Merge ahead on twist-free Survivor Tocantins

Ultimately, the most shocking thing about last night’s episode of Survivor Tocantins wasn’t model Sydney Wheeler’s elimination, but the spoilerish news delivered by the preview: the tribes will merge next week and live at Timbira’s camp.

The tribes will merge following no twists and no tribe switches, unless you count Exile, which, thanks to the new format, likely means that the merged tribes . Jalapao has been decimated, but if Taj’s alliance with Brendan and Sierra survives, that group could dominate and vote out Coach (finally) and the others. If Joe’s new Exile connection with Erinn holds up and they join with the larger Jalapao group, the game could flip almost instantly. Either way, I sort of expect everyone to band together and vote out Coach.

Taj almost didn’t make it to the merge, or at least that’s what the editing suggested. It was one of those old-school episodes were tons of scheming is highlighted and ultimately becomes meaningless. For a while, JT and Stephen seemed to be seriously considering flipping on Taj—whose brilliant hiding place for the immunity idol lead JT to find it almost immediately yet accidentally—so they could flush out the idol. But I’d guess that’s one of those things they were never seriously considering; the editing just mislead us so Sydney’s march to the inevitable wouldn’t seem so inevitable.

Lots of funny moments during the first new episode in three weeks, like Tyson volunteering to do part of the challenge for a stumbling, stubborn JT, who was having trouble with the slingshot. But I was particularly amused by Joe’s insistence that Sydney was “safe” because “I got a little thing for Syd.” Surprisingly, his crush had no impact on his tribemates’ decision to keep Taj—thanks to her Timbira connections—and dump Sydney, who, let’s be honest, was pretty dull on the show, just like she was pre-season.