Another well-done episode of Survivor, including a big move that took down (if not necessarily out... not yet, at least) a big character. At some point, when the number of remaining pairs dwindles, the drama at Redemption Island will taper off. It's possible that may even be the next episode, when there will be precious few angry people yelling at Brad Culpepper. But for now, we're surprisingly content with this season's content.
Thank you, Brad Culpepper
There are a lot of things we could say about Brad, most of which other people have already said: He was a bit pompous, was fairly bull-headed, and came across as having a near-Probstian level of disdain for the women on his tribe. He was convinced, at all times, that his way was the right way. He didn't play with anything resembling subtlety. He had no filter (or, as the more casually educated among us might say, #NOFLITER). But, as with Reynold in Caramoan, if he loses the duel next week and is gone from our screens, we're satisfied with his casting. He may not have played Survivor with much success, but he at least played with a lot of gusto.
When Brad went to Ciera and Katie after the RC/IC, and told them he was voting for Caleb, then went to the three remaining men and instead argued for Ciera, he was playing the game. Not very well, mind you, since everyone on his tribe was suspicious of his double-dealing, especially after he bizarrely announced at the duel that John "made a bad decision trusting me." But even so, we'd vastly prefer watching a cast of 18 Brad Culpeppers brazenly misfiring in their attempts to play Survivor, than having to endure another flock of One World sheep, blindly, mutely following whichever person talks the loudest.
The return of King Tyson
Despite his tribe not going to Tribal Council again, we were finally allowed an extended glimpse of the old Tyson in this episode: Good in challenges (even with one arm), entertaining, sassy ("You can just leave [the idol] here, Jeff"). All in all, a good guy to have around. Was it Rachel's presence that kept the lid on his hijinks the first few weeks? Was it some misguided attempt by the editors to shoehorn in Colton's failed attempts to divide and conquer Galang, in order to set up his quit? Whatever the case, we're glad Tyson's back, even if it's with one arm tied in front of his back.
Blue Lagoon Redemption Island
When you compare the amount of confessionals Marissa got at Redemption Island (none this episode, which was her last, and just one the previous episode) with the amount Candice and John received (too many to count), you can almost hear the squeals of delight production must have been making at having an actual couple together, alone (after Marissa's departure) on Redemption Island. Look! It's so romantic! They're fishing! And kissing! Aww.
One thing was missing, however: an acknowledgement that this love story is doomed, because at most, only one of them can possibly return to the game. Even if they finish 1-2 in every duel remaining until the merge, that final duel will send one of them home, and (probably) not to the jury. Surely they both knew this. But if the audience didn't, there's no way they could have picked up on it, since the editing seemed to be going out of its way to paint a falsely rosy picture. Sure, it's great the Codys got this time together on a tropical island. But they also mentioned wishing they could be back in the game, and only one (or maybe none) shall pass.
Galang's women... present in name only
For an episode whose title (quoting important Big Brother winner, Hayden Moss) specifically mentioned "three moms," there was precious little room for them in the actual episode, raising a troubling recurring pattern in the editing: they apparently don't matter this season, at least not now. Jeff Probst himself acknowledged the lack of balance in the edit last season, when it was pointed out to him that it was obvious certain people had no chance of winning, because they were never shown. Probst even pledged to improve the show's performance in this area next (this) season, and in the first episode, it appeared to be working.
But apparently now that edict has fallen by the wayside. Tyson, Gervase, and Aras all had multiple confessionals, talking about the game, or camp life. Monica has had a fair number of game-related confessionals this season, but they've almost exclusively been about either Colton or Brad. Tina? Nothing this week. Laura Boneham? Unheard from (except peripherally in the Coconut Bandits sequence) since Rupert's exit. Laura Morett? Only gets to talk about Ciera. Kat? Who? We're sure it's probably bad luck, of course. They just picked a bad season to be non-Culpepper women on the Galang tribe.
The curious case of Caleb Bankston, revisited
Despite Brad's self-centered reasoning for targeting Caleb (wanting to not get yelled at when attending the next duel), the key event of this episode was that Brad did target Caleb. Or, more importantly, that Caleb then seized the opportunity to pull off an almost unheard-of maneuver at Tribal Council: announcing, in front of everyone, that he'd decided to switch his vote to Brad, and encouraging the rest of Tadhana to join him. This was, in context, an amazing, incredibly daring move. Similar in effect to Malcolm's triply-immune targeting of Phillip in Caramoan, but without the safety and vote-canceling utility of actually having three immunities to burn. Truly a job well done. And yet, one that begs the question: Why doesn't this happen more often?
Why don't other people with decent social connections within a tribe, plus an obvious foil that everyone else is merely tolerating as a potential end-game goat, openly target that goat at a Tribal Council in which they feel threatened? Does this routinely happen, but get edited out because it doesn't work? The obvious disadvantage of this approach is that the person leading the charge has no assurances that it will work, and could end up attracting votes against, votes they otherwise wouldn't have received. But the advantage is, the person targeted at Tribal has to do all their scrambling openly, under Jeff Probst's steely glare. Seems like it should work reasonably often.
Nothing says 'testing the limits of human endurance' quite like a lamb stuffed animal
In retrospect, there may something to that whole 'F*** you, Brad Culpepper!' thing
Note to future contestants: If you dare utter the heretical idea that Redemption Island is 'not good,' you'll either lose the next duel, or barely avoid doing so
Oh well, at least it's better than Exile Island. Apart from the not actually playing the game thing.
The best move is for us to keep around people with loved ones on the other side. Except that I was terrified John's loved one would be there at the merge.
Can one of you girls feed me some grapes?
Caleb is already uneasy about this talk about needing loved ones
Warmest greetings to you, Brad Culpepper!
The duel participants, feeling feisty
I can't hear you!
Uh oh, Candice is making her 'I just mutinied' face again
For some reason, Monica doesn't seem to be enjoying this exchange as much as the front row
Tadhanas, feeling stoic
The duel commences
Floats on a rope: always thrilling TV
Ha ha! I just helped John! Nobody would expect that, since he's a dude!
John, silently winning.
Candice and Marissa, gradually approaching the finish
Wait, this is only a 64-piece puzzle?
Bidding Marissa farewell
Marissa's final burn
When it's John getting a clue, Probst practically jumps in his lap. Monica? Eh. She's too far away.
When Monica temporarily had a clue
Burn it! BURN IT!!!
Candice appears less than pleased at this turn of events
So long, dental plan! (Lisa needs braces!)... Dental plan! (Lisa needs braces!)... Dental plan!
Aras remains Zen
'Atta girl! [sic.]'
Monica still doesn't get why nobody else enjoys being ordered around by Brad
The Doctors Cody depart
You hush your mouths, Drs. Cody. Jeff Probst is convinced you ARE still in the game
The rules of RI, made just small enough to be unreadable, even in HD. Also, some guy named John.
Aww... this is exactly what production had been hoping would happen this season.
Th**k you, Brad Culpepper?
Monica tries to brainstorm with Galang why people would object to Brad ordering them around, then voting them out
Wait, Laura Morett is still on this show?
Wait, so is Laura Boneham?
And you are... ?
Wait, my niece got eliminated, but somehow Monica is the victim?
The usual fun post-duel times back at Tadhana
Caleb, alarmed by more of Brad's 'pairs' talk, again
It's official: Brad's game is now underwater
Caleb fishes for an exit strategy for Brad
Looks like someone has already won the Game of Thrones
His very highness with his arm in a sling? I'm truly sorry, but it sounds like a wonderful thing.
Give a man a hammer and some sort of pokey tool thing, and he'll eat everyone else's coconuts every day
Th**k you, Monica Culpepper!
Gervase and Tyson made Monica feel *this* *small*
Galang arrives for another ritual trouncing of Tadhana
Brad, not enjoying Tyson's edgy humor
Tadhana, wanting to know what they're not playing for
Tea? Croissants? That's not very bro-ish stuff, Probst. Tadhana's totally gonna throw this one.
Tadhana, putting on a good show of being up for this
And they're off! In the wrong direction, in Galang's case
Culpepper! In the water for Tadhana!
Galang retrieving crates
The one-armed dude tries to pop his other shoulder
A two-armed dude and a mom work the puzzle for Tadhana. In the same place where they blew the Ep1 puzzle.
A one-armed dude and a mom (and grandma) get to work for Galang
The king of Galang greets his subjects
Oh sure, now that Marissa's gone, Gervase celebrates in a subdued way
Team Cietie group hug
Great, now I feel bad for winning. Thanks, Survivor
Galang gets their idol
Man, our team sucks. Again, I should know, I was on Big Brother
After the challenge, Brad gets his own name tattooed on his elbow
Ciera seems to not be fooled by Brad's subtle gameplay
Ciera and Katie put on a show of agreeing with, or at least being in the same area as, Brad
On the plus side, at least Brad isn't looking for the idol right now
Caleb, starting to suspect he might get Johned
Evening, gents. Did I miss anything?
Ten in, five out. Or something.
Tadhana takes their now-familiar trek to Tribal Council
Augh. You people? Again?
At least nobody's likely to yell at me here. Safe zone. Ah.
Little-known fact: If you don't look directly at Jeff Probst, you can't get booted.
Tadhana. Fourth Tribal trip in a row. Five, counting Morning 1.
This anonymous pair of slack-armed women cost me my spot in the game. And yet if I were to have them killed, *I* would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you.
Oh man, Caleb's talking again. Time for a nap.
When's the veto competition again, Probst?
I don't want you to go home, I'm gonna write Brad's name down.
Cerria? No. Ciara? No. Dammit, I'll never remember how Brad spells his name.
There are only two choices, Hayden. What's taking you so long?
No hard feelings, guys. I trust you'll all vote for me for fan favorite?
Recaps and commentary
Exit interviews - Marissa Peterson