“Survivor 46” recap: Tribe unity backfires in a major way

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Siga messes up the merge as the ghost of a former player looms large.

WARNING TO ALL FUTURE SURVIVOR PLAYERS: Whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances, tell your tribe mates you are a fan of Aubry Bracco — apparently the most diabolical and deviously dangerous player in Survivor history. Never you mind that the former EW recapper only got two votes at the Koah Rong final Tribal Council. Don’t you worry that she was never in any sort of real control on Game Changers. And please overlook the fact that she was voted out at the very first Tribal Council she attended on Edge of Extinction. AUBRY BRACCO IS A MENACE AND CANNOT BE STOPPED!

As I watched Q lose his mind over the fact that Moriah was an Aubry fan, I couldn’t help but wonder: What are you supposed to say when someone asks you who your favorite Survivor players are — a subject that always comes up on the island? If you can’t say Aubry, who can you say? There are, like, 100 other former players that would seem to fall into that same bucket of solid strategic and/or social contestants. And those are the ones pretty much every new player cites as inspiration. It’s not like anyone is going to show up and be like, “Oh, I started watching Survivor because of Brady Finta.”

If you can’t say Aubry, I imagine that means you also can’t say Michele, Kim, Yul, Sarah, Sandra, Jeremy, Parvati, Boston Rob, Tyson, Tony, Cirie, Denise, Wendell, J.T., Amanda, Chris Daugherty, Malcolm, Rob Cesternino, Natalie, Dee… look, I could keep going. The list is practically endless.

So again, what are you supposed to say? Is the right move going forward to instead call out being a fan of really, really bad players who had no idea what they were doing? If I ever suffer from temporary insanity and sign up to play Survivor, should I tell everyone that I want to play like Woo? Is it time to go buy a “Be Kind” t-shirt and channel my inner Bhanu? Or should I just be like, “Well, I’m actually not much of a Survivor fan, but let me tell you — Frenchie from Big Brother is an absolute mastermind!”

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> The cast of 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

The cast of 'Survivor 46'

As freaked out as Q was, telling others that “Mo is dangerous, I can tell. She’s like Aubry, a geeky, look-in-your-eyes thing” — I’m not sure how responsible that wild take is for her ouster, as opposed to the fact that Siga just appeared to be the much more closely knit group that needed to be broken up. If I was on Yanu — and pray those words never come out of your mouth — and I saw Tevin spending all his time drawing a giant bus in the sand to throw Venus under, I too would have targeted someone on Siga to break up that group.

According to what we saw, all Siga did was project an unbreakable bond — even going so far as to lie that the vote for Jem was unanimous. On one hand, it’s a solid strategy for people in power for a tribe (and I think Charlie, Maria, Ben, and Tim all considered themselves to be in that position) to try and convince folks on the bottom (in this case, Moriah) to not defect. And the best way to do that is to make her feel 100 percent part of the team. But projecting that much strength and refusing to share any morsels about their own tribe dynamics also raised more flags than a freakin’ regatta. And in doing so, not only did they lose Moriah anyway, but they may have swung the Yanu three over to the Nami side in a more long-term way.

A more effective strategy for Siga would have been to actually do the exact opposite. Instead of projecting complete tribe unity, they should have deployed Moriah as a double agent. She could have acted on the outs and open for business as a free agent to gain intel from the Yanu and Nami folks. With seemingly everyone itching to get Venus out of the game, that could have shifted the balance just enough to give the 28-year-old program coordinator a few extra days in the game, and possibly even more.

Either way, Mo is now no mo. Which is a shame. I was a fan as soon as she listed off the most incredible package of pet peeves I had ever heard in my entire life. And even though she could not be more wrong if she tried when it comes to the best challenge in Survivor history, I still respect her fearlessness is publicly airing such an astoundingly bad hot take. Let’s take a looksee at what else went down this week on episode 6 of Survivor 46.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> The cast of 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

The cast of 'Survivor 46'

Scene stealing

Before we go any further, if you’re the type that has been wondering what has really been going on over at Nami all this time, since we never had to see them snap fully into game mode, do yourself a favor and read our exclusive mid-game interview with Hunter, who spilled all the tea on what really was happening over there.

I bring that up because that was fresh in my mind as I watched this scene of Hunter scrambling to recover his Beware Advantage immunity idol before the other tribes showed up for the pseudo-merge. Not because of anything Hunter was doing, mind you, but rather due to what was happening right behind him.

That would be Soda and Venus talking about the fact that Soda doesn’t even want to talk to Venus. Honestly, the Hunter idol hunt should have been the background to the Soda and Venus meeting of the minds. Every time the camera and audio cut away from that conversation back to Hunter I was full-on yelling “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?” at my TV screen like some kind of lunatic way too obsessed with a TV show to the point where he starts name-checking Brady Finta.

Anyway, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Statistically speaking, probably not. I mean, the odds are pretty low we’re thinking he exact same thing. But what I'm thinking is that I need these two on either the next Amazing Race or solving crimes together on season 5 of True Detective. Let’s make some magic! Oh, and Hunter found his idol, by the way.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Jeff Probst and the cast of 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Jeff Probst and the cast of 'Survivor 46'

Earn the merge

Of course, nobody gets an automatic fast pass to the merge in the new era. Instead, you have to earn it by winning a challenge or managing to not get voted out. For all of our bitching and complaining about the Hourglass twist, which, thankfully, went the way of the Medallion of Power and will go down as the worst wrinkle in Survivor history, I always liked the rest of the basic structure of the “earn the merge” rethink.

Once again, teams had to pick rocks to randomly separate into two teams of six and the odd person left out would essentially bet on the team to win and enjoy/suffer the same fate they did. The challenge itself was physical stage after physical stage after physical stage, ending in a classic Survivor dragon puzzle.

Now that I’ve set the stage, let me say something absolutely crazy that is going to make me sound cuckoo for Cocoa-Puffs: I actually thought the orange team kind of had a shot to win this thing. I KNOW! I told you it was crazy! The purple team was stacked with Hunter, Q, Tevin, Tim, Ben, and Kenzie, while the orange squad was comprised of Moriah, Soda, Maria, Venus, Liz, and Charlie. An ever so slight physical mismatch. But here’s the thing: For all that insane cart-pushing and ball climbing, what do I always say…? You know it. You’ve heard it almost as many times as Jeff Probst has ordered people “Come on in.” Say it with me: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PUZZLE!

The problem for orange is that Hunter is also a puzzle whiz, which is why purple was destined to win. But I’m telling you, the time it takes to navigate an obstacle course like this is nothing compared to the time it takes on that puzzle, and I know because I have been on a challenge team that actually did that puzzle on Winners at War, and as great as my boy Gordon Holmes was solving that, it was not quick. Had Hunter not been a puzzle whiz, that thing would have been a hell of a lot closer, and orange may have just pulled out what would have been billed as an epic comeback.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Liz Wilcox, Charlie Davis, Ben Katzman, Kenzie Veurink, and Moriah Gaynor on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Liz Wilcox, Charlie Davis, Ben Katzman, Kenzie Veurink, and Moriah Gaynor on 'Survivor 46'

Feast on this

I am mildly fascinated by how the challenge champions approached the lunchtime conversation at their winners’ feast, which sadly was not staged in a place “where good things happen.” With all three Yanu members immune (because gray rock Tiffany successfully bet on the purple team) and no one around to make history by changing history, someone from Nami or Siga was guaranteed to be voted out. So each side at the feast was basically told to nominate their person to go. Tevin essentially put together a very thorough PowerPoint presentation outlining all the reasons why Venus was their designated sacrificial lamb.

And then it was Siga’s time to throw a name out. Their stall tactics in doing so were not unlike Bart Simpson requesting Sideshow Bob to perform the entirety of H.M.S. Pinafore before the clown disemboweled him on a boat. But Ben and Tim were far less successful in their efforts — eventually, and somewhat feebly, putting forth Moriah. This was clearly too little, too late, and their unified desire to save Mo from the chopping block may have inadvertently put her there. Plus, she enjoyed watching Aubry Bracco on television! Get that woman out of here already!

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Moriah Gaynor of 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Moriah Gaynor of 'Survivor 46'

Chaos agent

The fact that Moriah was the almost unanimous vote — I’m assuming Charlie’s parchment was to protect against a successful Shot in the Dark play — when Venus is around is still somewhat shocking. Venus was on a rampage this episode, telling Q she wanted to work with them because “I am so over their attitude with me” (having no idea Q was already aligned with Tevin and Hunter), and working so many members of Siga that I half thought she was going to swim to Ponderosa to try and woo Jungle Jem.

Venus also got super aggressive trying to move the vote from Mo over to Charlie even when she was told that her head was also pretty firmly on the block. She’s actually probably right that Charlie was the far more strategic play, but Venus didn’t read the proverbial room well in terms of how vociferous she was in pushing for Swiftie No. 1.

Q got so frustrated with her trying to move the vote that he openly declared war on the Great White North, essentially spitting in their collective poutine while opining: “If you want to be ungrateful, I’ll send your ass back to Canada.” Not cool, eh?

It would have been a shame had Venus talked her way out of the game. For one, you need that chaos agent to keep things interesting. Plus, she continued this season’s awesome trend of players referring to themselves in the third person, which is something, I guess, people just do now???? Can anyone confirm this? Should I just walk around saying stuff like “Dalton would like a beer” when I walk up to the bar, or “Dalton will have the chicken cordon bleu for dinner” when I order my food? Is that how people talk now? Does nobody raise eyebrows at this anymore? And do restaurants still actually serve chicken cordon bleu? I’m apparently too busy watching Survivor: Vanuatu reruns to go out in public and notice.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Jeff Probst and the cast of 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Jeff Probst and the cast of 'Survivor 46'

Anyway, Venus is still around to drive other people crazy, which is great for us. Not great for Moriah, who not only got voted out right before the merge and jury, but then had to listen to others celebrating as they received the red buffs while she waited to record her final words. That’s kinda brutes. Maybe not as brutal as getting stuck on a tribe with Bhanu, but pretty brutal nonetheless. Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath on her getting that ceremonial Siga tattoo.

But since Flock of Siga ultimately went along with tossing Moriah overboard, does that mean Nami is now prepared to jettison Venus in return? Even if it turns out that way, the impending double elimination means someone else will be getting their torch snuffed as well. So much snuffing to be done!

But we’ve got plenty to do before then. Did you check out our exclusive in-game interview with Hunter yet to get all the pre-merge Nami scoop? After you get done with that, make sure to also take a gander at our exclusive deleted scene from the episode. Probst certainly had thoughts on what went down this week, so you can take those in. And also keep your eyes peeled for our exit interview with Mochete. You know I’ll be back next with a double scoop of the crispy. What else would Dalton be doing?

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