It's that magical time of the year in Survivor -- the merge. The season's was a little less climactic than the past because of the tribe reshuffle that happened a few weeks ago, but nonetheless the scrambling caused by everyone coming together is always fun to watch. There's no good reason Scot Pollard should have the inside track to a deep run, but he does -- because of knee pus.
We began moments after the surprising tribal council that saw Peter get voted off in a last-second change of heart by Aubry. What we didn't know is that behind the scenes Scot wasn't just running his alliance, he was running the entire damn tribe -- and he was pissed. Not because Peter went home, that was his plan, but because Aubry and Joe had the audacity to defy him and write down Julia's name at all.
In a way Scot has a point. The only thing worse than a bad decision in Survivor is a floundering one you get caught on. It has ramifications beyond one vote and often echoes through an entire series. The big takeaway from this is that Brains, top to bottom, have over-thought this game. They should be dominating, but made critically bad decisions to keep their numbers strong. Meanwhile, Brawn began this game being one of the worst tribes in the history of the show but have somehow turned that into potential domination of everything.
The Tai minute ...
Scot Pollard is our main dude when it comes to this journey in Kaoh Rong, but each week we need to spend a little time with Tai -- the greatest 'Survivor' contestant ever.
Tai loves chicken. Not in the traditional "fried with a few sides" variety, but in the "this chicken is my friend" way. Joe had a harsh realization.
Tai has broken ranks! Oh, it's so beautiful. Beauty thought they would all join back together at the merge and run this -- but they quickly realized that Tai is fighting the good fight with Scot. The two are total bros. Pollard admires Tai's work ethic, his attitude and having an immunity idol doesn't hurt. Tai admires Scot's height, shoe size and general physical ability. Of course, he also likes Scot because he helped save him from possible elimination.
The end result is that Tai and Scot are thick as thieves, which is a personal dream realized. Now Jason and Cydney are in the fold, too.
Meanwhile in merge land ...
We need to take a second to talk about Debbie, because she's getting a little weird -- or more weird than usual. What started as being regular run-of-the-mill strangeness has morphed into her ostracizing herself from the rest of the brains members by being too full-on in her pursuit of an alliance. Debbie is a person of many hats. During her time on the show she's told us she works for the army, has worked as a survivalist, has an innate understanding of chemical compounds and more.
The breadth of Debbie's experience at everything the world has to offer has become so confusing that not even the show's producers know what her job is anymore. Take a look at how her occupation has changed from "chemist," which was listed in the early episodes and remains on her Survivor biography page, to now.
The challenge was whatever. That really isn't the focus here. Stand on a log, balance some balls. It was an attrition challenge that Nick eventually won, but was really the footnote.
Brains spent much of the episode scrambling to get numbers while Debbie was annoying everyone by being overbearing about it. Finally the swing former Beauty members decided to side with Scot and Tai in the Brawn alliance. Their plan was to scare out Neil's immunity idol and vote out Aubrey before picking off Brains members one-by-one. Solid plan, it would have worked -- but then there was a surprise arrival at the beach from Jeff.
Medical personnel was there to take a look at everyone's wounds and make sure they weren't infected. Everyone was banged up a little, but generally OK -- then we got to Neil's knee.
OH GOD WHAT IS THAT?!
Neil all calmly was like, "Yeah, my knee got super infected and was full of pus -- but it's OK because it ruptured today!" The doctor wasn't having any of it. Because the wound was so infected and so close to the joint there was risk he could have had serious lifelong damage done to his leg, so Neil was pulled.
Honestly, this was pretty sad. Neil was a totally OK dude in ice cream pants who legitimately loved Survivor. However, this positioned Scot and Tai perfectly so I don't shed a tear. Now brains knows they're screwed and to make matters worse, Neil took the immunity idol with him. Keepsakes are important.