see the tribes getting the keys to the lock boxes, then running
around frantically, then the two tribes rowing (in the web promo)
in the same clothes and their yellow and blue buffs. Later, we
see lots of shots of everyone in red buffs, giving confessionals
in new locations (Dave), and what appears to be an individual
challenge featuring people in red buffs standing on red-painted
props. So we'll guess that Wezzie's
pre-game spoiler that the contestants spent the last 20 days at
a different location (the Forest of Life), suggesting all the
contestants live together at one camp, has been proven correct.
Presumably, the boxes contain directions to the new camp. The
running around Jaburu is shown doing is probably because they
have a limited amount of time to get their stuff, as with the
switch. Taking into account the need for prior footage of Alex
moping about Shawna's departure, the construction of a new camp,
and time to highlight everyone's anger at Roger's bossiness, there
probably won't be room for an RC in this episode. Besides, it
looks like there is food at the IC.
But is it really a merge? Well, that's the relevant question.
The previews make no mention of such a thing. Whether that camp
involves one or two tribes remains an open question. There is
also the matter of the next episode's title, "Sleeping with
the Enemy," which has been recycled from the first post-fake-merge
episode of S5. It's unlikely CBS simply colored the buffs
red, because (1) they did a good job of it, even in action sequences,
and (2) they also had the foresight to put red seats on the stools
for the IC. This sort of attention to detail is not characteristic
of CBS's false-color efforts, so we suspect they really are wearing
So that leaves three options: (1) a real merge; (2) a fake merge,
leaving the tribes as they stood in Ep6, or (3) as Seftor
at votedoff.tv speculates, a fake merge with the men and women
switched back to their original tribes. At this point, we bring
up a Jeff Probst quote in a ugo.com interview,
"...in Thailand, we did the fake merge. Now the Survivors
that were shooting the Amazon did not know that.... But we do
have to consider that our audience has already seen it, so if
we do it again, we have to know that, for them, this is old news,
and make sure that, if we do it again, we spin it slightly
in a way that is different for them, as well as for the survivors."
So it seems possible the red buffs could be the bait to fool the
cast and audience.
To rule out some of the options:
(2) Fake merge with tribes still in twisted (mixed-gender) configurations.
Heidi and Jenna are shown together in what appears to be a joint
confessional, and collaborate in the stripping during the IC.
This seems unlikely, since if it was a fake merge, they would
have been told prior to the IC.
(3) Fake merge with contestants switched back to original tribes.
Since the original tribes were gender-specific, this would be
much more simple for the average viewer to keep track of, if everyone
is wearing the same color buffs. But as TsMom points out in Seftor's
thread at VO (link above), the original tribes are uneven (6-4),
so the men would have to have been sitting two people out during
the IC. So this, while it would have been an interesting twist,
also seems unlikely.
That leaves a standard, 10-person merge as the most likely
revealed several weeks ago that "During an E7 challenge,
what appears to be the RC, Heidi is going to do something that
likely involves nudity in some way, in an attempt to win the challenge
and the food reward that comes with it." Perhaps the "surprise"
here is that an IC win comes with food this episode. Or that Heidi
and Jenna get naked (big surprise there).