“Survivor” Recap: Biggest Mistake Ever? Yes.

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At the moment, Survivor: Blood Vs. Water should be called Survivor: Non-Heroes Vs. Non-Villains. Every remaining competitor is playing a low-key game (with the exception of Caleb, whose last-minute blitz on Brad Culpepper during that Tadhana tribal council is still the season’s most shocking move), and so far no one is even planning on anything nefarious or insane (with the exception of Colton, who left the game preemptively on a magic carpet made out of an oversize pink polo shirt).

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Sure, Tyson is shoring up some propaganda against Aras, using backhanded remarks to make him look like an unfit teammate in front of his fellow tribesman, but that’s not exactly psychological warfare. We’re at a point where teammates who twitch too suddenly or utter anything suspicious get sent packing, and that was certainly the case on Wednesday’s episode. I hope some loudmouths start commandeering this game soon, because if they’re not careful a pleasant, ineffective player like Gervase will win everything for no reason. I can’t have that.

Here are the five most important insights I had from Wednesday’s episode. Relish them!

New teams! Old everything else!

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Jeff Probst reached deep into his favorite cargo short pocket and pulled out a plan: to shuffle the teams! Well, well. How about that. Everyone exchanged glances, sputtered wildly, pointed shaky fingers back at Jeff, and waited for fate to rearrange them. Turns out fate was pretty satisfied with the status quo, because after everyone randomly drew new team buffs, only one set of “loved ones” (Tina and the near-silent Katie) ended up on the same tribe. What a dynamic duo they’ll make? Uh.

Gender-wise, the new tribes shape up interestingly: Galang is now Monica, Kat, Tina, Katie, Laura, and the lovingly limber Vytas, who is suddenly vulnerable as the only male on the team. Tadhana is Caleb, Hayden, Tyson, Aras, Gervase, and Ciera, who is suddenly vulnerable because she is the only female on the team and she isn’t good at anything. Tough breaks there. I imagine Tadhana’s intra-tribe machinations will get sinister and underhanded quickly, so here’s hoping we see more of that and get away from Galang. That tribe is boringly open about everything. They schemed to get rid of Vytas, then told Vytas about it in a nice way. Come on, guys. Do you think Mark Burnett enjoys this straightforward truth-telling? The answer is no, guys. You’re going to make Les Moonves cry. Just like The Talk does every single day.

Well, good. The game is better without Brad Culpepper anyway. 

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Laura M. was voted off last week because her teammates figured she could topple PSYCHED GAMEPLAYER Brad Culpepper on Redemption Island and send him off to wherever he lives — some blessed place where everyone, like Brad, considers “guys” and “gay guys” two distinct groups that should be verbally segregated at all costs. Well, holler, because Laura smoked Brad and John on Redemption Island, and then John came in a deep second place. Clearly the challenge was skewed to Laura, who handled the balance beam-based challenge with the light touch of a Romanian preteen, but I didn’t care. Brad’s gameplay has been bad and loud and proud and too confident and footbally. I’m sorry, but you have to root for people who play “too fast, too soon” to lose. They just don’t get it. They don’t respect the arc of the game, and they owe their big machinations to insecurity, not tactfulness. Brad’s loss is our game, because now we get to watch the rise of real thinkers like Vytas, Hayden, Caleb, Tina, and Tyson. And speaking of Tyson…

I am attracted to you, Tyson. And I blame you for it. 

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As far as I’m concerned, Wednesday’s Survivor was an all-new episode of Hollywood Squares with Tyson in the role of Paul Lynde. He commanded our attention, worked his camera time, forced us to agree with him, and unleashed at least two excellent one-liners. For starters: “I like Aras. He’s a little out there with his Zen-type beliefs — because I just have zero beliefs,” he opined. “Except for magic. I believe in magic. It’s awesome.”

I actually laughed out loud. I so rarely laugh out loud at contestant confessionals nowadays. Remember Celebrity Mole: Hawaii? Every Kathy Griffin confessional was hilarious. She would just rip on Erik von Detten, and that was justified since he was the fliphaired star of Dinotopia. Anyway, here’s the other Tyson confessional I loved:

“I don’t think I’m painted as the lazy guy yet. Because after I take a coconut and drink half of it, I pass the rest around for the other five people to share. So that’s kind of generous of me to do.”

Biiiiiitch. Love it. Naturally the hashtag #CoconutBandit flashed on the screen during this segment. I can’t help but be attracted to a guy who is both deadpan and hammy and savvy enough to know how much coconut milk to savor before handing it off to your scrub teammates. This should be taught in schools.

Welcome to $nafu of the Century, hosted by Jim Perry.

I cannot even fathom what went wrong with Tina and Laura during the immunity challenge. I am still processing it. No, wait, I am choosing not to process it. That’s what’s actually happening. It could be the Snafu Of The Century, and you better believe I’m pitching that as a half-hour pilot to Game Show Network.

The setup of this immunity challenge was downright familiar: Like in so many of these damn games, the mission was to swim out, retrieve a fishing trap filled with puzzle pieces, and swim back to shore. Tina and Laura ran out, swam like strong ladies, untethered the trap from its underwater lair, and simply swam back without bringing the damn fishing trap. What! What. What! What. What.

What.

The ladies didn’t realize their error until they were on shore, and by then the other tribe was well ahead. Subsequent swimmers on the Galang tribe helped make up the difference, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to win or to make up for the fact that Tina and Laura just failed to do their part of the very, very conventional challenge. Oh, Tina! Darling cheekboned headband sorceress! I hope you have strangely coercive skills to help make up for this bizarre error! Oh, wait. You kind of do.

Excuse me, Tina: Have you been getting tips from Andy Herren?

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Secretly, the most exciting thing about Wednesday’s episode was that (Spoiler alert) Tina was singlehandedly responsible for Kat’s elimination. The Ya-Yas of the new Galang tribe were going to chip in sisterhood dollars to vote out Vytas, but Kat started grousing to Tina about how undependable Monica is. Shockingly, that made Kat seem undependable. Tina knew exactly what to do with Kat’s paranoia: report it to Monica. Soon thereafter, the remaining women agreed to keep Vytas, who used his grim backstory and jailtime anecdotes to woo his new team into sympathy, and Kat found herself on the outs.

So here’s my question: Tina, did you watch the last season of Big Brother? This is exactly how Andy Herren handled confidential information. He kept reporting it back to self-impressed monarchs Amanda and McCrae until they were isolated enough to be ditched for a better alliance. That’s how he won the game, through selective loyalty and confident betrayals. I’m liking Tina’s move. And I’m liking Kat’s too — the move into Redemption Island, that is. You got played and I love it, grrrl. Maybe now we’ll see Hayden shed a delicate tear that lands satisfyingly on his nipple. If someone wants to sketch this for me, I have a Paypal account.

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