Survivor recap: Blood vs. Water' recap: It's a Brad, Brad, Brad, Brad World
It’s all about Brad Culpepper all the time…until Brad Culpepper gets the shock of his life at Tribal Council
I’ve never had particularly good timing. I’m the guy that misses the touchdown because I’m off opening another bag of awkwardly shaped and titled Tostitos “Scoops.” I’m the guy that is perpetually one minute late — or, as I like to call it, 59 minutes early — for the hourly train. I’m the guy that showed up at my 8th grade dance rocking a Sonny Crockett white Miami Vice suit…about 10 months after that ceased being even remotely cool. So timing is not necessarily my thing. But let me tell you, Brad Culpepper’s timing absolutely sucks. SUCKS! And, not unlike that time I decided to dress like Tubbs’ partner, he has no one to blame but himself.
Brad Culpepper thought he would be cagey and sly by slitting the throat of alliance-mate John. This was idiocy, pure and simple, for two reasons. First off, getting rid of a solid alliance member just because you are worried about the slim chance that his wife may make it back into the game makes absolutely zero sense. Plus, what if she made it back in the game and became another solid alliance partner? What’s the reasoning there? But that was not as egregious as the second reason: When you backstab an alliance partner this early in the game, all that does is make other people in your alliance not trust you. You automatically make yourself a target. Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying there is not a time to get rid of people in your alliance. But this was most certainly not it, which is where timing comes in. WAY TOO EARLY!!!
Apparently, Brad Culpepper suffers from a mutant strain of Coltonitis. Symptoms of Coltonitis include obsessive flossing of one’s teeth and the desire to make moves just for the sake of making moves, even if they are completely ridiculous — like, say, convincing your entire tribe to go to Tribal Council even when they won a challenge, or ousting one of your best buddies a few days in, making yourself appear to be completely untrustworthy.
So what is the result? Well, now the other members of the Sausage Party alliance are all worried about “getting Johnned” and Caleb is especially nervous that he’s next on the chopping block. So Caleb hijacks Tribal Council. He looks over the defense and decides to call an audible at the line of scrimmage (I’m using as many football analogies as possible so Brad can fully comprehend where his strategy went oh so wrong), and says he’s voting BC out and everybody should join him. Next thing we know, Brad’s making like Tony Romo after another knucklehead last minute blunder — wondering how it all went wrong as he watches his torch get snuffed.
Amazing. To be clear, this pretty much never happens at Tribal Council. 99.99% of the time minds are completely made up before the tribe leaves the beach, with the only surprise coming if someone uses a hidden immunity idol. Votes don’t often change once they sit on the stump. As I mentioned before the season stated, I knew there was something I liked about Caleb. Instead of sitting back and letting the game dictate what happened to him, he spoke up and single-handedly engineered a huge ouster. And it was positively delicious to watch. Okay, let’s get into this episode and recap this sucker from the very top.
NEXT: Maybe Candice is merely telling Brad she’s #1
Hey, what’s the only thing strategically dumber than ousting your own ally this early in the game? Bragging to people about how you did it! That’s what Brad’s doing over on the Tadhana beach, boasting about how he hooked and deceived John from the very beginning before slitting his throat. If I’m in that alliance all I can think upon hearing that is: If he did it to John, he’s gonna do it to me. But shockingly, Brad doesn’t see this as a problem. Say what you will about Brad Culpepper, but I don’t think the guy is dumb, which is what makes this horrible gameplay so odd. All I can do is chalk this up to how the man is used to acting in a football locker room type setting — you know, talking smack while you use your towel to homoerotically slap a few asses. Maybe he thinks this is “the team” bonding and celebrating the victory of vanquishing an enemy, but trust is the single most important entity in this game, and he just obliterated any that anyone had for him.
Over on Redemption (non) Island, a reunited John and Candice are arguing over whether they are happy to be back together as husband and wife. John thinks it’s positively swell, while Candice has to keep reminding her hubby that it is perhaps the worst way they could have possibly begun the game. Not only that, but poor John is getting Woodcock-blocked by now super awkward third wheel Marissa, who according to Candice, is herself an expert spooner.
You know what Candice is an expert in? Giving the finger! She demonstrates her perfect form — full extension on both the arm and finger, triumphant facial expression, delivered right in stride — when she walks into Redemption arena (or, as I like to affectionately call it, Brad Culpepper’s House of Pain) and gives the one-finger salute to the man responsible for John being voted out. The dude has already been lit up by both Marissa and Tyson, and now he just got fingered by Candice? Wait, that didn’t come out right. In fact, that sounds positively disturbing. You know what I’m trying to say here. What I’m trying to say is that Brad is about as popular at Redemption arena as that urn that burns all the buffs so contestants cannot bring them back home as souvenirs. (Hey, maybe Colton was onto something with the quitting business. Maybe he just wanted to keep his buff! Or maybe not, judging by what he told me when I asked where it was.)
But the fireworks have only begun. Candice decides that while it is often wise to let your fingers do the walking, your fingers can’t do all the talking as well, so she starts verbalizing her Culpepper rage, calling the former football player “a child,” accusing him of hushing women, and also accusing him of being scared to hush her husband lest her husband unleash a can of well-mannered and perfectly coiffed whup-ass on the offender.
But it’s halftime — look, another football reference! — for the smack talk as we need to get to the actual duel. John vs. Candice! Husband vs. Wife! Absurdly Attractive Human vs. Absurdly Attractive Human! What could possibly make this loved ones battle any more dramatic?!? Well…um…maybe not having a random third party also in the mix? The problem with three person duels — besides the fact that by definition, they make no sense — is the same problem with a final 3 vs. final 2. A vs. B is inherently more dramatic than pick one of the above. And “win to stay alive!” is inherently more dramatic than “um…don’t get last place to stay alive!” While I am not a Redemption Island fan, the twist has undeniably worked better with the loved ones component this season. However, it would have worked even better if they had made all the duels actual…you know, duels.
NEXT: The mysterious power of persuasion
In this truel, the contestants will have to race across a ladder bridge while maneuvering a key through a rope. When they get to the end they need to use the key to unlock the bag, and use the pieces inside to solve a puzzle. Apparently wanting to prove exactly how duplicitous he can be, Brad brags to his tribe that, “I can still get John to like me again” and proceeds to start helping him with his puzzle. Again, why are you drawing attention to how untrustworthy you are?!? It simply makes no sense!
Either due to or in spite of Brad’s assistance, John takes first place, and then has to sweat it out while his sweetie pie competes against Marissa, who is asking Gervase for help. And Gervase helps out the best way he knows how — by telling his niece to cheat off of John’s completed puzzle. Gervase is right, actually. I’ve lobbied for dividers in instances like this for a truly level playing field (since Marissa was closer to John’s completed model and could have directly cheated off of it while Candice was farther away) but you should always take advantage of anything not against the rules to help you. It’s not Marissa’s fault it’s a bad rule. Exploit it.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter as Candice gets second place and Marissa has to take the walk of shame out of the arena. Of course, there is still a little business to conduct. As the winner, John has to give somebody the clue to the hidden immunity idol. Since giving her husband the clue ultimately led to him being voted out, Candice says, “Let’s give it to Monica,” in the hopes of making her a target.
“Does she tell you what to do all the time?” Probst asks.
“She does. I don’t always listen,” responds John.
So what does John then do? He does exactly what Candice told him. Brilliant.
So John then attempts to give Monica the clue, but Brad starts yelling at her to walk it down and put it in the fire. And what does Monica do? She walks it down and puts in the fire. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WITH THEIR JEDI MIND CONTROL POWERS?!? After this all went down, I tried to see if I too could order my spouse around as I pleased. So I walked over to her and said, “Go put my Gymkata poster on our living room wall.” The response — “Go f— yourself” — was not exactly what I had hoped for. Then again, knowing both my wife’s attitude about being told what to do combined with most Americans’ resistance to the awesome combination of gymnastics and karate as demonstrated by 1984 Gold-medal winning Olympian Kurt Thomas, it was not unanticipated. Maybe I can get Monica and John to come over and put up my Gymkata poster…if their spouses will let them, that is.
Back at the Tadhana beach, Caleb defends Brad by pointing out that even though Candice took a shot at Monica by saying “Doin’ what she’s told,” that John could be accused of the exact same thing. Brad’s repays this allegiance by opining that he might want to get rid of Caleb as an olive branch to the other tribe because he has no loved one over there to get mad at him if he does (thanks, Colton!). Meanwhile, all that heat that Brad is taking has Hayden thinking maybe they should keep him around to the merge because he would keep the target off of them. But what if he or one of the other dudes get “Johnned” before then? Is it worth the risk?
NEXT: Galang is seriously the worst paddling tribe of all-time
Meanwhile, over at Galang, Tyson is chillin’ like a villain — and this villain is stealing not only coconuts, but some shut-eye as well. Tyson has learned that a shoulder injury has its advantages, and is not above playing it up to do less work around camp. To be fair, I’m pretty sure there is not a single thing Tyson is above doing. Witness his membership in the “Coconut Bandits,” which are kind of like the Wet Bandits from Home Alone yet with 100% less Pesci.
It seems Tyson and Gervase have been stealing coconuts, draining the fluid with a small incision. Their dastardly deed is almost uncovered, but Monica then theorizes it must be a crab doing all the damage. A crab? There’s a more a chance that Tata the Horny Bushman has once again infiltrated the tribe beach and is consuming the coconuts than a crab breaking into that thing. Amazingly, Tyson goes on to convince Monica that most of the coconuts were like that in Samoa as well — amazing, because Monica’s last season was also in Samoa. Who knows? Maybe Brad ordered her to believe whatever came out of Tyson’s mouth.
Immunity challenge time! It’s a classic paddle-out-into-the-water-then-get-some-stuff-then-paddle-back-then-use-that-stuff-you-paddled-out-to-get-to-solve-a-puzzle contest. Seen it a million times. But anytime you have an entire tribe paddling backwards for the second time in a month’s worth of episodes, it can’t help but be fun. And just like the first time, the newbies jump out to a huge advantage. But thanks to some nifty diving by Laura Boneham, and Tadhana hilariously spilling two giant crates into the water, the returnees catch up. The newbies have a small lead heading into the final puzzle, where Ciera (along with Vytas) would have a rematch with her mother (who demolished her last time and was now with Tyson). Once again, mother bests daughter, commenting later that “I knew she couldn’t beat me.” Not to sound cruel about your daughter, Luara, who I find quite lovely, but I’m not sure she could beat anyone. At anything. On any island. At least I have not been presented with any evidence to counter that impression.
So Tadhana is now 0-4 in challenges. How bad is it? Well, let Hayden Moss summarize: “Unbelievable. We haven’t won yet. I mean, we suck. Today we lost to a one armed dude and three moms. That’s brutal. BRUTAL!” The crazy part is, out on location when the season began, we all thought the newbies were going to dominate. Especially after Rupert took himself off the other tribe. We could not have been more wrong. So now Tadhana has to get rid of someone else, and since Brad tells the camera right before Tribal Council that it will be Ciera, we know one thing for certain: It won’t be Ciera. So who will it be?
Tribal Council seems like a pretty ho-hum affair as Brad goes out of his way to point out how bad Ciera is at puzzles, but then he slips up. Probst asks him if he’s saying it would be great to vote off someone with no loved one so nobody from the other tribe will be mad at him and he responds, “Yeah. That’s a valid point. There’s no doubt about it.” This wakes Caleb up. “You campaigned against me today,” says the man who none of us can understand why he is still with Colton. And then Caleb drops a nuclear bomb on the Sausage Party alliance. We’ve seen people speak out and freak out at Tribal Council before, but it is pretty much always either by someone about to be voted out or a personal beef between people on opposite sides of the tribe. We’ve never quite seen this.
All of a sudden, Caleb looks at Ciera and says, “I don’t want you to go home, I’m gonna write Brad’s name down.” And then to the guys in back: “You all can do what you want to, but that’s three up front, and the guys back there, you all can decide what you all want to do.” KA-BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!
NEXT: Why the Blood vs. Water twist is working
Chaos ensues. Brad tells Caleb he’s not writing his name down. Vytas asks Caleb if he’s really going to do it. Brad asks Vytas if he will vote him out. Vytas says he won’t. And he doesn’t. BUT THEN HE DOES! It’s the nuttiest thing I’ve seen happen since I spilled a can of Planters peanuts all over the couch. And peanuts aren’t even nuts! They’re legumes! That’s how nutty this is! The first vote is a tie with three votes for both Brad and Ciera. On the revote, Hayden does his best Eliza Orlins impression, dramatically going back and forth, writing down Ciera’s name, crossing it out, then writing it again. But in the end it is Vytas that defects, sending poor Brad to Redemption Island and leaving poor Hayden to curse himself for landing on the wrong side of eeny meeny miny moe. It was a fascinating display, and for more scoop on how it all went down, make sure to read my weekly Q&A with Jeff Probst.
Brad Culpepper against both of the Codys? Okay, even for someone that is dead set against three-person duels, I have to say that is pretty delicious. The producers really rolled the dice when they unleashed this Blood vs. Water concept and the series of twists that went with it, but I have to say, I think it is working. Would I want this every season? Hell to the no. But as a change of pace, I’m totally down. We’re seeing dynamics we’ve never seen before, and having to think about the game and the proper moves to make in a way we never have before. That’s fun. And it’s fun to watch the contestants have to figure all this stuff out on the fly. I always say wait until you see how a twist plays out before you judge it, which is why I was silent about it all summer. Well, four weeks in, it’s playing out pretty damn well.
And next comes the big Culpepper–Cody reunion. But you don’t have to wait until then for more Survivor goodies. In addition to my weekly Q&A with Probst, and my Q&A with Candice and John about last night’s duel, we also have an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode in the video player below, along with some pre-game goodies with the cast. And check back on Thursday afternoon for our InsideTV Podcast interview with the ousted Marissa. Of course, to have all the Survivor news and views sent right to you, just follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
But now it’s your turn. Bummed to see Marissa go. Ecstatic to see Brad voted out? And was Monica’s move to burn the hidden immunity idol clue a strong or stupid one? Hit the message boards and let us know. And I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!