‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ Recap: The Worst Challenge Performance Ever?


'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Malcolm Freberg. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

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Another Quick Note: I was on hand for the filming of this first episode, so be on the lookout for special Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits from my time in the Philippines.

39 Days (well…technically 39.5), 20 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

We kick things off with each of the pairs being carted off to mysterious locations.

Gervase lets us know that he’s going to win because he was on the original “Survivor.” Oh…so that’s why Richard Hatch, Sue Hawk, and Rudy Boesch all won their second time around…

Former “Big Brother” winner Hayden calls “Big Brother,” “’Survivor’ in a house.” I don’t know if I’ve ever been more insulted. However, based on this past summer he could call “Survivor,” “‘Big Brother’ with less racism.”

Wait, nevermind…there’s Colton.

(Oh c’mon…that’s fair. It’s up to him to be less racist…or even not racist at all.)

Sure enough, Colton lets us know there’s a new Colton this season. I’m all for that.

John thinks there will be big targets on his and Candice’s backs due to being young and athletic. Or, because your wife has a history of flipping.

Next up, Monica claims to be a wily veteran. Interesting theory seeing as she’s been on the show 14 days and Rupert has been out there for a hundred.

Aras and Vytas seem to have a bit of a contentious relationship. Don’t be fooled, these guys are everybody’s picks to go far.

Finally, the individual pairs are greeted by a note that tells them the game has started and they’ll have to camp out alone for the night. And thus begins “Day Zero.”

The duos all meet up with Jeff Probst the next morning and it doesn’t seem like anyone had trouble out in the wilderness.

Probst greets the players, then immediately lets them know they won’t be on the same tribe with their loved ones.

Brad admits that he’d consider throwing a challenge if it meant Monica could win a tarp. Marissa didn’t approve of that answer. Ask Russell Swan, it always comes down to the tarp.

The loved ones split up and it’s smooch city. Rupert is psyched that he won’t have to vote for Laura, but he’s also worried that he won’t be able to protect her. (Oh you wait, Rupert.)

Alright, let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Galang Tribe (wearing yellow)
Aras – Musician, 31
Candice  – Physician, 30
Colton – Student Teacher, 22
Gervase – Cigar Lounge Owner, 43
Kat – Full-Time Student/Sales, 23
Laura M. – Co-Owner of Morett Construction, 43
Monica – Homemaker, 42
Rupert – Mentor for Troubled Teens, 49
Tina – Motivational Speaker, 52
Tyson – Store Manager, 34

The Tadhana Tribe (wearing red)
Brad – Attorney, 44
Caleb – Post Office Manager/Farmer, 26
Ciera – Cosmetology Student, 24
Hayden – Real Estate, 26
John – Physician, 30
Katie – Hedge Fund Support, 25
Laura B. – Merchandiser, 44
Marissa – Student, 21
Rachel – Cocktail Waitress/Graphic Designer, 33
Vytas – Yoga Instructor, 33

After they get their buffs, J-Pro breaks the news that they’ll immediately have to vote someone out.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: The players weren’t allowed to talk before the vote, but they were all trying to make eye contact like crazy.

Tadhana’s vote: Vytas votes for Laura B., Brad votes for Laura B., Hayden votes for Laura B., Laura B. votes for Marissa, Caleb votes for Laura B., Marissa votes for Brad, and Ciera votes for Laura B. Laura B. is a goner.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Laura B. was not pleased. Maybe it’s appropriate that she’s the pirate’s wife, cause she used some salty language. Eventually she tried to rationalize it by saying, “They’re newbies, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Galang’s vote: Candice votes for Laura M., Tyson votes for Laura M., Tina votes for Candice, Kat votes for Candice, Colton votes for Candice, Rupert votes for Laura M., Monica votes for Candice, Aras votes for Gervase, and Laura M. votes for Candice.

All is not lost though, as Probst lets them know that Redemption Island is in play this season.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Candice wasn’t sure how Redemption Island worked.

Before Probst sends them off, he decides to give the loved ones an opportunity to take their place on Redemption Island.

Rupert immediately steps forward. Tina tried to stop him, but the big, emotional lug had made up his mind.

Tina is ticked off because Rupert is a good provider. Also, Laura B. had just said the f word about a dozen times and probably hadn’t made any friends.

John is offered the same deal, but he and Candice decide that he should stay in the game.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits: This opening went on forever. Here are some things that didn’t make the cut…
•    Colton said he’d rather vote for his mother than for Caleb.
•    It was at the marooning that the cast first heard the term “Blood vs. Water.” None of them watched the “Survivor: Caramoan” finale because they were all sequestered at the time.
•    Gervase and Laura B. got into an argument because Laura B. claimed she didn’t know why she voted for Marissa.
•    Tina dubbed Galang, “Go Long.” Her tribe approved.
•    At one point Probst had to lay some smack down on Monica because she was dancing around his questions.
•    Rupert snapped his voting board in half because he was so mad.

Over at Galang beach, Gervase immediately says that a target is already on Laura B.’s back. She’s having a rough morning.

Tyson helps the Galangians make their first fire using some tips he learned from Boston Rob. Ah…Boston Rob was mentioned before Russell. He wins.

Later, Monica asks Colton if he’s going to be someone she can trust or if he’s going to stab her in the back. He replies, “Yes.” That’s hilarious.

At Tadhana, Brad is worried that his tarp comment is going to come back and bite him. So, he calls a tribe meeting and lets them know that he’ll go 100% at all times.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Both tribes got a ton of hardware like hammers, nails, etc. But Tadhana’s machete broke almost immediately.

Afterwards, Brad tries to start up an all-guy alliance, but they all seem wary of him. He tries to talk us through the math, but it was embarrassing. Good thing he’s a lawyer and not an accountant.

The Tadhanians are also having no luck making fire.  But, at least it gives Brad, Ciera, and Vytas a chance to bond.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Not having fire to boil the water had to be a nightmare because it was ridiculously hot out there. It was the first time I was ever on location where I thought, “Nope, couldn’t do it.”

Back at Galang, Colton opens up to his tribe about the difficulties of growing up gay in the deep south. He breaks down and cries because he misses Caleb so much. Honestly, Caleb is awesome. I don’t blame him.

Over at Redemption Island (Population: 2), Candice chops away at a coconut as a way to get revenge on everyone who voted for her. That’ll show ‘em.

She also isn’t happy about living with Rupert. Apparently he isn’t doing anything around camp…which is very un-Rupert-like. Rupert says he’s conserving his strength for the challenge. Hey…look at Mr. Strategy!

Immunity Challenge Time: Six players from each tribe will run off into the ocean. They’ll have to climb over a rope net, a wheel, and a set of crates. From there they’ll swim down to untie a boat, then row it back to shore. Then they’ll take a chest out of the boat and take it to the other three teammates. Those teammates will use the puzzle pieces in the chest to create a wheel. First tribe to use the wheel to raise their tribe’s flag wins immunity.

Before the challenge gets underway, Probst gives Laura B. her Galang buff. Tadhana also lies about having fire.

Swimming for Galang will be Tyson, Kat, Aras, Laura B., Gervase, and Colton while Marissa, Brad, Vytas, Hayden, John, and Rachel will go for Tadhana.

The challenge starts and Tyson tears through the course. The newbies get a bit of lead that only gets bigger when Gervase has to stop to catch his breath. It gets embarrassing as Gervase just stands on the platform while Aras tries to cheer him on. And, once he was over the crates, Aras had to drag him to the boat.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: No lie, it took Gervase forever to get over those crates. The editing was kind.

Things even up at the boat a little, but Galang rows off course and eventually ends up rowing backwards. Tadhana now has a huge lead as Caleb, Ciera, and Katie start working on the puzzle.

Galang eventually gets to shore and Tina, Monica, and Laura M. fly through the puzzle. It wasn’t even close. Galang wins immunity.

When it’s over, Gervase starts talking major smack to Tadhana. He did not come off looking well at all, hence the title of this recap. Not only was he a major physical liability, but he finished it off by ticking off nine potential jury members. I love Gervase, but that may have been the most damaging challenge performance I’ve ever seen. (And yes, I remember Dan Lembo.)

Before they head off, Colton breaks down because he misses Caleb so much. Don’t worry, Colton. Anyone who votes for Caleb has to answer to me.

Back at Tadhana, Brad tells us that he hates to lose. Oh…that’s rare.

Katie is nervous because it’s obvious that the puzzle team is responsible for the loss.

Marissa is embarrassed that Gervase was bragging after the victory. She’s also not psyched that his reaction puts a target on her back.

Politicking around camp seems to be between Marissa and Katie. Marissa because of Gervase’s outburst and Katie because she didn’t help much with the puzzle.

Vytas, wanting to stay tight with everyone, is trying to keep ties with the ladies. That could be dangerous, Vytas. It’s too early for that business.

That night at Tribal Council, fire represents your life. Except it doesn’t because of Redemption Island.

John says he has a lot of guilt about not replacing Candice. He cries a bit and Ciera and Marissa are quick to comfort him.

He also says he’s going to vote to make his tribe strong, but it’s an added advantage if the person he votes out is someone Candice can beat.

Brad calls out Gervase for his celebration. Marissa thinks Galang should be more mature because they’re veterans.

Vytas points out that this is the first season where a tribe has to be concerned when they send the other team to Tribal.

Marissa thinks she should be judged on her performance and attitude, not Gervase’s.

Katie wouldn’t be surprised if she goes home based on her challenge performance. Brad says they’re not voting based solely on the puzzle.

Voting Time: Katie votes for Marissa, Marissa votes for Katie, and the rest of the votes are secret.

J-Pro tallies and returns. We’ve got one vote for Katie, four votes for Marissa, and the third person to be sent to Redemption Island is…Marissa.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Brad made it a point to say his Marissa vote was because of Gervase. Ouch.

Verdict: I bounced around a dozen different ways the family member twist could mess with the game. Not once did I think a tribe could get so mad at one person that they’d vote for that person’s loved one to spite them. I think that just goes to show that I have no idea where this season is going.

But, I’m excited to see where it goes.

Who’s Going to Win? Everything I know about “Survivor” tells me the returnees have too big of an advantage. But, I can’t help but think Vytas is the guy.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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