Survivor “It’s Merge Time” Review

survivor "It's Merge Time"

Survivor returned tonight, and as the title suggests: “It’s Merge Time”! I’m not sure why the merge always seems to surprise people so much, but just about everybody this week seemed so floored when it happened tonight even though it’s happening at basically the exact same week as previous seasons. Aubry and Joe are all worried about the longevity of their tribe after their waffling in last week’s tribal, but you’d think that those smart people could have done the math and realized that they were going to merge soon.

The merge obviously happens, and people are grouping up all over the place. The fact that there’s still three active idols really adds an interesting wrinkle to the game, especially because the uber powerful Super Idol is definitely a possibility. They keep talking about it, so you’d think they’re going to try to make it happen at some point in this season. However, I really want to get more details about how exactly that works. Does one person have to take possession of two idols beforehand and combine them? Or can two willing owners combine their idols into the Super Idol? Like, if Jason and Tai wanted to combine their idols, do they both have to agree on who it saves? It seems like the only way for this thing to really be used is if one person takes possession of two idols beforehand, and then they get the entire say in who gets saved. This is still a really cool twist, but they really didn’t give us too many details on how it works.

The first individual immunity challenge was a classic balance game, and it gave Jeff Probst ample opportunities to do what he loves doing: Talking about balls. I don’t know if Jeff is in on the joke, but I feel like the editors get a big kick out of highlighting all of his ball sayings. Some gems tonight include “Tai’s balls are knockin’ together…that’s never good”, “Nick’s balls are dancin’ around”, and multiple instances of saying people’s balls dropped. Strong work, Jeff.

Nick ends up handling his balls with the most proficiency, and he wins the pretty new individual immunity necklace. Winning the idol makes him even more insufferably cocky and headstrong, which is not a good look for him.

Speaking of not a good look, the episode took an even uglier turn as Jeff and Dr. Rupert made a house call to the Dara camp to inspect the myriad injuries that the players complained of at the challenge. After looking at some seriously nasty bumps and growths, the doctor had to pull Neal from the game. This season has to be setting a record for number of medical evacuations and doctor visits, and it’s so frustrating that people get pulled out for things as seemingly minor as this. I don’t know why they can’t just clean out the sore, bandage it, and give him some antibiotics. They can keep an eye on it, and is anybody really going to feel like it’s unfair treatment? If he was passing out like Caleb, or his heart rate is going all haywire or there seems to be things that are immediately and seriously wrong with him, then it makes sense to yank him. I hope they have a way to fix this in future seasons, because it really made for an anticlimactic ending to this episode. With multiple idols at play and some possible blindsides happening, we instead just had to say goodbye to Neal and watch him ride off in the boat. I don’t know if Survivor really thinks that the harsh conditions that destroy these players bodies is making for good television, but it’s not. In Caleb’s case, he fell apart because he was playing too hard and his body couldn’t take it. So…he’s punished for putting in a good effort? Now Neal is pulled because of a bump in his knee? It’s very frustrating, and I hope the Survivor medics and producers can arrive at a solution that is to everyone’s satisfaction.

Random Thoughts:

– It’s weird that they revealed the name of the merged tribe (Dara) in the player’s interviews. It said “Scot – Former NBA Champion – Dara Tribe”. That was the first place we learned the name. Doesn’t it usually just say “Merged tribe” until Jeff tells them what it’s called or until the team decides on the name.

– I could have enjoyed about five more minutes of Debbie coming up with things that pair together. “Salt and pepper, ebony and ivory, toilet paper and toilets…” I mean, if that’s the third one you can come up with, where do you go from there? How do you run out of pairs that quickly?!

– Were there any other sickos out there hoping that we would get to watch them lance Aubry’s sore? It would have been gross, but man I wanted to see that so bad!