Everybody, drop your buffs. We are merged!
Red + Blue = Purple (get it?)
Episode 13 (Assistant Dragon Slayer)
- On Day 26, we check in with the Blood tribe. Jordie is grateful that he and Jesse are still in the game. Things at the tribe are copacetic, with neither Mel nor Shay making much of a fuss about the events at the previous Tribal Council. It would be stupid to, with the merge at hand.
- Reward challenge: The castaways come on in, and in fact it is the merge. Everybody gets new purple buffs.
- The challenge is your basic stack blocks on a wobbly table and use a rope to keep everything from falling over, except you’re making a triangle comprised of triangular pieces, and there’s a pattern you need to reproduce, so once again we have something that’s puzzle-adjacent but isn’t really a puzzle.
- The reward is AUD60,000 (about USD43,000), sponsored by what Google tells me is Australia’s national lottery. Not cool, Australian Survivor. PSA: Never play the lottery.
- Even though they’ve merged, the lanes of the challenge are alternately red and blue. Weird. Is Nina’s withdrawal still throwing off the challenge schedule?
- Khanh wins, never having dropped his blocks.
- While everybody feasts, Jordie give us the state of play: four couples and five singles. We’re hearing an awful lot from Jordie all of a sudden.
- Khanh is very pleased with himself and thinks that not having Amy around frees up his game. He doesn’t seem to think he’s getting out on a limb, having won two challenges in a row and possessing a public idol.
- Jordie tells Jesse about Mark’s idol immediately. Jesse tells Jordie that he’s super-close with Sam, and wants to keep the big boys alliance going for a while.
- Mel gets her very first confessional of the season, followed immediately by her intro package. Well shit, she’s doomed. Mel tells Michelle she wants Shay out.
- Sam and Mark check notes. Since Sam is close with Jesse, she wants to bring in Jordie as well. She starts proposing a couples alliance to Jordie, and he starts talking about how they can use Mark’s idol, having made the perfectly reasonable assumption that Mark told her about it. Except he hasn’t. Oops.
- The editors really milk this moment for all it’s worth, carrying it over a commercial break so they can do that Australian Survivor thing of repeating the pre-commercial footage. Then they stitch together at least three separate confessionals of Sam saying she can’t believe Mark withheld the information from her.
- When Sam busts Mark, he first pretends not to hear her, then laughs it off, then says he was just about to tell her, then says he didn’t tell her for her own protection, then is wounded that Sam isn’t proud of him for finding an idol. As someone who’s been married longer than Survivor has been on the air, let’s just say that I’ve never identified with a Survivor player more than I did with Mark in this moment.
- Fortunately for Mark, Sam seems less angry than bemused (and she knows when to play up something for the cameras).
- Chrissy’s heard that it’s good to make the merge. She can’t believe she’s still in the game.
- The merged tribe needs to come up with a name. KJ notes that the area (Queensland) is volcanic (really?) and Mark mutters “lava”. Everybody quickly homes in on that as a tribe name. This is literally the bare minimum necessary to improve on last season’s “Fire” as a merge tribe name. Shay notes that lava looks like blood but runs like water. Whoa, that’s deep, Shay.
- The four Js and Mark hang out in the water. Mark says that that five plus Sam are a solid alliance. This is Brad Culpepper math on a tribe of 13, but it underscores what I said last week about Mel beating Ben in fire-making being a potential sliding doors moment for the season.
- Khanh, no dummy, joins the group in the water, in case they’re plotting against him. Mark confirms that everybody thinks he’s a threat. This seems really dumb to me but maybe Survivor players have advanced to the point where it’s pointless to BS each other.
- Immunity Challenge: It’s the James Clement Memorial “Oh, Bitch!” Challenge, but instead of simply being strapped to the bucket you have to hold 35% of your body weight in an arm-curl position. JLP asks if they’ve come up with a tribe name and Shay repeats the line about lava looking like blood but flowing like water, but steps on it by noting that blood also flows like water.
- JLP notes that the challenge favors someone with a high strength-to-weight ratio, like Shay. She tells JLP to stop putting a target on her. Jordie and Khanh weirdly go out simultaneously, as if they agreed to do so. Mark drops immediately after them which also seems strange.
- JLP commends KJ for lasting so long in the challenge, and KJ jokes about how jacked her biceps look. This distracts Shay (who is pound for pound the most jacked person in the cast and it’s not close) and she triggers the dunking mechanism on accident. Mark and Jordie start conferring on who to get rid of, and tentatively agree to split between Khanh and Shay.
- The challenge comes down to KJ and Jesse, and Jesse wins.
- Mark wants to vote out Khanh, with Mel the back-up in case Khanh plays his idol instead of Shay, who as it turns out, is who Sam wants to get rid of. I’m not sure why Sam is targeting Shay, since Shay is a number looking for a lifeline and makes an excellent meat shield for Sam, as we just saw in the challenge. Sam says she’s worried about Shay sweeping the immunity challenges, which is crazy given how many challenges there are left to go, absence of puzzles notwithstanding. She reiterates that she’s tight with Khanh.
- Mark is confident he has the numbers, but I don’t see how. If the three pairs are choosing from among Khanh, Shay, and Mel as targets, then they need all three of the unaccounted-for votes (Chrissy, KJ, and Dave) to safely split the vote.
- Khanh believes he’s safe because he has KJ, Mel, Michelle, and Sam (and by extension Mark). This math also doesn’t add up unless he’s assuming he can get Chrissy as well.
- Mark and Sam finally confer, and Mark says that he wants to get rid of Khanh, and Sam objects, noting that he’s been completely loyal to her. Mark stresses that Khanh is dangerous, but Sam says he’s a dangerous player that will work with her. I think Mark is more correct than Sam on the merits, but he’s strong-arming her instead of persuading her.
- Sam checks in with Jordie and Jesse, and it doesn’t look like she has to pull to get the vote onto Shay.
- Tribal council: Shay says she’s worried because she has no loved one and few connections. KJ acknowledges that the pairs have the numbers to mow down the singles. Jesse says anything could happen, Jordie has a great line about everybody throwing their keys in a bowl. Mark and Sam are clearly not completely on the same page. Khanh and Shay seem well aware that they’re being targeted.
- Khanh doesn’t play his idol. The votes are Shay, Shay, Mel, Mel, Mel, Mel, Khanh, Khanh, Khanh, Khanh, Khanh, KHANH.
- Khanh put too much faith in his ties with Sam, and even without the benefit of hindsight, things were dicey enough that he should have played his idol.
- I don’t think Sam will ever actually break from Mark in a vote (let alone vote him out), but it’s very clear she has no say/is on the bottom of the alliance, and she can’t be happy about that.
Episode 14 (kemperboyd)
- We start off immediately with Mark and Sam arguing. Sam is completely right, it doesn’t do her game any good to be lumped in with 5 boys and be seen as having no agency. Mark is wrong because Sam wasn’t under Khanh’s spell, Khanh was under Sam’s protection. Sam seems to be the most dangerous social player this season, up until this point she was the fulcrum of every single vote she went to. Her tribemates came to her for strategy and Khanh’s idol was there for them to use.
- Immediately we get the answer to my question about the Alpha Alliance, it’s Mark, Jordan, Jordy, Josh then he says “plus Sam and Jessie”, shows that Sam is an afterthought in this and even the Kid gets no real consideration. There is a cockiness to this alliance that I do not enjoy.
- Chrissy and Dave discuss that Sam had no agency in the vote. Sam uses the word complicit. Sam talks about the boys, about them feeling powerful and is Mark blinded by the bromance.
- We are shown lots of discussion between the Alpha 6 about booting Shay. Then Jordy tells us that he feels the alliance is too comfortable and maybe it’s time to strike before the others have an opportunity to strike first. Jordy as a chaos agent sounds good to me.
- Jordy tells Josh about Mark’s idol. Now, he does this with no discussion with Jessie, who’s closest ally apart from his brother is Sam.
- Immunity Challenge is filling a leaky drum with water, level a table, build a puzzle, keep enough water in the drum to keep the table balanced. Shay wins immunity, taking the easy vote off the table. Showing Sam was probably right and they should have taken out the easy target when they had the chance.
- Sam talks with Mark about going after Josh but he doesn’t want to. Much like Jordy Sam wants to make the move first.
- Josh tells Jordan about Jordy telling him about Mark’s idol. Interestingly Josh sees this as a weakness in Jordy not a threat from Mark. Jordy talks, he is seen as being willing to give up information about his allies and Josh is his allies. Josh has a vibe about him and it’s not good.
- Josh and Jordan still want it to be a 6-4 split on Mel and Michelle, Josh then tells Michelle it’s them, which is very dumb. Mel and Michelle then go to work and starts by talking to Mark about going for Josh. The plan is to just talk to the women. Take the power. PLURALITY!
- Sam says “females” way too many times for me to like.
- Sam says that if she is to get on it then she needs to know 100% they have the numbers to move forward.
- Mel talks to Chrissy and KJ and Chrissy says she needs to think about it. What is there to think about as a lone woman? There are 6 men left, 5 of whom are in a tight alliance that includes ones wife. They are going to split a vote 6-4, if you can take KJ, Shay and Chrissy (not even Sam) off the right sides it can be a 4-2 split and then Mel, Michelle, KJ, Shay and Chrissy can take out Josh. No need for Sam to vote with them, no need to ever talk to Dave. Just a nice simple Cirie Fields plurality.
- Christ Michelle is suck a fucking floater she lets Mel do all the work. I can now see the threat people see in them. Michelle is just there, being willing to vote for whoever and Mel is a proper strategist just waiting for the right moment.
- At Tribal Council: Khahn walks in in deep V silky robe/suity thing and looks very nice. The Jury react very positively towards him and his gorgeousness. Jordan says “there is no point hiding it there is a solid majority”, Dave says it’s decision by committee, which we know isn’t true. Michelle says it’s public knowledge it’s a split vote between her and Mel and that strategically they aren’t a major threat. Mel says there are major threats and it’s not her and Michelle. Josh says that Mel and Michelle are incredibly smart women and Sandra said the big boys are all going to be picked off and the only way is to turn on each other and for the floaters in the middle to pick them off. Mel is asked who she thinks it should be and straight up answers “Josh is a serious threat, he’s the strategic mind”. Mel says again that the boys are tight, that people can’t just be a number and need to make moves or they’ll be picked off.
The vote are in and Mel is voted out in a vote of 6-4-1-1. Mel and Michelle didn’t even vote for the same person.
- This was abysmal play from the remaining women, firstly Mel was right, this was it. The 6 of them could have done it. Mel and Michelle didn’t even vote together with is egregious.
- As unfun as I think a bunch of young fit men coming together is for a season I don’t think these women deserve to win. Shay blew an idol for no reason that she now obviously needs. Sam is now allowing her husband to dictate her game when he has a harder road to win if his alliance goes deep than she would have with the ragtag bunch of followers on the opposite side. Chrissy isn’t playing. KJ would rather sit. And Michelle couldn’t even vote with her sister when they needed a split vote plurality. Honestly at this point I might be rooting for Jessie. URGH WHAT A MESS.
The AU Team is Kemper Boyd, Assistant Dragon Slayer, Blurry Denzel, and Barbara Anderson, who are joined by special guest and genuine Australian Something Quirky. Everything about Australian Survivor is big, including the team needed to cover it.