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Survivor: South Pacific – Ep 5 – Going Off The Rails On A Coch-Train

That’s right, I made an Ozzy Osbourne joke based on Ozzy’s vote at Tribal. Snark points for me.

It is time to officially say for Season 23…Game On. We have Jim Rice (he deserves the last name reference more than Cochran, so I am giving it to him from this point on) to thank for the official start of the Survivor game. The first big blindside and the first very aggressive move of the season goes to Rice, Cochran and Dawn. The budding of the new alliance last week took shape this week. I had questioned how they intended to succeed with three votes out of seven. Rice found a way to get it done, doing it in an old school Survivor way. He used someone’s own words against them.

It was simple enough. Upon returning from the duel, the Savaii spies gave the lowdown of Stacey’s information download of Upolu’s power structure. That is, of course, if you spoke Staceyese. I don’t, but more on that later. Ozzy quipped that if Albert was in fact Coach’s…um, Assistant Coach, that Coach should target him sooner rather than later. This is actually a bad idea at this stage, unless Albert had an idol or was threatening in any way. But regardless, it was an off-hand comment by Ozzy, which was a mistake.

Rice heard this and realized that Ozzy did the verbal equivalent of handing him a loaded gun. He went to Keith and said, if Ozzy thinks Coach should do this, doesn’t it lend to reason that he is thinking about doing the exact same thing? And who is Ozzy’s Albert? That’s right, Keith. Hmmm. Brilliant move by Rice on this one.

They could have gone all-in and voted out Ozzy, but they chose not to. I am a bit torn on that because of Ozzy’s idol. I can see why they would want to keep him due to his challenge skills and fishing talents. That makes sense. I can also see the logic of getting him now when he was not ready for it. He would have been on Redemption Island facing off against Christine next week. As it is now, Ozzy is on alert. He knows his alliance dumped him and he has an idol in his pocket. The previews for next week show Ozzy declaring himself to be a free agent. Not sure of the context there, but Ozzy has never had to deal with this while still in the game. The closest was when Candice and Jonathan mutinied, but that actually helped him. He was probably next to go that season if they had stuck around.

It makes the next vote, should they have to vote, very tricky. Ozzy can play his idol and take someone out if they load up on votes to him. The problem is, they don’t have a second target to split with now.

Perhaps it was the other aspect of this vote that may play in to their needs. Keith was hesitant to cast his vote against Ozzy, since they made a pact on Day One. However, we did learn that Keith and Whitney are much closer than anyone really knew, as he instantly went to her with this news. The strange choice they made was to essentially toss their vote aside instead of siding with Ozzy or siding with Rice. A very strange choice, indeed. Keith’s intention was to not make Ozzy an enemy, but by throwing those two votes at Dawn, they guaranteed that Elyse would be sent home and Ozzy would know that no one other than he and Elyse voted for Cochran. Clearly, he knows Keith was against him.

Furthermore, Rice knows that Keith and Whitney are not fully behind him. This tribe essentially split into three factions – Rice’s Three, Keith’s Two and Ozzy. This potentially makes things difficult in the next vote should Savaii lose. Ozzy threatens his idol – who do they vote for? Here is my suggestion for Rice. Let’s assume that Ozzy puts his vote on Rice for revenge. That means Rice needs to find someone else to get a vote or two if he wants to go after Ozzy. He needs to backstab someone. I suggest that he tells Cochran and Dawn to vote for Whitney, and he tells Keith and Whitney that they should go after Ozzy. If Ozzy doesn’t play the idol, he is out. If he does, Whitney goes. The only wild card is if Ozzy either gets wind of it and joins in on the Whitney vote, or if he randomly selects the right one to vote for. Either way, the next Savaii vote could be really, really messy.

Now for a few words about Upolu before we get into the two great challenges. I know I have harped on Coach this season, but it just bears repeating. What have they done with Benjamin Wade, and who is this pod person they have put in his place? Because Coach 3.0 rocks. Coach 1.0 was clueless, pathetic and ripe for mockery. Coach 2.0 was cute, desperate and a little bit sad. Coach 3.0 seems to have gone to Survivor training school or something. Because he is doing everything right and doing it with a winning attitude. We have not heard a single outrageous story, and we have yet to see a truly bad piece of strategy. In fact, Coach’s blunder in HvV, where he voted for Courtney and doomed Boston Rob, was repeated by Keith/Whitney.

This Coach has gone from the outcast of his tribe starting at Minute One of Day One, to being the center of his tribe’s core alliance. It is a testament to Coach that with seven people left, everyone seems to think they are safe. To be honest, can any of you predict who Upolu will vote for next? Brandon could be next if he keeps falling apart and crying. Edna and her 80 pounds could be next because of her lack of strength. Mikayla could be next because she seems to be on the outskirts of the group. Or it could be one of the core. I really can’t predict. That’s a tight tribe.

And now Coach has an idol. Make no mistake, it is his idol. Possession is 10/10ths of the law in Survivor and it is in his pocket. It is now going to be a challenge for him to keep Albert and Sophie close enough that they think it is theirs as well so they don’t turn on him. Based on his standing in the tribe and the idol, I find it hard to envision a future where Coach is not going deep into the season. The only thing that could hurt him is if they lose the next couple of challenges and go into the merge behind Savaii in numbers (or close enough where a mutinous Christine joins Savaii).

Because thanks to Stacey and Christine, Savaii knows that Coach is the leader. And as Coach rightfully said, they now will target him at the merge. Just like with Boston Rob, those first couple of merge votes will be key for Coach.

Who would have thought that Coach, not Ozzy, would be in the best position after the first 17 days?

The two challenges were great, even if they were returning challenges. The duel between Christine and Stacey was a repeat of the ball challenge (if I recall, that was the Final Three challenge in Tocachins) where you put a ball in a winding track and catch it on the way out. Repeat, and add more balls in stages. The first one to drop a ball loses. This challenge is all about concentration – something very difficult to do on Survivor. Christine was in a zone, and actually almost dropped the ball twice. Stacey was not. In fact, she kept putting the next ball in too early, thus making it more difficult. As Albert muttered while watching, it was just a matter of time.

This makes three in a row for Christine as she starts to enter Matt Territory. As you know, I was not a huge fan of hers. She was not really playing an effective game at first, and was kind of annoying when she opened her mouth. However, got to give her mad props for making the most of the Redemption Island twist. It will be a challenge for her if she makes it back into the game, as Matt found out. Does she flip, or does she return to Upolu? That is tough.
I’m not even going to try and translate what Stacey said at the duel – I don’t speak gibberish. It had something to do with Halloween and Chuck E Cheese. It seriously did. I was able to make out her unloading of Upolu hierarchy to Savaii, which is something that can help them come merge time. I will not miss Stacey. She was unpleasant to watch on TV, and her inability to speak made it impossible to follow her.

Lastly, the main challenge. They have done the giant slab of meat challenge before – I think once in Fiji. Tribes have their hands tied behind their backs, and they have to rip off hunks of meat from a giant slab of pork with their mouths and spit it out into a plate. The tribe who gathers the most meat in 10 minutes wins immunity, spices, veggies, bread and a new hidden clue. What made this version even grosser – the slathering of some sauce on the meat, and the spit cam. In what could finally earn the show an Emmy, they placed a camera to give is a POV of the bowl. Gross. And awesome.

The challenge was insanely gross. I am really gross. Spitting out sauce covered meat. Yum. At times, some of the cooked flesh was stuck in their teeth, and others had to come over and pull it out with own mouth. Yikes. I wouldn’t even do that with a loved one! The incredible part – and it was teased during the Previously when Probst remembered how Upolu won the first challenge by one coconut – is that Upolu won be two ounces. Essentially…one extra bite. Wow. The part that I go back to was when Rick dropped a hunk of pork on the ground and elected to not go back and pick it up. Mikayla chose to bend down and grab up the meat that he dropped. That bite won them the challenge.

Incredible.

I must admit, and this is despite my Boston Rob man-crush, that this incarnation of Redemption Island has been infinitely more entertaining than last season. And I really did not see that coming. The difference is that Rob just so massively dominated the season that it became boring at times. No one was in his league. This season, Coach and Ozzy were never social game experts, which makes them less formidable. Ozzy’s physical expertise can only go so far. The supporting cast this season has more game than last season. There was no Rice last year. There was no Sophie. Heck, there wasn’t even a Cochran. This season is shaping up to be the best season since Heroes vs. Villains, and perhaps the best since Micronesia. I am looking forward to next week.

Treemail Top 10
• I was laughing when Stacey said that she would tell Savaii the truth about Coach dominating the tribe. Why? Because if any of them had ever seen Coach in action, they would not have believed her one bit!
• Thank you Show for not giving me another Hantz-based episode. All we got was yet another crying fit and another Mikayla rant from him. And the interesting knowledge that Brandon is actually quite a good cook.
• Coach’s parents call him Coach? He’s been called Coach since he was 18? Who calls someone Coach at 18? Who was he coaching? How did this happen? I am fascinated. And Coach, regarding the Benjamin Factor. Do I need to break out the “lighten up. Francis” quote again?
• Albert thinks that Savaii now sees him as a threat thanks to Stacey’s gibberish. Um, hey baseball coach guy, I am pretty sure they saw you as a threat already.
• How cute was Coach’s glee after finding the idol? “Gotta get a hold of myself. Dragon Slayer, get back in there…” Heh.
• Cochran went to do underwater yoga, er, I mean fishing with Ozzy, even though he brought “zero experience, zero ability and zero confidence.” Heh. He also called Ozzy, “Mowgliesque.” Double heh!!
• Probstisms during the meat challenge – “Coach’s face – covered in sauce!” “Dawn with a big hunk of meat!” “Coach gnawing on something huge!!” “Dawn is gonna pull it out!” “Rick with a huge piece of meat.” Yes, I am a juvenile.
• How about this meat challenge producing tons of injuries? Dawn lost the back of her molars, Ozzy dislocated his jaw, and tons of other mouth and face injuries. Cochran also grossed everyone out by saying they may all have herpes. What most folks don’t realize, any mouth sore is officially a herpes diagnosis. It’s not herpes herpes, but it is herpes nonetheless. I remember making that joke to my mom when I had a mouth sore years ago. Interestingly, mothers don’t like phone calls where you say, “Guess what, Mom, I have herpes.” The irony and word play is lost on them.
• Rick and Whitney are both getting the Brett and Purple Kelly edits. I just don’t see much from either one down the road.
• Tribal Council was all about Cochran. Elyse said that she felt for him because everyone has been picked last for soccer. Which was so friggin condescending that I did not have one bit of sympathy when her face dropped during the blindside. Cochran joked that he was never in the position to actually play soccer. To me, as a former last to be picked for soccer, someone like Elyse really can never understand what it is like to be that guy. So shut up about it, people like her and Ozzy were the ones doing the picking, or lack there of. Shut. Up.

Votes – Elyse 3 (Cochran, Rice, Dawn), Cochran…or Coch-train as Ozzy wrote 2 (Ozzy, Elyse), Dawn 2 (Keith, Whitney).

Next week – Ozzy is a free agent, as the fallout begins.

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