December 12, 2013 10:10am PT by Parvati Shallow
Parvati Shallow Recaps 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water': Tears, Lies and a Shocking Victory
This is it, guys. Our last episode before we slide into our big season finale on Sunday. I must say, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster for a lot of us this season. Having just watched Catching Fire in the theater, I’m a bit concerned about the potential direction of our beloved Survivor. I can just imagine it now. Survivor 42: Hostage Island.
No use spending time getting bent out of shape about the future. Let’s get to recapping this week’s episode.
In the aftermath of the rock drawing tribal council, Hayden Moss is dizzy with delight. His plan worked! Now that he’s still in the game and outnumbered by a seriously tight alliance of Tyson Apostol, Monica Culpepper and Gervase Peterson, he’s got some scrambling to do. For the time being, though, let’s all just pretend like we like each other and hold hands.
OK, now that the weird night-vision scene is over, we can get to Redemption Arena, where Katie Collins is about to go up against her mom, Tina Wesson, for a chance to stay in the game. Tina clearly has issues with this. She feels conflicted about competing against her daughter. In the end, both women decide to just try their hardest; may the best one win. Laura Morett takes first, again, leaving Katie and Tina to battle it out. As she walks through the door to win the challenge, Tina looks over to her daughter to ascertain her nod of approval. Tearfully, Tina takes second place. As she bids her daughter farewell, Tina gushes over her love for Katie and how hard it is to play against her. I can guarantee there isn’t a dry eye in the house right now. Tina’s speech is beautiful, and peering into the window to her relationship with her daughter is deeply touching. If there’s one thing that gets me about this season, it’s that no matter how different we all are, everyone feels the same love and the same heartbreak when going up against or losing a loved one. None of these contestants can play a guarded game with their loved one around. It’s no wonder there aren’t any pairs left in the end.
Moving right along to the immunity challenge, we witness a shocking, come-from-behind victory for our underdog, Ciera Eastin. I admit that I have my doubts, watching her struggle in the water. Tyson, Monica and Gervase make quick work of the physical part of the challenge. The eight-word puzzle at the end, like a game of Bananagrams, has about a million possible combinations. Like mother like daughter: Ciera finishes the word scramble first and gleefully takes the immunity necklace as her prize. Not only does she get immunity, but she also wins the reward, choosing to take Hayden with her on her cheeseburger train. This decision is tragically flawed. Clearly Gervase and now Ciera need a bit of schooling when it comes to winning Survivor rewards. You simply must take the person who you are attempting to woo. It only helps you in the end to have had some extra time with Monica sitting down to a nice lunch and spinning her tales of going to the end together. Instead, Ciera takes Hayden to lunch. He enjoys his pizza while spitting words into Ciera’s mouth that she can regurgitate for Monica on the beach later. Gross.
Making Monica cry does not make you a good guy. I happen to really like Monica. I think she’s playing a great game, staying under the radar and winning challenges. She may be a bit mouthy, but that’s par for the course when you’re married to Brad Culpepper. Am I right? I am right, thank you. Ciera, desperate to save her new BFF Hayden, takes Monica down to the beach to fill her in on all the “nasty, vicious” things Tyson is saying about her. It looks like Ciera’s ploy may be working as Monica does an interview saying she has to play Monica’s game.
As we get to tribal council, the Monica badgering continues. She is under direct fire from Hayden and Ciera and taking it like a champ. Gervase stands up for her, with a beautiful argument (until he goes crazy again). “Why are these two bringing this up now, when one of them is getting voted out? Why not bring up all the trash talking when it was actually going on?” Too little too late, guys. You need to be working your angles all the time, so that your seeds of doubt have time to take root before you go into tribal. While Monica takes all the heat, Tyson quietly sits back and displays his faith and trust in his allies by not fighting back and not playing his idol. He looks graceful and completely in control and could literally write the book on jury management with this performance. Despite Hayden’s best efforts to sway Monica, she stays true to her alliance and votes him out. He will have one more chance to get back in the game as he trots off to join the "grandmas" at Redemption Island.
While I think Ciera’s alienated too many people this time to win the game, I do believe as a returning player, she could be a major threat. She is a fast learner and will stop at nothing to win. She looks people straight in the eye, without flinching, as she lies and has a great teen mom story for the jury in the end. If her mom gets back in the game, it will be fun to watch the fireworks fly.
See you guys this Sunday for our season finale!
Check out the Survivor After Show with me and Katie Collins at CBS.com.
Tweet me @parvatishallow with questions and comments.