Pre-credit sequence. Te Tuna returns to camp. They’re down to five. For some reason, everybody is feeling good, even though the cannibalization is coming. At Brandon’s urging, the Upolu Prayer Circle is convened to thank the person who did this for them. Yup. Good ol’ JC. John Cochran! What? this was GOD’S doing? “The alliances within the alliances are going to be revealed. The real game begins tonight,” Coach declares. Albert has plans. He seems to be sharing those plans with Sophie, but in reality, he’s hoping to pull off “the biggest blindside of the game.” Albert’s next target? Sophie.
Sky Captain Mustache and the Alliance of Tomorrow. It’s Day 33. Coach and Sophie are having a quiet conversation, which is part of what scares Albert, who doesn’t like Sophie’s in-game resume. Albert’s adapting to the people around him and he reassures Rick that he’s hoping to go to the end with him. Albert doesn’t particularly like Captain Mustache, but he knows that Captain Mustache hasn’t done much to justify his position. Albert’s ideal situation would be going to the end with Coach, the Cult Leader, and Rick, the Cult Follower. His reasoning is faulty.
A plan is hatchet Let’s have a Duel. It’s Ozzy vs. Edna. First, players have to do a slide puzzle to get a hatchet, then they have to use the hatchet to free puzzle pieces and solve a puzzle. Somewhere, Cochran is watching this episode going, “A double puzzle Duel? Really? NOW?” If ever there were a Duel Edna seemed to be designed for, it’s this one. But Ozzy frees his hatchet first and gets to the color-cubes with a huge lead. Edna looks frustrated, as Albert starts coaching her from the peanut gallery. Her hatchet is free. Her puzzle pieces are out. It’s anybody’s game. Suddenly Ozzy is stymied, while Edna has Sophie and the rest of Te Tuna cheering her on. Jeff Probst finds it impressive that the people who just voted Edna out want to help her. It’s not as weird as Probst is making it out to be. Edna thinks she has it. Sophie thinks Edna has it. But no! And just like that… Ozzy has the puzzle completed and OZZY wins the Duel. The members of Te Tuna look miserable. Edna cries and says that this will show her family that she’s a survivor.
He’s got the whole tribe in His hands. Albert doesn’t care about honor and integrity. Brandon’s convinced that he’s going to the Final Three with Albert and Coach, so he’s receptive when Albert tells him that Sophie’s next. “This is fate, man. We’re in God’s hands,” Brandon says, believing his agreement with Albert to be 100 percent. Sophie, though, is more concerned about Ozzy and the fact that every player has gone through Ozzy’s Pleasure Dome before going to Jury. Her proposal is to send Brandon to Redemption, since she views him as the second most dangerous player in the game. Sophie fears Brandon’s “Godliness” and they have Rick ready to join them in booting Brandon. Albert comes to Coach and says that Sophie is a bigger threat than Brandon, which Coach doesn’t want to hear. “I think it’s because Sophie’s smarter than Albert,” Coach diagnoses to us, telling Albert that he [Albert] doesn’t understand the way the Jury works. [Is Brandon getting shorter as the game goes along? He was never a big man. Now he’s a hobbit.] Brandon comes over and meekly asks about the conversation and Coach shoots back that he’s becoming a bully and becoming a Russell. [Yes, “bullying” is Coach’s Word of the Season.] Brandon’s tiny feelings are hurt. This is a mighty languid confrontation that’s going down. Coach has become convinced that Little Russell needs to go, but as he’s telling us that, Brandon comes over and offers him a piece of coconut.
Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht. Once again, Immunity is up for grabs. Players have to climb a wall and collect puzzle pieces. You make the puzzle. Three pieces won’t fit. Those pieces will make a code. Yada yada. The winner will also receive a pizza, a soft drink and some garlic bread. Jeff Probst doesn’t mention the brand of the pizza. Were they in the process of negotiating with Dominos, Papa Johns and Pizza Hut as the episode was filmed? Brandon, Rick and Coach get out to a big lead after the wall. Why is Albert so weak? How could Albert be weaker than Rick? Brandon thinks he’s finished the puzzle. Coach thinks he’s finished the puzzle. Who has the numbers first? Brandon wins Immunity. “Thank you JESUS!” Brandon bellows into the air, pumping his chest with his fist over and over and over again. The “Survivor” sound editors even add a bell, as if from heaven. Brandon gets to choose one person to join him for pizza and he picks Rick. Wow. Didn’t Brandon and his dad vow to cut Coach in on any food rewards? Dead-eyed, Coach decides this was divine intervention. “I’m pissed, but I’m at peace with that,” Coach reflects.
I will deliver/ You know I’m a forgiver/ Reach out and touch faith. A dude arrives on a jet-ski with Delicious Unbranded Pizza. Sophie is unhappy with the turn of events and she and Coach seem to agree that Albert should go home. Sophie is also hungry and she goes over to inhale the pizza with Brandon and Rick. Albert immediately knows that Sophie is scheming against him. And she is! Brandon isn’t sure if he can trust Albert and he decides to put Albert to the test, calling everybody together and asking point-blank if Albert has ever spoken against him. Rick narcs on Albert immediately. Captain Mustache is not happy. Fingers are pointed. Lips are pixelated. This is the most animated Rick has been all season, correctly calling Albert out for contemplating getting rid of him earlier. Sophie, side-boob heavily pixelated, is giddy that she doesn’t even need to blindside Albert anymore. “It’s like he’s in the toilet bowl,” Sophie cackles. “I think Brandon took the lid off of Pandora’s Box on me today,” Albert sighs, though he still has designs on swinging Brandon to his side. Brandon, not the most forgiving of dudes when it comes to women, finds it in his heart to forgive Albert. Why is Brandon changing his mind? Because he can see into Albert’s soul or something. And how committed is Brandon? [No, not “How much should Brandon be committed?”] He’s so committed he’s willing to give Albert his Immunity Necklace. Brandon goes to Coach and says that God wants him to keep Albert and that this sign of forgiveness is why they’re in the game. Coach, choked up, is now torn. Coach tells Brandon that he has to go pray and he vows to do whatever God tells him. And he does. “I prayed and there was a name in my head over and over and over again,” Coach claims. But he also claims that his soul is grieving or something.
Tribal Council. Before anything else happens, Brandon says he’s giving his Immunity necklace to Albert. The Jury is perplexed. And amused. Jeff Probst is merely perplexed. “I started something and I’m gonna finish it,” Brandon says. Coach clarifies that it was only after prayer that Brandon made this decision. “It’s really hard to explain, because my loyalty is a little different,” Brandon says, recalling his time rolling with gangs in his youth. Brandon talks about times he’d stand up for something and none of his gang chums would join him. Probst sneers, “So it wasn’t really a gang?” Probst tries reminding Brandon that this is a million dollar game. Whitney giggles on the Jury. Guess who doesn’t think Brandon’s choice is insane? That’s right. Albert. Probst asks if Albert wants to remove the necklace and give it back to Brandon and Albert says he’d do it if he believed Brandon was in jeopardy. Rick outs Coach’s Hidden Immunity Idol, the worst-kept secret in “Survivor”-dom. After a lot of talk, suddenly Brandon isn’t so confident anymore. Albert’s not giving the necklace back. Heh. Heh. Heh.
The Vote. Rick writes Brandon’s name down and mutters, “Dumb move.” Brandon writes Sophie’s name. And Albert also writes Sophie’s name. This is all gonna be up to Coach and God, isn’t it? The votes are tallied: Brandon. Sophie. Brandon. Sophie. BRANDON! “It’s God’s will. Go win Redemption,” Coach tells Brandon. From the Jury, Jim’s jaw has dropped so far it’s practically unhinged. Brandon says he doesn’t care what critics say about his move. “This game’s not made for me, bro,” Brandon tells Ozzy.
Bottom Line. The was simultaneously horrible and awesome, just like the wrath of the Old Testament God. On one hand, that was more crazy that I can reasonably be expected to tolerate in any one episode of “Survivor.” God saves Brandon from eviction by letting him win Immunity. Then God convinces Brandon to give his Immunity to Albert, even though he knows Albert’s a liar. Then God tells Coach to vote Brandon out? Unless Brandon’s God is a wily trickster God — A Loki or a Coyote or Kokopeli or an Anansi or a Hanuman — I can’t help but feel like there was a mixed signal somewhere. On the other hand, you know God had fun with this one! The thing I can’t figure is how this plays for Coach, especially with the Savaii contingent of the Jury. And I can’t figure out if it would have looked better or worse without the “God told me to do it” explanation. If it’s just Coach reaching the Top 5 and becoming cold-blooded, does that seem more strategically worthy if you’re a bitter Savaii? And how did Albert’s decision play? He was true to his word and didn’t write Brandon’s name down, so he didn’t take the necklace and stab the kid in the back. Does he look honorable? Or weak? The amusing thing is that after this turn of events, it’s possible that Ozzy controls his own destiny, as sports watchers say. If Ozzy beats Brandon on Redemption and takes two Individual Immunities, he’s unbeatable with this Jury, right? Regardless of who he goes to the Final Three with? And as a footnote, this doesn’t let Erik Reichenbach off the hook, does it? Erik gave up Immunity because some cute girls made him. Brandon was the victim of a Prankster God. And does anybody else fear this sets up a “Survivor: Brandon vs. Ozzy” season in the future?
So um… What did God tell you to think about Wednesday’s “Survivor”? Do you have a rooting interest going into the finale?