Survivor Season One: The Merger

By Jim Van Nest

July 28, 2005

I believe in alliances now.

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Hello, good people, and welcome to The Merger. I feel like David and I should write this column together in honor of the great tribal merge. Nah...a Survivor recap column written by two people would never work. Anyway, when we left our Borneo buddies, Joel had been sacrificed because Gervase called the women cows. Hatch was naked and all the chickens were dead. More time was spent talking about this week's events then the current events. So, why waste time, let's get right to it.

Day 19 starts off with Jeff Probst setting the stage for the episode's events. This is the day we've been waiting for. The two tribes will merge into one. Each tribe will choose an ambassador (Sean from Tagi and Jenna from Pagong). These ambassadors will travel to the other camp to check the layout of the camps and decide where this newly merged tribe will live. After their visits, they'll converge and have a night to work out all the details of the merge. Kelly will lead Jenna around Tagi and Greg is showing Sean around Pagong.

At Tagi, Rich is in rare form as he goes out and catches a stingray and a lobster for today's meal. Aside from the meal, Jenna is impressed with just about every aspect of the Tagi camp. Sean, on the other hand, is less than impressed with anything over at Pagong. While Jenna dines on lobster, Sean is eating a stick. The camp's a mess, there's no organization (something Gretchen has been complaining about for days) and it's not until this moment that I realized how crappy Pagong has it, compared to Tagi.

Once Jenna has left Tagi, talk of the alliance begins again. There is talk of taking out Pagong one by one. Hatch's only concern is that he doesn't actually have the numbers advantage as Sean has refused to be a part of the alliance. So Rich still only has four people out of ten. He is completely blown away that Sean and (from what he hears) Gretchen are so against alliances.

Probst sighting! Jenna and Sean meet up as instructed. When they get there, a romantic dinner is set up for them with lobster, baked potatoes, wine and all the fixings. Jeff tells them that they will be staying the night here and have to accomplish a few things while they're there. They need to determine which camp to live at, the name of the new tribe, what three items from the other camp they want to take with them and they have to make a new tribal flag. The whole romantic dinner thing kinda backfires as there are absolutely no sparks between Sean and Jenna. So, we see them eating, drinking and then going to bed.

Day 20 dawns with confusion in both camps. Neither ambassador returned to camp and the rest of the tribes are starting to get restless. And then Jenna and Sean show up at Pagong. They let everyone know they have five minutes to pack their all their stuff (including luxury items) and get moving to the Tagi camp. They also have to grab the three pre-chosen items: the mosquito net, a cooking pot and a wool blanket. While the former Pagong members are sad to be leaving their home for the last 20 days, they are all excited about the new camp, new people and new dynamic this merge is going to create. While they make their way to Tagi, we learn that the new tribe name is Rattana. Jenna chose Rattan because of all the rattan wood that surrounded the two camps. Chucklenut added the "a" to make it sound more exotic.

Upon arrival, it doesn't take Greg long to size up the Tagi members. He says that "the boy named Sue" and her accent are driving him up the wall. He also takes time to recognize that Rich is playing a harder game than anyone out there. He can see how much Rich is sizing people up and really running the show. Ya know, Greg may act like an idiot sometimes, but he does seem to be the only Pagong that actually "gets it." He's incredibly smart and if he plays his cards right, he could be in this game for the long haul.

One of the first things the new Rattana tribe decides to do is to make some repairs to the shelter. It's going to be holding more people and could probably use a touch up here and there. The women get right to work on that while some of the men play cards and Greg goes out to define a new role for himself as a fisherman. While Greg is finding out fishing with that little spear gun thing ain't as easy as it looks, the women are finding out that they know very little about repairing the shelter as the entire roof caves in. As they repair their repairs, Greg comes back and his only catch is a sea urchin, which is not edible. Rich couldn't be happier. If Greg can't catch anything, that pretty much leaves Rich as the sole provider. In his opinion, his stock just rose quite a bit today. Night falls and the new tribe sits around the campfire telling all kinds of stories, mostly related to sex, drinking or drinking and sex. Rudy has no interest in this talk and goes to bed.

Day 21 dawns on the new Rattana tribe and we learn that apparently, Rudy doesn't like anyone in his sleeping space. Several of the women complain about being kicked in the head multiple times over the course of the night. Also, the shelter at the far superior Tagi camp leaked like a sieve all night. Gretchen quickly notes that the shelter at Pagong was quite dry. Tree mail arrives announcing the immunity challenge, and it's pretty obvious the challenge will be a "holding your breath" contest.

We join Jeff and the Rattana tribe at the ocean, where Jeff lays down the rules. Round One of the challenge will be to submerge themselves under water. The last three still under the water will move on to the final round. The ladies don't last long as Kelly, Jenna, Colleen, Sue and Gretchen have no impact on the challenge at all. Rudy is next to bail out with Rich right behind him. This leaves Greg, Sean and (surprisingly) Gervase as the three to move on to Round Two. Round Two is a little different. Lying on the ocean floor are three ladders. Tied onto each ladder are 11 little buoys. The challenge is a race to see who can release all 11 buoys first. The race begins and Gervase doesn't even go under water. Knowing he won't win, he doesn't even try. Greg and Sean race side by side all the way to the end, with Greg prevailing by a split second and claiming the first individual immunity.

As the tribe prepares for an unpredictable tribal council, Rich is feeling fairly confident, although he notes again that he doesn't have the numbers...yet. Jenna thinks the vote should be based on merit and not some preset voting strategy. Greg mentions that he doesn't like the idea of an alliance because it's boring. (Did I just say he might be in it for the long haul?)

When we get to tribal council, discussion turns to how the game has changed now. Gretchen makes a point that I'm sure will last as long as this show. Prior to the merge you want to keep your strong members. After the merge, you want to dump the strong members. Sean amazes us with his brain power by saying that he doesn't think it'll come down to a Tagi vs. Pagong type vote. Are you kidding me?!?!

When all is said and done, seven of the ten people have votes. Every Pagong member voted for a different person. Apparently, Colleen was the only one with a brain in her head, as she targeted Rich. Greg voted for Jenna, Jenna for Gervase, Gretchen for Rudy and Gervase for Sue. And as stupid as those votes were, none of them compared to Dr. Sean. I say Dr. Sean because I had to remind myself that he's an educated man. Sean cast his vote for Colleen because he has decided he'll vote in alphabetical order from now on. There's no possible way the alliance would use this to their advantage, is there? And speaking of the alliance, with Greg wearing the brand new immunity necklace, Rich has chosen wisely. He took out the other "leader" of Pagong, Gretchen. Next week should be interesting. Is Greg the leader everyone thinks he is? Will he be able to rally his troops and save Pagong? Will Pagong be able to recruit Sean to turn the tables on the Tagi alliance? Guess you'll have to be back next week to find out.



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