Welcome, everyone, to the Marshalls Survivor recap here on MarshallsWeekly.com and written by yours truly, the recapper formerly known as Dalton Ross, now known as Marshall Marshall. We have a lot to get to today as… Hold on, it appears we have a streaker in aisle 4. “Attention, Marshalls shoppers. Please ignore the naked Vietnamese gardener with the chicken running down the home furnishings aisle. Repeat: Please ignore the naked Vietnamese gardener with the chicken!”
Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes! A lot of exciting developments to discuss, like the big Marshalls merge and not one but two Marshalls Councils, where we lost one of the true icons of the game, as well as someone else I don’t remember. There were also game moves being made left and right after… I’m sorry. Can you excuse me for one more second? “Attention, Marshalls shoppers. Pay no mind to the photonics manufacturing supervisor/Red Lobster waitress twerking and intermittently mooning customers next to the discount footwear. Repeat: Ignore the twerking photonics manufacturing supervisor/Red Lobster waitress!”
Jesus, can’t a guy just sit back and talk about incredible bargain basement department store prices without being interrupted by streakers, twerkers, and mooners? What is this world coming to? I need a vacation. Actually, I am currently on vacation and currently in a hotel in Maine. But I live to serve, so I have opened up my checkout register for business anyway to break down this week’s two-hour extravaganza. The best news for all of you is that since I am on vacation and attempting to not inspire my wife to divorce me, I will be keeping this recap a bit lower when it comes to word count. JUST LIKE THE UNBELIEVABLY LOW PRICES ON EVERYDAY ITEMS AT MARSHALLS!!! Okay, let’s get to it and hit on the big non-nudity-related things that went down.
The Merge Twist
The merge episode is always one of the best of the season because it helps shape the direction and tone to come. Which alliances have held? Who will flip to the other side? Who will be the odd person out? It’s fascinating to watch this stuff develop. We all love the merge episode. But I have to admit, part of me wanted to hold off for a week or two, just because I wanted to see how the Nuku tribe would have responded as a team after that emotionally draining but ultimately unifying Tribal Council in which Varner outed Zeke. We’ll get into how the Nuku alliance imploded later on, but had they all been on the same side in the next reward and immunity challenge and pulled out victories in both, that could have been pretty damn inspiring.
However, we’ll just have to file that one under T for tough noogies since the merge was indeed upon us. Ah, but with a twist. After Jeff Probst brought all the players onto a beach with a giant merge feast laid out in front of them, he told them they could enjoy it only if one person from each tribe volunteered not to take part. If there were no volunteers, then each player would receive an individual cracker and swig of iced tea instead.
Great twist. I absolutely love it. Not because I enjoy watching people suffer… I mean, I do enjoy watching people suffer. But that’s not the only reason. I also love anything that forces players to make a big choice. And there were no good choices here. Brad and Tai sacrificed their food so the others could eat, and you might think that was a strong strategic move in terms of garnering favor and appreciation from their tribemates. But in the evolution of this game, that is not always a good thing. As soon as you do that, people are appreciative, but also, their antennas go up. (We even heard Cirie talking about how Brad and Tai got brownie points, “but that makes me suspicious because everything in this game is calculated.”)
And now you have just made yourself a target due to your increased likability and ability to get jury votes at the end. If I’m standing on one of those mats, I suggest a rock, paper, scissors tournament or some other random method of determining who has to take the fall. I definitely do not volunteer. I also definitely do not pretend I am drunk if I am not, which is what Debbie claimed. Although Debbie claims a lot of things, so who knows. I mean, I actually kind of hope she was drunk while twerking on Cirie and mooning Tai. At least that offers a semblance of an explanation.
The First Immunity Challenge
I’m just not a fan of the old, “Stand on your tippy toes with a block wedge between your head and the top of the frame.” I don’t know why, because I generally love endurance challenges, but this one just has never done it for me. Maybe it’s because three players dropped out in three seconds, with over half the tribe being out in the first five minutes. Or maybe it’s just because everyone looks so damn awkward while doing it. Whatever the reason, I just can’t get into it.
I will, however, give props to Andrea for becoming the first woman to win this challenge and beating endurance beast Tai in the process. That’s super impressive. But I think it may be time to retire this particular competition.
The Return of Cirie
We’ve seen hardly any of Cirie this season for one good reason: There’s been no reason to. She had never been to Tribal Council before tonight, so she never had to scramble or strategize — at least not to the extent that we needed to see it. But the second we went to an individual game, Cirie was back. She took the tribe consensus vote of Michaela and flipped it on its head because she saw a way to nurture Michaela over to her side as an additional vote. That was smart. So smart that it frightened Zeke into making his own move (which we will get into later), but it was great to see the old Cirie back to her wily ways.
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Another One Bites the Dust
I was one of many who openly questioned why Hali was brought back for a season called Game Changers. Another one of those people who questioned her inclusion was… Hali herself! I’m not going to bash Hali for anything. She followed J.T.’s lead and tried to make some waves at Tribal Council a few weeks back with her old Mana-mates. She got her tribe the victory with her work on the puzzle last week. And the she offered to “shakedown for everybody right now” at Tribal Council to prove she did not have an idol, but only if someone asked. “If you want to be more secure you can man up,” she told the tribe. “We can do a pat strip search here to settle things.” That was a bit awkward, but at least she was trying something.
Of course, she then went on to say she was not a Game Changer and therefore should not be taken out, which is a bit of a weird strategy because her basic argument in that case was that she didn’t deserve to stay… so should therefore stay. Also, openly saying you are not a Game Changer means you are not likely to get a lot of winner votes at the end to be named the ultimate Game Changer. Not the best long-term strategy. It didn’t matter, of course, as she was cut loose here and became the first member of the jury.
Hali did not really change my opinion all that much in that she did not suddenly morph into a dynamic personality who was on the beach making moves and playing an aggressive game. She was not really an effective narrator for what was happening either, which is always a vastly underestimated talent among Survivor contestants. (Zeke excels at that.) But Hali did not play poorly either. She was there. She did fine. Had a few moments. Nothing to make us think she should be brought back for a third time, but certainly nothing for her to be embarrassed about either.
Oh, one other note about this Tribal in which Hali got voted out: Sierra did not use her legacy advantage, so the next time that can be used is at the final 6. We’ll see if she makes it that far.