Pre-credit sequence. We’re on Redemption Island with Semhar. She feels abandoned by her team. “I gave them my every last strength and they sent me to Redemption Island. Figures,” she says. The rules for Redemption Island seem to be identical to last year. Anyway Semhar is still crying. She confesses that she comes pre-equipted with abandonment issues, which must really be exacerbated when your “Survivor” tribe abandons you. In her loneliness on Redemption Island, she talks her way through a so-so poem. It ends with “I don’t miss you, I miss feeling loved.” Sniffle.
The man with the compass tattoo. It’s a second straight week without credits immediately. This confuses my writing routine. Over at Team Ozzy, Cochran is grateful to have survived, but he worries that his “anxious debate mode” wasn’t a good one and he vows to bring out “cool, mellow Cochran.” I hope he brought snazzy sunglasses and a porkpie hat for the transformation. Ozzy explains that he identifies with Cochran’s passion to play the game, but he wants to see more effort. Keith, who appears to have a compass tattooed on his side, has aligned with Ozzy and they seem to indicate the desire to bring in slimy poker player Jim.
To protect and serve. The sun rises at Team Coach’s camp, where Coach feels he has a solid alliance with Rick, Sophie, Brandon and Albert. Edna isn’t part of that alliance, but she’s his actual friend and they’re walking in the woods speculating about Stacey and Christine and whether one of them has the Idol. Edna figures she’s at the bottom of the Tribal totem and she’s happy to graft onto Coach. “It’s my job to protect her,” Coach says, though he admits to Edna that he’s stupid in this game because he believes he’ll find somebody to play honorably.
Rocks don’t belong in treees. The Era of Cochran had begun anew and New Cochran is hard at work, wielding the machete like a pro, though he worries that his mother will not like New Cochran, since she’s anti-unsupervised-machette-wielding, at least when it comes to Old Cochran. “I need to make them think of me less as the liability and drain on the tribe and more as a survivor,” Cochran says. Under cover of going fishing, Ozzy goes wandering through the trees looking for an Idol. After a brief meander, Ozzy crawls across to an tree-island, where he sees a rock in the middle of the tree and behind the rock is Idol. “This is a great day,” gloats Ozzy, who was voted out in his last season with an Idol in his pocket. You know who it’s not such a great day for? The guys who hide “Survivor” Idols. Another weak performance.
Secrets revealed. Brandon and Coach are conversing, but there’s tension. Brandon appreciates Coach’s integrity, but worries that he’s made an alliance without confession his past with Russell. Brandon worries that he’ll be considered unholy. With that in mind, Brandon shows Coach his tattoo and the reaction is not instant warmth. “My jaw literally dropped,” Coach says, remembering that Russell also told him that he was a man of God and betrayed him. Coach promises not to spill his secret and they pray together, bonding over Jesus. Coach thinks he could either be betrayed again, or the Hantz family will gain redemption.
It’s like a Five Plan, only with more math. Elyse, who likes to talk about her Inner Native American Self, is hungry. And a bit crazy. So the Jim, Keith and Ozzy go off on a fishing trip, which gives Jim the opening to introduce his “Three-Plus-Two Plan,” which includes Keith and Ozzy (the “Three”) plus the two girls he says he likes (i.e. the cute girls, meaning Elyse and Whitney). Keith is happy with Jim’s plan, since Jim’s plan was pretty much his plan, but it lets Jim feel like he’s the mastermind. Jim, describing himself as The Architect, says that Cochran, Dawn and Papa Bear will be out next because “they just don’t fit in.” Jim acknowledges, though, that just because he’s sitting at the Cool Kids Table doesn’t mean that he isn’t the least of The Cool Kids. Ultimately, both the fishing and the Inner Native American Self details were red herrings in that segment, weren’t they?
Brandon sees woman, hears her roar, cower in corner crying. Mikayla, who calls herself “a pretty tough chick,” is working hard around camp. She just wants to be seen as one of the guys, though the “Survivor” nudity pixelation suggests otherwise. But Mikayala is too much for Brandon. As he leers at Mikayala’s taut body, Brandon compares her to Parvati, with her flirtation. The editors may be lying to us, but we’ve seen absolutely no indication that Mikayla’s doing anything other than working hard. “It’s the ones that are good looking and seductive you want to get rid of,” says Brandon the Ripper. He’s creepy as hell. “Ain’t no chick in this game, getting in the way of me, my family and a million dollars,” Brandon vows. Yup. Icky. Christine is back on the Idol prowl. Nobody else is looking for the Idol, but they’re all suspecting that Christine has it, which makes her a target, which would make it a good thing for her to have the Idol, which she doesn’t. But she does have the clue to the Idol, which was poorly hidden in another tree hole.
Ozzy, the crate and powerful. It’s challenge time and Team Coach is munching on some sort of jungle fruit. They’re looking and sounding cocky. The challenge includes a May Pole, some running and a bunch of hidden crates. They’re also playing for Reward. Want to know what they’re playing for? Comfort, in the form of pillows, a blanket a hammock and whatnot. Cochran’s slowness on the May Pole appears to give Team Coach an early advantage, though it’s Dawn who earns a “This is not a picnic” sneer from Emmy winner Jeff Probst. But the lead shifts on the crate/puzzle. Suddenly Team Ozzy moves into the lead and to Christine’s blurred disapproval, Team Ozzy wins Immunity and Reward. Another shift of momentum. “We were really overconfident in this challenge,” says Brandon, who vows to rid the tribe of Mikayla and her strong work ethic, her challenge excellence and her alluring and demomic lady-parts. It’s not just that Brandon is creepy (and probably dangerous). Brandon’s an idiotic “Survivor” player.
Yes. We get it. Brandon’s a ginormous hypocrite. Coach, who actually has a wee bit of common sense, returns to camp and praises the women, who built the initial lead in the Immunity Challenge. Coach has a strategy: He wants to try to flush the hypothetical Immunity Idol, so he wants three votes going against Christine and three going against Stacey. Coach doesn’t want Edna in the loop. But Coach goes aside with Brandon, where Little Russell expresses his desire to get rid of Mikayla. Why? “Because I’m faithful to my wife,” Brandon says, adding “All I keep thinking about is Parvati, Parvati, Parvait. She screwed many a man.” And Coach nods politely. To us, Coach says he understands and suggests that Brandon has demons. Do. Not. Align. With. Demon-Man. Geez. Sophie, who also thinks of herself as a strong woman, is worried by Brandon’s insecurity. There’s a big confab and Coach has to walk away. Mikayla doesn’t have a clue what’s happening. Edna tries reassuring Christine by saying the confab was thinking of voting Sophie out, but Christine notes that Sophie was in the confab, leaving Edna shaking her head in total confusion. Christine knows she’s in trouble and goes off in search of the Idol, while the central alliance is in chaos. Brandon lies to Coach, saying that Christine and Stacey are prepared to vote Mikayla out. This is a huge mess, all because of the pint-sized lunatic at the center. Coach is wary and he vows that if his alliance proves disloyal, “there’s gonna be an ass-whipping at Tribal Council tonight.” See, that I want to see.
Tribal Council. Fire still represents life, yo. Probst starts with Brandon, who’s pretty sure he made a good impression with everybody. Coach knows he made a bad first impression, but that things got better. Then, Coach flips the table. He announces that walking to Tribal, he heard that Christine and Stacey wanted to vote Mikayla out. “Coach in Tribal just lays everything out on the table,” he says. Both Stacey and Christine are utterly flummoxed and offended. “So glad you’re back, Coach,” Probst smiles. Coach comes out Pro-Mikayla. Brandon fidgets. Well, Mikayla doesn’t know where this came from and Christine and Stacey are freaking out. Coach throws Christine under the bus for a second time mentioning the Idol he suspects her of having and she says he feels he’s threatened. Brandon fidgets some more. Christine and Stacey both swear to Mikayla they never planned to vote her out. Finally, Brandon can be silent no longer. “The truth is the truth. I kinda told you guys to vote for Mikayla,” Brandon says. Jeff smiles. Coach twitches nervously. Christine and Stacey are freaking out. Why is Albert wearing slacks and a ribbed sweater? “I have no idea what is about to happen,” Probst says. Me neither. And I don’t understand why there were no follow-ups to Brandon admitting he lied to them. Coach promised me an ass-whipping and all asses remain unwhipped.
The Vote. We see none of them in advance. And nobody plays an Immunity Idol. Let’s tally. Sophie. Edna. Christine. Stacey. Christine. Stacey. Christine. Stacey. The second person voted out is Christine. Probst tells Team Coach to work on trust. “I have to tell you, I don’t know what happened at Tribal,” says Christine, who casually calls Coach a “tool.” But basically what happened was that they stuck to Coach’s plan, despite Brandon’s lie and weirdness.
Bottom Line: I don’t know what to do with this episode and it’s kinda given me a bad taste for the start of this season. It’s possible that I’ve hated “Survivor” contestants more, but I’ve never been more terrified of a contestant than I am of Brandon. Like I sense that the “Survivor” psychologists went easy on him because they wanted a guy with the last name Hantz, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he bashed somebody’s head in with a rock, or if he somehow castrated himself. I don’t think he’s well and so watching him makes me uncomfortable. And watching Coach tolerate him makes me equally uncomfortable, since I want Coach to be smarter than that, or at least more honorable than that. And this week’s vote wasn’t even the wrong vote for Team Coach. Christine isn’t a strong player and she put a target on her back with the Idol search, so voting her out made sense on every level except for the one where they kept the unstable guy around. Meanwhile, with Team Ozzy, we’ve got another case of poorly hidden Immunity Idols, plus I really don’t care for Jimmy. So… Yeah. I’m not in a good place with any of this. And other than my queasiness, it wasn’t an exciting episode either.
What did y’all think?