Sorry for the late recap. Rosh Hashanah, y’all!
Click through for the usual recap and a little day-late chatter…
Pre-credit sequence. Christine arrives at Redemption Island and has her first meeting with Semhar. Christine thinks she was sent packing because she wanted to play the game too soon. Chatting with Semhar, she says that Coach never liked her and that “He thinks he’s King Farouk.” Wow. Seriously? We’re making references exiled Egyptian kings who have been dead for nearly 50 years? That’s either impressive or weird. “It’s not over yet,” Christine vows. You know who else said that? King Farouk. Then he was overthrown.
I need a hero. Team Coach returns to camp. Mikayla still doesn’t understand how she came to be a major Tribal Council target and she’s suddenly wary of Brandon. For his part, Brandon regrets lying before and during the Tribal Council. He swears he came into the game wanting to be a hero. “I’m guilty, completely guilty of the way I acted and I reap what I sow, man,” Brandon says. So, we can expect to see a totally new, totally not-creepy Brandon for the rest of this season, right?
Coach loves a Duel. We just can’t quit Team Coach, can we? Tree Mail says that it’s time to choose two players to head to Redemption Island to watch the season’s first Duel. Coach wants to go and Stacey will go with him. Coach says plainly that the best result would be a loss for Christine.
I sing the body electric. Let’s Duel. Christine is still unapologetic about getting off on the wrong foot with Coach, who sits literally licking his lips next to Stacey. [Team Ozzy is represented by Ozzy and Elyse.] Semhar describes Redemption Island as “scary.” The Duel requires concentration and balance. They have to balance a wooden totem on an increasingly elevated series of poles. Semhar gets ready by reciting a very, very strange poem. Jeff Probst stands to the side rolling his eyes. He’s more of a Walt Whitman man. I like Semhar’s heavy-squinting balance strategy. Wobbling begins from both ladies. This really isn’t a good challenge. It’s mostly Probst babbling. In the end, Semhar’s totem topples first. Semhar’s back to her abandonment issues and not understanding how people can be so cruel. “I’m sad to be the first to go, but I know that I played this faithfully and as a good person,” Semhar declares, casting her buff onto the fire. “I’m hoping that I pull a Matt and have a run here,” Christine says.
Brandon’s finally ready to strip. Wow. Is Team Ozzy like the the lamest camp ever? We’re back at Team Coach again. But it might as well be Team Brandon at this point. Apparently *God* was chastising Brandon this morning. “He was not pleased with me,” Brandon says. “I lied blatantly,” Brandon sighs. He says he no longer wants to lie and no longer wants to play games. And that means that after two episodes as a Never Topless, Russell is ready to showcase his incriminating tattoos. He confesses to his disgraceful lineage. Stacey, in particular, reacts as if she was just attacked by a swarm of gnats. But really, this is like a soap opera. “I’d rather make friends out here than a million dollars,” Brandon says. Mikayla thinks that Brandon is “trying to cover his tracks before he makes them.” Brandon keeps going on and on about his love for God and Jesus and his determination to be his own person. Coach thinks this was a mistake, that Brandon lets things get to him. He trusts Brandon still, but not as much.
Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead. Finally, we’re going over to Team Ozzy. Everything’s great. They have fish and they’re relaxing and everybody’s happy. But Papa Bear Mark knows that there’s a pecking order and that he, Dawn and Cochran are at the bottom. Ozzy’s still secure with his five-person alliance, but he’s extra-tight with Keith, so tight that he thinks it’s time to tell Keith he has the Idol. “Awww, sweet,” is Keith’s reaction. Was Keith supposed to keep this a secret? Cuz… um… he rushes off immediately and tells Whitney. It turns out that Keith is actually annoyed that Ozzy now has too much power and he’s told Whitney to gain some trust with her. And that’s it for Team Ozzy.
Ashes to asses. Mikayla wants to know why Brandon is plotting against her. That seems like a reasonable query, right? And there’s an easy answer: “I think you’re a foul temptress, a walking Venus Fly Trap with lady-parts.” Brandon doesn’t go that way, though. Why doesn’t he like her? “Because of this… the attitude,” Brandon says. He then squirms and says that he wasn’t the only one who didn’t trust her before. And just like that… back to lying. “As a Christian, I’m supposed to be meek. I’m supposed to turn the other cheek,” Brandon says, before calling Mikayla out in front of the entire tribe. Wow. Brandon is truly one of the icky-est players ever in this game and he’s really, really, really confused by scripture. Fortunately, nobody’s fooled anymore by Brandon. Sophie now realizes that he’s a loose cannon, saying he’s torn between his crazy religion and just being “a devious jerk.” Meanwhile, Mikayla’s just sitting on the beach crying because a stupid boy was mean to her. Shut up about being a Christian, Brandon. “I just let my flesh get ahold of me. I struggle every day. This is like a constant battle for me,” Brandon says, crying and letting fire ash fall on him. “It is the epitome of SNAFU,” Coach admits, noting that Brandon’s aggression is a different type of aggression than what Russell had. Now he and Sophie are hoping this won’t be the undoing of their alliance.
Coffee is always worth playing for. Immunity is up for grabs. It’s a really complicated challenge that incolves a rickety water bridge, players getting tugged across the water on boards, grappling hooks and a bunch of other stuff. And, of course, it ends in a puzzle. They’re also playing for Reward: Coffee supplies, sugar and some cookies. Everybody agrees that this is, indeed, worth playing for. Brandon gets Team Coach off to an early lead, but Dawn catches up for Team Ozzy. In addition to being complicated, it’s a viciously exhausting task and it seems to expose that Ozzy may not be the physical dominator he once was. Regardless, the teams are basically even when the grappling hooks and puzzles come into play. “Coach has been phenomenal with the grappling hook,” cheers Probst as Team Coach gets a lead and completes its puzzle first, winning Immunity. Team Ozzy is miserable. Jim has suddenly realized that not only is Papa Bear their weakest link, but he probably should have been the first one out.
The un-Bear-able lightness of being Papa Bear. Oh, so NOW we’re gonna find Team Ozzy interesting. Cochran is convinced they were still the stronger tribe, despite losing. Ozzy was impressed with Dawn’s performance and says it’s down to Papa Bear and Cochran. The two guys at the bottom of the totem pole are sitting off to the side lamenting their fate, aware that if one of them isn’t voted out this time, they’ll be gone after that. The Cool Kids put their heads together and agree that Papa Bear will go out first, but that he should be told that the vote is Cochran. Why the deception? Who does it serve? Cochran is tired of hearing his name, but doesn’t want to be that neurotic guy who freaks out whenever he’s tired of hearing his name. As planned, Jim tells Papa Bear that Cochran’s the vote, leading to Papa Bear’s reaction, “Why would they choose him?” The only answer anybody can give Papa Bear is that Cochran should have gone first. But this Papa Bear is smarter than the average Papa Bear. He isn’t buying it and he decides to go looking for the Idol, with unnerving haste. “Papa Bear doesn’t sprint *ever*” says Elyse, astounded by what she just witnessed. Elyse and Jim go to the woods and watch Papa Bear digging like Papa Gopher for an Idol that isn’t there. So Papa Bear does what you do in these circumstances: He makes a Fake Idol and sticks it in his pants. Jim, not looped in on Ozzy’s Idol, isn’t sure if he has to change everything in the voting plan. “I’m just hoping that nothing goes wrong,” Ozzy says.
Tribal Council. Cochran begins by declaring that he’s proven that he’s capable in challenges. At Probst’s prodding, Cochran denies that he’s defensive in life. Cochran says Ozzy’s the leader. Papa Bear says that while in life, he’s a leader, in the game he hasn’t been able to find common ground with The Five. Dawn says that leadership in the tribe is fungible, but Papa Bear isn’t hearing it. Some Idol talk. Let’s just vote already.
The Vote. Jim writes Cochran’s name down just in case. I don’t get Jim. He’s a poker player. Does he have no capacity to tell when anybody’s bluffing? Cochran writes Papa Bear’s name down to reduce the anxiety in his life. Nobody plays an Immunity Idol. Probst tallies: Papa Bear. Cochran. Jim. Papa Bear. Papa Bear. The bluff didn’t work. Papa Bear is voted out. “No votes when they go against you are fair,” Papa Bear says, vowing to swap to Team Coach if he gets back into the game.
Bottom Line. Papa Bear’s ineffective Idol bluff aside, that was a fairly pre-determined and anti-climactic elimination. Since I like Cochran and his Wood Allen-ish nervous energy more than Papa Bear’s increasing grumpiness, I have no problems with the result, for whatever that’s worth. I just continue to find that Brandon is casting too much of a shadow of the game. He seemed to do really well in the challenge, so if the editors would just ignore him, or if he would just shut his mouth, I’d pretend he wasn’t there and move on. But he’s still there. [Oh and don’t worry… I got back from services this afternoon in time to do my exit interview with Semhar. It’ll post tomorrow. I like her a lot more than a bunch of people still in the game.]
What’d you think of the episode?