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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Survivor: "One-Man Wrecking Ball"

Illustration for article titled Survivor: "One-Man Wrecking Ball"

Sometimes when Survivor does a random tribe shuffle, things end up even more lopsided than they were before. This is the case with tonight’s reconfiguration, as the players draw random buffs—all except for Tyson, who cheekily decides to let the fate of last buff standing determine his placement—and then end up in tribes split almost exactly down gender lines. It might not be the fairest situation for challenges, but from all of the inter-tribe strategy we saw in this episode, at least that aspect seems to be intriguing so far.

The biggest story here involves brothers Aras and Vytas, as they completely swap tribes and, as a result, both end up in much worse situations than they were before. Aras’ danger comes at the hands of Tyson and Gervase, who make the switch over to Tadhana with Aras and take their plans to take him out sooner rather than later with them. This results in a fairly hilarious and diabolical sequence where Tyson steals food, narrates his strategy about stealing food, subtly badmouths Aras constantly to new Tadhana tribemates Hayden, Caleb, and Ciera, and then narrates his strategy about badmouthing Aras in order to plant negative feelings in the people who don’t know him yet. Tyson might be evil, and he might be a genius, but at least he’s an evil genius. And a damn entertaining one at that.

As for Vytas, he’s in an even shakier situation having switched (along with Katie) over to a tribe full of women who immediately band together, leaving him on the outside looking in. The interesting thing about Vytas is that he is very perceptive about other people’s motivations and how they in turn perceive him, so he immediately starts attempting to get into everyone’s good graces by explaining his sympathetic backstory. It’s manipulative, but also honest and very smart. I like this guy. Despite all of his hard work, however, the women of the tribe seem determined to get rid of him if they in fact do have to go to Tribal Council.

This leads to one of the more interesting Immunity Challenges this season, as what looks like a slam dunk for the male-heavy Tadhana turns into a nail biter at the end. It’s obvious the producers were not expecting such a lopsided physical tribal split, because the challenge was 75 percent physical, involving swimming out to untie fish traps and then eventually using the contents of those traps to solve a big puzzle at the end. Galang takes a big lead—aided by a colossal mental mistake from Tadhana at the beginning as they forget to bring back their first trap—and it looks like they will win in a walk. What Tadhana doesn’t count on is having so much trouble with the puzzle, allowing Galang at least two chances to catch up before ultimately getting defeated. If Survivor is going to keep sticking to the physical challenge/puzzle immunity combo, at least they are getting more creative with the puzzles they choose. This one was a doozy.

After the challenge, it seems almost like a foregone conclusion Vytas is going home, right up until Kat makes a colossal mistake. Sick of Monica’s constant strategizing, Kat decides Monica should be the next to go instead and goes to Tina for support. Instead of support, Tina runs right to Monica and spills the beans, leading to an interesting conversation between the two that happens right in front of Vytas. That probably should have been the first sign it was Kat who was actually getting eliminated, but the show does a nice job of keeping things fairly evenly split between the two scenarios.

That is, until Tribal Council starts. As soon as Jeff starts asking Kat about trouble at the camp and she basically starts begging for her life, it seems fairly clear that there has been a lot of talk back at camp and Kat is in deep trouble. Still, Vytas knows he’s also potentially in danger and absolutely works it at every opportunity, pointing out all of Kat’s disloyalty and, in turn, stressing his own loyalty to the gang. You can see poor Kat becoming more and more frustrated as Vytas talks circles around her—and won’t even really let her interrupt to defend herself—and at that moment, the writing is on the wall. Kat tried to make a move her alliance wasn’t ready for, and they made her pay for it.


This was a very intriguing episode that bodes well for a lot of great things to come in the future, especially with Aras over on the Tadhana tribe. I’m not sure if this season really needed a tribal shuffle before the merge, but so far, so good.

Stray observations:

  • The Redemption Island challenge was basically just counting, so it was fairly appropriate that it sent Brad home. He did have a very hard time counting in that confessional from earlier this season.
  • I feel like Hayden is going to be the one person who doesn’t fall for Tyson’s bullshit and yet will be too passive to ever do anything about it.
  • How happy is CBS that they got at least two episodes out of the #CoconutBandits hashtag?
  • Kat: “Who wants to date someone who doesn’t make the merge?”