'Survivor': Rob Cesternino Guest Blogs the 'Winners at War' Merge (Exclusive)
By Rob Cesternino
CBS / Amanda Edwards/Getty Images
Throughout the season, Survivor alum and Rob Has a Podcast host Rob Cesternino will be guest blogging for ET about the biggest Winners at War moments. This week, he recaps Tyson Apostol's reentry into the game, the merge, and what's in store after reaching the halfway mark of this "marathon."
We’ve reached the merge of Survivor: Winners at War and just like Tyson Apostol, I thought it would be a great time to hop back in with another Survivor recap.
The battle to return from the Edge of Extinction ultimately came down to Tyson vs. "Boston" Rob Mariano. Tyson narrowly beat out Rob to win the challenge in an incredibly tight contest. However, the biggest question remains "What did Tyson do with his giant vat of peanut butter that was on the Edge of Extinction?" Does Tyson have it in his bag or is it still hidden on the Edge of Extinction where someone will stumble across it looking for a fire token? Hopefully we will find out the answers soon!
Speaking of snacks, the Survivors celebrated the merge with the traditional feast which included a dramatic retelling of the time that Denise voted Sandra out of the game. Many Survivor contestants have been retelling the stories of their Survivor glory for years, Denise just might be the first person to start doing it before the season has even ended.
After the merge feast, the conversations returned to players thinking about the next target to send to the Edge. Tyson, Tony, Jeremy and Ben discussed the bigger targets sticking together to protect themselves against the smaller targets in the game. Tony has said multiple times that the Lions need to stick together otherwise the Hyenas will get them and I wonder if Tony ended up watching The Lion King remake a few too many times before leaving for Fiji.
This episode also marked the first time that we’ve seen any sort of bad weather in this Survivor season. The hardest part of Survivor is dealing with the elements, it's very easy to forget for people who have not played and for the majority of the audience that can’t remember what "outside" used to be like.
At the immunity challenge, we saw the return of a Survivor classic as the contestants hung on as long as they could do a collection of colorful telephone poles. With a necklace for the men and a necklace for the women up for grabs, Denise walked away with the first individual immunity. On the men’s side, it was between Nick and Jeremy in a hard-fought battle which was ultimately won by Jeremy -- who in fairness had more time to practice hanging on the pole at the firehouse.
Back at camp, Nick and Wendell seemed to be disconnected from the larger plans being discussed. While it did not come up in the episode, I have to imagine that there were a lot of questions for Nick and Wendell about why Yul was the player voted out at the previous tribal council over Michele (a member of the original Sele tribe).
One would have to believe that the untimely departure of Yul did not sit well with Sophie… after all, Yul was her "nerd shield." Not helping things for Wendell was the budding bromance with Jeremy. While Nick was struggling to get involved with conversations, it looked to Sophie like Jeremy was about to add Wendell to his entourage of bros. If Wendell helped take out Sophie’s "nerd shield," why does Jeremy get to have another "meat shield"?
As Nick and Wendell’s names are being thrown about, Nick and Wendell are trying to get the target on to Adam. With Jeremy also wanting to see Adam go over Wendell, he even got the blessing of Denise who says she would be willing to throw Adam under the proverbial Survivor bus. With Adam’s name buzzing around, he’s looking incredibly worn out and stressed which means that Adam had the classic 2020 look down months before the rest of us.
Even with Denise potentially on board, Sophie would not budge on voting for Wendell. While we didn’t see it, Sophie must have pushed her alliance with Kim and Sarah to whip up the votes for Wendell heading to tribal council. Ben broke the news to Jeremy that it’s not looking good for Wendell and Jeremy reacted in exactly the same way he must have when his beloved Patriots decided to not resign Tom Brady.
When the players got to tribal council, Jeff prodded the players to describe the state of the game. Tony described things as being like the ocean and considering the Survivors just ate a big merge feast, you can understand why so many were not too eager to jump in the proverbial waters for a swim.
As the votes were read, it was Wendell who was sent packing to the Edge of Extinction. For the last couple of weeks, we heard all about the relationship between Wendell and Michele. Even after the awkward breakup which came post-"kicking it," it seemed like Michele was ultimately on Wendell’s side this week as one of the only people to vote with Wendell against Adam. Maybe there is a happy ending after all for these star-crossed lovers waiting over at the Edge of Extinction.
As Tony said at tribal, these players are still trying to navigate the waters of this all-winners season. For a season that started with talk of the "poker alliance," we have a majority of players holding their cards very close to the vest, not yet ready to play a big hand. Even Sophie’s push to go after Wendell was a shot across the bow against Jeremy but not a direct assault on the core of the "big threat" a-lions er.... alliance. Even the plot that Wendell and Nick pushed to take out Adam was a move against a player who is currently powerless in the game. These greats of the game correctly realize it’s just the halfway point of this marathon and they are waiting a few more rounds to make the big move that will propel them to their second Survivor title.