'Survivor Philippines' Recap: Merge is the Word
'Survivor Philippines' Recap: Merge is the Word
Gina Pusateri
Gina Pusateri
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Previously on Survivor: Denise and Malcolm made an alliance and everyone on Tandang hates Michael. And for all of you folks keeping track of things at home, Denise has now been to all six tribal councils and Abi has been to none. Lucky for Abi, I suppose, but unlucky for us because she's the worst and she's still here.

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It's day 17 and at Tandang Michael is feeling a little sentimental because it was on day 17 that he was evacuated from Survivor Australia. He says that he is no longer considered a veteran and they are all on an even playing field now. Snaps to him for making this far. He has been through a lot on this show and the fact that he is willing to go through it all again is quite admirable.

A boat arrives at each of the camps to tell them that the tribes are merging and that they all have 10 minutes to gather their things and catch the boat to a new island. Malcolm has to go dig up his immunity idol and he sticks it in a pocket and then puts it in his bag.

At the new nameless tribe, none of the members from Tandang recognize that Jeff is a former baseball player, so he can rest easy because he's convinced that this would make everyone immediately vote him off. And no one on Kalabaw, except Jonathan, recognizes Lisa and he promises not to blow Lisa's cover. Lisa is really enjoying her experience and having all of these people who don't recognize her as Blair getting to know her for her. Also: she is adorable.

After the customary merge feast, things get a little sketchy with everyone talking to everyone about basically voting off everyone. Let me try to get this straight without confusing you or myself.

Jonathan approaches both Michael and Lisa about possibly joining up with him and his "loyal four" which he considers to be himself, Carter, Denise and Jeff.

Michael and R.C. are still thick as thieves and sense that they were on the outs with the old Tandang but still haven't decided what will be the best move for them.

Jeff approaches Artis, Pete, Abi and Malcolm and tells them that he wants to get rid of Jonathan as soon as possible (so much for the "loyal four"). They agree to join forces but they want R.C. out first and they think Jonathan has an idol. So if they don't win immunity, they plan to split their votes between those two at the next tribal.

Lisa accidently finds Malcolm's idol while hanging clothes so he is forced to come clean with her and form a three-part alliance with him, Lisa and Denise, who he remains allied with. She is wary of what Malcolm tells her, though, knowing that he is just trying to salvage the fact that she found out something she wasn't supposed to know.

Got all that? Sheesh, talks of alliances and votes were even more maddening than usual today, but there's nothing like the first tribal council after the merge to draw real lines in the sand.

All I can say is that it would be a shame to see Abi last longer than just about anyone. Or Pete, who has been rather terrible as of late, calling Michael names behind his back and just being rude and disrespectful in general.

Immunity Challenge

It's time for the contestants to start competing in individual immunity challenges, which actually means that Abi actually has to participate in one. Oh my, I hope she doesn't break a nail.

The challenge is for each of the survivors to hold onto a handle with a rope wrapped around it that is rigged to a bucket holding 25 percent of their individual body weight. The last man and the last woman standing will each win immunity.

Michael is unfortunately the first one out of the challenge, followed quickly and justly buy Pete who was just starting to get excited that Michael was out. Lisa and Malcolm drop their buckets next. R.C. tries to re-work her rope, but she loses her grip, and once Abi sees that she's out, she lets her bucket drop as well. That means Denise wins immunity for the women.

Artis, Carter and Jeff are left of the men. Artis winds his rope and then kisses his biceps like an idiot. And then like an idiot he let his bucket fall. Carter and Jeff fight out for another 25 minutes and the Jeff agrees to drop his bucket, but then Carter will "owe him one," and I have to say, as far as Survivor deals go, this is a pretty weak one, but I guess we'll see. So Carter is safe for tonight.

Before tribal council, R.C. is convinced that she and Michael are voting with the former Kalabaw members and will make up the majority. Michael approaches Jeff and tells him he will basically follow him to the end of the earth if it means not voting with Abi, Artis and Pete, who he thinks are all terrible people.

Jeff worries that if he votes with the former Tandang members that he and Carter will just be last in line in that new alliance, but they still haven't ruled out voting with Jonathan for Pete.

Tribal Council

It's good to see some new faces at tribal council and Jeff Probst tells us that in the last 25 seasons, there has never been a tribe that has not gone to tribal council until the merge like Tandang is currently doing. Yay for Survivor stats! They're almost getting as innocuous as baseball stats (no offense, Jeff Kent).

Michael admits that Tandang had some fractures. Abi puts it out there that R.C. betrayed her and the two of them have an awkward confrontation in which they both deny back-stabbing each other. Abi ends the argument by telling R.C., "I trust my own actions more than I trust yours," which makes an alarmingly amount of sense coming from Abi.

Then Jeff Probst points out that even though the former Tandang has numbers, it seems there are enough fissures within the tribe that would leave room for the former Kalabaw to gain back some ground. Then Jeff Kent pretty much guarantees a blind side.

One person who is not blindsided is Jonathan, who makes the smart decision to play his idol. It seems that the original Tandang split their votes between Jonathan and R.C., but Jonathan would have definitely had enough votes to send him home.

Because votes for John didn't count, in the end R.C. had three votes where Pete had two, sending R.C. home. In a twist of irony, Michael cast his vote for Jonathan, whereas if he had voted with R.C. for Pete, it would have least forced a re-vote, and his closest ally may not have been sent home.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

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