This week: Matt wins another duel (yawn,) the Merge, and Matt gets a load off his chest and his butt back to solitary.

On Redemption Island, Sarita arrives at Matt’s ‘casa,’ and she tells Matt what a great group of tribe members she’s been with at Zapatera. (Um Sarita, they voted you out!) Matt thinks he just might flip to the Zaps when he gets the chance. Matt interviews that he’s cut the outside of his foot pretty badly, so if it’s an endurance challenge, he’ll have a problem. He shows us the cut. Doesn’t look that bad to me, but he’s pre-med, so I guess he knows.

And of course, it IS an endurance challenge, where they have to stand on progressively smaller blocks of wood. Ouch! Seems a pretty sadistic way to get rid of Matt. But never fear, because of course, Matt wins again, and Sarita is ousted.

Ometepe reads the treemail summons to Redemption Island as a hint they are about to merge. Rob urges everyone to pack up everything they want to keep, since they might wind up living at the other tribe’s camp. Philip, of course, disagrees, and decides to take the 50/50 chance they’ll be back. So you just know that Philip’s about to lose all of his stuff. Zapatera pack as well, although they have a lot less stuff, what with all that losing they’ve been doing.

Sure enough, they’re going to merge. Rob’s aware that Matt is likely holding a grudge. Andrea’s all googley eyed over Matt. Philip’s already made an impression by blathering on about the Bushido Code during the duel – had to laugh as the sound of his words grew lower and the picture moved from him to a blinding sun as he spoke. Apparently even the camera and sound men drop off when Philip starts to ramble.    

Jeff tosses the tribe members a map with directions to the new camp, but then tells them that, starting with the next challenge, Redemption Island starts again! Matt does not look thrilled to hear that. But everyone is stoked to find the big feast awaiting them at the new camp. Fruit, nuts, prosciutto, chicken to cook for dinner, wine, beer – after 19 days on low rations, there’s gonna be a lot of bellyaches in the morning. But for now, we dine!

Rob messes with everyone’s head when he proposes a new team name of Murlonio. He tells them it’s a Spanish word meaning “from the sea united.” They ooh and aah over the name, but Rob interviews later that it’s just what Amber calls one of her stuffed animals. Heee! That Rob, he knows how to have fun! He and Amber will chuckle over this one for years.   

Skitter skatter, let’s get at ‘er. The guys break out the hammers and nails, and build a new shelter. Even as they toil, Mike is working Matt, saying he sees Matt and Andrea as the biggest chess pieces in a game against Rob. Mike wants Matt on his team so badly, he offers Ralph’s immunity idol, should Matt need it. Matt thinks furiously, with a concerned look on his face, but says he’ll have to talk it over with Andrea. To flip or not to flip?  

The division between the two tribes is still clear when they discover the unfinished shelter leaks when it rains. Rob’s crew is cozy under the tarp, but the former Zapatera gang is miserably lying in the wet.

Matt presents Andrea with a play by play of how he’d like to orchestrate their next moves; take out Steve and Philip, and then WHAM – they blindside Rob. She’s suitably shocked and impressed but later interviews that the move may be too risky.

Matt, Ashley and Mike talk about Scripture, with Mike saying he thinks that the game of Survivor is a lot like the “40 days and 40 nights” trial described in the Bible. Rob looks on with interest. Rob sees any group bonding as a negative, so one of these three will be on the chopping block. Oh yeah, and Andrea too, because she and Matt seem to be an item again. He’s thinking Mike should be first to go. So much work, so little time!

The challenge this week: while standing on a log, balance a wooden disk on which is placed a ball. Other balls will be added at regular intervals. The new individual immunity necklace is revealed. No reward involved, since this is for immunity. The person voted out tonight is going to Redemption Island.

Julie’s out of the challenge first. By the time the third ball is added, everyone but Mike and Natalie are gone. Natalie wins immunity! Jeff says he can’t wait to get to Tribal, and see how things work out.

Mike’s pretty sure he’ll be next to go, so he rallies his former team mates, and asks Ralph to play the idol to keep him safe. The ‘long game’ still involves getting Matt on their side. But – oh oh! – Matt’s had another talk with God, and he needs to be true to himself and his team. So he’s gone back to Rob, and as they sit atop a stone tower, he tells him he was offered an idol if he’d flip to the enemy side. Even worse, he tells Rob about his and Andrea’s plan to take Rob out! Oh Matt. Rob’s predictable response is to humor Rob to his face, then plot to send Rob back to Redemption Island behind his back. In this game, honesty is NOT the best policy. Confession may be good for your soul, but your butt is going back to purgatory, Matt.

Andrea is really ticked that Matt told Rob about their plan. She thinks Matt’s thrown her under the bus, and that might upset her goal to reach Final Three. But Rob’s definitely out to get Matt, and he keeps Matt away from the other side by asking for help with the shelter, after getting his own crew on board to vote Matt out. Panicked, Mike manages to pass a note to Matt, saying Matt should vote for Grant. Matt shows Andrea the note. If the teacher catches them passing notes ….

Tribal Council time. Jeff picks up on the division between the two tribes. Philip begins another long, rambling analogy about the team and the sea …. Zzzz. Everyone smiles to themselves and pays little attention. Matt tells Jeff that life was much easier on Redemption Island. After the vote, Ralph hands over the idol to spare Mike’s life. Why were they so sure Mike was next? On annoyance factor alone, I’d have thought Ralph had more to fear.

But anyway … its 5 votes for Grant, I vote for Steve, and 6 for Matt, who’s heading back to Redemption Island. Once again, the Tribe has spoken, Matty. The ex-Zaps are suitably stunned. Jeff tells the remaining 11 that each of them will again have to face Matt, and he’s pretty sure forgiveness won’t be on Matt’s mind.

As Matt heads for the Island, he says that God’s will was contradictory to what he wanted. He likes the people, and wants to be friends with them, but they don’t want to be friends with him, so apparently he’s not so good at the game of Survivor. But Matt, you said you liked the Island!

Next week, on Survivor: Rob is keeping the Ometepe alliance strong … or is he? Philip tapes a feather to his head, like he could get any weirder.