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Surviving Thailand, Episode 7: The Merge That Wasn'tby David Bloomberg -- 10/31/2002
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Mark Burnett has managed to condition many of us to his previews to the point that no matter what they indicate might happen, we just don't believe it anymore. Well, we may have to revise that, as he pulled a fast one on not just the viewers, but the 10 remaining contestants as well. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. We begin the episode at Sook Jai (SJ) on the night after they voted out Robb. Erin says that vote was the hardest one, and they are a family for now. However, she later says that she is not confident with anyone in the tribe, and is especially keeping an eye on Ken and Shii Ann. Jake asks if anybody felt good about that and agrees that it was harder than any previous votes.
Ken tells Shii Ann that he always told Robb the truth, but Penny had told Robb that Ken had lied - why would she do that? They agree that Penny is sneaky, playing hardball, manipulative, and other variations on that theme. Ken says he can even tell how she was in high school. Shii Ann knows Penny is after her. Ken also feels he is a target. So Penny has gone from being a virtual non-entity to Penny, Queen of the Spider People.
The next day, both tribes get five sets of body paint and instructions for each to pick one color and adorn themselves. They do so and then both tribes meet with host Jeff Probst, who tells them they are going to get to know an individual from the other tribe. They match up the colors and each are sent their separate ways with a random basket. Two of the baskets have further instructions, the others can just go off in private and chat.
Clay is paired with Shii Ann, Brian with Penny, Ted with Erin, Helen with Ken, and Jan with Jake (who go off holding hands). Each basket has some fruit in it and the like, but the one taken by Clay and Shii Ann directs them to visit Chuay Gahn (CG) camp. The one for Ken and Helen tells them to go to SJ camp.
Shii Ann is impressed with the cave and their ability to stay dry at CG. Helen likes the shelter, the chickens, and the nearby water hole at SJ. Ken says he listened a lot and didn't talk much while Helen says she was suspicious and didn't want to give any secrets to the cop.
Shii Ann's original plan was to just listen, but instead she turned into a Chatty Kathy, spilling her guts to Clay. She says the tribe had not gotten along since day one, that Penny is the most manipulative person on the tribe, etc. Clay says he learned what was going on about the personality clashes and notes that if they could find one person they like, they could go all the way.
The tribes meet up again and Probst tells them that the four who visited campsites have become the official ambassadors and get to choose where the two tribes will go to live together. After being told they will get a new boat no matter what, the unanimous decision is CG. I guess they all kind of like the whole "staying dry" thing. So all of the SJ personal items will be transferred to the new site. What about the remaining chicken? I dunno.
When they arrive, Helen says they all are acting like a family. There is that word again. If you haven't already, I recommend that readers check out O'Sean Aieghlans' article on this very topic. Anyway, they find a bunch of food - crackers, brie, fruit, rice noodles, wine - the works. They all go nuts. Brian says he feels like he has opened up his house, but he also has home-court advantage. They decide on a new tribe name for the newly merged group - Chuay Jai. How creative. Then they head to the water to wash off the paint and assess the overall situation. Erin says CG has been very hospitable. Ken notes that Shii Ann is smiling again - she has suffered so much abuse at the hands of Robb and Penny (you know - I really wish we'd seen some of this abuse from Penny in one of the previous six episodes!), now he has to figure out Shii Ann's angle. Penny knows what the real situation is and while everybody is talking about family, she knows that they are also trying to figure out where they all fit in.
Shii Ann says she is breathing for the first time in a while, making friends and meeting people who do not judge her. She tells Ted that she felt like the odd man out the entire time. He asks if race had anything to do with it and she says that maybe a little, but more her culture, as she discusses the chicken-eating episode. She says that all of SJ except Jake and Ken had ostracized her and basically tortured her. Ted tells her that if she wants to join their family, she is welcome. (Hint to Shii Ann: Just don't sleep next to him!)
That night, Erin notes that the CG folks are totally different than she expected - she thought the tribe would be boring. Well, Erin, if there is one thing you cannot call CG, it was "boring." Jan gets drunk and stumbled around. Brian gets drunk and plays horribly on the guitar. Shii Ann and Ted (who are not drunk) sing a bit. Ted, who doesn't drink, takes Brian for a walk to get him some air. While they are on the beach, they discuss strategy and reaffirm their alliance. Then Brian tosses his cookies. Ah, bonding.
The following day, Brian notes that the previous night was quite eventful, and humbling. He had too much wine but it shows the others that he's human. He says he has a subtle form of leadership. He always knows what's going on (well, except maybe for a couple hours the previous night) and he senses a pettiness with the girls of SJ. Shii Ann is not happy with her tribe and he's going to see if he can use that.1 2 3 Next-->
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