The 11 remaining castaways — plus one Edge returnee! — are about to hit a Survivor milestone. Ladies and gents, drop your buffs: It’s time to merge!
As fans know, the first joint tribal council can be a make-or-break vote for many players’ games. Merges re-shuffle the deck, as former tribemates are reunited, new friends and foes are made and loyalties either get shifted or bulldozed all together. Historically, merges set the stage for some of the show’s best blindsides, so strap in and hold on tight. This week’s episode (airing Wednesday at 8/7c on CBS) is sure to bring some fireworks.
So which of these Winners at War is in the best spot, who will return from the Edge of Extinction, and who is the keeper of the most fire tokens? Let’s take stock.
THE EDGE CHALLENGE | Sandra’s abrupt Edge of Extinction exit left Natalie, Amber, Danni, Ethan, Tyson, Rob, Parvati and Yul ready to claw their way back into the game. As we’ve seen on the Edge price list, players can buy an advantage in the challenge for a single fire token. That leaves Parvati and Yul SOL. Natalie and Rob, however, can buy the three advantage maximum (they have four and three fire tokens, respectively), while the rest of the cast-offs can each buy one. With three advantages each (assuming that’s how they choose to spend their cabbage), it seems hard to fathom that anyone else will take down CrossFit champ Natalie or the “portly chap” Boston Rob. My money is on Natalie for the win, but having said that, it’s always a mistake to underestimate Rob.
TOKEN AND ADVANTAGE TALLY | So how about the rest of ’em? Let’s take a look at the latest standings.
Kim Spradlin-Wolfe: 1 fire token, plus an immunity idol
Jeremy Collins: 1 fire token, plus the safety without power advantage
Denise Stapley: 1 fire token
Tony Vlachos: 1 fire token
Michele Fitzgerald: 3 fire tokens
Nick Wilson: 2 fire tokens
Wendell Holland: 2 fire tokens
Sophie Clarke: 2 fire tokens, plus an immunity idol
Sarah Lacina: 1 fire token, plus a steal-a-vote advantage
Adam Klein: 1 fire token
Ben Driebergen: 1 fire token
MERGE PREDICTIONS | Survivor is and always will be one of the most unpredictable competition series, but I think a woman’s going to reign supreme this season. Here are the players that are in the best spots.
Sophie and Sarah are a force to be reckoned with. They each have an advantage which, if they work together, could get both of them out of two future pickles. Their trust in each other seems strong, and in terms of social politics and challenge abilities, they’re on the same playing field. They’re both also extremely intelligent and insightful, and unless one of them turns on the other at final four or five, it’s entirely possible that Sophie and Sarah could be sitting side by side at final tribal. (The question at hand: Should Sophie cut Sarah before final tribal if she wants a shot at the money? Sarah seems slightly more dangerous of an opponent.)
Denise, Jeremy and Kim are also sitting pretty… maybe even sitting in the final three? Denise’s boss move of taking Sandra out with the Queen’s own idol was a powerhouse play (and definitely a resume builder), paving the way for their trio to get to the merge. She also proved her loyalty to Jeremy by playing an idol for him. Based on their former games and personality types, these three could be a tough team to beat.
On the other hand…
First merge boots? Tony and Adam. If Tony can avoid speaking llama and building spy bunkers, maybe he’ll last a vote or two. But we all know how much he loves his bunkers. Sigh.
FIRE TOKENS… MORE THAN JUST LUNCH MONEY? | The fire tokens have far surpassed my expectations. Full disclosure, when they were originally announced, I was skeptical. But the new Survivor currency has proven to be quite an add, fueling tension and competition on the Edge of Extinction, and serving as a bargaining tool in the main game. However, it feels like Jeff Probst may have something else up his sleeve. Maybe the fire tokens can buy an advantage to the final four fire-making challenge. Perhaps they can purchase players time with their loved ones once parents and spouses hit the beach. The fire tokens have to be worth more than peanut butter and a beer, and whatever it is, it’s bound to be major.
Who are you rooting for and who do you think will return to the game? Lighting up the Comments section costs zero fire tokens, so fire away!