Ahoy, Pool Players! We’re knee-deep in another Wednesday and it’s time again for Survivor! Previously on Survivor, Ryan and Chrissy stuck together to vote out Ali while some lumbering mass of granite named JP haplessly looked on. Twelve are left, can YOU name them all? Back at the Soko beach, Chrissy says that she is dominating the social game, and she has set herself up for a “nice future run.” Well I say lace up your sneakers and start running, Chrissy! Meanwhile, over at Yawa, Cole says that if his group just sticks together they can “accomplish so much.” Cole doesn’t give specifics, so I’ll assume he’s talking about completing a hundred piece jigsaw puzzle. Ben, however, is still wary of Cole and Jessica, and says that they do nothing but, “sit down there and play patty cake all day long.” All DAY long? Wouldn’t your hands get tired? Over at the Levu tribe it’s two versus two and they’re all out of food! Apparently they only have sugar left, which they’ve been eating for breakfast. You think this is a goof and then you see Devon shambling up the beach like the haunted zombie husk of Devon and then you realize the food deprivation is real. It sure seems like all three tribes could use a do-over! Indeed, as they approach challenge beach, Jeff gives them the good news to drop their buffs, the three tribes are merged! This gets a such a rapturous response you’d think Oprah was releasing the bees. Ben says that this is where Survivor starts so please tell me exactly what have we been watching for the past six weeks?
With the #MERGE comes #NEWBUFFS and these are a pretty purple color, which is what happens when you mix red and blue and, uh, yellow. This merge comes with a twist, though, since even though we all have new buffs there isn’t a feast in sight. It’s true, says Jeff, Survivor is not having a feast this year. Everyone looks crestfallen until Jeff explains that, instead, they’re all going to the OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE, apparently also known as THE STEAK AUTHORITY. Now there’s one authority I wouldn’t mind a run-in with! Jeff reminds us that at OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE there are “no rules, just right!” which is confusing in the game of Survivor where there are a lot of rules and most of the players are often wrong. By this point the merged tribe is so rhapsodically thrilled by the mere prospect of there being an OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE that when Ben learns there is “ribeye” involved he’s reduced to a puddle of goo on the merged tribe mat. Seriously, the tribe’s reaction to OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE is pretty much the opposite of what I feel whenever I happen to drive past an OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE and think, “Huh, Outback Steakhouse is still a thing.” A viscous pool of excited Survivors slithers their way over to the OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE, which has been conveniently hiding behind these trees this whole time. Joe tells the poor waitress that he wants “one of everything!” before ordering two steaks well-done. Joe is such a card! Cole tells us that he usually eats 8,000 calories a day, so a visit to the OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE is actually likely what the doctor had ordered. I’m sorry, eight thousand calories each day? I don’t care if you’re eating seven breakfasts like Michael Phelps, I don’t think that’s humanly possible. Jessica, meanwhile, is distracted by the Hot Outback Waiter, and giggles through ordering a “thunder from down under.” I sure hope poor, pure, Jessica has never had to order a “Moons over My Hammy.” In case you were wondering how well Chrissy and Joe were going to get along, well, they’re not – as Joe’s loud style clashes with Chrissy’s, uh, ability to do mental math. Chrissy pretty boldly whispers to Ben -in front of everyone!- that she wants Joe gone, and that she’s pretty sure he’s found another idol. Ben says they can talk more in secret, presumably somewhere with fewer bloomin’ onions.
Merge beach, merge beach! There’s a whole pile of new supplies at the merge beach! This gives the Survivors an opportunity to build yet another shelter. Cole knows there has to be a hidden clue around there somewhere, but he just can’t find it! Nobody finds it, in fact, which will probably lead to an awkward situation where someone says, “Hey, what’s this bundle of parchment doing with the nails? Are these the instructions for the nails?” Devon and Ryan get to reconnect, and then Devon and Lauren get to reconnect and it really is like old Hustler home week on Survivor. Former Hustler Lauren seems to be closer with Dr. Mike than either of her old tribe mates now, though, and she checks in with the good Doctor to make sure they’re good. The merge has thrown poor Dr. Mike for a loop, since he wasn’t aware that anyone else was actually playing the game. Nah, Mike, it’s only you and the tumbleweeds out there! Ben, meanwhile, still can’t stand Cole, and this is illustrated when Cole doesn’t know what a cinnamon stick is and attempts to eat it. I’m sorry, Cole is supposed to be a wilderness survival guide? I’m not sure I would trust him to survive one night of glamping. Ben tells Mike that he’s not too sure about Cole, and then Mike goes and tells this right back to Cole. It’s fun when there’s intrigue and drama on Survivor, and yet it’s somehow less fun when all that drama is centered around literal food hole Cole.
Immunity time! The two statues are no more, and now the Survivors are playing for a big hoop necklace which represents Individual Immunity. In this first immunity challenge, the Survivors need to balance on a narrow board while keeping a ball spinning around a circle. If they drop or their ball drops it’s lights out. It’s nice to know Survivor is getting challenge ideas from old articles about hypnosis in Witches’ Weekly. While Ryan is out seconds in, everyone else is entranced by the hypnotic spinning and this is actually a pretty competitive challenge. The spinning eventually consumes most of the Survivors, and the unlikely duo of Ashley and Desi are the last two standing. Ashley drops and Desi wins the first Individual Immunity. Desi who? It’s not important.
Apparently the merged tribe is called SOLEWA, which I suppose is better than KO-VU-YA. After the challenge, Cole apologizes to Ben about not knowing how food works, and while Ben accepts his apology, he also takes some time to remind Cole to share his fish with the tribe and maybe don’t try to eat an entire cinnamon stick in one chomp. A nervous Cole blabs to Joe about the Yawa alliance. Thinking that the Healers will be able to stick together and vote out Chrissy, Joe immediately starts to weigh his idol options. The Hustlers and the Heroes have their big summit down at the beach where they decide it might make sense to target Jessica since she probably doesn’t have an idol and Joe probably wouldn’t play one for her. At Tribal Council, fire represents your life since we’re in DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME and some of these losers have not even been to Tribal Council yet! Tribal Council is basically the Joe show, where he says that only three people are really in danger before throwing up the “deuces” and whipping out his idol. Talk about a thunder from down under! Proudly wearing his idol, Joe seems to have counted his horses before they can hatch. Before the votes are read, Joe plays the idol for himself, but it turns out to be a waste as the new super group outweighs the Healers, voting out Jessica over Chrissy seven to five. Speaking of numbers, there’s some brutally unnecessary math during the challenge when Jeff wonders out loud how much longer Ashley and Desi lasted than Ryan and everyone’s favorite actuary Chrissy pipes up with an answer. Is she right? Who can say – I’m not carrying my calculator! Look, I’m not saying this is a boring season of Survivor, but we’re sort of in a rough space when one of the highlights of the merge episode is someone doing mental math. What’s next, will someone be asked to name how many states are in the fifty states? Will Jeff show up with a blank periodic table and tell them to go nuts? Will there be a number and a letter of the day???
How about clicking over to some numbers that actually matter on this week’s Leaderboards. The Pool Princess claims to have elected herself “Town Whip” but promises to stop cracking it long enough to send out the next challenge. Next time on Survivor: all bets are off! It’s a whole new game! The Healers are probably doomed! See you there!