Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS


S23 E6
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February 28, 2015 at 12:27 AM EST

Recapping Survivor is a lot of fun. Almost as much fun as back when I used to play keytar for 1980s glam metal band Slaughter. Damn, those were the days. Okay, okay, I admit it. That’s what I call a half-lie, or a “little bit of a lie.” The truth is, I would have been a kickass keytar player and Slaughter would have been damn lucky to have me, but alas, it was not meant to be. But it’s cool to just lie and say I did, right? Almost as cool as this cigarette I have right here next to me. Not a problem to just smoke it up. Although, if I am going to smoke something, might as well just make it marijuana, am I right? You with me? I know one person who is  — my boy Brandon! He says lying, cigarettes, and pot are all totally cool! At least I think he did. Truth be told, I’m so freakin’ baked on doobies right now I have no idea what he said. All I know is I just downloaded the entire Cheech & Chong library, am halfway through a bag of Cheetos, and for some reason can’t stop listening to Phish. But all of that will have to wait as we hit on a few big themes and moments from last night’s Survivor: South Pacific.

Strength Vs. Loyalty

Usually I follow some sort of chronological line in these here recaps, but we’ll start right here because this seems to be a debate that never dies. Is it better to go into a merge with numbers, or with the most solid, loyal group you can? Now put aside the fact that this debate with Albert and Sophie on one side and Coach and Brandon on the other over whether they should keep Mikayla or Edna was really more about Coach wanting to keep someone (Edna) that would be solidly in his corner while Albert and Sophie were most likely looking to save someone that they could control a bit more in Mikayla. It was still framed as an argument over the importance of going into a merge with numbers. No one would sit and argue that it is better to go into a merge down in numbers to the other tribe, but how vital is it exactly to have that advantage? Well — NERD ALERT! — I did a bit of research.

The first thing I did was throw out any season in which there were any pre-merge tribe swaps or consolidations, just because that made it harder to track loyalties (is the player more loyal to the person on their original tribe or their second one?). That left nine seasons. Four of those seasons (Borneo, The Australian Outback, Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains) went into the merge with completely even tribes. For the five seasons in which one tribe went into a merge with a numbers advantage, three times (Thailand, Palau, Redemption Island) the winner came from the tribe with the advantage, but twice (Tocantins, Samoa) someone from the tribe with the deficit won. So by no means is the advantage imperative, especially when you consider that Palau featured only one member (Stephanie LaGrossa) merged from the smaller tribe — making her victory a near impossibility, and putting the above comparison in a virtual dead heat. The irony, of course, is that in this case the whole debate about the value of keeping a tribe tight and strong seems to have actually caused division within the team. And we all saw how that turned out for the Timbira and Galu tribes.

NEXT: Ozzy name-drops Hank Azaria

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