'Survivor: Blood Vs. Water' Recap: Episode 4
The truly perplexing thing about “Blood vs. Water” is how it’s been consistently entertaining in spite of this. In fact, it’s been the Survivors interacting with each other that’s been the most interesting aspect of the season thus far. Marissa, for instance, has only been notable for being as loud and hot-tempered as her uncle, Gervase, but her shamelessness in shouting at Brad has made Redemption Island incredibly amusing. Similarly, we haven’t learned anything about Vytas since his history of addiction was used as filler for the premiere, but his brotherly rivalry with Aras was the highlight of last week’s challenge and remains one of the most exciting dynamics for the show moving toward the merge. Individually, the Survivors aren't that interesting, but as a whole, the cast of "Blood vs. Water" has been really fun to watch.
READ MORE: 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' Recap: Episode 3
Redemption Island typically fails as a twist, not only because it undermines tribal council, but also because it’s usually so inexcusably boring. This season, however, gathering all the Survivors together has facilitated fighting and yelling that isn’t just entertaining, but could also have greater effects on the game moving forward. The added twist of family members and their has brought new depth to the twist—as well as an unpredictability to “Blood vs. Water” as a whole—that makes this season much more fun to watch.
This week, after spearheading a blindside against John, Brad was once again the focus of a lot of rage at Redemption Island. More specifically, he’s the focus of Candice’s rage. Not even five seconds after arriving, she’s already giving him the finger, bitter for her husband. When Jeff asks her how she felt when John showed up the night before, Candice goes beyond disappointment, saying she’d rather have “somebody I could hate. Like Brad Culpepper.” This sets off a slightly bizarre bickering match that winds its way around expletives and fixates on whether or not Brad has a history of “shushing” women.
Monica Culpepper admirably, but stupidly, stands up for her husband, making an enemy of Candice and more closely aligning herself with him in the minds of all her tribemates. If they start to believe her loyalty really lies with Brad, who is ostensibly the leader of the other tribe, she becomes a liability and a danger to her tribe come the merge. The member of Galang most likely to be voted off first used to be Tie-dye Laura, the only non-returning player, but with Rupert gone, her only duty left is to her tribe. Where Laura has been able to lay low, Culpepper is standing out in all the wrong ways, which could spell trouble if Galang can’t keep up their winning streak.
Once the duel finally begins, Candice is clearly fired up. Uncharacteristically flustered, she falls behind early, letting John and Marissa get to the puzzle first. John easily blows through both parts of the challenge, finishing his puzzle and winning the duel before either of the women is even close to done. Once he’s finished, Candice shamelessly cranes her neck over to copy John’s finished product and Marissa freaks out because it doesn’t help her at all. Like last week’s duel, Marissa starts to panic when she’s close to the end, but this time around she doesn’t get as lucky. Candice regains her focus and smoothly finishes her puzzle first, even seizing an opportunity to snipe at Brad while she does it. After burning her buff and smiling at a few pleasant-sounding non-sequiturs from Gervase (including “kudos” and “you know how we do”), Marissa is out of the game for good.
When it comes time for John to give the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol to someone, Candice suggests giving it to Culpepper as some sort of slight to her husband. It doesn’t make a lot of sense—it won’t make them any friends, or even hurt Brad at all—but John goes along, probably because he just couldn’t think of a smarter move in time. Once Jeff hands her the clue, Brad suggests burning it without looking at it as some sort of slight to Candice. This doesn’t make a lot of sense either—it only makes her look further aligned with her husband to take his advice and keeps her seemingly unified alliance from benefitting from a Hidden Immunity Idol—but she goes along, probably because she just couldn’t think of a more dramatic move in time (Maybe spit in her face?).
The Immunity Challenge once again requires the tribes to row a boat out to collect a few objects, then complete a puzzle. Tadhana takes an early lead because Galang still hasn’t figured out how to row since their abysmal attempt at it in the first challenge. Paddle strong, Galang! Unfortunately, after collecting all five of their crates, Tadhana accidently tips their boat and has to pause to reposition them again, giving Galang the chance to catch up. Ciera, working with Vytas, faces off against her mother and Tyson on the puzzle, but still hasn’t figured out how to solve a puzzle since her abysmal attempt at it in the first challenge. Like déjà vu, Galang wins, giving them their fourth straight immunity and giving Laura the chance to choke out her most memorable line in two seasons while crying about her daughter’s loss: “I knew she couldn’t beat me.” Ah, motherhood.
Heading into yet another tribal council, Brad makes the strange decision to target Caleb because he doesn’t have a loved one remaining on the other tribe. It’s an odd reversal so soon after voting out Brad because Candice was still in the game, but could be a smart choice given that he keeps targeting members of his own alliance and may need to win over some members of Galang come the merge. It’s not quite as good a plan as not backstabbing people, but to each their own.
Brad tells the guys, Caleb included, that he was just trying to convince the girls that they didn’t have to worry, but openly admits that he’s having them target Caleb. Caleb has already expressed anxiety about getting “Johnned” earlier on in the episode, and Brad choosing to talk the girls before explaining the plan to or consulting with his own alliance only compounds on those fears.
At Tribal Council, Ciera takes a beating early on for failing on the puzzles with Brad citing her as the reason their tribe lost the first challenge as well as this week’s (he kindly doesn’t mention that she was completely useless in last week’s challenge, too). Ciera even openly admits that she’s not as good at puzzles as she thought she was, but the conversations soon shifts and her situation begins to look a little less dire.
Brad expresses hurt feelings about being blamed for voting everyone out—something he was taking credit for at the top of the episode—and tells Jeff that the reaction he gets from the other tribe is something he considers when it’s time to vote. When pushed further, he admits there’s an upside to voting out people who don’t have a loved one in the game to shout at him. Three strikes and Caleb’s out. He announces in front of everyone that he’s going to write down Brad’s name and with Ciera and Katie’s votes, he only needs one more guy to get Brad out of the game. Jaws hit the floor and suddenly it’s clear why Tribal Council started with nearly fifteen minutes left in the episode.
Ciera and Katie beam with delight, making it clear that the decision is entirely up to Hayden and Vytas. Brad tries to reassure everyone that he isn’t really voting for Caleb, but Caleb doesn’t care, he’s still going for it. He sticks to his guns and when the votes are read, it’s a tie. Katie, Ciera and Caleb vote for Brad, while Brad, Vytas and Hayden vote for Ciera.
A tie at this stage of the game means that everyone but Brad and Ciera vote again. If the result is still another tie, Hayden, Vytas, Katie, and Caleb pull rocks from a bag. Brad and Ciera are safe, but whichever one of the four pulls out a purple rock is eliminated. The threat of another tie obviously weighs on Hayden, who we see with the letters “Ci” written and scratched out on the parchment when he’s voting. However, when Jeff reads the second set of votes, Hayden stays loyal to Brad and does indeed vote for Ciera, while Vytas flips and sends Brad to Redemption Island.
Don’t worry, though, Brad’s not mad. He makes sure to let everyone know he forgives them before he leaves.
What did you think of this week's episode? Sad to see Marissa and her attitude go? Will Hayden's vote cost him in the future?
Reach staff reporter Reid Nakamura here.