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Survivor 44 Recap: There’s a New Puzzle Master in Town — Plus, Who Didn’t ‘Earn the Merge’?

Survivor 44 Episode 6 Recap
Courtesy of CBS

If you want to easily make the merge in a modern-day Survivor season, all you have to do is recreate every puzzle the show has ever built and practice until your plane leaves for Fiji.

That’s how it all went down for Carson in Wednesday’s “earn the merge” episode, when the show’s repetition once again favored a player who was beyond prepared to play. No shade to Carson here — the kid obviously had the time and patience to study up. All hats are off to him, including Jeff Probst’s blue and orange caps. (Me? I prefer the orange one, so that’s the one I own. Yes, I am a huge nerd.)

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least lovingly criticize the show for continuously repeating things that they know darn well players are studying at home. With Carson flying through the tree puzzle like it was a 10-piece jigsaw made for toddlers, it took all of the tension and fun out of watching it play out. (Might as well queue up the hanging fish one for next week.) It’s not that it’s unfair to the other players, it’s just that it’s boring to watch the same stuff over and over, and even more mind-numbing when someone flies through a puzzle only because they’ve done it a gazillion times already. Sigh. 

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But like the wise Maury Povich once said: Enough already! Let’s recap the rest of the highlights from Episode 6:

Survivor 44 Episode 6 Recap* Has there ever been a more awkward dynamic than Tika’s Carolyn, Yam Yam and Josh? While they were mostly relieved to not have to go to Tribal last week, all three tribe members seem desperate for new blood. Luckily for Josh, his wish is Jeff’s command, as the tribes all move to the same beach shortly after. But will Yam Yam and Carolyn be able to reconcile their issues?

* Look, I know I came down hard on showmances a few weeks back (they’ve been ruining Big Brother for years), but I can’t help it! Matt and Frannie (Mannie? Fratt? Probably the former.) are absolutely adorable. Matt does tell her he can never choose her for reward though, and I’m guessing he means that. But by the looks of next week’s previews, their plan to avoid becoming a target falls flat fast.

* After a challenge that requires them to push a huge ball through an obstacle maze, climb a tall ramp and complete the aforementioned tree puzzle, Matt, Frannie, Jaime, Carson, Carolyn and Brandon win safety, their merge buffs and the merge feast, leaving Kane, Danny, Josh, Yam Yam, Lauren and Heidi vulnerable to the vote. But with 11 people voting (Matt lost his vote), paranoia about who has what idol or advantage comes to the forefront, as everyone starts scrambling for a Plan A, B and C.

Survivor 44 Episode 6 Recap* Josh gets into some shady territory after he starts to spread some mixed messaging. He tells Brandon he has the Soka cage idol, then tells Jaime he has a fake one. He’s aware that he needs to get his story straight, but regardless of what he’s peddling, all eyes remain on him. He’s happy to see his former Soka members, but is completely unaware that they wanted to oust him even before he swapped. Everyone else is looking for an easy majority and Josh’s name keeps rising to the top of everyone’s list. Since they worry he might actually have an idol, back-up names start to float around, too, including Yam Yam and Kane. Carson makes a dangerous flub when he alerts Kane as such, who then goes and blabs to others that he heard his name was being talked about. Brandon tells Carson it was a bad move (and Brandon is absolutely right!) and for the first time this season, Carson seems flustered and regretful.

THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN | At Tribal Council, Yam Yam tells Jeff that he knows he talks too much, and that sometimes, it lands him into hot water, on and off the island. But when it comes time to vote, Yam Yam’s name is written down three times and Kane gets a single vote, leaving the rest to fall on Josh, as he becomes the seventh person to leave the game. (Read our Q&A with Josh here.)

Did the right person go home? Happy to see the hourglass remain smashed? Drop your comments below!

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