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Survivor: “The Beauty In A Merge”

Illustration for article titled iSurvivor/i: “The Beauty In A Merge”
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Survivor: One World is fascinating in that it is almost an entirely different show every episode. Last week, I touched on the various permutations the show has been through in its short run, and the merge brought yet another entirely new dynamic to the show: clusterfuck. Luckily, it was an entertaining one.

There are a few reasons this merge seemed far more chaotic in nature, at least to my eyes. First, there are just so many damn people. Twelve is a lot of people to keep track of on two tribes; mix them together, and any story is going to be far more difficult to shape. Second, having this be the third tribe shuffle in nearly as many weeks has created a lot of different alliances, sub-alliances, and former alliances, making all attempted strategy talk have a multitude of future consequences to consider before making a decision. And third, Tarzan is crazy, making everything happening seem more chaotic just with his mere presence.


Still, despite the chaos, a few things definitely became clearer this week. One of those things is that my prediction of Jonas potentially taking the reins of this game and running with it was laughable. This is why I don’t make predictions, folks. Instead, it looks like the power players here (at least for now) are Kim, Chelsea, and Jay, with Jay probably a bit on the outside of that threesome. Although Tarzan wants to revert back to the men vs. women conceit, this new power trio recognizes that Salani still has a man advantage over Manono, and wants to make sure to keep it that way. This is why having so many different shuffles before the merge is so interesting; loyalties are split and could shift back and forth as the opportunity arises. Kim, Chelsea, and Jay decide Jonas is by far the most intelligent person on the Manono tribe, so they put a plan in motion to vote him out even though he is their sole cook.

The funny thing is, they might think Jonas is the most intelligent person on the Manono tribe, but nothing he does to save himself feels intelligent at all. After spending most of the episode fighting with Tarzan—they broke up and everything; it was very dramatic, especially if you’re in middle school—he decides to mend fences with Tarzan and team up with Tarzan, Leif, and Troyzan to all vote for Kat. So Jonas, who has the entire Salani tribe (and, presumably, Alicia) planning on voting against him decides to fight back by taking four votes of his own to Tribal Council. Jonas might be good at cooking, but he is terrible at math.


I don’t know if it’s the result of increasingly insane casts or Jeff Probst’s angling for a daytime talk show, but Tribal Councils are becoming more and more antagonistic each season. This one is no different. When an on-the-spot Jonas starts pleading his case to stay in the game over a powerful guy like Michael, Tarzan completely forgets the kumbaya moment he had with Jonas earlier in the episode and flips out on him. It appears Tarzan thinks Jonas is being somehow disloyal by even mentioning another person’s name as an alternative for his, even though Jonas really has no other option. Tarzan’s feelings change so suddenly that he outright declares he’s voting for Jonas to go home; he’s done. I would attempt to explain what’s going on in Tarzan’s head if I understood even a little bit of it. Alas, I left my Little Orphan Annie’s Tarzan decoder ring in my other purse. Basically, it all boils down to: Tarzan crazy, Jonas screwed.

Aside from the power playing back at camp and the shenanigans at Tribal Council, the episode also gave us a fairly entertaining reward challenge, with Jeff getting the chance to do his favorite thing: relentlessly make fun of an inferior athletic performance. Between the return of two challenges per episode and the amount of potential strategy shifts in the weeks to come, I’m still feeling very good about this season of Survivor as a whole. Also: Wasn’t it great to have an entire week with no hateful, racist, whining commentary from Colton? Yeah, buddy, you’re not missed.


Stray observations:

  • The new tribe’s name is Tikiano, which is acceptably boring.
  • Troyzan had quite the good episode. Finding the immunity idol, winning individual immunity, AND getting touched by Jeff Probst? What more could a person want in life?
  • The whole sequence with Tarzan’s poop pants was highly entertaining. Special props go out to the cameramen and editors who captured the close-up of the shorts unceremoniously plopping into Chelsea’s fastidious laundry cauldron.
  • Kat’s ballot: JONOUS. Fishy drawing. Frowny face. (I assume she’s not a Weezer fan.)
  • Jeff: “Troyzan’s balls haven’t moved in a long time.”
  • Tarzan: “I swear to God, it’s not poop; it’s dirt.”
  • Tarzan: “Hard feelings to you.”

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