Full disclosure – I am laid up right now on the sofa filled to the top with antibiotics and painkillers thanks to a freakishly painful ear infection which makes my head feel like it is about to explode. And yes, I have an ear infection (second time in the last three years), so apparently I am actually nine years old. So, I ask forgiveness if this week’s column(s) are off because I am actually unsure if I am actually typing in English, German, Cardassian or Kardashian.
Thankfully, this episode of Survivor was less of an actually episode and more of just a vehicle to move the narrative along. Double eliminations are often like that – it’s an episode jam packed with challenges and Tribal Councils. And more often than not, these episodes are eliminations, which are not very dramatic at all. Once Ozzy lost the first challenge, did anyone really think Rice was going to give him immunity? Because if he did, that would be Micronesia Erik levels of stupidity. And when Rice lost immunity, did anyone really think the tribe was going to take out Dawn? Right, nobody.
So in an episode with no drama, you have to find little things to grasp on to for entertainment. For me it was the following:
Albert and Sophie are in trouble. Not right away, but the writing is on the wall. Obviously, right now Dawn and Whitney are next in line to get voted out to set up the Upolu+Cochran Final Seven. However, what happens at that seven? Well, based on what we are seeing unfold, it does not bode well for these two, because where do the others have their loyalty? With Coach. Edna sure does. Brandon and Coach have a spiritual thing going. Cochran is under his wing. Rick sided with him in the Mikayla vote. Unless someone shakes things up, that’s your Final Five.
It is more of testament to Coach’s improved game play. He is essentially playing Boston Rob’s All-Stars game, minus the hookup. In All-Stars, forgotten in the whole Romber romance, was that Rob had made alliances with everyone. He eventually had to sever ties with some of them and pick the alliances he was willing to go to the end with. Coach is going to have the same decisions to make. I think Albert and Sophie go first. Then he needs to figure out whom to go to the end with – two votes he trusts won’t turn on him, and that he thinks he can beat. In addition, factor in the returning RI member.
If we match last season’s format, we will cut down to Final Four and bring back the RI person. If Coach decides to go with Cochran and Edna – his best chance to win – all of a sudden he has greatly limited the allies who can win immunity against the RI returnee (likely a Savaii guy). If he links with Albert and Sophie, he doubles down on stifling any Savaii surprises, but he severely hurts his own chances. And the immunity idol becomes an interesting issue – Coach possesses it, but the entire tribe thinks they have a claim to it, especially Sophie and Albert.
My prediction (and obviously I can’t predict immunity) – Whitney, then Dawn. Next is Albert and then Sophie. Then Rick. Coach knows that Brandon has annoyed many, and Cochran has betrayed the jury, and Edna will be viewed as a coattail rider. I am starting to think that Coach might actually win this thing – and that is just bizarre.
Compete or not to compete? The second immunity challenge presented us with a long-standing Survivor tradition of the challenge vs. feast choice. I have always been a proponent of competing in the challenge no matter what. Immunity is the most valuable thing in the game of Survivor. This time, I have decided to try and listen to the other side of the argument. One point is that the full bellies will help the “safe” Survivors more down the road. I can see that – but my only comeback is that how many times have these “safe” Survivors been turned on? And in this challenge, it was all pastries and other carbs. If it were proteins, that would be different, but not this stuff.
The better argument is the social argument. If you are in an alliance of seven and the others were sitting it out, would you compete? It could be seen by the others that you were not confident in your alliance and that could put you at the bottom. The peer pressure theory, if you will.
I think the best way to handle this scenario is to say to the tribe – feel free to eat, I volunteer to compete to try and keep immunity out of their hands so we vote out the strongest threat.
In this episode, only the Savaii members competed, meaning only three people took part in the challenge. Dawn used it as an opportunity to kiss up to the power players – saying she would compete as long as she could to let them eat more. I wasn’t positive, but it was almost as if she was doing it tongue-in-cheek. But I don’t think Dawn is that madcap. Albert had red flags go up about Dawn’s likability, and hopefully, for his sake, those flags stay up so he may see the real danger coming his way.
Probst lied. In pre-season interviews, Probst said that we would be having duels. Not truels or quadruels. Or at least that’s what I remember. Maybe the codeine is making me imagine things. Anyway, all of a sudden we have three guys on Redemption Island right now. That sounds like a truel to me. I am hopeful that the truel will send two of them out of the game and on to the jury, instead of the model from last season where mediocrity was rewarded.
I will say that if this truel is a physical challenge, it could wind up being epic. Ozzy is arguably the best physical Survivor ever. However, Rice and Keith are not exactly, well, Cochran. If Ozzy is to be knocked out of the game before the re-entry, this is the best chance to do it. Because if Ozzy survives this one, he then gets Dawn and Whitney, and barring a fluke, will find himself a couple of challenges away from re-entry. I admit to not being an Ozzy fan, and not rooting for him this season, but it would be one hell of an accomplishment if he manages to make it to the end this way.
My favorite moment – Cochran strutting around wearing Rick’s hat and Coach’s jacket. The man sure feels comfortable now, doesn’t he?
Treemail Top 10
• I am hopeful that Rice and Whitney are embarrassed by the post-Tribal footage from this episode. The funny part is that the more they are obnoxious to him the more they prove his point. Those night vision scenes were cringe-worthy, perhaps the worst in the history of the show. Cochran was called some awful names and Whitney got right up in his grill to say he disgusted her. The best part was Brandon embracing his role as bodyguard by making sure Ozzy was not being “aggressive” with him. Ozzy laughed it off and said they weren’t gangsters – and to be honest, Ozzy was not being as aggressive, or passive aggressive as Rice or Whitney. Cochran made it clear – and I talked about ad nauseum last week – he did not want to draw that rock and get eliminated randomly from the show he has obsessed about for 11 years.
• What is at the core of their pain is that they saved Cochran from the vote a few times, and now they will all be Pagonged as a result. You get two choices for reaction – take it a game play move, or take it as a personal affront. Be classy, or be what we saw this week. Sad they chose the path they did.
• Challenge #1 – Meh. The first part was tossing a coconut into a hole. Really. Then the four qualifiers would open up coconuts, suck up the water, cross an obstacle course, and spit it out into a tube. The minute Ozzy failed to properly toss the coconut (euphemism?) the mystery was gone. Rice, Whitney, Sophie and Dawn made the second round, with Rice and Sophie the only two who were able to do it properly. The best part was as Sophie made her way to victory, she just couldn’t hold it anymore. I kept thinking about Wayne Campbell – “She’s gonna hurl!!” She did, and Rice won.
• Anyone who thought Rice was giving Ozzy that necklace, well, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.
• One of the best lines – Brandon – “How many chances to we get to vote him (Ozzy) out?” Cochran – “Apparently two.” Heh.
• How about that one Ozzy and Coach scene as Ozzy tried to plea for his life. Coach confessed to us that it was a big difference from the day before when Savaii had the advantage. To me, this was the DeNiro/Pacino Heat moment of the season. It was something that was needed badly this season, just like that film, to have to the two stars have their moment.
• Great shot of Ozzy looking out at the horizon and seeing the rainbow. Would be even better if it was a double rainbow.
• Another great Coach moment, at first Tribal after Rice laid out his argument that Cochran’s move should not be rewarded. And that Survivor honesty should be rewarded instead. Which, of course, is bull. Coach said that this was wrong. Future Survivor seasons would not see it as a validation of honor, they would see it as punishment for standing up for yourself. Nice smackdown of that argument, although I would clarify that it is not exactly that. Cochran didn’t just stand up for himself, that was a byproduct. What he did was take control of his fate. For right or wrong, that is what he did. Maybe Rice is right – Cochran is playing a great third place game. Well, was he going to win if he stayed with Savaii? If he gets to the end with Edna and Brandon – are you telling me he can’t win that vote?
• Ozzy is proving one thing – he is the best physical player ever. That gigantic fish he caught on Redemption Island? Impressive. He is going to be well-fed while over there, and pretty rested. If only the man had a social game.
• Challenge #2 – stand on an increasingly narrow plank, and balance a ball on a curved stick. Whitney won, as the smaller you are the better you are at these balance challenges. The rest feasted on pastries. The highlight, or lowlight, was Edna feeding Rick. I may never purge that image from my mind.
Vote 1 – Ozzy 9 (Coach, Albert, Sophie, Brandon, Edna, Rick, Cochran, Dawn, Whitney), Cochran 2 (Ozzy, Rice). Although, based on the blurred vote, not sure if Ozzy didn’t embellish the “Coc” vote that we saw.
Vote 2 – Rice 7 (Coach, Albert, Sophie, Brandon, Edna, Rick, Cochran), Edna 3 (Rice, Whitney, Dawn)
Next week – Hopefully no illness for me. Plus, Albert may start getting a clue about his situation. And Ozzy stands on top of a tree.