9:55am PT by Parvati Shallow
Parvati Shallow Recaps 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water': Mother vs. Daughter
What would it take for you to betray your own mother? As we dive deeper each week into the twisted relationship dynamics playing out in this season's Survivor, I can't help but feel like we're watching a brand-new show. With Jeff Probst asking the tough questions, it's become more Dr. Phil than Survivor.
We begin with our favorite brothers along with tiny Tina Wesson taking center stage at Redemption Arena. As the carnival maze challenge gets underway, Tina, our visible underdog, breaks out ahead; Vytas Baskauskas comes in a close second. Our meditation master, Aras Baskauskas, appears quite frustrated with himself and unfocused as he calls out to the spectators, seeking words of encouragement and affirmation from Laura Morett.
Survivor acts as a pressure cooker, and under such extremes people do strange things. The game has a way of showing us what we value and the importance we place on being liked by others, versus furthering our own self-interest and goals of winning. It's hard to play Survivor to win and make everyone like you at the same time. It looks to me like Aras is still reeling from his blindside and the sting of betrayal is so fresh that he hasn't had enough time to recover for this challenge. Add that to the fact that he's battling his older brother, and you have a recipe for disaster.
As Aras exits the game, Jeff Probst takes the opportunity to do some Survivor psychotherapy. I geek out on this stuff, so I'm really enjoying the way this season takes us deeper into human nature and what makes a person act the way they do. The whole thing is a psychologist's dream! As he leaves, Aras gushes about bonding with his brother out here and states that this newfound love is worth all the money in the world. What a sweetheart.
An extremely limber praying mantis ushers us back onto the beach, where our castaways waste no time devising their next strategic plans. Tyson Apostol, clearly calling the shots, has zero competition and could very well coast to the final three and take it all. He's playing a great game: subtle, making everyone feel included, keeping the idol a secret, making the hard blindsides when he has to and squashing uprisings before they can do any damage. This is King Tyson's court and all the rest are pawns in his divine comedy.
The only potential gamer who could put a wrench in Tyson's perfect play is Ciera Eastin. Any girl who is willing to drag her mom out to a quiet corner of the beach and read her her last rites is someone worth keeping an eye on. Ciera's wising up to how the game works and it's fun to watch. Her mom acknowledges her daughter's growth in this moment, yet refuses to go down without a fight. This is her game too, and she's got unfinished business to handle.
With immunity and cheeseburgers on the line, our hungry-eyed contestants line up, take a rope and hang on a platform. Classic Survivor. All of our big guys drop like flies, except Tyson, who's torn rotator cuff doesn't seem to bother him in the least. He's trained on outlasting Laura, his target du jour. Laura drops, Tyson heaves a sigh of relief as he drops, leaving Monica Culpepper to once again claim her immunity necklace. Since losing her human shield, Brad Culpepper, Monica has been taking good care of making sure she's protected each time she goes to tribal council. Once she has the necklace securely around her neck, Jeff offers her the chance to choose one castaway to join her in her cheeseburger feast. The mother in her shines through as she forgoes her chance to eat, so that everyone in the group can stuff their faces. Big move, Monica! We haven't seen her making a close friends out there, but she is building a great platform to plead her case to the jury.
Back at the beach, Ciera comes up with an adorable play to get Katie Collins to divulge the fact that she doesn't have the idol. She lies to Katie and says she found it first. Great work, Ciera. Now that she has this critical information, she can get together with her mom and work some magic! Or, she can run straight to Tyson and gush about how clever she is, get a nod of approval from the Messiah and watch helplessly as they all vote her mom out anyway.
This game is tragic. As Laura stands up to hug her daughter and take her second walk down to Redemption Island, she again makes the ominous promise, "I'll come back for you."
The first time, she did come back. Will she make good on her word a second time?
Now that Ciera's loved one is out of the game, and she's learned a few tricks, will she make a play for Tyson's throne?
Thanks for joining me!
Tweet me @parvatishallow.
Join Aras and me on the Survivor After Show (CBS.com) for more inside scoop into the game and your favorite players this season.