Pre-credit sequence. Like so many episodes before it, Thursday’s (Nov. 5) “Survivor: Samoa” begins with Foa Foa returning to camp after losing another castaway. It was Liz they got rid of, right? Who can keep track anymore? The only thing they have to stay upbeat about is the possibility that a merge may be coming. There are only four of them, but they’re convinced they have unity, while the Galuvians are segregated. Russell is particularly confident, as Russell tends to be. “I’m too good for this game. I’m too sly,” Russell says, vowing to continue to plant his seed.
9021-Oh-Not-Again. Over at Galu, Laura is eying Shambo cautiously. There’s a minor controversy between Laura and Shambo involving a canteen. It’s tiny, but Laura seems eager to foment discord with her tribe’s leader, who keeps rambling about her tribe’s “90210” clique. Shambo’s feeling like the cheerleaders are picking on her. Nobody else is participating in this fight. Erik thinks that only crazy people would fight with Shambo, who’s crazy herself. It’s not a fight you can win.
Idol speculation. Tree-Mail tells Foa Foa that something in the game is about to change after they follow their leader. They’re doing nothing but talking about a merge, reading things into the vague missive. Even though he isn’t sure if a merge is pending, Russell isn’t leaving camp without his Immunity Idol. He’s ready to outwit.
Two become one. In the middle of the beach is a treasure chest. More shades of “Pirate Master.” Jeff Probst is nowhere to be seen as the two tribes meet. They discover paint, a tarp and snazzy new blue buffs. The tribes will go back to live at the Galu camp. MickDreamy and his Foa Foa tribemates have been given a new lease on life. They’ve also been given a yummy feast, with chicken and cheeses and fruit and all manner of beverages. “I am on top of the world,” announces Shambo, who admits her rush may just be a sugar high. Russell holds back and watches, announcing that Foa Foa is steps ahead of Galu, because they have their strategy already. “I can already see I’m going to rule this kingdom,” Russell gloats.
Just a dysfunctional extended family. The “Merged Tribe” (name pending) arrives at Galu’s camp. “I feel like I’m a the Hilton,” Natalie announces, looking at all of the Galuvian niceties. She’s seeing the perks, but she’s also seeing cracks in the Galuvian unity. For vague reasons, the Merged Tribe becomes Aiga, which means “extended family” in Samoan. Erik, with his own Immunity Idol, isn’t buying the unity. “Extended family? What’s Samoan for ‘Get the hell out of my island?'” Russell goes to work, taking his Immunity Idol around to various vestigial Galuvians, making promises. He first tells Laura that he’ll give her the Idol in exchange for taking him to the Top Seven. Laura doesn’t believe him and she knows that getting rid of him will require a blindside. Russell tries laying down the rules with Laura, who’s having none of it. But nobody dictates rules to Russell, who decides Laura has just dug her own grave. Rebuffed, Russell wanders off and makes a similar pitch to Monica, telling her nobody knows that he has the Idol. Russell knows Monica doesn’t trust him yet, but he thinks she will after he boots Laura. Then he goes and does the same with John. Now John’s a Rocket Scientist, but he’s also apparently a moron, as he sees the wisdom of Russell’s anti-Laura agenda. “We’re going to turn this game on its side,” Russell tells John. He then says something about how Babe Ruth struck out more times than anybody, but he also hit the most home runs. He isn’t exactly wrong. Babe Ruth led the lead in strikeouts five times and was second seven more times.
Shambo knows the word “implicitly.” After a commercial break, Russell moves on to Shambo. This proves easy, since Shambo hates Laura anyway and Shambo’s more than eager to turn on Laura. “I trust Russell implicitly,” Shambo says. Then Russell goes to the former Foa Foas and makes it clear that Laura is the only name they’re writing down. Russell’s amazed with how easy this power play might be.
Who will be Babe Ruth, Russell or Laura? Russell was just making a baseball analogy minutes ago and suddenly individual immunity is a mixture of shuffleboard and t-ball. But there’s a twist: Two players will receive immunity necklaces, one for the men and one for the women. “Danger” Dave begins for the men. Baseball isn’t his sport, though. “Making love is my sport,” Dave declares. It’s a strange game, because it requires precision hitting, rather than power. Power is penalized, so all of the stronger guys fail to secure any points. Your winner? John the Rocket Scientist, beating Russell. The women are up next. Will Laura be able to foil Russell’s plan this easily? Indeed she can! On the last swing, Laura claims immunity for the women. “That sucked, because I really wanted her gone,” Shambo says.
Wow. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Over and over. So now what? The remaining Galuvians are amused that even in a merged tribe, Foa Foa can’t win anything. Russell’s new plan involves voting Monica out, but Shambo’s doubtful. Russell feels like he may get targeted and the Idol is already burning a hole in his pocket. Laura tells Erik about the Idol and Erik comes up with a plan to flush the Idol out, while actually voting Jaison out. For some reason, though, John the Rocket Scientist still wants Monica out, accusing his tribe of playing junior varsity “Survivor.” Erik sees some advantages to John’s plan, mostly making Laura more dependent on him. Erik explains the new plan to his tribemates with only the caveat that nobody tells Shambo anything, adding “I don’t give a **** if she votes for Probst tonight.” Danger Dave isn’t happy. Erik goes to the non-Russell Foa Foas and tells them they’re safe, but only if they don’t tell Russell about the plan, to flush out the Idol. Jaison, however, isn’t a fan of Erik’s. He wants to mobilize their votes against Erik, to blindside him. Natalie brings Jaison’s plan to Laura and then to Kelly, finding them both receptive. Is Natalie an evil mastermind? And will the first elimination of the merged tribe entirely unconnected to Russell? That would be hilarious. “This is the first time that I don’t know nothing,” Russell says. Erik senses something, but he maybe only senses that the game is feeling too easy. He brings his own Idol just in case.
Tribal Council and more foot-shooting. We’re much too early in this episode. Nearly 15 minutes for Tribal Council? I sense something strange brewing. Erik’s bluster continues at Tribal Council, announcing that Foa Foa couldn’t possibly mobilize the support to vote out a single Galu. “I think he’s going to be surprised,” Russell says. If Erik’s smart, he’ll know something’s up. Erik goes through each member of the Foa Foa tribe describing their strategies, coming down particularly harshly on Jaison, saying he just hasn’t put his brains and athleticism together. Jaison’s having none of that. He gets angry and defensive, striking a defiant attitude that Erik says he likes. Jaison smirks, “I guess the point is that I don’t care what you like.” Wow. Even if Erik hadn’t been going home previously, I can imagine every individual deciding to vote home out independently based on this Tribal Council performance. Talk about self-destructive.
The vote. Russell writes Erik’s name down. We don’t even see who Erik decided to vote against. Erik’s post-merge performance may be the worst in “Survivor” history. Before the first vote is read, Russell says, “Everybody knows I have it, I might as well play it.” One Idol is flushed out. And Russell’s brilliant discovery of a clue-free Idol goes for nothing. The first two votes go against Jaison. As the next three go against Erik, his face falls. Erik’s crushed. Shambo’s confused. Everybody else is grinning. Oh Erik, you FOOL! Both Immunity Idols are out of the game after one post-merge Tribal Council. That’s impressive.
Wow. That was pretty bad for Erik, wasn’t it? But did the Foa Foas make the right play? Or should they have stuck to their own kind? And whatever happened to Russell’s evil genius?