Maybe having everyone cast away the hidden immunity idol wasn’t such a good idea. That must have been the last thought going through Marcus Lehman‘s mind as his new Kota tribe blindsided him 23 days into his journey on Survivor: Gabon. Here’s how the 28-year-old doctor from Atlanta, creator of the Onion Alliance, found his chances at $1 million peeled away:
An Apple in the Garden of Eden: Both tribes are hoping for a merge as tensions grow following the double elimination of the previous tribal councils. On the Kota side, Corinne rails at Susie for throwing her under the bus by first telling her she doesn’t help around camp and then saying she is physically weak in tribal council. On the Fang side, Sugar is proud of her swing vote against Ace while Matty pretends he was glad for Ace’s ouster. All game talk fades as both teams unite for what they think is a merge feast. The Fang tribe is elated to eat when the groups gather around a big table of treats. They are a little wary of a big box that they can’t open until everyone is done eating; Randy says he hopes to prolong the meal as long as possible. But as everyone tucks in, Kenny notices a clue under one of the bowls of food. Before he can find a way to abscond with it, Charlie calls it out and suddenly Kenny feels he has to share the clue, which is for a hidden individual immunity idol, with the whole group. Marcus and Randy quickly announce a plan to find the idol and then cast it adrift so no one has an advantage and no one can be seen as shady. All seem to agree to the idea openly, but Fang diehards secretly rue the notion knowing that a plan like that clearly favors the dominant Kota tribe. When Randy finds the idol ‘in seven seconds,’ as he says, he leaves it in the middle of the dining table. Crystal and Kenny covet it. Randy, however, takes the idol and elaborately casts it into the water alongside Marcus. In a one-on-one interview, Randy proclaims himself King of Gabon.
New Tribes, Old Alliances? After throwing the idol away, the castaways finally open the big box. Randy reads notes to the group with the first instructing everyone to grab a number out of a satchel without looking. The second note reveals that they have just divided themselves into new tribes with odd numbers representing the new Fang tribe and even numbers the new Kota.
In the switch-up, Kota becomes: Marcus, Bob, Susie, Crystal and Kenny. Fang becomes: Randy, Matty, Corinne, Charlie and Sugar. At Kota, Kenny and Crystal discover what it’s like to be at a tribe with decent shelter and ample food supplies and Marcus gains a new appreciation for former Fang member Crystal as it turns out his best friend is Crystal’s cousin. Susie, however, tells Marcus straight-up that if they lose the immunity challenge, she has the swing vote between him and Bob and Crystal and Kenny. Over at Fang, Charlie thinks that it’s good that the old Kota tribe holds a 3-2 advantage in both new tribes. Matty likes the switch-up and likes seeing Randy again but that doesn’t mean he trusts him. In a slight betrayal of his old Fang members, Matty tells Sugar she goofed in getting rid of Ace because it was Kenny who didn’t trust Ace, not necessarily Crystal; Sugar now thinks she made a mistake and decides to stick with Matty. On Day 23, Randy tells Corinne and Charlie that he is even willing to throw the next challenge so they can get Matty out of the game and thus preserve Marcus on the Kota side, keeping their alliance of six strong.
Get the Balance Right: At the immunity challenge, contestants are asked to stretch out their arms and use their palms, or tops of their hands, to hold up two poles against an overhead board. If anyone lowers their arms even slightly, the poles will drop. The first tribe to lose all their members will go to tribal council. Almost as soon as the challenge begins, Crystal is the first to go out. Sugar follows after 10 seconds. Jeff Probst says of the challenge, “it’s gonna hurt and it’s gonna hurt quickly.” Susie is out of the challenge. Randy and Corinne follow suit. Kenny then leaves the game. Bob and Marcus remain for Kota and Charlie and Matty stay in it for Fang. Marcus then drops out of the challenge. Hard to say if it was for strategy or weakness but then Charlie is out. So the contest comes down to Matty and Bob. Both fight through the pain and Jeff’s taunting. Finally Bob drops his poles and Matty wins immunity for Fang. Though his tribe members cheer, Randy explains in a side interview that truly the result would have been fine either way.
Onion Tears: Back at Kota, Marcus in essence tells Crystal that he thinks it would be good to get rid of Kenny first, and then Susie, as he thinks he can protect Crystal longer in the game. Crystal hears him but knows she cannot trust him to shake his previous alliance. Marcus tells Susie to stick with the original group; however, while lying in the shelter next to each other, Crystal and Susie have a whispered conversation where Susie tells Crystal she will vote for Kenny because Marcus will take her to the final three. Crystal quickly counters that Marcus cannot promise her final three because Corinne hates her and Randy hates her and that’s that. When it finally comes down to tribal council, Kenny looks glum as he figures the old Kota alliance will just ditch him, but Susie says “I’ve made my decision and I’m OK with it.” As the votes go two for Marcus and two for Kenny, Susie indeed plays the swing vote and ousts Marcus, making him the first member of the jury. — Cynthia Wang
Tell us: Should Susie have stuck with the old Kota tribe or did she make the right choice? Monty Brinton/CBS