Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

After a tribal merge, the unenviable first task for the new Alinta tribe was to send someone home. After assembling on what had been the Lopevi camp, the ten members of Alinta scrambled as old alliances battled new ones. Having been perpetually on the Yasur chopping block, Rory Freeman, the 35-year-old housing case manager from Des Moines, Iowa, didn't fare much better at Alinta, where the six women banded together to vote him out in a six-women-to-four men decision. Shortly after Tribal Council, Rory noted, "I am the victim of a gender war right now. I may not be a million dollars richer, but I will never forget the Islands of Fire."

After returning from a Tribal Council that proved the male members of Lopevi kept their word to Julie Berry, the 23-year-old youth mentor from Gorham, Maine, and Twila Tanner, the 41-year-old highway repair worker from Marshall, Missouri, the tribe was in good spirits with renewed trust. Knowing she was probably next on the chopping block, Julie turned the heat up a notch by flirting with Lopevi alpha dog Lea "Sarge" Masters, the 40-year-old drill sergeant from Columbia, South Carolina. "If those boys want to keep me around strictly for visual stimulation, then hey, I got it in the bag," Julie confessed.

Meanwhile over at Yasur, an imbalance of work ethic seemed be brewing along with the coffee as Rory and Scout Cloud Lee, the 59-year-old rancher/entrepreneur from Stillwater, Oklahoma, seemed to be doing a majority of the work. Tired of his tribemates, Rory reached a boiling point. After numerous days as the only man on Yasur, Rory's patience with the ineptitude, crabbiness and sense of entitlement of Eliza Orlins, the 21-year-old pre-law student from Syracuse, New York, Leann Slaby, the 35-year-old research assistant from Kansasville, Wisconsin, and Ami Cusack, the 31-year-old barista/model from Lakewood, Colorado, respectively, were wearing extremely thin. "I'm ready to get the hell out of Yasur," Rory exclaimed. "I really, really, really want to be around some men!"

As the tribes convened for the Reward Challenge, host Jeff Probst explained that this was to be a relay race with the goal of filling a jar with water. One tribe member must race to the ocean, fill a bucket with water and throw it to a tribemate. The bucket must then be tossed twice more, from Survivor to Survivor. Finally, the water itself must be tossed to the last tribe member, who must catch the flying water in a new bucket and use it to fill the jar. The tribes must repeat the relay until there is enough water weight in the final bucket to lower it to the ground, sending a lit flame up to the fire tower. When the flame reaches the tower, it lights the wok. The first tribe to light their fire wok would win a Reward of cookies, milk and chocolate cake.

The Challenge turned out to be a puzzle as much as a race as the tribes slowly figured out the best way to conserve the sloshing water. At first, most of the water was lost by the time it reached the final tribe member for both tribes. Lopevi's Chris Daugherty, the 34-year-old highway construction worker from South Vienna, Ohio, figured out a way to catch the water by getting very low to the ground, which alleviated the difficulty of the task for his tribe. After Chris imparted his wisdom to Chad Crittenden, the 35-year-old teacher from Oakland, California, Lopevi worked efficiently as a team to take the lead from Yasur.

Yasur could only watch as Lopevi's bucket filled and slowly descended, causing their lit torch to rise. With all eyes on the flame, Lopevi's wok burst into a ball of fire, extinguishing all hopes for a Yasur victory.

After winning the Reward Challenge, the members of Lopevi feasted on the chocolate cake to the point of nausea. Allied until the end with other Lopevis, Chris forged yet another alliance with Chad. As Chris simply put it, "If we merge, Julie could go, Sarge could go, Chad could go. I'm always going to have two others to watch my back."

When the tribes reconvened for an Immunity Challenge, Jeff Probst shocked the Survivors by announcing a tribal merge: two tribes would now be one. Asked to pick a camp, the new tribe chose Lopevi's. They would also need to choose a name and create a flag, as the upcoming Immunity Challenge would now be Individual.

Jeff Probst went on to explain this individual water Challenge, staged in two elimination rounds and one final heat. The players must race out to a series of tall wooden towers in the water, climb to the top, walk across a balance beam, retrieve a flag, jump off the tower and race back to the beach. The first two players to get all three flags to the beach would advance to the final heat, and the winner of that heat would receive Individual Immunity.

The first heat consisted of Sarge, Leann, Eliza, Julie and Chris, with the first two to move on to the final heat. Sarge easily took the first spot in the race, with second place coming down to Eliza and Chris. In the end, Eliza surpassed Chris and collected all three flags to join Sarge in the final heat.

The second heat consisted of Scout, Twila, Chad, Rory and Ami. Rory took the lead with Ami close behind. Rory's lead widened, securing him a spot in the final heat. The competition for the final heat's second slot came down to Ami and Chad, with Ami winning out.

The final heat was now set: Ami, Sarge, Rory and Eliza. Sarge took an early lead, with Rory right behind him. As all four tired, Sarge planted his second flag, securing his lead over Rory, leaving Ami and Eliza all but dead. Rory just couldn't catch up to Sarge, who captured the third and final flag and brought it home, securing himself Individual Immunity.

Returning to the Lopevi camp, the new tribe of ten was thrilled to see laid out for them a platter bearing wine, crackers and cheese, and the party started. Twila and Scout were reunited, while Chris got to know Leann and Ami for the first time. Rory and Sarge put aside past grievances, while Julie and Eliza resumed their budding friendship. "We got two tribes coming together, and the tension is gone," laughed Sarge. "Everybody is just so happy. It's a festival right now."

While painting their bodies and creating their flag, the Survivors decided to naming their new tribe Alinta, which means "people of fire." No sooner had the tribe named itself than factions began to develop and alliances came into question. Sarge noticed how close Julie was with Ami, which threatened his old Lopevi alliance. "I see Julie laying next to Ami," he confessed, "and I get real nervous."

Having been part of both Yasur and Lopevi, Julie and Twila served to be one giant swing vote within the new Alinta tribe. Assuming they stuck together, Julie and Twila could rejoin Yasur's female alliance and pick off the men, starting with Rory, or they could honor their new Lopevi alliance and pick off the old Yasur, starting with Ami. "Right now, we're at a very critical point. This is a huge turning point in the game and the first vote is going to be everything," Ami predicted.

In the end, the all-woman Yasur alliance defeated the Lopevi pact as the women banded together to oust Rory in a six-to-four decision. Rory became the ninth Survivor voted off SURVIVOR: VANUATU.