In the first episode, members of the Maraamu and Rotu tribes get to know each other. They learn that they will not be given fire or food and instead must fend for themselves. Rotu wins immunity, and Maraamu votes off Peter Harkey.
The teams compete for a reward. The Rotu tribe successfully steals their second win overall, leaving Maraamu with a lot of ground to make up. In the immunity challenge, Rotu swipes their third win, leaving Maraamu no choice but to eliminate a second player from their tribe. With the vote split between Patricia and Sarah, Patricia is voted out, 4-3.
One tribe experiences multiple injuries, while the other deals with internal strife.
After receiving tree mail, the two tribes meet host Jeff Probst at what they thought would be their next Reward Challenge. However, they soon discover that their lives are about to be turned upside down. Jeff instructs them to each stand on one of 13 wooden discs placed randomly in front of them. He then begins the Survivor Switch. As jaws drop and tears swell in the eyes of the Rotu tribe members, they realize what is taking place. Underneath each disk is a colored buff, blue representing Rotu, and yellow representing Maraamu. As each person steps off their disc and turns it over, the color of their buff reveals to which tribe the castaway would now belong. When it is all over, Sean, Rob and Vecepia find themselves the new members of Rotu, while Neleh, Paschal and Kathy switch over to Maraamu. The new faces don't help Maraamu stop its losing streak, and they vote out Sarah.
In a surprising turn of events, Rotu loses both challenges, and officially, John becomes a leader for his tribe. Rob, however, sees through this, and schemes to get John ousted, with help from Sean, Vecepia and Gabe. In the end, everyone votes for Gabe, leaving not only himself surprised, but the viewers as well.
One tribe ponders their current situation and attempts to insert their "never say die" attitude into the next immunity challenge.
The two tribes merge into one, Soliantu. A new rule in the game is introduced at tribal council, the person with immunity has the choice to keep it or give it up to someone else.
When John, Tammy, Robert, and Zoe get too cocky about their alliance, a powershift occurs in Soliantu. John finds himself on the wrong end of a shocking vote.
Highlights and never-before-seen footage recap castaways' first 24 days on the island of Nuku Hiva.
Sean and Paschal's relationship becomes stronger when they win a feast and tribal dance.
Sean serenades a tearful, homesick Vecepia on her birthday and makes cheering her up a priority.
Paschal and Neleh win the reward challenge, but resentment grows among their tribemates when they return and share their joyful experience with them.
A visit from family members for each castaway brings them to tears. Neleh's mother, Rebecca, is first to reveal herself. Next comes Kathy's son Pat, followed by Robert's sister Diana, Sean's buddy Daryl, Vecepia's fianc Leander, and finally Paschal's wife Beverly.
Kathy's son Patrick joins the tribe for one day, but is short-lived when it comes time to plotting strategy.
Neleh becomes a new target.
One survivor is forced to choose sides.
The final four are: Neleh, Paschal, Vecepia and Kathy. They are whittled down to Neleh and Vee, who face the jury to argue their case for a million dollars.
The 16 contestants reunite in New York City's Central Park. Rosie O'Donnell hosts.