Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 42 recaps
Ep.8: "You Better Be Wearing a Seatbelt"
By Damnbueno | Published: April 21, 2022
Survivor 42 Episode 8 Recap/ analysis

You Better Be Wearing a Seatbelt

I’m gonna break format this week (hey, its my column, so I make the rules), and talk a little Survivor history – specifically the “merge boot.”

This week, we saw Lydia get booted first at the merge.  Like many, I was expecting Jonathan to get most of the heat. He dominated the pre-merge challenges, he’s intimidating, and several knew he didn’t have an Idol or any other type of Advantage. Then, the disgusting Hourglass twist made him vulnerable. A lot of people (myself included) saw “typical merge boot” written all over his face.

So is a challenge beast/Alpha male like Jonathan the “typical merge boot?” Recent history says no. Info in parenthesis below represents the reason cited most for voting that person out.

In the first 6 seasons, Gretchen (too influential), Jeff Varner (tiebreaker), Clarence (untrustworthy), Boston Rob (untrustworthy), Ken, and Roger (annoying/sexist), left first at the merge. While Clarence and Boston Rob were good at challenges, that wasn’t the reason votes landed on their heads. Ken was really the only one booted primarily for his physical talent. But in Pearl Islands , Rupert’s own tribe tried to remove him BEFORE the merge because they didn’t want to compete against his physical dominance after the merge. They even threw a challenge thinking they could remove Rupert, only to see him saved by a twist. Then in All-Stars , Lex was the merge boot in part because Boston Rob didn’t want to compete against him. I think these two seasons sealed the image of the challenge beast as the “typical merge boot.”

But in subsequent seasons, this just wasn’t the case. Here are the merge boots in chronological order: Rory (annoying), Coby (disloyal), Jamie (annoying/paranoid), Nate (Penner’s pick), Edgardo (didn’t have an Idol), Jamie (held a phony Idol), Eliza (annoying), Charlie (Kenny’s revenge), Brendan (disloyal), Erik (disloyal), J.T. (gave an Idol to Russell), Alina (Sash’s deal with Marty), Matt (possible defector), Keith (was mean to Cochran), Jonas (random pick by Jay), RC (annoying), Corinne (disloyal), Aras (power couple with Vytas), Sarah (Kass’ pick), Josh (leader), Kelly (untrustworthy), Kass (wrong alliance), Nick (annoying), Michele (doesn’t have an Idol), Hali (no Idol), Jessica (no idol), Chris N (power hungry/annoying), Elizabeth (annoying/no Idol), Joe (disloyal), Kellee (disloyal), Wendell (too close to Jeremy), and Sydney (wrong alliance).

Now, in some of these cases (Joe in Worlds Apart , Aaron in I of I ), the perceived challenge beast won Immunity. But even in those cases, the next closest “beast” was still left alone. In Worlds Apart , Mike and Tyler were vulnerable, but votes went to Hali. In I of I , Jamal and Tommy were vulnerable, yet Kellee and Dan got the votes. And in other cases, while the person booted was good at challenges (take Aras in BvW , or Wendell in WaW ), their athleticism wasn’t the primary reason they got targeted). The only merge boots I’ve seen who were removed primarily/exclusively because of their perceived challenge talent were Nick ( Australian Outback ), Savage ( Pearl Islands ), Lex ( All-Stars ), Nick ( Panama ), and possibly J.T. ( HvV ). We can debate/discuss/argue this in the comments.

So taking this into consideration, we really shouldn’t have been surprised to see Lydia and Maryanne getting a lot of attention. I’m gonna guess a lot of recent players bought into Jeremy’s “Meat Shield” strategy, and really have no interest in booting the perceived challenge beast first at the merge at all. But ultimately it fell on Lydia because people knew Maryanne had an Idol, and Lydia didn’t. That’s how Omar sold the plan to Hai and Mike. So is the current “merge boot” the female least likely to have an Idol?

So what did I learn after last week’s rewatch?  Not much. I don’t know why Drea, Romeo and Rocksroy all voted differently. I don’t know why Hai didn’t try harder to save Lydia. I don’t know why Romeo would push so hard to boot Jonathan, then vote for Maryanne himself. And I don’t know why nobody used any Idols or Extra votes. But I did learn Omar did a great job. Did he stick his head up too soon?  Let’s find out.

And away we go…

Kula Kula

*So the new tribe name is Kula Kula. I don’t think I’ve ever cared what the merge tribe’s name is. It was a little funny when Malcolm named it after his mother’s name spelled backwards, but that was the highlight for me.

*No Chanelle, you had it backwards. Everyone else is playing Chess, and you’re playing Checkers.

*Wait, Drea totally leaves Romeo hanging out to dry, and she says HE has changed?

*Mike did a good job of endearing himself to Omar.  That’s a good way to get Omar’s Jury vote.  But I don’t see Mike figuring out how he’s gonna get into the finals.

*Tori: “In this game, you have to make bolder moves.” How’s that been working for you Tori? You’ve been scrambling since the first vote. I say the subtle moves are much more effective.

*Probst: “This time if the Advantage is not found …” he’ll throw it at somebody, and order them to open it.

Lindsay and Jonathan

*This is the second time we’ve seen Lindsay staying right with Jonathan step for step (or in this case stroke for stroke) in a challenge. If it were anyone else but him, she might be labeled the beast like Michaela was.

*I remember last season in this challenge, Heather didn’t even pretend like she wanted to rebound missed shots. She climbed up the ladder and laid down on the deck.

*Omar is sinking hoops? Do you mean it wasn’t all Jonathan carrying his tribe to wins?  Omar is creating a reason to want Omar gone.

Mike and Chanelle

*Worst-case scenario for Omar. His tribe loses the Reward, but now everybody knows he can bring it in a physical challenge. And of course, Jonathan just amplified the reason to cut him loose too.

*Omar has a good plan, but to me it looks like he’s pushing it too hard. After totally controlling the last vote, he should lay low at this one. Otherwise, people will notice how active he has become.

*Is Drea getting the “Knowledge Is Power” Advantage? Whatever it is, will she keep her mouth shut about it? I’m guessing she won’t.

*The note says “Its hidden five paces from the water well.” I remember when Sandy in Tocantins couldn’t figure out what a “pace” was, and never found that Idol.

Drea's note

*Tori sees the paint on Drea’s arm, and immediately asks her about it. Is Tori the least subtle player in Survivor history? In fact, is this entire cast the least subtle cast? From top to bottom, when they think it, they say it.

*Hey Probst, I’m done with all this “monster” talk.

*We’ve seen this Buoy challenge before — in Game Changers and David vs Goliath. In Game Changers, Brad won it holding his buoy horizontal. In DvG, Dan won it while holding his buoy in a downward “V” position (I told you earlier, I’m obsessed with Survivor. I take note of a lot of crap like this). 

Tori's buoy

*Maryanne: “If you know you’re in a better position than me, you should sit out.” That didn’t sound like a compelling argument to me. The 4th person to sit out will be showing everyone they’re overconfident.

*Omar sits out??? Bad move, dude — especially after coming so close to beating Jonathan. This could be a fatal move.

*Tori beats Jonathan. I predicted Romeo would be pushing hard to boot Jonathan if he got the chance. Will it happen?

*If these people are smart, they’ll try to blindside someone they know is holding a lot of trinkets. Maryanne is already on alert, but Drea isn’t.

*Chanelle: “I need to play it cool.”  Once again, Chanelle articulately explains a very logical, solid, strategic plan. The last two times she did that, she blew up that plan by doing something random, irrational and unpredictable. She is so intriguing. I have no idea what she’ll actually do, and I love it.

*There goes Tori again, word vomiting to Romeo that he’s a target. I wonder if they regret booting Swati yet? If they don’t, they should.


*Damn, Omar just came up with the idea of flipping it to Romeo, then sold it to Hai in a way that made Hai think it was his idea. I’ll say it again, that’s Cirie-level manipulation.

*Mike had a good idea in reminding others they could lose Rocksroy’s vote and loyalty if they don’t clue him in.


*Drea at Tribal Council: “You align yourself with people, and what they do can be detrimental to your game.” Do you mean like Tori has been doing all game? 3 words – Swati, Swati, and Swati.

*Hai has tried to drive two straight votes now, yet, he’s telling Probst “You need to know when to let someone else drive.” I think Hai only wants people to let him drive.

*Major props to Mike for getting it done. But I’m not sure if he’s in a good position to get her Jury vote.


Even though Omar lost out on this vote, I think its better for his overall game. This might humble him enough to realize he was pushing too hard. He’s not quite Cirie yet, though. Cirie would have made her idea work. Mike took control for sure, but he did it for personal reasons. Sure, Chanelle is gone, but she wasn’t coming after him, so why the urgency to remove her now? Maryanne’s pitch appeared to influence some people too. There is no clear frontrunner this season, and I like that a lot. For the first time Chanelle stuck with the plan as she originally conceived it, and for the first time it failed. Just like Chanelle’s game, that intrigues me. Her jury question should be interesting.

damnbuenoDamnbueno got his nickname in 8th grade Spanish class when his friend shouted out "You're pretty damn good at Spanish." The teacher insisted he say it in Spanish, so the friend said "Esto es damn bueno en Espanol." The nickname stuck. These days, when he's not forgetting his 8th grade Spanish, Damnbueno is indulging his obsession with all things Survivor. Reach him in the comments section here at True Dork Times.