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Survivor recap: A blindside from Team Culpepper

The Galang Tribe, with Monica Culpepper in the back row, during the Redemption Challenge.


The Galang Tribe, with Monica Culpepper in the back row, during the Redemption Challenge.



Since I know none of the Tampa Bay fans were watching Survivor Wednesday night while the Rays game was on, I was careful not to put spoilers in the headline. Just be assured: The bromance between Jeff Probst and Brad Culpepper continues. The air was thick with bromantic overtures, actually: Brad and John, Brad and Jeff, Colton sobbing and climbing into the lap of his fiance Caleb. It was a night of man-crushes and crushed men.

The Survivor host coquettishly calls the ex-Buccaneer simply "Culpepper" and on Wednesday night's episode of Survivor: Blood vs. Water, the Tampa Bay power couple of Monica and Brad Culpepper had some politicking to do on their opposing teams.

Monica is smartly navigating the shark-infested waters of her team full of Survivor veterans. These folks have been out in the jungle before and she knows to keep your friends close and Colton closer. Brad is with the newbies but he seems to have learned from past seasons that strapping fellows like him get targeted early to get a threat out of the way. (I've always found that to be a dumb strategy since you need the big galloots on your team to win challenges. Note: I plan to post a blog later this week on my admittedly geeky but deep thoughts on Survivor and Amazing Race strategy, hoping our Tampa Bay Rays baseball wife Kim DeJesus does well.)

Brad knows big bohunks have a target on their broad backs so he has bought himself some time by forming an alliance of bros. They hold a solid majority with "four guys and a gay" according to Brad's math. Unfortunately for the locker-room alliance, the immunity challenges have been puzzles, so the muscles between the ears have mattered more so far.

So it was a very clever tease last week on Survivor that led fans to believe Tyson would take the bait and switch places with girlfriend Rachel on Redemption Island.

Not so. It was Brad Culpepper who was the talk at the "duel" (Hey, Survivor writers, three players is not a duel. Look it up). Brad was called the team's mastermind. There was even a pithy, "Eff you, Brad Culpepper!" from his evicted teammate. To which "Mr. Football" as his opponents dubbed him, had had enough.

"You guys cheer over there after you win and then we have to get rid of one of your loved ones," Brad spat, "We've had to do what's hard."

All of this attack on Brad was nothing compared to Colton's attack of the withers. A veteran Survivor player just couldn't take it anymore, collapsing in tears. He quit.

A disgusted Jeff Probst wanted no part of Colton, refusing to even let him toss his buff in the urn.

"A lot of people like to watch adventure, that doesn't mean they should get up off the couch." Probst sneered. And then there was this bombshell from Probst: The guy who just quit faked appendicitis the last time he was on Survivor to get off the island.

Back at the camps, this talk of Brad the mastermind may not have been just some trash talking. After the most dramatic pillow fight in history -- brother against brother! mother against daughter! pro football player tackles guy who can't swim! -- Brad did have a twist in mind.

His closest buddy, John, who had shared some of the immunity idol clues with him, had to go.
"I like Brad a lot," said Mr. Innocent, "and I don't want him to be paranoid about our alliance." Good thinking, John. Oh wait. Nevermind. The tribe has spoken.

So where will this leave the Tampa Bay power couple? Brad is on everyone's short list of People Who Must Go. But his football years taught him how to build a team, and it seems to be holding. Monica is very well liked, but her tribe could very well vote her out when they get the chance to taunt Brad. And what's it going to be like for poor Marissa to be a third wheel on Redemption Island now that John has joined his wife Candice in exhile?

[Last modified: Thursday, October 3, 2013 11:55am]


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