Monthly Archives: September 2013

Survivor: Blood vs Water – Episode 1 (also known as Survivor: Amazing Race edition)

Time to start a new era in my blogging and cover one of my favourite shows – Survivor. Returning for its 27th season, the Reality juggernaut is bringing back ten former castaways (they’re not technically favourites, but probably moreso than last season’s cast) as well as ten people related to them, whether it be by blood or water, and then throws a boatload of twists at them. Those twists are:

  1. Day Zero – The ten pairs will be split up along the beach, and camp out the night before to prepare the loved one for their time in the game. It also gives the producers the ability to split them up cruelly the morning after.
  2. Redemption Island is back! – Immediately after creating the tribes, one person from each tribe will be voted out and sent immediately to Redemption Island to await the first actual boot on Day 3. I don’t hate Redemption Island as much as some people, but I would much prefer it if we could either get ninety-minute episodes every week (meaning we could keep reward challenges) or they’d shift Redemption to the end of the episode, allowing someone to actually leave the show every week.
  3. Tribe Switches – I’ve long said I’d like Redemption to appear on a season with tribe switches happening, so it wouldn’t be as predictable, but I didn’t expect it to be done in this way – if your loved one is on Redemption, for whatever reason, you can take their place before the duel happens. In that case, they will join your tribe, meaning that tribe will have a mix of returning and new castaways.
  4. Redemption Island Truels – Following the model of South Pacific, three people will compete in each “duel” – loser goes home, first and second place stay. However, the winner will be able to hand out a clue to the immunity idol, which is actually hidden this season, to whomever they want on either tribe. This gives the winner a little bit of power and/or revenge over their former tribemates or loved ones’ tribemates, if they so choose.

Now to those pairs. In no particular order, they are:

Gervase and Marissa – “Original OG” and student, from Philadelphia and North Carolina

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Gervase & Marissa are Uncle and Niece, and probably the most volatile pairing out there – they’re the only pair who openly admit being willing to vote each other out, and are very very competitive, which could be their downfall. He played in the original season, Borneo, when she was just nine – can he learn from his mistakes, and correct his laziness and weakness in swimming? Coincidentally, the above picture is the first and only time she smiles.

Kat and Hayden – Former Survivor loser and Big Brother winner, from Florida and Arizona

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She is a former Survivor castaway who was blindsided, he is a former Big Brother winner who is possibly the most boring winner of that show for a long time. She was screwed by her alliance, he screwed one of the most popular people ever to play the game. In short, he’ll do well, she really won’t.

Laura M. and Ciera – Mother and Daughter, from Oregonsurvivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-3

I’m glad Laura’s back. If it wasn’t for Russhell in Samoa, she would have done very well and probably been a much more fun and over the top villain than the little we saw of her. Ciera struck me initially as probably a very early boot for the loved ones’ tribe – she’s small, she doesn’t look very strong, and her mother is the sort of player you would want to weaken as soon as is physically possible. Can she overcome the troubles she might very well have?

Rupert and Laura B. – Will keep returning to Survivor until he wins and Merchandiser, from Indiana.

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ROOOOOOOOOAR! The call of the Rupert means he’s back. Again. For a fourth time. He’s already won $1,000,000 thanks to America, but surely everyone is tired of him. Well, unless you’re on a tribe with him. He and Boston Rob don’t just share the fact they’ve both played four times, but also the fact that they are the two most well-respected camp builders in Survivor history. She has been his loved one in the annual visits twice now, and was probably the most obvious choice when the season was announced, but this will almost certainly be Rupert’s last appearance (hopefully).

Colton and Caleb Former(?) racist and outdoorsman, from Alabama

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Colton previously abused his tribemates on Survivor: One World, and describes his fiancé as his rock. It’s ironic that in the first Survivor season with a former Big Brother player, and after such a dire season in terms of hatred from nearly all those players, that they would invite such a hateful former castaway back. For all his protestations that he has changed, I doubt it.

Candice and John – Replacement Pair, from Washington D.C.

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Candice and John weren’t even supposed to be on this season. For a girl whose major claim to fame is being the one who mutinied and wasn’t Penner, she’s getting a lot of mileage. Last we heard from her, she’d postponed her wedding to Mr Candice (aka John) to come back for Heroes vs Villains, and was one of the questionable choices. Both times she’s played, she known for being disloyal to any and all alliances or tribes. Should be fun for her with the immediate vote-off.

Monica and Brad (For that is his name) – NFL wife and Attorney, from Florida

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She was a workhorse non-entity in One World, he was her dutiful former-NFL playing husband, who is now an attorney. Also, if he is not the villain this season, something has gone majorly wrong. He is by far the cockiest person out there, and I just hope he gets blindsided fast, because it will be a glorious piece of television.

Tina and Katie – mother and daughter, from Tennessee (where the whiskey flows like wine)

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The winner of the Survivor season with the most watched episode ever – Tina Wesson – is back for a third time. In All-Stars, she was an immediate target, for being a smiling assassin. Tina & Katie are also the only pair to explicitly mention that it’s okay for them to vote each other out, although I doubt they’d ever go through with it.

Tyson and Rachel – Survivor badass and Graphic Designer, from Utah

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Tyson is one of the funniest people ever to play Survivor. I am a huge fan of Tyson, purely because he is able to be a competition bad-ass, whilst distracting everyone by his antics including his frequent nudity. Rachel has to be strong-willed just to be with someone as relentless brilliant and silly as Tyson. If Tyson doesn’t go far, I will be sorely disappointed.

Aras & Vytas – Former winner and former heroin addict/maths teacher, from California

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Aras is one of the most underrated winners of Survivor. His brother is a former heroin addict and was horrible to him growing up. This is only going to end well.

Which of these pairs of people will have the right mix of brains, brawn and luck to make it to the finish line and win $1,000,000 and the Amazing Race Survivor: Blood vs Water? Thirty-nine (and a half) days, twenty people, ONE Survivor!

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Once Day 1 finally begins, Jeff has everyone who’s looking forward to competing against their loved one raise their hands. Monica, Aras, Vytas, Katie, Candice, John, Laura B, Marissa and Kat all raise their hands – a fact that means Jeff claims “over half” put their hands up. Not for the first time this episode, maths is not someone’s strong point. Brad also makes an instant mistake and admits he’d let Monica win a tarp regardless of his team’s reaction. Marissa in particular was not a fan of this tactic. Returning Players and Loved Ones then split into Galang and Tadhana respectively.

When the instant vote twist was announced, my prediction was Colton and Ciera being the first people voted out. The votes were as follows:

Tadhana:

  • Vytas – Laura B
  • Brad – Laura B
  • Hayden – Laura B
  • Laura B – Marissa
  • Caleb – Laura B
  • Marissa – ?
  • Ciera – Laura B

Rupert, of course, thought it was a slight upon him. He is of course, wrong – she stuck out like a sore thumb in her tribe, being middle-aged.

Galang:

  • Candice – Laura M
  • Tyson – Laura M
  • Tina – Candice
  • Kat – Candice
  • Colton – Candice
  • Rupert – Laura M
  • Monica – Candice
  • Aras – Gervase (having crossed out Candice’s name)
  • Laura M – Candice

Mr Candice vowed to vote out everyone who voted out his missus. Good luck with that one.

Jeff then floated the idea of the loved ones’ switch to Rupert.

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Face of an idiot.

So much has been made of Rupert’s decision, but here’s my opinion – WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?! Rupert has never not made the Jury, and for a very good reason – he’s safe in the tribal phase of the game. Nobody is going to vote him out first, ever! His wife, on the other hand, was singled out by her tribe for being the weakest one. If he thinks logically, all he wants is one of them to win the million, so why not give yourself the best chance and let her duel it out with Candice, who’s never been brilliant at individual challenges? All he’s done is given Galang an easy first boot, unless something catastrophic happens. The best tactic would be to go back to your beach, make an alliance and then discuss it on Day 4 with her – it’s ridiculous to give up so easily!

Mr Candice is then given the same option, and decides against it. The irony of Candice and Rupert being together on Redemption after her backstabbing attitude with him in Heroes vs Villains is amazing. Rupert also claims that he and Laura are blood, which I sincerely hope they are not, because it would be creepy as hell.

Once they’re back at camp, Galang discovered their supplies. Gervase correctly spots that he’s had the longest lay-off in Survivor history. Surely, that’s obvious – he was in the first season, this is the newest season, dumbass! Monica also has a discussion with Colton over his behaviour in One World and warns him not to be a nuisance. I suspect this won’t last, purely because he’s a professional nuisance, and has never given us any reason to not say that.

Brad immediately brings Tadhana round to apologise for his statement about the tarp – all this did was rehash old feelings and bring animosity. He then starts an alliance, between “four guys and a gay guy” to rule Tadhana with an iron fist. He claimed to Caleb that he’d be “number one” in the five-man alliance, his first bit of lacklustre maths. Could Vytas please give him some tutoring? Because “Four with nine equals out, but five with nine equals in” – the basis of Survivor alliances.

Within fifteen minutes, Galang has fire. Tadhana, however just has secrets to divulge, thanks to Vytas (heroin addict) and Ciera (double teen mother). Mr Candice also seems to know that Brad played in the NFL, but it’s not known if he admitted it or not. At Galang, Colton also tries to apologise for his racism from One World. Whilst he’s crying, Monica sympathises with him, so obviously forgives him for what he’s done.

At Redemption Island, Candice is out for revenge on all the people who voted for her, whilst Rupert sits back and tries to retain strength for the duel. Neither Candice nor Rupert have won an individual immunity before, so it’s a level playing field.

At the first challenge, six people from each tribe race over a series of obstacles, racing to untie a boat containing three bags of puzzle pieces. The remaining three people use the puzzle pieces to create a wheel and raise a flag. After the boat portion, Tadhana have a huge lead, mainly thanks to Gervase’s lack of swimming ability and Tadhana’s teamwork. Galang also struggled with the paddling aspect, veering off course twice. The battle of mothers vs daughters in the puzzle levelled up the playing field, with the mothers annihilating their daughters (and Caleb) to win immunity for Galang.

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An idiot being restrained by a legend.

Thank the Lord that Gervase hasn’t played in thirteen years. His behaviour as a sore winner, especially on a season where your win jeopardises your loved one’s safety is idiotic. Tadhana is a tribe ruled by men, and his niece has gone from being safe to being very much on the block thanks to his actions.

When they get back to camp, the five men of Tadhana decide upon their first target. Thanks to Gervase’s actions, Marissa is one of the targets, as well as Katie for being a third wheel on the puzzle in the challenge. Vytas also keeps his side alliances open, being the conduit between the girls and guys.

Tribal Council centres on the tribe’s relationships with members of the other tribe, whether that be Mr Candice’s choice not to swap with his wife, or Ciera’s comparison between her mother’s stories and reality. Marissa also realises she’s guilty by association, thanks to Gervase’s actions at the challenge.

Katie and Marissa are shown voting for each other, but no-one else’s votes are shown.

By a vote of 9-1, Marissa, you have been evicted from the Survivor House.

survivor.s27e01.hdtv.x264-2hd-14*smuff*

Last part of the trip!

I’ve completely neglected this blog! We’ve been back from the States for over two months now, and last time I posted, we’d just started the Tour. We spent the remaining eighteen days after it touring California before flying to Florida for three and a half weeks.

Anaheim

Anaheim is only a thirty-minute(-ish) train ride from the centre of LA, and is a very pretty spot, but of course, there is only one reason anyone goes to Anaheim unless they live there – Disneyland! The original theme park in the glorious Disney empire, Disneyland Park is the only park in said empire that Walt himself oversaw the construction of. It also shares a ridiculously small amount of rides with the other parks, justifying our visit for five nights. We managed to pick up an “Honorary Citizen of Disneyland Resort” badge whilst we were there (mainly cause they were out of “First Visit” badges) and managed to have a nice relaxing time, especially after the stress of the tour. We also enjoyed a ridiculously huge cake at Outback Steakhouse – it was only 1,000 calories, and suggested for three people. We actually had to give up and bring it back to the hotel and put it in the fridge and ate it on our last night there.

San Diego

When I posted the last blog, we were on the (remarkably plush) train from Anaheim to San Diego. After five nights in Anaheim, we had to tear ourselves away from the lights and sights of Disneyland to the most south-easterly city in the United States – San Diego. We only had four nights in San Diego, so decided to only do the major sites – Old Point Loma Lighthouse, SeaWorld (much to the irritation of Lawrie Brailey) and the USS Midway. Despite a run-in with SeaWorld (who advertised their water park as being just minutes away, when it was actually less than two miles from the Mexican border, and two hours away on public transport), we really enjoyed San Diego, and it was by far the most relaxing bit of the Californian adventure so far.

A proper visit to LA

For the last eight nights in California, we travelled back to LA – Hollywood in particular. In addition to a return to Universal Studios (obviously – we had an Annual Pass to use!), we saw sights such as the Griffith Observatory (Amazing Race 22 Start Line!), the Walt Disney Concert Hall (Amazing Race France task site!) and of course, Pasadena, where we took our L’il Sebastian plush back to his spiritual home at Pasadena City Hall. If you don’t know what the end of that sentence means, go and watch Parks and Recreation – do yourself a favour! We used the Hollywood part of the trip as a more quiet endeavour, mainly because we knew what was coming next – the biggest part of the trip, and the part where we were most likely to see well over 75,000 people in a day – Florida.

Florida

The last part of our trip took us to the Sunshine State, the home of not one, but FIVE of the top ten theme parks in the world in terms of attendance, at the busiest time of the year, with our trip coinciding with 4th July celebrations. It is also the home of two of the top three water parks in the world. As a side note, by the end of the trip, we’d been to seven of the top ten theme parks, and eleven of the top twenty, which is a pretty impressive stat.

We’d chosen the Maingate Lakeside Resort as our base, as it supposedly had great links to the theme parks (Disney and Universal), but as we found out, the Disney parks were closer if we walked, as it was only around a mile away by foot. We only visited Universal Florida once, but it was full of surprises, as I discovered that one of my classmates from high school worked at the Simpsons Ride, which was a very surreal moment when I said hi to him in the queue.

The hotel was comfortable enough – we weren’t planning on spending much time there anyway (at least in comparison to the other hotels), but it did have one major benefit – a Pizza Hut on site. Even better, there was an offer on allowing us a refillable cup for $10.70 (about £7.00), allowing us to refill said cup any time we wanted whilst it was open throughout our stay. This as you can imagine was abused, and we more than made our money back.

We decided to spend 4th July in Epcot, as Magic Kingdom was forecast to have 100,000 people (also known as a Phase 4 closure) on that day, despite it being a Thursday. Epcot is also home to, in my opinion, the world’s greatest fireworks show – IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, which has around 2,000 fireworks added as an Independence Day celebration. We watched a patriotic concert at the American pavilion to start the day, and it was as over-the-top as you can imagine. Thankfully, Disney provide wi-fi in all the theme parks now for free (a great help when using their app), so it was there that I found out another classmate from my high school class was also at the same concert. I suspect there must be something in the water at BRGS that makes us all come to Florida in early July. We also had a day trip to Miami, which featured an Everglades airboat ride and Miami Harbour Cruise – I didn’t really enjoy it, but if you’re into the sort of trip where you look round islands where famous people live, it probably has much more appeal. We left Florida feeling very pleased with ourselves for a holiday well done, as well as a little homesick (although not necessarily pleased to come back)!

All-in-all, a job well done – we were disappointed at some aspects of the holiday, but nothing was bad enough to ruin our impressions of the US. We travelled somewhere in the region of 10,000 miles (3,000 of which were in the tour alone!), and spent 77 nights in (on the whole) beautiful surroundings. Thanks to all who helped us with this trip, whether it be work allowing us the time off, our parents for helping us with a load of the planning, and Tim Johnson at Travelbag, who put up with my nagging and helped sort the flights, tour and some hotels. I’ll be back tomorrow for one final post, where I’ll be imparting some advice on how we sorted out a trip of this magnitude. I’ll then be starting my coverage of American shows this year – I’m thinking I’ll be covering Survivor, The Amazing Race and Revolution, with a possible appearance by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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