Survivor Oz Top 10 – Top 10 Ways Blood vs Water 1 Was Better Than BvW 2


Now that Blood Versus Water 2, a.k.a Survivor: San Juan Del Sur has been well and truly wrapped up and both instalments of the BvW franchise are well and truly behind us, there has been plenty of healthy debate between which season was the better. Perhaps because of being the more recent of the two or because of a pretty solid post merge, many are saying San Juan Del Sur was just as good as the first incarnation of the Blood versus Water format. This week our Ozlet Julian Groneberg, argues his top reasons why he believes the first season of Blood vs Water was the superior of the two. How many ways? Well since it's top 1o Wednesday, you guessed it: 10.

10. Better Location

palaui island

Some people don’t give location a second thought however Blood vs Water was set along Palaui Island in the Philippines, arguably a better location than the rocky beaches of San Juan Del Sur.

Give me the turquoise blue lagoons and the lush greenery of BvW over the rocky barron sticks and twigs of the ‘beach’ in Nicaragua any day. Even though the challenges were pretty much on par, on SJDS we were promised more water but really they mostly ended up being land and obstacles based. Another reason why the location in BvW 1 was better it was the first time had this specific location in the Philippines, whereas Survivor had already filmed in San Juan Del Sur twice before (season 21, 22)

9. None of Jeff Allowing Players to Make the Rules

jeff rice

 It was bizarre to watch Jeff arrive to give rice to the Hunaphu tribe and see him humour their feeble attempts to try and swap fishing gear for flint. Sure, it made for good TV but really helped cement the fact that this was a bunch of bizarre players, many it seemed who had never seen much Survivor before.

It was also equally as odd when Jeff decided to cut the pecking order challenge short instead of letting it play out. It got a little bit old seeing players give up rewards or opt to go to Exile Island, even though I think in Natalie’s case it was a good strategic move.

In particular the trading tarp for more rice is not a precedent I think that should have been set as it can give one tribe far more energy with little consequence to win challenges in the crucial pre merge phase of the game. Blood vs Water 1, despite new twists felt by the book, however there were several elements of the second outing which felt like they were being made up as they went. Exile Island for example… But we shall get to that.

8. A More-Game Aware Cast

blood vs water 1 cast

In BvW 1, Because of the returning player aspect and maybe because there were less couples in the post merge game that were an obvious 2 person alliance, more of the cast members came out to play.

In the original season there were also loved ones who were very up to speed on the nuances of the game thanks to their loved ones and the pre merge gameplay was much stronger. From sending Rachel to Redemption Island in attempt to goad Tyson to trade places with her, and Caleb making a power play to turning on the guys alliance and vote Brad Culpepper out, there were many classic gameplay moves in the first season.

Compare this to SJDS where you had lots of couples who could have been cast on the Amazing Race instead of Survivor and you have a cast that was by comparison very less game aware.

7. More Memorable Contestants


As well as a more game aware cast, the original Blood vs Water outing generally had more memorable contestants across the board. It was fascinating to get an insight into how well old school players like Tina and Gervase played in the modern era of Survivor and see how their relationships with their loved one impacted the way they would play the game.

Call me harsh, but really the cast of San Juan Del Sur were pretty forgettable and while this isn’t exactly the fault of the contestants all the time, and could be largely the editing, between Alec, Wes, Dale, Kelly, Drew and Julie we got quite a few clunkers that were hard to care too much about, largely because we didn’t get to see much of them.

Because we knew 50 per cent of the cast in the original BvW season, it was easy to feel connected to the cast from the outset and root for their loved ones alongside them. We also had great early characters of John Cody, Marissa and Brad Culpepper.

I’m a strong believer that the Blood versus Water format is most successful when played with half returning players as we already know somewhat the personalities of the original players and how they may play we can quickly see how their loved ones complement or contrast the returnees.

6. Stronger Momentum and Consistent Editing in BvW 1

Survivor San Juan Del Sur

While San Juan Del Sur definitely picked up energy with the Jeremy and Josh blindsides, all in all the momentum of BvW 1 was stronger from start to finish. This includes the pre and post merge phases of the game. Apart from the Drew boot the pre merge of San Juan Del Sur was pretty much a snorefest, which wasn’t even really saved by the tripe swap.

There were definitely less people that got shafted with the editing in the first Blood versus Water. The second series did have many unpredictable moments post merge, but it with the limited screentime of Natalie and Jaclyn – even Missy in the pre-mergy, who ended up going far into the game it was hard to feel their momentum in the game, compared to Tyson and Gervase who were featured prominently from the beginning of BvW 1.

5. Rocks Were Drawn

drawing rocks

Seriously who could have ever predicted (before the ad spoiled it) that we would see another rock draw. I never did, but since BvW 1 can see how at the final 6 or the final 4 it can really make sense.

While there were definitely unpredictable moments in SJDS, nothing could top the purple rock scenario that we saw against during the original BvW season. It has been 23 seasons since we had a purple rock scenario and I hope we see more. It’s an interesting legacy for BvW 1 to have and rock drawing scenes has to be among the most suspenseful on the show.

4. More Individual Players After the Merge

survivor blood vs water merge

In the original, more singles were left at the merge except Tina/Katie and Laura/Ciera. However in San Juan Del Sur, because of the early tribe swap where many couples were reunited, it was easy to see that they would now stay together for the remainder of the game.

Compare this to Blood versus Water where more individuals were left at the merge and you have less chance of two or three couples teaming up and making for a large voting block. Personally, I’d prefer fewer couples left after the merge as I feel there’s going to be more unpredictability.

Only seeing another season of the Blood versus Water format will we be able to know what happens with couples at the merge and if they would decide to play against one another.

3. Turning on Loved Ones

Okay it probably didn’t need to be done and her alliance would have understood if she said that she couldn’t but it was a smart social move by Ciera, and the dramatic tension of her voting out her mum made for top television. This was something we didn’t even get close to seeing in season 29.

Realistically I get that it’s unlikely loved ones will turn on each other very often in the format we did get to see the emotional turmoil between Ciera grappling with the idea of voting out her mum. It could have been even better, so if they ever do another Blood vs Water season, it would be amazing if loved ones did turn on each other –but let’s be honest it’s unlikely.

I thought Julie McGee might be the only one we would see turning on Rocker, but instead she turned her back on the game to go on a pre merge holiday around Central America with him. It’s a pity because she probably could have gone really far in the game. McGee over Missy for me.

2. Redemption Island Instead of Exile Island

redemption island arena

In the Redemption Island Arena each week we used to see verbal stoushes between contestants and dramatic plays right out of the gate when Rupert switched with his wide. Even post merge, with Aras and Vytas getting screen time and Tina eliminating Katie was emotional gold. Compare this with Exile Island in San Juan Del Sur which kind of fizzled out and the duels for reward offering none of the intensity as someone leaving the game for good.

Keith getting emotional every time he was up against Wes was probably the only good part. There is so much you can say about Exile Island in season 29 that didn’t really work. Post merge it felt even more redundant and in some episodes didn’t even get screentime (poor Alec.) I’m not saying end of Exile Island for good, but if I’d have to choose I’d go with Redemption Island for any future season.

 1. The Concept Was Fresh and Unexpected


Perhaps they brought back the Blood versus Water format back too soon and we wouldn’t be having this debate if it was played every 5 or six seasons. Part of the reason why the original is still the best is because it was so fresh and we had no idea what kind of drama and emotions we would see from loved ones playing together, but this was still so fresh in our mind when season 29 came around just one year later. I can get why they (CBS) would want to strike while the iron was hot, so to speak, but now I seriously question whether they will do another one.

Personally I hope they do, since even though the original was better in so many ways (try these ten ways for example) I still think San Juan Del Sur had many good moments, many of them because of the BvW format. I’m just not sure if we need to see another just yet!

What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there challenges that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!



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14 Comments on Survivor Oz Top 10 – Top 10 Ways Blood vs Water 1 Was Better Than BvW 2

  1. Blood vs water 1 is far better than SJDS in every way. BVW1 had a far better cast, more exciting moments, and redemption island!

    • You didn’t find Josh/Jeremy/Wes/Alec/Jon/Baylor boots exciting? BvW was a very boring merge and if the rock draw didn’t happen, it wouldn’t be so loved.

  2. Agree. BvW over SJDS any day. I would love to see another Blood vs Water show in 3 or 4 more seasons. However, the one thing I disagree on is that the editing was better in SJDS. I like that Natalie/Jaclyn/Missy weren’t shown as much early in the game because it made their wins more unpredictible.

  3. Great list. Every point made sense. Well done.

  4. SurvivorFan1295 // March 25, 2015 at 3:39 pm // Reply

    I agree on points #10, 5, 2, and 1. I don’t think it was strange to see the rice situation and the bargaining as this has happened since Australia and led to a funny Drew moment.

    Imo SJDS gets a bad rep for not being a gamer cast, when you had Natalie, Jaclyn, Jeremy, Josh, Reed, Kelley, Missy, and to an extent, Jon. We saw unique moves like giving up rewards, Natalie acting confused about who to vote for, I think both seasons some good gameplay.

    I disagree entirely on Drew being unmemorable, did you watch that premerge? Episode 4 is fantastic all because of him. The cast also gave us Natalie, Jon, Jaclyn, Keith, Baylor, Reed and even had some premerge gems in Val, Drew, and Dale. I like the overally dynamic better of BvW1, but SJDS had quite an interesting group.

    I entriely disagree on the next point. SJDS did a great job with the editing and all the storylines. By postmerge, we knew Tyson was a lock to win, while SJDS had Josh, Jeremy, Jon, Natalie, and Missy as contenders. SJDS has much better editing for a season and this is shown by people like Caleb/Katie getting extremely minimal edits.

    I loved seeing Jonclyn run the postmerge phase and found that to be unique– a couple playing the game together and even getting into fights. It was a great storyline and this made SJDS different to BvW with these dynamics.

    I still have no idea which season I prefer, but a case could be made for either season. I just disagreed quite a bit with this.

    Also, realize it’s been addreesed but as a reader, I am VERY disappointed and borderline repulsed by the comments in the cast assessment audio, the racial remarks about Will’s wife. I have always enjoyed this site/interviews, but I was beside myself that such racism was on display and some of the responses were “hey, some sites said worse shit!!!”.

  5. In my opinion SWDS>>>>>>> BvW. The post merge of BvW was so boring and Tyson was one of the most predictable winners ever. Plus it is highly overrated, while SWDS is an underrated gem with way more memorable tribal councils. The only memorable TC in BvW was when Katie got rocked out. Plus SWDS had the goddesses Natalie and Jaclyn <333

  6. Great list. I’m just happy you guys didn’t list Ciera as a reason. I swear, Ciera is over praised in this season for just voting out her mom. She was just a coattail rider.

    • Tom Wright // March 26, 2015 at 6:25 am // Reply

      Yes especially when it didn’t matter if she voted for her mom or not Laura was still going

    • I personally like Ciera not because of the “Mom vote” but because it’s rare we see a newbie so game aware against another returning-player dominant cast. I think if she were brought back, we would see some better gameplay from her much earlier on.

      • Yessss!!!!! I love ciera!!!!!! She at least tried to make moves and not just be a typical follower of returning player.

  7. Love the list. I think the primary reason why BvW1 was better was because of the cast. Even if you take out the returnees, the newbies on BvW1 were better than the newbies of SJDS.

    But I will say that I enjoyed the unpredictability of SJDS. It was a constant roller coaster ride.

  8. While I agree that a few of the cast members were not well-edited (Julie, Alec, Wes, ad Kelly), I disagree that the original had no “clunkers” as well. Kat was virtually invisible until she was sent to Redemption, Rachel had NO edit, Laura B. wasn’t anywhere to be seen aside from the 1st episode and the merge episode, Katie had next to no screen presence and, well, there’s also Colton.
    One could also make the argument that we saw PLENTY of Drew for his brief game, and Dale was most definitely not invisible and played an okay game despite being constantly at the bottom.
    I also think the “consistent” editing we saw was largely due in part to the winner’s and finalist’s edit that Tyson, Gervase, and Monica constantly received. Yes, Tyson had no confessionals during the premiere, but many winners have also been invisible during the first episode. Those in power stayed in power during the whole season, and were really only at risk once, which was to no fault of their own (the rocks). It was really boring to see that, and, personally, I think it would have been a much better ending to the season had Tyson pulled the white rock over Katie or Ciera (I’m NOT saying Tyson didn’t deserve his win; I’m just pointing this out from an entertainment perspective). SJDS, on the other hand, built up to three huge power-player blindsides (Josh, Jeremy, Jon), and very few would have predicted that Jaclyn, Natalie, and Missy (with a bum leg to boot) would have been the final three.

  9. Alex Cousins // March 31, 2015 at 10:44 am // Reply

    I definitely think that BvW 1 was better. Especially I think having only done BvW 2 seasons ago kinda of made it worse. It wasn’t a terrible season, just not a very good one.

  10. Lame Twist… Er, I mean, Redemption Island?!


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