Sorry for the delay in posting this week – I know, broken record – but this time it wasn’t just busy work schedule or massive procrastination. Well, it was the holidays and the inability to get to the hotel room in time to watch it. Man, I am just lost without my DVR. I am also just going to copy and paste this apology in my Top Chef column to come later on. I must say, what was Bravo thinking by airing a brand new episode the day before Thanksgiving when loyal bloggers were holed up in hotel rooms in Pittsburgh?
Anyway, the recap Survivor episode used to be massively useless until – I think – Tocantins when they started airing unused footage. Most of the time, the footage was unaired for a reason, but for Survivor fans it is still heaps of fun to watch. I also would like to believe that clues have been included to foreshadow the upcoming endgame. So, I will just discuss a bit about what I read into and then we’ll just do an expanded Treemail section of fun bits.
Probst said it in the intro, but the theme of the season so far has been very evenly matched tribes that have resulted in Coach being in full control of the game. A lot of seasons have been like that – including the classic first season, which people tend to forget. Pagong and Tagi were evenly matched at the merge, but Pagong failed to understand the game and kept its infighting going while the first alliance in Survivor history of Rich/Rudy/Sue/Kelly took over. The second season was also rather close, turning on Skupin’s fire injury and Colby’s deception at the merge vote.
This season turned on Cochran’s decision to revolt. This week we got to see more examples of why he chose to do so. Specifically, the scene where Ozzy wanted Cochran to hold down the chicken before they killed it. Clearly, Cochran was uncomfortable, and as Dawn said, Ozzy liked to put him in those positions where he could be the object of ridicule. Rice had commented in some of his post-booting interviews that everyone in Savaii was planning on taking Cochran to the finals, and thus his flipping was a mistake. My question is – did Cochran know that? And if so, did he understand why? If he was the nerd of the room, that everyone either made fun of or talked down to, and for whom humor was the only way of coping, then I think vast majorities of people understand the dynamic. They felt they could dominate and use him and thus took advantage of him. If they made him slaughter chickens because it was funny, then they deserved the Pagonging they received.
We saw Coach coaching from the first day and in this recap episode we got to see some of the old Coach. What I mean by that is control freak Coach and obsessed with leadership Coach. He was upset with Mikayla for taking extra sugar in her coffee. When did this become a Survivor issue? Remember when tribes got a machete and flint and had to fend for themselves? Anyway, he was so pissed he voluntarily cooked up seemingly rancid pork fat and ate some just to make Mikayla’s already queasy stomach retch. That’s some hard-core pettiness.
I did like how after praising Ozzy’s Survivor skills early on, claiming that he’d rather have Ozzy on his tribe than himself, he later turned on his counterpart. Upon watching Ozzy’s skills up close, Coach was not impressed. He angrily lashed out in his confessional that Ozzy can be a beach bum all he wants but he is subjecting his tribe to his bad habits. He sleeps in the sand in the bugs. That’s not leadership, says Coach.
In Tocantins and HvV, Coach never really led a tribe. This was his first crack at it and he has Boston Robbed it. Ozzy has had multiple cracks at it and it’s been wacky. On Cook Islands, the Latino tribe was fractured, and after the first tribal swap he was in the periphery. After the mutiny, he was not leading the tribe, he was just the provider. He led the Micronesia alliance until it turned on him. And here in Savaii, he led, but it was a very fractured tribe. Coach was able to see it immediately in the sleeping arrangements.
Oh, and speaking of the arrangements…if Keith and Whitney thought no one realized they were a couple, they are dumber than I thought. And despite Cochran’s jokes about the Survivor baby, we can be rest assured that there was no physical action going on. If there were, we would have seen it. Remember, we saw Rob and Amber’s first kiss on camera. I am kind of dreading the Ponderosa video after Whitney inevitably winds up over there. And again, if I were Cochran and forced to sleep with the giggling adulterers I would probably switch tribes too.
But the one thing that I am going to latch onto from this episode was Brandon Hantz. I think this young man is going to be the key to the end of the season. The moment that stood out to me was this moment – Brandon said that he was going to play with Coach because Coach played a loyal game twice and had to trust him. Brandon wants to be known as an honest player, and that he gave Coach “his word as a man of God.” We got lots of other Brandon footage – of him failing to fish as well as Ozzy, and of him losing the chicken they wanted to eat, and then killing the one they wanted to save.
This means to me that Brandon is going to be huge. The Coach/Brandon dynamic is going to be a big deal. Coach is going to have to decide if he wants to go to the end with a group including Brandon or not. These scenes made me believe that the Brandon thing is going to be coming to a head shortly and will determine who will be sitting in the end of the game. Personally, I think the scenes meant that Coach is going to turn on Brandon and that Brandon is going to be very, very nasty about it.