The merge episode. It's always chaos. It's always manic. It's always entertaining. And in my opinion, it's always the most important vote of the season. It's very unpredictable and can really set the tone for the rest of the season by establishing who is in the majority alliance. And when you add in all the different idols and advantages at play, the vote can really get impossible to comprehend. But we did our best of it on the latest Snuffing Torches where we joined by a very special guest.
SEASON 42 FINALIST HOBOKEN MIKE
We finally delivered on our promise of a guest and made it happen. Mike was awesome. He offered a ton of insight on this season, his season, and the Survivor process in general. Give it a watch and you won't regret it. And throw it a like and subscription if you're feeling generous! Can also/listen subscribe on Apple and Spotify.
Alright now onto the written recap...
-After all tribes got their tree mail saying the merge was imminent, they met at Yellow's beach. There was a lot of chaos and figuring things out as always, but things were especially hectic due to all the idols and advantages floating around.
-Owen was trying to his best to make sense of who had what. And since everyone has been blabbermouths this season, he was basically able to piece it all together (outside of Karla's idol but that could get out if people talk about her collecting beads, since that's how Elie and Jeanine figured out Cody had one).
-For those keeping track at home, as we head into the merge here are the advantages: Karla has an idol. Gabler has an idol good for one more tribal. Cody has an idol. Jeanine has an idol but no vote for a tribal. Jesse has no vote for a tribal. Noelle has a steal-a-vote.
-Another highlight from this part of the episode was Elie boasting about how good she was at the game of Survivor, talking up her mix of social and strategy prowess. Once I heard this quote, I knew doom and gloom was looming for her. Survivor Editing 101.
-The 13 remaining castaways got to the challenge where Jeff told them they'd have to earn their spot in the merge just like the last two seasons. But unlike the last seasons....... THE HOURGLASS TWIST IS GONE... Thank the high heavens! What will go down as perhaps the worst twist in Survivor history is officially a thing of the past. Credit to Jeff and the producers for listening to audience feedback and ditching it. Everyone rejoiced.
-But one person would still draw a gray rock and be the odd person out, having to sit out of the challenge and choosing which team to back. The winning team was immune at tribal and guaranteed a spot in the merge. The losing tribe was on the chopping block. Everyone could vote. The blue tribe was Gabler, Jesse, Ryan, Jeanine, Dwight and Karla. The red tribe was Cassidy, James, Elie, Sami, Owen, Cody. Noelle chose the blue tribe.
-While the red tribe may have seemed a little stronger on the surface, I think they were close enough where it wasn't a huge difference. I'd deem it more important to consider what group you'd want to be sitting at tribal with should you lose. Surround yourself with the bigger targets who might be on the chopping block before you. Noelle's closest ally Dwight was on the blue tribe, as was Jesse from her old tribe, so I think the decision made sense.
-While red got out to a huge lead, blue stormed back to win it, proving Noelle's decision to be a fruitful one. Elie really botched the puzzle for red and made the comeback possible. Also quick shoutout to James and Owen who scaled the biggest ramp in Survivor history like Spider-Man.
-The 7 winners enjoyed their best, most substantial meal in a couple of weeks. Ryan threw out a very stupid statement. He suggested, "So I guess the 7 of us will all just stay together til Final 7, right?" Mind boggling, desperate move, but I guess Ryan did feel desperate based on him being on the outside of his old tribe's alliance. But to think that everyone would just stick to that group because they were randomly assigned to be together through rocks is wild. Nobody seemed to even consider the suggestion for a second.
-Then it was Gabler time. Everyone was hesitant to throw out a name because all 6 people on the chopping block had allies that were at the feast. And you didn't want to make any enemies. But not Gabler. He said he wouldn't mind seeing Elie go home since she had went through his bag at their camp. This stunned Jeanine, Elie's closest ally who was right at the feast. Some would say it was a questionable move by the AlliGabler, but that's just Gabler life baby. He's the Survivor version of a gunslinger quarterback. He's just going to throw the rock. There will be some touchdowns. There will be some interceptions. You just have to live with it. That's what a true gunslinger does.
-Originally, Elie seemed in control. Her plan was to team up with the red tribe members and take out James. And she told James her plan was to take out Cody. It at first seemed like this plan was working. She had positioned herself as a pivotal swing vote.
-But then Jeanine went back and informed Elie about how Gabler threw her under the bus and she was now on the chopping block. When she confronted Gabler about how he put her name out there, he said, "Well I don't know if it was really me who did that" and I think he was being 100% serious. Of course it was you! Classic Gabler.
-This put Sami and Owen in very awkward positions. Elie confronted them about how they told Gabler the girls went through his bag. She believed they were all aligned, when in reality Sami and Owen had aligned with Gabler to target the girls. They were sort of able to talk themselves out of it, but it's clear some trust was broken. In my view, this made getting Elie out extremely beneficial for Owen and Sami. They couldn't keep someone around who they had broken trust with and had the social gameplay capabilities of turning other against them for being untrustworthy.
-Things got even worse for Elie when the blue tribe and red tribe started to talk and realize that Elie was throwing out both James and Cody's names. They realized she was clearly playing the middle and didn't know which side could actually trust her. It was such bad gameplay from Elie. Can't be throwing out all those names to people you just met. Just sit back and shut up for a bit to let things develop. Her paranoia didn't help either. Meanwhile, look at James and Cody who barely flinched when their names came up.
-Quick shoutout to Gabler for saying he was surprised people were talking so much before tribal, thinking he'd have time to digest.
-The big decision was if Jeanine would play her idol on Elie. It's a tough call. First of all, she didn't know how in trouble Elie was. And second of all, you probably want to save that idol for yourself. Jeanine was safe at this tribal herself (and also couldn't vote). I think you can make the argument that she should have played it because having one ally you can really trust stay in the game is more important than having an idol. But you can also make that argument that playing it could be unnecessary and paint a target on your back. I think keeping it made sense because now even though Elie is out, I don't think Jeanine is the obvious next choice. She can play her own game, find a new, stronger alliance, and have the idol in her back pocket to protect her.
-Elie was taken out in a confusing 7-2-1-1 vote. Karla voted Owen. Owen voted James. Noelle voted Cassidy. Elie voted James. Everyone else voted Elie. Jesse and Jeanine couldn't vote. Confusing votes for sure. Karla and James not voting together is strange. And Owen not voting with Sami and Gabler is also strange. Perhaps there was reasoning behind all this madness, but we didn't see it explained.
-On her way out, Elie took one last shot at Gabler and said "Good luck trusting Gabler." The AlliGabler shrugged it off and said "Right back at you." Doesn't make any sense as a comeback in this particular situation, but who cares. I'm officially all in on Gabler. As a character. Not as a player. He's highly entertaining and you never know what he'll do next. I stand by saying he stinks at the game has a 0.0% chance to win, but I can't take my eyes off him. He's electric.
This is a ranking of the players I think are most likely to WIN. This is not necessarily who I think is safest in the game. Don’t look at the person ranked last as the person most likely to go home next. Look at them as the person with the least chance to win. That person could very easily get dragged to FTC as a goat, but won’t win. This is ranking people based on their chance to actually win the game.
I THINK ONE OF THESE FIVE WILL WIN
MAYBE CAN WIN BUT HIGHLY UNLIKELY
THE ALLIGABLER SWAMP