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When we last left Survivor, Kat was scrambling for her very life in the game. After a messy ousting, Kat wound up on Redemption Island, where she lamented exiting the game pre-merge. Now stuck on RI with Laura M. and John, she whines and cries about her gameplay, sulking on the beach until the challenge begins. This is the downside of RI. We don’t need to see Kat’s internal (and external) struggle. She has been eliminated from the game, and her emotional arc should for all intents and purposes be over. But with Redemption Island in play, it isn’t. And we end up with an extra 5 to 10 minutes of precious footage – footage that could revolve around a more interesting character like Tina or Gervase – devoted solely to Kat.
The RI challenge this week is a sort-of 3D puzzle (a challenge Cochran won apparently on last season’s Survivor: Caramoan). Kat wants Hayden to switch with her because she’s bad at puzzles, adding yet more unnecessary Kat drama to the episode. Hayden ends up not taking her place. John easily wins the puzzle-based challenge, and Laura M. and Kat scrap for second place. Despite help from the Tadhana tribe (Gervase in particular gives Kat a lot of tips), Kat loses and is ousted from Redemption Island and thus the game. Good thing we wasted several minutes of her crying on the beach alone. That totally ended up being worthwhile.
On the Galang tribe, Vytas continues to make in-roads with his new tribemates. Though he is the only male on the tribe, and thus on the outs, he exhibits deft skill in building trust with the ladies. Laura B. in particular takes to Vytas, as does Tina, who thinks he would match up nicely with her daughter Katie. The ladies recognize he is a dangerous player, but just can’t help trusting him. Vytas has played an incredibly diplomatic game, and just listening to his answers to the ladies questions is pretty compelling television. He gives all the right answers to the hard questions, and shows he is definitely a savvy player.
On the Tadhana tribe, Hayden laments losing Kat, having a near breakdown in a confessional. He also realizes, however, that he may now be in a good place, because he can play his own game and not have to worry about Kat anymore. He also notices he’s in a good place, as Ciera, Tyson, Caleb, and Gervase are also on their own in the game. Tyson begins to plant the seeds of an Aras blindside, and seems to have the trust and attention of the other members of Tadhana. It’s good to see Tyson playing the game, because he is an entertaining and sneaky player, and planting a seed like this should pay off dividends immensely in a future episode.
The combined Immunity/Reward challenge is a maze wherein the tribes must collect items while shackled together at the ankles. Most of the race is fairly neck-and-neck despite Tadhana having an obvious physical advantage over Galang. Tyson is able to pull off a narrow victory for Tadhana, however, and the Tadhana tribe wins a chicken dinner on the beach (complete with iced tea, corn on the cob, and mac and cheese). Watching Tadhana eat chicken and goof off sounds like something that wouldn’t be all that entertaining, but it is surprisingly one of the strongest parts of the episode, mostly due to Tyson’s hilarious nature. Galang is sent back to Tribal Council for a second week in a row, dejected at such a close loss.
Vytas once again knows he’s on the chopping block. What he doesn’t anticipate, however, is a move by Laura B. that’s so boneheaded it gets her negative attention and inadvertently puts her on the chopping block (much like Kat last week). Laura B. flat-out tells Vytas he will be voted out, fostering distrust in her tribemates. Monica and Tina recognize that keeping Vytas around may be a mistake, but that keeping Laura B. around doesn’t make much sense either – where are her loyalties going to lie when the tribes merge, after all? Vytas is once again able to talk himself out of being voted out, and Laura B. is sent packing to Redemption Island.