Looking back at the previous 26 winners of “Survivor,” most have one thing in common: They were part of an unbreakable, extremely loyal alliance.
Loyalty in this game is an all-or-nothing affair. An alliance has to treat itself like a fortress; crack open a door and the whole thing comes tumbling down.
Last week, Brad didn’t just crack open a door into his Bro-lliance fortress by engineering John’s vote — he swung it wide open, rolled out the red carpet, and sounded the trumpets.
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And it all came back to bite him. Check out what happened in our play-by-play of this week’s “Survivor”:
0:02: Hey, honey, I’m home at Redemption Island! Candice is not pleased to see her husband. “I knew you were going to be too trusting of people,” she says in gentle reprimand. John tries to act like this is a good thing, and both Candice and Marissa cry, “It’s not good. It’s NOT GOOD!”
0:04: At Tadhana, Brad boasts about hoodwinking John. “If this was ‘Survivor’ 26 or ‘Survivor’ 25, we’d have stayed five guys all the way through,” he says. “But this is ‘Survivor’ 27, loved ones.” They have to think about the connections on the other side — after the merge, reunited couples will be very powerful. This makes Caleb fret, since Colton decided to quit last week.
0:06: At the duel, Candice unloads on Brad, with an upset Monica trying to defend her husband. John hints that “it’s time to knock the king off his throne.” And it is true that Brad has been the alpha dog of the Bro-lliance. If the women of Tadhana don’t try to exploit this in the future, they deserve to go home.
0:10: The duel begins. It involves getting a key through a twisting rope, unlocking puzzle pieces, and putting that puzzle together. John and Marissa get ahead, though Candice quickly catches up.
0:12: John is a freaking puzzle machine. He easily wins.
0:13: A frazzled Marissa seems to be having trouble, while Candice looks cool and calm. She finishes second, which means Marissa is out. It’s hard to say we’ll miss her, since she barely got any screen time. As the winner, John gets a clue to the hidden idol. Candice suggests giving it to Monica to put a target on a Culpepper back. But when Monica receives the clue, she throws it in the fire. “That’s the first time that has ever happened,” host Jeff Probst notes.
0:19: Shots of snails. We really miss the tarsiers.
0:22: At Tadhana, Brad is unsettled over all the haterade that Candice dumped on him. He comes up with the idea to vote Caleb out next, since his loved one is gone and he probably can’t beat Candice/John in the duel. So nobody would be mad. Right? Maybe?
0:28: Tyson is milking his shoulder injury like a little boy. When most of Galang isn’t looking, he and Gervase sneak away to drink all the coconuts. What men-children.
0:31: Time for the immunity challenge, which is another water/land obstacle course. The two tribes have to paddle out to dive for big crates, which will form a staircase. Then they have to complete a puzzle to get a key that raises a flag. Reward is a delicious breakfast, including coffee and croissants.
0:34: Despite his “injury,” Tyson does not sit out. This doesn’t help Galang much, since they apparently have no clue how to paddle boats. Tadhana gets the early lead, once again, but loses a couple of their crates in the water, which allows Galang to catch up.
0:36: The tribes are neck and neck forming the staircases. Tadhana gets to their puzzle first, but Galang is right behind. It’s Vytas and Ciera for Tadhana vs. Tyson and Laura for Galang.
0:38: Mother once again trumps daughter: Laura finishes the puzzle first, gets the key, and raises the flag. Galang wins.
0:43: Ready, set, scramble! But things are a bit different this week. Instead of the usual Bro-lliance pow-wow, Brad approaches the women with his plan to vote out Caleb. Ciera and Katie are thrilled, naturally, but this feels very ominous for the guys.
0:47: At Tribal Council, Ciera readily accepts the blame for not being able to beat her mom at puzzles. But she’s not just going to give up. Then Jeff manages to get Brad to agree that voting out someone without a loved one — like Caleb — would be the smartest thing to do. Uh-oh…. really, Brad, sometimes honesty is NOT the best policy.
0:49: His admission puts Caleb into a tailspin. Now he doesn’t know if he can trust Brad. He already broke their alliance by voting out John, and Caleb could be next. So Caleb tells the women that he’s going to write down Brad’s name. They can decide if they want to go along with him! Ho-ly tri-bal! What a turnaround! Everyone votes.
0:51: Jeff reads the tally. It’s three for Brad, three for Ciera — a tie. OMG! That means a re-vote, with Brad and Ciera unable to vote.
0:53: So is anyone going to budge? Or will they have to make fire or something? Jeff reads the second tally: Brad, Ciera, Brad … Brad! Culpepper’s down! Our wildest dreams have come true! The king of the Bro-lliance is dead! (For now.)
0:54: Brad actually puts his hands on Caleb (who recoils). “I’m not mad,” he says. Riiiight. Not cool invading someone’s personal space like that. That is NOT good sportsmanship.
Jeff snuffs out Brad’s torch. Ciera’s eyes are as big as saucers. “What just happened?” she whispers.
Everyone looks stunned. Well, except for Hayden, who just looks as clueless as ever.
“That was one of the most shocking votes, and potentially one of the biggest shifts of power that has ever happened at tribal council,” Jeff intones. We heartily agree. Talk about schadenfreude!
Get a sneak peek at next week's "Survivor" right here:
"Survivor: Blood vs. Water" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.