It has gotten to the point where if I see the long form credit sequence, I know we are going to be watching a subpar episode of Survivor. The scary part is that based on the tribal shuffling, we may be having some more issues coming up. Remember the inequity of the One World tribal shuffle? Yeah, we have a repeat. Our only hope to avoid a streak of blowouts will be for a lot of puzzle challenge – and even that is no guarantee, as Malcolm is just as good at those. The most interesting thing to watch for as we approach a merge – which could actually be in very soon – is whether or not the Faves reform at the merge.
This could be a real situation. The former Faves came out of the shuffle with a 4-3 advantage in each tribe. If they stick together, there won’t be many fans left by the time we reach the endgame this season. There are a couple of scenarios which could mess around with things, however; but what are the odds that we get any real movement?
For context – the new tribes are:
Gota – Eddie, Reynold, Andrea, Sherri, Malcolm, Erik and Brenda
Bikal – Corinne, Phillip, Mike, ZZ Top, Michael, Cochran, Dawn and Julia
That’s a very physical tribe over at Gota, where they arguably have the four strongest men AND the three strongest women. As the tribes formed, Gota instantly showed the fracturing of the fans. The three of them are not joining together and searching for a Fave to flip, which increases the likelihood of either Eddie or Sherri going out if they ever lose a challenge. However, if the three fans stuck together…
Scenario 1 – They realize the hierarchy of the Faves left Erik and Brenda at the bottom of the eight Faves. Unless they have cut an unseen Final Four deal, those two would be perfect candidates to flip and take out Andrea or Malcolm. CHANCES? Slim.
Scenario 2 – The boys stick together. The four young guys become a team and take out the women, eventually teaming up with a former Fave or former Fan faction which remains on the other side. CHANCES? None.
Scenario 3 – The ladies team up. All they would need is to convince one of the guys to flip over to join them. Malcolm could be the one – with the women, Corinne and Michael on the other side, that’s a six-person alliance that is on its way to power. CHANCES? Possible, but doubtful.
Scenario 4 – Nothing happens. The Faves stick together and take Eddie out first – since they still have three other young dudes, then Sherri. And link back up with the other Faves to run the table.
Meanwhile, the Bikal weakling tribe was also 4-3 after the shuffle. The Phil/Corinne/Cochran/Dawn majority is less vulnerable to fracture – with the exception of Phillip. However, the Fans came over and didn’t do much at all to try and split them up. Instead, Julia curried favor. ZZ Top pledged fealty. Michael went along with his buddy, and linked up with self-proclaimed “f-g hag” Corinne to become her new Charlie. This meant one Fan would be the first post-shuffle boot. However, if the fans stuck together…
Scenario 1 - Convince the others that with Hulka and Brandon leaving, now is the time to oust the other big personality. They would all rest easier with less Stealth R Us chatter and less purple underwear. CHANCES? Somewhat likely.
Scenario 2 - ZZ Top and Michael convince Cochran and Dawn to form a new power foursome – pledging Sherri from the other side to join them, thinking that physically they would stand no chance down the road against others, so why not link up. CHANCES? Not bloody likely.
Scenario 3 - I just don’t have one. Phillip is not a moveable entity, so they are very limited in what they can do. Cochran and Dawn seem to be a tight South Pacific duo. That leaves Corinne as an ally, but it is very unlikely to convince her to leave her power alliance to form a group of four with them. Even if she did and took out Phillip, if the Faves reformed with the other six at the merge, she’d be at four and dependent on the remaining fans to come over – and NOT to vote her out immediately. Unlikely.
What happened was Corinne protecting Michael as a ward of her state, ZZ Top going full in with them and Julia actually speaking to Phillip, and no one else. The plan following their embarrassing loss in the challenge was to take out the quiet race car driver and send Julia out of the game. They were worried about the idol – since they have no clue if these three fans had it in their possession. ZZ Top was rather adamant about not having it which wound up having the opposite effect than what he intended. He wanted them to feel comfortable with him, and that he was no threat to burn them, so keep him around as an ally. Instead, they bought his story about not having the idol, and viewed him as a safe vote. Cochran also pointed out that breaking up a solid duo is always a good thing. Ironically, Cochran is actually a part of a solid duo, so there’s that.
So, ZZ Top is gone – a shame because he was kind of a fun character. Michael is now under Corinne’s protection – and one wonders if she will use him as a Final Three option with Malcolm down the road, and as a Phillip substitute for their alliance. She got a whole lot more attention this week, and I wonder if that is significant. Hulka and Brandon demanded so much screen time that some other non-Phillip contestant needs to fill the void. I wonder if Corinne will start to become more of a factor – she sure is a quote machine. Reynold has gotten plenty of air time so far, and now finds himself in better shape due to the shuffle. If they start losing, he is likely the last of the three fans to go – and I don’t think a) there are many episodes before the merge and b) they will be losing very much.
If we follow recent form, the merge is coming up very soon. It has been at either the F11 or F12 mark in each season since Heroes vs. Villains when it was at the F10. We currently have 13 Survivors left. That means only 1-3 eliminations based on the current tribe formations. The odds-on-favorites for eliminations during that span of time are – Julia, Phillip, Michael, Eddie, Sherri and Reynold. In that order. What that means for the merge? Hard to tell because the alliances are very nebulous so far as to whom is truly in power. Let’s see some combination of Malcolm, Corinne, Andrea, Cochran and Dawn making it, with Erik and Brenda now in better shape. Then maybe Reynold and Sherri in decent shape. I think Michael and/or Phillip joins the merge. Then we will see what the power truly is – and don’t be surprised to see the big boys get booted rather quickly from the game.
Other than that…not much to the episode. Shuffle. Readjustment. Blowout challenge. No more ZZ Top. And a season teetering on the edge of mediocrity…or worse.