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Episode 7
Filmed June 28-30, 2002.
Airs October 31, 2002.
Click below for:
- RC/merge spec/spoilers
- IC speculation/spoilers
- Boot predictions
Video resources:
- CBS video: Ep7 Promo
- Ep6 videos: FW, 2, 3, 4, 5, RC, 7, 8, 9
, 10, IC

Episode descriptions:
- CBS: "The two tribes anticipate a merger between them, but what they don't anticipate are the details. New relationships are forged with caution, while one castaway parties a bit too hard. One castaway pursues a new strategy, which leads to accusations of disloyalty."

RC/ merge speculation - sort of a merge.

Will there be a merge this week? Sort of. As the web promo shows, when the contestants assemble at the stone circle, Jeff Probst tells them they will live together on one beach. But it not what it looks like. They're still in their original tribes, just cohabiting (hence the title of the next episode, "Sleeping With the Enemy". Unfortunately, they don't figure this out until they show up at the immunity challenge, where they return to their original tribes.

Here's the probable sequence of events: One morning (either day 1 or day 2 of the episode), both tribes receive treemail and paint, telling them to decorate themselves, each in a different color. They meet at the circle, get the news about their new living arrangements: "Today, something very different is happening... the two tribes will live together on one beach." This is sufficiently vague that the contestants will no doubt presume this is a traditional merge. They get the usual gift basket of food and alcohol, and spend the rest of the day removing paint, drinking, eating, and drinking some more. The contestants are split into color-coded pairs at the circle meeting, suggesting a challenge might ensue, and a CBS press release states that one does. Regardless of the outcome, it appears from the numerous shots of drinking that everyone gets to enjoy the reward of the "merge."

The Chuay-Gahns march, well-painted, as a tribe to the meeting at the stone circle.

The tribes mingle. From left: Ted, Erin, Penny, Brian, Jan, Jake, Probst, Ken, Helen, Clay, Shii Ann.

Trick or treat!

Helen, Shii Ann and Erin, all still painted, celebrate the fruits of the "merge."

Brian, Shii Ann and Clay try to purge their bodies of that damn paint.

Jan takes a tumble, falling past Penny, Ted and Jake.

Immunity challenge - Chuay-Gahn wins.

The web promo shows the contestants lined up to hear Probst describe a challenge. This appears to be after they have started living together, because they are not arranged by tribe. They are also wearing different clothes than in the "painted" scenes, so it is either the next day or two days later, depending on when the "merge" occurs. Probst says "something very different is about to happen," which refers to this not being an individual IC, as expected, but rather another tribal one: Chuay-Gahn vs. Sook-Jai. We can tell this because they are chained together, and shown in color-coded (orange and purple) mazes, collecting what looks like coconuts (perhaps with keys in them, as in Marquesas?). Yes, it's another "all new challenge." Because we expect Shii Ann (or possibly Ken) to go, this suggests Chuay-Gahn wins. Good idea booting Robb for his ability to win challenges!

Shii Ann, in a new hairstyle and different clothes, reacts to Probst's second "surprise" annoucnment.

Brian, Ted and Ken hearing Probst announce that the IC will be tribal.

Shii Ann, Ken and Jake, in chains. Your guess is as good as ours as to what that orange swirl overlay is.

Brian and Jan of Chuay-Gahn, in their maze, right a stumbling Ted.

Sook-Jai wanders through their purple palace.

Ken and Shii Ann discuss her loyalty. Same hairstyle for her, different clothes than IC. Day of TC?

Boot - Shii Ann

The problem with this week's vote is that we don't how Tribal Council will work with the merge-that's-not-a-merge. Since the IC is still tribal, tribal council should be as well. At least in the sense that all the Chuay-Gahns should still be immune. That leaves two, possibly three, options:
(1) Sook-Jai traipses off to TC by themselves. This might work this week, but next episode, the jury will be being selected. There's no way they could keep this up past this episode, and for this to be effective, the contestants have to think that their current conditions could conceivably be maintained indefinitely. On the other hand, there's no real reason why you couldn't have one last stand at a tribal TC.
(2) Chuay-Gahn attends TC, but don't vote. Again, that works this week, but would be unfair in the future, since potential jurors should have a say in who reaches the final two. It also negates the possibility of cross-tribal alliances, which is one of the things that worked in Marquesas. Unlikely.
(3) Chuay-Gahn attends TC, votes against someone in Sook-Jai, but are themselves immune. This seems to be the best option. Competing for tribal immunity can be kept up for as long as there are tribes with at least two members. And it makes alliances with the other tribe all that much more important. This also fits in well with Ken's nervousness about Shii Ann's apparent cozying up to the Chuay-Gahns. If she can convince them to vote against Ken (which is clearly in their best interest), Ken is toast. This secnario and option (1) seem the best.

Ken could be this week's prime target. As with all prior merges, the strongest people are always targets. And with Ted and Brian immune, that leaves Ken. If Chuay-Gahn attends TC, and votes as a bloc, there's five votes right there. Presumably, all the Sook-Jais will vote for Shii Ann, except Shii Ann herself. And if she figures out that
Chuay-Gahn will be voting for the strongest Sook-Jai, she can easily cast the vote that saves her for one more episode. Hmm, this seems too easy.

Shii Ann is also highly vulnerable, as the last member of Ghandia's Smoking Club standing. Ghandia seemed to have developed a close relationship with Shii Ann, from her comments on EZ. Shii Ann is outside of the Penny-Erin alliance, and not visibly allied with Ken. Since ICs are still tribal, she's the most dispensible. The logical candidate for the boot, unless Chuay-Gahn gets to vote, and assuming their vote is not split.

How to decide? The one lingering problem is the lack of buffs in the IC. Ted shows up wearing a buff, but neither he, nor any of Penny, Shii Ann, Erin, Ken, Jan or Brian appear to wearing one during the challenge. To us, this suggests that this really could be a one-shot deal. That is, this is the last tribal IC, and the last tribal TC. They won't have any need for their old buffs after this. Sook-Jai will make one more trip to TC, by themselves. Shii Ann has the biggest story within the show preparing her for a boot this week, Ken's is just beginning.

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