As I wrote yesterday, going into The Merge the people who I thought were in the best position were Kelly and Mike.  Well boy oh boy was I wrong.  In the five episodes I watched last night the game took some unexpected turns.

At The Merge, two alliances emerged.  Dan, Mike, Kelly, Rodney, Sierra (the original Blue Collars) were on one side and most of the original No Collars, Joe, Hali, and Jenn were on the other side with Will for the time being hovering in the middle.  Meanwhile the White Collars, Carolyn, Tyler, and Shirin had a decision to either align with the Blues or the Nos.  Carolyn and Tyler were clearly leaning towards going with the Blue Collars and not really looping Shirin into their plans which drove her towards the No Collars.  This left a 7-4 advantage in favor the Blue Collars with Will still hovering in the middle.

Rodney, who I really thought was on the outs based on his brash personality and him openly talking about how women should hold theirselves to a higher standard than men got to Will and basically said “Bro, we need ta get Joe outta heeya” and Will agreed.  So going into the first individual immunity challenge, it looked like it was win or go home for Joe.

comeonin

The challenge was Get a Grip:Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 3.50.20 PMIt came down to Joe, Carolyn, and Jenn.  But in the end after a heavy downpour, Joe came out victorious and would be safe from elimination after staying up there for close to an hour.Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 3.57.24 PMHardo Ketch’s Take On This Challenge: Do I think I would have won this challenge?  No.  But would I have been the first one out?  Absolutely not.  I think I could have made it 20-30 minutes, but I think once you lose your grip and/or position that you’re most comfortable in, it would be very difficult to recover.  My strategy would be probably close to what Joe did and just hug the pole and try to take as much weight out of my feet in the notches as possible.

Anyways back at camp, the plan was to vote out Jenn.  When the No Collar alliance caught wind of this, they decided to go for my girl Kelly, more or less to send a message to the Blue Collar alliance and since Jenn had a hidden immunity idol, if she played it right, Kelly would be going home.  At Tribal, that’s exactly what happened.  Jenn sensed she was on the chopping block, played her immunity idol and negated eight votes for her (Will voted for Hali), which sent Kelly home despite only receiving three votes.  This, in my opinion was right up there with Wentworth sending Savage home in Second Chance which for my money (and from what I’ve seen) will go down as one of the best uses of the hidden immunity idol in Survivor history considering the run Wentworth went on after that move.

Back to this season, the plan was again to get Joe out at the next Tribal so long as he didn’t win the Immunity Challenge.  This one was basically completing a bunch of slide puzzles which culminated in the final slide puzzle that had the season’s logo on it.  Shirin actually gave Joe a little bit of a run, but other than Dan thinking he completed the puzzle twice, and Jeff checking the puzzle twice, and telling him he was wrong, twice, this wasn’t a very eventful challenge that ended with Joe again winning immunity.

Hardo Ketch’s Take On This Challenge: I’m actually not bad at slide puzzles.  Dare I say that I’m actually kind of good at them.  Do I think I would have won the challenge?  I definitely think I would have had a good shot of winning it.  I won’t guarantee it because there’s always some variables, but I would have given Joe a run for his money.

At tribal, Dan said that flippers never win and Hali countered that saying that the Americans flipped on the British and it worked out pretty damn well for them!Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 4.25.20 PMBut her amazingly patriotic speech was not enough to stop her torch from getting snuffed when Shirin and Sierra didn’t flip as expected.Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 4.28.49 PMWith Hali gone, it left just Joe and Jenn in their alliance with the target again on Joe’s back if he didn’t win immunity.  At the next immunity challenge, it was the challenge where they have to stand on their toes and keep a pole from falling to the ground by balancing it between their heads and the top of frame.  Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 4.31.43 PMYes, what you’re seeing there is correct between the L and A in “Elapsed.”  Joe fell out of the challenge and was left vulnerable.  HOWEVER, with Jenn’s bff Hali gone, Jenn was losing her will to keep moving forward in the game and told Joe that if she won, she would give the immunity necklace to Joe.  It came down to her and Tyler, but it was Tyler who outlasted Jenn.

Hardo Ketch’s Take On This Challenge: I’m actually pretty confident that I would do really well in this challenge because I have an enormous head and is also pretty flat on the top.  My calves pretty strong and I have thunderous quads so I think I definitely could have won this challenge.

At Tribal, despite Jenn almost pleading for them to vote her off, the Blue Collar alliance took out their top threat in Joe.

The next day things got SPICY.  At the auction, Will who was the first guy to win a bid won a slip of paper that simply said “you have bid yourself out of the auction, collect your things and head back to camp.”  Will left, but found that he actually did win a little chest of dried fruit, jerky, and electrolyte powder that he could either hide, tell some people about, or share with everyone.  Will decided to share with everyone when they all returned to camp.  However before this, the remaining members of the tribe at the auction were able to get their letters from home, but Will did not.  This is key to remember.

When everyone returned to camp, Mike made a little scene accusing Rodney of flipping, but things calmed down until Mike, Jenn, and Shirin made accusations that Will was hiding some of the food.  Now this is where this game will fuck with people’s minds.  In reality, Will did give them all the food, but he didn’t have to give them any of it.  In fact, in the auction there is no sharing food allowed so if he was going by those rules, why should he share any of it?  So when you add in that factor, even if he did only share half of the food, he didn’t have to do that.  Will, understandably, got upset by this and let loose on Shirin, calling her an ungrateful bitch and just yelling in general.  Up to that point, I would say warranted.  However, Will then went over the top telling her that nobody loves her at home, she has nobody that likes her, she’s ugly, she’s stupid, she’s a loser, her family hates her, and on and on and on which made me make a Jay-Z gif face while watching.

In my opinion, Will went way over the line of gameplay and took it personal, and yes, probably toed the line of verbal assault.  What made matters worse is that Shirin actually didn’t have a solid family life back home due to domestic violence.  Foot, meet mouth, Will.

At the immunity challenge, a teary eyed Will asked Jeff if he could forgo his chance at immunity to read the letter from his family.  Jeff said if everyone on the tribe agrees, then he could.  He then asked if anyone objected to this, and one hand went up.Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 4.52.39 PMShirin dropped her huge balls on the table and said “NOT TODAY, WILL.”  Honestly, good for her.  In the immunity challenge, with the door theoretically open, the had to use tongs to pick up some balls and race over teeter-totter-esq beams and place them on six separate stands.Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 4.53.29 PMIn this event, it was the now hated Mike who registered his first individual immunity win.

Hardo Ketch’s Take On This Challenge: I know I’m probably not taking into account the amount of fatigue you’re feeling, but I feel like I would murder this challenge.  Once you figure out the perfect way to pick up and hold the ball, it’s just a matter of finding your groove over the beams.  Easy dub for your boy.

At Tribal council it was more animosity between Shirin and Will and honestly, Will was being a dick.  The video below shows the entire situation from start to finish:

There’s really no other way around it, Will was an ass, and lost a lot of points in my book.  The vote came down to the alliance of six (Dan, Rodney, Will, Carolyn, Tyler, and Sierra), and the bottom three which were Shirin, Jenn, and now Mike.  Despite the blow-up between Shirin and Will, it was Jenn, deemed to be a bigger threat to win the game that went home.  It was sad to see Jenn go as she was hysterical from beginning to end and even roasted each person in her post-interview.

Alright onto the next challenge.  Going into it, Mike found himself in the same spot that Joe did just a few episodes ago.  Win or go home.  This immunity challenge was all about grip strength.  Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 5.14.51 PMAnd in this challenge, immunity was up for grabs for one male AND one female.  Carolyn won for the women, and Mike took it home for the men.

Hardo Ketch’s Take On This Challenge: No, I could not have won this challenge.  This comes all down to grip strength and while I’m not a pipsqueak when it comes to that, Mike is a fucking oil driller from Texas.  When Rodney finally dropped, Mike still had like three rounds of rope around his spool.  Mike would have been very very difficult to beat here.

I’m going to skip tribal and go to the awards because my MVP has to do with this Tribal Council.

Outwit, Outplay, and Overall MVP: This to me was easy.  It has to go to Mike.  He is the easy frontrunner to win it all at this point despite people seeing Tyler, who other than winning one immunity challenge, hasn’t done jack shit.  Mike has won two of the five immunity challenges (two were won by Joe, one by Tyler), and found a hidden immunity idol.  He did have a moment of weakness when he almost screwed over Dan and Carolyn by not paying for his letter, but went back and did because his conscience took over.  Again, he did blow up at Rodney which everyone said “ruined a nice moment,” but come on.  Even Sierra chalked that up to everyone being tired, hungry, and just kind of done with it.  Where he really gained points is in his strategic play.  Knowing he was on the bottom, he teamed up with Shirin and Jenn and pressed Dan hard to come to his side.  Dan eventually didn’t because he’s a pretentious yet dumb player and paid the price.  How did Dan pay the price?  Well in the Tribal Council that after Mike won his second immunity, it came down to Tyler, Carolyn, Sierra, Will, Dan, and Rodney as a strong alliance.  Mike had immunity which meant that Shirin was likely going to be voted out.  Before the votes, Mike stood up and said “I’m giving my immunity idol to Shirin, she’s voting for Tyler, and I’m picking someone else to vote for” essentially trying to force the rest of them to all vote for Tyler or else whoever he voted for would go home.  Would they want to risk that?

Dan, Rodney, Carolyn, and Sierra stayed strong and ended up voting for Shirin banking on Mike bluffing (which he was), but Will and Tyler both voted for Dan showing that Dan was indeed at the bottom as Mike was telling him.  While he did lose his only ally in Shirin, his plan worked out great because it caused a crack.  With the immunity idol, he’s guaranteed himself safe through another tribal council and will force the alliance of six to vote off one of their own.  The other thing Mike has done is shown that he actually is a good dude.  He’s got a temper and will let his words fly when he’s fired up, but he genuinely felt for Sierra back when Rodney and Dan tore her to shreds and he was there for Shirin after she was attacked by Will.  That coupled by his ability to see the game through a different lens than most of the other players makes him the MVP of these episodes.

LVP: To me, the LVP came down to Will or Sierra.  Will’s outburst on Shirin (sidenote, really picked it up after a weak first five episodes), was a horrible look, but he will likely be dragged to the final because everyone knows he probably won’t get any votes to win.  However Sierra has done absolutely nothing to this point.  She told Rodney that they should consider blindsiding Tyler because he’s the biggest threat (aside from Mike), and that if Rodney and her took Shirin to the final three, her and Rodney would have an equal chance to win because they would “definitely beat Shirin.”  Not only was this the most she spoke at one time the entire season, it’s also completely wrong.  If she went to the final three with Shirin and Rodney, it would have 100% come down to Rodney and Shirin and Sierra would have maybe gotten one vote.  Sierra hasn’t performed in challenges, hasn’t strategized, had the chance to blindside Dan (with Jenn, Hali, and Joe) and didn’t, had the chance to vote out Tyler, and didn’t.  So what have you done for me, Sierra?  Nothing to this point.  She better pick it the hell up if she wants any chance to win.

Alright that’s all for this round.  Yes, I will look to compact this a little more so I’m not typing 2500 words about episodes of Survivor that aired 5-6 years ago.

@WhatAKetchWCS