We’re dropping buffs once again because, Survivor fans: It’s time to merge!
Wednesday’s episode couldn’t be more aptly titled: “This Is Where the Battle Begins.” The merge is when the game officially kicks into high gear. Big targets will have nowhere to hide, and alliances will either go deep or be shattered completely. If that isn’t enough to chew on, one cast-off from the Edge of Extinction will fight his or her way back in the game. This episode’s gonna be a doozy, so let’s see what Jeff has in store!
BATTLE BACK FROM THE EDGE | The players finally get the tree mail they’ve been waiting for: The challenge to earn a spot back in the game is here! Natalie decides to go for one advantage in the challenge and buy an immunity idol. Amber tosses Rob one fire token so he can do the same. After Jeff officially merges the tribes, he brings in the Edge players for the competition. Natalie, Danni, Ethan, Tyson and Rob each have an advantage. When they get to the dig section, they won’t have to dig; their last bag will be waiting for them on top of the sand.
The players must untie bags on a cargo net, dig to find their final bag, then build a pole long enough to retrieve a key that will unlock a gate. The players go hard! You can see the looks of determination strewn across everyone’s face as they give it everything they have. Rob is the first to unlock his door and move on to the final phase. The players win the challenge by raising a ball to the top of a maze without it falling off. (Do we call this thing a “maze?” Let’s go with it.)
Tyson and Rob get to the final section and the pressure. is. on. It’s neck and neck, but Tyson makes it happen and wins his way back in. (I wonder why Natalie and Rob didn’t opt to buy more advantages for the challenge. Was that the best move? Clearly not.) The rest of the players head back to the Edge to await their second shot, but Jeff does tell them they’re now officially the jury. Sooo… consolation prize? Eh.
MERGE TRIBE | A new menu is waiting for the tribe when they get back, but prices have skyrocketed. Also waiting for them: a feast! Sarah calls this Final 12 “a big bowl of spaghetti,” because you can’t tell where relationships begin or end. Denise, the Queen Slayer, (stupidly) tells the tribe her story of getting Sandra out, which causes Sophie to raise her eyebrows. (Note to future players: Build your resumes, but don’t remind everyone they exist until you get to final tribal! But hey, what do I know?)
After chowing some grub, the scheming continues. Jeremy wants to get rid of Nick, so he can be Wendell’s number one. Ben wants to keep the big targets together (Tyson, Tony), and start knocking off the lower-profile players, like Michelle and Adam. Tony is right there with him. He needs numbers if he’s going to survive the next few votes.
IMMUNITY IS NOW UP FOR GRABS | A rainstorm sweeps through and everyone looks miserable. The challenge is a Survivor classic: an endurance challenge where players have to grasp on to a pole. Jeff sweetens the pot by tossing in a fire token for the last male and female staying on, in addition to immunity. But these poles are wet and slippery. It doesn’t take long for most of the players to start inching their way down. After plenty of pain and a few hard falls, Denise wins for the women, while Jeremy reigns supreme for the men.
STRATEGY SESH’ | After the challenge, Ben, Jeremy and Tony pow-wow, and they want to break up Nick and Wendell. According to Tony, Nick is a “hyena” in their game of lions, a “scavenger” who picks up the scraps around him. Since Denise is close with Adam, Nick offers the up the Millennial vs. Gen X winner’s name for the slaughter. Sophie has yet another idea. She sniffs out that the big dogs are grouping together (once again, her spider sense is absolutely right), so she gets to work and throws Wendell’s name into the mix. It’s the first merge vote, so literally anything is possible.
THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN | It’s a defining vote for these Winners at War, and everyone knows it. Tyson, having just returned to the game, seems to be OK. Tony talks about how the dynamics in the game have shifted, while Sophie says Tyson doesn’t have as much baggage as the rest of them have been accruing. Sarah says in past seasons, you could see the punch coming, but this time out, people are going to get “sniped.” Some people, like Adam, seem completely in the dark, while Tony says sometimes you just have to go with the current. But no one seems to know where that current is going. Jeff tallies the votes and the axe falls on: Wendell. Wendell then gives one token to Michele and another to Nick.
Were you happy Tyson returned to the game? Did the right person go home tonight? Sound off in the Comments!