Dr. V And The Women
What to watch and what to skip as the tribes shuffle up, Aras gets the villain's edit in real time, and Vytas finds himself scrambling for survival on an all-girls tribe.
What did I tell you about the first time we see any strategizing on behalf of the veterans in the first 15 minutes of the show? I've never been more certain of the outcome of an Immunity Challenge in my life. It's good that the Vets finally lost one, though. Now everybody's in the mix, everybody's playing, and we finally get a sense -- even if it's a small one -- about the way the Vets operate, i.e., they're still deeply suspicious of ham-handed strategy attempts (sorry, Laura B.), and it looks like the decision-makers are Tyson and Aras (with a dash of Tina, perhaps). So how quickly can you zip through last night's episode? Allow us to guide you.
Aras voices his concern that Laura M. shot him the death glare after they all voted her out last night. (Priceless Tina follow-up: "Why did you look at her?") Privately, Aras further worries that he's going to get a reputation as a scheming ringleader. Aras is in a tough spot. He's one of two former winners in the game, and he presents as way more of an obvious threat than Tina is (which actually makes Tina the bigger threat, but Jenna Lewis is the only person in history to ever realize this). He can't really afford to lay too low, because he could end up voted out anyway, but any kind of game move he makes only makes him look like more of a schemer. And since he won his original season via down-low scheming with Cirie, nobody's going to want to get fooled by him this second time around. The next morning, Tyson proves that he recognizes this, and we see him scheming with Gervase about dumping Aras before he has a chance to unite with Vytas and form the Super Yoga Brothers Power Hour All-Stars. Tyson gets a gem of an interview break, wherein he pokes a bit of fun at Aras's zen beliefs, adding that he has no beliefs himself, "except for magic, which is awesome."
No build-up to this one, and it ends up carried off exactly how you would expect. Aras and Company sent Laura M. to Redemption on the hope that her mastery of puzzles would be enough to knock Brad out of the game, and that's exactly what ends up happening. That part of the challenge involves a balance beam also plays to Laura's low-center-of-gravity advantage. The other part of the challenge involves arranging numbered tiles in NUMERICAL ORDER, it's also no surprise that Brad "Counts On His Fingers, Poorly" Culpepper is the last to finish. See ya, dummy! So, yeah, nothing surprising happens, down to the now-ritual burning of the immunity clue (this time it's Vytas who gets the honors). Maybe it's time to get a little craftier in deploying those clues, eh Jeff?
TRIBE SWAP WOOO! Always fun to see who's able to scramble and re-strategize quickly. The only downside is that the swap comes when only three loved-one pairs remain in the main competition. Hayden/Kat and Vytas/Aras each remain separated, while Tina and her daughter Katie are united on the new Galang, which ends up consisting of five women (Tina, Katie, Monica, Kat, Laura B.) and Vytas, while the new Tadhana (ugh, I'm gonna have to remember these tribe names now) is stacked with all the other dudes (Tyson, Gervase, Aras, Hayden, Caleb), plus Ciera. Immediately, Vytas and Hayden start looking like they might puke into the fire pit.
Camp Life: New Roomies
At Tadhana, Hayden chafes at the new folks making themselves at home, helping themselves to the local coconuts, not obeying the "no shoes in the living room" rules. But Tyson/Gervase/Aras are making themselves at home, and nobody is outwardly resisting. So Caleb spills all the old Tadhana secrets (including the wording of John's old immunity clue), and Tyson continues to be a #coconutbandit. This Tyson edit is getting crazy. He's so clearly the protagonist this season, rivaled only possibly by Vytas. After being seen as the goofy sidekick for two seasons, it's finally The Tyson Show, and his every attempt to steer his new tribe into, say, seeing Aras as an overbearing leader is being treated like masterstroke strategy. Which it may well be. But someone in that editing room has his or her thumb on the scale for sure.
At Galang, poor Vytas is all alone, and he's not sure how to go about changing his situation. Like his brother, Vytas seems to know that coming on too strong will only backfire on him. Rather than try for any overt strategizing, Vytas instead makes an active decision to leverage his messy personal history in order to ingratiate himself to his tribe. It works, just like it did on his original tribe. I think it helps that he comes across as a good guy whom people ultimately want to like. It's not like Colton was in short supply of a harrowing past, but that ultimately sat at odds with his personality, whereas you want to root for Vytas already. He's just giving his tribemates another reason. And it might end up working, especially if Kat keeps privately grousing about how Monica's constant strategy talk bugs her.
Another fairly typical "physical challenge + puzzle" IC, notable only for the fact that Tina and Laura B. completely botch the first part for Galang when they forget to retrieve a crate full of puzzle pieces. But it's Tina and Monica who end up almost saving the day with their puzzle-making skills. They actually think they've got it won on two occasions, but they don't, and Tadhana ekes out a close victory.
Scrumming For Votes
Vytas is privately fuming that a pitiful challenge performance by Tina and Laura could end up dooming him in this game. But he knows better than to indulge that publicly. Lucky for him, he's about to get thrown a lifeline by Kat, who is once again finding herself annoyed by Monica. She blabs to Tina about how getting rid of Monica might be the better option. Now, as we learned last week, Kat thinks she's part of the veterans' alliance when she's really not. Monica is, and I'm guessing that a lot of Tina's reservations about her have been calmed now that Brad is gone. So Kat is making a huge mistake and has no idea. This is classic Tina, by the way. Getting her tribemates to confide in her and give her just enough rope to hang them with.
Right on cue, Tina takes Kat's treachery directly to Monica, and before you know it, the two of them are talking with Vytas about dumping Kat. Monica probably takes it a step too far in confronting Kat directly, but even still, Tina gets no blowback for being a blabbermouth. (Nor is she getting any attention that we can see for being a power pair with Katie. She's really wound up in a good spot for the moment.)
Having seen the tide begin to turn, Kat is suddenly back on board with a Vytas vote, which still might appeal to Tina/Katie/Laura, so that's where we're at heading into Tribal.
Just an expert performance by Vytas here, arguing against Kat's demonstrated disloyalty while taking every opportunity to speak of the tribe as an "us" that he's already a part of. Kat is already not the best at articulating her case, and Vytas manages to steamroll her.
No surprise, then, that the tribe throws in with Vytas and sends Kat to Redemption, whereupon she seems mostly concerned with Hayden thinking she's a loser for getting voted out this early. "Who wants to date someone who doesn't make the merge?" she grumps. Yeah, those two met each other three times maximum before they were cast as boyfriend/girlfriend, is my guess.
Tribe Swap + new strategies + Tyson's antics + Tina being a secret baller at strategy = a winner.
What did you think?