On Wednesday, April 5, the tribes merged! The merge episode is always one I eagerly anticipate, because it’s fascinating to see how players adjust their strategy for the individual phase. It’s also fun to see everyone meet after getting to know them individually in the pre-merge — all my favorites on one beach!
Early on, we learned that the dissolution of Tika would not end the drama. Josh and Yam Yam’s feud was still very real — those two wanted each other gone. Even when Josh pitched a mutually beneficial alliance, Yam Yam nodded along unconvincingly. He craved the petty satisfaction of eliminating Josh himself.
Josh was sloppy out of the gate. He told Brandon that he had an idol, but then disclosed to Jamie that it was fake. He had already lied to Carolyn and Yam Yam, telling them he had a real idol. Of course, this would get around to others, and he didn’t think quickly enough on his feet to cover his tracks. The conflicting stories made him look untrustworthy, and Josh became an immediate target.
Carolyn struggled with fitting in initially. Interacting with 11 other people was overwhelming for her, as she hates small talk. Luckily, she was able to reconnect with Carson. They were close before Carson got swapped from Tika, so their relationship was easy to rekindle. Carson successfully reunited Yam Yam and Carolyn in this episode, creating a trio with the potential to do damage in this game.
Matt and Frannie remained cute together throughout the episode, which surprised no one. They whisper to each other at night and hold hands while others aren’t watching. I’ve been very impressed with how they’ve managed to stay under the radar as a couple. Both of them are in fantastic positions socially, and the further they get, the more dangerous their bond becomes.
The merge challenge had the same format as in “Survivor 43.” Players were split into two groups of six, with one group winning immunity at the first vote. Carson, Frannie, Matt, Carolyn, Jamie, and Brandon won decisively, sending Kane, Lauren, Heidi, Josh, Danny, and Yam Yam to tribal. The main reason it was a blowout was that Carson knew the puzzle: It was one that he had 3D printed in preparation for the season! It was inspirational to see his love for the game benefit him in such a massive way.
Josh and Yam Yam were the two names initially on the chopping block. Although Josh’s lies made him a target, they also somewhat helped him — people were scared that his idol was real, especially Brandon and Matt. Despite Carolyn’s assurance that Josh’s idol was fake, Matt remained unconvinced. Just like last episode, Carolyn was ignored. Matt wanted Kane to go home, which became the new plan.
Carson told Kane that his name was brought up, and Kane took it from there. A lot of players panic when they find themselves in this position, but Kane didn’t. He calmly started convincing people to vote Yam Yam out. There was no idol suspicion about Yam Yam, so he’d be an easy vote. In the end, the tribe split the vote between Yam Yam and Josh to protect themselves from an idol. Josh had no idol to play, so he went home regretting his lies.
The real winner of this episode was Carson. He strengthened bonds with Yam Yam, Carolyn, and Kane in this episode alone and managed to keep all of them safe. Even Brandon seems to be rather close to Carson. Multiple players trust and want to work with him. That’s a fantastic spot to be in.
11 players remain in the game. Four are originally from Ratu (Brandon, Kane, Jaime, Lauren), four are from Soka (Danny, Frannie, Heidi, Matt), and three are from Tika (Carolyn, Carson, Yam Yam). Tune in next week to see how the merge continues to unfold.