9:29am PT by Parvati Shallow
Parvati Shallow Recaps 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water': No Redemption at Redemption Island
"The opportunity for the growth you seek is right in front of you and it's called Survivor." -- Jeff Probst
Wise words from the man who's watched more than a few people grow, me included, over his 13-year hosting stint. Blessed with the gift of playing the game three times in my early to late 20s, I always say I attended the postgraduate school of Survivor. The life lessons I took home with me from each experience simply could not be taught in any school or learned in any therapy office. Survivor taught me about overcoming fear, enduring hardship and facing the void with optimism. On Survivor: Cook Islands, I felt the first sting of real betrayal, which, in turn gave me the ability to pull off a few major blindsides in Micronesia. Processing the guilt from that game became my homework as I re-entered the real world. Survivor truly is life. It can be a great teacher if one can open oneself up and simply surrender. Accept the cycles -- sometimes we're up, sometimes we're on the outs. When we find ourselves outcasts with no chance of making it through the next day, miracles happen; that's when life gets good. You commit to sticking with it minute by minute, breathe through the blocks and you get saved.
Jeff had some harsh words to say to Colton Cumbie last night as he quit the game. He accused him of faking appendicitis last time he played and says that now he's becoming the only two-time quitter in Survivor history. "We brought a quitter back, we got a quit again." It's ironic that Colton came back making bold proclamations of change. Once a villain, this time around he wanted to clean up his image and change America's perception of him. I highly doubt he accomplished his goal as he chose to leave the game on his own terms, rather than stay and try to fight his way to safety. Many people crumble when it appears their back is against the wall. For some, there can be a lot of fear around the unknown. This panic creates the opportunity for our automatic stress responses to kick in: fight or flight. Terrified of his lack of control, Colton chose flight. Peace out, people. Our approach to life is mirrored in how we face challenges on the island.
In the very same arena, Rachel Foulger, our sacrificial lamb, is ready for her slaughter. With this twist, the returnees and their loved ones have a chance to see one another at the truels and I love watching their subtle looks, winks and nods as they check in. Rarely on Survivor do we ever see any displays of love (as most are out for blood and showing any affection puts a target on one's back). It's sweet to see the contestants let their guards down and show a softer side.
I've played with Tyson Apostol before and I knew he had a longtime girlfriend, but a softer side? Nah. When Rachel walks into the arena, Tyson's face falls. He asks her if she wants him to trade and she stoically and strategically replies, no. She loses, leaving Tyson free to play his own game from here on.
That's it. Ty's pissed and who better than to direct your frustration at than our willing scapegoat, Brad Culpepper? Brad's taking some serious heat and I'm not talking about the scorching Philippine sun. People loathe Brad. He has put himself out there, taking the blame for Marissa Peterson and now Rachel, when in fact, voting Rachel was more Vytas Baskauskas' doing than Brad's. Vytas is playing a highly strategic game for the moment. He's making plays, sticking with his alliance and letting Brad do all the talking. It may be premature to say this, but Brad could make the perfect partner for Vytas to take all the way to the finals. Brad has no chance of winning the game.
One thing Brad does have a shot at winning: challenges. This challenge, a good old-fashioned Survivor beatdown, has victory for the loved ones' alpha males written all over it. Brutality ensues. Baskauskas brothers cry. Moms bash daughters off the platform with only a hint of remorse. Tyson rips out his shoulder. And the sweet thrill of victory goes to ... the returnees. I'm shocked. What's the point of voting off all the women if you big, tough guys can't get it together to win a purely physical challenge? Maybe it's time to rethink your strategy, boys.
Maybe they heard me. Brad gathers his guys around the ceremonial watering hole and, as John Cody walks off, commences strategizing. Skinny and wild-eyed, he tells his crew that they must blindside John now. John could potentially get back with Candice Cody and then, none of them have a chance. Huh? I'm sorry, Brad. I'm not following your logic. At this point, your wife is still actually in the game, making you a target of your own dumb strategy. Why would you want to vote out a guy who clearly adores you and has your back? Only a deranged ego would make that kind of move so early on, when winning challenges needs to be at the forefront of your mind during each vote. Brad is future tripping, a phenomena that occurs on Survivor when a person either gets too comfortable or too insecure and starts to spin out fear-based dreams of what's to come. In this case, voting out a top challenge competitor pre-merge based on some blurry notion of what may happen a week from now, is a bad idea.
Somehow, Brad's able to rally his brainwashed soldiers behind him and they successfully take out another lamb. This game is so weird. The loved ones continue to vote not to keep their tribe strong for challenges, but to try to take out a specific loved one on the other side. This strategy, based on nothing real, is setting these guys up for a serious losing streak. On the other hand, voting a person out to get to his loved one does make the blindside a bit less personal. "It's not you, it's your wife we don't like."
Well, maybe not.
Either way, without John's strength, the loved ones are going to have a hard time crawling out of their hole, and Brad's dictatorship may be on the verge of total collapse.
Stick around for next week ... it's sure to get messy.
Thanks for joining me! Tweet me what you think of Colton's quit, Rachel's slaughter and Brad's poor strategy @parvatishallow.
And for more on Survivor: Blood vs. Water, check out www.cbs.com/survivoraftershow.