Drop your buffs… it’s time to merge! Well, sort of.
With only five players ousted from Survivor 43 thus far, it feels a bit early for the three tribes to unite as one, which means something is definitely afoot! While host-master general Jeff Probst has already confirmed that the Hourglass of Doom (a.k.a., one of the show’s worst twists ever) has gotten canned (at least for now), the players were still forced to “earn the merge” on Wednesday’s episode.
So what type of twisty tomfoolery lies ahead? Let’s dive deep into this maybe-merge recap.
For starters, can we have a round of applause for Karla? While the rest of Coco is literally jumping up and down after receiving tree mail, the educational project manager from Delaware knows not to count her chickens and rightly so! The merge episodes from 41 and 42 were a hot mess express, and while meeting the rest of the tribes will surely be exciting, it won’t actually guarantee a spot in the game’s next stage.
Noelle unknowingly lets it slip that Cody has a cool hat made with everybody beads, which signals to Elie that he has Vesi’s idol. She then takes some confessional time to tell us how AMAZING she is at the game and that she’s EVEN BETTER than she ever expected she’d be! Are the editors just trolling her, or is she about to get the boot?
IMMUNITY IS BACK UP FOR GRABS | Jeff tells the group that they haven’t made the merge just yet (duh). They’re at the “threshold,” he says, but they’ve gotta work to earn the buff. (Shocking. In the sense that it is not shocking whatsoever.)
The players are split up into two groups. They must unearth a sled, and collect six large crates which they will use to build a staircase. Grab a set of keys, climb up a steep ramp, then solve a Survivor word puzzle. The winners will get their merge buffs, a meal and safety at Tribal. Probst confirms that no twist or player will be able to steal that from them. The losers: Vulnerable at Tribal, where everyone will vote, but only six of them will be on the chopping block.
Lastly, whoever pulls the gray rock will not compete, but will select the team he or she thinks will win. His or her fate will then be tied to that team. Noelle selects the gray rock, and chooses to ride-or-die with the Blue team: Gabler, Jesse, Ryan, Dwight, Karla and Jeanine.
The teams are pretty even throughout, until Red pulls ahead at the staircase portion. Karla smashes her hand and draws blood, while James scales the steep wall entirely on his own, impressing Jeff. Every member of Red scales the wall before Blue even attempts, as Owen and Elie begin working on the puzzle. Red squanders its huge lead, as Blue finally catches up at the puzzle. Despite figuring out the phrase, Red can’t pull it together and Blue wins the whole shebang. They, along with Noelle, have officially earned their spot in the merge. As for Cody, Elie, Cassidy, James, Owen and Sami, one of them won’t be as lucky.
STRATEGY | After the challenge, Elie starts playing hard. She tells James and Cassidy she wants to work with Coco, and seemingly tries to place the crosshairs on Cody. But James tells us he doesn’t trust her.
We interrupt this strategy session to watch a bunch of starving people eat a delicious merge feast. Ryan (foolishly) suggests that the winners can be the Final 7, but it’s a ridiculous pitch. Absurd, even. Gabler then tells everyone that Elie went through his bag, and that’s something he can’t forget. It also clues the other two tribes in on the fact that Baka is fractured. Knowledge really is power in Survivor.
Word gets back to Elie, who confronts Gabler about throwing her under the bus. She tells him that was a lie, after which he presses her to tell him who did it. She refuses to give up Jeanine. They talk in circles, but the trust has been broken long before. Elie then confronts Sami and Owen about telling Gabler about the bag search. They try to make Elie feel comfortable and promise to help her clear her name, but Sami says via interview that Elie is one threat who needs to go tonight.
Jeanine meets with the Baka men and they all agree they can squash their beef later. They just need to get past this vote first. Meanwhile, James tells Jesse that Elie is putting Cody’s name on the chopping block. Ryan then reveals that Elie has been gunning for James and Cassidy! (So much for Elie’s exceptional social game, huh?) Baka’s a mess, this is all chaos, four idols remain in the game and nobody trusts Elie. But will Jeanine play her idol for her friend?
TRIBAL COUNCIL | Jeff asks the group about how their day went, and Cody says the craziness was “nauseating.” The complexity of this vote can’t be understated, says Jeanine. Owen says trust is their only currency, but the fact that they can’t trust anyone 100 percent makes it a difficult task. Karla mentions that nine people have gone on journeys, so the lurking advantages add a whole other layer of stress. Trust, loyalty, paranoia, gut instinct. It all plays heavily into this new era of Survivor. But it’s time to vote, and there are many ways this cookie can crumble.
When Jeff calls for idols or advantages, no one moves a muscle. The results are read and five votes are enough to snuff Elie’s torch. “Y’all see what trusting Gabler will get you?” she says on her way out. (Be sure to read our Q&A with Elie here.)
Were you happy the Hourglass twist was axed? Where are all the Elie fans at? Make some noise by dropping a comment below!