While Katie reads her clue, Tyson meets with Caleb and Hayden to propose a new course of action: breaking up the last loved one pair by voting out Laura. His plan involves not telling Ciera, under the guise of kindness so as to not put her in the position of voting out her mommy. Little do they know that Ciera seems to have no problem getting rid of the woman who brought her into this world. Explaining to Laura that “I just don’t feel it is realistic for you and me to be in the final 3,” Ciera basically asks her mom to throw the challenge should they make it to the final 6. Her reasoning is that if Laura wins immunity, they will vote out Ciera instead.
[Deep exhale] Okay, here we go. I have no problem whatsoever with someone voting off their loved one, and I have no problem with Ciera doing it later in the episode if she felt she needed to go along with the majority to solidify her standing in the tribe. Totally justifiable. If your mom’s ship is sinking, then get the hell off. However, asking her to lay down and die at a challenge because you are not confident in yourself and your own abilities? That is a big dish of lame smothered in weak sauce. Win or lose on your own merits. Do not ask someone to roll over just because you’re not good enough. I was pretty turned off by this. It would be one thing if this was a case of a married couple playing as a single unit — with the money going to same joint bank account no matter which one wins — and making a joint strategic decision to give that money the best opportunity of reaching that account. But it wasn’t. I didn’t find it sweet or tender or the maturation of someone’s social and strategic game as the show attempted to present it. Rather, I thought it came off as the move of a child expecting her parent to once again bow to her wishes, even if that meant completely sacrificing herself and her own dream.
Hey, I get it. I’ve had plenty of child moments myself. I remember when I tossed a fit because my mom would not drive me to the Toys R Us in Rockville to buy me the new Lobot action figure. The difference is, I was only 9. (Plus: Lobot rules, so honestly, can you blame me?) Anyway, the way I see it is that it’s totally okay to get rid of your mother if you feel that’s your best move in the game. Go for it. But don’t tell her she can’t even play! At least let her play and then decide to hand over the immunity at the last minute at Tribal if she feels you are truly the one getting voted out. But let the woman play!
And Laura is definitely not done playing. The next morning she does her best Marion Jones (minus the Roids) impersonation, sprinting after Katie at daybreak to shadow her as she searches for the idol. Meanwhile, Tyson has had a change of plan and decides to tell Ciera about the move to get rid of her mom, but pinning the blame on Hayden and Caleb so he doesn’t get blowback as the mastermind. Wow. Mark the date, people: November 20, 2013. I just used the words “Tyson” and “mastermind” in the same sentence. Never thought I’d see the day. But props are given when props are due, and the man has played a super solid game so far.
So off to the challenge and —oh, joy! — it looks like a water challenge. Finally! After memory puzzles, pig intestines, and the always-thrilling stacking of coins we are getting back in the water, baby! Or not. It turns out, instead of being a long-awaited challenge in or under the water, it is merely one over the water, with people standing on a platform holding a rope for as long as possible. I don’t get it. One of the advantages to shooting in the Philippines (where the show filmed four straight seasons) is that unlike Gabon, Tocantins, Samoa and Nicaragua, you can actually do challenges deep in the water. So why aren’t they doing it? Sure, we’ve had a few, but nowhere near enough for my greedy, water-loving soul. (And if you don't believe that Probst is sick of me annoyingly pestering him about this, then read this week's Q&A.)
NEXT: Did Monica get off too easy?