I'm strongly leaning towards NO MERGE next week, at least not before another TC. I just can't imagine that if MB's intention was to break up old tribal loyalties that he wouldn't give it more than 6 days and at least one more TC. Given the fact that the 10th person is non-jury anyways, it seems feasible to hold off on the merge.
The longer the Boranians spend apart, the more concerned they have to become about their alliances. Especially since they've had to compete against each other on 4 occasions now - must have been really hard for Ethan, Clarence, and KimJ to watch Lex, Tom, and Kelly gorge themselves on sandwiches, pasta salad and cookies, while they went home to their half a cup of cornmush...a little resentment brewing perhaps? Besides, team competitions are way more exciting to watch than individual challenges. 3 more days with Brandon and Kim P, and Lex, Tom, and Kelly may have themselves the making of a new team....of sorts.
MB is an evil bastard, and he's no dummy - don't you think he's thought of all this???
I've only heard two remotely reasonable criticisms:
1) it was unfair of JP to forewarn Boran, but not Samburu, and if he really meant it he would have told both teams... to which I say, since when has MB been fair? Besides, JP's comment was only a suggestion, not a promise.
2)merging at uneven strength of 9 instead of 10 people is unfair...but then that was always a possibility in previous series, wasn't it? (i.e. if Skupin hadn't kissed the fire, Kucha probably would have gone in 6-4). This scenario would just make the next IC *supremely* important...and if planned beforehand, as I expect it was, MB could have anticipated that any remaining tribal loyalties would falter on the side going in with 5 members - remain loyal to your old tribemates? or run with your new numerical dominance and wipe the other side out? Even if that doesn't happen, it still throws yet another variable into the game, making strategizing all the more difficult post-merge, which was EXACTLY MB's intent. (who can I trust anymore? he was my friend before...can I still count on him now? why is he whispering with her, are they plotting against me now? etc. - the possibilities are gleefully endless!)
The way I see it MB is thumbing his nose at everyone - contestants, viewers, and spoilers alike - for criticizing his baby. He made that abundantly clear with that lovely shot of the antelope last week! He won't be happy til he's thoroughly f*cked us all over. I say expect the unexpected - no merger next week....
Heck, who knows? Maybe MB will come through with his 3 tribes at 9 people after all!!! And imagine what THAT would do to setting up the SB picks!!!