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Survivor: South Pacific Watch - Cult Like

Two weeks ago, the former Upolu tribe continued to assert its dominance over the former Savaii tribe, using with full force the upper hand they got when Cochran switched sides. Having dispatched Keith and Jim to RedIsle (where they were both sent straight to the jury box by Ozzy) the episode before, Upolu then sent Savaii’s last two loyal members, Dawn and Whitney, to RedIsle as well. Which means there are now seven players left in the main part of the game: the six-strong Upolu alliance led by Coach, along with turncoat Cochran. And after this episode’s duel, there will be four people sitting in the jury, all former members of the now-defunct Savaii tribe.

So, against all odds and numerous opportunities by Albert to shake things up within the Upolu group, the alliance held fast and unwavering, taking care of business by decimating the Savaii tribe. But now they have nothing left to do but turn on each other. Every one of the remaining seven probably has their own “Final Three” scenario in their heads, and I would bet actual money that if there are two people that have no plans to take each other to the end, it’s Coach and Albert. The inevitable clash between these two will probably come to the forefront now. The question is: where do the loyalties/strategies of the other five players lie?

Duel #8: Ozzy vs. Dawn vs. Whitney. This challenge was yet another test of balance, in the form of a stacking competition, wherein the players would alternately add a bowl or a saucer (of various size) on top of each other while balancing the entire stack on top of a flat surface affixed to the end of a yard-long stick. Obviously, the last person not to have their tower-o’-crockery tumble is the winner, and the other two will take their place on the jury. Not surprisingly, Ozzy prevails again, and remains in the game for another week.

So Ozzy runs his record to 3-0, which is impressive, but I hope he realizes just how steep a hill he has to climb. Even he is fortunate enough to keep winning duels long enough to find his way back into the game (for the third time), he has no choice but to win every Immunity Challenge up until the very end. Any chance to vote him out of the game for good would certainly be utilized, not just because he’s a physical threat but because there are for Savaii votes on the jury that would most certainly go to him no matter what two other players he was in the Finals with.

The early focus in the episode was on Cochran, who does his best to continue to charm the Upolus with his nerdy awkwardness, an act that Sophie seems to have had enough of. Cochran’s pretty sharp, however, and the constant use of the word “family” by the Upolus when talking about themselves make him think of the Manson family, not just because of their ruthless efficiency but the quasi-religious air that seems to permeate every discussion. Leading the league in that category is, of course, Brandon, who I’m amazed hasn’t outlived his usefulness or his welcome at this point. Cochran awesome relates to us in interview that he doesn’t want to be Sharon Tate in this particular scenario.

To that end, Cochran employs the same tactic he used to try to keep Savaii from voting him out, which is basically, begging. He pled with the group to keep him for at least one more go-round not just because it would be a cool way to pay him back for turning the tide irrevocably in their favor, but because his birthday is three days hence and he would just as soon not spend it on either RedIsle or whatever location the jury members are sequestered when they’re not on-camera.

After he leaves, the way the wind is blowing starts to take shape. Sophie doesn’t feel that they owe Cochran a damn thing and that he should have stuck with his tribe, whereas Coach and Albert agree that they should honor his birthday wish. Absent from this group meeting is Edna, who was seen in flashback trying to not be the low person on the Upolu totem pole, but for whatever reason is not present during this most important of strategy sessions. This makes me believe that Edna is still the odd person out in this alliance.

If he’s not careful, however, Albert may find himself taking a long walk before too long. His strategy at the moment seems to consist of nothing more than lazing – ‘scuse me, “conserving his energy” – in a hammock all day, watching his tribe-mates going fishing or doing daily chores. This elicits the annoyance of Edna and Rick the bemusement of Coach, and we learn that he has been given the nickname “Prince Albert” at some point, which fits perfectly. I’ve somehow missed the air of entitlement that seems to cling to him like a leech.

Whatever the case, it still seems like Coach is the one firmly in control. He has two options at this point: one is to remain true to his word and his original core alliance, and vote out Cochran and then Edna, in that order. The second is to renege on his promise and keep Cochran and Edna, which is the smarter strategic move because not only would they be unlikely to turn on him, but because they are unlikely to get many votes at the final TC.

Immunity/Reward Challenge. Today’s I/RC borrowed elements of two previous challenges: the first was the one where contestants would toss sandbags onto small platforms of various distances, and the second was using a slingshot to knock down targets. The winner gets immunity as well as a shower and a full massage, which will be administered back at camp (and, presumably, in full view of everyone else). In a close contest, it was Albert that took the victory home. Hmm. I guess all that “conserving” paid off after all.

Jeff offers Albert the opportunity to share his reward with one other person, and smartly, he picks Coach. No sense upsetting the apple-cart. And then, in a surprising move, he decides to give his own reward to Cochran as a birthday present, on the condition that if a food reward comes up in the future, to please consider including him in it should he not win. This is a cool move on Albert’s part, though I can’t help but wonder if this act of generosity is not so much a birthday present but a way to soften the blow of having to vote Cochran off.

On the other hand, getting one’s first-ever massage at the hands of a beautiful wahine is not a gift to be sneezed at, that’s for sure. And wouldn’t Albert be ticked if he realized that John’s birthday is actually six months away, a fact that he admits to lied about in interview. And I just have to laugh at that. That is so awesome. Hell, if you can’t get the big victories, take the little ones. You rock, Cochran.

After the massage, however, Cochran employs his last bit of strategy, trying to convince Albert to keep him around and vote out Rick, also revealing the rather unflattering nickname Rick gave to Albert earlier. Albert relates that he would love to see Cochran go further in the game than Albert, but he’s not sure Coach is ready to enter “divide and conquer” mode just yet. Edna is certainly on board with voting Rick off, so all that remains to be seen entering TC is whether Albert or Cochran can convince Coach to be open-minded to this rather unexpected turn of events. All Coach can give us in return is a look that can best be described as “pensive”, and then quotes a little Shakespeare to let us know just how damn literate he is.

Tribal Council. Cochran takes one last shot at swaying the Upolus by airing his previous ultimatum, that he be allowed to stick around for one more round simply because he turned the tide in their favor. Both Albert and Coach agree that he deserves that chance, which elicits an eye-roll from Jim in the jury box. (Yep, still a tool.) Edna looks flustered, because she knows full well who will be voted out in the next TC should this last-ditch effort to turn the game upside-down not go through. She says that at some point she was told she was part of the core alliance, but that is no longer the case, and that stings like a bitch.

Bigmouth Brandon, of course, can’t keep his yap shut, as he basically tells both Cochran and Edna that they’re doomed and there’s naught they can do about it. Then Brandon breaks down into another near-crying jag, and this time it’s me rolling my eyes. I mean, my God. Russell was obnoxious as the day is long, but he never lost control like this, and Brandon’s done it, what, half a dozen times? If his mission in coming on Survivor was to repair the family name, he’s done a piss-poor job of it. All he’s done is shown that the apples in Hantz family fall pretty far from the tree. And I am so over Brandon, it’s not even funny.

Before the vote, Cochran brings up one salient point: if he goes out, what happens if Edna wins immunity next? That gives everyone in the group pause. And now we’ll see if it does happen, because Cochran received five votes and was sent on his way. He and Edna both cast their votes for Rick, which means that not only did Coach not flip, but neither did Albert, even after all that bluster. Hmm.

Well, I hold out hope that Cochran can somehow out-Ozzy Ozzy and find a way back into the game, if only to save him from having to cohabitate with the Savaii jury members whose demise in the game he caused. Guess we’ll find out next week.

Next week: Edna pulls out all the stops to get Brandon out the door. And David will take on Goliath in the next duel. Hopefully history will repeat itself.