, Rupert’s wife, gets voted out. I guess everyone likes Rupert as much as I do. Of course, now he’ll go into self-righteous “I’ve been wronged” mode, which is even more insufferable than regular Rupert.

Next is the returning players tribe, Galang, and the vote is more split, with Candace and Laura each having four votes. One more vote means that Candace is going home.  Candace’s husband is outraged on her behalf, and vows to vote out everyone who voted for her. Good luck with that.

But wait, there’s a twist! Redemption Island is back. Candace and Laura get a chance to come back. But first Jeff needs to give Rupert a chance to be the good guy and trade places with his wife. He, of course takes it, and pisses of Tina, who wanted him around because he’s a good provider around camp. Laura and her husband John talk it over, and decide that she should be the one to go. There’s tears all around as Laura and Rupert head to Redemption Island; take it down a notch, people, they’re not going to be executed.

Galang starts to build their camp, and Gervase notes that it’s been 13 years since he’s played. I wonder if he’s learned to swim in all that time. Laura is finding it a bit intimidating being with all of the retuning players, since they’ve all done this before.

In no time, Galang has started a fire, made rice and made a lot of headway with their shelter. Everything is going well, so Monica decides to start a little bit of drama with Colton by bringing up what happened last time they played together. Colton is already a lot more subdued and cooperative than he was the last time he played, so I’m willing to give him another chance.

Over at Tadhana, Brad, Monica’s husband, is realizing that no matter how much you watch or hear about what playing "Survivor" is like, you have no idea what it is really like until you get dropped off on that beach.  Brad then goes-on a little about what Monica told him about the game, which gets a little old, and then he loses me completely by referring to the five guys on the tribe as “four guys and a gay guy” -- apparently Caleb, Colton’s fiancé, isn’t a real guy. He’s a guy, of course, but not a real, real guy. Blech. He runs around to all the guys to solidify his alliance, and while they agree with him, I don’t know how solid it is. That's mostly because Brad is not only running around taking charge, but also being really, really annoying.

So Tadhana has a great shelter started, but the sun is starting to go down and they still don’t have fire. Hoops. Brad, Ciera and someone the editors don’t feel like naming try to get the fire started while sharing their stories. Everyone knows that Brad is ex-NFL, but Ciera was a teenage mom and what’s his name (Seriously, editors? Everyone else gets a tag but him? Oh, it’s Vytas, maybe they didn’t know how to spell it) is a yoga instructor. He's also 14-years-sober after being a heroin addict who spent a year in jail when he was 19. With all that talking, it’s not surprising the fire doesn’t get made.

Back at Galang, Colton is trying to make amends and make himself understood, but only sticks his foot in his mouth a little. His last appearance does seem to have given him a new level of self-awareness of what a jerk he was the last time. Everyone seems to be supportive  -- but they are still a little worried that he’s manipulating them, since it is Colton.

Now we go to Redemption Island, where Candace is a little bitter that she got voted out, as she chops coconuts while talking about everyone who voted for her. She’s also going a little nuts with Rupert, since he’s not doing anything around their camp. She’s doing all the work, and he’s reaping all the benefits. It’s a strategy for him; he’s saving his energy for the challenges.

Treemail time! The message hints at one of those challenges with multiple parts, allowing each tribe to allocate players to each task. They all agree that the puzzle is always the key to the challenges.

Reward and Immunity Challenge time! First they swim out over an obstacle course, then dive and retrieve puzzle pieces, then bring them back to the beach and assemble them. First tribe done wins immunity and a flint. Tadhana is working together way better than Galang, and they are kicking butt in the water part of the challenge.

Apparently Gervase hasn’t gotten any better at swimming, so I don’t know why they have him in the water. Seriously, he can barely move, and they’re not even at the boat where the puzzle pieces are. Early guess for who’s going home, anyone? Unless his tribe can pull it out during the puzzle portion, I think Gervase’ll be going home.

Galang apparently can’t paddle a boat, as they get turned around and lose even more time.  They have a lot of time to make up, but the puzzle is always the great equalizer. Katie, Ciera and Caleb work on the puzzle for Tadhana, Tina, Laura and Monica for Galang. And, wow, Galang really pulls it out, managing to make up the time and win. Gervase then talks some smack to Tadhana after the win. No, Gervase, they won in spite of you, so you should shut up now.

Colton bursts into tears, because he realizes that he’s sent his fiancé to Tribal Council and he’s not in a good position, as he was part of the puzzle group that just lost the challenge.

At Tadhana after the challenge, everyone is a little upset and a little worried. Brad is nice, giving the puzzle players props for trying their hardest. Katie is still a little worried. Marissa isn’t impressed with her Uncle Gervase, for both the smack-talking and the poor swimming performance.

Now for the shenanigans! It seems like the guys are still working together, and just need to decide which woman to vote off. Of course, things are never what they seem on this show. Brad is a little sour now on Marissa because of Gervase, which isn’t fair, because she’s not anything like him. Katie’s name is also brought up, because she wasn’t really helping during the puzzle.

Tribal Council time! Tadhana agrees that, despite their loved ones telling them what it’s like, it’s a completely different experience once they’re out here. They also really, really need fire. They’re hungry and thirsty and tired. John is worried that Candace is upset with him for letting her go to Redemption Island. Gervase is brought up, and Marissa admits that she feels vulnerable because her uncle acted like an idiot. Katie admits that she wouldn’t be surprised if she goes home.

Voting time! Of course, we only see Marissa and Katie’s votes, and they voted for each other. I hope that it is Katie, but only because I don’t think Marissa should be punished for her uncle’s transgression. But no, it looks like Brad is already fully in charge of his tribe, because Marissa is going home.

Marissa going home bothers me. O don’t think Gervase will care one whit that his niece went home, so Brad’s ‘message’ to him was totally wasted.

Next week: Colton is regressing to his old self, and we see the first Redemption Island duel.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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