The winner of the challenge goes back into the game while the losers are eliminated. It is a test of will as the duelists need to hold on to a pole the longest. John is at a significant disadvantage. Strong men usually perform poorly in this challenge while wiry men do well. Accordingly, he is the first one eliminated. I also never thought Laura B. had a chance either as she is not a good Survivor player. As Laura M. is great at challenges, she won easily as many viewers expected. After the challenge, Jeff announces the merge. The new tribe is named Kasama. In addition, Laura gets to choose who gets the clue to the hidden immunity idol for winning the challenge. Of course, she burns it like everyone else. I thought that she would take it for herself as she has already been voted out and would be a target anyway. Nevertheless, it is sound decision to not make that target bigger.
This episode features a couple of former winners, Tina and Aras, foolishly overconfident. First, Vytas tells his Galang tribe members (Tina, Katie, and Monica) that they will team with his brother, Aras, at the merge and form the final five. However, Tina makes an idiotic decision to tell Monica that she is fifth in that alliance. Moreover, Tina tries to sell it as a reward for Monica’s loyalty. While Monica holds her tongue, she is definitely not thrilled about the promise. The notion that offering fifth is a kind gesture is actually an insult. She is playing to win and not just finish fifth. Accordingly, Tina unknowingly gives Monica a reason to explore other options after the merge.
Aras is more overconfident than Tina. As he makes the merge with his brother still in the game and the assumption he still has his six person Galang alliance in his back pocket, he is feeling really good. He believes he has control of seven people who will vote out the other four Survivors in the merged tribe. He feels so safe in his alliance that he thinks he can split the vote against Laura and Ciera in case one of them has a hidden immunity idol. In addition, Vytas and Aras boast how they are the biggest threats but the other Survivors are not smart enough to go after them. It is completely foolish thinking as it is a season with savvy, returning players. Of course, they know the brothers need to be targeted.
In Aras’s defense, he won the only season he played. He has never known failure in the game. He has also been the leader of the dominant alliance this season. As he made it to the merge with Vytas still in the game, he probably thought that this season is going even easier for him to win than his first season. Nevertheless, players usually get themselves in trouble when they get too comfortable. It is generally a clear sign that something is wrong and you could get blindsided.
Tyson Take Control
Tyson has played very well so far and it is a great episode for him. First, he has been setting up Aras’s demise as soon as the tribe switch occurred by building another alliance with the original Tadhana tribe consisting of Ciera, Hayden, and Caleb to target Aras. After the merge, he also persuades Monica to join the alliance against Aras. Tyson displays a lot of patience as Monica asks him a million questions as she wants to get assurance that she is in his final three. While I thought that he would snap and shush her, he did well to endure and listen so he could get her on his side. Moreover, he finds the hidden immunity idol as Hayden and Caleb unwisely divulged the clue when Tyson joined Tadhana. As no one knows Tyson found the idol, it is a very powerful tool for him going forward. I thought Tyson would be a character again rather than a player. He is definitely a big player this season. However, it also makes him a huge target.
Immunity Challenge and Tribal Council
The immunity challenge is a memory game. Jeff will show a series of symbols and the players need to remember them in the same order. This challenge is made more difficult by fatigue and starvation the Survivors have experienced the last three weeks. Many of them are eliminated early. It comes down to Aras and Vytas in the final two. Unbeknownst to them, it is infinitely more important for them to win than they are aware. Vytas pulls it out in the end and wins individual immunity. Of course, Aras gets blindsided during tribal council. An interesting discussion during tribal council is that the three couples could band together and form a 6-5 majority to vote out everyone else. It is an idea that the couples should have explored before tribal council. If they aligned, they could have been assured a final 6. It shows that they do not understand how threatening an automatic double vote is perceived by the Survivors whose loved ones already left the game. If the couples aligned, they also would have had a great chance at the final four if they believe they are solid with one of the other couples. Even if an individual in a couple gets voted out in the final four, the other who gets in the final three may have a better chance at winning the majority of the votes to win as the other two may split votes as loved ones.
Tina and Katie are also major losers with the blindside. Tina is completely stunned and distraught as the votes count against Aras. She knows her and Katie are on the wrong side of the numbers and will likely be targets after Vytas. The next episode is key as Tina needs to convince Laura and Ciera that the other Survivors will target all the couples left. If Tina and Vytas can persuade Laura and Ciera to join them, they work on swaying Monica back on their side with the fear of a 5-5 deadlock that causes a purple rock that will randomly eliminate a player. However, I believe that Vytas and Tina are the next targets. After they go, Laura and Ciera are next. The next episode should be interesting and decide which group will get voted out one by one. The episodes after next week’s episode should be predictable in terms of the elimination of the minority alliance.