"Survivor South Pacific" Episode 12 Recap
In this week's episode of "Survivor," we get teased yet again of big moves, but predictability still reigns supreme.
This week's episode begins with Cochran arriving at Redemption Island, and needless to say, he feels pretty stupid. He made a move that ended up being all for naught, and now he faces off against Ozzy the Juggernaut in a duel. As I watch this scene, my mind goes back to when Ozzy was voted out the first time around as part of that big scheme of his. Remember when they were thinking about booting Cochran and they were trying to pump him up for a potential Redemption Duel? There's none of that this time. "He doesn't stand a chance," Ozzy says bluntly in a confessional.
Back at Te Tuna, Edna is very upset. She refuses to be a part of Brandon's morning prayer because she feels that she isn't a part of the tribe and never was to begin with. She then unloads on Coach about the whole situation, and how she is particularly upset with him because he kept telling her that it was an equal group of six when really she was on the outside the whole time. Edna has some good points, but then she says something that makes me question why the producers picked her: "I just can't believe I volunteered to come out here just to be deceived by everybody." Um, Edna, do you know what show you are on? This is Survivor! This is the show that gave birth to reality show backstabbing! How could you expect to never be deceived? The only reason she made it this far is because of the massages she gave Coach. Edna really was not cut out for this game at all.
On the other hand, Coach's responses take some of the edge off my annoyance towards Edna. He continues to pretend that the Upolu alliance was always equal when it wasn't. Coach has played a great game so far, but he doesn't own up to his lies and continues to spout his spiel about being an "honest Christian man." Give it up, Coach. Edna was never a real part of the group and you know it. If Coach didn't keep up this illusion of integrity, I probably would like him a lot more than I do now.
But who cares about Edna's plight? Brandon has TREE MAIL! And not just any tree mail…PRODUCT PLACEMENT TREE MAIL! The tribe receives a smartphone (I will not dignify the product placement by saying what brand it is), and on it are video messages from their loved ones. And when it comes time for Brandon's message, it's not his Uncle Russell. Yeah, apparently Brandon didn't feel comfortable with having Russell around because he felt his presence could hurt his gameplay, so he brought his dad instead. But given the track record the Hantz family has had so far on Survivor, I don't think it will make a difference.
And now it is time for the Redemption Island showdown between the Ace and the Nerd. In this Duel, Ozzy and Cochran must use a grappling hook to grab three bags with balls in them. Once they get all three balls, they must use the balls to navigate a table maze. There are holes in the table, and if a ball falls through they must start all over. First person to complete the maze wins.
Ozzy wastes no time and gets his balls with three easy swings of the hook. Cochran, on the other hand, struggles with the hook, and the editing team piles on with cartoon sound effects. Ozzy starts on the maze using steady tilts of the table, but then one of his balls falls through the hole. That gives Cochran a major opportunity. After finally getting his third ball, he runs over to the table and goes right to work on the maze, swinging the table dramatically to move the ball quickly. And all of a sudden, it becomes an incredibly close Duel, with both players finding themselves between one hold and the finish. The two slowly tilt their tables, and Cochran's ball falls through the final hole while Ozzy's reaches the finish. Wow. That was actually a really fun duel to watch. It was incredibly close and the editing was used to accentuate the tension that was actually there instead of just manufacturing tension. Well done.
After the Duel, Cochran makes a speech about how this was the greatest experience in his life, and how this was his dream come true. I really don't know what to think about Cochran. On one hand, he was by far the most interesting character to watch this season and it was fun watching him play the game even though he made such a terrible move by flipping. Furthermore, he gave viewers a means of escape from hearing Coach and Brandon blather on and on about Christian values. On the other hand, his fanboy tendencies could be annoying and his flip is the reason why we still have to hear the phrase "honest Christian man" every 5-10 minutes. I like Cochran, but nowhere near as much as I wanted to. But I'm glad he was picked for the show and that he got to fulfill his dream. Now he gets to experience the downside of his dream: getting chewed out and ostracized by a vindictive Jim at Ponderosa and then suffering the wrath of faceless Internet jerks.
Yes, I am quite aware of the hypocrisy of that statement, thank you very much.
So Cochran is gone, but now Probst has a little twist. He brings out the loved ones of the remaining members of Te Tuna, and he tells Ozzy to pick three players to spend a day with them. He picks Coach and his brother, Albert and his mom, and Brandon and his dad. Probst then tells the three pairs that they will be spending time not only with their loved ones, but also with Ozzy on Redemption Island. Wow, so not only does Ozzy not get to see his loved one, but he also has to sit there and watch the people that voted him out enjoy the reward he gave to them. That has to suck for Ozzy…or does it?
While spending time on Redemption Island, Coach comes up to Ozzy and promises as an honest Christian man (there are those 3 words again!) that he will work to make sure that the two of them are together at the Final Tribal Council if Ozzy gets back in the game. Wow, that's a big statement. For Ozzy, it's nothing but good, since it means that he may have alternative strategies if he gets back other than "win immunity or bust," but for Coach this could seriously come back to haunt him. He is constantly making promises and swearing on his religion, and it is going to hurt him when he faces the jury. He will really have to watch what he says to his original alliance partners from here on out, because he will need their votes in the end, especially if he keeps his word to Ozzy and takes him to the FTC where Ozzy will have the support of the Savaii jurors.
Meanwhile, Brandon is off talking with his dad, Sean, and his old man is not on board with the whole "redeeming the family" thing that Brandon is going for. He tells Brandon that he needs to make the big moves to get to the end, and if he doesn't move fast he will get left behind. "That's the Hantz way," he explains. "You've got to get yourself into that final three, and then at that point it's up to God." WRONG, Hantz. At that point it's up to the jury. Sean is just like his brother. They both refuse to acknowledge the importance of social gameplay and jury management. Yes, Brandon, does need to make moves because his erratic behavior hasn't won him many allies in this game, but being totally ruthless is not the answer. Sean doesn't seem to recognize this, however, as he begins to play the game for his son by trying to badger Coach into taking Brandon to the end. Coach won't have any of it though, and it seems that Sean just did more harm than good for his son. Smooth move, Hantz.
It's time for the Immunity Challenge, and the game is based on strategy and foresight. The six players will stand around a giant puzzle board. One at a time, they will flip over one of the tiles on the puzzle board and step on it. Once they step on a tile, no one cannot move back onto it. Once a player cannot move onto an adjacent space, he/she is out. Last one standing wins immunity.
The challenge begins with all six players moving towards the center. Once they reached the center, the major moves began to unfold. Edna, Albert, and Brandon, moved closer to each other, and Coach took advantage of that by moving towards Edna's area of the board. This gave him a larger amount of spaces to move on than any other player. From that point, the rest of the game was a foregone conclusion, as Coach let the other players box each other in and held on to win immunity.
But during the challenge, Brandon once again opened his big mouth and got in trouble. When he was eliminated, he announced that he wasn't trying to win immunity. He was only trying to make sure that someone else didn't. This really frustrated Edna, as she knew he was talking about her but wasn't brave enough to call her out by name. Back at camp, Edna tried to appeal to the integrity mantra that the Upolu alliance constantly talked about, and asked them to vote out Brandon for not holding up to that mantra. She brought up the lie Brandon made at the very beginning of the game, when he tried to create disruption in the tribe by claiming that Christine and Stacey were trying to gather votes against Mikayla, and she explained that Brandon never holds himself up to the ideals he never stops talking about.
Meanwhile, somewhere in a TV truck, the 'Survivor' execs are thinking, "Oh, goody, we can make a completely predictable Tribal Council look like a toss-up like we always do!" They show a bunch of confessionals of the other players talking about how Edna makes a good point and how they are sick of Brandon's antics, but after all the bait-and-switch editing that has happened this season, I don't think a single viewer believes any of it for a second. Brandon is the perfect FTC goat. They know how much the jury will hate Brandon if he makes it to the end. They would never vote for him, and that would give the other two finalists a stronger chance to win the game. There is no way that they are going to pass up such a strong strategic opportunity just to spare Edna's feelings.
And at Tribal Council, the vote proves just that. Edna gets sent to Redemption Island by a 5-1 vote and the five players that made an alliance on the very first night are now the five players left standing with one week left in the game. But Probst puts the situation best: "From the beginning you said that in the end it would be the five of you. Now what?"
A couple of weeks ago, I thought that Coach had this game in the bag, but after the events of this episode, I'm not so sure. The only person that I think has no shot of winning is Brandon. If Albert, Sophie, or Rick make the right moves and say the right things, they could pull off the victory. Those three have not been boasting about their "Christian honesty" the way Brandon and Coach have, and the jury may vote based on that. It will be interesting to see how the social game plays out in the final days of the game.
Next week, the final two episodes of the season will air, with the next episode on Thursday and then the finale on Sunday. On the next episode, the Cult of Coach comes to an end as fights erupt among the former Upolus, and Albert says possibly the most satisfying line so far: "I don't care in the slightest about honor and integrity."
Finally. I hope this preview means the players are finally starting to get it. You don't play to demonstrate your morals or your religious values.
Reach writer Jeremy Fuster here
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