Oh, the Survivor merge. A game-changer if there ever was one. And this season's didn't disappoint, as it resulted in an elimination that it's safe to say hardly anyone saw coming.
This week's episode opened with the Bikal tribe debriefing after last week's Tribal Council, when Julia was sent home. Corinne celebrated saving Michael ("I did my job. ... I made sure I got the gay," she congratulated herself) and Phillip was sticking to his story, despite Cochran, Corinne and Dawn's skepticism that he threw the immunity challenge last week in order to get rid of Julia. With the merge looming, Dawn got a bit emotional and went on a solo walk, noting that this was the point at which her strategy fell apart the last time around and speculating what the million-dollar prize could do for her family and six children. Foreshadowing alert!
And then, the moment we've all been waiting for. The merge finally happened, with the Gota tribe arriving at the Bikal camp with a celebratory picnic and new fluorescent green bandanas. At Malcolm's suggestion, the tribe settled on "Enil Edam" for the new name. "This is the dumbest name ever," Corinne griped. "And it has too many syllables." After the players debated the meaning of the name, Malcolm confessed that the name had no other meaning than a shoutout to his mom, Madeline. (Sorry, Andrea, it doesn't mean "a new beginning.")
With a new every-player-for-himself mentality, new alliances were formed. Most importantly, Corinne teamed up with Malcolm (and therefore Eddie, Reynold and Erik), while Phillip immediately honed in on Andrea. For the first individual immunity challenge, the players were tasked with eating local delicacies — live beetle larvae, shipworms (not actually worms, but clams that host Jeff Probst called the "termites of the ocean"), duck embryos ("I can see the feathers," Eddie complained), and pig brain. Who threw up a little in their mouth while watching the contestants gag during this gross smorgasbord? And who was impressed-slash-mortified at Cochran's ability to eat this stuff like peanuts? "He's ginger Kobayashi!" Malcolm said.
It paid off though, as Cochran won immunity. "There are very few challenges I have a chance of winning," the competition's self-described "pipsqueak" said afterwards, when defending his "over-the-top, somewhat obnoxious victory celebration," which consisted of a few boxing moves in the sand. (Here's hoping his earlier prediction, that winning an exotic eating competition would impress the ladies and improve his dating life, comes true.)
With the players once again in a Fans vs. Favorites mentality, Phillip proposed splitting the vote between Eddie and Reynold to flush the idol out, while Corinne argued to vote Sherri out. "I believe in getting rid of the power first," Phillip said. But with everyone else on board to vote for Sherri, and Cochran noting that the Favorites should vote together in order to show the Fans they were a strong alliance, Phillip's uncompromising insistence only spurred Corinne forward. She approached Eddie and Reynold to bring them on board — and told Dawn that she wanted to vote Phillip out in the next tribal council, after Sherri.
"Here we go again," Dawn said. "Last time I played, I came into this kind of information and I didn't share it with anybody. And that was my downfall last time, so I can't repeat that same mistake."
With that in mind, Dawn told Cochran — who in turn told Andrea, who in turn told Phillip, etc., etc. — of Corinne's plan to align with the Fans and blindside the Favorites. So the Favorites came up with a new plan: vote off Corinne. Phillip, who couldn't believe Corinne was angling to vote off "The Specialist," told Sherri of the plan and encouraged her to align with him and the other Favorites. And Andrea looped in Erik, the swing vote, who went into Tribal Council torn between his alliance to the Favorites and the alliance he formed with Malcolm, Eddie and Reynold last week.
When it came time to vote, the Favorites' strategy paid off and an obviously stunned Corinne was voted out. Even more shocked? Corinne's allies, clearly unsure of where to go from here.
Were you surprised by the vote? Do you think the Favorites made a mistake in voting off one of their own? And will you miss Corinne's sound bites? Weigh in below!
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