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Why Survivor 41 Merge Madness Spells Future Trouble After New Alliances

survivor 41 merge
(Image credit: CBS)

Spoiler alert for the Nov. 3 episode of Survivor 41!

Last week, Survivor 41 ended with several big questions looming large: Who would win the first individual immunity challenge? How would it shake up the vote? But most importantly, after earning power on Exile Island, would Erika Casupanan flip the immunity groups around or keep them the same? Well, she flipped them alright. As a result, all hell broke loose at the merge tribal council, and it spells future trouble for the new alliance dynamics at play.

Going into the latest episode, we already knew that the four Black players in Survivor 41 had solidified an alliance similar to the six Black players in this past season of Big Brother. However, the Survivor version of “the Cookout” alliance showed its hand much earlier than anticipated. After one of its members, Liana Wallace, made no attempt to hide her new bonds, her former Yase tribemates – Xander Hastings, Tiffany Seely and Evvie Jagoda – became suspicious. The three Yase players in the minority vote then concocted a plan to save Jagoda from being taken out by throwing their hidden immunity idol weight and power around.

A lot of madness then transpired at the merge tribal council. A fake idol was played, the vote became “live” as Jeff Probst says, and the Shot in the Dark was used for the first time. Out of all of the chaos, one thing seems clear: Survivor 41 is now divided into racial alliances for the most part at this point. (Save for the instance of Heather Aldret, a player who was taken in by the 2.0 Cookout at tribal, simply because she had no ties to Yase.) And the ramifications could have a ripple effect through the final legs of the game and beyond.

By these battle lines being drawn in this way, it is most likely that the three white ­Yase players will be strategically picked off one-by-one in the upcoming episodes as their alliance can't hold up against the other. Big Brother 23’s Cookout alliance already proved this summer that such a scenario could happen, with their six sending friends and foes home week after week. If the strategy is mirrored on Survivor 41, then it would be the first time in its history for the final seven to include all people of color.

However, another (much messier) scenario is possible. The bottom three Yase players could make a play to flip the other alliance’s people at the bottom: Erika Casupanan, Naseer Muttalif, Ricard Foyé, and Heather Aldret. They technically haven't solidified anything official with the core four “Cookout” players. It would only take the threat of Xander Hastings’ super idol (still in the game) to result in a catastrophe on their side – one of them accidentally going home.

Overall, though, it could be that the new racial dynamics will transform the future of the game. With CBS’ commitment to leveling the playing field with diverse casts and Season 41 showing so far that a powerful Black alliance can take control, a new playbook is being written for future players to mimic. Maybe Season 42 and onwards will be ruled entirely by such alliances. In which case, things could get tricky. 

There’s another age-old saying about the game: Survivor is a microcosm of life. Meaning, it tends to reflect reality. If this still holds true, then Season 41 is perhaps reflecting that a foundational change is in order. Check out the next episode of Survivor on CBS next Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST!

Lauren Vanderveen

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.