It’s time for the merge on Wednesday’s new episode of “Survivor,” and while this turning point in the game can often spell disaster for the show’s earliest power players, Hustler Ryan Ulrich remains our odds-on frontrunner to win this season. Ryan heads in to the merge with 17/10 odds as our predicted winner, followed closely by his newest ally Chrissy Hofbeck (3/1 odds) and her first ally, Ben Driebergen (4/1 odds), who Ryan has yet to meet. Will these three strategists find common ground in the merge or will Chrissy be caught in the middle between two alliances? Read my thoughts on who will wield the most power post-merge and more in our rundown of the current odds in our weekly contest for episode 7, “Get to Gettin’.”
Because his tribe lost the last two immunity challenges, Ryan’s strategic play has been at the forefront of the series story in recent episodes. In those instances Ryan made the clear, albeit risky, choice to side with Chrissy and JP Hilsabeck, former Heroes, over his Hustler ally from day one, Ali Elliott, who he helped to blindside last week. Facing the merge, Ryan’s desertion of his allegiance to original Hustlers could pit him against Lauren Rimmer and Devon Pinto who remain in the game and were loyal to Ali before the tribe switch. Ryan has also opened himself up to the possibility that Chrissy will return to her first ally, Ben, and prioritize his needs over Ryan’s in her own plans to make it to the end. In that threesome, Ryan would be the obvious odd-man out.
The upside of Ryan’s move–one I’m not even sure he realizes yet–is that the former Hustlers and the former Heroes are now bonded in more ways than one. At the Levu tribe for example, Hustler Devon was forced to bond with Hero Ashley Nolan against two Healers. Ashley, who has strong ties to JP, bridges any divide that there may exist between Ryan and Devon. And at Yawa, Ben has formed an unofficial alliance with Lauren in preparation for their own vote against three Healers that held power at that camp. All in all, we could see a super alliance of Heroes and Hustlers — Ryan, Chrissy and JP from Soko, Lauren and Ben from Yawa, Ashley and Devon from Levu — form against the Healers.
That possible super alliance of seven would have an easy majority over the five former Healers who, aside from Roark Luskin, have dominated immunity challenges and hidden idol searches so far this season. Joe Mena and Mike Zahalsky, both with hidden immunity idols, could be the saving graces for a seemingly doomed group of Healers if they use their secret powers correctly. That being said, neither is likely to be inclined to save the most vulnerable Healer, Cole Medders, based on their relationships with him. That’s why Cole is our most predicted player to be eliminated next, topping out the poll with an overwhelming 8/15 odds of going home. Behind him is Joe with 13/2 odds, but with an idol in his pocket that would have to be a stealthy blindside and would probably require Cole being protected by an immunity challenge win.
But as far as the immunity challenge goes, we’re currently betting on JP (13/10 odds) or Devon (2/1 odds) to win that. Behind them are two Healers, Desi Williams (12/1 odds) and Cole (22/1 odds). Because it’s the merge, traditionally the tribes arrive at what they believe to be a reward challenge only to be told to “drop their buffs” and partake in a “merge feast” together instead. That’s why most users are predicting that “No One” will win reward (10/11 odds) in the upcoming episode, with slightly less (14/5 odds) guessing that if there is a challenge that JP will win it. And despite there being two active hidden idols available for play, we have 3/10 odds that one of them WON’T be played.
As is always the case in “Survivor,” anything can happen. We’ll see how it all plays out on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. on CBS.
Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Wednesday on CBS. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.