This is what makes Survivor great television, and arguably the best reality show (Emmy awards be damned). It is the ability to have unprecedented things take place midway through its 23rd season. It’s the ability to reinvent itself time and time again in an almost seamless manner. Others have tried – I’m looking at you Judge Stephen Tyler – and not been as successful. Survivor manages to bring surprises year after year.
Think about it – before last season did anyone think Boston Rob had a shot at winning the whole thing? That Russell would make fools of all of those returning Heroes in Season 20? The list goes on. And in this week’s Survivor we had someone make a move so bold, so bizarre, and so unbelievably unnecessary that it just makes you smack your forehead. Season 23 and we still get jaw drop moments. Bravo Survivor.
The move in question comes from our resident free agent, and pig tail wearing challenge monster Ozzy. There is really no other way to describe it except to say that other than quitters, no one has ever volunteered to be voted out of the show. Until now. Ozzy decided that he was going to take on the role of Trojan Horse and infiltrate Redemption Island following Savaii’s defeat in what could have been the biggest immunity challenge of the year. The mission – defeat Christine. Bold? Yes. Ridiculous? Oh, yes.
Reason #1 Why It Is Stupid – There is no reason to defeat Christine. It’s not even that we have more information about Christine than Savaii has received; they have enough to realize that Christine is not going back into the Upolu fold. Ozzy and Cochran were at the latest duel and had to see Albert actively rooting for Christine. There have been other moments in other duels where Christine’s animosity to her old tribe became obvious. So, my question to Savaii is this – if you sent Cochran to RI and he lost, well, at the merge you replace Cochran for Christine. Six vs. Six anyway. No worries. Even if she is not making a bee line to Savaii, she won’t be a tough sell.
Reason #2 Why It Is Stupid – You don’t know that the merge is coming. Because, Survivor is always so predictable, right? There has never been a fake merge before, because that has… what, who said that? Shii Ann? Why are you here? What about Thailand? Oh.
And we know that the merge is always at 10 during Final Two seasons and 12 during Final Three, right? Except All-Stars. And Palau. And Cook Islands. And Fiji…
Ozzy – you are making some serious, serious assumptions. And you know what happens when you assume. Probst asked you at Tribal if you are aware of this, and you didn’t care. Now, I think there will be a merge next week, but I sure wouldn’t gamble a million bucks on it. Ozzy just did that.
Not only has he assumed a merge, he has also assumed that Redemption Island will work like last season. Even if they merge, there is no guarantee that the RI person will integrate at 12. So many ifs and buts and maybes to do something this big.
Reason #3 Why It Is Stupid – Anything can happen in Survivor. Let’s talk post-merge Survivor. And let’s assume for a minute that Ozzy doesn’t make this move, Cochran goes to RI, loses to Christine, who goes to Upolu giving them a 7-5 lead. HUGE assumptions. Is it impossible for the one of the five to beat one of the seven? Absolutely not. Ask any one of these winners who went into the merge behind in numbers – Vecepia, Chris, Yul, Bob, JT, Natalie. Do you really think a seven person alliance with Coach at the head will stand strong? If you are Ozzy, why don’t you play the idol at 12, and then go out and win challenges and stick around to the point where the seven are bound to splinter?
It is the epitome of the Sandra plan – anyone but me. It is a plan being employed by Cochran this very minute. And Ozzy just flipped it into – why not me. The first rule of Survivor should always be not to have your name written down and he volunteered it. Amazing.
Reason #4 Why It Is Stupid – Ozzy has an idol and could have taken it with him. That idol of Ozzy’s? Not true. It now belongs to Cochran, and he doesn’t ever have to give it back. The best part – Ozzy did not have to give it up. He could have taken it to RI with him and if he re-entered, he could still use it. I understand that giving it back to the tribe enables them to have it should he lose, but still, Ozzy, they ain’t gonna share the million with you.
So, the guy who wins tons of immunity challenges, in possession of an idol, on a tribe that is one person down in numbers and likely to add the RI winner IF there was an upcoming merge put himself in a position where his fate rests on one challenge. Ballsy? No doubt. Stupid? Oh yeah.
Oh, Reason #5 Why It Is Stupid – Ozzy had no idea what the challenge was going to be on RI. What if it was something like the shuffleboard challenge where there is no physical or mental advantage – much of it is luck? Or one of those endurance challenges where having a smaller foot or better balance actually benefits a woman more than a man? Or a quiz? Just so many questions…
So, Ozzy is on RI and Upolu is now the Most Favored Tribe of the Almighty. Sigh. I don’t want to rant about the Separation of Religion and Reality. For that, please check out my Amazing Race column that I just posted. It seems as if there’s a revival going on in both programs this year. Bottom line – God doesn’t give a rat’s ass if Upolu won a challenge, or if they found an idol. He’s got some Grammy Awards to win.
But Coach and Brandon don’t believe that, and that led to a ton of praying going on with Upolu. My favorite part, of course, was the hypocritical part. Coach pretended to pray to the Good Lord for guidance in finding the Hidden Immunity Idol, which was already in his possession. The Good Lord sighed, took a break from finding a way to feed the world’s children, and checked in on the wacky, tattooed morons romping through the jungles of Samoa. Seeing that His name was only being invoked as part of a big ruse, He vowed to seek revenge against the weirdo doing fake Tai Chi and moved on to more important things.
I found it to be hysterical that they had the big production to bring Brandon, Silent Rick and Edna in on the Idol loop. Once they decided to do it, this was the only way to accomplish it without losing trust. Interesting dynamic this season – two idols in play and each tribe has no mystery as to where they are located. The drama will likely come from who uses it – currently Cochran and Coach own them.
Then there’s the challenge and the always-fun blindfold calling. My favorite one will always be Fiji when Michelle fell off the pedestal. High comedy. This one had many bumps and spills – most impressively by Edna going headfirst into a pole. The tribes had to put on war paint, teaming up in pairs. What may have been the weirdest part was Brandon painted a bikini top on his torso. Um, ok. Sophie gave herself a beard. I wish we got to see that planning session, but alas. One pair acted as caller, while the other two pairs had to go out in shifts to retrieve bags of masks.
The trick was that the retrievers were attached to a rope, which helped them find the locations of the bags. I can imagine it was a bit disconcerting to be blindfolded and in the ocean, but away they went. Coach/Silent Rick and Rice/Cochran served as the callers – with Rick and Cochran in charge of rope management. Brandon/Edna and Albert/Sophie went out, with the latter doing the blind sorting of the masks. Keith/Dawn and Ozzy/Whitney went out from Savaii. The challenge was tight again until Savaii had major issues with the rope. They got tangled and Cochran, and all the kings’ horses, could not put Savaii back together again.
I found it a bit disconcerting afterwards that everyone just, for the lack of a better word, bullied and pushed around Cochran. It started in the immediate aftermath of the loss when Ozzy went all deranged Bruce Lee on the challenge wall. If the physical wasn’t threatening, then back at camp the crew ganged up on Cochran in the dark and basically blamed him for the loss. Rice’s lame calling, Keith/Dawn’s struggles, or Ozzy/Whitney’s first leg didn’t contribute – it was all Cochran. Shut. Up. Savaii. The team lost, sure Cochran screwed up, but how about taking responsibility as a group. Feel free to vote him out but let’s not pile on – and certainly, don’t get condescending by trying to tell him that an RI trip is for his own good. It’s time for the Bullsh*t stamp again. Let’s be honest – it’s easy to gang up on the nerd. Isn’t it?
I officially want Cochran to go very deep in the game, as he would be a very unlikely success. Plus, I’d like to see him stick it to the rest of them. But most of all, right now, I have never been more anxious to see a task than I am to see next week’s duel. At least Ozzy’s move sure made CBS’ promotions team pretty happy.
Treemail Top 10
• Worst. Reward. Ever. This would be a reward that I would consider asking Probst if I could sit out of instead of enjoy. That Adam Sandler movie looks so incredibly bad, that being forced to watch it feels like a form of torture. I’ve always said that some of these filmmakers need a team of contrarians on staff instead of yes men to keep them from doing stupid things. Case in point – Lucasfilm needed someone around George Lucas to say that Jar Jar was a terrible idea. Michael Bay needed someone to tell him that jive talking robots was moronic. And Adam Sandler needed someone to tell him that playing a woman is a terrible, terrible idea. And poor Upolu had to watch this movie. At least there were hot dogs. And kudos for Coach for coming up with a line about family to validate this terrible product placement.
• And did Probst give away the ending by saying in the end the two Sandler characters work things out? Or would you have to be a moron to not see that coming?
• Coach also rattled off an Of Mice and Men reference – of course in this analogy, Brandon is a mentally disabled person. I’m sure he loved that.
• The Duel – break down a crate into its planks, use the planks to assemble a bridge, and then find the appropriate planks to assemble a puzzle. Christine held the lead most of the way, but Mikayla caught up during the puzzle and seemed to have solved it, but made an error. Christine jumped at the opening and finished hers just in time to win yet again. Mikayla leaves in tears, joining the ranks of potentially great players who left early due to bad luck with the numbers.
• Christine, after Probst called her a growing legitimate force – “I’ve always been a legitimate force.” Mad props to Christine who is likely one very difficult win away from re-entering this game. I am sure this is not what the Show had in mind when they created RI, but it has created two growing Survivor legends – Matt and Christine.
• Love the return of the Coach Chi and the eagle sound effect. And now we get an “I’m not worthy, Father” chant from him, like Wayne and Garth meeting Alice Cooper.
• You knew something was up this week when the challenge started at the 21 minute mark – that’s a whole lotta time left.
• Cochran on himself – “Instead of sending a Trojan Horse, we’ll be sending the Court Jester.” HA!
• Rice on Cochran sticking around instead of Ozzy, and there possibly being another team challenge – “All of a sudden Dawn’s our third guy, and Cochran’s our fourth.” Ouch.
• One thing I don’t get – why lie to Christine? Ozzy told her that Cochran pulled the idol at tribal, thus sending Ozzy there. Why bother? She really doesn’t care except for gossip purposes. And if she survives to actually tell anyone the lie, it means that Ozzy is out and now Cochran is now in the minority and potentially a target. Even if he played the idol, they’d still be in the minority. It’s just an unnecessary lie to tell.
Votes – Ozzy 5 (Cochran, Rice, Keith, Whitney, Dawn), Cochran 1 (Ozzy)
Next week – Ozzy vs. Christine. And could there be a merge?
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