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Parvati Shallow is a Survivor champ and three-time competitor on the show. The OG Miss Survivor and Survivor Hall of Famer now covers health and wellness for CBS News in New York City. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.
It’s a massive day for Survivor. Massive. Today, my friends, we merge. It’s no longer blue collar vs no collar vs white collar—it’s now every man for himself. And I am excited!!
But before we merge tribes, let’s check in with Rodney, who lost his boyfriend Joaquin last week. Rodney was completely blindsided and feels like a fool. It’s not fun to be on the wrong side of a blindside. Now he knows what Sierra felt like when she lost her twinnie. Just like last time, Mike’s on damage control. Mike has positioned himself as the Papa Bear for the blue collars. He takes it upon himself to explain to Rodney that they had to blindside him because he just loved Joaq too much.
Rodney really wants to be the guy pulling the strings. His ego is bruised and there’s no amount of explaining that Mike can do to get Rodney to let it go. Rodney may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but Mike best not underestimate a man hellbent on revenge.
Rodney is ready to jump ship, and it just so happens he gets a big lucky break today. Today is a great day for Rodney and a few other lonely outcasts. Today is the merge!
Joe, one of the best challenge competitors and more likable people in the game, has been targeted a couple times. Now that he’s back with his old no collar gang, he’s the one who benefits the most from the merge right now.
I love when the competition becomes individual. The big team challenges are fun to watch, but when it’s individual, we really see who wants it the most. That’s when we know who to put our weight behind. Not only are challenges more intense from now on, but strategy talk fires up red-hot post merge.
This cast does not disappoint in either department. Once they return to the old Escameca beach, the castaways are dismayed to see that their camp has been completely dismantled. Nice move, production. Now that they all have a task to accomplish, people can get busy pairing off, making alliances and talking shop without being watched too closely by others.
Right away, the undercover power couples — Mike and Kelly, Carolyn and Tyler — covertly reunite.
Mike’s genius tactic to keep the heat off of him and Kelly has been to target any outspoken power couple — Sierra and Lindsie or Joaquin and Rodney – and break them up right away. Because of his own doing, couples are seen as the main threats in this game. Little does anyone know, however, Mike is hiding his deep alliance with Kelly. I’m actually not sure that no one knows about Mike and Kelly. Mike threw the challenge so obviously that someone must have noticed. I’d love to know.
Another under-the-radar power couple, Carolyn and Tyler, could do some serious damage in the future. These two are both highly intelligent, and Carolyn has an idol. I foresee these two gaining some serious power and control as the game continues.
The other power couple that doesn’t even try to hide is Haley and Jenn. These two have been tight since day one, and we all know when girls bond on Survivor, magic ensues. And now that Joe’s back in the fold, maybe he can help take some of the heat off of these ladies. I want to see them hang around for a while.
It doesn’t take long for my wish to come true. The first post merge challenge is a Survivor (and personal) favorite: the koala bear, pole-hugging challenge! Thanks, guys.
Typically, this challenge favors small people who can seemingly levitate themselves for days. This time, it shows us which castaway is mentally strongest. Joe, Jenn and Carolyn rise to the occasion. Joe loves this game. He holds on to the pole through the thunderstorm with a massive smile on his face. This love for the game is a powerful force. When both Jenn and Carolyn slip off their respective poles, Joe emerges the victor, saving himself from being the first post merge boot.
Now, the rest of the tribe is faced with choosing sides. Rodney’s ready to cut someone’s head off or make a game-winning touchdown, and he’s running around putting together nonsense alliances to prove it. He ropes in Will, who doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the no collar kids. With the exception of Will, all the rest of Rodney’s people look like they’re simply playing along, but they have other real alliances elsewhere. I don’t think Rodney gets that he’s not in control. He wants it so bad that he’s simply convinced himself he’s the godfather.
As we head into tribal council, it’s unclear where the line will be drawn. What is clear is that this line will be aggressively made with some sort of sharp, life-threatening weapon. Dan says chainsaw, Tyler says ice pick. I’m a bit concerned about Tyler. He’s so quiet and subdued — I don’t like his use of violent imagery. What is he hiding, anyway?
He certainly doesn’t know what Jenn is hiding when he votes for her. As Jenn pulls out her hidden immunity idol, I am fist-bumping and high-fiving her from afar. I love this girl and watching her blindside her entire tribe (with the exception of Haley) is truly sublime.
As Kelly takes the long walk to Ponderosa, I can’t help but feel a buzz of excitement. This game is getting good, and it’s about to get even better.
Tweet me @parvatishallow with questions or comments.
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