Pre-credit sequence. Oh right. Team Ozzy voted Papa Bear out last week. I’ve pretty much forgotten everything this season that doesn’t involve Crazy Russell’s Crazy Nephew Brandon. And we aren’t even starting on Redemption Island. Instead, we’re over at Team Ozzy, where Ozzy and Elyse are cuddling on the hammock talking about Ozzy’s tastes in literature, particularly his childhood love of “Robinson Crusoe.” Their closeness is scaring Jim, who doesn’t want Ozzy to become another Boston Rob, running the table with the help of a pliable female alliance, so he decides he has to target Ozzy’s power base and boot Elyse out. Jim takes Cochran aside and proposes his desire to make a big move. “She’s so freaking hot,” Jim laments, though Cochran helpfully promises to don alluringly arranged seaweed. Cochran doesn’t trust Jim and his perfectly white teeth, but he trusts the idea of his not going home next Tribal Council.
When the truth is found to be lies. Yikes. Those are some bombastic bells playing on the soundtrack. That can only mean that Brandon is back on the crazy-prowl. “This game is so jacked up in terms of people’s feelings,” Brandon says. And who better to set things right than St. Brandon? He apologizes more sincerely to Mikayla. “Dude, maybe you should think two or three times before you talk,” Mikayla says, at least somewhat excusing Brandon’s behavior because of his uncle. Next up, Brandon goes to Edna and says that he cares about her and doesn’t want to lie to her anymore. For no reason, Brandon tells Edna that there’s a Core Five, but no Core Six and that she’s on the outside. “I’m just kinda surprised,” Edna says. Suddenly, Edna is wearing a suit. “It’s easier to believe the lie sometimes than it is to accept the truth,” Edna says. And it’s easier to believe lies or the truth when they come from somebody in a suit.
Dawn, treader. Tree-mail includes a change of swim trunks. Nobody on Team Ozzy wants to go to the Duel and somehow Jim and Cochran end up going, which makes Jim uncomfortable. We’re now going to spend time with Dawn’s insecurities. She’s Mormon and isn’t comfortable swimming in a bathing suit and she eyes lithe and sexy Whitney and Elyse with envy and distrust, though not with a nasty and scary Brandon-style envy and distrust. With Papa Bear gone, she compares herself to Rudy, referring to the original Grumpy Old Castaway and not the pint-sized Notre Dame football legend. Dawn knows she has to perform in future challenges. But who’s paying attention, when Whitney is examining the tan-line on her butt? Jim keeps talking strategy and we all know that if there’s anything Ozzy hates, it’s strategy. “Chill out, bro,” Ozzy says as Jim and Cochran leaves. Dawn suspects Ozzy’s been strategizing elsewhere and she’s irked.
Sandbagging. It’s time for the Christine vs. Papa Bear Duel. Cochran and Jim are joined by Brandon and Edna from Team Coach in the gallery. Papa Bear isn’t bothered to see Cochran and Jim and he immediately tells Brandon and Edna that he’ll be aligning with them if he comes back into the game. Brandon has some amends to make and he apologizes to Christine for the way he behaved. “I accept it, whether I buy it or not is a different story,” Christine says. The Duel involves casting sandbags onto 10 crates, first to get a bag on all 10 crates wins. This is the second straight Duel not to require much thought from the “Survivor” brain-trust. [What’s next? A hole-digging challenge? Competitive bug-bite scratching?] Christine has an 8-6 lead, but Papa Bear fights back for a tie. It’s 9-9. Christine lands her 10th bag first and wins wins her second straight Duel. Papa Bear remembers his early dreams of being of “Survivor,” saying he feels blessed to have fulfilled the dream at all. Christine’s head is high.
Special Edna. Team Coach is enjoying their morning coffee, but Edna is wary. She’s being “cordial and polite.” “It’s a social game and I have to emphasize the social game part of my strategy,” Edna says. “Edna’s like Ricochet Rabbit,” Stacey says, finding Edna’s new social behavior a bit manic. Edna is, indeed, bouncing off walls, or at least she would be if there were walls to bounce off of. She’s asking endless questions to anybody who will answer, whether it’s about Rick’s buffalo hunting or Mikayla’s modeling. Edna also reenforces her ties to Coach by walking on his back. Plus, everybody hates Edna’s laugh. Mikayla and Stacey are displeased with Social Edna.
Revenge of the Nerds. Upon his return, Cochran goes to Dawn and attempts to find out what he missed, strategy-wise. Cochran prods Dawn into shifting her concerns about Ozzy over to Elyse. “I’ve been dying to be a part of something like this,” Cochran says, hoping to make The Pretty People feel insecure. Oh, Cochran. Do you really think it’ll be that easy?
You put the load right on me. Let’s get to today’s Immunity Challenge. Four members of each tribe will have a pole on their shoulders and each poll will be laden down by amounts of weight determined by the other tribe. They’re also playing for Reward. Want to know what they’re playing for? One rooster, two hens. Or, as Jeff puts it, “Eggs, or the other.” For Team Coach, the weight-bearers are Brandon, Albert and Stacey. For Team Ozzy, it’s Keith, Dawn and Jim. For a long time, nothing happens. The weight-bearers just get more and more sandbags on their poles. The first to wobble is Keith, who is knocked out at 180 pounds. Albert goes out next. Yes, we’re all enjoying watching Jim and Brandon in pain, with 220 pounds on their back. Both men add more weight, which will be a “Survivor” record if they can stand it. Jim goes out next, with Brandon’s eyes popping out of his skull. He goes out next. It’s down to Dawn and Stacey. Neither has very good form, though I applaud Stacey’s butt-balance strategy. Dawn readjusts to try butt-balancing herself. SHUT UP, PROBST. Stacey loses her weight first and Dawn wins! I’m not lying. I’m feeling really happy for Dawn at this moment. She looks so very happy. Then again, we spent the first half of this episode on Team Ozzy strategy and now it’s not going to play out.
How do you solve a problem like Brandon? Team Coach returns to camp. Stacey may have lost the challenge, but she thinks she proved her strength. She’s right, of course, but will she still be on the block? Edna’s confident in her alliance, but she recognizes she may also be viewed as the weakest link, a concern she inexplicably takes up with Stacey, of all people. “Edna is on an Easter Egg hunt right now. She is scrambling like scrambled eggs on a hot skillet right now,” says Stacey, who doesn’t think Edna could have even lifted 20 pounds. Stacey asks Coach where she stands and Coach mostly shrugs and eventually fist-bumps her good-bye. “I’m not buying Coach’s BS at all,” Stacey says, vowing not to quit. And for Stacey, vowing not to quit means telling a few select lies. She approaches Brandon and tells him to watch out for Sophie, Albert and Mikayla and as we all know, nobody handles paranoia like Brandon. Russell’s nephew skitters in Coach’s direction with his fears. “Stop it!,” Coach yells at Brandon, treating him like the insecure five-year-old he is. “I tend to be a good judge of character,” says Brandon, not listening to Coach’s logic. Going off to Tribal Council, Coach worries that Brandon may kick over the kettle, but he vows that he isn’t going to let anybody ruin what may be his last shot at “Survivor” glory.
Tribal Council. Stacey says that at the challenge she held on as well as she could. Coach salutes Stacey’s effort and spirit. This prompts Probst wisely recalling the tribe’s previous claim that all decisions would be based on strength. Sophie, playing semantic games, says that strength can be “physical strength,” but it can also be “strength in numbers.” Probst then resorts to Group Therapy. He asks Rick to ask what the most annoying thing about Albert is. “He snores,” says Rick, who hasn’t been featured on camera since the premiere. “She’s got a lot to say about a lot,” Brandon says regarding the most annoying thing about Edna. This doesn’t ring true for Edna, who then says that the most annoying thing about Stacey is that she’s difficult to engage with. “It’s not hard for me to open up,” Stacey disagrees. This therapy thing isn’t working all. Don’t make me confiscate your Emmy, Probst. Mikayla says that the most annoying thing about Brandon is his uncle. SERIOUSLY? “If he’s such a good kid, what difference does it make who his uncle is?” Probst asks, comparing Brandon to a werewolf. Brandon just keeps babbling about his uncle. “I just want to be somebody that God’s proud of,” Brandon blubbers. He adds, “I don’t want to be misrepresented to my family.” He promises that he’s going to reclaim the family legacy. Albert says that “trust” will be a contributing factor to the vote.
The Vote. Wow. We’ve seen zero legitimate strategizing for this vote. Either it’s Stacey all the way, or this isn’t going to make any sense at all. Probst tallies the votes: Edna. Stacey. Stacey. Stacey. Stacey. The fourth person voted out is… Stacey. Everybody stands up to hug Stacey good-bye, but she pushes right past Coach. “It’s not real. That wasn’t true. Everything we’ve seen was a lie,” Stacey says, vowing revenge. Stacey arrives at Redemption Island an angry, angry woman. But at least she has a friend in Christine.
Bottom Line. I know that ABC has that mediocre show with Emily VanCamp getting revenge on WASP-y twits in the Hamptons, but you know who I think has a legitimate motivation for revenge? That’s right. Stacey. I’m rooting for that woman to dominate on Redemption Island and wreak vengeance, because it’s either that or support the remaining members of Team Coach, who continue to prioritize an alliance with an unstable lunatic over any sort of common sense. I just don’t think Coach is very good at this and I don’t think anybody in his alliance is very smart either. Mikayla’s tolerance for Brandon is disturbing. Sophie’s obsequious following is unimpressive. Albert talks a smart game when Jeff calls on him at Tribal, but doesn’t open his mother otherwise. And Rick has dropped off the grid as well. Brandon’s presence has pretty much poisoned everybody on Team Coach for me. I guess I can root for Cochran and I felt pretty good about Dawn today and Whitney’s tan line was kinda cute. In terms of this week’s episode, the editors were scrambling, weren’t they? Because ultimately, the episode had no elimination drama at all. I just feel like three straight weeks of “Survivor: The Brandon Hantz Is Russell Hantz’s Nephew Edition” is a dangerous amount for this show and they desperately need an alternative storyline to arise. Soon.
What’d you think of this week’s episode, gang?