Survivor makes it obvious despite a very chaotic rush in the merge episode.
by Jeremy Fogelman
Ah, the Survivor merge -- or the half safe/half “Mergatory”, as Cassidy cleverly coins, is always a time of great chaos. It’s always the perfect time to shake things up in a tribe that’s on the brink of collapse or the best time for a strong alliance to become even stronger. In this case we had a take on the pre-merge challenge which was a new idea in Seasons 41 and 42 and a pretty interesting new idea.
One temporary team of seven has immunity while the other team does not but they all vote -- it’s a good idea, one that was muddied within the last two seasons with that Hourglass twist. Although I liked Erika winning her season, it always felt a bit tainted because of her clear gains from the Hourglass twist when she was certainly a target.
Sadly this time around we say farewell to Elie, which the episode gives us the doom foreshadowing by Elie saying that she’s “way better at this game” than she thought after noticing Cody has the bead immunity too. She’s perceptive in some ways, certainly, but where she’s always had a blind spot in this game is her perception of her own social standing and how people perceive her.
We already knew Elie thought that Sami and Owen were close allies with her, but only Owen really was an ally -- having decided to try and trust them and be trusted in turn (perhaps a bad move since he did vote with them this time). But Sami has been playing against Elie for a while, so it’s no real surprise he used the opportunity of Gabler playing poorly to target the more capable Elie.
Gabler threw out Elie’s name entirely as a revenge thing, but then he also discussed Jeanine’s idol in front of Ryan! No wonder Sami thought that perhaps they could manage Gabler and his issues instead of the potential strategic capability from Elie. Elie never picked up on Sami’s turn on her and she also didn’t really handle the post-Gabler bus throw part that well either -- really basically yelling at him.
Although it felt inevitable she’d be voted out, it’s also kind of annoying -- you have essentially unknown games from some of the other people, so they feel like pointless people in the game. At this point it’s a bit skewed in terms of the men/women divide, with eight men and four women -- that’s twice as many of the fellas. It’s a weird post-modern game where the obvious physical targets are no longer the threats and neither are the obvious goats (like Gabler).
Instead the threats are still the “playing too hard” players, which sadly Elie was a member of. There have been a few others like that, but sometimes an easy vote is an easy vote. All that said, we did get some interesting stuff -- like Karla wisely noting that the merge treemail doesn’t mean anything yet but also hurting her hand. The back and forth scrambling was entertaining for what it was, even if it ultimately ended in a straightforward manner.
The most fun part of the episode was actually when Owen comments on the chyron itself wishing it told him the secrets of the game -- and then it amusingly follows along with a list of everything he knows for sure and one possible guess. Although he doesn’t know about the bead immunity idol that multiple people have. Otherwise I’m more invested in seeing what chaos might come next.
Next time on Survivor, is Noelle a target, and Gabler is still at it.