Previously on Survivor Baka finally got in on the excitement of bead idol-palooza as Jeanine stumbled across an ant covered note. She immediately looped in Elie and went to their allies to convince them to hand over their beads, while Sami waited until after the idol was powered to tell Gabler just what he had done. After Coco lost their second immunity challenge, Jeanine, Jesse and Geo were selected to go to Journey Island where they all risked their votes before Geo jagged the advantage. And Jeanine popped a bigger target on her back as Sami wondered why she would risk it when she already had an idol. When it came to Coco, it came down to Cassidy and Geo as the targets, and while Ryan thought he was valiantly pretending to be the one to go out, he was blindsided by the departure of his only ally Geo.
The next day Coco discovered treemail announcing the (non-)merge, offering them ten minutes to pack their things and get on a boat to leave camp. While everyone was feeling thrilled to have made it to the next phase, Karla wisley knew that Jeffrey would have some sort of shenanigans to officially make it to the merge and as such, was tempering her expectations. Over at Vesi, Jesse was ready to prove himself while Baka just got to stay at their camp, waiting to greet the other tribes and all their spoils. And while everyone was excited to meet new people, Cody knew it was about to descend into chaos and as such, wasn’t that happy to have new friends.
As everyone got together to kiki and get to know people, Noelle was nervous about the fact they don’t have buffs nor a feast. Because duh, that is the go now, listen to Karla! Owen meanwhile was concerned about all the potential advantages floating around their new mega-tribe. Noelle meanwhile dropped by Elie and Sami to talk about how wild Cody is, sharing an anecdote about him making a hat for tribal council, which did nothing more than announce that Cody is the one that owns the Vesi idol. A little fact Elie quickly took back to Jeanine.
Jeff made an early appearance to announce that once again they need to earn their place on the merge tribe, though this time, there would be no stupid hourglass of doom. The group would be split into two teams for the first opportunity to merge, racing to release a sled buried by sandbags and then drag it through obstacles to collect large blocks. They would then build a staircase to release a key, then climb up a platform, release puzzle pieces and then solve a word puzzle. With the winners officially part of the merge while the losers have to survive the upcoming vote to get there. And given there are 13 people left, someone would land in the middle and be given the chance to bet on the winner and if they were right, they would also be immune and get to partake in the merge feast with them.
Ultimately Noelle landed in the middle, opting to believe in the blue team, made up of Gabler, Karla, Jeanine, Ryan, Jesse and Dwight. Which seemed like a great choice, given they got out to the earliest of leads. Not to be outdone, the red team picked up the pace and overtook them while collecting their blocks. Things got worse for the blue team and Noelle as Karla crushed her hand on a block and started to bleed profusely as she tried to finish out the challenge. As the red team extended their lead and started to work on the word puzzle, the blue team worked together to get the bleeding Karla up the wall. And then completely dominated the puzzle, narrowly taking out immunity just ahead of the red team and proving Noelle was wise to back them. And hopefully Karla would soon get a bandaid.
Back at camp the losing team were heartbroken to be potentially going home tonight, with Elie in particular breaking down about bombing the puzzle. She rallied though and caught up with Owen, suggesting they lie to OG Coco and tell them that Cody is the target, and then split the vote on Cassidy and James, continuing to get rid of Coco. Elie quickly locked in Cassidy and James and while she thought they had bought it all, James felt she was being a little suss and as such, thought she could be the better option.
Meanwhile the victors and Noelle were busy smashing their feast and downing beers, before Karla floated the question of what they should do at tribal council. Ryan immediately suggested they could just lock it in as the final 7 at this point, which obviously annoyed Jeanine, who wanted to stick with her allies. The group pivoted, instead talking about who they wanted to protect with everyone trying to save their OG tribes. Except for Gabler, who admitted that she does not care for Elie and outed her for going through her bag. Which made Jeanine even more furious.
The two groups came together and filled each other in on the plans, with Elie throwing Cassidy under the bus for floating Cody, which was actually her plan. As they caught up with Dwight and Jeanine, the duo filled Elie in on the fact Gabler is coming for her which made her just as furious as Jeanine. Elie obviously went to confront Gabler, denying the fact she looked through his bag, though try as she might, he had no interest in listening. She cut her losses and instead went to confront Sami and Owen for outing her with Gabler and while they both denied it, they also offered to help clear her name. Well, until she was gone, when Sami decided that Elie was too dangerous to last another day.
Gabler then caught up with Jeanine and while she was just as angry, she calmly suggested they talk to Owen and Sami to try and reiterate the importance of staying Baka strong. With Sami eventually getting through to Gabler after Jeanine left, when he reminded him that Jeanine has an idol and as such, could save Elie and screw one of Owen or Sami if he doesn’t pull his head in. Vesi and Coco meanwhile were busy catching up, locking in Elie as the biggest threat. And after Ryan straight up told James and Cassidy that they were Elie’s actual target, it looked like everyone would be coming together to get rid of Elie.
At tribal council the soon to be merged tribe took their seats before Gabler spoke about the chaos of the day, failing to mention the fact that he was the one that kicked it off. Cody agreed that it was overwhelming, while Sami spoke about how nerve wracking it is to be one of the few options to go home within the broader group. Cassidy and Owen were nervous and unsure who to trust, while Jeanine said it was hard to even try and fathom what everyone else’s priorities were. Elie opened up about the fact her name was put out amongst the tribe while Karla spoke about the fact that there are a large number of potential advantages and as such, there is even more they have to worry about navigating. Sami mentioned how difficult a position it can be if you know about an advantage, given there are pros and cons to keeping your mouth shut, while everyone agreed that paranoia – about everything – is the most difficult thing to deal with.
With that the tribe voted and despite the chaotic afternoon pre-tribal, the final plan appeared to be solid as Vesi, Coco and Gabler banded together to boot Elie from the game. While Probst officially welcomed the other five castaways to the merged tribe.
Elie was obviously super disappointed as she arrived at Loser Lodge, particularly given she had only just been talking up how well she had been playing the game. Which I calmly explained is exactly what happens and to not let her down, particularly given she is a lock for a second chances season (sorry Lindsay) given she had an iconic feud with Gabler which cost her her game. Which proved enough to cheer her up as we plotted her second go over some fresh Cherry Eliespresso Biscotti.
While sometimes I worry that they will chip my teeth as I get older, there is nothing better than biscotti. Light and crunchy, these numbers pack a glorious punch of coffee alongside the chewiness of the cherries to create the ultimate textural sensation.
Cherry Eliespresso Biscotti
¼ cup espresso powder
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup raw caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¾ cup dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Combine the espresso powder and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. In another bowl, whisk the flour, raw caster sugar, baking powder and salt. Finally, beat the eggs and espresso-vanilla mixture in a stand mixer until thick and golden. Fold through the dry ingredients, walnuts and cherries, and beat until just combined.
Split the dough in half and form into two small, flat loaves. Pop on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for half an hour.
Using a serrated knife, slice each loaf into 4mm thick biscuits and place on a lined baking sheet. Once the biscotti are shaped, return to the oven to bake for a further 15 minutes, or until perfectly crisped. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Then, devour.
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