Survivor officially merged the three tribes, but only after the 12 castaways voted out Josh Wilder in a split decision at Tribal Council during the Season 44 episode that aired Wednesday night on CBS.

Josh, a 34-year-old surgical podiatrist from Cincinnati, OH, who currently resides in Atlanta, GA, was voted out of the game through a 7-3-1 vote on Night 13 at Tribal Council.


Yamil "Yam Yam" Arocho, a 36-year-old salon owner from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, who currently resides in San Juan, Puerto Rico, received three votes, and Kane Fritzler, a 25-year-old law student from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in Canada, who currently resides in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, received one vote.

"I'm devastated. I'm sad. This was something I really wanted," Josh said in his final words.

"I wanted to make it to merge, and I was one vote away from making the jury and I fell short. So I'm bummed out and it sucks, because the people I thought I could trust, I couldn't really. So I guess they thought I was a threat, but I did everything I could in my power."

The Survivor broadcast began on Day 12 at Tika, which was comprised of Josh, Yam Yam, and Carolyn Wiger, a 35-year-old drug counselor from North St. Paul, MN, who currently resides in Hugo, MN.

The tribe got to skip Tribal Council due to Matthew Grinstead-Mayle's self-elimination due to a shoulder injury he endured previous in the game.

Josh said he was feeling "on top of the world" since he was granted a new beginning, but he said he was ready to get off the island because both Carolyn and Yam Yam were "ridiculous" and "chaotic." Josh even jokingly told Yam Yam that he was ready to get rid of him.

Meanwhile, the "Soka Tribe" received Tree Mail.

The tribe was made up of Danny Massa, a 32-year-old NYC firefighter from Bronx, NY; Frannie Marin, a 23-year-old research coordinator from St. Paul, MN, who currently resides in Cambridge, MA; Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt, a 43-year-old engineering manager from Ponce, Puerto Rico, who currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA; Jaime Lynn Ruiz, a 35-year-old Yogi from Mesa, AZ; and Matt Blankinship, a 27-year-old security software engineer from Albany, CA, who currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

The "Ratu Tribe" featured Kane; Brandon Cottom, a 30-year-old security specialist from Newtown, PA; Carson Garrett, a 20-year-old NASA engineering student from Rome, GA, who currently resides in Atlanta, GA; and Lauren Harpe, a 31-year-old elementary school teacher from Port Arthur, TX, who currently resides in Mont Belvieu, TX.

Everyone learned via Tree Mail that the game was about to change and all the castaways must gather together on one beach.
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Carson -- who knew his idol would no longer have power once everyone is on one beach -- said he was excited for this next chapter, but he noted it wasn't technically the merge yet.

Lauren then openly announced she had an Extra Vote in her pocket. Matthew also revealed to Carson prior to his exit that Jaime had found an idol; however, it was a fake idol that had been planted by Matthew and no one knew that.


Meanwhile, Carolyn had an idol on Tika and Danny had an idol on Soka.

"There are a lot of things to navigate considering there are potentially a lot of idols in play," Carson told the cameras.

Once the tribes were brought together via boat, Jaime called herself the "most valuable player" since she had more information that anybody else.

Josh said he was so happy to be around different people, and he immediately advised Frannie not to trust Carolyn and Yam Yam. Josh shared with Brandon how he had "the cage idol," but it was a lie. Josh then told Jaime he had a fake idol.

Jaime proceeded to tell Frannie and Heidi that Josh was lying to her and he "100 percent" had a real idol. Frannie's head was therefore spinning about what Josh did or did not have, and so she and Heidi agreed they should target Josh and hopefully get him out.

Yam Yam said Josh was holding a grudge about a big "betrayal," and he worried Josh's perception of him was going to affect how others viewed and trusted him. Yam Yam felt hated, isolated and alone.

Yam Yam didn't even know if Carolyn still wanted to work with him, and so he intended to have serious game conversations in order to figure stuff out.

Matt told Yam Yam the goal was to vote out Josh, who had played an idol to save himself and then dodged a Tribal Council. Matt joked about how Josh had "nine lives" and needed to go.

Carolyn was then shown trying to make connections, but she found the big group and small-talk overwhelming and challenging. Carolyn didn't want to come across forced or phony.

Carolyn said she trusted Yam Yam 94 percent but trusted Carson 99 percent. She therefore hoped to pick things back up with Carson.

On Night 12, Carolyn found her way back to Carson, who insisted that he trusted her 100 percent. The pair had joined "The Three Stooges" with Yam Yam back at Tika, and so Carson was hoping Yam Yam and Carolyn could join forces again and regain loyalty and trust.

Carson told the pair to lay low so no one would view them as a threat and try to break them apart.

Meanwhile, Frannie was still Matt's No. 1 ally, and she was the only person who knew Matt wouldn't have a vote at the next Tribal Council. Matt planned to keep it that way, but he acknowledged how they needed to stop hanging out so much.

"It's hard to do it that way. We have developed such a relationship of trust and support. I think that's going to be a delicate line for us to walk in the next few days," Matt said, while footage was shown of him holding hands with Frannie before bed.


On Day 13, Survivor host Jeff Probst gathered the castaways together and confirmed they were not quite merged yet or in the individual stage of the game. Jeff said the players had to "earn" their way into the next stage.

It then became time for a challenge. Jeff explained the castaways would be randomly divided into two teams of six people. On Jeff's "go," they had to dig up a massive boulder, push it through a series of obstacles, and collect a key along the way.

The team would then work together to get everybody to the top of a tall tower, where they would use the key to unlock pieces to a large tree puzzle.

The first team to finish would win immunity and receive new buffs as well as "the merge meal."The winning team would cast votes at the next Tribal Council, but they couldn't be voted for. The losing six would miss out on a buff, food, and immunity.

"One of the six losers will be the seventh person voted out of Survivor 44," Jeff announced.

Everyone drew for teams by picking out a rock from a red bag.

The orange rocks drawn belonged to Heidi, Danny, Lauren, Yam Yam, Josh and Kane.

For purple were Matt, Frannie, Carson, Carolyn, Jaime and Brandon.

Jaime fell trying to get up the tower, but her teammates were there to help her get up to the top.

Lauren and Heidi ended up working on the puzzle for orange, while Matt and Carson attempted the puzzle for purple.

Carson was off to a fast start, and he pretty much whipped through the challenge.

"Wow! This looks like one orange cannot come back from," Jeff declared. "It is a runaway victory for purple in the making... It's an absolute blowout!"

In the end, purple won immunity thanks to Carson's puzzle-solving skills, and the team was emotional and thrilled. Carson dominated the puzzle because he had a 3-D puzzle of the tree back at home, which he practiced "probably about 1,000 times" in preparation to play Survivor 44.

It was "one of the best days" of Carson's life, but the orange team was clearly disappointed about their loss.

After the challenge, Yam Yam felt like he was in trouble. He was one of only six targets and had lost hope, especially because Josh had stopped talking to him.

Yam Yam pitched voting out Josh to Danny and Kane, but he quickly realized he had made a mistake by saying a name too early. Meanwhile, Josh threw out Yam Yam's name to Lauren and Heidi, saying Yam Yam was "a snake," and the women said they were "down" because he wasn't a number for either of them.

Heidi said if Josh really did have an idol, Yam Yam would probably be the backup vote.


Meanwhile, the winning team enjoyed a feast of meat, bread, vegetables, pickles, cupcakes, wine, and more.

Matt and Frannie announced to the winners how Josh was a big threat since he's an adaptable and social player, but Brandon was concerned about Josh's idol. The group therefore determined Kane might be a good second option, just in case.

"Kane voted for me at the first Tribal and he's tried to apologize to me and stuff," Brandon explained in a confessional. "I forgive but I don't forget, and I know that he's somebody who is going to come for me again. It's just a matter of when."

Carolyn then announced how Josh definitely didn't have a real idol because he had played his one from "the journey" already. Carolyn said Josh had shown her the pathetic idol made from Tree Mail beads.

Frannie, however, said they should still make a plan as if Josh had a real idol, and Carolyn was shocked and frustrated everybody was still questioning it.

On Day 13, the winners had unanimously decided on Josh, with a couple votes going on Kane, but Jaime predicted it probably wasn't going to be an easy Tribal Council since that's the name of Survivor.

Frannie told Josh about Kane being the primary vote target, and so Josh attempted to squash his beef with Yam Yam. Josh suggested they should go with the Kane vote instead of allowing everyone to separate -- and choose from -- the two of them.

"I think I can save my personal vendetta against Yam Yam for another day," Josh told the cameras, before he was shown telling Yam Yam they were "good" going forward.

Yam Yam said he thought it was a great idea but he liked Kane and didn't want to write Kane's name down. Yam Yam still wanted the gratification of taking Josh out.

Yam Yam asked Josh to hold onto his idol, but Josh firmly said, "No."

Meanwhile, Brandon was hoping Kane would be voted out -- and that Kane wouldn't find out he's in trouble.

Carson then informed Kane that Soka was pitching him and Josh. Carson had bonded and connected with Kane on Ratu, and that's why he decided to give him a heads-up.

Kane then ran to Brandon about Carson's claim, and Brandon confirmed the news was true.

"I don't want my name out there just so Josh doesn't play his idol," Kane said in a confessional. "Yam Yam is a perfectly good name to throw out there. I don't understand why we have to mix my name into it."

Kane therefore attempted to switch the target onto Yam Yam instead of Josh, just in case Josh played an idol. Kane said Yam Yam was a chaotic player and it would make sense to get rid of him.

Brandon then told Kane that he had made a "bad move" that was going to "shake things up a lot."

Kane proceeded to ask Matt and Danny to Yam Yam, and Matt thought that would be a pretty easy vote. Matt said Yam Yam didn't have a super strong relationship with anybody in the game, and so he told Josh that everyone was switching the vote to Yam Yam.

"If [Josh] escapes tonight at Tribal Council, he is light Superman -- bullets bouncing off his chest," Matt told the cameras. "It's all a gamble, you have to make these calculated risks... There are so many different personalities and so many different bonds."

All of the 12 remaining castaways then met Jeff for Tribal Council on Night 13.

Yam Yam told Jeff that he had a big mouth and was probably an easy target. And Brandon confirmed there was a lot of talk and speculation about idols, both real and fake ones.

No one felt truly safe or comfortable given they didn't have all of the information out there. Matt even said he was "hanging on for dear life" and didn't know what was going to happen.

It then became time for the castaways to vote, and Matt was unable to write a name down.

Jeff proceeded to read the votes aloud in the following order: Yam Yam, Josh, Kane, Yam Yam, Josh, Yam Yam, Josh, Josh, Josh, and Josh.


Josh was therefore voted out of Survivor, and then the rest of the castaways received their buffs. They were officially merged!

The episode's closing credits later showed that Josh, Brandon and Kane voted for Yam Yam, Carolyn voted for Kane, and the rest of the castaways -- Jaime, Frannie, Heidi, Carson, Lauren, Danny, and Yam Yam -- voted for Josh.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.