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Season 16: Episode 9 - MERGE! FAKE IDOL STICKS IT TO ELIZA

MERGE! FAKE IDOL STICKS IT TO ELIZA: On Day 22, the Airai and Malakal tribes merged, ending the division between Fans and Favorites when Parvati led the new Dabu tribe in voting out her former Favorites teammate, Eliza. With the cards stacked against her, Eliza had nowhere to turn except her fellow outcast in the tribe, Jason. Having won the first Individual Immunity Challenge, Jason was safe from Tribal Council and he gave Eliza what he thought was the Hidden Immunity Idol he found on Exile Island. Together, they would try to stage the biggest upset in the game to date: take out Ozzy. If everything went according to plan, Eliza would play the Idol at Tribal Council, the votes against her wouldn’t count, and their two votes against Ozzy would send him home.

Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan. Moments before departure, Eliza took a peek at the Idol given to her by Jason. Panic set in as she came to realize it was just a stick crudely carved out of driftwood. Fearing she and Jason had been duped, they agreed to play their Idol anyway, just in case. But at Tribal Council, when Eliza played the Idol, Host Jeff Probst informed the tribe it wasn’t real. Eliza quickly blurted out that Ozzy must have the real Idol and had planted the fake. Eliza was voted out of the game eight votes to two. As the first member of the jury, Eliza Orlins, the 25-year-old Law Student from New York, left behind her final words: “I can’t really believe that Jason thought that stick was the real Hidden Immunity Idol, but I had to play it anyhow, out Ozzy for having the real one, and hopefully now people can do something about it. Too bad that Immunity Idol wasn’t real because we would have shocked them.”

LAST FAN STANDING Late at night, Malakal returns from Tribal Council where the Favorites, Ozzy, Amanda, and Cirie, had taken out one of their own, Ami. While stoking the fire, Ozzy tells the tribe, "The thing is, [Ami] dug her own grave." As the last Fan left on the Malakal tribe, Erik watches the Favorites sitting around the campfire and ponders his good fortune, "How the hell am I still here today, I have no idea." He desperately hopes that the merge will come soon to provide targets other than himself: “In a perfect world, tomorrow would be the merge."

JASON’S SECRET In the early morning at Airai, Jason and Eliza huddle in the cave and discuss their position at the bottom of the tribe. They both feel on the outs, and Eliza admits, "I think we both annoy people." Jason, needing an ally, decides to reveal his secret about the stick he believes is the Idol. He whispers to her, "I have the Hidden Immunity Idol." Eliza can’t believe her ears. She feels like she has just made the most important alliance in the game and she prays, “Hopefully we can take it to the end."

GATHER YOUR THINGS Cirie fetches the Malakal Treemail, which instructs them to pack up their stuff immediately and head to an undisclosed location on a map. The tribe is stunned, with a distraught Ozzy questioning, "We're leaving our beach?" Assuming it's a merge they gather their supplies to take with them. Erik, knowing that Ozzy had saved him at last night's Tribal Council by pushing the Favorites to vote for Ami, strikes a deal with his hero. Erik tells Ozzy, "I want you to know I'm not flipping to any other side.” Ozzy thanks him and agrees to work together, saying, "I'll be straight up with you the entire time." Erik is ecstatic to have formed an alliance with his favorite player in the game and says triumphantly, "I'm now aligned with [Ozzy] in some kind of like zookeeper bond. Like, I'm more the monkey and he’s the zookeeper now because I owe him my life."

PARVATI’S PICKLE An excited Eliza reads Treemail to the Airai tribe, who are more than happy to leave their shoddy camp. As they pack up their things, Parvati, Alexis, and Natalie hold a last minute strategy session. They agree to stay loyal to each other and to Amanda back at the Malakal beach, in a secret alliance of four. “No matter what, we trust each other and have each other’s backs,” Alexis promises. Parvati, though, fears she could be playing the game too hard and exclaims, “Oh my God, I’m in such a hot pickle right now!” Having already formed a previous alliance of five with Ozzy, Amanda, James, and Cirie earlier in the game, Parvati knows that between her two alliances she’s “gonna have a decision to make down the road.”

MERGE The Malakal and Airai tribes paddle into a neutral beach, where a decadent spread of food awaits them. The Airai tribe is surprised to see Erik still in the game instead of Ami. “This is the worst merge I could possibly imagine,” declares Eliza. “I feel really alone right now and I’m heartbroken that [Ami’s] not here.” Attached to their new buffs is a note instructing them to make a new flag, choose a new tribe name and pick whether to return to the Airai or Malakal beach. The new merged tribe happily chooses to return to the Malakal beach, as Amanda exclaims, “No question, Malakal all the way!”

THE DABU TRIBE The Survivors chow down on Micronesian delicacies, the strangest of which is bat soup. James tears off the skin and wings of a bat and bites into the meat as his tribe cries out in disgust. “It was good, like a juicy rabbit, so I’m gonna probably eat another one,” says James. Erik brings up the issue of selecting a new tribe name. He tells the tribe, “The [word] for good [in Micronesian] is Dabu, so we can do Dabu.” The tribe likes the sound of this and raises their glasses in a toast to their new tribe. Erik laughs to himself, “I told everybody that Dabu means ‘good’ in Micronesian, but I pretty much just made it up.”

THE JEALOUS LOVER The Dabu tribe, stuffed and tired, settles in for the night. Alexis cuddles up to Ozzy and with his arm around her, Ozzy reveals, “I am ready to go beyond Fans versus Favorites.” With her head nuzzled on Ozzy’s shoulder, Alexis gushes, “I had a great time with Ozzy out on Exile and I am a Fan, so I was just kind of excited to come out here and get to know him.” Amanda, sitting nearby, watches the two of them closely. “I know Alexis likes Ozzy, but me and Ozzy have been doing this together for 22 days now,” complains a threatened Amanda. “I want her gone.”

POKER FACES The Dabu tribe, having opted to return to the old Malakal beach, paddles their boats ashore with all their supplies. The original Airai tribe is excited to be at the luxurious Malakal camp. Alexis exclaims, “I feel like I’m in the land of Milk and Honey over here.” Jason approaches Ozzy, asking him for spear fishing lessons. As they talk, Ozzy dreams about the fact that Jason might have the fake Hidden Immunity Idol. “Going to Exile, I found out someone has taken my planted Idol, most likely, it’s Jason.” Ducking away into the bushes by himself, Jason looks for a hiding place for his idol and tucks it in a crevasse under a rock. “Hopefully nobody will discover it here,” says Jason.

SHOT DOWN As they search for coconuts on the beach, Eliza asks Parvati if the Favorites will reunite against the Fans. Parvati shrugs and says, “I don’t know. Things have changed and it’s a whole different game.” With no support from the Favorites, Eliza knows this spells for disaster for her, moaning, “If I at least got in with the Favorites, then it would be okay. I could get my way to the final six and then work from there. But if I’m not even in with them, I could be next to go.”

WHILE YOU WERE AWAY Parvati and Amanda bathe in the ocean and have their own private reunion. Parvati tells her friend, “Oh my God, I’ve missed you so much!” The two girls giggle together until Parvati notices Eliza watching them and angrily blurts, “She’s staring at us! I’m so sick of [Eliza], she’s going next. She has to.” With Eliza safely out of earshot, Parvati tells Amanda about the alliance of four she created back at Airai with Alexis and Natalie, including Amanda. Parvati confides, “I’ve put us in an alliance without you being there.” Amanda plays along, giggling, but in actuality, she’s angry with Parvati because she doesn’t want to be in an alliance with Alexis, the motivational speaker and the one person she wants out of the game. Amanda declares, “I’m livid and it leaves me with a lot of questions about Parvati.”

A NEW HOPE Alexis and Natalie read Treemail aloud to the group. The new Dabu tribe faces their first Individual Immunity Challenge as a merged tribe, and they deduce that they will compete in an endurance challenge. Feeling confident that he has a chance at winning this challenge, Jason comes up with a new plan. “If I can win the Individual Immunity Challenge, it will allow me to give away the Hidden Immunity Idol.” He tells his ally and fellow outcast, Eliza, if he wins Immunity, he’ll give her his Idol. Eliza is stoked, and exclaims, “I made an alliance with the right person who was sent to Exile one too many times!” The two calculate: if everyone votes for Eliza, and she plays the Idol, the votes will bounce back and the person they vote for will go home. They set their sights on the biggest competitor in the game, Ozzy.

IMMUNITY CHALLENGE: LAST GASP The merged tribe, Dabu, paddles up to the first Individual Immunity Challenge of the season where Host Jeff Probst explains the rules. Survivors must put mind over matter to outlast each other as they are positioned in a row under a steel grate partially submerged in water. The Survivors’ breathing space will slowly disappear as the tide rises. The person who stays under the grate the longest wins Individual Immunity and is safe at Tribal Council.

The challenge begins as the Dabu tribe, confident at first, soon starts feeling antsy as the water creeps up around their eyes and nostrils. In quick succession, they drop out one by one. First Amanda, then Parvati, Alexis, Cirie, and Natalie. After being underwater for more than an hour and with no room left to breathe, Eliza goes underwater. Struggling to find a pocket of air, she pulls out from under the grate and out of the challenge. Erik soon follows her, leaving James, Jason, and Ozzy to battle it out. All three employ similar strategies to breathe under the grate. They create straws with their hands, blowing water of their mouth and nose. James is the first of the three to run out of air and it comes down to a tense match between Jason and Ozzy. Jason remains steady under the grate, using his hands as an air tunnel. Ozzy, at one point goes under water coming up for quick breaths. Soon, he’s left with nowhere to breathe and tries to hold his breath underwater, but he can’t hold out over Jason’s superior breathing method. Ozzy pops up out of the confines of the grate choking on water, gasping for air, and Jason becomes the first person to win Individual Immunity.

A CONFIDENT DUO A triumphant Jason returns to the Dabu camp with his tribe, excited to have won Immunity and have the chance to use his supposed Hidden Immunity Idol against Ozzy by giving it to Eliza to play at Tribal Council. “Being able to dominate Ozzy [in the challenge] and then hopefully being able to send him home later tonight will be one of the highlights of the game for me,” declares a gleeful Jason. Parvati, finally getting her wish to get rid of Eliza, spreads the word amongst the Dabu tribe to vote her out because she’s untrustworthy. Eliza overhears Parvati and runs straight to Jason up in the cave, telling him that she needs the Hidden Immunity Idol because everyone is going to vote for her. Jason calms her nerves promising to slip the Idol in her bag before Tribal Council. He tells her, “I can’t wait to send Ozzy’s cocky ass home.”

SWEET REVENGE Amanda, meanwhile, sets her sights on voting out Alexis, jealous of the bond that Alexis has been forming with Ozzy. She pulls Cirie into her plan and they decide to see who else they can influence. Cirie is happy to help, but deviously laughs about Amanda’s ulterior motives, “A small bit of jealousy is coming into play because of the relationship that Ozzy has with Alexis.”

IT'S JUST A STICK Eliza heads up to the cave where Jason transferred the Idol into her bag. Excited to set eyes on the powerful statue that will keep her in the game and send the biggest competitor home, Eliza reaches in and pulls out the figure draped in cloth. She unwraps it to discover the crudely carved stick Ozzy had made. Having played the game before and studied its every twist and turn, Eliza does not believe that an Idol would look like a simple stick in a napkin. She exclaims, "This isn't it. This isn’t it!" She storms across camp and corners Jason at the beach. She confronts him, hissing, "It's not the Idol!" Jason insists it’s the real thing, telling her, "It has a face on it, don’t worry." Eliza scoffs at him saying that Ozzy must have carved the face on the stick and that it's fake. Dejected and embarrassed that they may have been duped, she wonders if she should play the stick anyway, just in case it really is the Idol and Jason vehemently cries, "Yeah, of course!"

Tribal Council At Tribal Council, Alexis does time on the hot seat, called out as a mental, physical and social threat in the game. Parvati, dead-set on voting out Eliza, scrutinizes Eliza’s early maneuvering against Parvati and her endless empty promises of loyalty. In her defense, Eliza argues that people should keep her around because no one likes her, which makes her an asset in the Final Tribal.

The time of reckoning nears and the tribe casts their votes. Before reading the votes, Host Jeff Probst asks, "If anyone has the Hidden Immunity Idol and would like to use it, now would be the time to do so." Praying that her plan works, Eliza reaches into her bag, pulls out her idol and gives it to Jeff. The Dabu tribe is stunned that Eliza could have the Idol and petrified that the votes could bounce back at one of them. Ozzy can barely contain his laughter as he watches his hard work pay off and stick played. Jeff inspects the stick for a moment and announces that it is not the Hidden Immunity Idol. Eliza blurts out, “That means Ozzy has it! Jason found it on Exile. Ozzy has the real one." As Jeff tosses the fake Idol into the fire, Ozzy yells out, "Jeff, c'mon, that took hours to make!" Jeff reads the votes and the tribe sends Eliza home overwhelmingly, eight votes to two. Having turned everyone’s attention to Ozzy on her way out the door, Eliza becomes the first person voted off the new Dabu tribe and the first member of the jury in SURVIVOR: MICRONESIA -- FANS VS FAVORITES.