Pre-credit sequence. We pick right up after Tribal Council on a mighty awkward walk back to Te Tuna, particularly for Cochran, who gets pulled aside by Ozzy. Cochran tries explaining that he just didn’t want his fate determined by a stone, which Ozzy doesn’t particularly buy. Ozzy seems pretty chill to me, but Saintly Brandon comes over to protect Cochran from the The Bad Man. “We’re not gangsters over here, man,” Ozzy tells Brandon, before turning to Cochran and reminding him that “I put my ass on the line for you, directly and personally.” This isn’t exactly true, but Ozzy’s pretending to believe it’s true. “You just stabbed me in the back so hard,” Ozzy concludes, calling Cochran a “wiener.” Jim much more blunt, telling Cochran that he is “A poor excuse for a man,” advising him to never talk to him again. Whitney’s also displeased, telling Cochran and she and Keith saved him three times. “You’ve got a lot to learn, buddy. You disgust me,” Whitney says. Ouch. Cochran’s new alliance welcomes him around the fire, but he’s unsure of his position. And then we let Jimbo and Whitney swear a bit more about how much they hate Cochran. This is gonna be an obnoxious episode, isn’t it?
The Morning After. “We pulled off an amazing feat at Tribal Council last night,” Coach celebrates during his morning walk-and-pray. Coach thinks he’ll have a good shot if he’s not arrogant. So he’s dead, right? The new alliance asks Cochran who he wants out next and Cochran suggests Jim. “My total strategy is gone. I have nothing more I can do,” Ozzy says, vowing to “keep on winning, til there’s no one left.”
Spit or Swallow. This is very early for an Immunity challenge, isn’t it? They have to toss coconuts into a ring. The first four to put the coconuts in a ring have to crack the coconut and do an obstacle course, spitting coconut water into a glass. Dawn lands the first coconut, followed by Whitney, Jim and then Sophie. Farewell to Ozzy’s very brief unbeatable run and perhaps farewell to Ozzy. Suddenly Sofie is a force. When did this happen? She and Jim are neck-and-neck, with Dawn and Whitney barely factors. Jim nearly wins, but his coconut water comes up just short. Will Sofie’s last mouthful be enough? Tragically, Sophie can’t keep that last mouthful down. She has a reversal of fortune and Jim wins Immunity.
The Cowardly Lyin’. Brandon lays down the law, that it will be six votes against Ozzy. “How many changes do you get to vote him out of this game?” Brandon asks. “Apparently two,” Cochran laughs. Brandon stares dead-eyed. “Oh yeah,” he finally realizes. For his part, Ozzy goes to Coach and announces that he doesn’t want to go. “I don’t want you to leave, man,” Coach tells Ozzy, appreciating his rival’s newfound humility. Coach then quotes Marcus Aurelius, just in case we forgot who we were dealing with here. Dawn suddenly decides this might be the perfect time to flip. Too little, too late. Out in the water, Jim and Whitney share their hatred for Cochran. “I call a coward a coward, because that’s me. I’m not a coward,” Jim says. But he has a plan. Jim’s willing to take off his necklace, give it to Ozzy and make the case that the only person who betrayed their tribe this season is Cochran and that they should vote him out. For the good of a morally righteous society or something. “Everything’s pretty surreal to me right now,” Ozzy says. He stares out at a rainbow and vows never to give up.
Tribal Council. Hmmm… I don’t quite get the structure to this episode. But here we are with Jeff Probst lecturing the tribe on “big moves.” Cochran says that Jim was the loudest in their opposition to his move and Jim acknowledges that “I said some things that were immature.” Do we buy that, kids? “It was a personal decision. I viewed it as an opportunity to take control of my own fate,” Cochran says, making the case that there’s a reason why nobody’s pulled rocks since Season 4. Jim runs through the list of times that he’d saved Cochran (not untrue, in this case) and says that no member of the Upolu would let somebody else fight their battles for them. “I think the proof’s in the pudding,” Newly Heroic Brandon declares, also calling it “poetic justice.” “I feel like I’m being villainized,” Whitney says. Yes, honey. For good reason. Jim makes his speech, praising his own “warrior heart and a warrior soul.” He makes the argument that they can make a statement to all future “Survivor” players that this game can be played with integrity and without turncoats. Yes. It would also suck, dramatically. But Coach, to the rescue! Probst asks if he agrees with Jim’s theory on the message voting Cochran out would send and Coach replies, “I think that it would send a message to everybody that if you stick up for yourself you’re gonna get screwed and I’m not going to see that happen.” Go Coach! “When I’m at Redemption, I’m not feeding 11 people. I’m feeding myself,” Ozzy warns everybody, vowing revenge. “I’ll make you a nice fish and I’ll send you on your way,” Ozzy says of the Redemption Island reception they can vow. And Jim, man of his word, hands the Immunity Idol to Ozzy. Wait. No. “I’m gonna keep it for myself,” Jim says. I guess that’s why it’s an Immunity Idol, not an Integrity Idol.
The Vote. “I just really don’t like you,” Jim says, writing Cochran’s name down. Cochrane writes Ozzy’s name. Probst goes to tally the votes. Ozzy. Cochran. Ozzy. Cochran. Ozzy. Ozzy. Ozzy. And for the second time this season, Ozzy is out. “You guys fell for my master plan,” Ozzy says. [I’d forgotten that we had three people on Redemption Island post-Merge last season. That explains the pacing of this episode. Forgetful Dan! Sorry.] Ozzy is proud of the big risks he played. He arrives at Redemption Island and he and Keith share their hatred for Cochran. Hate: It’s what brings us together.
Sashimi. On Redemption Island, Ozzy immediately goes out fishing in the reef. We get some gorgeous underwater photography and Ozzy returns with a gigantic fish. Keither is mighty happy with his new chum. “I wish I was in the game, but I’m just as happy to be here,” Ozzy says. He ends with, “I wonder what they’re eating today.”
Time to eat the donuts. Wait. That’s supposed to be a hard cut to the Te Tuna tribe members eating rice and looking miserable and emaciated, right? That’s how reality TV grammar goes. Instead? It’s just time for another Immunity Challenge. Will it at least be an eating challenge? Nope. Players have to stand on a beam balancing a ball on a bow. There’s a twist, though. Players can sit the challenge out and feast on pastries and iced coffee. Whew. See? I knew there had to be food. Coach doesn’t even crack a smile. “I want to compete today,” Coach says. But… “We are a family and we stick together and we’re unified in our stance,” Coach says and, indeed, his alliance is unified in their decision to devour carbs and caffeine. Only Whitney, Jim and Dawn are completing for Immunity. Probst narrates portentously, taking time out only to chide Coach for his munching, crumbs and frosting dripping from his facial hair. Jim goes out grumbling, as Dawn vows to stay in, urging the others to stuff their faces. Whitney isn’t anywhere near that magnanimous. The challenge lasts longer than the pigs can eat at the trough. With no available vomitorium, Brandon’s eyes glaze (like a donut) and he rests his head on Cochran’s shoulder. Dawn makes a miraculous recover. Whitney says something snarky. Dawn wobbles. Whitney wins Immunity. Albert noticed how enthusiastically his team cheered for Dawn at the challenge and he’s worried.
The Ballad of the Rhino and the Serpent. Back at camp, Cochran is feeling puckish, dancing around in Coach’s blazer and Rick’s hat. “Cochran right now is playing the most brilliant third-place game in ‘Survivor’ history,” cracks Jim. He’s probably correct. But I don’t like Jim, so I refuse to laugh. Refuse! Jim pulls Albert and Sophie aside and draws diagrams in the sand to prove that voting Edna out of the game would be their best play. They nod appreciative, but Albert isn’t convinced in the slightest. Albert actually fears Dawn more than Jim, because she’s likable and she’s being social with his alliance. And that’s exactly what Dawn is trying to do. Albert makes his pitch to Sophie, who cautions that it’s too early to switch up the game. Coach compares Jim to a rhino, but he thinks Dawn is the serpent. “They can both kill you, but hopefully we’re going to send the right person home tonight,” Coach says, giving up his metaphor half-way.
Tribal Council, II. Coach agrees with Probst that Jim or Dawn is going home. Everybody goes through Jim and Dawn’s relative attributes. Dawn says that had the roles been reversed, Savaii would be picking off Upolus, but then she says that she probably wouldn’t have eaten the pastries. Uh-oh. If there’s anything Brandon hates, it’s hypocrisy, even if nothing Dawn said was actually the least bit hypocritical. “I don’t buy it,” Brandon says. Dawn and Brandon have an inane back-and-forth as the Upolus realize or remember that they’re in league with a crazy person. “I feel like we definitely have been vilified,” Whitney says, getting the words right this time and crying. “They don’t even accept us as real people,” Whitney says, taking exception to her portrayal as a bully. Sniff. Sniff. She’s like The Elephant Man. Only a hot, blonde woman.
The Vote, II. Probst goes to tally the votes. Edna. Edna. Edna. Jim Jim. Jim. Jim. Jim. And that’s it for Jim. Off to Redemption Island to share hatred for Cochran. “I’m sad. I think I played a great game,” Jim says, a bit confused by what “played a great game” means.
Bottom Line. If last week was “Survivor” at its best, this week was “Survivor” at its worst. Because of the Redemption Island requirements, we had to squish two weeks of eliminations into a single frenzied hour that left little time for characterization. And despite some half-hearted attempts to upset the apple cart, the majority alliance did exactly what you’re supposed to do in a position of post-Merge power and they picked off the two strongest members of the weakest alliance. And in the process of doing what you’re supposed to do, all of the members of the Upolu tribe managed to look like ginormous buffoons. Structurally, I think this episode was built to make one case: Dawn is the only remaining underdog in this game. So many members of Upolu are so hard to root for and most of the Savaiis have been pretty much portrayed as scum, whether or not they deserved to be. But that leaves Dawn. Cochran betrayed her last week also, betrayed her after she explicitly told him not to, but hers was the only post Tribal Council reaction we didn’t see. Yup. I’m feeling like the editors are steering us in a specific direction and since I don’t really love anybody this season, I guess we all might as well follow. No exit interview this week…
What’d you think of this week’s “Survivor” hour?