I’m always happy to welcome a double dose of Survivor into my life, especially for the merge. When we move into the individual portion of the game, it becomes very fast paced and you need to see how people react toward one another. It’s crucial in learning who is important, who is just there, and who will play a large part in the coming weeks up to finale night. The merge is huge for the viewers at home because it begins to show players we need to focus on.
There’s a lot here so let’s get into it.
We start off the morning after Varner’s “vote off” and hear a bit more from Zeke tribe about how much they love him. Which is cool. But most importantly, we hear from Zeke himself about where this is going to take him. With swelling music and angles singing behind him, Zeke takes us right back into this Survivor world. I’m always amazing at how eloquently Zeke speaks (after nearly 20 days of exhaustion and starvation) and how perfect it was to jump start the viewers into an episode of gameplay.
The tribes meet for their suspected merge feast (which is fucking huge, by the way) and, after a few words from Probst, find there’s also a dilemma. Each tribe must sit out one person from the feast in order for the rest of their tribe to participate. Punishment if they don’t? Crackers and a sip of iced tea.
As we all expected him to, Brad Fucking Culpepper sits himself out because, “it’s what Monica would do.” While I don’t disagree with his argument, it just further put his and Monica’s story together and I cannot help but feel he will become Monica… a final tribal council loser that talks about how much of a neat lady she is. We’ll see, but Brad Fucking Culpepper continues his #WWMD streak.
We head back to camp and people immediately start talking. It seems as if everyone is going to be targeting Michaela for… well, I guess just for being too risky? She’s shown her hotheadedness, she’s shown how emotional she can get if she’s on the chopping block, so get rid of the question mark of the group.
This also brings us a (hopefully) new staple to the editing room that I like to call, Survivor Telephone. We saw it last season when Jay found an idol and it showed us just how quickly word can spread on the beach. Now, we have Sierra and Brad targeting Michaela and it travels FAST. One after another, people passing on word that the vote is Michaela (and definitely not them). Plus, her and Hali are on the outs anyway. Simple vote.
Actually not so simple, because in walks mama Cirie to her rescue and we’re all treated to the one thing I’ve hoped for since the season started. Cirie and Michaela get together to form an alliance. Cirie is like a mentor to Michaela because, as she puts it, she’s been in Michaela’s shoes and has learned the lessons Michaela hasn’t learned yet. It’s one of my favorite scenes from the episode. Another reminder that these players are people too, not just robots playing a game.
The immunity challenge is the classic stand on your tippy toes and hold a block between a wooden frame and your head. So classic that I don’t care about it. Andrea wins because she’s basically a badass.
We get back to camp and people want Michaela gone since it’s an easy vote. Of course, whenever people talk about an easy vote we know it’s not an easy vote. Cirie decides to flip things around and save her little mentee. Since the vote is being split between Hali and Michaela, why not just vote out Hali? So she goes to work and we get to watch the other queen work her magic.
She talks to Zeke and he’s game. She talks to Andrea and she’s game. She says she talks to Sarah and, though we never see it, apparently she’s also game. So the plan is the original people will vote Hali or Michaela, and then Cirie’s army will change their votes to Hali instead of Michaela. Boom, plan is set.
We get to tribal council and it’s a mess because there are so many people there. Why we need 13 people on one tribe is beyond me. Hali and Michaela feel out of the loop (being told Zeke is the target). Someone mentions the potential of an idol being out there. Hali chimes in with a polite, “Yo I don’t have any idols” and nobody really cares what she has to say. She tries again to say, “no really I don’t have an idol, ask me and I’ll strip down” and nobody takes her up on the offer again. So, it’s time to vote even if Hali isn’t confident.
Hali gets voted out with a 7-4-2 vote with Michaela and Zeke included in the votes respectively. Her parting words are some of my favorite, saying that the whole tribe just wasted a vote on her instead of taking out one of the big threats left in the game. She also called herself a goat, which was unfortunate.
Do I think voting out Hali was the right call? Probably not. The reasoning we saw at home was that Michaela would be a number for Cirie’s side and Hali would be a number for Brad’s side (which seemed misinformed for viewers, but I see the rationale). And if taking out Hali, someone the other side is willing to split votes with already, can take out one of their numbers then I can understand why the move was made.
But we know at home that Hali isn’t really with the Brad side of things. She feels on the very bottom with Michaela and can probably be looped into Cirie’s plans easily. Why not take that opportunity to take out Sierra or Troyzan or even Brad Fucking Culpepper? I can’t even justify it by saying it took out one of that alliance’s legs… it took out a toe. They’ll have trouble balancing, but they’ll get by without her. So in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it was a good move. I think Hali is the type of player you take out mid-merge because of how non-threatening she is in every way. Use her as a vote until you need to sacrifice her. But, I guess we’ll see how it all plays out… ON THE NEXT EPISODE!