Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 41 recaps
Add the four and the one: Five topics on the half-merge
By Brent Sullivan | Published: November 1, 2021
Survivor 41 Episode 6 Recap/ analysis

Add the four and the one: Five topics at the half-merge

Welcome to “Top Five Baby!” where after each episode of Survivor, Brent Sullivan will try to break apart and find the top five moments that made a lasting impact on the season or moments that could at least affect the next few episodes. Sometimes the moments are obvious and other times ... not so much, but after years of watching and analyzing this show to myself, I like to share the ones that I think stand out the most.

Forty-one seasons in and this show can still surprise and throw something new at us. For the first time in a while, we got a cliffhanger ending to an episode, plus NOBODY WENT HOME THIS WEEK! No vote out, no injury evacuation, nobody quitting. Just end the episode on a cliffhanger with no tribal council or anything. Please correct me if I’m wrong but has that ever happened?

I can remember players quitting or being evacuated, so they just skip tribal. But I tried to comb through the previous 40 seasons in my mind and I don’t recall this occurring before. Really, the whole point of this show is for someone to go home each week. The number of people gets smaller as the game gets harder to navigate.

There was also a lot going on with the merge/half-merge we witnessed. The three tribes are no more, that we can say for sure. Definitely lots to discuss in this week’s “Top Five Baby!””

1. Shan and Ricard: Rd. 2

Shan and Ricard: Rd. 2

Wow, the tension between these two is getting pretty intense. After them having a lengthy discussion last week about the advantage, this week starts with them having further discussion about it. Both in the evening after tribal council and the next morning.

Personally, even though I agree with Shan about wanting the advantage back, I think she is coming on a little strong here. Ricard has been her closest ally this whole time and the only thing she is doing is pushing him away and making him second guess their relationship. After this, their trust with each other has fallen away and now that they have more people to play the game with, there isn’t much reason to stick together anymore.

Shan is now with Liana on the same tribe. They really hit it off after their brief meeting a few days before when they were on different tribes, but taking the journey together. Shan also has a new alliance that has seemed to form (see number five for more info on that). Her need to keep Ricard around is gone now that she has other people to work with.

On the other side, Ricard can use this as a way to carry favor with the other people he is around now. He has all the knowledge about her idol and advantage that he can use to either get her out of the game or hold it over her head to vote however he wants. No matter which way it goes, they may very well be done playing this game together.

2. Erika on Exile

Erika on Exile

As a part of the new twist at the merge (or what seemed to be the merge) five people drew a yellow rock, five people drew a blue rock, and two people drew a gray rock. The ten that drew colored rocks got to compete in the challenge, the other two had to sit out and watch the challenge, and then their fate would be determined by the winning team. After blue won the challenge, they chose Naseer to join them at the merge feast.

That meant Erika had to go to Exile Island for two days with very meager supplies. She wasn’t very happy with this choice. I mean … who would be, right? But she immediately felt like she was on the bottom of her original tribe and was feeling down and depressed when Jeff Probst paid her a visit on Exile. He surprised her with another new game twist. He brought out an hourglass and a hammer and said that if she smashed the hourglass, then she could turn back time and change the outcome of the challenge they had just competed in.

That means instead of Danny, Ricard, Deshawn, Evvie, Sydney, and Naseer being safe they would now have to compete for immunity at the next challenge. That would also mean that Xander, Heather, Liana, Tiffany, Shan, and herself would be safe at the next tribal and wouldn’t have to compete in the challenge anymore.

I am hard pressed to imagine that she wouldn’t smash the hourglass here. Not only was she feeling on the bottom anyway, but this would guarantee that she would be safe for at least the next vote. The bad part for her here is once she does that, the other Luvu members who were safe and now are not, will stop at nothing to try and get her out of the game as soon as they can. They were trying to do that anyway, so she might as well go ahead and smash it!

3. Merge feast discussions

Merge feast discussions

The merge feast is always a mix-up of discussions mostly centered around high-level generic topics or just some light strategy early on, but as the meal goes on, topics tend to change as small groups break out and more details start to emerge. This season was a little different since only half of the cast got to have the feast.

However, the biggest topic to come out of this was Danny’s desire to create a guy’s alliance. He has been worried about so many guys getting voted out of the game early on and was scared that the women are plotting against the men already. That is why they saved Naseer and brought him over to the feast with them.

I could see that having some merit since Danny, Deshawn, and Naseer are already working together, and they could probably pull over Xander and Ricard since their former tribe setup isn’t exactly ideal for either one of them. Although Xander doesn’t really seem to understand what sort of spot he is in. This could make an impact on the game depending on who the three Luvu guys decide to vote out next.

4. One big happy tribe

One big happy tribe

Here are some other quick tidbits that were going on after all 11 players (minus Erika of course) got together on their new home …. Which was already home for five of them (plus Erika).

First Shan opens her mouth about Liana’s advantage right in front of Tiffany, then Tiffany confronts Liana about it. That didn’t go over well and actually made the two of them not trust each other as much. That could hurt the three-way women’s alliance that old Yase was working on.

Next, Naseer and Xander have an odd moment where they seem to have each other’s backs now. Not sure how long that conversation took or how much of it we saw, but that could be huge for the guy’s alliance that Luvu wants to try for.

Finally, the original Luvu members are already throwing Erika’s name out. Meaning that Erika is likely to be one of the targets for the first post-merge vote if she decides not to smash the hourglass.

5. A new alliance forms

A new alliance forms

The last point to talk about this week is the emergence of a new alliance. Shan and Liana had already bonded partially because they were both “women of color,” per Shan’s confessional remarks. At the same time, Danny and Deshawn had been working together this whole season.

Now that both pairs are on the same tribe, they have formed a bond that runs deeper than traditional personality and common interests. They seemed to have a secret meeting away from everyone else and were also very excited about the possibility of being the final four contestants this season.

Season 41 is one of the most diverse casts that Survivor has put together. This new alliance has four really good, strong Survivor players in it and they could very easily run the table and make it to the final four.

So, there you have it for the “merge” episode of Survivor. The merge episode is typically one of the best all season, so where do you think this one ranked so far, six episodes in? What did you think of how the merge is being handled? Do we all agree that Erika is going to smash that hourglass? I want to hear from you, let me know if I missed any moments or if you think I was correct in my thinking, the interaction is part of what makes this so fun!

Please catch more of me here next week where I will try to bring you more fun top five!


Brent Sullivan - Top Five, Baby!Brent Sullivan is a long-time fanatic of Survivor and has been writing about it for years. When he is not writing, talking about, or applying to be on the show, he spends his time with family, doing nerdy IT stuff, and watching movies. Follow him on twitter: @BSully_13