In an episode that involved a merge, a lot of yelling and arguing, a 100% Grade-A dirt squirrel reference, and tribemates stealing food and supplies, Na 'Onka put it into perspective at Tribal Council best when she pointed out, "well, nobody got hurt." That's one way to look at it I guess!
Dead Man Walking. The episode started off at La Flor, Day 19. Marty sees vultures circling over head, what great symbolism! With his closest allie Jill just voted off, he sees his chances of staying in the game go from slim to slimmer. That's when "Uncle Fabio" arrives with some newfound tree mail, and guess what everybody....it's the merge!! As La Flor permanently packs up and moves to Espada camp, Marty announces that he's "back in the saddle again." If only the horse he was riding wasn't galloping toward a cliff...
"Libertad" means Liberty, Freedom. Shortly before the merge, we hear from Benry, seemingly in control at Espada and gunning for Alina, whom he claims was supposed to go next at old La Flor and needs to go next now. Alina on the other hand, tries uniting her new Espada 6 into voting off Marty if and when there is a merge, but as Benry points out about Alina, "I see right through her." Espada finds a treasure chest near there tree mail, which cannot be opened until company arrives soon, holding the key. Well, company arrives, the players are united and re-united, and Marty quickly names the new tribe "Libertad", which he says means "Liberty, or in this case, Freedom." And then there were 12...
Wine 'em and Dine 'em. So the traditional "merge party" begins. I love this brief segment of Survivor, where we see each player on their best behavior, laughing, being polite and friendly at the same time sizing up each and every person out there. The pleasantries last for a few minutes at best, but I guess it's a necessary thing. Anyways, there are a few very notable and immediate developments that take place. First, Brenda is very happy to be back with Na 'Onka, who she sees as being "real". They go to the beach and catch up on all the latest. Interestingly, Chase and Jane strike an immediate friendship as well...this is the first chance they've had to talk and they bond like I guess only folk from North Carolina can.
Planting Flour. As mentioned, the festivities are short lived. Within the treasure chest that they received was a bunch of fruit, cooking supplies, and other food. Na 'Onka cooks up some tortillas for the tribe, but gets irritated...ok, pissed...when she is the last to eat and gets the smallest tortilla. So she confronts them right? Well, no...she decides rather to get back at her tribe by stealing the bag of flour used to make the tortillas. Holly sees Na put the bag of flour in her bag, but doesn't immediately say anything. So Na'Onka doesn't stop there, she takes the flour, a bunch of fruit, and even some of the cooking supplies like the frying pan, digs a hole, and buries them in the sand. She clues in Alina as to what she did and even gives her some fruit. Na 'Onka strategically targets Alina, who is clearly on the outs already, as someone she sees as a potential vote for her on the jury.
You Can't Handle the Truth. But everybody knows that you can't steal like that and have it go unnoticed. As people start looking around camp, realizing items are missing, Holly tells everyone what she saw. Na 'Onka denies to each person that she was involved even though everyone knows. Jud gets so loud and frustrated...I love the Jud/Na 'Onka dynamic so much!!! It made me forget earlier in the season the fireworks when Na stole Jud's socks. She has it out for Jud, and Jud goes right back at her until he gets so frustrated that it becomes to difficult to form words...but at the end of the day, with some nudging from Alina to come clean, Na 'Onka tells the tribe what they already know...that she indeed was the thief. Marty sums up the whole situation best when he says, "she lied, she stole, how easy is that? Get rid of her! It should be that simple but in this game it is never that simple." Ain't that the truth.
The Wheels are a Turnin'. Brenda and Sash are an excellent duo and have emerged as the master strategists of the season. With all eyes on Na 'Onka, Brenda stays super-calm and goes into crisis management mode, telling allies Chase and Sash that although it is unfortunate Na stole, they have to "protect" her. One would think from this scene that Brenda is calling the shots, but we see in a Sash confessional that he agrees not because Brenda told him to, but that the more people that hate Na 'Onka, the better a Final 3 candidate she becomes, since nobody would vote for her to win. Sash and Brenda...they are running the game but do they have the same agenda? This is quickly becoming my favorite dynamic on the show, and should be interesting to see how their relationship plays out.
Immunity Challenge. Finally a challenge that Dan can excel in, right? Keep a steel bar in the air by holding it and keeping tension on two handles on each side. If the bar drops, you lose. It may take some strength, but the name of the game is really concentration. Probst announces that 2 individuals will win immunity, the last male and last female standing. They turn in the old Tribal Immunity, who Marty calls "Baby Cortez" as they hand it over to Probst. The loss of Baby Cortez doesn't seem to motivate Dan at all, since he and Purple Kelly are out of the challenge within 3 seconds. It's country-strong Jane who wins for the females, but remains in the game just to see if she can outlast the men. Others would see this as cocky (could you imagine if anyone else pulled this?), but for some reason Jane's bravado goes unnoticed. For the guys, it is Fabio who wins Immunity.
De-throned. And then there's Marty...Once in control of the game at his Espada tribe, some can argue that he's made all the moves that he could have thus far to remain in the game, with the cards he's been dealt. He has terrific insight and is a smart, dangerous player. Earlier in the episode, he picked up on Jane's closeness with Chase, and warns that Jane's "cancerous tentacles" will spread throughout the Libertad tribe. Now Idol-less and without many allies, he feels as if his feet are to the fire, and he's running out of moves...
Teflon Dan. ...but Marty finds out that he still has an ally in Dan. Dan, who was originally brought into Marty's alliance as the 4th (with Yve and Jill), now can be looked at as Marty's one true friend left in the game. He appears to not be engaged in the game too much, and while sleeping he asks Chase who he needs to vote for. When Chase says, "Alina or Marty", I was pretty happy when I saw Dan share this knowledge with Marty. "They're looking to blindside you."
The Deal Honored. Looking back it can now be said that Marty made the correct move in giving Sash the Idol. Marty operates on gut instinct, and his instincts told him that he could apparently trust Sash to hold up his end of the deal, which was that Sash would protect Marty at the next Tribal if he gave Sash the Idol. Against strong opposition, Sash convinces his alliance that he needs to stay on Marty's good side. Brenda and Chase figure they want to stay on Sash's good side, so they go along. We can always take him out next week....famous words of a fool on Survivor.
Paranoia Runs Deep. This sets Marty on a clear path of paranoia as he tries to figure out who is telling him the truth and who isn't. Everyone he approaches says that it's Alina who will go. Alina scrambles to find enough votes to oust Marty. Jane and Marty's relationship has deteriorated so horribly that Jane won't even vote with her alliance for Alina...she's writing Marty's name down. Jud, who somehow is the voice of sanity on the island, says what every person watching the show is thinking, "It should be Na 'Onka." As Alina tries to swing his vote, he again clearly states, "Alina, this is why people want you out." His wisdom and personality make me think that Jud is an under-rated player to win it all...it's as if he was created by merging Jay & Silent Bob into one.
Tribal Council. The strength of Marty's game in the beginning was his ability NOT to say everything that came to mind...to know when to talk and when not to. With his back up against the proverbial wall, he seems to have forgotten this important trait. At Tribal, he seemingly opens up on "Ms. Jane" unprovoked. This leads to some mean verbal exchanges between the two. I like Marty and he was one of my early favorites to win...but at this point even if he goes far (a stretch) it looks like he wouldn't be able to maintain enough supporters to actually vote for him in the end. Dan meanwhile, tells Probst about the stolen food. Alina, also on the hot seat, tries to reason with her tribe, that she is really a pawn and the type of player that could be a swing vote. She's correct in saying she could be a useful swing vote, but anyone who calls themself a pawn is clearly not a pawn. In the end, Jane stuck to her word and wrote down Marty's name, along with Alina, but the other 10 tribemates voted off Alina. Probst announces that she is the 1st member of the jury, and Marty escapes another Tribal.