‘Genius is what that was’
Not only did the merge happen, but we also had two amazing challenges, a lot of strategy talk and a tribe named after Amber’s stuffed animal. What more can you ask from a Survivor episode?
But let’s start with the start.
‘The winner of this Duel…’
Sarita arrived at Redemption Island and began to tell Matt how awesome everyone back at Zapatera is. Considering she’s talking about the people who just blindsided her, that just about shows how awesome she is herself.
When everybody from both tribes was invited to witness the Duel, it occurred to everyone the merge may be coming. When they arrived at the Arena, they were also informed the winner of the Duel would go back into the game. Sure, we’ve known this for a week now, but all the players were shocked. If Sarita was to reenter the game, she was going to stick with Zapatera. But what would Matt do? Stick with Ometepe or go with Zapatera? Rob in particular was worried about this and rightfully so; he was the one who orchestrated his blindside.
It was only fitting for the ‘Last Duel’ to be an endurance one. The same challenge from Tocantins was used: standing on narrow footholds. Remember Coach falling to the ground and crying because of the pain he was in?
When the Duel started, I was really rooting for both of the contenders. Phillip gave Matt a 15 minute speech about some sort of Samurai Code, which could have been reduced to ‘stay focused’. Meanwhile, Zapatera (especially Julie) kept cheering for Sarita; I loved that. It reminded me of the early seasons of Survivor. That made me root for Sarita a little more than Matt. So naturally, she had to lose. I was sad to see her go, because she was a genuine, caring person. I wish she’d gone farther. At the same time, I was happy to see Matt win his way back into the game. He fought for it and deserved it.
‘We are merged’
Jeff then announced the tribes merged into one (which Rob later named Murlonio, after one of Amber’s stuffed animals – how awesome was that?). But that’s not all: Redemption Island Duels start all over again. I’ll admit I did not see that coming and I’m not so sure how I feel about it. If the next player reenters the game when there are (say) seven people left, great. It would bring drama; it will cause power shifts and everything you might want. But if the player enters the game when there are five people left…then they’re basically handed Final Three on a silver plate.
I thought Matt would receive Individual Immunity for the first Tribal Council he goes to, so that he has a chance to get back into the swing of things. I remember that was the case in Pearl Islands, so I was surprised they didn’t do something similar.
After the merge feast and the building of the new shelter, the hunt for Matt was on. Everybody realized he was the swing vote and everybody wanted to win him over. Mike even went as far as promising him Final Four and revealing he has access to an Idol.
To be honest I think Mike made a rushed decision there. Yes, he had to convince Matt to vote with Zapatera, but why wouldn’t you keep the Idol as a last minute resort? If I was in his place, I wouldn’t have brought the Idol up at all. Instead, I would have played it at Tribal Council; that way, the chances of being able to blindside someone from the other tribe would have increased.
‘I am impressed’
The first challenge for Individual Immunity involved standing on a log and balancing three balls on a disc – not easy. And can I just say it- the Immunity Necklace looks awesome this season.
Although this challenge didn’t require any physical strength, I never would have expected Julie and Ashley to be the first ones out. Everybody else did pretty well, with the final four people being Mike, Ralph, Steve and Natalie. When both Ralph and Steve dropped their balls, I was sure Mike was going to win. He hasn’t moved the entire duration of the challenge; he was ‘like a statue’. Still, it was Natalie who won. Natalie, the little girl who was plucking hairs out of her body a few episodes ago. Kudos to her, though I am tempted to say it was the fly’s fault Mike lost. :D
That meant, however, that Mike might as well go home. Rob thought he could get Matt and Andrea to flip, so he wants him out. Mike came up with a great plan: They were going to use the Idol and take out Grant. After that they’ll reel Mat and Andrea in and they’re good for the rest of the game. If only that plan worked…
All about Matt
Matt screwed up big time though.
Firstly, in the dead of the night he told Andrea he wanted to take down Ometepe and blindside Rob. He was so passionate about this and Andrea’s reaction was just hilarious, so I really wanted the plan to work. It would have been amazing.
But after that, because of ’God’s will’, he ran to Rob and confessed everything. He told Rob about the plan, the Idol, Andrea wanting to flip… what was that? As Andrea said it, it was just ‘plain stupid’.
In Rob’s words, I also ‘don’t have a problem with God’, but it wasn’t God who won all those Duels. It wasn’t God who kept Matt in the game. It was Matt. He kept himself in the game. So he should have tried to do everything he can to stay, not run back to the person who voted you out and admit you wanted to flip.
All that reminded me of the joke with a man praying in front of the statue of some god every day: ‘Dear God, please, please let me win the lottery’. After a while, the exasperated statue comes to life and says to the man ‘Dear child, please, please buy a ticket’.
History repeats itself
As a result of Matt’s crazy actions, Rob got all nervous again and convinced his former tribe mates (including Matt’s ally Andrea and Samurai Phillip, who until a few days ago wanted to eliminate him) to vote Matt. Still, as Murlonio prepared to vote at Tribal Council, I didn’t know what to expect. All the talking made me think Matt considered changing his mind.
In the end though, Ralph played the Idol for Mike, who ultimately received no votes. Everyone at Zapatera voted for Grant. Everyone at Ometepe voted for Matt. Matt voted Steve (Why? I have no idea). Matt was eliminated. He eliminated himself. He came back into the game just to be sent right back to Redemption Island. And he deserved it: he has no idea how to play this game.
Now the Ometepe Six are in a great position, since they have the numbers advantage. Rob still is their leader and no one knows about his Idol. Zapatera doesn’t have an Idol anymore. What will happen next week? I can’t wait to find out.
Did you love this episode as much as I did? Can Matt reenter the game again? Leave your thoughts below.