Pre-credit sequence. “You just witnessed ‘Survivor’ history,” Cochran celebrates as Team Formerly Ozzy returns to camp. Nobody else is nearly as excited by Ozzy’s gamble and they’re all sitting around the fire rationalizing their decision. Keith is especially grumbling, grunting something about how he doesn’t live his life with other people fighting his battles, as if what Ozzy had done was all about Cochran, rather than Ozzy’s own bloated sense of self-worth. “Prepared to be the villain?” Keith asks. Cochran, intrigued by the chance to play a double-agent, insists he is and he’s so ready to be the bad guy that he paraphrases “Scarface.” “First you get the egomaniac returning player voted out. Then you get his Idol. Then you get the million dollars,” Cochrane says, not even bothering with a subpar Pacino.
Full recap of Wednesday’s (November 2) “Survivor” after the break…
Redemption Island deja vu. It’s Night 18 and we get our second shot at Ozzy’s less-than-triumphant arrival at Redemption Island. Christine is tired and confused, but we already saw all this happen at the end of last week’s episode, didn’t we? Ozzy spins his yarn and Christine nods politely. “I think she bought it,” Ozzy says hopefully, before misusing “ironic” and hamming it up like a maniac. “The move is probably either the stupidest thing I could have done, or the craziest, ballsiest thing I could have ever thought of doing,” Ozzy says, at least half correctly.
Let’s stick together. Let’s go straight to the Duel. And in a telling sign, both teams are at the Duel in their entirety. Ozzy goes on an anti-Cochran rant, wildly overplaying his hand, even tossing in a “tribal boundaries, we’re at the Merge, they don’t exist anymore” grace note. Ozzy is not a subtle actor. “I don’t buy it,” Albert says. “I thrive on the pressure to come back in the game… for REVENGE,” Ozzy raves, saluting ABC’s 10 p.m. Wednesday drama. It’s the exact same Duel we saw last season at around this point, where players have to put together long sticks and use them to collect keys. And guess what? The winner’s coming back into the game. This is not the kind of challenge Ozzy was hoping for here, one that rewards absolutely nothing that he’s good at. Both Duelists struggle early, but Ozzy successfully secures the first key. Suddenly, Ozzy’s on a roll and he has the second key, too. And then the third. This Duel was a total rout. Ozzy wins and his idiotic move from last week is suddenly a brilliant move. Christine is out of the game and Cochran puts great effort into looking miserable. Everybody is appreciative of Christine’s Redemption Island run and she’s graceful in departure. And… MERGE! Now, it’s all up to Cochran to pull off his piece of this scheme.
The line must be drawn here. This far and no further! The newly unified Team OzzyCoach celebrates the Merge with the usual amenities and getting-to-know-you chatter and feasting. It’s six-on-six and Coach immediately sits with Cochran. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bad-mouthing my tribe, but the way that they treat me is horrible,” Cochran tells Coach, instantly targeting Keith as his worst tormentor. “I feel like you guys are trying to play us,” Coach says, precisely picking apart each and every piece of Team Ozzy’s plan, predicting that we could come down to a rock-pull at Tribal Council. This is a weird return to the sane and reasonable Coach of the season’s early episodes. BUT… Coach tells Cochran that he knows what it feels like be intellectually superior and surrounded by dolts and he’ll give him a chance to rise up. “There’s a line in the sand… come across that line,” Coach tells Cochran, who has suddenly come to respect Coach, literally drawing said line in said sand. And with that respect, Cochran goes and tells the Team Coach Alliance about Ozzy’s Dream and the whole plot, including his assignment to gather information. “I consider myself a strategist and maybe even a mastermind, but not an evil mastermind,” says Cochran, who returns the Idol to Ozzy, as agreed. “I am the person, right now, who gets to decide how ‘Survivor: South Pacific’ takes shape and possibly ends,” Cochran reflects.
Dawn breaks. AGAIN. Cochran and Dawn go out walking and Dawn tells Cochran that she’s not feeling all that much loyalty to the tribe. With a game-changing swap ahead, Dawn breaks into tears. She’s guilty about not standing up for Cochran, who reminds her of her son. Cochran isn’t down with drawing rocks in the event of a tie and he thinks they can control their own fates. Dawn is prepared to make a stand on Cochran’s behalf, which is very sweet, but perhaps too little too late.
Conspicuously Low-Cost Immunity Challenge. Individual Immunity is finally up for grabs and for this challenge, there are two necklaces, one male and one female. Or at least one necklace will go to a male winner and the other to the female winner. I don’t want to imply that the necklaces have actual gender characteristics. Anywho… The challenge requires players to balance coconuts between two ropes, while standing on a precarious perch. Yawn. Edna and Cochran go out very quickly, proving and confirming their respective weakness. Out goes Whitney, leaving the quest for female Immunity down to Dawn and Sophie, but Sophie goes out soon after, giving Dawn Individual Immunity. Coach goes out and he’s followed by Rick, Jim and Keith. Brandon drops his coconut, leaving Albert versus Ozzy. Down goes Albert and the Ozzy Immunity Juggernaut begins.
For Those About To Rock (We Salute You). The tribe has redubbed itself Te Tuna — making me miss the glory days of tribes renamed after Boston Rob’s favorite imaginary creatures — but Team Ozzy is still a tribe on its own, especially with its pair of Immunity Idols. They initially float voting for Sophie, but decide that Rick may be a better idea. Jim suspects that Whitney is the most likely opposition target on the grounds that they’ll probably be going to Rocks. “I love this game. I respect this game. But I don’t respect reducing my game to a game of chance,” Cochran says, fearing Rocks. Cochran and Sophie parlay extensively and Sophie feels semi-confident in the support of the man she calls “a dodgeball target.” Assuming Cochran stays true, Coach offers him a place to sleep between him and Edna and he believes that he’s done all he can do. So it’s still all on Cochran and, to a lesser degree, Dawn. He’s still waffling, but Dawn is no longer interested in flipping. Dawn, in fact, warns Cochran that “what goes around comes around,” as if karma will eventually impact the rude people, in the long run. Suddenly, Dawn has decided that she’s had great experiences with her tribe and she loves them. Dawn, who prayed on this, has decided not only that Cochran shouldn’t flip, but that it’s WRONG for him to flip.
Tribal Council. Jeff Probst suggests to Coach that a tie may be coming and both Ozzy and Coach agree that a six-six vote is likely. Probst explains Rocks and reminds them that they could avoid Rocks if somebody flips. “I’ve never seen two tribes that seem so entirely cohesive in their own separate ways,” Cochran says. Jim says it makes no sense for anybody on their side to flip. Albert mocks Ozzy’s Duel theatricality, calling it “his best Broadway production” to point out that there’s an Idol floating around with Team Ozzy. Sophie says she was offended by Ozzy’s performance and Ozzy acknowledges it was “maybe was a little lackluster or maybe a little too over-the-top” and announces that his alliance has the Idol and he’s prepared to use it. Coach appears to give Cochran a wink, or maybe he just got something in his eye (I watched thrice and couldn’t decide).
The Vote. Probst goes to tally the votes, with Ozzy starting the wackiness by taking out his Idol and giving it to Whitney. The votes: Keith. [Ozzy looks down, immediately realizing that he threw away the Idol for nothing.] Keith. Keith. Keith. Keith. Keith. Rick. Rick. Rick. Rick. Rick. Rick. TIE! TIE! TIE!
The Revote. They can only vote for Keith or Rick. [Coach has started making funny “I’m voting faces.” I like it.] Time to retally. Keith. Keith. Keith. Keith. Rick. Rick. Rick. Rick. Rick. KEITH. Cochran flipped! For the second time this episode, Whitney’s shocked swearing has to be blurred. “I swapped. I’ll explain it,” Cochran says. “Coward,” Jim responds. “Don’t talk to him like that. That’s what you get for talking to people like that in the first place,” Brandon shoots back at Jim after a second “Coward” whisper. Look at Brandon, suddenly the guardian of wayward sheep. If only he had similar respect for women.
Bottom Line: That was a twisty and convoluted episode of “Survivor,” which I mean in a good way. There were just a ridiculous number of moving pieces at work in this episode and perhaps that’s why although I was tremendously entertained, maybe I’m not ready to call this a “pantheon” episode. Personally, my sense of schadenfreude wanted Ozzy to bomb out at the Duel or wanted the producers to hold off on the merge, but instead everything went exactly Ozzy’s way, right up to the Individual Immunity win. What Ozzy didn’t count on was that Cochran had been treated poorly enough that the double-agent would just flip, which feels like a pretty dumb thing not to count on, but once everybody had spent 20 days picking on Cochran, there wasn’t much they could do about the possibility. I like people to learn from their heinous behavior and just as I wish Mario Lopez understood why “H8r” failed, I also wish Keith had a clue why Cochran flipped on him, but Keith just thinks Cochran flipped because he was a spineless weasel and not because Keith (and Jim and Whitney and Ozzy) were ginormous tools and couldn’t even be bothered to feign compassion. So Keith doesn’t really understand why he was voted out and Ozzy also doesn’t get how his best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley-ed as badly as they did. And that lack of self-awareness took away from some of my enjoyment of what ought to have been a triumphant moment. Also, Cochran’s about to face a lot of hatred next week and his most likely defenders are a group of maniacal Christians who pray to a reality TV-obsessed God. How are you supposed to feel good about Cochran’s position? I guess you just have to acknowledge that his other choice was four bullies and a jellyfish who were never going to let him truly play their reindeer games. In that respect, this was the perfect episode… FOR REVENGE.
Wacky stuff, right? What did you think of Wednesday’s “Survivor”?