Survivor: Kaoh Rong - Episode Recap
Episode 7 - It's Merge Time
By Jim Van Nest
April 4, 2016

At least he has his ice cream.

Hello, good people, and thank you for joining me for Episode 7 of Survivor Kaoh Rong! When last we hung out, the yellow Gondol tribe won a sweet reward of nice tuna fish sandwiches (in 115 degree weather...ugh) but ended up falling short on the immunity challenge and went back to Tribal for the second straight time. For a minute, it seemed that young Julia was going to be the sacrificial lamb, but a last minute switcheroo AT Tribal by Aubry swung the votes over to Dr. Peter and he was sent out as the last member of the pre-merge tribe!

As promised in promos, tonight will be the merge and with an even amount of the original three tribes left (well, mostly even), it should prove to be an absolute cluster of conversation and strategy and moves. How will Joe feel about Aubry switching her vote? Will she decide to ditch the Brains and stick with her new Gondol alliance? Can Scot join Kyle and Tai and create the game's first Super Idol? How many more jobs will Debbie tell us about tonight? Those are just a few of the burning questions for tonight's episode. Also shown in previews, Jeff makes a special visit to the merged tribe camp and threatens to change the game again. Whoa - what could THAT mean?? I guess it's time to find out.

We begin tonight's episode at the Gondol camp after Tribal. You would expect that Joe would be upset with Aubry about the changed vote, but actually, it's Scot. He and Joe were talking about the "Original Plan" line from Tribal and Scot said that the original plan was Peter and that Joe didn't go with it and Aubry waivered on it. Sure, she voted for Peter, but she wrote down Julia's name first. He says he can't trust them and if they have to vote again, a Brain will go home again. Aubry is caught off guard by this interpretation of her vote, but she realizes that at this point, perception is the reality and she's feeling like this is the end of the Brains tribe.

The next day, we join the tribe around the fire as Tai is having some sort of argument with the chicken. Joe tells us that at this point, the chicken is in better graces with the tribe than he is.

We check in with Chan Loh (that's the blue tribe) and Neal is walking on the beach when Cydney notices a bulge in his pocket. She says that since she knows what an idol looks like, she is pretty sure that Neal has one. So, she alerts Kyle to the bulge and he agrees that Neal definitely has an idol. Now it's time for him to plant the Neal seed and see what he can do to get Neal out next.

But wait - what's that on the horizon? Holy crap, it's the merge boat!! A parchment lets them know that they have five minutes to gather all of their belongings and head over to the Gondol beach. Michele is excited to have made the merge, but she's really worried about her place in the game at this point. Air Patrol Capt. Debbie is also excited about the merge. She can't wait to find people and bring them in. Ultimately, that's what they want, anyway - to be brought in. So, she plans to do that when the tribes merge.

We come back from break as the Chan Loh tribe comes into the view of Gondol beach. Scot is pumped to have his Brawn tribemates back with him. Aubry feels like she has a new lease on life with Neal and Debbie in camp now. It's time for the merge feast. There's lots of talk at the feast, but it can be summed up by saying that Kyle is threatening to take Tai away from Scot, and Nick did very little talking, instead watching the dynamics of the new tribe. He tells us that he is tight with Michele, and that they are in a great place in the game. He is certain that the Brains will not want to work with Brawn, so that puts him in a good place.

Once the feasting is over, we join Aubry telling Debbie all about Peter and why they got rid of him. Aubry is thrilled that Debbie and Neal are still tight. Debbie tells us that Brains are super tight and strong. Nick talks up Neal to see if he'd want to work together to take out the Brawn. Aubry comes into the conversation as Neal and Nick realize that if Nick and Michele join the Brains, they have the numbers to control this next vote. Nick tells Neal that Tai and Julia seemed to be locked in with Scot. Kyle tries to pull in Nick by telling him that he's pretty sure that Neal has an idol. As they talk, Scot tells Nick and Kyle that Tai has an idol. Kyle is psyched to know that they essentially have a super idol and are unstoppable. Nick tells us that he doesn't care for Scot and Kyle's overconfidence, but that it's good in that they'll never see the blindside coming.

We come back from break to the morning of Day 18. The Brains and Tai are sitting around the fire and Debbie just throws it out there that she wants Tai in her alliance. Tai shakes on it, but very tentatively. He tells us that he sees right through her. Debbie also confirms that Nick is in, so that means Michele is in. Aubry and Neal don't care for the way Debbie is going about this. Aubry doesn't think they actually have Michele, and she feels like Debbie's coming off as desperate. The next conversation we join is Kyle, Cydney and Julia talking about how the Brawn and Beauties need to band together and dump the Brains. He says the Beauties always end up with the jocks anyway. He's so douchey - and for some reason, I can't help but like the guy. I don't know why, but Kyle's douchiness just doesn't rub me the wrong way like Nick's does. I can't explain it. As Kyle starts talking about Aubry being the vote, Michele doesn't feel like she necessarily wants to stick with the Brawn.

Aubry takes Nick aside and tells him that she really wants to work with him, and she's concerned about the way Debbie is going about things. Nick agrees - Debbie is awful. He wants to work with the Brains, but the way Debbie is acting is really putting him off. He doesn't want her having any kind of power, especially not more than he has. Neal and Aubry are off talking next. She tells Neal that Debbie is scaring everyone off of their alliance. She tells him that she thinks Nick is ready to leave the group due to Debbie. As they talk, Neal tells Aubry that he has an idol and they plan to figure out who the vote is coming for, so they can use his idol to change the course of the game.

After the commercials, it's time for a Probst Sighting!! Before we get to the challenge, everyone has a wound competition as they all show off their infections and scabs and scrapes. Pretty much everyone has some kind of injury. Today's challenge is the ol' stand on a board holding a ball on a disc. At regular intervals, another ball will be added. Last one with their balls on their disc wins immunity. So, let's see who can channel their inner Keith Nale. Let's go. Joe is the first to drop out. Scot is very wobbly, but manages to hold on. Debbie drops off second. With 30 seconds left to a break, Kyle loses it and drops out.

Once the group hits five minutes, Jeff has them all add a second ball. Michele, Neal and Scot drop out in the first 20 seconds. Then Cydney and Aubry join the ranks of the out. Seriously, did Jeff just say, "Tai's balls banging into each other?" Yep, he did. It should be mentioned here that Julia looks like a statue out there. Almost no movement at all.

After another five minutes, they get a slight break and now have to add a third ball. There is no time limit here; this is the final round. Last person standing wins immunity. Julia the statue gets a little wiggle and loses one of the balls. It's now Nick vs. Tai for immunity. Both have a lot of movement and ultimately, Tai loses it and Nick wins immunity. As we head to break, Neal tells us that he has every intention of using his idol tonight. He's not sure if it will be for him or Aubry, but he's ready to play it and take control of the game.

As the tribe gets back to camp, everyone congratulates Nick. He tells us that this Tribal tonight will help determine the end of the game. It's the Brains vs the Brawn with himself and the other Beauties in the middle. The plan has remained the same, Aubry is the vote. It should be 7-4. They're hoping Neal will play his idol for himself and then they can vote out Aubry. Nick tells us that he is leaning toward Brawn right now, but he seems like he'd really like to take out either Scot or Kyle. Neal, Nick and Joe powwow and talk about trying to take out one of the Brawn. They all agree that Brawn is too tight and that everyone else is a pawn in their game. Neal feels like he has Nick on his side, but they need Michele to have the 6-5 advantage. We join Debbie, Michele and Aubry in the water, and they think either Jason or Scot need to be voted out tonight. Aubry tells us that if they aren't able to score the Beauties, they will play the idol. Michele tells us that she likes Debbie and Aubry, but she's not sure that's what is best.

Michele and Nick get together to compare notes. They seem to decide to go with Brawn. Nick feels like he can manipulate the Brawns and he knows he can beat them in any puzzle. They plan to lie to the Brains, but when push comes to shove, Aubry will be their vote tonight. As they firm up their plans, here comes a random boat into camp. Wha??? Jeff is coming to town with the doctor. Scot has no idea who they're here to see. Jeff tells them that after the challenge, he wanted to have the doctor come and check on everyone, since they all seem to have some sort of issue, including some pretty nasty looking infections.

Tai goes first and the scrapes on his legs are scabbed up nicely, so nothing wrong with Tai. Scot is up next and he has some nasty little infections. Doc decides to just keep an eye on Scot for now. Aubry is up next with the massive bump on her leg. The doc decides to give her some antibiotics, rather than lance her big ole whatever it is. Neal is up next as he has a huge open sore on his leg as well as a real nasty one on his back. These do not look good at all. The doc doesn't seem to be too worried about the sore on Neal's back. It's nasty looking, but nothing that would require his removal from the game. But, the doc needs to check out the sore on his knee. He is worried that a nasty infection in the knee could potentially affect his ability to walk later on in life.

And just like that, the doctor is pulling Neal from the game. Neal will be our first jury member. He can't win, but he will have a chance to decide the winner. Neal comes back and addresses the group, says his goodbyes. Aubry is crushed to see him go. Jeff lets everyone know that there will be no Tribal, so they all get a break from that.

The only thing to wonder about here is what happens to his idol. Aubry is hoping he'll be able to get it to her and as he makes the rounds hugging everyone, he never actually hands over the idol. Aubry is devastated. Not only did she lose her biggest ally in the game to a fluke, but he went home with the idol and didn't hand it over. I'll be interested to see his video tomorrow to see if perhaps Jeff wouldn't allow him to hand it over. I mean, let's face it - another idol search will be WAY more fun than just secretly handing it to someone else, right? And just like that, the game takes a nasty turn for the Brains. They lost their numbers and their idol. Who knows what will happen to them now?

Next time on Survivor: with Brains on the outs, it looks like Beauty and Brawn will pick them off one by one. But wait - Kyle and Cydney seem to be having trouble in paradise and it looks like she's ready to let her rip and tear the game apart. Hopefully something like that happens, or the next few weeks could be ridiculously boring television. 'Til next time - take care everyone!