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"Survivor South Pacific" Episode 13 Recap And Finale Predictions

Jeremy Fuster |
December 17, 2011 | 2:30 a.m. PST

Staff Writer

Wow.  I mean, oh wow.  


This was the best episode of "Survivor" in many, many weeks.  After several episodes filled with predictable results, this episode gave us an abundance of gameplay and shocking moments.  This episode was entertaining from beginning to end, and it set things up for a finale with many possible outcomes.  There are many ways that this game can end now, and that's not necessarily something that could be said before.

But this episode has changed so much.  There's so much brilliance and stupidity to talk about.  Especially the stupidity.  Get ready for a long one. The recap: It Begins.

We start with Coach, Rick, Albert, Sophie, and Brandon returning from Tribal Council celebrating the success of their plan.  From the first day they planned to be together at the point, and they succeeded.  Coach declares that they can finish the game with "honor, loyalty, and integrity."  Albert and Sophie, on the other hand, are thankfully not preoccupied with such delusions.  Right now, there is no solid final three alliance, and everyone is getting ready to scramble to secure a spot at day 39.  All except Coach, of course, who is safe with his hidden immunity idol.  

The next day, Albert unveils his plan: he wants to target Sophie and take Coach and Rick with him to the end.  He notes that Sophie is starting to build a serious resume for the jury.  She has won 2 immunity challenges, she has laid low, and she has proven to be very well-spoken, which will help her with the jury's questions.  He feels much safer with Coach, who has burned many jurors with his declarations of honesty, and Rick, who hasn't done anything of note in the game.  Despite his disdain for Rick, Albert begins talking him up, suggesting that they work together to get to the end of the game.  Rick seems open to this, though it will be interesting how he will react once he gets offers from other players, because Rick is pretty much a free agent at this point.

Actually, when I hear Albert talk about Sophie, I realize that I have been very wrong about Sophie in past articles.  I have criticized her for teasing that she will make a big move in the game and then not going through on them, but maybe that is her plan all along.  She knows that Coach is digging his own grave with his web of promises and lies, while she is quietly sticking to her alliance, winning challenges, and avoiding making promises she can't keep.  While everybody else gets into the drama, she can stay below the radar and keep a good reputation, giving her the win.  Suddenly, Sophie may be the new favorite to win the million.

Now it is time for the Redemption Duel between Ozzy and Edna.  To give Edna a puncher's chance, the duel is a puzzle game.  First, the players must complete a slide puzzle that consists of squares and rectangles of different sizes.  The largest square has an axe inside, and they must slide the blocks around so they can pull the axe square out of a slot in the bottom.  Once they do, they will use the axe to chop a rope and drop a bag containing four blocks with red, blue, yellow, and green sides.  They must stack the boxes so each side has one of each color with no color repeating.  First person to solve both puzzles wins.

At the start, Ozzy pulls out to a quick lead as Edna has problems with the slide puzzle.  She completes it after her former tribe mates guide her through the puzzle, making it an Upolu vs. Ozzy affair.  While Ozzy works out different combinations with the box puzzle, Edna catches up and works efficiently on the boxes.  It looks like Edna has the puzzle solved and is about to pull off the upset, but when she locks in her answer, Probst points out that she has two red squares on one side of her stack.  This gives Ozzy the time he needs to correctly solve the puzzle and earn the victory.  Edna is now the sixth jury member, and Ozzy is one duel away from getting back into the game for a second time.

With six people left in the game now, the dealmaking between the former alliance members resumes.  Brandon talks with Albert and tells him he has his back, and Albert responds by telling Brandon his plan to get rid of Sophie.  Brandon immediately jumps on board with the plan, but Coach and Sophie have other plans.  They both see Brandon as the biggest target because they think that he has a good image in the eyes of the jury.  I think they are wrong, but nonetheless, they talk to Rick and suggest that the three of them vote out Brandon.  Despite his talks with Albert earlier, Rick says yes to the plan, and now Brandon's head is on the chopping block, ironic considering that Brandon thinks that he has a solid partnership with Coach.

When Albert catches wind of Brandon's situation, he goes to Coach and asks him to reconsider.  But Coach is firmly against voting Sophie because he feels he has had a pact with her since he found the idol, and is worried that Brandon will become more aggressive in his gameplay now that he has talked with his dad in the last episode.  Brandon makes things worse by pestering Coach and constantly asking if they are still together.  Coach is clearly tired of Brandon's paranoid antics and wants it to be over.

This whole segment is so refreshing to watch.  At long last we are seeing gameplay!  Everybody is making deals with each other and trying to keep off the chopping block, and there's no telling where the votes will fall.  Not even Brandon's God-talk can bring down this segment.  We are seeing different combinations of final three alliances, and each one has a chance of succeeding.  This is the kind of wild gameplay that just doesn't happen when the numbers game is played.

Time for the Immunity Challenge.  In this challenge, each player must climb up a rope that has five bags tied at different lengths.  They must untie the bags and bring them back to a table one at a time.  Once they untie all five bags, they will open the bags to find tiles inside, which they will sort into pairs.  Three of the tiles do not match.  Those three tiles have the numbers to a combination box.  Once the player has the combination, he/she will climb the rope back up to the top, where there is a platform with the box.  First person to unlock the box with the combination wins immunity, as well as a reward of pizza, garlic bread, and soda that can be shared with a tribe mate.  

From the start of the challenge, it's a race between Brandon and Coach.  They pull out to a quick lead over the others.  With all that climbing and dropping, those five must have accumulate a lot of friction burns.  With all five bags down, it becomes a race to find the three tiles that don't match.  Brandon finds the tiles just a few seconds before Coach does, which gives him the time he needs to climb up the rope and unlock the box to win immunity.  He decides to share his pizza with Rick, while Coach deals with the fact that his top target is now safe.  "I'm at peace with it," he says, "but I'm pissed."  Yeah, sure, Mr. Zen.  

But when the tribe returns to camp, things really begin to shake up.  While eating their pizza reward (delivered by jet ski), Rick reveals to Brandon what Albert told him, and that he doesn't trust Albert in the least.  Brandon is pretty shocked by this, since he thought that he had Albert's full support.  He goes to Albert to ask him about this, and that's when everything crashes down on Albert.  Pretty soon, the entire tribe is on Albert for his two-faced actions and his empty promises, and it's pretty entertaining watching him frantically backpedal while everyone calls him out on his shiftiness.  It looks like Albert is the next to go…


Albert goes back to Brandon and tries to make up with him.  He uses the fight that they just had with Sophie and Rick as evidence that he is only loyal to Coach and Brandon.  He insists that he can't stand Sophie and Rick and would never want to go to the end with them, and that the deal he made with Brandon has been foremost in his mind above any other deals he has given or received.  Amazingly enough, Brandon buys it, and he says that he will not only vote for Sophie instead of Albert, but that he will do the unthinkable…

He will give Albert his immunity.



I bet the cameraman was resisting the urge to drop his camera and slap the stupid out of that kid.  How could he do something so stupid?!?  Apparently, Brandon feels that he does not need immunity because he believes that Coach will vote for Sophie as well, giving Albert and Brandon the 3 votes they need to get her out.  But Brandon has absolutely no idea that Coach wants him gone ASAP.  Brandon tells Coach his boneheaded scheme, and tells him that he has absolute trust in him and knows that Coach will not vote him out.  Brandon then goes into another long spiel about honesty and God and all that other stuff he and Coach have been going on about since the start of the game.  It's as hilarious as it is nauseating.  Brandon's naiveté is on full display here, because he does not realize that when push comes to shove, Coach is here to win a million dollars and that's it.  Oh sure, he might put on these grand displays of Christian faith, like when he prays to God asking him to help him make the right decision at the next Tribal Council, but it just looks like an attempt to rationalize the backstab he is about to commit on Brandon.

It's time for Tribal Council, and before Probst can even get started, Brandon announces that he is giving his immunity necklace to Albert.  The looks on the faces of Probst and the jury are absolutely hilarious.  I'm sure I made a similar expression.  Probst notes that Brandon looks extremely stressed, and Brandon notes how his whole life he has declared loyalty to people to the point that it has freaked people out, and this game is another example.  It's pretty clear that Brandon is not cut out for this game.  He talks about how he considers his alliance partners his closest friends, and he just can't seem to separate his personal situation with the game.  He takes this game way too personally, and now it's about to do him in. 

Probst then turns to the other Upolus, starting with Albert.  Albert reiterates his confidence in his relationship with Brandon and Coach because it was "on a different level spiritually."  This gives Probst the perfect chance to send a dagger question straight at Albert: If you have such a strong bond with Brandon, wouldn't you demonstrate that bond by giving the necklace back to Brandon?  Albert responds by saying that he is keeping the necklace, but he does so because he is confident that he will not go home because the final three alliance they have with Coach is secure.  This now brings the spotlight over to Coach, who is now the swing vote between Brandon and Sophie.  Brandon insists that God will have given Coach the right decision, and if Coach votes him out tonight, he will accept it.  

Now it's time to vote.  Brandon and Albert both vote Sophie, while Sophie and Rick vote for Brandon.  Rick pretty much sums up the episode in the voting booth with a shake of his head and two simple words, "dumb move!"

Probst then tallies the votes, and we discover who Coach has voted for: it's Brandon.  And now little Hantz is off to face Ozzy in the final Redemption Duel.

Congratulations, Cochran.  You are no longer the recipient of the "Worst Move Of The Season" award.

I could go on a rant about how unbelievable these events have been, particularly what we have seen from Coach and Brandon, but I think I will sum it up with the immortal words of Gedde Watanabe.



So now we come to the season finale on Sunday, with four left in the Te Tuna tribe and two on Redemption Island.  Who will win, and who will fall short?  Here are my predictions of what will happen to each player: 

Brandon: Haha…NO.  That's it.  Brandon will not win now.  Even if he somehow found a way to beat Ozzy, there is no way that a jury would vote for him after he just GAVE UP IMMUNITY.  I'd put up the Watanabe video again, but I'm over column space as it is.  Brandon gets blown away in the Redemption Duel and goes on to vote for Coach to win the million dollars because God told him to.

Rick: He seems like a nice guy, but let's face it, Rick has been "the dude with the Stetson" from day one and hasn't grown beyond that.  Okay, maybe you can call him, "the dude in the Stetson that hates Albert."  I don't see Rick making it to the end because he seems to be on the outside of every deal.  Rick goes to the jury and votes for Sophie to win.

Albert: His chances of winning the game died in this episode.  He has been exposed for his shiftiness, and once Brandon and/or Rick gets to the jury and tells the Savaiis about his two-faced deal-making, he won't stand a chance.  Failing to give Brandon back the necklace didn't help either.  Albert makes it to the end but doesn't get any votes.  

Ozzy: All right, this is where things get seriously murky.  Ozzy is by far the unknown variable in this equation.  He did receive an offer from Coach to go to the final three with him, but Coach just proved tonight how much his word is worth.  No, Ozzy's plan is simple: win every challenge from here on out.  If he does that, he will get all the Savaii votes and will most likely win the million.  The only problem with his game is that he hasn't played the game of Survivor this season.  He has played the game of Redemption Island.  He hasn't had to make any deals or worry about the social game.  He has only had to worry about challenges, and that's not what Survivor is all about.  I have absolutely no idea what will happen with Ozzy, so I will make a different prediction: after this season, the producers recognize how stupid Redemption Island is and can the concept so it can't ruin another season.

Coach: For quite awhile, Coach was the favorite to win.  With a solid alliance and an idol in his back pocket, he had it all.  But now his chances of winning have decreased, and it is all his fault.  If he had kept his mouth shut about God and honesty, he would be in a solid position.  But now his grandiose statements will become the lens through which his gameplay will be judged by the jury, and he will fail.   Coach will make it to the end and then get grilled by the jury and lose the million, and it will be satisfying to watch.  Just remember what you once said, Coach: "Only the penitent man shall pass." 

Sophie: Finally, we have the med student that I think will be the Sole Survivor.  As I said earlier, Sophie is much smarter than I have given her credit for.  Her gameplay has been just as strategic as Coach and Albert's, and she has included more challenge prowess and less drama.  That is exactly what she will need to bring up to the jury.  If she buries Coach in his own words, she will get jury votes easily.  Her only obstacle is Ozzy, but I think she can even stop him too.  She has the physical endurance to beat Ozzy in a challenge, and even if she can't, she can bring up -- as stated above -- that she has played Survivor this season without Redemption Island backing her up, something that Ozzy can't say for himself.  Sophie has been smart, athletic, and shown that she can avoid putting her foot in her mouth, and for those reasons she will win the million dollars.

So on Sunday, somebody is going to win this thing!  Get ready for a wild finish!

Reach writer Jeremy Fuster here

RELATED CONTENT: Read Jeremy's Episode 12 Recap here and his Episode 11 Recap here.

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