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In the penultimate episode of Survivor: Blood vs. Water, it appeared highly likely that Laura M. would re-enter the game. She had dominated the second half of Redemption Island, winning each challenge by a landslide and managing to keep Tina around for insurance, Tina being less competition in the duels. In last night’s final Redemption Island duel, which pitted Hayden vs. Laura vs. Tina, however, Tina came up the big winner. At one point, Laura even pleaded with Tina to drop out, claiming she needed it more than Tina (which was crap, frankly). Laura, however, can’t hold on in a classic Survivor endurance challenge, which Tina then automatically wins (Hayden is unsurprisingly first eliminated – the RI duels have heavily favored women all season long).
I legitimately do not like Laura Morett. She plays a style of game that I don’t really respect. She also pulled a bush league move to eliminate Vytas from Redemption Island that, were I Vytas, I would still be upset about (and I’d have filed a complaint with production over). Laura M. is a smug, arrogant player twice eliminated in a vote who only got to continue because of a stupid gimmick in Redemption Island (Survivor’s worst ever gimmick). Even though RI was better utilized this season, its existence after the merge hindered the social aspects of the second half of the game. It also led to a half dozen more episodes with Laura M. I admit to cheering loudly when Tina won, which finally took Laura out of the game for good.
Unfortunately for Tina, no player who has returned from Redemption Island has ever lasted very long back in the game. Tina immediately goes into scramble mode, and works Monica from a harsh angle, which Ciera notices and immediately has to rectify. Ciera wants to try a more subtle angle to wooing Monica, even if that’s the total opposite of what she tried to do previously. Tyson wins the Immunity Challenge, which involves balancing large dice-like objects on a board and hanging on to a rope. Tina thinks she’s going home, but Monica, Gervase, and Tyson decide to vote out Ciera, who they perceive as being a bigger threat in the game (with the exception of Monica, who wrongly thinks Tina is a bigger threat). Ciera exits the game as the damn camera lingers on a tearful shot of Laura M., who is now sitting on the jury. Even after her elimination we still get a face full of her.
Back in the game, Monica is upset that Tyson, who had the Immunity Necklace, gave up his Hidden Immunity Idol to protect Gervase, but how could he not? Gervase was definitely on the hot seat, and Monica’s whining and crying did little to put Tyson and Gervase at ease. Monica yet again makes comments about maybe flipping and seeing their behavior and actions as untrustworthy and other such nonsense. At this point Monica has become nigh insufferable, and I was actively routing for her a few weeks back. But there’s little time for this, as the next Immunity Challenge – the final challenge of the game – is upon us. It’s a classic Survivor multiple-stage puzzle. Contestants must collect 6 bags of puzzle pieces, solve a first puzzle, then use that information to solve a second and final puzzle. It is a grueling challenge, and Tyson ends up the winner, guaranteeing him a spot in the final three.
Back at the beach, Monica is faced with yet another proposition. Tina asks her to force a tie with Gervase, which would pit Gervase and Tina in a fire-making challenge for the right to continue in the game. Monica seems to seriously mull over the proposition, but to me it was never quite in doubt that she’d end up voting for Tina. This is exactly what happens, and Tina is once again eliminated from the game. The final three pact that Monica, Gervase, and Tyson set up for themselves so long ago has finally paid off, and the three will face the jury, who will ultimately decide who will win the title of Sole Survivor.
Tyson played a great game of Survivor. He made a few key errors, such as keeping his Hidden Immunity Idol a secret too long (and playing it incorrectly), not shoring up his alliance with Ciera (which led to a rock draw), and making a very rude comment to Katie (which he seemed to be genuinely sorry for). Monica played a decent game in some respects. She was a challenge beast, winning three immunity idols. She also tried to be generous, giving up a food reward to her tribemates. Monica also stayed loyal to her alliance to the end. Gervase played the weakest game of the final three. His one big move was deciding to vote out Aras, which had happened weeks earlier. He seemed, in the eyes of the jury, to be riding too much on Tyson’s coattails.
Thus, Tyson wins the game of Survivor. The jury votes for him to win, 7-1. Vytas is the sole juror to cast a vote in Monica’s direction, Vytas having promised Tyson he would never vote for him. I thought Monica did an ok job up against the jury in a no-win situation. It was very clear that Tyson would be the front-runner, but Monica had potential to snake at least a few votes away (again, ending up with only one). Monica was never really going to win, even if she had flipped on her alliance. But she played a strong game at least, and didn’t allow herself to get Sherri’d up against the jury. Gervase is a cool cat and I’d love to hang out with him, but he also didn’t deserve to win against Tyson, who made his victory about winning for Rachel, his girlfriend who had been voted out to weaken Tyson’s chances in the game weeks earlier. Tyson was a deserving winner.
All in all, Survivor: Blood vs. Water was a fascinating season. Vytas, Ciera, Hayden, and Caleb all turned out to be entertaining first time players. I wouldn’t mind seeing them, along with even Brad, come back for another go-round in this game. All five of these newbies ended up being total gamers, which was great to see. Tyson and Gervase had a fun narrative all season long (Team Coconut Bandits) and Monica, though she eventually grated on me, was competitive until the end. I don’t think this was as good of a season as the last two, but it was never boring. The family member twist definitely added a unique perspective to the game. Redemption Island was even tolerable for half of the game, though any future installments of Blood vs. Water need to keep RI out of the game in the second half. We’ll be back in February for the brand-new season. I hope you’ll keep reading.