Another week in Survivor SA, another week of wrong predictions on my end. Perhaps I should stop making them, but what fun would that be? Going into merge week, I was fairly confident we would lose Toni and Dante, but I’m still struggling to grapple with the fact that we lost not one but two Full Package members.
All the little pouches in the world couldn’t save Meryl from overplaying her hand, and she was blindsided by the same people that protected her the episode prior. Now the lead that the post-merge players once had is no more, and the once powerless No BS alliance is back to having the final say. This could definitely change as we get closer to the finale, but their journey to get to this point has been quite impressive.
Lines are Drawn, Then Crossed
Steffi’s blindside rocks Salan to its core. Half of the tribe is celebrating taking out the biggest threat in the game, while the other half feels like they’re watching their game crumble before them. The angriest of all is Marian, who lost her most valuable ally while watching Meryl get by with her collection of advantages. Most prominently, she regrets her choice at Outpost last episode, where she chose rice for the tribe over an immunity idol clue. While she originally felt that this choice would set her up for the endgame, now she fears losing Steffi was the end of her game.
Shane and Marian feel that keeping Meryl over Steffi was a big mistake. While they are trying to recover from being left out of the vote, the other remaining member of the Breakfast Club, Meryl, has found new life in the game. She has finally broken free from the alliance that she felt was holding her back, and wants to reinforce the bonds she has with the players that kept her safe. As promised, she’s given Tejan her Outsurance coin and begins to place her trust with the No BS alliance. What she doesn’t know is that they’re already making plans without her, plans that involve taking her out next.
Out with the Full Package, In with No BS
With her back against the wall, Marian refuses to go down without a fight. She wastes no time telling the No BS alliance about Meryl’s tribal council pass, which they previously did not know about. The initial reason for wanting to take out Steffi over Meryl was to weaken the Breakfast Club members by taking out the player that had the strongest connections. They wanted to dismantle the alliance on their terms, not on the terms of their adversaries. Now that Marian has revealed the full extent of Meryl’s power, they know they have to take her out sooner rather than later.
If they’re going to strike, it has to be now when Meryl is feeling most comfortable with her new allies. They plan to make her feel as comfortable as possible throughout the next few days to prevent her from feeling the need to use her tribal council pass at the next tribal. They want to make this as much of a team effort as possible, which I love seeing from this alliance of pre-mergers. I dare say that since they have turned the tides for themselves, this alliance has proven that they have what it takes to make it all the way to the end together. I’m just not sure if that’s what they all want.
For the Love of the Game
After some reflection, Marian wants clarity from Dino about why they blindsided her with the Steffi vote and, more importantly, if this means she’s the next to go. What we get is one of the most beautiful discussions of the season. Dino and Marian have rarely voted together, but they have bonded over their deep love of the game. They both want this season to have a strong winner that represents the season well, which may be reason enough for them to finally start working together.
Dino shows Marian the Save the Date advantage to rebuild (or start to build) trust between the two of them. Marian losing Steffi may not have been the best thing for her, but it is certainly the best thing for Dino. Now Marian is relying on Dino more than ever, which makes her a more valuable ally to him.
The discussion about ensuring the season has a strong winner was placed so well here, especially as we edge closer to finale week. As superfans with a deep love and appreciation for the game, it makes sense for this to be a serious concern for Marian and Dino. I’m curious to see how far this will go. I think production wants to hint at these two being the final two of the season, but I’m not sure that will be the case. As of now, it looks like they will be each other’s biggest competition to win the whole thing. I’m doubtful that they will risk two million rand to sit next to the strongest person in the end.
At the Crossroads
Episode 16 is a great time to be a Marian fan, as her Survivor dreams keep coming true. She wins individual immunity and gains newfound strength in her game and herself. Her safety only drives a wedge further between her and Meryl, and Meryl is certain that Marian will vote for her. Once again, Meryl hatches a plan, only this time, there’s more risk involved. She reveals to Phil that she plans to use her tribal council pass on Marian so that she can not participate in the vote. Phil, who is part of the plan to blindside Meryl, is thrilled with this idea and encourages her to go for it. Unbeknownst to Meryl, she’s confirming to her betrayers that she will not be using the one item that can guarantee her safety.
While Meryl is sealing her fate, Shane has a completely different plan in the works. He wants to vote out Dino, who’s gaining more and more momentum with each passing day. Unfortunately for him, no one’s buying what he’s selling, not even his closest ally Marian. The differences in their games from their first season to now is on full display here, and Shane is worried that he’s losing Marian to other allies. Whether she knows it or not, Shane feels they are at the crossroads, and this very well may be the vote that severs their strategic partnership.
Originally, I thought this may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Shane and Marian, but I think they still have each other’s backs after this tribal council. Meryl uses her pass on Marian, who then bequeaths her individual immunity to Shane. Despite her initial doubts, Meryl decides to save her 50/50 coin for another day, only to learn that this will be her last day in the game. Meryl is voted out 5-2, making all of her little pouches null and void.
Where Do We Go from Here?
I know that “Expect the Unexpected” is Big Brother’s tagline, but I think we can all agree that this motto can definitely apply to Survivor SA as well. I thought the Breakfast Club would last longer into the merge than a single vote, but now their numbers have been decimated to only Shane and Marian. It doesn’t surprise me that they’re still standing, but now I wonder if they’ll stand together moving forward.
The No BS alliance came out on top after a disastrous swap almost tore them apart. I’m desperate to know what Dino, Phil, and Felix all wish as their ideal endgame and if that includes each other. And while Tejan and Killarney are severely on the outs with the rest of their tribe, I refuse to disregard their potential. I expect plenty of blindsides going into Week 5 of the season, but who will be on the receiving end of them is yet to be determined.