‘Survivor’ 38 power rankings: Who’s in the best position heading into Wednesday’s merge?

It’s merge time, baby! The “Survivor: Edge of Extinction” castaways won’t just have that to deal with, though, as the six players they voted out previously are back and ready to seek revenge. We just got through watching two of the biggest personalities of the season, Aubry Bracco and Wendy Diaz, get voted out, and now there’s a possibility that one could come back into the game. This may throw a wrench into the games of more than a few remaining castaways, who have played the game thinking Aubry, Wendy, Reem Daly, Keith Sowell, Chris Underwood and Rick Devens were gone for good.

I’m filling in for John Benutty for this week’s “Survivor” power rankings as we head into the merge. Take a look at my list of who’s in the best position in the game after six episodes of “Survivor: Edge of Extinction.”

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1. Gavin Whitson – Kama/Manu (up 2)
2. Victoria Baamonde – Kama/Manu (up 2)
3. Eric Hafemann – Kama/Manu (down 2)
4. Julie Rosenberg – Kama/Kama (up 1)

The three original Kama members who were swapped to Manu are in the best position right now because they have the experience of going to Tribal Council and they’ve worked with everyone left in the game. Eric, Gavin, and Victoria just convened with the Lesu tribe to vote out Wendy together, and it was established earlier that they have a bond with Julie, Julia, and Ron. Gavin ranks at the top at this point because Eric has been discussed a few times as a possible target due to strength, while it’s possible if Aubry gets back in the game, she could feel most betrayed by Victoria and could try to orchestrate her ouster. Julie is in this top tier because of the five Kama members who have not gone to Tribal Council yet, she seems like the least likely target of the opposing alliance.

5. Ron Clark – Kama/Kama (down 3)
6. Julia Carter – Kama/Kama (even)
7. Lauren O’Connell – Manu/Lesu (up 4)
8. David Wright – Manu/Lesu (up 4)

Ron and Julia are just a touch below the top tier because while they have not yet attended a Tribal Council, they seem to be strong players, and strong players stand out at this stage of the game. Ron has proven to be pretty sneaky and Julia had a conversation with Joe in the most recent episode about being seen as a threat. But if they stick to Kama strong, they should be safe for a while. Right below that I have David and Lauren, who have gone to five of the six Tribal Councils thus far in the game. Despite being a returning player, David’s name hasn’t come up much to be voted out and now that’s he has made it past the portion of the game that values physical strength, he could sail his way to the end as he did in “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.” The issue for him and Lauren will be whether the original Kama tribe will just pick them off in the early portion of the merge. Lauren does have a Hidden Immunity Idol, so she ranks a notch above David for the time being.

9. Kelley Wentworth – Manu/Lesu (up 4)
10. Dan “Wardog” DaSilva – Manu/Lesu (even)
11. Aurora McCreary – Kama/Kama (down 2)
12. Joe Anglim – Kama/Kama (down 5)

Kelley and Wardog rank below David and Lauren because they are both obvious targets from the Lesu alliance. It’s easy to imagine the Kama tribe thinking Kelley is the ringleader of the group, but she also has an Idol in her back pocket, which she has been known to play at opportune moments. Wardog’s chances sank significantly in Episode 6, as it was clear that the remaining Lesu tribes were annoyed with his aggressive gameplay. Lauren freely admitted that she did not want to go to tiebreaking rocks for Wardog, and if there is another easy consensus vote at the merge, he seems like the best candidate for that sort of fate. Just below Kelley and Wardog are Aurora and Joey Amazing himself. They have not gone to a Tribal Council, but it has been readily apparant that the Kama tribe has been desperate to get Joe out ASAP, and Aurora is his right-hand woman. Joe always struggles at this point of the game because of his challenge strength, so if he loses the first Immunity Challenge, he will be a prime target. If he does end up winning, Aurora could be next in line since she has no allegiance to the rest of Kama.

13. Chris Underwood – Extinction Island
14. Rick Devens – Extinction Island
15. Aubry Bracco – Extinction Island
16. Wendy Diaz – Extinction Island
17. Reem Daly – Extinction Island
18. Keith Sowell – Extinction Island

When it comes to the inhabitants of Extinction Island, they will all have an uphill battle to win back power in the game. Some may have an easier time than others, though. Chris earned an advantage for the challenge which gives him a competitive edge and he could integrate back into the game well. Same goes for Rick, who has shown an aptitude for deduction on Extinction Island, plus he has a bunch of friends on Lesu. Aubry and Wendy will likely have the same issue if they get back into the game where they may struggle to find people to work with them. At the bottom are Reem and Keith, who have been on Extinction Island the longest, and that has only exacerbated the issues with social integration they had when they were in the game. As John wrote in his power rankings last week, they are both the most likely to raise their mast to quit should they lose this chance to get back into the game.

SEE exclusive predictions: Who will win ‘Survivor’?

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