Pre-credit sequence. Welcome to the Merge! The castaways return to camp. There’s cheese and grapes and wine. Troyzan is overjoyed, because this is what he’s been waiting for. Alicia thinks Christina should have gone home instead of Colton. Bacteria thought different, Alicia. Don’t mess with bacteria. “By Colton leaving, he screwed me over,” Alicia whines, wondering if she’ll be able to return to her original Girl Power alliance. She anticipates a beginning to the backstabbing. You can almost hear the “Survivor” producer yelling, “God, I hope so!” in the background.
Coffee is for closers. BATS. I love the bats this season. The Merged tribe realizes it has to come up with a new name. I’d have suggested Free Coltonia or something to pay tribute to their departed, bigoted leader. They choose Tikiano. Troyzan explains that it’s a combination of “Tiki” for “God” and “Ano” for “Year.” Jonas is working a little molecular gastronomy, trying to generate the flavor of potato chips with young coconuts and sea water. I’d respect his culinary skills a bit more if he’d been less of Colton’s slave. Anyway, Tikiano may be a merged tribe, but there are still rules and Jay lays down the law to Muscular Mark Twain that only people from the former tribe that won coffee get to have coffee. Jay is convinced that the new Salani tribe members are going to band together to vote out the new Manono members, which makes total sense because they were together for, what, five days?
Truncated paragraph. I’m basing my new paragraphs on each new appearance of bats. Muscular Mark Twain is disappointed that the men aren’t planning on sticking together. He approaches Mike and tells him that the men can get together and that Alicia would swing to their side. “Guys are better together,” Mike nods and agrees, though he says he doesn’t like any of the guys. Darn. That programming block was too short. I was fooled by the bats.
One becomes Two again. Jeff Probst begins the Reward Challenge by re-dividing the Tikiano into two different tribes. Boy. That pretty much wreaks of, “We’d already worked out this Reward Challenge before we decided to to Merge and we’re not digging things out of the sand now.” Though I guess arbitrarily split groups aren’t uncommon for post-Merge rewards. It’s an obstacle course, leading to hole-digging, leading to puzzle-making. The winning tribe gets an afternoon of cold beer and pizza. The challenge begins with the extreme awkwardness of Leif getting stuck wriggling under a wood fence, prompting Probst to observe, “Leif is like a turtle birthing out of the sand.” Sigh. Ultimately, though, the two fake-tribes are tied when it gets to puzzle-building. The arbitrarily assigned orange tribe wins reward. That means pizza for Christina, Alicia, Jay, Sabrina, Troyzan and Chelsey. OK, I suppose.
I’m so hungry I could eat at Arbys. Pizza time. It doesn’t look like very good pizza. And the beer doesn’t have a label. “Anything other than this dry-ass rice we’re eating out here and a chicken we catch every blue moon is great,” Sabrina says, acknowledging how awful the pizza is. “They could have brought out fried skunk and I’d eat it,” says Troyzan, another fan of the pizza. They also received a message. It’s about the Immunity Idol. They agree not to tell everybody. Chelsea wants to make sure a Manono doesn’t find the Idol, because she wants to keep Salani numbers, but does she mean New Salani or Old Salani?
I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them [Muscular] Sam[uel Clemens] I am. Back at Tikiano, Leif has sand in every part of his body. He wanted pizza. Poor Leif. Jonas and Mike have a little talk and Jonas is unhappy that Muscular Mark Twain has been making plans without his permission. “The guy makes zero sense. He’s a loose cannon,” Jonas says, before going to MMT and blasting him for not telling him about the plan. But wait! MMT insists that he told Jonas about the plan days earlier and blasts him with, “You are such a confused a**hole,” MMT growls. “I’m tired of your bulls***,” Jonas rants right back. At this, Muscular Mark Twain decides to take his ball and go home, dropping out of the alliance and declaring himself a free agent. “I do not like Jonas. I do not like that guy anymore,” MMT says.
I’m the King of the World. Troyzan wakes up the next morning before sunrise and goes in search of the Idol. He walks over to a tree and pokes under it. No Idol, but a freaky crab. He crawls up another tree. Bingo. That was not hard. It never is. “The early bird gets the Idol and gets the power,” Troyzan says. He reckons it could be a million dollar necklace. Just like the one Kate Winslet had in “Titanic.” That necklace was much harder to find.
[Insert lazy “balls” joke here.] Immunity is back up for grabs, but this time it’s Individual Immunity. Contestants have to stand on platforms holding discs, balancing themselves and balancing balls. If the balls hit the ground? Out! Muscular Mark Twain goes out first. Chelsea, Mike, Kim, Alicia and some other folks go out. “Troyzan’s balls haven’t moved for a long time,” Probst cracks, getting a nervous laugh out of Troyzan. Eventually, it’s down to Troyzan and Kat. Your first Individual Immunity winner? Troyzan, who has now landed two Immunity Idols in one programming segment. “You’re touching me! Jeff Probst” Troyzan says.
Poop Poop Poopy, Goodbye. Everybody gathers together to kiss up to Troyzan. The double-Idol-holder vows that he’ll do whatever his former Salani chums tell him to do. Chelsea wants to take out Manono’s strongest players first, which makes no sense because Manono had no strong players. So they focus on Jonas. Kim is happy with voting Jonas out, because he wasn’t in any of her Salani tribes. Troyzan disagrees with the anti-Jonas sentiment, not wanting to lose the masterchef and he goes straight to Jonas and tells him he’s in trouble. This confuses Jonas, who begins to scramble, starting by apologizing to Muscular Mark Twain, which the old guy buys completely. “It brought me to mild tears,” Muscular Mark Twain says. The weaker guys, without any real plan, decide to cast their votes against Kat, because she doesn’t pull her weight and she’s a little annoying. Then suddenly we’re having a debate about whether Muscular Mark Twain’s underwear is covered in dirt or poop. Seriously? Why is this happening? It continues with MMT possibly tossing his poopy underwear into the pot that’s boiling Chelsea’s underwear. She’s unhappy. Muscular Mark Twain tries explaining boiling and microbes to her. Oh God. Make this STOP. “If it were up to me, Tarzan would go home,” Chelsea says, deciding that sparing Jonas in favor of booting Poopy Pants would be the right play. Jay hates dead weight — Alicia, Christina, Leif, Poopy Pants — but he fears breaking up a perfectly good plan even more. But… POOPY PANTS.
Tribal Council. “It’s very chaotic,” Sabrina says of life at Tikiano. “You can be thinking way too far ahead,” Jonas says, criticizing the strategy that might lead to his eviction. He points to Mike as a smarter person to vote out. Jonas even goes so far as to announce his intention to vote Mike out, which prompts eye-rolling from Poopy Pants. “I disrespect what you just did,” Poopy Pants tells Jonas, instantly forgetting his “mild tears.” Poopy Pants says that Jonas may have thrown himself under the bus, which he continues to do by admitting his alliance doesn’t have the votes to get rid of Kat, who giggles nervously. “Do you want to attack all of us?” Poopy Pants asks Jonas, before saying that he’s going to write Jonas’ name down. “I’m just trying to play the game. You can’t blame me for that,” Jonas protests and Chelsea and Sabrina come to his defense. Poopy Pants comes to his own defense, by saying he’s out of his element when he’s not in an operating room. “That’s the beauty of a merge. All of a sudden people like Jonas become a threat and people like Tarzan become an asset,” Kim says. Chelsea calls Poopy Pants “dead weight.” Poopy Pants says the vote could be mercurial.
The Vote. Poopy Pants writes Jonas’ name down. Probst goes to tally the votes: Jonas. Mike. Mike. Jonas. Jonas. Jonas. Jonas. Jonas. That’s it for Jonas, who becomes the first member of our Jury. “No hard feelings,” Jonas tells Poopy Pants, who responds, “Hard feelings to you.” Oh, Poopy Pants! “Good luck with that food situation,” Jonas laughs.
Bottom Line. If Jonas hadn’t been Colton’s willing, spineless concubine, I really could have been sad by tonight’s results. When he wasn’t being Renfield to Colton’s Dracula, Jonas did, indeed, appear to be perfectly likable. Because Colton and the producers made such a mess of this season, nobody’s alliances make an iota of sense, though I can see how this might lead to a bunch of surprising blindsides down the road. This was a bad episode for the producers/editors, who needed to find somebody heroic/appealing to capture the focus after last week’s Colton flameout. Instead, “Survivor” has decided to make Poopy Pants into the new Phillip Sheppard, a delusional old guy with a TV-unfriendly banana-hammock who coasts along in awful ways because everybody knows he wouldn’t stand a chance with a Jury. Of course, The Special Agent lasted the full season because Boston Rob made sure nobody took him out. This season lacks a similarly powerful guardian angel figure on the horizon, unless Troyzan decides to take Poopy Pants under his wing. Colton was not a good person — the opposite, apparently — but he was a galvanizing force. Poopy Pants is increasingly annoying, but I don’t care enough about him to root against him and there isn’t a player who I’m even close to rooting for. There’s no alliance I can recognize, no momentum that’s meaningful and there isn’t even enough eye candy to keep me going (not that the remaining castaways are ugly). This is a serious concern.