For The Baltimore Sun
8:20 AM EST, December 16, 2013
The finale for "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" starts with a recap of the whole season. I’ve already done that, thank you very much, so I won’t be doing it again here. You can check out the previous recaps if there’s anything you missed.
So after the whole season, we’re left with Gervase, Monica, Tyson and Ciera. But don’t forget, we’ve got one more Redemption Island challenge and either Laura, Tina or Hayden will come back into the game. And most likely be voted right back out, because it doesn’t look like the alliance of Gervase, Tyson and Monica is going to break.
Things are a little awkward back at camp, given that Ciera was totally trashing Tyson to Monica right in front of him. I’m pretty sure that she was lying about it, too, but Tyson doesn’t bother accusing her, since it would just lead to an argument. He’s doing well just keeping his cool and keeping Monica happy.
Monica realizes Tyson and Gervase might be just using her to get to the end, but she also realizes that once the person from Redemption Island comes back, she’ll be the swing vote again, so it’s her choice if she sticks with them. I think she’d be crazy to go to the end with Tyson and Gervase, because she has no chance of winning against either of them (well, maybe Gervase, but definitely not Tyson.)
Hayden arrives at Redemption Island and commiserates with Laura and Tina. Laura is super-happy to hear that Ciera won the Immunity Idol. She says that one of them needs to get back in there, and Hayden rightly points out that one of them will (duh, that’s the whole point of Redemption Island).
Hayden jinxes himself by saying that he should win, since he’s going up against a couple of grandmas. Hayden, have you seen Laura at challenges? You’d be lucky to keep up.
And we’ll see if he can, because it’s time for Redemption Island Arena! As most crucial challenges are, it’s an endurance challenge; this time they have to balance a vase on a seesaw with one foot. The seesaw moves both vertically and laterally. I always feel foolish when describing these challenges, but I try and use terms that will immediately call to mind what the challenge looks like, even if the producers didn’t have a seesaw in mind when they came up with the challenge.
Laura is not doing well, wobbling all over the place. She recovers. Hayden appears to get something in his eye, which is enough to send him off balance; his vase goes crashing onto the rocks below. Laura asks Tina to let her win. Nice try, Laura; ain’t nobody giving something like that away this late in the game.
Laura keeps wobbling, and in the end can’t recover. Holy crap, it’s Tina who is back in the game. I sure didn’t see that coming.
So Hayden and Laura both leave the game. Hayden leaves with positivity, saying that the game has made him appreciate what he has, while Laura feels like she’s a failure because she didn’t win this last challenge. Gee, it must have been tough growing up in Laura’s house if that’s how she views second place.
As soon as Tina get s to camp, she starts talking strategy. She and Ciera agree that they should try and convince Monica to go with an all-girl, all-mom final three. Truthfully, I think it’s their best chance of getting her to turn. Vilifying Tyson didn’t work, so maybe this will.
Tina’s coming on a little hard, telling Monica that no one who’s come through Redemption Island thinks that Monica deserves to win. Ciera knows that pushing Monica into a decision is the wrong way to go, so she tries to soften it by appealing to her ego, saying that she’s played a great game thus far, and getting rid of Tyson and Gervase is the kind of game-changing move that would prove how good Monica is.
Immunity Idol Challenge time! This time, they’re building a line of blocks. No, really. Oh, but they are on a tilting table that the Survivors have to hold on to and keep steady while moving back to get the additional blocks. OK, that’s harder.
The women take an early lead, with Ciera, Monica and Tina doing well. But then Monica drops hers, as does Tina. They both have to start again, giving Tyson a chance to pull ahead. There’s a whole lot of dropping and starting again, with the exception of Tyson, who is moving very slowly, but very steadily. Which works, because while everyone is running and dropping, Tyson wins the challenge.
So, just like last week, it’s all down to what Monica will do. Will she side with the girls and get rid of Gervase, or will she stick with Gervase and Tyson and most likely get rid of Ciera.
Monica, Tyson and Gervase talk about whether to get rid of Tina or Ciera. Monica wants to get rid of Tina, because she thinks that Tina is a bully and that she’s friends with too many people on the jury. Gervase wants to get rid of Ciera, because he thinks that she’s the better player, and that she would get jury votes that way.
Gervase and Monica argue about it, and Gervase does what Gervase does, trying to harangue Monica into seeing things her way. This is the exact wrong thing to do with Monica. She wants to get rid of someone because she feels bullied? Don’t try to bully her into making another choice, especially when you don’t have immunity.
Which is the exact conversation that Monica has with Tina and Ciera. Monica won’t say exactly what she’s going to do, but there’s at least a good chance that she’ll flip on her alliance, if only because she wants to put Gervase in his place.
Tribal Council time! There’s a whole lot of talk; we and they know that it’s all down to Monica. What will she do? Monica makes it clear that the decision she’s made is one for her, and not for anybody else?
Voting time! Time to see Monica’s choice. But it doesn’t matter, because Tyson gives his hidden Immunity Idol to Gervase. So it’s Ciera going home. And, interestingly enough, we only see four votes, two for Gervase and two for Ciera. So the people playing won’t know if Monica voted for Gervase or not (which she didn’t; we the viewers see that she voted for Ciera).
Back at camp, Tina realizes that she’s totally screwed unless she wins immunity. Monica also realizes that Tyson and Gervase wouldn’t have played that Idol if they trusted her 100%.
Final Immunity Idol Challenge time! I figured it would be an endurance challenge, but I’m wrong. It’s an obstacle/giant slide/puzzle challenge. Like always, it’s all going to come down to the puzzle. Gervase tries to pass Monica while running up the stairs, and she totally blocks him with an elbow. Go Monica. I think I want her to win this whole game just based on that.
Tina falls way behind in the gathering of the puzzle pieces. Monica and Tyson are fighting it out for first, with Gervase close behind. They all start their puzzle within seconds of each other, while Tina is still looking for puzzle pieces. Monica and Tyson are leading with the puzzle, but once the puzzle is done, they have to use the clues in the puzzle to solve a combination lock. Tyson, the first one to finish the puzzle, also gets the combination right and wins Immunity.
OK, I’m going to be like CNN during an election. I’m totally calling this season of "Survivor," and Tyson has totally won it. Tina is totally going home at this vote.
Tyson isn’t even worrying about this vote. He’s already worrying about his speech to the jury. Monica tries to laugh off her elbow to Gervase, but he doesn’t find it as amusing. He’s not totally pissed off, though. Gervase is also already thinking about his speech.
Tina asks Gervase if his plan the whole time was to be mean. He doesn’t think that he’s mean at all. Monica is a little annoyed with Tyson and Gervase -- for not letting her know about the Idol during the last vote, and that Gervase is so obviously pandering for Tina’s jury vote.
Monica starts talking about getting rid of Gervase tonight, but I’m not listening to her this time. I’ve been listening to her talk about making a move for about three weeks now, and she hasn’t done a darn thing. I’ve had it with you getting my hopes up, Monica, it’s not happening this time!
Tribal Council time! Tina full-out admits that she tried to convince Monica to vote for Gervase with her so that they have to make fire. Gervase doesn’t think that Monica’s elbow was necessary in the last challenge, but I understand why she did it – she’s trying to make a case for the jury that she’s a strong individual player. Same reason why she’s let it be known that she was considering breaking her alliance. She doesn’t want to be known as someone who was just brought along in the game by Tyson and Gervase.
The votes are cast, and Tina is joining the jury. But now everyone knows that Monica was considering taking it to a tie vote.
Tyson, Gervase and Monica head back to camp, and the traditional final three feast awaits them. Tyson is glad to have finally made it to the final three after two close misses. Monica is proud that she did it herself, without Brad; didn’t she already play this game without him? Why is it such a big deal this time. Gervase is proud of himself because he’s from the original season. Yeah, remember that one? The one where they nearly let them starve and they ate rats? Good times. This must have seemed like a cakewalk in comparison.
Final tribal council time? Hey, we didn’t have the Walk of Fallen Survivors, where they act like everyone who had been voted off was dead. Good. I hated that.
Gervase is the first to talk, and he brings up that he was on the first season, and that he hasn’t been back for 13 years. He takes credit for getting rid of Aras and Tyson.
Monica is next, and wants to address the "elephant in the room," the idea that she’s been brought along. She says that she had the chance to flip many times, and made a conscious choice not to (see, I told you that’s what she was doing).
Tyson says that he was a target from the start, and that he played to have fun, but that changed once Rachel left the game. She’s the reason he's determined to win the game. He’s totally winning this.
The first jury question is from Vytas. He tells Tyson that he swore that if Tyson voted him out, he wasn’t going to vote for him, and he still isn’t. He tells Gervase that old school doesn’t work, and that Tyson carried him along. He tells Monica that she was the only one who promised him something and then betrayed him. Hmm. I didn’t see a question in that.
Katie is next. She has a question for Tyson, about why he got all snitty when she left, pointing out her jury seat for her when she drew the white rock. He apologizes, because what else is he going to do, but it comes off a bit insincere when he calls it his "one regret in the game." If you already regretted it, why didn’t you say something earlier?
Now it’s Caleb’s turn, and he has a question for Gervase: what was the big move he made? Gervase thinks that it’s getting rid of Aras. Gervase argues that he didn’t ride Tyson’s coattails, he just let Tyson take all of the heat for their decisions they made together.
Caleb asks Monica to be vulnerable, and not to speak down to him (I don’t think he likes her). She replies that this is the one thing in her life that is about her, and not about her NFL-playing husband. From the looks they give each other, Laura and Ciera aren’t buying it. Or they’re just jealous that she’s going to go home to her big piles of money.
Ciera is up next, and she asks Tyson if he’s a villain or a hero. He thinks that he’s not a villain; every move he made was strategic, not personal. He says that he’s Rachel’s hero. She asks Gervase if he really wanted to get rid of Tyson. He says that he seriously considered it, but knew he wouldn’t make it to the final three with Ciera.
Laura says that she doesn’t know who Monica is, and that she hasn’t been really vulnerable. Wow, I don’t think that Laura likes Monica at all. Monica brings up all the bad things that people have said about her; Laura asks why that didn’t break her down, and Monica replies that of course it did.
Tina wants each of them to say one word that best describes them. Monica says generous, Gervase says honorable, Tyson says fun-loving. Tyson is really trying to keep this light, isn’t he?
Hayden asks Tyson if he had the Idol when they drew rocks, and he admits that he did. Hayden tells Monica that she comes off as a little fake; I just think that it’s years of being the wife of a professional athlete. She goes on a bit of a rant, asking if they’ve never met a nice person before.
Aras is last. He asks Gervase to say, if he could not pick himself, who he should vote for. Tyson picks Gervase (of course). Monica also picks Tyson. But who does Tyson pick? He picks Monica, because she played a better game than Gervase. I don’t think Gervase appreciated that.
Voting time! This time they’re voting for the person they want to win. We see Caleb vote for Tyson, and Vytas vote for Monica. We then jump to the live show, where everyone is a lot prettier and a lot less gaunt.
The first vote is for Monica, the next five are for Tyson. Gervase doesn’t get any that we see. That means that Tyson is the winner of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water." He wasn’t my absolute favorite, but I can’t say that he didn’t deserve it.
Congratulation Tyson. As Caleb said, take Rachel and buy a big house and make lots of babies.
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