(Spoilers from last night’s episode abound! You’ve been warned.)
For 27 seasons Survivor has graced our TV screens with starving castaways, shocking blindsides and that charming, stud of a host Jeff Probst. As a fan who has watched from the beginning, I often get a lot of: “That show is still on!?” and “I haven’t watched in years!” But in order to tackle the perilous terrain of network scheduling and avoid the Cancellation Bear, a show must adapt in order to….survive (har har). And how does a Reality show last this long? Look no further than Survivor’s latest Blood vs. Water edition for the answer.
This season, 10 returning players came back to the island with a loved one in tow. Mothers played against daughters, finances braved the elements together…and even a few married couples put it all on the line for a chance at the $1 Million prize. Producers should be patting themselves on the back because this is how you keep your show interesting and viewers invested for 13 years.
Having a loved one in the game adds so many different layers to an already complicated game of strategy. Not only does it give the series strength in its gameplay and action, but it deepens the storylines of its characters. Win-win. (Ciera voting out her mother and challenge powerhouse, Laura? Tina knocking her daughter out of the game? Powerful stuff and great for overall story purposes.)
Blood vs. Water definitely makes my Top 10 favorite seasons list. (If that list existed. Maybe one day…) Not only has the concept delivered some great moments, but it looks like the season is going to finish out stronger than ever. Though I never wish for the Redemption Island twist to return, having that aspect in this game has allowed for some really great moments of television: Colton being…well, Colton, Rupert sending himself to Redemption by switching places with his wife, hidden immunity idol clue burning! What a spectacle. Having the entire cast observing the duels has led to these great moments and more, and it’s been chock-full of drama, fights, middle fingers, tears, and plenty of motherly emotions.
As it currently stands, Hayden, Laura and Tina remain at Redemption for one final duel, while Ciera, Monica, Tyson and Gervase await the returnee’s arrival and final moments of the game. You’ve just got to respect Hayden’s fight in these last two episodes. He went for broke trying to convince Ciera that she was 4th in her alliance, and it somewhat paid off. He survived another tribal, but lost his alliance-mate Katie when the tie was split by picking rocks (PICKING ROCKS!). In last night’s episode, Ciera and Hayden fought tooth and nail to convince Monica that Tyson had her on a leash, but to no avail. Still, you’ve got to love someone who goes down swinging til the very end. Kudos, Hayden.
Though I love Tina and Hayden, I really want to see Laura reunited with her daughter, Ciera, and get one more shot at an immunity challenge. Though Tyson has played a pretty-damn-skippy game, I don’t want him to win. Though if he does, he’s more than deserving. (Monica and Gervase are crazy to think they can beat him, right!?)
The success of Blood vs. Water almost guarantees that this formula will be back again (Probst has more-or-less stated so on Twitter). Having a second Blood vs. Water on the horizon makes me a happy viewer…but I’ll be even giddier when Survivor delivers its next crazy concoction and turns the game upside down once again.
The finale airs this Sunday on CBS.