Survivor: Cagayan - Episode 6
Head of the Snake
By Jim Van Nest, Survivor Analyst
April 2, 2014

Is everyone bowing down in worship to me, Queen Swing Vote?

It's Merge Night!! Hello, good people, are ya ready? Tonight is the night on Survivor: Cagayan where the game stops being polite and starts getting real. Tonight is the night we'll see where people's true allegiance lies...for this week anyway. Two power alliances of five will clash, with former Cops R Us standout, Sarah, in the middle. Will she stick with her new Aparri alliance? Will she crawl back to Cops R Us? Or will someone else flip-flop, making Sarah's big decision not so big?

Before we get to that, though, let's get everyone caught up. The game started broken up into three tribes: Brains, Brawn and Beauty. Beauty was indeed, beautiful. Brawn was indeed, brawny. Brains was...well, not brainy. They lost three of the first four immunities and were in danger of being wiped off the map. And then the tribe swap happened. Brains all stayed together and along with Jeremiah and Morgan, have taken over the Aparri tribe. The bulk of Brawn reeled in LJ and Jefra, voted off Cliff and scared off Lindsay and appear to be a solid five in Solana. The only alleged wild card here is Sarah. As these two power-five alliances head for a massive collision this week, Sarah could potentially hold the cards that dictate how the rest of Survivor: Cagayan plays out. One thing's for sure, I love the merge episode because it always has the possibility of becoming total chaos. And with two power alliances going head to head, I expect nothing less tonight. And oh, by the way, the previews promise a COMPLETE SHOCKER at Tribal... so, there's that too.

Before we get to the merge-y goodness, we have to check in with Aparri after Tribal. Spencer is pumped about how Tribal went. He feels they got rid of the most likely to flip and that his six are now super tight. He's hoping for a merge tomorrow, so they can go in with the numbers. The group huddles around and discusses who the first vote should be if they do merge. They decide on either Trish or Jefra...two people they feel that Solana will not suspect. Kass is cautiously optimistic about their chances. She likes the numbers, but there's SO much game left to play. The next morning, Kass and Sarah are talking strategy. Kass suggests to Sarah that she is worried about her. Sarah does not like that people could be worried about her loyalty. She says that losing the trust is what could kill this tribe, not someone flipping. Sarah and Kass eventually shake hands on their alliance and I very much believe that Sarah has no intention to flip... as of now. Kass tells us that Sarah's one vote with them is not enough to prove loyalty. She made the smart move for her by voting off Alexis. Kass wants to see Sarah get her hands dirty by voting off a Brawn member before she'll believe she's loyal.

We come back from the credits to morning at Solana. It's all fun and games over there. Even getting tree mail is an event at the amazing Solana tribe. "Pack up all of your essential items..." and head on over to the Aparri camp. The merge is coming! The merge is coming! LJ is nervous about the numbers disadvantage as is Tony. But they both have an idol, so they're feeling good. Oddly enough, LJ is looking to use the idol should he need it, while Tony is looking to give the idol to anyone in his tribe should they need it. I think that says a lot about this tribe. I think it says that their five isn't as tight as Tony thinks it is. Meanwhile, Aparri gets their tree mail. "You may want to tidy up will be having guests." The merge is coming! The merge is coming! Spencer is bound and determined to remind everyone that even though they're merging, it's still "us against them." If only his luxury item was a copy of The Boston Rob Rulebook, he'd have everything he needs to make it to the end!

As the boat arrives with the Solana members, you can feel the anticipation on both sides. When they land, the first thing they do is hand Aparri back all the stuff they just took from them. They also hand over the merge feast! As everyone greets each other, Jefra finally notices that Alexis is gone. She was like, totally counting on Alexis flipping to her side and now she's not sure what to do. As they unpack, Morgan reads a scroll.

"Congratulations, your tribes are merged." The clue welcomes them to the merge and tells them of a new idol, with different powers, that is hidden around their camp. Everyone is super intrigued with what could be different about this idol, but you can tell they all want to start looking for it. But before they do, they have to put on their sweet new black buffs. Tony is chomping at the bit to go look for this idol. The rest of the tribe wants to eat and talk new tribe names. Spencer, of the new Solarrion tribe, tells us about coming from one of the worst tribes in the history of Survivor to the merge and in a very solid six person alliance that could potentially run the game.

As they dine, the talk comes to voting out Alexis. They want to know what happened. While everyone is worried about Alexis, Tony is interested in getting with Sarah again. He says that if Sarah sticks with him, he's in great shape. But if she sticks with her new tribe, his whole game is toast.

We come back from break and join a yoga class as Trish leads all the ladies, save Sarah. While they stretch, Tony, LJ and my boy Woo discuss who the head of the snake might be. LJ seems to think the Brains Three are really running the show. Tony tells them that he had a tight bond with Sarah before the switch and he plans to talk to her and mend things up so she sticks with him. So, he gets her alone in the woods. She tells Tony that she's floating right now. Tony lines it up for her. They take out Solana first. Then LJ and Jefra and the two of them sit at the end of the game. He asks her to swear on her badge that she'll vote for either Spencer or Kass. To her credit, she doesn't do it. She says that she's not ready to do that yet. He wants to break up the brains and he wants her to help him do it. Sarah tells us that no matter what happens, she's sitting pretty and she will decide the fate of the game.

Next we see Sarah talking to Jeremiah and Kass about voting out LJ. Kass and Jeremiah think he has an idol. They think someone needs to go first. Jeremiah thinks Jefra should go. Sarah wants either LJ or Woo. Jeremiah is very much against LJ, thinking he has an idol. Sarah wants Woo, while Kass wants Trish. This causes a big ruckus between Sarah and Kass as Kass is taking it as Sarah not thinking of the group. Honestly, I can see why Kass is concerned about Trish. She seems to have more of an in with everyone. Woo is very surfer dude and I'm not so sure that he comes off as that much of a threat in the game. He's a threat to win immunity, but is he really a threat to win the game? Is he playing this game to win? Sarah, to her credit, is thinking Survivor 101. Get rid of the strong guys after the merge. If one of them has an idol, you get rid of the next one. But in her eyes, she can beat Trish in a challenge. She's arguing with the least likely person to win immunity, Kass. If she comes in 11th out of 11, what does it matter if #2 or #9 go home, see?

Either way, Jeremiah's starting to worry that all this fussing could be hazardous to their plan. Sarah just doesn't want to be bullied into a decision she's not comfortable with. Sarah says she never agreed to the Trish vote. Um, Sarah...when you argue AGAINST voting a specific person out, you make it seem like you have something going on with that person. Have you never seen this show? You make your objection so it's noted and then you move on. As it is, Kass now wants to "punch her" and does not trust her even one little bit. Jeremiah tells them to just calm down and when they all get together later, they can discuss it and let majority rule.

Before we head to break, Sarah tells them that Tony told her she could choose who goes home if she flips to them. *smacks forehead* This is a textbook example of how to turn the swing vote into your own ouster. If she keeps talking, she'll have all the other 10 people feeling like they need to dump her ass in order to save their own game. You're killing me, Smalls!

We come back from break and Kass and Sarah aren't done. Sarah tells Kass and Tasha that she's worried about coming back from that first Tribal and how no one will be talking to her. Somehow this gets the two of them arguing or at least sounding like they're arguing. Trish hears this and without hearing what's being said, determines that they're all paranoid and this bodes well for her. I wonder how she'd feel if she knew the discourse is around whether or not to send her packing? So, Tasha gets Sarah and Kass alone to find out what's going on. They hash it out for her and Tasha's number one goal here is to bring these two back together, for the sake of their six. She sympathizes with Sarah's predicament of having, literally, everyone on the beach wanting her vote.

Kass, naturally, sees this as Tasha totally taking Sarah's side. Seriously? You're supposed to be smart. You're supposed to be this undefeated attorney. How can you not see what's going on here? The only way this six works is if the two of you patch this up and move forward. That is all Tasha is trying to do. If that means she needs to stroke Sarah a little bit, stop being a whiny bitch about it and recognize what your alliance mate is trying to do for YOUR game! You've been together from day one. She doesn't feel like she needs to cater to you because you're not the one considering flipping. For being so smart and in a profession where reading people is imperative, in the name of all that is good, stop being a dumbass!

But she doesn't. She just tells us about how the six is falling apart, just because two people can't agree on who to vote for. This is the kind of Survivor lack of strategy that just chaps my ass. If you have to take a back seat and let the swing decide who you vote for, in order to take control of the game, you do it. If it tastes that bad to you, once you're up 6-4, then dump Sarah. You get your revenge and you still have numbers. But don't throw away control of the game because you're too stupid to realize that you have to placate your most wishy-washy alliance mate.

And with that, it's a Probst sighting! Today's challenge looks to be a super sexy stand on the wobbly platform in the ocean balancing challenge. They will stand on triangular platforms with very small footholds. At regular intervals, they will move up until they are all on top standing on, for lack of a better comparison, a 2x4. One rule, only your feet can touch the platform. Any other body part touches, you're done. First round will be for 15 minutes.

As they move up to the second level, I notice that Woo is wearing shoes. Those toe shoes. I wonder if that will help or hinder him. After 15 minutes, they will all move up to the next level. And after 30 minutes, everyone starts the move to the top. And just like that, eight people fell off at the transition. Morgan, Tony and Woo are the only ones left. As the winds start to gust, Morgan gets blown off her platform. And it's down to Tony and Woo. Tony is very wobbly, while Woo is pretty solid. And given his martial arts background, this challenge was tailor made for him. And there it is, Tony loses balance and Woo wins the first individual immunity. Hang dai, Woo. Hang dai!

Sarah is still giddy about getting to make the choice of which alliance to stick with. She wants to stick with Aparri as she feels they're weaker. She says the only concern in their six is the tiff between her and Kass. But she gets to decide who's going home. Um, a little drunk on your own perceived power there, Sarah? I wish you could hear how you sound. I mean, you do now, but I wish you could have heard it then.

Anyway, the Aparri group gets together to discuss options. Spencer feels pretty strongly about Jefra. Tasha agrees. They feel that no one will play an idol for Jefra. Sarah still feels they need to take out a stronger member. She wants Tony to go. Or LJ. Up on the beach, the Solana are feeling pretty confident that not only is Sarah sticking with Aparri, but she's calling the shots. Tony seems to think he can still sway her to their side. Woo and Trish don't think he has a chance, but he wants to try. Trish feels like after the catfight this morning, it might be better for her to approach Kass about flipping. Tony very much wants to talk to Sarah.

Back in the water, based on Sarah's guarantee that Tony doesn't have an idol, the Aparris decide on Tony as their vote. Kass doesn't like the choice. She wants to get Trish or Jefra to secure the numbers and then go after the big boys. But, the group decides on Tony. Later we see LJ coming over asking what he can do to save himself. Sarah jokes that he could give them an idol. Kass then tells us that Sarah thinks she's running the game, but what she's doing is destroying the game. And if the game's gonna get destroyed, she wants the preemptive strike.

Hey, I have an idea, about you dump the rice in the fire? In case you were wondering, that's how dumb you sound right now. If you flip to the other five, all you've done is given up a power position in your alliance for sixth place in theirs. So, by all means...flip and see how that works out for you.

Time for Tony's last pitch to Sarah and I have to be honest. It's a good one. And I'm not just saying it because he damn near quoted something I said just two paragraphs ago. He tells her that if she flips back to him, she jumps over LJ, she jumps over Jefra and she jumps over Woo. And she, Tony and Trish will be the final three. See, Sarah has this option, I don't think Kass does. Tony may offer it to her, but he certainly doesn't mean it. He follows up by telling Sarah that if she sticks with Aparri and they go up six to four that she could be the next to go as they don't need her anymore to keep the numbers (whoa, sounds almost like the advice I gave to Kass). Anyway, Sarah tells him that she has to think about it and that she won't make a decision until Tribal. She tells us that she wants Tony out of the game because she feels he's the biggest threat out there right now. Tony tells us that if he has any kind of weird vibe about the vote that he will play his idol. He will not go home with an idol in his pocket.

And now it's Trish's turn to try to lure Kass. She makes a pitch to Kass that she is on the bottom of the alliance and that after the vote tonight, Kass will likely be the next to go. Trish asks who she would vote for and Kass says Sarah, but she doesn't think they can pull it together quick enough. So Trish heads off to find Tony and LJ to give them the great news that they have Kass. They all agree to vote Sarah. Kass preens to the camera that she has taken the throne as Aparri is voting Tony and Solana is voting Sarah and she will get to be the swing vote. And once again I say, sure, vote for Sarah and lock in your sixth place finish. I will say this though, since CBS has been promoting this week's Tribal as a "Complete Shocker" about the only thing I know for sure is that neither Tony nor Sarah is going home.

All day long the Survivors have been tweeting about this being one of the greatest Tribal Councils ever. Now it's time for me to be the judge of that. Jeff starts with LJ asking what the mood is. LJ says he feels like he's in the hottest seat as one of the bigger threats. Tasha admits that now is the time to look at the biggest threats, so LJ should be worried. Tony makes a plea to people saying something about not needing an alliance of numbers, but an alliance of comfort. Those words, I don't think they mean what you think they mean. He says he feels worried tonight as a threat. Even though he's 40 and bald, he has a little fire left in him. Kass also says that if you're a strong guy doing well in challenges on the minority tribe that you should definitely be worried.

Next question is for LJ and you have to wonder why Jeff targets LJ for this one, but he asks where idols are coming into play now. LJ says that an idol has yet to be seen and that maybe it's just a big Survivor joke. Jeff says, "Meaning there are none." Tony chimes in, "There's idols. Cause I got one." Wait, what? He goes on to say that he has one and he's using it for his tribe. Spencer asks to see it. Tony asks why should he show it? Spencer says it'll prove he's telling the truth. We'll chalk another one up to the Brain. You can't let someone just spout that nonsense in an attempt to get your vote off of them. When someone makes that bold of a statement, you have to get them to show it. And Spencer did just that. I think someone wants to stay on top of the BOP Power Rankings!

Tony puts the idol around his neck while saying that he could play that idol on anyone on his tribe tonight. I've mentioned all season that Tony's playing too hard too fast. This is the peak of his playing too hard. The idol is a better weapon when it's kept secret. Get them to vote for you and then play it. As it is, you have a 25% chance of picking right and a 75% chance of losing. Get the vote on you and you have a 100% chance of coming out of this Tribal on top.

While Tony pats himself on the back for his awesome play, the Aparri six all agree to vote for "the other one." The Solana tribe decides to keep their vote the same. And this is why Tony won't win this game. As soon as everything seemed to be chaos, Tasha and Spencer calmed it right down by saying, "Vote for the other one." I can almost guarantee right now that Tony will give the idol to LJ and Aparri will vote for someone else. My guess is Trish. Either way, Tony overplayed his hand and his comeuppance right here is going to be so sweet! Oh yeah, Jeff's tallying the votes too.

Jeff asks for an idol and Tony steps up to Jeff to validate the idol. Once Jeff agrees, Tony gives it to LJ and can't wait to see if he read the people correctly. Time to read the vote...oh wait a second! LJ decides to play his idol...for Tony! The Aparri tribe just sits there and shakes their heads. Spencer says, "Unbelievable" as he shakes his. Time to read the votes. First vote, Jefra. As Spencer grins over at Solana, you can practically hear their hearts sink. Votes alternate from Jefra to Sarah until we're tied at five, with one vote left. Seventh person voted out and the first member of our jury: Sarah! WHAT!?!?!?

Oh Kass, now you totally and completely screwed everyone, including yourself. But mostly, you screwed me by forcing me to be stuck with several more episodes of Tony and Trish. This totally sucks. Before Sarah leaves, Spencer does suggest that Kass now has a 0% chance of winning the game. Honestly, though, I don't think she cares. I think there were two motivations for a vote like this. The first is that it was personal. Kass wanted to be calling the shots and her tribe wasn't letting her. So she took her ball over to Solana.

The other motivation, I'll call it the "Malcolm motivation", is the desire to make a "big shocking move" for no reason other than the shock value at Tribal. Malcolm played two idols for other people because he couldn't resist how awesome it would be, even though it destroyed his game. Kass's motivation could have been the same here. Forget what it does for her game or for anyone else's game, everyone will be talking about #ChaosKass now.

While Kass completely screwed herself, for the many reasons I've listed above... Tasha is ultimately to blame for this. If she had stroked Kass' ego just a little bit instead of seeming to take Sarah's side, this vote could have been different. She didn't and now it seems as though she may pay the ultimate price. And by having to watch another several weeks of Trish, I'll be paying that price with her. Thanks, Tasha. Thanks, Kass. Thanks a lot. This sucks! Oh yeah...and that whole "Tony's comeuppance will be so sweet" thing from earlier? Dammit. DammitDammitDammit!

Next time on Survivor: Kass and Morgan seem to have words. Oddly enough, Kass seems surprised that people might be angry with her. Also, EVERYone is searching for hidden idols now and Woo breaks out some ninja skills! Make sure to check back here early next week for the Power Rankings, which I'll write through gritted teeth and then check out the recap later in the week. Same bat time, same bat channel. I would love to hear your thoughts about the show, the strategy and the recap. Just follow and Tweet me @vannestjc! ‘Til next week, take care!