Am I seriously watching 4.5 hours of Survivor a week? What is wrong with me?
This is a thing it didn’t occur to me beforehand to address, and I’m not sure I’ve been clear on the rules regarding posting things. So here’s the deal – I know we’re all watching this on different timelines, and I’m trying to accommodate everyone. If I haven’t posted about an episode yet (and posts will generally go up late evening, Eastern), use spoiler tags. If I have posted, it’s read at your own risk.
That was a merge, guys! Even if the result was a little underwhelming, there was a lot of great drama leading up to it, and, hopefully, the rest of the week isn’t just the pruning of Vavau.
We come in on Vavau, who are freaking out because seriously Vavau is fucked. They’re starving, there’s only three of them and one of them is completely bonkers. We cut from there straight to the auction. This feels weird to me because “envelopes full of auction cash” seems like a thing they’d have this group of people finally getting to do. But I guess what’s coming next made it irrelevant; it’s totally adorable watching them freak out over getting to the for-real merge.
We get an auction. Honestly the best part of this was my roommate’s reactions; she hasn’t seen an auction before and was absolutely dying during it. Conner wins food. Then Conner wins more food. Then other people win food. Then Lee wins an advantage for $80? Then Nick wins a covered item that turns out to be an advantage, and he’s really pissed off about it because he feels like having an advantage is going to hurt him the same way getting the idol clue did last time. Nick, the problem with last time wasn’t that you got an idol clue, it’s that you’re incapable of not looking like a total snake.
So, we get back to the beach, and it’s shocking how much I care about the dumb stuff we get at the merge when we don’t get it. No feast? No flag painting? Not even any discussion of the merge tribe name? Which is Fia Fia. Which is average for a merge tribe name.
Quickly we move into the individual part of the game. The question is whether Saanapu will stick together or not. Flick wants to target Conner, who she thinks flipped on her (Flick, I’m pretty sure that happened the other way.) There are a ton of shots of Flick looking shifty, and I’m curious if this means something. Sam, on the other hand, has doubts.
Immunity challenge: the hang from a pole challenge Terry Dietz won at the merge in Panama. There’s more gymnastics this time, thanks to Brooke and Kate. It reaches the point where they have to institute a rules change, making the remaining survivors hang by only one arm. Kristie doesn’t understand the rule and goes out quickly, then Kate falls, then Kylie gets confused about the rule, and Brooke wins a fairly ugly immunity necklace (clarification: I don’t think Brooke’s win was ugly, but I do think that immunity necklace is).
Back at camp, Sam waffles on the possibility of breaking up the Saanapu alliance. There’s a dumb thing involving friendship bracelets that may have happened earlier and I just don’t care because it’s so dumb. There’s also talk of targeting Nick because Nick is a fucking snake.
Lee goes off to read his advantage. He gets to cancel someone’s vote before it’s cast, which… I’m not even sure how this ranks on the scale of vote doubler and vampire vote. It’s probably not good that he has to tell someone that he gets to cancel their vote, but Lee can make it up on pure handsomeness.
Nick reads his advantage and it’s an idol clue. He runs off hunting like a madman. Lee catches him. Nick acts like they’re partners. Lee has a confessional where he’s aware that’s nonsense.
Tribal council is pretty exciting. I’m genuinely unsure how this is going to go, and the players are being pretty tight lipped. Jonathan blows up the dumb friendship bracelet alliance, which is fun. Then the votes come in and… 5 Conner, 4 Kate, with none of old Vavau on the same page. It kind of lets the wind out of the sails, but, as merges go, I’d still rate this a 6.
- Seriously, we got a lot of shots of Flick looking shady tonight. Is she going home soon, or does she just have the worst resting bitch face ever?
- Nick – also, going home soon? He has an idol, do we expect him to screw this up?
Well that was a disappointing end to an exciting episode.
We come back from tribal council with old Saanapu feeling confident and in control, which they should, because what the hell is the rump of Vavau going to do unless something changes. Brooke and Flick are talking like the game is wrapped up. The only way this can go wrong is if people get weird ideas about the “right people” winning and someone is there who knows how to stoke that.
That’s actually unfair to what Kate does. Sure, she leans into Sam and Lee’s hesitation about keeping Nick around, but she also does a really good job of laying out the hierarchy of the merge tribe and why they’re not at the top of it. When she started I was prepped to roll my eyes because it felt overly complicated, but props to her, she got the message across. This was not Joe logic.
Then there’s a challenge super early, and it has to be for reward, right? No? It’s immunity? Immunity and reward? No? Just immunity? The pacing on these episodes is still off.
I don’t know how I feel about this challenge. It’s… different, which is cool, and in theory it’s a good way of including a big individual challenge early on without it taking too much time, but I dunno, this one did nothing for me. Watching people spin a ball around a hoop is somehow less interesting to me than balancing a ball on a paddle.
Back at camp things shift into action. Kate starts working on her plan to blindside Nick. Everything looks like it’s going well, until we get to the part where they have to bring Kylie in, and suddenly things go super weird. Early in the episode, Kylie looked completely down to change things up; she seemed to recognize she was on the bottom of old Saanapu and was willing to make things happen. Now, she’s immediately scampering off to tell on Sam to Brooke and Flick, and talking about how this cements her place with the core alliance. Kylie, honey, you are not in the core alliance. I don’t completely understand why, but people have been making it clear to you since day 4 that you are not in their plans. If 7th place is cool with you, fine; otherwise, there was nothing good about this.
Flick and Brooke get indignant at Sam, Sam does damage control, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Meanwhile Kate does a brilliant job of distracting Nick, who seems legitimately puzzled as to why she’s talking to him when it’s not his call.
At least we get a firecracker of a tribal council. After some initial hemming and hawing, Kate just goes all in and blows up the core alliance, while pointing the finger strongly at Nick. Nick goes into Nick defensive mode, which is hilarious because he’s so bad at seeming genuine. Sam straight up calls Nick a snake. Lee gets more and more exasperated. I get where Lee is coming from, since he’s not voting for Nick anyway for weird Lee reasons, but seriously, Sam, you are sending warning signals to the dude you want gone. Abort.
Nick gets the message and plays his idol. Turns out he doesn’t need to because 3 votes for Nick come in, then 6 for Kate and 2 for Sue. I’m not clued in enough to know whether Reddit is going to hate these people more for sending Kate home than if it had been Sue, but I’m still bummed about Phoebe.
- Do we think this alliance is getting split, or is this just a distraction from the fact that Vavau is getting wiped out?
- Have we heard from Jennah-Louise since the merge? I don’t think she’s had a single confessional or any screen time at all. At points in this tribal council I would see her face and think “wait, who is that?”
So… let’s talk about Nick. This episode was confused and muddled, and a lot of it was about feelings, which are gross. And Nick was a huge presence this season, so huge his original tribe basically didn’t exist until they got rid of him. Plus, people have been saying smart things about him in the comments, not all of which I agree with, but which are worth addressing. So let’s make this one about Nick, who, for better or worse, was one of the stars of the season.
We come back to camp and Nick is livid. He goes of and vents about how he’s gonna get revenge on Sam and Lee for burning him. He does this in confessional, but I think this really highlights the essential problem with Nick: I don’t think he can hide this stuff when he gets back to camp. A dude like Todd goes off to vent, gets everything out, and comes back smiling and pretending he’s your best friend. Nick comes back stewing, and all of that weird intensity is just hanging around. Which just makes everyone else upset, which makes Nick more freaked out, and it turns into a toxic spiral. I don’t think he does it on purpose, but being around Nick all day every day looks exhausting.
The next day, everyone feels really bad about the beating Nick took at tribal, so it looks like he’s still in the majority. He has what look like productive discussions with Lee and Sam, with the former explaining to him that seriously he just needs to calm down. If Nick could do that, he would not be Nick.
Then there’s a challenge for letters from home that I’m gonna yadda yadda through, except to note that Kristie gives up her letter for Matt and El gives hers to Flick. This is not traditionally a thing that has been useful on Survivor, but Matt seems to solidly have Kristie’s back now, so good for her. There is so much crying. So, so much crying.
Then we get the old “hold on to a pole” immunity challenge seen on, I don’t know, like seven Survivors now? Which doesn’t matter, since it makes for a pretty good individual challenge. I’m not sure we’ve seen this variation before, where you get exterior rungs instead of interior indentations, and I wonder if that leads to the seriously six hours this challenge runs for. Brooke, who lost reward, ends up stepping down for her letter, and Kylie wins immunity.
I don’t understand anything after this point. Everyone is on board with voting off Nick, but there’s no explanation as to how the consensus shifted. Is placating Sam this important? Why? Can’t you just vote off Sam for being belligerent? Flick has a confessional where she admits this plan is not in her interest. She’s right. So… how did this happen? That would have been useful information.
The plan also involves putting two votes on Sue. Did anyone catch why this is a thing? All it seems to do is make this harder to pull off.
Nick for his part, is sort of scrambling, trying to make sure the vote is actually on Sue. Everyone is just yes-ing him, and he gets that this is a bad sign, but we also never see him do anything about it, which maybe is because he’s rehearsing the wicked speech he’s about to give at tribal council. (Seriously, he spent hours on that speech.)
Tribal council starts off super boring, until Nick manages to draw Jonathan’s attention with an eyeroll that couldn’t look more deliberate. He launches into his speech, Sam interrupts him to talk about how he shouldn’t be there, and things are blowing up. Nick outs the main alliances, and directly points out how Kylie is on the outs (seriously, Kylie, you are still not in a good place, please wake up.) Jennah-Louise goes unmentioned because it’s unclear if she’s still on the season.
The vote comes in and it’s a landslide for Nick. Lee and Matt vote for Sue, and I still don’t get why that’s a thing anyone thought was necessary. Nick is gone, and this season lost one of its most interesting wild cards.
- Purple Jennah watch: three episodes into the merge without a confessional from Purple Jenna.
- Seriously, can someone explain why Lee and Matt had to put votes on Sue?