'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' crowns Tyson Apostol winner, defeating Monica Culpepper and Gervase Peterson
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/16/2013
Survivor: Blood vs. Water crowned Tyson Apostol the winner of its $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS from CBS Television City in Los Angeles, CA.
"With the Blood vs. Water theme, I went out there just to have fun and let [my girlfriend Rachel Foulger] have an experience I've had [so] she could connect with me better. And when she sacrificed herself for me, she wouldn't let me go in and trade [on Redemption Island], I told myself I've already had the experience of getting voted out twice, and for me to make her sacrifice worth it, I had to fight and scrape to get to the end all the time, 24/7," said Tyson, a 34-year-old former pro cyclist and shop manager from Provo, UT, during the reunion special.
"Other times I played, I kind of had brain farts or I'd be like, 'You know what? I'm so tired, I'm just going to relax for the day.' And every time I wanted to relax, I said, 'No, I got to keep fighting; I got to make sure everything's going my way.' So I think that helped me keep focus and I'm not a focused individual... You've got strategy running through your head 24/7. Every single scenario I was playing out in my mind... I tried to have an A, B and C plan in place all the time... All I was thinking about is, 'How can I get one step further with the people I need to?'"
Tyson previously competed on Survivor: Tocantins and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. He was the ninth castaway voted out of Tocantins and the sixth person -- and the second "villain" -- to be voted out of Heroes vs. Villains.
Tyson beat returning castaways Monica Culpepper, a 42-year-old former NFL wife and homemaker from Tampa, FL, and Gervase Peterson, a 43-year-old cigar lounge owner from Philadelphia, PA, in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed live during the broadcast.
Monica previously competed on Survivor: One World, while Gervase appeared on Survivor's debut season.
Tyson received all but one vote from Survivor: Blood vs. Water's eight jury members. Monica earned herself one vote from Vytas Baskauskas.
Survivor: Blood vs. Water's special two-hour finale broadcast began on Night 35 with Ciera Eastin, a 24-year-old cosmetology student from Salem, OR, looking forward to the next Redemption Island duel because someone was going to come back into the game and that person would most certainly work with her. She was hoping her mother Laura Morett, a 43-year-old returning player and construction company co-owner from Salem, OR, would re-enter the game.
Tyson still thought his best shot was to stick with Monica and Gervase and he may need to use his hidden Immunity Idol on Monica to keep her on his side. Monica said she wanted to be on both sides to have two chances at going to the Final 3.
On Redemption Island, Kat Edorsson's boyfriend and former Big Brother winner Hayden Moss, a 26-year-old newbie player in real estate from Springtown, TX, said it sucked to get voted out and thought he was close to getting Monica to join himself and Ciera, but she was obviously being controlled by Tyson.
Hayden told returnee Tina Wesson, a 52-year-old motivational speaker from Robbinsville, NC, and Laura whoever got back into the game needed to find a hidden Immunity Idol.
On Day 36, Jeff welcomed Laura, Tina and Hayden into the duel arena. The three castaways were joined by all the remaining players, who were there to witness the final Redemption Island duel of the season.
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Hayden believed his chances to beat the women were great considering they were both grandmothers. However, both Tina and Laura were also confident in their abilities.
For the duel, Jeff explained each castaway must place one foot at the end of a balancing board, and at the other end of the board was a ceramic vase. When a person's vase fell and broke, he or she would be out of the game for good. The winner -- the last person standing -- would be given the opportunity to re-enter the game and resume competing for the $1 million grand prize. Laura had won five out six duels thus far in the season, while Tina had never won a single duel.
Hayden was out of the challenge first after about 15 minutes, and he therefore became the fifth member of the jury. Laura then asked Tina to let her have the win, but Tina said absolutely not because it was a million-dollar challenge. Laura was out next and became the sixth member of the jury. Tina finished in first place and was thrilled to have another shot at the actual game.
"When you're out here, you begin to appreciate what you have back home. I have an amazing family, a beautiful girlfriend, and that'd be my big take-home from the game today. I'm going to go back home, tell my family I love them, and give my girlfriend a big kiss. And I'm excited to do it," Hayden said following his ouster.
"The failure part of me is raising kids and telling them, 'Finish strong, finish strong,'" Laura said, explaining how she felt she did not finish strong. "What good is winning six, seven challenges if you can't finish it?"
Ciera told her mom it was okay, she did amazing and she was so proud of her. Ciera cried, saying Laura had shown her how to be a better friend, woman, and mom.
"How can you walk away saying you lost after that?" Laura said in tears. "I love you [Ciera]. Bye guys."
For winning the duel, Tina was in charge of whom would get the clue to a hidden Immunity Idol and she took it for herself. Ciera felt alone. Tina, if she couldn't find the idol, realized she needed to talk Monica into a "three women, three moms" alliance. She was very aware of the Tyson, Gervase and Monica majority alliance. Meanwhile, Ciera also worked to get Monica on their side.
Monica asked the girls for more information, and Tina got a little confrontational and promised an "ugly" jury who was pissed at her. Ciera thought they needed to take a different approach in trying to win over Monica.
Ciera therefore complimented Monica, feeding her ego by saying she had played an amazing social game and had won three Individual Immunity Challenges. Ciera also insisted Monica couldn't win if she went up against Tyson and Gervase in the end and needed to make a big move in order to gain any respect from the jury.
On Day 37, the Kasama tribe's castaways met Jeff for their eighth Individual Immunity Challenge of the season.
For the challenge, Jeff explained each player must pull on a rope, leveling out an unbalanced table. They then had to race out and collect wooden blocks, bringing them back one at a time and attempting to place them on a table. The table may wobble and the blocks, as a result, may fall. In that case, they would need to be reset. The first person to balance 10 wooden blocks on the table at once would win immunity and be safe from the next vote.
Tyson won immunity and a guaranteed spot in the Final 4. Tyson never imagined himself in that position but still wasn't ready to celebrate. His focus was on how the next vote was going to go. However, Tyson felt a little bit relaxed and hoped to give his idol as a souvenir for Rachel.
Gervase spoke with Monica and Tyson about whom they should target next -- Tina or Ciera. Gervase said it would probably be more difficult to beat Ciera in the end because she had made the biggest move in the game in voting her mother out and was also a young mother who had never won the game before. Monica disagreed and thought Tina was more dangerous because she was not responsible for a single juror's vote-off.
Tyson ultimately wanted his alliance members to make the decision for him. Monica worried Tina had the most friends on the jury, but Gervase didn't trust Ciera nor could he put up with her lies anymore. Gervase blamed Monica for using her emotions to determine she wanted Tina out rather than strategy.
"I've had enough of this crap that she's spewing to me because it makes no sense. I'm like puffing my chest up right now like a bully, leaning in on her, and saying, 'Woman are you crazy?!'" Gervase told the cameras.
Monica cried and noted she was tired of being bullied. She said Gervase needed to be nice to her because he'd need her to get to the end. The cards were all in Monica's hands and she initially seemed onboard with working with Tina and Ciera and voting Gervase out.
"Tonight's Tribal Council, I'm going to own it, it's my night, it's my strategic move. The girls are fighting over me, salivating, trying to get my vote. And the boys think I'm 'little lap dog Monica.' But tonight, it's my call. I'm going to say who goes home, and I'm going to make my choice on what's best for me," Monica explained.
Kasama then arrived for the season's fifteenth Tribal Council session on Night 37. The season's first six jury members -- Aras Baskauskas, Vytas, Caleb Bankston, Katie Collins, Hayden, and Laura -- listened in on the session.
Tina admitted Ciera was her "one and only choice" in the tribe to potentially survive another day. Monica announced the girls had tried to convince her to "take out the villains." Gervase, especially, was taken aback when labeled a "villain."
Ciera reiterated how Monica was previously described by Tyson and Gervase as "an easy vote," "easy to manipulate" and a "puppy dog on a leash." Ciera said in order to get votes, Monica would need to make a big move. Tyson argued he never used the term "lap dog" to describe Monica, saying he just always knew Monica was with him and would vote with their alliance.
Monica was having a really hard time and the game had gotten to her a little bit. She said her strategy was solely for herself, and Gervase admitted Monica's comment made his heart drop out of his chest.
Jeff then asked if anyone had a hidden Immunity Idol and wanted to play it, that night was the last night it could be played. Tyson therefore decided to give his idol to Gervase and Gervase played it. Monica was furious she was never in the loop about Tyson's intention to play his idol.
Jeff then revealed the votes. Two votes were cast for Gervase and two votes were cast for Ciera. The third vote was not shown, and because none of the votes counted for Gervase, Ciera was ousted from the game. Laura cried on the jury in the face of her daughter's loss.
As the first half of the two-hour finale concluded, it was revealed that Monica had stuck with her alliance in voting out Ciera.
"I had plans I put into motion and it didn't work out, but I know I accomplished so much more than I ever felt I would. I thought I would go Day 1. I thought my mom would be here, way surpassing me, and I beat her. I'm leaving with just so much confidence and strength, and I'm so happy with the way I went out fighting. I feel like I did all I could do," Ciera said after she was eliminated.
Afterward, Monica and Tina both hoped to win the fourth and final Individual Immunity Challenge. Monica wanted to feel secure, while Tina felt she had no hope in the game other than to win immunity.
On Day 38, Tyson noted, "It's do or die today," to Gervase. He also told the cameras, "It's make or break."
Tyson also felt it was necessary for him to win immunity. All of his idols had been played and he had no more tricks up his sleeves. He was finally vulnerable.
The remaining castaways then met Jeff for the final Individual Immunity Challenge of theSurvivor: Blood vs. Water season. The winner would be an automatic member of the Final 3 and be given the chance to plead his or her case to the jury.
For the challenge, the players were required to race through a series of obstacles, collecting bags of puzzle pieces two at a time. They then had to run them up, drop them onto a table, and then race down a giant waterslide -- collecting two more bags along the way. Once a castaway had all six bags in his or her possession, he or she must use those pieces to solve a puzzle. The puzzle would then help open a combination lock.
Tyson ended up winning final immunity and was guaranteed a spot in the final Tribal Council. Tina was "bummed" but planned to present Monica with the idea of executing a two-two vote. Tina hoped to go out "with guns blazing."
After winning the challenge, Tyson said it was the best day of his life and he hoped to make an amazing speech to the jury to win the money.
Tyson and Gervase then reflected on their success and planned three votes against Tina at the next Tribal. Monica said she needed to be on her "A-game" at the next Tribal Council because Gervase was so confident in his jury speech. She, once again, considered flipping on Tyson and Gervase to work with Tina as a slap in the face to the guys for failing to share vital information with her.
Tyson and Gervase talked to one another about how Monica might actually have a chance to beat them. It's the first time they acknowledged Monica's potential to receive votes. Tina suggested to Monica they vote out Gervase together and then Tina would go up against Gervase in a fire-starting challenge -- which Tina was certain she'd win.
Tina told Monica that Gervase had played a great social game, and Monica agreed "perhaps he's unbeatable." Monica was also frustrated Gervase had spoken badly about her, and she wanted to make a big move in front of the jury. However, Monica also questioned whether she'd want to sit next to Tina in the end.
On Night 38, the castaways arrived for the season's sixteenth Tribal Council session. The jury entered with the addition of Ciera.
The remaining players reiterated their already-obvious positions in the game. Gervase announced that making a big move, even so late into the game, could sway the jury. Monica obviously served as the swing vote.
Jeff then tallied the votes. Monica stuck with Tyson and Gervase again and the threesome voted out Tina. Tina became the eighth -- and final -- member of this season's jury.
"Oh my goodness, I think this is so hard for me mainly because I know I was one Tribal Council from tying [Sandra Diaz-Twine's] record of having two wins. Because I know if they had kept me, if I had to build a fire against Gervase, I would've won. So that's kind of hard, but at the same time, Survivor never ceases to deliver the adventure of a lifetime," Tina said following her ouster.
The following day, Day 39, the Final 3 castaways enjoyed a big brunch. Gervase said he was one of the original Survivor castaways, and after 13 seasons, he had returned to a game entirely different from how he had left it.
That night, Tyson, Gervase and Monica had to face the jury, which now also featured Tina.
The eight people held the Final 3's fate in their hands and were asked to acquire all the information they needed in order to make a million-dollar decision. Each final castaway was given the opportunity to offer an opening statement, and then the jury would have a chance to address and/or confront them by asking questions or stating their opinions of the tribemates.
Gervase said he was a rookie in the game and then came back years later and actually made it to the end. He argued his big move was getting Aras out because Tyson wasn't close enough to him as a friend to do so.
Monica said she had three major decisions to make in the previous Tribal Councils and had opted not to join forces with Hayden, Katie, Ciera, or Tina because she felt she had less blood on her hands and less broken promises than Tyson and Gervase. She said she was not carried by the two men but rather decided to go to the end with them based upon her own strategy and social game.
When it became his turn to address the jury, Tyson said he assumed he'd be everyone's No. 1 target from the very start. He tried to have fun with no regrets, but his plans changed when he saw Rachel on Redemption Island and realized he needed to win for her. Tyson said he made big moves, dug around for idols, won challenges when he needed to, made no moves out of malice, and succeeded thanks to Rachel's sacrifice.
Vytas admitted he had promised not to give Tyson his jury's vote due to his own vote-off and he was going to stick to that. Tyson apologized to Katie for pointing out her jury seat rudely when she drew the white rock in the prior tie-breaking Tribal Council. Tyson said his mouth took over before his brain could register what he was saying and it was his one regret of the season.
Caleb then asked Gervase what his big game-changing move was, and Gervase noted it was getting out Aras. He also pointed out he never allowed himself to be the target. Gervase said a lot of Tyson's moves derived from him but Tyson took all the heat from them.
Monica also explained that one day in the last 21 years belonged to her and was about her. She said she had been a lonely heart throughout the whole game and didn't have a friend but she stayed and fought. Monica wanted "a badge of honor" other than Brad Culpepper's wife and mother of three.
Ciera then asked Tyson whether he saw himself as the villain or hero. Tyson felt he wasn't a villain because his moves were all strategy -- nothing personal. Tyson said if he's not the villain, he'd have to be the hero then thanks to process of elimination. Gervase then argued he was going to get rid of Tyson in the Final 4 but didn't earlier on so their alliance would have the numbers.
Laura and Hayden saw the vulnerability they were looking to see in Monica. Tina also asked each person to reveal one word that described their "core." Monica said "generous," Gervase said "honorable" and Tyson announced "fun-loving."
Aras then asked each castaway whom they'd vote for if he or she wasn't in the running. Monica said out of Tyson and Gervase, she'd cast her vote for Tyson. Gervase selected Tyson over Monica, and Tyson said Monica instead of Gervase.
When voting commenced, Caleb was shown voting for Tyson and Vytas was shown voting for Monica to become the winner of Survivor: Blood vs. Water.
During the live portion of Survivor's finale episode, the Final 3, the jury, Jeff, and the studio audience gathered in CBS Television City in Los Angeles, CA to discover who had won the million dollars.
Jeff revealed one castaway had voted for Monica to win -- which was Vytas. Five votes were then revealed for Tyson, and although the other two votes were not shown, they were both most likely cast for Tyson to win as well.
"It took until I actually watched the show and watched the edit that I thought, 'What was Survivorabout for me?' It was about -- as a young child, you have a dream of what it's going to be like when you get married and spend the rest of your life with someone. And Brad has surpassed every single one of those dreams and the life we've built with those three kids is priceless," Monica explained during the reunion show.
"I fought so hard and worked so hard at all the challenges... The kids said this [to me], 'Mom we're so proud but we're not surprised...' I felt like from Day 3 to Day 39, I just got pummeled."
Gervase also shared his thoughts on his experience and gameplay this season.
"When we were in Galang, Aras was kind of the leader of our tribe. So you can't have two leaders, it's only one. You're following Aras' lead, and then when Aras went and it was Tyson, my strategy was look, Tyson is in the front so if anyone wanted to take out our alliance, they'd want to go to Tyson first, which gave me three days to come up with a new plan. To me, that was smart gameplay," Gervase explained.
"I thought I could win but I also always had the plan of getting rid of Tyson in the back of my head. It had to be the right moment... But I didn't know if I could trust Caleb, Hayden and Ciera enough that they wouldn't go for me next. It's almost like I backed myself in a corner and I'm looking at it like, 'Man!'"
Unlike previous seasons, Survivor: Blood vs. Water did not offer a consolation $100,000 prize to the winner of the "Player of the Season" home viewer vote.