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Survivor Recap: Merged Mayhem 


Take a good, long look. The fate of Survivor rests in these two faces.

By Kerri Fleming

Before we get to the nitty gritty of the most recent episode of Survivor, I just want to share some fun facts. Jeff Kent played professional baseball for six different teams over 17 years. He received an MVP award in 2000 with the Giants, was an All-Star five times and won the Silver Slugger award for his position (second base) four times. His net worth is $50 million.

Jonathan Penner is a TV writer and producer. While some of his work has been critically acclaimed, most of it has been mediocre. Before Survivor, his television career was relegated to playing Elaine's recovering alcoholic date that Jerry accidentally causes to fall off the wagon (or is it on the wagon?) on Seinfeld. He was eliminated on day 33 in his first Survivor go-around and was medically evacuated on day 17 on the second trip.

Mike Skupin runs a software publishing company and is a motivational speaker. In his first time on Survivor, he lasted 18 days before setting his hands on fire and having to leave.

You can do with this information what you will. Working in the entertainment industry and running a software publishing company means Jonathan and Mike are probably not hurting for money, but I'm willing to bet my own meager savings that neither is in Jeff Kent's stratosphere of dough. Yes, they have been on Survivor before, but after this episode, everyone on this season of Survivor is officially as experienced as Mike, and Jonathan's longer first attempt was six years ago.

All of this is a really convoluted way of saying that Jeff Kent is either grasping at straws or kind of a tool for thinking he, a multimillionaire, is somehow more of an underdog than two naive klutzes. I'm sorry, bud, but I am just not buying it.

Anyway, back to the recap. The red team returned from voting off Katie in kind of low spirits. Denise has officially been to every single Tribal Council and lived to tell the tale. Jonathan is paranoid that Katie voted for him and realizes he might be in more danger than he originally thought.

Over in the yellow camp, Mike is misty-eyed as he recalls that the day marks the same day he fell into the fire in his first Survivor foray. You can see the emotion in the multitude of open wounds and scabs on his face. The Survivor production team really missed the opportunity to give the man a cake (with flameless candles) or an electronic cigar to celebrate.

They did, however, send a little something-something in the form of a fancy boat and a notice that the tribes are now merged. Each team has 10 minutes to gather their stuff - including any hidden immunity idols they may have buried in the sand, MALCOLM - before meeting at a new camp.

The new tribe begins with the fake smiles and hugs you've come to expect. "Hey, you're blond and breathe through your mouth. You must be Carter!" "Hey, you instill the fear of a zombie-and-snake-infested apocalypse with a single look. You must be Abi!" "Hey, you're bleeding. Mike, right?"

Things stop being polite and start getting real pretty early though. Jeff now has his anti-returnee sniper rifle set on two targets - Mike as well as Jonathan. Pete is still harboring a strong anti-RC and Mike sentiment. Mike's giddy at having lasted this long, but knows he's not going to be voted Most Popular with most of his old and new tribemates.

Strange alliances also start cropping up. Like Malcolm and Denise's forced new friendship with Lisa, whose mom-like helpfulness of emptying everyone's wet clothes out of their bags to hang them uncovered Malcolm's hidden idol. (Side Note: Is it possible that underneath her sweet church-lady demeanor Lisa is actually a cold, calculating genius? If Abi started digging through everyone's personal things without asking, would everyone be so quick to shrug it off? The answer to that is no because Abi would probably also set fire to everyone's stuff and then get mad at them for not having any clothes. But I digress. Lisa's sweet nature gives her a built-in mulligan for stuff like this. Good show, madam.) Lisa also falls in with Jonathan, who joins Mike as the only person to recognize the former Blair from her Facts of Life days.

After that, the alliances get confusing. Jonathan is talking about being connected to Jeff, Carter, Denise, Mike, RC, Lisa, Tootie, Weezy, Meathead, Gloria, Screech, Marcia, Jan and Cindy. I can't keep track of this stuff. How many people are out there?

Oh good, an Immunity Challenge. That I understand. In the first individual challenge of the season, each person has to hold onto a handle that connects to a bucket that contains 25% of their bodyweight. The last man and last woman who don't drop their bucket win immunity. Mike, again proving that looking moderately athletic means nothing, dropped first, followed by Pete. Next out was Jonathan, wearing a fine Freddy Kruger outfit on this Halloween episode.

Eventually for the women, it came down to Abi and Denise, and warming the heart of everyone in attendance (except, I'm assuming, Abi's), Denise actually won immunity, her first of any sort. The men narrowed down to Artis - who fell only a couple minutes after kissing his super-strong muscles - Jeff, and Carter. Jeff and Carter did some deal-making and eventually Jeff allowed Carter to take the win, with the understanding that Carter would make it up to him in the future.

Back at the camp, RC is still living in her world of sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, a world where she and Mike are actually aligned with people other than themselves. She's so cute. After a few conversations with various folks, Jeff Jetson and his boy Elroy - erm, Carter - realize that they're the swing votes. Should they honor their alliance with Jonathan? Go with Pete's complicated split-vote plan to target Jonathan and RC? Join RC on her island of fairies and buttercups?

Tribal Council was fairly uneventful, save for a regurgitation of Abi's accusations that RC dug up the hidden immunity idol clue without telling her. (Only after Abi told Pete about the clue and allowed him to find the idol. But that's totally fine.) Jonathan plays to his gut and hands over his hidden immunity idol before the vote, smartly saving himself when it turns out Jeff and Carter did join the rest of the gang in splitting their votes. His lost votes spell elimination for RC and a pretty terrifying smile from Abi.

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