Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

Aw, doesn't it look peaceful on Survivor: Gabon?

Maybe Kota hasn't had much trouble assuaging nerves and keeping tempers down so far (it helps when you've won nine out of 11 challenges), but can they keep it up once the tribes merge and the game becomes one big free-for-all?

Let's just say, the 17th installment of the pioneering CBS series is down to nine castaways after...some interesting developments. 

Thursday's episode began with Susie being put in her place, Matty mourning Ace's departure and Randy feeling as awesome as ever. Read on to see how it went from there:

As they prepare for the imminent merge, it's five against one when the rest of Kota takes Susie Smith to task for backstabbing Corinne Kaplan at last week's Tribal Council. Susie somehow still thinks that she holds power, despite barely beating out Dan Kay's desperate need for 24/7 reassurance.

Sugar Kiper and Crystal Cox tell Ace Gordon-lover Matty Whitmore that they'd be happy to start fresh, now that the craftier-than-we-thought Sugar has thrown her favorite snake under the bus.

Both tribes say farewell to their separate huts and move—as one—to new beachfront digs where Kota and Fang shall merge to become one, big tribe…right? But first—a yummy-looking feast featuring all four food groups and a clue to the next Immunity Idol.

After Charlie Herschel blows an unswift Ken Hoang's cover and shares the clue with the table,  Randy finds the idol in record time. And boy doesn't he let anyone forget it. "I'm sorry, but I rule," he says. "All those Fang, Kota members—they work for me." Then he throws the idol into the ocean, Kota further asserting its dominance over Fang.

But oh ho! These guys ain't merging. Instead, they draw numbered stones and the tribes shuffle yet again. The new Fang: Randy Bailey, Charlie, Corinne, Matty and Sugar. The new Kota: Bob Crowley, Marcus Lehman, Susie, Crystal and Kenny.

Twists: Crystal turns out to be the cousin of one of Marcus' best friends, meaning he's feeling a tug on his loyalty string and considering an alliance with the Olympian, whom he now considers a pretty cool girl. Meanwhile, Matty just adores Randy. And he lets Sugar know, in no uncertain terms, that Ace had been looking out for her the entire time. But he really just wants in on her idol action. And Randy thinks it's Matty's time to go. Ouch.

Immunity challenge: With their arms outstretched, each tribe member has to use the tops of their hands to hold two poles against an overhead board. When a pole drops, you're out.

And away they go: Crystal after two seconds, Sugar after 10 seconds. Susie out. Randy and Corinne out. Kenny drops a pole. (Marcus is shaking, Matty looks like a zen master.) Marcus is out. Charlie loses it.

Bob, at 58 the game's oldest player right now, drops his pole and Matty wins immunity for Fang. Now we get to see just how strong those iron-clad Kota bonds are.

Tribal Council: Bob says he probably would have gone for Susie if he had known that the merger was a ways off. Ken, fighting for his life, calls out Marcus for wanting to get rid of all former Fang members first, regardless of what they bring to the new Kota. Oh, hel-lo. Cyrstal votes for Marcus. She wasn't kidding about that whole "nice girl, liar and schemer" thing.

Marcus Lehman, Survivor: Gabon

Monty Brinton/CBS

Ninth person voted out of Survivor: Gabon—and the first member of the final jury: Marcus, 3-2.

We've got ourselves a game! Even our sides are blinded after that one.

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