Even after 27 seasons, "Survivor" still manages to surprise us.
For just the second time in the show's history, players drew rocks after a deadlocked vote. This time, it takes place after a crazy tribal council where Tyson and Hayden essentially play tug-of-war with Ciera.
After Caleb's elimination, Hayden knows he's on the chopping block and decides to go for the ballsy move of calling out Tyson as the winner, with Gervase and Ciera playing second and third fiddles.
At tribal, Hayden keeps hammering away at Tyson as the player in control of the game. He puts doubt into Ciera's mind about her place within her alliance. Does she want to be one of four or one of three, with him and Katie? And in her four, she's clearly in last place, even behind Monica.
It works, as Ciera flips on her alliance and votes for Monica. But after a revote, the tribe is still split between Monica and Hayden. When Ciera can't convince Tyson and Gervase to vote her way, everyone agrees to draw rocks. Since Gervase has immunity, only Ciera, Tyson, and Katie can draw.
And the white, eliminating rock ends up in the hand of … Katie. Groan. Hayden's big move, Ciera's major flip are all for nothing. Tyson remains in firm control of the game, with the hidden Immunity Idol once more in his pocket and his original Galang alliance even more loyal than ever.
A rundown of this week's episode:
The Duel: Laura M. is a duel machine. Seriously, the players might as well accept the idea that she's going to come back into the game. She handily wins the card-stacking challenge. Meanwhile, Tina survives once again, mostly due to a last-minute toppling of Caleb's card tower. But the best part of it all was when Jeff disdainfully wondered why Caleb is with Colton. Caleb notes that they actually have a lot in common. Like what? "Well, we're both guys," he replies. LOL.
Idol Hunting: Ciera receives the clue to the hidden Immunity Idol and decides to share it with her group. That sets off a scramble to find it (even Hayden and Katie try to get involved), but it's Tyson who ends up finding it. But while Ciera shared, he does not. He's keeping that bad boy hidden.
Immunity Challenge: If Laura is a duel machine, Monica is a challenge machine. She flies through the obstacle course while balancing a ball on a pole. But Gervase catches up with her at the end, and he's much better at knocking over pins with sandbags. He wins, and selects Monica and Tyson to share in his ice cream feast.
Scramble Time: Hayden continues his campaign against Tyson by hitting up Gervase and Ciera. Do they really want to get to the end, only to be second? They're both wary and seem like they're not going to sway. Looks like Tyson's alliance is rock-solid. But then …
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Tribal Council: Jeff kicks things off by noting that Gervase chose Tyson and Monica for his reward, leaving Ciera out in the cold. That indicates she's the fourth in the four-person alliance, which troubles her. Hayden senses an opening and commences a major tug-of-war battle over Ciera. He invites her to be one of three, not one of four. But Tyson reminds Ciera that he's been 100 percent with her and has protected her several times.
(As an aside, there's a hilarious conversation about ruffling vs. rustling vs. Russell-ing feathers.)
Everyone votes, and the tally reveals that Hayden's campaign worked — Ciera flips and votes for Monica. There's a tie between Hayden and Monica, so everyone revotes.
But the tally is still deadlocked. Jeff warns them that unless they can unanimously decide who to eliminate, they'll have to draw rocks. Ciera tries to convince Tyson and Gervase to go with her, but they stick to Monica.
Ciera, Tyson, and Katie agree to draw rocks (Gervase has immunity and the people who are tied don't participate). When they open their hands for the big reveal, it's Katie who has the white rock. She is eliminated and heads off to Redemption Island.
Hayden is crestfallen, while Ciera looks defeated. Tyson grins like the Cheshire cat. He's sitting pretty right now! Just like Hayden said, it's going to be tough to beat this guy in the finale!
Check out Twitter reactions to the episode, and then sound off in the comments below.
So pumped after that #Survivor episode. Nothing better than drawing rocks.— Zack O'Malley (@zomall) December 5, 2013
Now that was a great Tribal Council. #Survivor never fails to cause a gasp or two. Long overdue for drawing rocks!— Ken Simpson (@KenSimpson14) December 5, 2013
"Survivor: Blood vs. Water" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.