Survivor tribe swap surprisingly successful

You know it’s been another great Tribal Council when post-vote facial expressions clearly reveal who was surprised–and reveal exactly who cast which votes. The switch/merge allowed Trish and Tony to bail on their original tribe and keep things interesting for us.

I was very anxious about the tribe swap, in part because I didn’t want to see a post-J’Tia brains tribe to just be decimated, and the potential here is for original tribes to stick together and just Pagong the new stragglers. And honestly, with the exception of a dwindling tribe, there was no real need for producer intervention at this stage because we’ve had both drama and game play.

But the random swap worked out very well, because 1) the brains tribe were all in the same new tribe where 2) there were three people from the beauty tribe and a swing vote from the brawn tribe, and 3) some members of the dominant alliance in the new tribe where there was a Pogangable minority decided to bail on their original tribe.

Though it would eventually lead to a blindside, I thought the most interesting part of the swap was how the day-one decision to search for an idol clue or give one’s tribe extra rice came back to haunt Morgan, who’d lied about it to her tribe. She was unintentionally outed by Sarah and then targeted by Alexis, which went nowhere this episode but may come into play next week.

The swap really benefitted the brains tribe, who has new life in the game and finally won a challenge–a spectacular new* immunity challenge–by coming from behind. But the joyful results almost didn’t matter: a battering ram puzzle! Smashing things! A battering ram puzzle! That easily made up for the brutal but somewhat unfair pole-hugging reward challenge. Because of the tribes’ make-up, the match-ups were not always even, but at least it was for donuts and not immunity. (*As commenter Morgan Glasberg notes below, this was an identical immunity challenge from Survivor China‘s second episode; I had no memory of that, obviously.)

The old brawn tribe’s alliance was shredded thanks to both Tony and Trish, who bonded with LJ, sort of, hahahahaha. She also really doesn’t like Cliff, hahahahaha, and decided to blindside him, which really made her happy, hahahahaha. Also hahahahaha hahahahaha.

Though turning on Cliff fits into the strategy of purging potential post-merge threats, and Tony clearly feared Cliff’s physicality post-merge. However, Trish primarily cited Cliff’s laziness and “entitlement” around camp, which hasn’t really been backed up by what we’ve seen and seems like a lazy reason/excuse by itself. Hahahahaha.

They bailed on the brawn and the vote that left Woo and Lindsay’s mouths hanging open also leaves them pretty screwed. Woo comes across as a smart and flexible player who could overcome this, though the preview suggested Lindsay might quit as a result (a nighttime camp visit from Probst doesn’t indicate an empty threat) and leave him hanging even more. Then again, this season has continued to be both unpredictable and entertaining.

Hahahahaha.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.