Pre-credit sequence. Cochran arrives on Redemption Island and a groggy Ozzy musters an unenthusiastic, “I’m sorry, buddy.” Cochran is introspective. “The big move I made at the Merge in jumping over to Upolu, in retrospect may not have been the best move,” Cochran says, feeling used and insulted. Ozzy tells Cochran that the way he can stick it to Upolu is by voting for him if he makes it to the end. “What if I demolish you at the Duel?” Cochran asks. Ozzy promises to vote for Cochran if, indeed, Cochran makes it to the end and reassures him that he has a chance of taking the Duel. “He really doesn’t stand a chance,” Ozzy dead-pans to us.
Second class citizen on a third world island. It’s Day 31 for the Te Tuna Tribe. There are flies and bugs everywhere. The remaining castaways look sullen and broken. Brandon calls the tribe together for a morning prayer, prompting Edna to storm off, declaring she’s not really a part of the tribe. Edna may be well-dressed in her blazer, but she feels duped, blaming Coach for being a poor leader. Meanwhile, Brandon prays to soften Edna’s soul. I’m confused. Where was Edna deceived? Coach tells Edna that this is an individual game now, but he tries telling her she isn’t a second class citizen. In a great moment, Edna rants at having a crazy high school drop-out dictating terms to her, as said lunatic [Brandon, duh] returns to camp bellowing about their Sprint Tree-Mail. It’s such a nice piece of timing that the “Survivor” producers don’t even sweeten the audio of the off-camera voice interrupting the conversation. The Tree-Mail contains a Sprint phone, featuring videos from home.
Sprint Presents Sprint’s Messages From Home. Rick’s wife or something looks forward to seeing him and says something about cows. Rick cries. Edna’s sister or something tells her that the family worries about her. Edna cries. Sophie’s dad or something didn’t know if she’d make it this far in the game, but he’s proud of her. Sophie’s emotional, but she doesn’t cry, at least not immediately. Albert’s mother blesses him. Albert doesn’t cry. Coach’s disturbingly clean-cut brother is extremely proud of him. Coach doesn’t cry. Brandon’s dad tells him to make decisions based on his heart, not the game. Brandon cries and others cry with him.
Hook, line and sinker. Before the Duel, Jeff Probst makes sure that he says “Sprint” a few times. The Duel, perhaps the most complicated of the Redemption Island season, involves grappling hooks and a ball-maze. Cochran’s dead, right? He needed a Duel that was either a nerdy puzzle or a 50-50 coin flip. This requires skills, several of them. The Te Tuna castaways are so saddened by the sight of Cochran’s grappling toss that they’re coaching him on proper form. As Ozzy takes a big lead, even Jeff Probst starts encouraging Cochran and urging him on. Ozzy’s nearly completed the ball-maze as Cochran starts. But in any ball maze, fortunes can change abruptly. Ozzy’s ball goes down a hole and Cochran suddenly moves into the lead. Cochran knows he has to play just a bit crazy to keep up with Ozzy and his moves are making this more exciting that it otherwise might have been. Cochran is millimeters from winning, possibly less, but he twitches and the ball goes away from the center and down a home. In one hard cut, Ozzy wins! Cochran wants to make it clear that as a huge fan of “Survivor,” this was wonderful for him and that it was “by far, the most incredible moment of my life.” Cochran cries and says that he’s come to realize that maybe he’s a better person than he thought he was. Probst gives a speech about how a part of Cochran died out there and a new part was reborn. Then he burns Cochran’s buff and sends him off to the jury. Ozzy has a very big decision coming. Amidst much crying, the family members come out and hugs are exchanged. Sophie places a food order. Probst is impressed by the manliness of the hug between Coach and his brother. Rick grab’s his wife’s butt. The music swells. Probst wants to make sure we all know that Brandon’s dad is Russell Hantz’s brother. It’s up to Ozzy: He has to choose a person to spend time with their loved one. Ozzy chooses Albert first. And Coach second. And then, lastly, Ozzy chooses Brandon. Sophie, Rick and Edna go home without love, while Albert, Brandon and Coach are given a Sprint phone and an afternoon on Redemption Island. Ozzy looks confused that not only did he not get family, but he has to bring interlopers into his terrain.
HWJP: How Would Jesus Play? Redemption Island time! Lots of pictures are taken on the Sprint phone. Coach calls the phone “crazy.” Brandon’s father is astounded by the 3D option. Sprint is awesome. Yay. Coach decides to use this moment to pull Ozzy aside and tell him that he as a Final Three scenario that involves Ozzy and somebody else. He adds that this is his pledge “as a Christian man.” Now Coach has Final Three pledges with everybody, but when he adds “as a Christian man,” that’s how you know he’s serious, or so he says. Coach wants this season to come down to warrior-on-warrior action. Off to a different side, Brandon tells his father that he’s in this game “to set an example for Christ” and for honor, not for the million bucks. He vows, in fact, to play this game “like Christ would play it.” But Brandon’s father tries reminding Brandon that he came to win the million bucks. “I don’t like what I see,” Sean Hantz says, giving Brandon a “C” for gameplay, telling Brandon that God wants him to be wise and to put his family in a good position, financially. Brandon’s dad adds that Brandon has to put himself in the Final Three and *then* it’s up to God. In the interim, Sean Hantz appeals to a different higher power, specifically Coach. “At this point, who do you want to bring to the Final Three?” Sean demands Coach. “They’re all cut of the same cloth,” Coach says of the Hantz Men. Father and Son come to Coach and pledge their troth to him, but Coach says that the ticking time bomb’s time has nearly expired.
Q*Bert on a Pinapple. No time to say good-bye to our family members. The remaining six castaways arrive at the Immunity Challenge. I don’t care what they call it or how they play, it’s a game of “Survivor” Q*Bert on a pineapple. Probst asks Coach if the challenge is a metaphor for the game, something about the important of early moves or something. “That’s a great metaphor, Jeff. You took the words right out of my mouth,” Coach says, dripping sarcasm. First out of the game — I have zero clue what they’re actually doing — is Albert, followed by Brandon, who makes sure to tell Probst that his only strategy was to do whatever was necessary to keep Edna from winning. Rick is eliminated next, with Sophie close behind. It’s down to Coach, seemingly with a big lead, and Edna, who keeps complaining about how this is all an insult to her. The biggest insult? She loses and Coach takes Individual Immunity. “Help a sister out, Coach,” Edna says before they depart. Brandon is already tasting the breakfast on Day 39, assuming his tribe states true.
[Pixelated]-eating grim. Sharks! They’re in the water! Will they also be on land with Te Tuna? Sophie calls Brandon’s move “a bullying thing to do.” Rick compares Brandon’s move to “a kick in the guts.” Brandon apologizes in the rudest, least repentant way possible. “I accept the consequences of my actions,” Brandon says, but Edna compares it to beating your wife and then buying her a diamond necklace. Sophie says that on “Survivor,” people aren’t as forgiving as Jesus might be and Brandon’s behavior didn’t go unnoticed. So Edna has a proposition: She says that if their tribe is about honor and integrity, Brandon doesn’t qualify to go any further. Nobody likes a lawyer around camp, Edna. She begs for another day and Coach finds her words “provocative.” Coach has something to think about, but he tells Edna that he won’t give the Idol to her and that he doesn’t plan on using it himself. Coach offers no assurances and basically tells Edna to go talk to Sophie and Albert. Edna tells Sophie and Albert that she’s certain Coach is with them. How certain? “I’ll eat a piece of his [pixelated], that’s how much 100 percent I am,” Edna says. What the [pixelated] does that mean? Albert is curious, if nothing else.
Tribal Council. Probst wastes no time in putting Edna on the spot. Edna doesn’t hesitate to say that Brandon deviates from the tribe mantra, which she gets Coach to recite. Edna cites extensive precedent, going back to the lie Brandon told at the very first Tribal Council. “She’s misconstrued a lot of things. She’s been inaccurate…” Brandon says, before being cut off by Probst, who knows that Edna wasn’t misconstruing or inaccurate. Edna’s performing perfectly and it’s going to be irrelevant, isn’t it? Sigh. Sophie knows this is the end of Upolu unity. We’re getting straight to the vote.
The Vote. Brandon writes Edna’s name down. Edna writes Brandon’s name and mocks his failed attempts to cleanse his family name. Probst goes to tally the votes: Edna. Brandon. Edna. Edna. Oh well. And that’s it for Edna, who at least accepts Coach’s hug. She smiles bravely as her torch is snuffed, but she’s crying as she exits. Edna feels betrayed by Coach and his fear of making it look like he betrayed the tribe.
Bottom Line: This was the least obnoxious of the “Survivor” Sprint episodes, wasn’t it? It was bad, but they’ve done worse. Or maybe the “Jack & Jill” episode was so bad that any other whoring looks relaxed in comparison? Dunno. Anyway, It’s been over a month of Inevitable Elimination Episodes on “Survivor,” but this somehow felt like one of the better crafted anti-climactic episodes, if only because Edna got to say a lot of things that made a lot of sense and everybody was forced to acknowledge that what Edna was saying made sense. And yet they still supported Brandon over her. Sadly, I don’t think it’s the wrong move. Brandon’s awful, but he has that Special Agent Phillip thing about him where you know that nobody in their right mind would possibly vote for him from a Jury. In the first half of the game, I’d have been desperate to get Brandon evicted, because he’s a horrible person, but now? Why would you ever send him home? Edna beating Ozzy in a Duel now would be the producers’ absolute nightmare, because it would effectively negate the Redemption Island twist for a second straight season. Edna would come back into the game and go back out of the game instantly, wouldn’t she? Finally, I’m glad that Cochran put up a bit of a fight in the Duel against Ozzy.
What’d you think of Wednesday’s episode?