Last week, poor Joaquin got blindsided because he bromanced too hard with Rodney. If only they could have held themselves to a higher standard and removed Rodney instead. I mean, at least Joaquin seems smart enough to realize when he’s being a complete a$$. We also saw Mike throw a challenge to save his former tribemate Kelly so they can hook back up after a merge. I wonder how that will work out.
So... that’s what we’ve got this week, folks – the merge! I love merge episodes - so much drama. Remember Cochran being so afraid of drawing rocks, he betrayed his tribe on the re-vote? Or how about in Cook Islands when Yul's alliance seemed doomed until he lured Jonathan with the immunity idol? Or season 1, when the first alliance ever showed its power as Gretchen was shockingly booted. Let's hope this one will match one of those exciting merge episodes.
As with most merges, alliances should become very clear. And the episode 7 Title tells us that: The Line Will Be Drawn Tonight.
So what happens? Well, the press release tells us pretty much zero:
“Alliances are tested as castaways must adapt to playing an individual game after the merge. Also, castaways fight for individual immunity in a classic game of endurance.”
Thanks CBS marketing department! (Though I suppose nothing is better than a terribly written press release that leads us to believe the wrong thing because they don't know how to use a comma. Not that that has ever happened in the past.)
We do from a preview clip on EW.com that the tribes come together on a challenge beach, Jeff is nowhere to be seen, but there is a note and a chest full of goodies.
They are merged and go to Eczema's beach.
The preview clip also makes it clear that Rodney is immediately thinking strategy. This suggests that he might not be on the warpath after the betrayal last episode. Maybe he will try to make the smartest move for himself. Of course, that would mean he could recognize what the smartest move is… and we’re talking about Rodney here.
(A pic of Rodney clearly not thinking about strategy. "Hey, Joe, does Hali ever walk around without bottoms like Shirin?")
In the Merge Dynamics thread, we have a lot of different thoughts about how these groups could come together and split apart. The preview provides some clues with Mike and Hali both telling Tyler their respective alliances want to work with him. Tyler then says that Carolyn and he are the swing votes.
So who are the two alliances Tyler and Carolyn are swinging between? Well, we know Dan, Mike and Kelly are tight. Sierra threw in with them last episode despite her hatred for Dan. Rodney was blindsided and promises revenge in an early preview, but later is talking about strategy, so it could be that he figures sticking with the blues is the best course of action right now. So that’s five.
Then you have the tight alliance of Hali, Jenn and Joe. Will doesn’t really have anywhere else to go. And no one really likes Shirin, so she will likely stick with the group that she’s in currently and hope people target challenge threats. (Note to Shrin: Don’t be stupid and try to win immunity. Fall early and show you’re no threat!) So that’s the other five.
So which way do Carolyn and Tyler go? Since Tyler was on the wrong side of the vote last time, one would not expect that he suddenly thinks Blue Mike is all that trustworthy. And Carolyn does seem to be happy with the No Collars though that would mean staying in an alliance with Shirin, which has to have Carolyn wanting to gouge her eyes out.
Well, let’s take a look at the immunity challenge and come back to this.
As with many merges of the past, they begin with an endurance immunity challenge. (How often have they done an endurance one as the first individual immunity challenge? Someone will check on that, right? Sheldor?) It’s the ol’ hold on to a big long pole challenge. Called “Get a Grip.” As you might imagine, Parvati was really good at this challenge in past seasons.
A detailed analysis of the form of various contestants is in the vidcap thread.
As you can read in that thread, Shirin using her toes caused some controversy – is it good form or bad? Beats me, but it doesn’t matter, because if she’s smart, she will DROP OUT EARLY! (Come on, Shirin, be smart. I still want you to win even though you like watching monkey sex and cooking over a campfire without any bottoms.)
The time stamps give us some clues to how the challenge plays out. We know Kelly is near the bottom of her pole pretty early. Tyler and Hali are also losing their grip on their poles early on in the challenge. ... What? What did I say?
Anyway... I think we can also rule out Mike, Rodney and Dan. Despite the fact that I'm fairly certain they're all pretty handy with a pole, they look like the types to finish early...
Sorry, Dan, I couldn't help myself.
And I’m pretty sure Will ran out breath just as he was reaching for his pole.
So who wins it? We can also tell from time stamps that Joe keeps a grip on his pole for 53 minutes! Nice job, Joe. Aside from him, Sierra, Jenn, and Carolyn are all looking good. Sorry, Joe, but I think a woman will win this.
We know from the preview that Jenn is ‘terrified’ about her safety (though she does have the hidden immunity idol) so she certainly believes she needs to win. Sierra has to also be really worried as she hates her alliance. Carolyn is probably feeling a little less worried since she’s the swing vote position (assuming she knows that before the challenge) and has a hidden immunity idol, too. To me, it’s between Sierra and Jenn, and I think Jenn takes it.
Jenn winning immunity doesn’t really change things too much. So often when we’re at this point and I don't know which way to go, I look to confessional analysis for some guidance. Fortunately, Dabo’s been keeping track for us. Flowerpower does an excellent analysis and for her, it’s pointing to Kelly, Rodney and Tyler as most at risk. She also notes Jenn and Joe at a slight risk.
I think Tyler and Carolyn choose to align with Joe and the NoCollars. And between Kelly and Rodney, I’m choosing Rodney to get the boot. Rodney will be seen as a threat in immunity challenges. Plus, voting Rodney might enable them pull in Sierra too. And the fact that he gets a confessional in the preview clip makes me think we'll see a lot of his thoughts right before they boot him, as happens quite often. However, my alternate pick is Joe, the most dangerous person on the other side. In fact, I am really wondering if Joe’s time is up...
Sticking with Rodney, but I may regret it.
RC: None, they get a merge feast
Boot alt: Joe.
-It appears they may have to rebuild their shelter.
-It’s possible that this boot will miss the jury based on comments made my Joaquin in his post show interviews. As Shelder pointed out, 8 jury members and 3 finalists have been the pattern for 4 of the last 5 seasons.