Skip to Content
reality TV reviews, news, and analysis since 2000

Survivor 42 makes history as the merge (ugh?) approaches

Survivor 42 makes history as the merge (ugh?) approaches
What's under the tarp, Jeff Probst? Please don't say an hourglass! (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

First, the bad news/good news: Survivor 42’s merge episode is next week, and that means the likely return of some of last season’s merge shenanigans.

The merge is usually a time of celebration and feasting, and the start of the individual game. Survivor 41 changed that, and made it into a mostly insufferable two hours of television.

In the preview for next week’s episode, Probst said “drop your buffs” but said it was “not exactly” the merge, suggesting the players will compete in a challenge to earn immunity from the first merged Tribal Council.

Next week’s Survivor is a two-hour episode—or two episodes back to back—which hints that the worst twist in Survivor history, the hourglass, may make a return appearance.

But the good news is that pairing the episodes means we won’t have to wait an entire week to see the outcome of an entire episode erased.

Or perhaps the producers listened to the passionate feedback from the Survivor 41 players and changed the hourglass twist?! (LOL Survivor producers listening to feedback LOL.)

Do you think they’ll change? We’ll see next week, and I’m glad it’ll all be over with in one night, even if that first hour is once again a pointless wash.

Survivor 42 is the first 3-tribe season with an even merge

Survivor 42's Daniel Strunk heads out for a snorkel and spear fishing and sabotaging his own game
Survivor 42’s Daniel Strunk heads out for a snorkel and spear fishing and sabotaging his own game. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

Whatever happens next week, Survivor 42 has made history. That happened when the last five-person tribe, Vati, lost the reward/immunity challenge, and went to Tribal Council.

As Lydia pointed out, the tribes are now 4-4-4; Mike Bloom pointed out this is the first three-tribe season to have even tribes at the merge, and this is the 14th season in Survivor history with three tribes at the merge.

Perhaps it won’t matter, especially with the new merge twist—never mind players like Tori, who said she is “going to be the first person to jump ship” from her tribe, and laughed at the idea of them being “four strong.”

The fifth person voted out was Daniel, who the editing suggested sealed his fate by going snorkeling and spear-fishing despite insisting that he couldn’t swim and needed to sit out all water challenges.

As Mike said, “We’ve carried Daniel from day one,” which is when Daniel dislocated his shoulder. “How long can you carry a guy before he becomes a true liability?”

That seemed to be weighing on each tribe and player: Who’s the liability? Am I in trouble?

Roxsroy didn’t know about last week’s vote, and said he felt both “a little betrayed” but also recognized “obviously I’m not picking up on social cues.”

Speaking of social cues: Jonathan is struggling with the social game, or more specifically: “How much these girls talk drives me crazy.”

Maryanne Oketch laughs, as she often does on Survivor 42
Maryanne Oketch laughs, as she often does on Survivor 42. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

The editing of that brief scene illustrated what Jonathan was talking about, with Maryanne and Lindsay talking nonstop behind him while he closed his eyes. though whether it was representative of what camp life is really like is another question.

The scene was effective in establishing that they were being annoying, especially when Maryanne said, “That is the Taku news at 7 a.m.,” and I realized that was probably first thing in the morning. Then, Maryanne and Lindsay directed Jonathan to his canteen by playing the hot/cold game.

As an introvert, I can understand someone needing to walk away and get some quiet or alone time. But Jonathan telling us, “I have to control myself, because I can’t lose it,” while imagining that he’d be screaming at Maryanne, doesn’t suggest he has a very skilled social game. When you imagine your only options are walk away or lose it, and there’s no in-between? Not great.

That internal conflict, however, is basically the crux of Survivor: How do you deal with the stuff that annoys you, whether it’s cold rain or talkative tribemates, while being likable and maintaining the connections necessary to get yourself further in the game?

That seemed to be one calculation that was being made at Taku, where Omar argued “we need” Maryanne because, after a merge, other players will “jump on that right away,” i.e. vote Maryanne out because she’s annoying.

At Vati, Hai argued for the reverse of that: voting out Chanelle, because she’s harder to read than Daniel, though the tribe ultimately went with Daniel instead.

Chanelle is playing a smart game: She threw a vote onto Mike, forcing a tie, which seemed random because it was unexplained to us. And her reason for choosing Mike is unclear. But it was likely insurance in case Daniel played his shot in the dark (as so many have this season!). If Daniel didn’t vote and was immune, there would have been just two votes that counted: Chanelle’s for Mike and Mike’s for Chanelle. That at least gets Chanelle to a tiebreaker, rather than sending her home immediately had she voted for Daniel.

The tie vote did surprise me, but only because it seemed like such an easy vote overall. And Daniel kept throwing up flares to signal he was about to go home, like saying, “Unless you’re one of the greatest players ever—and I am not one—you get burned at least once.”

But with the split vote and Chanelle’s insurance vote, the players were ahead of me.

By the way, I laughed out loud when Daniel talked about living longer than Mike, and then Hai calling back to that by joking, “Mike’s 116, so we don’t know how long he has.” (Daniel is 30; Mike is 58.)

Three idols at the merge

Besides three tribes of four, there are also three individual immunity idols going into the merge, as they were activated at the challenge.

The last one was finally found as Drea and Romeo went looking together. Drea found it and justified opening the Beware Advantage by saying, “I already took a risk before,” and that paid off giving her an extra vote. Now she has an idol and no vote at Tribal, though still gave the episode its title: “I think I’m Survivor rich.”

The extra vote does make her lost vote sting less, and I appreciated her hope that she’d only have to say the phrase once and then that’d be over and done with.

Meanwhile, Mike made a great case for not saying anything at the challenge. Going into the merge with an idol makes it “a huge weapon for us,” he told his tribemates, and told us, “I don’t know if that’s ballsy or stupidity.”

Yet after Maryanne once again rather skillfully inserted her dumb phrase into the challenge conversation, and then Drea did the same, Mike decided to activate his idol, too—and, of course, reveal that he had one.

Mike was, shall we say, less skillful than Maryanne and Drea. He basically said: Jeff, I gotta say some dumb phrase you and your buddies wrote so I can get an idol, so I’m gonna do that now.

Actually, he said, “Jeff, I gotta say something,” and then blurted out the phrase, and then tried to make it sound less weird by adding: “you wonder why I’m saying that.” I don’t think anyone wonders any more; most of them probably know, or at least know something is up.

If only they knew what was coming the next day. If only we could warn them!

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More great stories

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

To share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space, I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to those rules.

Happy discussing!


Thursday 7th of April 2022

I feel bad for Jonathan because if he walks away from some alone time, the other players will immediately think he's looking for an idol. I can see how incessant chatter can get on one's nerves. However, I don't think it would be too obnoxious to ask everyone for just a little bit of quiet time. That might help with the chatter. I am kinda dreading the "merge" and a possible hourglass twist.


Thursday 7th of April 2022

I'm really, really hoping they listened to last season's players and ditched the stupid hourglass thingy, but I'm not optimistic.

While I think Daniel is a terrible player, I thought it made more sense to keep him around. If he's terrible at challenges, he would be easy to beat when they get to the individual game. Although I guess that was questionable after his snorkeling adventure.


Thursday 7th of April 2022

I liked Daniel so it was unfortunate he was voted out. I had forgotten about the hourglass. Didn't Danny get upset about the hourglass twist in season 41? Maybe, they'll take that into consideration and not do it in 42?