I have to admit, this season of Survivor is a drop-off in quality over last season. At least in the episodes we’ve seen so far. But, it’s not too late. There are plenty of episodes left, and I think the potential is there, personality-wise, for things to get more interesting. We must be close to a merge for the tribes at Survivor: Gabon. Please, say we’re close to a merge. This show needs change — change we can believe in.

Careful guys, SHE has the power.
Kota returns to camp, shaken after their trip to tribal council. The alliance leaders set about making plans to shore up their deficiencies. Susie, in particular, is under attack. Susie states that the people of the Kota 6 alliance think that they have the power, but that she thinks she has the power. Really Suze. How’s that work? You’re a target of the most powerful alliance in your tribe, and you have zero friends in the other tribe. Is that your idea of power? The way she’s played this game so far, I think she actually believes what she just said. Stay away from her, you don’t want any of the Kool-Aid she’s been sipping.

Another reshuffle for a worn-out deck. The Fang camp is celebrating their blindside against Ace, and as Ace’s lone ally, Matty is feeling the heat. He truly does need a merge to stay alive. If there isn’t one, and Fang has another immunity challenge, they’ll almost surely lose it and he’ll be gone.

Kota gets their tree mail which appears to allude to a merge (thank ye gods.) Kota is understandably excited as, in the case of a merge, Kota 6 will get a chance to pick off the members of the weaker Fang tribe directly. Both tribes enjoy a feast. Hidden amidst the spread, a clue for an immunity idol, buried nearby, lies. After some debate, both tribes decide to look for the idol, and then put it up for grabs. Randy very quickly finds the idol, and places it on the table for anyone to take. A lot of Fang members are tempted, but ultimately, no one wants to be a target and the idol is eventually tossed into the sea. Bizarrely (and I think it has something to do with the drink,) Randy proclaims himself king of the beach and in control of everyone. What the hell is going on with these boasts – from relatively weak survivors – proclaiming their ultimate power in this game? Did someone chuck LSD into the rice?

After the feast and the excitement of the immunity idol, all the survivors open a box which contains tree mail telling them that they will again be reorganized into new tribes.  The new Kota includes Bob, Marcus, Suzie, Crystal, and Ken. New Fang is Randy, Matty, Charlie, Corinne, and Sugar. Well well, it turns out that Suzie might have that power she was talking about. This isn’t a merge, but it should be interesting to see if the Kota 6 , split into three on each tribe, can stay together and pick off the members of old Fang in the new tribes.

New tribes – strategize. At the new Kota, a revelation is made. Marcus discovers that Crystal is the cousin of one of his best friends. Marcus and Crystal make overtures of friendship to each other. Marcus is beginning to rethink those who are in his alliance, as he realizes that he has a connection with Crystal. Crystal’s connection is not as deep, and she reveals that she would be as willing to blindside Marcus as she was Ace.

Corinne and Charlie plan who they are to take out next, and they set their sights on Matty. Meanwhile, Matty confronts Sugar with the knowledge that she was duped into blindsiding Ace. Sugar expresses remorse over being fooled by Kenny and Crystal. So at this point, either Sugar isn’t the gamer that I was hoping she was, and is a tool to be used by anyone nearby; or she is not only a gamer, but a fantastic actress to boot. Time will tell, but I’m letting my hopes slip away.

Marcus has a talk with Susie, and her responses to his questions about what the old Kota members should do don’t inspire him with much confidence as to where her allegiances lie. Susie realizes, quite rightly, that her best move might be to cut the head off the alliance which is only allowing her to exist on its fringes.

Finally a Fang win (and it only took a tribal reshuffle to make it happen!)
Corinne, Randy and Charlie plan to throw the next immunity challenge and vote off Matty, as they are unsure about whether or not Susie can be trusted to stay allied with them. Marcus would be proud that his people are working so hard to protect him. Matty is sensing that time, his old enemy, is running out.

At the immunity challenge, the tribes are confronted with an endurance test (which happens to be set up much like an individual immunity challenge would be.) Survivors must fight against fatigue in their arms to keep poles raised and balanced on their hands, last tribe with a member still balancing poles wins immunity. Crystal is first to exit (I would love to see footage from her Olympic career,) and the challenge quickly develops into a showdown between Matty and Bob. Matty is fighting for his own life in the game, and after a tense competition, he manages to outlast Bob. Bad for the Kota 6, but good for us, the viewers, as there is more doubt as to who Kota will vote out than there is to who Fang’s target is.

Susie, the swing state.
Kota v.3 laments their loss, and Marcus is pushing for Ken to go home. Crystal is being offered an invite to the Kota 6 in exchange for a vote against Ken. Crystal might go along with this, but for the fact that she is being asked to take out her longtime ally. Marcus works again on Susie, and she seems more willing to stay with the Kota 6 for now. Crystal tells Ken that Marcus is shooting for him, and Kenny knows that he needs to get Susie’s vote to make himself safe. Crystal tries to sway Susie, and Susie, who once reveled in the power she felt, is now quailing under the options that she is being presented with. Heavy is the head that bears the crown.

Ken and Marcus get into it a bit at tribal. Ken resents the fact that Marcus is unwilling to accept the mantle of leader of the Kota alliance. The tribes are not questioned by Jeff much before going to vote, and before long, the votes are read. Susie has swung toward Kenny’s side, and voted off Marcus. It’s a better move for her, though Marcus, the man she just betrayed, is now the first member of the jury.

Two blindsides in a row? Two of the most influential players in the game gone? A power vacuum that will be filled by who?  Ken? Matty? Corinne and Charlie? Randy? Sugar? Who can say?  All I know for sure is that this season of Survivor is starting to get more interesting. A merge at this point with the potential for the power to swing away from the Kota 6 (now 4) alliance to the remnants of Fang and disenfranchised Kota members makes the outlook for this season much brighter than it was a couple of weeks ago. Let’s tune in next week and test our luck!

Posted by:Andrew Stubinski