On this week’s episode of Survivor, the merge finally happened, and the usual craziness and strategizing ensued. It was lining up to be a pretty epic vote, as alliances were getting blurry, new ideas were getting pushed around, and the tenor of the season was starting to change. That was of course until one cast member decided to quit the game, eliminating any need for a Tribal Council. It was quite a bummer, and I’ll talk about that and much more of my thoughts on the episode that was.
- The tribes merged after the vote to get rid of Dale left the game at 12 players, and all of the remaining cast members met for a feast to celebrate the merge before they headed to the old Coyopa camp, where they renamed their tribe Huyopa. They all seemed to enjoy their feast, and were even able to take some food back to camp, a point of emphasis that showed up in a noteworthy way later in the episode. Keith was very happy to get to play with his son Wes, as he seemingly joined Wes’ alliance with Josh, Reed, and Alec after Baylor and Missy wrote his name down at the last Tribal Council. Even though it was strategically necessary to write down Keith’s name at Tribal because of dale’s threat of an idol, it was always going to come at the cost of Keith’s support. He was none too happy with the women and their shiftiness about the vote, and I feel like that point may come back big time later on in the game. With four couples and four pairless players in the game, there was some reason to see a problem for the remaining singles in the game, but Jeremy was confident in his next move. His target was going to be Josh, who he perceived as being the mastermind behind the old Coyopa alliance. With his former Hunahpu tribe members Jon, Missy, Natalie, and Julie in tow and Jaclyn and Baylor added in, Jeremy saw the numbers to take out his biggest competition. It was lining up to be a big showdown between the two power players of the season.
- The first individual immunity challenge of the season was a pretty awesome challenge. The contestants had to balance a ball on a platform they held up by knotted ropes. As time went on they had to move back a knot, making for more slack and less balance. By the end, there would be a second ball added to the challenge, making the balancing act twice as difficult. It was a pretty standard Survivor challenge, and it produced a father-son duel as Wes and Keith were the last two remaining in the fight. Keith ended up just barely outlasting his son Wes, winning the first individual immunity of the season, and staking a claim as a contender going forward. Keith has quietly been playing a solid game this season, being good at camp and in challenges, and with an idol in his pocket, he could have some serious say in what goes down this season.
- As the merged tribe came together for its first Tribal council as a single tribe, Josh began plotting his way to the numbers he needs. Earlier on, Josh attempted to sway his earliest ally Baylor, who showed willingness to work with him, but eventually resorted to sticking with her mom’s alliance. After seeing that Baylor was non-committal, Josh made a strong plea to Jon and Jaclyn to eliminate Jeremy, who would have a greater chance at winning jury votes being a working class fireman than two accomplished Broadway actors. It was a brilliant plea by Josh, succinct and to the point, and included the prospects of a pairs alliance, which appealed to Jon and Jaclyn. While we, the audience, may never know how the vote would have gone down, it appeared on-screen as if the super-couple was about to turn on Jeremy and blindside him before he could gain control of the numbers, which makes what happened at the end of the episode even more disappointing.
- The downward spiral of Julie continued on this episode, as she drew the ire of the other castaways by hoarding food. Julie was able to procure a large amount of trail mix from the merge feast, and while the others all pooled whatever they took from the feast to share for the tribe, Julie kept her food in her bag and to herself. When the others found this out, they were understandably enraged. Missy and Jeremy, needing her for numbers, did the best they could to keep her calm after her social blunder, but after a ‘smart alec’ comment by Alec, Julie was sent on an emotional downturn for the second episode in a row, opting this time to quit the game before the vote. Julie clearly became uninterested in this game once John Rocker was voted out, and kept isolating herself I think in part due to her castmates’ attitudes towards John, so it’s not a horrible loss to the cast. What’s horrible is that a storm was brewing on that beach, and one of the two leading candidates for the title of sole Survivor was going to get voted out before she decided to quit. Julie left the game as a selfish player, just like her tribe members claimed she was, and in doing so robbed us viewers of the excitement that could have been if Jeremy was blindsided. Now there’s going to be a few days to think about things, who knows what will happen now? Julie’s quit was one of the biggest let-downs in my viewing history, not because I wanted to see her stay, but because it stopped a critical vote.
With Julie quitting, the game is down to its final eleven members, even though Jeff made no indication that I recall about Julie being named a member of the jury. Does that mean eight jury members, and a final three as we’ve seen in the last couple of seasons, or perhaps will we see the second straight final two? It might be a bit far-thinking to worry about that since we still don’t know which alliance is going to survive the next vote! Until next episode, and before I spiral into some real abstract fan-fiction predictions, I’ll leave you with my final thoughts:
- I think the couples alliance can be a thing, even if Jaclyn isn’t really keen on working with the men. I think the compromise vote between Jon and Jaclyn and Josh and Reed would be to get rid of Alec to ensure the pairs alliance…I’m looking for Baylor to vote out her mother at some point, regardless of how the alliances play out. Her mother is not respecting her opinions as a player so it seems, and I don’t think Baylor will play second fiddle too long…The Josh vs. Jeremy edit is great, because they are both the two big threats in this game, but I’m curious if maybe it’s a misdirect, and there will be a dark horse winning this season. I feel like this could be a dark horse season, even though I’m still tipping Josh for the win.