On Wednesday, many of our questions will be answered. For the first time ever, Survivor is merging without ever having going down to two tribes. That means since day one, everybody has been splintered off into smaller groups. Many players have yet to interact and there are so many possible partnerships going on that it’s honestly really hard to predict how everything might breakdown. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try.
I’ve taken some time and tried to figure all of the possible combinations we might see during the merge episode. Then, I broke them down in the likelihood that we might see them. Let’s not waste too much time and get into these possible alliances.
Ryan and Chrissy
This one isn’t budging for now. Ryan showed his loyalty to Chrissy by ousting his other closest ally. Chrissy trusts Ryan from the fact that he gave her that day three super idol. Right now in the game, I don’t think there is anybody else whose partnership is more in place than this one. It will give them a great advantage at the merge, knowing that they can trust each other to go out and grow their alliance to avoid falling in the minority.
Ashley and Devon
I don’t think that the show would spend so much time highlighting how close they were on Levu if they don’t stick together at the merge. Especially since Levu never went to a tribal council after they established their pair. It’s pretty interesting to me that the alliances I feel best about weren’t born on the original tribes but rather after the swap. I think it speaks to how differently the game can play out with three tribes.
Cole and Jessica
I know that Jessica has flinched a few times when Cole was making some dumb decisions but last episode kind of sealed their coupling to me. Cole’s fainting spell made it clear to Jess that she didn’t want to play the game without him. Besides, the Healers are going to be seen as targets because of their numbers whether they like it or not. This means that Cole and Jessica are simply better off trusting each other since they won’t be able to trust too many other people.
Ryan and Devon
Like Devon and Ashley, I think we spent too much time on their bromance for it to simply lead to nothing (unless this is Survivor: Tocantins 2.0). They were on the same page in the pre-swap and both managed to survive some sticky situations at the swap. Ryan has faced tribal council a lot and Devon isn’t too far behind. They’ve already proved their loyalty to each other and they are going to need numbers outside of their current pair to survive the merge. This makes complete sense as a combo.
Ben and Chrissy
We know that Ben is going to be a loyal guy. He didn’t even cast Alan aside after Alan’s shaky start to the season. Before they swapped, Ben and Chrissy were all in on making a deep run together. I don’t see how any of that may have changed. Ben didn’t have to vote anyone out during the swap and Chrissy did but to Ben, she may have shown loyalty by keeping J.P. around over some potential options.
Ben and Lauren
This is a relationship that hasn’t been played up as much but feels quite strong. We know that Lauren did not feel like she fit into her original tribe. With Ben, she immediately found herself at the bottom of a swapped tribe. There aren’t many situations that will build up trust in another person faster than sharing the bottom with them. It’s true that they never did get to test their loyalty at tribal council but where else is Lauren going to go from here? On Ben’s side, he isn’t crazy enough to burn a strong ally for no good reason. These two are going to stick together.
Ashley and J.P.
Now that the tribal portion of the game is over, Ashley and J.P. can get together without worrying too much about perception. Jessica and Cole are going to attract a lot more attention as a pair than they will. My question about them is how J.P. will feel about Ashley’s bond with Devon. I also wonder how Chrissy will fall into this considering that she has made some steps into evolving her relationship with J.P.
Chrissy and J.P.
If Chrissy had wanted to, she could have taken J.P. out. She didn’t do that and now, he probably feels pretty good about her as a partner. We know that J.P. isn’t very strategic so it would be pretty easy for him to simply follow Chrissy along and let her make the decisions for the both of them.
This will all depend on Ashley and Chrissy’s willingness to work together. After the first Heroes vote, Chrissy seemed to side very visibly against Ashley. Is that water under the bridge now that nobody got to act on it? Ryan and Devon will obviously be pushing very hard to get the two girls together. J.P. now probably feels close to Chrissy after having that bond with Ashley so he will want to see this come together too. Looking over at the five Healers might also help put this alliance together. Nothing better than the fear of being voted out to force some partnerships.
Cole and Jessica are going to need some allies. I think that Desi is the easiest one for them to get. She has worked with Joe in the swap but who knows where that will go (more on that later). We’ve seen them work with Mike but he’s starting to question his options too. It seems like Desi was close to both Jessica and Cole during the pre-swap period. It’s hard to tell considering how much the Healers won. We know that Cole talked some strategy with Desi and that she likely gets along with Jessica given what Roark said in her exit interviews. Desi is going to want some stability, this could be it.
For a tribe that was in such chaos before the swap, I could see them deciding to align at the merge. Ben and Ashley never actually had issues with each other, Alan was the one raising red flags. It helps that Chrissy helped J.P. come out of the swap unscathed. It will make Ashley trust her more too. Now they’re at the merge, seeing the Healers’ five players and needing to find a game plan to survive. It’s easy to fall back on the people you know best so why not the Heroes?
Heroes + Hustlers
Like I said, the Healers are five. They may not be a strong five but they will be perceived as such. The easiest way to take them down is to do basic math and add the four Heroes to the three Hustlers and make seven. It doesn’t hurt that these two tribes have already started making bonds together. Ryan and Chrissy are a pair, Devon and Ashley are a pair, and Ben can bridge the one question mark which could be Lauren. Everybody has to be self-interested to make it further into the merge and this is the easiest solution for everybody in this group to do so.
Whether or not Mike is questioning is allegiance to these two, it might be hard to shake the familiarity. Especially if Mike gets the sense that the Healers are being targeted for their natural majority. Plus, Jessica knows that Mike has an idol. If she senses that he is planning to defect on them, she could blow the whistle. Hell, Cole might just blow the whistle anyways because that’s just what he does. Still, it’s got to be hard for Mike to really go all in on this partnership when he’s putting himself in the middle of an unbreakable duo if they make it into the end-game. He also has a lot of reasons to simply not trust Cole after Cole has pulled some really idiotic moves in Mike’s presence.
Of all the Healers, Mike has the most potential to make some outside alliances. They all come out of his possible relationships with Ben. We saw last episode that these two, plus Lauren, were really making headway on their relationship. If Mike sees the Healers as a sinking ship, this is his best way out of immediate danger.
It could happen… but unlikely
Joe and Desi
These two survived a tough spot on Levu together. That usually does a lot of good for a relationship. Still, it doesn’t feel like Desi has any soft spots for Joe. On the other hand, Joe is only out there to further himself so I never got the sense that he cared all that much about Desi either. We’ve seen so much footage about pushing Desi to betray Joe and she even vocalized it as a possibility last Wednesday. Plus, Desi’s only real scene in the pre-swap was her getting annoyed at Joe’s potato etiquette. I would be very surprised if this pairing held together under scrutiny. Especially compared to the duos listed at the top of this piece.
They are five at the merge. That’s the most that any original tribe has left in the game. On that alone, they should want to work together. It’s not as simple as that though. Because they never went to two tribes at any point, the Healers don’t have an outright majority. As has been outlined, if the other two original tribes want to combine together, the Healers are outclassed 7 to 5. Knowing this, it’s very unlikely that all of the Healers will want to be seen as a solid group. On top of that, we saw a lot of infighting going on at Healers beach despite their continued winning. Mike and Joe don’t trust each other. Cole is wary of Joe and vice versa because they found the idol together but didn’t ally. Desi got annoyed by Joe’s general behaviour. If you remember Tandang in Survivor: Philippines, the Healers might be their spiritual successors.
There you have it. All of the possible alliances I could come up with coming into the merge. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the ones we can’t predict. Joe really only has the possibility of Desi and the Healers for the time being. I don’t doubt that he is going to see the writing on the wall and work to create new friends, we just can’t predict those yet. Still, it will be fun to see everything play out considering how many different levels of alliances could be built from these pre-existing relationships.