So when CBS spent seven days relentlessly promoting this week’s “new” episode of of “Survivor: Pearl Island,” eventually it infiltrated my brain.
Even though I knew that the pre-Thanksgiving episode of “Survivor” (or the Thanksgiving episode before the shift to Wednesday) is always a clip show, I somehow convinced myself that I would glean copious insights from everything “new” in the episode and that I would be able to use those insights in future recaps and “Survivor” exit interviews. It would be just like that season I watched all of the Ponderosa videos on the “Survivor” website, when surely all of those post-eviction weigh-ins and grotesque peanut butter pig-outs left me with ample wisdom. Right?
Honestly, I watched the Ponderosa episodes in the “Heroes vs. Villains” season because I couldn’t bring myself to say farewell to Amanda Kimmel.
I haven’t watched since.
And I won’t watch another “Survivor” clip show ever again. It turns out that for the most part, “Survivor” editors put great effort into attempting to craft the season’s storylines and if material didn’t make the final cut, it was left out for a reason.
“For the most part.”
There were still some precious kernels to be gleaned from the clip show.
Yes, that’s an overstatement of the word “precious.” It’s possibly even an overstatement of the word “kernel.”
Click through for the bullet-point highlights… It’ll be just like you wasted the hour, too!
*** Coach was the winner of the clip show. It was only last week that other players started referring to Coach’s Cult in the same way they talked about Boston Rob’s Army last season, but it had already been clear that Coach’s job handling Brandon, to keep his alliance together up to the Merge, and then handling Cochran, to make the big move after the Merge, were unquestionably the key moves in the game this season. Coach was all sizzle and no steak in his first two “Survivor” seasons, but he’s currently the player most deserving of the “South Pacific” crown. That’s “currently.” I can imagine Sophie or Cochran making a few plays that could move them up the “deserving” charts before the Jury vote.
*** The best of the deleted scenes featured Coach examining the sleeping habits of the Savaii tribe and immediately recognizing that Cochran was the outcast most likely to flip. Coach then took Cochran out into the jungle and gave him a lecture on Greek mythology, comparing every member of the merged tribe to a mythological figure, with Ozzy as Narcissus, Whitney is Erato, Edna is Echo and Cochran as Hercules. Is it any surprise that Cochran was like putty in Coach’s hands? Coach compared him to Hercules and let him ear his Coach Blazer. What more could a little nerd possibly hope for? Never one for humility, Coach made himself Zeus.
*** Cochran knows a lot, but he doesn’t know his mythology. It was Zeus’ father, Cronus, who swallowed his children, fearing that they would one day usurp him. Zeus wasn’t swallowed because his mom substituted a rock, which Cronos swallowed instead. Hilarity and usurpation ensued. Granted that Zeus ate Athena’s mother and then Athena was birthed from his head fully formed. But if you’re thinking of the Greek mythological figure most prone to child-eating, that would be Cronus, not Zeus. And Coach did not compare himself to Cronus, because that would have been weird, even by Coach’s standards.
*** So Coach was the hero of the clip show, which makes Ozzy the villain, or at least the putz with the Fabio hair. And we saw a shift in Ozzy perception through Coach’s eyes. Early on, we saw Coach announcing that frankly given the choice of having Benjamin Wade or Ozzy on his tribe, “I’d rather have Ozzy on my tribe. Absolutely. I’m not a great survivor.” But by the time we reached the Merge, Coach looked at the disorganized tribe Ozzy had led and he was entirely contemptuous, observing, “Just because you’re a beach bum and you can sleep on the sand, because you’ve been doing it your whole life, doesn’t mean that you subject your tribe to the same sort of punishment.” And in the ultimate kiss-off, Coach said of his fellow all-star, “No wonder you’ve never won ‘Survivor.’ Now wonder you’re always blindsided. Because you’re a friggin’ idiot.” ZING! One of the clips CBS kept using to tease the show was Ozzy pledging his Final Two troth to Coach, but that was just Ozzy lying and Coach mocking Ozzy, aware that he had Cochran ready to flip.
*** Poor Cochran, Part I. The scene with Papa Bear — Anybody remembering Papa Bear? — teaching Cochran how to flirt and then Whitney mocking Cochran’s failed attempts to demonstrate his seduction technique was tragic.
*** Poor Cochran, Part II. The scene with Cochran telling the lovely Elyse — not featured nearly enough in her short “Survivor” run — the story of soiling himself during nap time in kindergarden was also tragic, especially in light of Cochran’s clear crush on Elyse.
*** Poor Cochran, Part III. So we start the clip show with Cochrane talking about himself as an animal rights/PETA kinda guy. Then we see Ozzy ordering Cochran to participate in the slaughter of one of their chickens and then mocking Cochran’s refusal to look down at the butchery. Sorry to Jim and Keith who insisted in their exit interview that no bullying went on. Sorry to the few commenters who have insisted that no bullying went on. What we saw on the clip show was very clear bullying and it was just one of several examples in the new clips. Good on Cochran for flipping.
*** Poor Cochran, Part IV. Having to curl on the edge of a sleeping shelter to avoid being consumed by the canoodling of your fellow castaways? That just sucks. And speaking of…
*** Guess what? Whitney and Keith were a couple! I know. You’re shocked, right? Totally! Well, the editors decided they didn’t want to show that relationship in the actual season, perhaps because Whitney had a husband, but on the clip show? Fair play for televised infidelities, I guess. We saw lots of flirting and cuddling and goo-goo eyes and if Cochran is to be believed, even more than that. “I know exactly what was going on between Keith and Whitney in the bungalow. I just don’t know if nine months from now, we’re going to discover the product of this relationship,” Cochran said. Ew. Nasty, nasty island sex.
*** Coach didn’t come across entirely heroically. The sequence with Coach getting outraged because Mikayla took two scoops of sugar with her coffee to nurse a pork hangover and responding by frying up rancid pork fat and eating it and retching just to turn Mikayla’s stomach was pure psychological warfare. How very like a cult leader, right?
*** Albert also didn’t come across well, with Sophie mocking him by saying “Sometimes I think he wants to make a big move just for the hell of it.” Albert made one of two attempts to oust Brandon, with the other coming from Edna and Rick of all people.
*** With the editors using all of Brandon’s “crazy” footage already, he wasn’t an important figure in this episode. He got a little bit of credit as a provider, but then he was also mocked in a long scene focusing on the escape of one of the merged tribe’s chickens. It turns out that if you’re trying to grasp and kill a chicken, you don’t hold it by its feathers. And it also turns out that if you’re Rick, you think one way to look cool is to stretch out a chicken’s neck and just bite it.
*** Rick, Whitney and Elyse all got more exposure in this episode than in the rest of the season combined. Stacey and Semhar may not have appeared in the clip show for a combined second and they definitely didn’t speak. Remember them?
*** Ozzy twitches when he sleeps.
*** Keith likes talking in sports metaphors.
And, of course, the No.1 thing I learned from the “Survivor: South Pacific” clip show: I should never watch “Survivor” clip shows.
Did you watch? Did you learn anything new?