Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #8 | EW.com

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Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #8

Image (1) jeffprobst_l.jpg for post 949So I’ve recovered from my Zyrtec cloud and yes I now realize that we promoted the merge. It was funny to be reminded of it by you guys. What can I say, I really was “loopy” when I wrote that blog. But yes I do see episodes and I do know what we promote, sometimes I just forget…

In honor of my slip up last week, I’m going to dedicate today’s blog to… what else… The Merge.

MERGE FEAST
Let’s start with the feast. Did you see how quickly their moods changed when they got some food in their belly? Think about it… I bet a majority of you had some sort of snack even while you were watching Survivor. Probably snacking on something right now while reading this blog. We like to eat. It feels good. When we don’t eat we get crabby. Laura didn’t give a hoot about her canteen once the feast started. Why would she? She was happy again. I love seeing them happy… momentarily. I more love seeing them in conflict. But you need a balance. Too much conflict, too many days without food, too many nights drenched from the rain and you just have angry people. Producing a good season of Survivor requires an ebb and flow of highs and lows. The merge is almost always a high, even if only for a moment.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Another fun thing about the merge is it’s like starting over once again. You have new people in your world and you get a second chance to make a first impression in the game.

Some people choose to stay in game mode, working their strategy. Not John. The ever cocky, always aware John was waiting for someone, anyone to ask him anything about himself. It resulted in one of my favorite exchanges of the season:

Jaison: So engineering school, huh?
John: Uh yeah, Mechanical Engineering degree.
Jaison: Congratulations.
John: Not a law degree. I contemplated becoming a patent lawyer.

It was the swagger in his walk and the tone of his voice when he said, “Uh yeah..” that really made it work for me. Nice.

PERSONAL INSIGHT: If I had a Mechanical Engineering degree I’d look for ways to bring it up, too. But since I don’t it’s fun to be a catty little stick-eating biatch and make fun of John.

WE’RE ALL ONE HAPPY FAMILY
It never fails. We merge and suddenly everybody pretends to like everybody else. I had the exact same reaction Erik did when I heard Brett’s suggestion for a new tribe name:

Brett: “AIGA, it means extended family.”

Extended family? Gimme a break. (Truth be told, Brett probably really means it and Brett is the kind of guy that outside of the game you’d be friends with, your families would dig each other, and you’d end up having a lifelong friendship. But this is in the game and that’s a different story.)

Plus, think about it, Brett had to research that name before he even left America, which is downright irritating. Not sure why it’s irritating, but it is. Maybe it’s because Brett is so likable.

Like I did last week, I’ll use one of my honorary nieces as an example of what I mean. Mackenzie, my niece, is really likable too. She’s so likable that I’m sure lots of boys would love to ask her to a school dance or an afterschool party because she’s so… nice… (just like Brett)… and also because she’s cute (okay, fine, just like Brett).

But what makes Macky really fun to be around is an extra layer of… sass. Yes, she’s nice but she’s lippy too and she’s not afraid to call someone out for something and that adds a whole new level of respect to a person.

So come on, Brett, gawk at Kelly like Ben would have or give Dave Ball a hard time for still wearing that out-of -tyle ponytail, or tell Laura to back off Shambo just a bit. Gimme something I can respect.

Please don’t write and tell me to lay off, Brett. Brett is doing just fine. Brett can handle these comments. He’s a big boy.

But Erik was right, this is not one big extended family. It’s not even two separate families. It’s 12 in-dah-vidge-you-uhls… all trying their best to figure out how to get rid of everybody else so they can grab the check from CBS for a million dollars. Before taxes. It’s a million dollars before taxes people.

THE SCRAMBLE
A merge also offers up a chance for new alliances to form and just like on day one, those new alliances need to form quickly. Enter Russell. He doesn’t care about the food, or the tribe name or what anybody does for a living. He wants to win the game. Period.

Sending his troops (Jaison, Mick, Natalie) out to make relationships with different people is further proof that this little pirate is a pretty darn good Survivor player.

And I know some of you think there is too much Russell in the game, but he’s the guy making the most moves so that is naturally who I am going to write about. With that in mind…

I love that Russell is telling everybody everything. It’s such a risky move. You gotta respect it. To go to everybody on the other tribe that you have the idol and offer them the same exact deal could so easily backfire if just one person opens their mouth. But Russell is counting on greed to be his ally. He knows that the people he is approaching are better served if they don’t tell anybody else. If he’s right it’s a major move. If he’s wrong he’ll soon be in trouble.

THE POSSIBILITY OF THE GAME TURNING
The most exciting element of the merge is that it offers a chance to completely turn the game around. Typically that requires somebody flipping sides, and usually the “flipper” is somebody who feels on the outs and is looking to improve their spot on the totem pole.

So many times in this game the people on top forget about the people on the bottom. They forget how dangerous the outcasts are because they have nothing to lose by switching sides and everything to gain.

Shambo is clearly one of those on the bottom and she knows it. Shambo is a major threat to change the game. Nobody on Galu is paying any attention to that fact. Crazy, right? Hindsight is always 20-20. It’s why I host and don’t play.

The merge is such a simple twist. Combine the two tribes into one. We do it almost every season, and yet it amazes me how many times it creates havoc. As Dave Ball states, from the outside looking in, Galu should just vote off Foa Foa four times in a row so they can all make it to the final eight.

But it’s not a team game. It never has been. It’s a game of individuals and that complicates everything because every single person has a different agenda. Even if they agree on whom to vote out it is always for different reasons. Always. Because at the end of the game only one person wins so every single time they vote they are voting to help ensure they are the last person standing… and that often means…

SOMEBODY COCKY GETS BLINDSIDED

Erik was such a fun guy to have in the game, he has a huge heart and that was fun to watch. It may also have been his downfall. He bled Galu purple to such a degree that I think he forgot that it is… an individual game. You have to make moves in this game based on the idea that everybody else is making their best move. Erik was a major threat in the game with a major attitude. He lost sight of how others saw him and never considered that the best move might be to get rid of him. Because not everybody on Galu bleeds Galu. He was so confident that he forgot to consider the other people in the game were also playing to win and they might not care about keeping Galu together.

And boy did it cost him.

Talk about a blindside. Wow. One of the biggest and most memorable in a long, long time. Erik could not have been cockier. He was absolutely certain the outcome was set. He never-saw-it-coming.

Russell’s HUGE move to play the idol is yet one more pencil in his jar of “this is how ya do it.”

RUSSELL: “Figure it I have it I might as well play it.”

NOTE: To all future Survivor players… You Don’t Hold Onto The Idol If You Have The Slightest Concern You Are In Trouble.

If you have it and you think you need it – play the damn thing.

Russell is playing to win. He doesn’t care about second place. He may not make it, but with each passing week you have to respect the game he is playing.

NEXT TIME ON… SURVIVOR
So where does the game stand now?

It’s an interesting thing that often happens in this game. You lose enough people from your tribe, your numbers get so low that you have absolutely no other choice but to rely on each other and stick together. Foa Foa is at that point. In order to have any shot at actually winning the game, they cannot risk betraying anybody on their tribe. This gives them four votes in the new tribe. That is significant because as we saw last night - within Galu there are lots of possible sub alliances and cracks to be exploited.

Give me your predictions. Will Galu regroup and get rid of Foa Foa? If so, what order do you predict Foa Foa will be voted out?

Now check out our exclusive deleted scene below and read Dalton Ross’s TV recap.












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