Pre-credit sequence. The Te Tuna tribe arrives back at camp after eliminating the last of the Savaii stragglers (unless you count Cochran). Coach warns that it’s time for his happy little cult (not his words) to begin devouring itself. Edna’s a little worried. Cochran’s a little more worried. “After surviving another night, I am aware that the family could turn on me at any moment,” Cochran says, even dropping a “Helter Skelter” reference.
Sophie’s Choice. Why is Cochran talking about his rambunctious period as a prank caller back in fifth grade? And why is he telling people jokes in which the punchline is “I want to trade sperm with you”? How could he think this is a good idea? It’s not. Sophie’s beginning to be annoyed by Cochran and she’s even started to sympathize with the people who bullied him. We get another Charles Manson reference from Cochran, as we watch the Te Tuna Prayer Circle, led by Brandon, who Cochran calls “obsessively devoted.” Cochran warns that he doesn’t want to be the Sharon Tate in this scenario and drink the poison Kool Aid. Way to mix up your cult metaphors, dude! So Cochran decides to call a Family Meeting, sitting everybody in a circle and reminding them of his sacrifice and requesting their indulgence for one week to repay that debt. He also plays the sympathy card by referencing his upcoming birthday. “I don’t feel indebted to you. Screw you,” Sophie says, saying Cochran should have stuck with his tribe. The speed with which Sophie has turned on Cochran is remarkable. Coach and Albert both feel like they owe Cochran that vote, but as we already know, Sophie disagrees.
If you tapas the small plates, they’re all fall down. Let’s send somebody home! Ozzy, Dawn and Whitney enter the Redemption Island Arena for a Duel. It’s the familiar challenge that involves stacking dishes on a wobbly arm. The last person left standing sticks around, while the two losers will be talking with me on the phone tomorrow morning. This isn’t an Ozzy-centric challenge, is it? The first Duelist to wobble is Dawn, who nearly blows her chance at the million on a yawn. Jeff Probst is impressed by an Ozzy recovery. The first out is Dawn, who swears in pixelated form. Probst spots some wobbling from Whitney and jumps all over it. Soon, Whitney’s self-conscious and Whitney’s tower topples. Ozzy survives. “That anything is possible,” is the lesson that Dawn has learned from this experience. She tells Jeff that she loves him and burns her buff. Whitney’s certain that her family and friends will be proud of her, so she’ll be proud of herself. Jeff Probst is practically glowing as he sends Ozzy back to Redemption Island. “I have to rely on myself winning, but that is what I do best and that’s the way that I want to win this game,” Ozzy says.
“Survivor” bought underwater cameras and DAMNED if we aren’t going to get value. Off to Redemption Island for some more underwater photography with Ozzy. Yes. We know. He’s a survivor. “This is my home, Redemption Island,” Ozzy says, repeating exactly what he said last episode at this exact position. Yes. We know. Nobody’s more suited for Redemption Island than Ozzy is. Blah. Mythologizing Ozzy. Blah blah.
Do you have Prince Albert in a can? BETTER LET THE POOR GUY OUT! Edna’s doing laundry. Albert’s not impressed. “The players in my alliance think that it’s not ‘Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.’ They think it’s ‘Outclean, Outgather, Outorganize,'” Oh snap! Albert’s been thinking that one up and memorizing it for exactly this moment for 28 days. In a hammock. Not working. For Albert, the game is about challenges, strategy and a social game, but he has no interest in “housework.” Out in the water, Brandon has caught a fish with fangs and Cochran is holding onto it with great trepidation. “I didn’t physically catch it, but I am physically holding it,” Cochran says accurately. Confusingly, Albert suddenly decides that he wants to help dry Edna’s laundry, though his interpretation of the chore leads to accidentally dousing the fire. Edna is irked. Coach is also unimpressed with the sheltered Albert. We’re crafting an alternate narrative here, as Edna and Rick giggle about Albert. Rick goes so far as to call Albert “precious” and “a little Barbie doll.” Heh. Rick calls him Prince Albert. After a pause, Edna goes to Coach and asks for confirmation that she’s next to go after Cochran. Coach doesn’t hesitate and agrees. “Why?” Edna asks plainly. This makes Edna feel like she’s low on the totem pole. Perhaps because she is. “Sixth or seventh is not acceptable for me,” Edna says, vowing to shake things up. “Keeping Edna and Cochran would be the best thing for me to do, because they’re never going to vote me out,” Coach muses. He reassures us that nothing is for sure in this game,
Coach E Chis. Cochran and Coach are out doing Early Morning Pretentious Yoga. Didn’t we see this last episode? Coach tells Cochran that this exercise is to center him, so that one of them can win Immunity. Coach may not grant Cochran immunity, but he’s willing to grant him hope and confidence. But “Coach Chi” has cleared Cochran’s mind and suddenly he’s convinced that the is, indeed, ready to go out and win something. For the first time in the game. Now, let’s go watch him lose. Quickly.
LCD: Lazy Challenge Design. Sophie relinquishes her Immunity necklace as we settle in for what Jeff Probst calls “‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Deja Vu” and I call “Reheated Leftovers, Challenge-Style.” It’s little bits and pieces from a couple other challenges, including beanbag tossing and slingshotting. Cochran doesn’t have a chance. They’re also playing for Reward, including a “Survivor” spa treatment. Advancing out of beanbags are Albert, Sophie and… Rick. RICK? Seriously? Anyway, Cochran just sucks at stuff. There’s no getting past that, is there? At the slingshots, they have to take out three targets, with Rick getting out to an early lead. Albert ties things up and nails his third target, winning Immunity and Reward. He gets to take one chum with him and Albert selects Coach. Albert asks Jeff if he can take a second person. Probst says no. Albert then asks if he can give up his Reward. Probst says it’s OK and Albert gives Cochran his massage as an early birthday present. Cochran isn’t sure if this was a sweet farewell gift or Albert’s attempt to curry favor with him. Mostly, this just feels like Albert realizing that a massage and a shower, without additional food and beverage, is a hollow reward.
No happy endings. It’s Shower-and-Massage Time for Cochran and Coach. It turns out that Cochran’s birthday was actually six months ago. Talk about a worthless lie, though the “island girls” massaging them are attractive enough. Coach vows to fight for Cochran’s life “with my last dying breath.” Coach also calls Cochran a warrior. Yeah, this is a weak reward. Not even a cookie and milk to go with the massage?
There is a tide in the affairs of men/ Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Upon returning to camp, a cleansed Cochran pulls Albert aside. Albert explains to Cochran that Coach is on-board to protect him, but only if it requires no effort or compromise on his part. It’s that time of episode again. Can we get a big move? Big move! Big move! Cochran tells Albert that Coach would turn on Rick, which makes Albert happy. Albert tells Cochran that if Coach is willing to vote out Rick, he’ll jump on that bandwagon as well. Also perfectly happy with this plan? Edna, who figures that this leapfrogs at least one person ahead of her in the elimination order. So Cochran goes to Coach and makes his anti-Rick pitch. But Coach wasn’t as happy to turn on Rick as Cochran hoped. Integrity causes Coach to squirm. “There is a tide that is coming. I either take it and go with a new alliance or stay with my first five,” Coach says, coming very close to properly quoting a little “Julius Caesar.”
Tribal Council. The Jury enters. Whitney has cleaned up very nicely and sits very close to Keith. Coach tells Jeff that from here, the possibilities are endless. “I’m sure it’s gonna fill the Jury with glee to discover that I’m probably in great danger tonight and I feel like an idiot kind of,” Cochran says. The Jury smiles in agreement. Then Cochran brings up The Debt again, speaking of what he’s “entitled” to. Albert agrees and Coach somewhat agrees, but neither agrees in any concrete way. Rick says his bag is packed, but he doesn’t want to go. Edna’s a bit emotional, figuring that if Cochran is seventh, she’s sixth. Edna claims she was deceived. Jeff Probst has a smart point, that probably Edna and Cochran should have found the people in fifth and fourth and worked on a deal. Brandon’s all about transparency: He tells everybody that there is black-and-white and he’s voting Cochran out now and Edna next Tribal. Coach has his patented, “There Goes Crazy Brandon” look. Probst is really sick of the predictable direction things are going and he goes to Coach and asks if Brandon’s rigidness is a concern, but he can only get Coach to call it “a blessing and a curse.” Head in his hands, Brandon cries about his human fallibility. “Talking strategy with Brandon is like talking to you about shirts that aren’t blue,” Cochran tells the azure-shirted Probst in what is clearly the line of the night. Even Jim laughs. Albert agrees with Cochran, but in his typically wishy-washy way. Sophie agrees and calls Brandon’s lack of strategy “unsettling,” but this doesn’t make her rethink anything. Probst practically throws his hands in the air in surrender. Cochran describes the possibility of going home as “extremely humiliating,” given his self-described status as a “Survivor” expert.
The Vote. Rick wishes Cochran a happy birthday, but writes his name down. Cochran and Edna both vote for Rick. Coach still has an Immunity Idol that hasn’t been mentioned for a long time, right? Anyway, Probst tallies the votes: Cochran. Rick. Rick. Cochran. Cochran. Cochran. And that’s it for Cochran. Yes, he’s just going to Redemption Island, so he could still return to the game. But let’s get real: Cochran can’t win anything. “I absolutely feel like Upolu used me,” Cochran says, admitting that his big move at the Merge was the wrong move, at least as things stand.
Bottom Line: It’s hard to make any argument that looks kindly on Cochran’s Big Move at this point, isn’t it? I guess he thought he had more security courtesy of Coach, but that wasn’t the case and nobody else really respected him all that much. He rolled the dice that he would be shown more respect by the tribe that hadn’t bullied him, rather than the tribe that had, while he really wasn’t. On his old tribe, people at least saw the wisdom of taking Cochran to the Top 3 as a chump, while nobody on Upolu felt similarly. Ooops. I can’t bring myself to feel any real sympathy, since in neither situation did Cochran have a gameplan that was going to get him a single jury vote and it’s almost impossible to think of any Redemption Island Duel that would favor Cochran, other than competitive sun-burning. Then again, Ozzy’s level of cockiness is through the roof, so maybe Cochran catches him in a moment of complacency? Dunno. Who would even be rooting for that anymore?
Bottom Line, II. Jeff Probst was trying to simultaneously earn his Emmy and save the steady crawl of this season tonight. Some Tribal Councils he subtly asks the questions that the castaways should be asking themselves, but tonight he was pelting one direct and challenging question after another trying to break the status quo. The problem is that while Cochran and Edna were willing to shake things up, there’s no incentive for the Top 5 to move. Rick serves no purpose and has been reticent to budge in the past. Albert doesn’t have a clue that nobody really respects him. Brandon’s a lunatic. Sophie’s stubborn to a fault. Coach has to be looking at the lay of the land thinking that the only way he loses this season is if Ozzy is able to come back and win the closing challenges to retake power, with a Jury weighed in his favor. The tease for next week made it look like Edna might be persuasive enough to throw doubt into the next vote, but I don’t believe it even for a second.
What’d you think of Wednesday’s episode? How are you feeling now about Cochran’s Big Move?