This episode thankfully did not feel like the end as last season’s merge episode did with pretty much all of the exciting stories coming to a close. On the contrary, here, they’ve only just begun! The Davids are down, the Goliaths are a hot mess, and we’ve still got half a season to go. This week delivered on the chaos that was promised pre-merge and while the Goliaths will surely continue to fall apart, I’m feeling the hype as everyone else is in anticipation of a Goliath-sized grand finale to this season in the weeks to come!
Just another morning at Tiva turned out to be the last. As the tribe was roasting its routine pot of coffee, they suddenly heard boats approaching in the water, realizing it was the Vuku and Jabeni tribes. Alison in the moment said, “I’m thinking this is the merge!” to which my response was:
Whenever there’s a merge on Survivor, for the first initial moments, those warm welcomes are real before those flashy smiles turn fake and hugs turn into strangles. The only person who was already at that point was Carl who was still focused on figuring out away for Elizabeth to make an early exit. We saw some explosiveness from her last week which set Carl off, but I feel like we’re missing more details behind this one-sided hatemance. Did Elizabeth piss in his cowboy hat or something because if looks could kill...
First and foremost was the feast, but even during the first supper as the new merge tribe (later named Kalokalo) names were being thrown out left and right. Carl had already established Elizabeth as his target, which seemed supported by John explaining that the Goliaths were going to remain “Goliath strong” (#DoItForNatalie), and word quickly got out that Alec was the one to flip on Natalia which had Angelina questioning his loyalty.
Not much later did we have another slew of names leaving lips, so I was very pleased with how we were off to a marvelously messy merge. The only thing missing was a Natalie napalm, and the show decided to rudely rub that in my face:
Another item that was missing, as noticed by Gabby, was some sort of clue pertaining to either a hidden immunity idol or advantage. It seemed so unlike Production to offer nothing ... weird, right? Well, actually, it’s since been pointed out on social media that that sign in front of the table may have told the tribe exactly where to be looking. See where that little exclamation point points?
Yep! Right there is where a new advantage on the island is waiting to be claimed! All someone has to do is track down that shifty seagull and it’s theirs!
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
Another story that will be important later was brought back up with the reunion of the Mason-Dixon alliance. Since parting ways at the swap, Nick and Christian have both established themselves with new allies, Mike and John, respectively, so I wonder how soon they’ll have to cut one or the other. When that time inevitably comes, I’m sure it’ll be a huge –
PIECE OF WOOD! Wait – I mean a huge decision.
When it comes to banging wood, no story has been as thrilling of a rollercoaster ride as the romance between Dan and Kara. *gag* Two weeks ago when Dan found his second idol, he said he was going to keep that one a secret. Most of us knew better and called immediate bullshit on that, and we were proven correct when it took Dan all of 5 seconds to tell Kara he did have a second hidden immunity idol. He just couldn’t keep that thing in his pants.
Kara’s like, “I need my restraining order.”
Kara was fortunately saved by the Goliaths grouping together for a team meeting to discuss how they were going to play this first round of the merge given that they held the 7-6 numbers advantage. Knowing of the friction between Elizabeth and at least a few Davids, hers was the first name thrown out as a target. However, Angelina was thinking ahead and proposed that the Goliaths go after Christian instead, a David who they’d less suspect being a target but one far more likely to beat everyone else in the endgame.
I don’t know yet if it’s stupid or sharp, but faster than you can say “flippers never win,” Alec was fidgeting to flip on the Goliaths once more. I understand his strategy of letting the Goliaths keep their distance from the Davids while he builds those bonds, but I’m not so sure Alec really had a plan in place to win so much as a plan to just play unpredictably. Wanting to be the Goliath with the most David connections is great, but if his plan is to screw over all Goliaths in the process, that’s not so great – for Alec at least. If he’s thinking it’s his “time to shine” then I am all for him keeping the game lit at the expense of a brighter ending for himself.
THE PRE-PARTY IS OVER
Actually, I was extremely impressed with Alec this week. Even after the Natalia flip, he was still in with the Goliaths, all the Davids wanted to work with him, and he was an instigator to rope in Alison and Mike to approach Christian, Gabby, and Nick in what could be the alliance that goes all the way in the game. I may question Alec’s motives, but it appears undeniable that he has a stellar social game.
This meeting of the minds is the scene of the week that could end up defining the rest of the season. The alliance of three Goliaths and three Davids makes sense for all those involved. Mike and Nick have their rock star alliance while we learned last week that Alison felt drawn to the David nerds Christian and Gabby. Thus, the only oddball here is Alec who is the one that kind of started the whole thing so it’s clear that he’s down to party with these players.
I missed it on my first watch of the episode, but it’s also during this meeting that Elizabeth’s name is mentioned as the first boot, from Gabby of all people, which helps explain why the vote later ended up unanimous. The plan was established to be voting out two Davids while the outsider Goliaths remain completely oblivious to what’s going on until there are eleven players left. At that point the “strike force” will storm in and take control. So long as Alison, Alec, and Mike stick to this, then Christian, Gabby, and Nick have nothing to be unhappy about. Well, I suppose Nick may not be happy that Christian got to name the alliance instead of him.
“But I’m the Nicknamer…”
Not hearing any name herself, Elizabeth thought it was finally time to bring one up, selecting Dan as her target of choice after hearing him stay up late whispering with Kara all night. One night of that would have been enough for me, too.
Seeing that he flipped once, Elizabeth approached Alec with the hope that he’d flip again. Little did she know, he already had but just not to her. Alec was continuing to play his role of double (triple) agent, going right to Dan and Kara about Elizabeth’s pitch. Dan was ... less than pleased.
I get that being targeted is not ideal, but Dan’s totally shook reaction to hearing his name was like a toddler having a temper tantrum. The guy’s maybe just one notch below John as the biggest physical competitor in the game and he also has not one, but two idols – did he honestly not view himself as a threat? Was Dan delusional enough to believe he could make the merge without anyone noticing? He’s not Alison!
Dan saying “I’ll show you what I can do!” to Elizabeth was also comical. “I’ll show you I’m not a threat by getting everyone to vote you out!” like ... way to prove your power and influence is something to worry about. When the tantrum was over, Kara and Alec really should have just let Dan stomp his angsty ass all the way home.
Can I have your idols?
Fine, be a Natalie about it.
IMMUNITY – JUST KEEP SWINGING, JUST KEEP SWINGING
For what will inevitably be a string of four or five endurance challenges, at least this one was fresh! I’m also glad they returned to trying with the immunity necklace instead of stringing together literal chunks of debris. Just one of the many improvements upon Ghost Island ... maybe they hired a new head of the art department.
The way the players moved in this challenge reminded me of the Black Widow Brigade in Micronesia stirring the pot, so naturally a woman won this challenge. Dan and his self-appreciated manhood never stood a chance.
Yeah, keep telling yourself that. I certainly won’t be.
Even Alison was facepalming over him!
I loved Alison’s win and her reaction to it. I’m hoping she has a lot more of these moments to come because she feels like a fun, genuine person that I could see becoming a favorite with just a little more screen time. This could be one of the strongest merge tribes ever with having no glaringly obvious “dud” personality, and while it may have taken her longer to shine, this was a good reminder that all is not lost with Alison.
NOT THE QUEEN BEE
While most of those Goliaths were good with Elizabeth going, Angelina bum-rushed them once more with the idea of voting out Christian. I definitely understood Angelina’s logic in wanting to get rid of Christian—everyone loves him—but she made a mistake this week in not reading the room and backing down. Dan actually made one good point when he said Christian wasn’t going to win the next nine immunities, so they’d have another opportunity to get rid of Christian. With thirteen still in the game, a merge boot that literally everyone supported was much smarter than trying to singlehandedly flip the vote as Angelina was trying to do. Girl ... just chill!
The Davids were frustrated, but with numbers the way they were, the vote was really up to the Goliaths to sort out. They eventually appeased Angelina and agreed to vote out Christian, but once the meeting was adjourned, Alec and Alison met in private to discuss changing things back to Elizabeth in order to preserve trust with their “strike force” alliance. In truth, Angelina was the only Goliath that wanted Christian out over Elizabeth, and once they all realized that, the other six decided they weren’t going to let Angelina dictate the decision on this.
Angelina took the news of the vote turning to Elizabeth again quite harshly. Sitting her down and letting her know that they thought more about her plan and came to a different conclusion was hardly a “bum rush” but I had fun watching her head spin.
For a brief minute, when Angelina arranged to meet with Elizabeth in private, I got a little excited thinking she was about to #ChaosKass this vote and flip on the Goliaths to blindside Dan who offended her the most. Sadly, this was instead a melancholy moment of Angelina letting Elizabeth know she was the Goliaths’ target.
Elizabeth became emotional over what to do with this information. Does she betray Angelina’s trust and expose her disloyalty to the Goliaths? The answer was clearly yes, and in a moment of what I believe was genuine humanity but also some obvious jury management, I thought Angelina had just totally torpedoed her game.
I wasn’t so sure she did…
SHOULD HAVE JUST LIED
Angelina’s words, “I should have just lied” are ones to live by in Survivor. Had she kept her heart hidden, she likely wouldn’t have had such a struggle at tribal council. Elizabeth took aim at Angelina like she was gone squirrel shootin’!
All of Elizabeth’s accusations came as news to the Goliaths with Dan and Alison in particular questioning Angelina’s motives, pointing out her blatant jury pandering. Elizabeth remained strong while Angelina broke down—Gabby too, but this wouldn’t be an episode of David vs. Goliath without some tears from Gabby.
I’d turn her waterworks into a drinking game, but I kind of need my liver to, you know, live, so ... thank you, next.
Angelina managed to be an even bigger blubbering mess, though, and I honestly believed her behavior was going to get her the boot, but I underestimated “Goliath strong” as well its influence on the Davids. I was stunned by the Survivor first that was a unanimous, 12-1 merge boot. At least Elizabeth made history on her way out. “Well done.”
Poor Elizabeth. I really don’t feel she deserved to go in the biggest landslide vote of Survivor history, but I guess it makes sense since we knew Gabby, Christian, and Nick were secretly on board with the Goliaths. Carl hated her, and thus, Davie had no reason to be the other lone man voting against the tribe. I’m happy Elizabeth gets to be #QueenOfPonderosa and I look forward to her antics there. She was a huge personality this season and, as Gabby would say, couldn’t have been more “on theme” at times. Elizabeth says whatever is on her mind and that gave us TV gold. I’d love to see her given another chance someday since she’s one of the more fascinating and unique players we’ve had in a while.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
A #BrochachoBlindside? This preview would have us believe that means Christian, but I think that’s just some clever editing to hide the real story: Dan’s downfall. It’s coming. It has to be, right? Dan surely will be the first Goliath to go, and even though the Strike Force said they were okay waiting another week, why not charge in when Dan is even less suspecting? A Carl or Davie boot would be lame, so I’m hoping Dan is the brochacho that gets bounced.
Alec – I almost feel bad giving him so much shit pre-season for his TMZ troubles because taking that out of the equation, Alec actually appears to know what he’s doing to survive. As I pointed out, he’s pretty much tied to everyone in this tribe and if there’s only one person I would say is 100% safe for a few weeks, it’d be Alec. His problem will be getting to the end, I think, as even within this new 3-3 alliance, he’s the one without any close connection within it (maybe Alison?). However, with the Natalia boot and now that, Alec could end up the player with some of the bigger impacts on the overall outcome of the game. That’s absolutely wild to me.
Elizabeth – Ugh. I was hoping she’d stick around because even though she had some solid strategy herself, she was near the top of the list for bringing non-strategic packed punches to the show each week. We need a good mix of gamebots and goofballs, and Elizabeth was a funny mix of both. Okay, maybe not a “gamebot” but she wasn’t just a goof! Girl had game! I’ll miss her one-liners and facial expressions.
Angelina – How does she do it? She was in major danger last week and should have been in an even more dire situation this week after first playing too hard and then too soft when her emotions got the best of her. Her edit doesn’t seem like a winning one anymore, but I’m not so sure she’s as doomed as she looks. She already has managed to escape some pretty sticky situations of the Baylor Wilson variety, so who’s to say she can’t survive a few more? She isn’t flawless, but I’m a fan of Angelina. It’s rare that we have this kind of “Queen Bee” strong-arming people into doing what she wants and getting recognition for it. She didn’t get her way this time, but I hope that just inspires her to go even harder next time!
Oh, and fuck Dan for saying Angelina didn’t know anything about the military because she’s just a military man’s wife. That was atrocious and may even take the cake for the most embarrassing thing he’s said all season. If Ang is looking to slay, I wish she’d start with Dan.
Ryan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser