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Survivor: South Pacific Watch: Ticking Time Bomb

The turning point in this season (a season that, let’s be honest, hasn’t had many) came several episodes ago when Survivor fanboy Cochran, rather than leave his fate to the whims of chance by sending a tie Tribal Council vote to drawing rocks, chose to switch allegiances from Savaii to Upolu, with the understanding that he would be shown some sort of gratitude and protected. But once the Upolus methodically sent the ex-Savaii tribe members to RedIsle, where they were one and all easily dispatched to the jury box by Ozzy, Cochran’s policy officially expired. Despite the fact that he would have made the perfect candidate to take to the finals, everything boringly went according to Hoyle.

My God, this season sure got boring, didn’t it? I mean, it was one thing when neither Upolu nor Savaii could win back-to-back Immunity Challenges, but now? Pure, unadulterated tedium. Survivor is always the most fun to watch when the unexpected happens. You know, allegiances switch at the drop of a hat, and someone definitely not expecting to get voted out… gets voted out. I keep waiting for that to happen, but so far, it’s been by-the-numbers. And that kind of reality TV is just… really boring TV. According to Bipolar Brandon at last week’s TC, Edna will be the next to go. Which means she probably will. Yawn.

It’s not that the people left in the game are boring… well, it’s not JUST that they’re boring, but the superficial façade of unity that the core group of Upolus have rode thus far to the final third of the game has, at some point, got to crack. These people, who have professed honor and camaraderie and trust, awash in a haze of pseudo-religious gobbledygook, will have a lot of explaining to do when the dust settles and only three contestants remain. Because three more people have got to go, and you just know whoever those three people are are going to be PISSED about it. Because, unless your new, there is no way to play this game 100% honorably. It just can’t be done.

Redemption Island, Night 30. When Ozzy sees who his next opponent is, you can just tell it’s taking a lot of effort on his part not to go all “I told you so” on Cochran. Cochran admits to drinking Coach’s Kool-Aid and, obviously, now regrets his decision. Ozzy then asks Cochran, if he and Coach end up in the Final Three, who would he vote for? Cochran remains mum, because this presupposes that Ozzy will defeat him in the next duel, something he’s certainly not conceding at this point. I mean, yes, the odds are against Cochran, sure, but stranger things have happened.

For the Upolus, regrettably, the times has now come where they must feast on each other’s rotting carcasses, because they are plum out of overt enemies now. Well, maybe one, because Edna has decided to disassociate herself from the rest of the group, especially given Brandon’s blanket statement about voting her off next. She’s visibly hurt, and I would be too. I can’t stand Brandon being on my TV, let alone sleeping in the same lean-to as him for a month.

In a heart-to-heart with Coach, who tries to comfort her by assuring her that even if his strategy and Brandon’s are similar, their attitudes toward her are not. Then Edna says something that really resonates, and it’s so good I shall repeat it verbatim: “One guy, a nineteen-year-old high-school dropout, who has advertised that he’s crazy, to dictate to ME, the direction of my own destiny here?” Word, sister.

Duel #9: (Possible?) Revenge of the Nerds: Ozzy vs. Cochran. I was hoping that this duel would be more intellectually-skewed, to give Cochran more of a fighting chance, but no. Using grappling hooks, they had retrieve three bags that contain contain balls, which then would then put inside a tilting table-maze, and then navigate the ball to the center without letting it fall through any of the many holes in the maze, the penalty for which was to start over again.

Ozzy grabs a big lead, but a flub right near the end causes his ball to drop, and before you know it, it’s a race. Cochran pulls out all the stops, but sadly, it’s not enough. Ozzy wins again, running his record to 4-0. And poor Cochran will spend the duration of the game sequestered with everyone who his fellow jury members, who owe their spot on the jury solely to him. I hope he wins the viewer-vote prize, he’s certainly earned it.

Immediately after the duel, before Ozzy is even dismissed, Jeff announces that it’s “loved ones” week, and brings out the Upolu tribe’s family members: Sophie’s dad Thurston (no Lovey?), Edna’s sister Debbie, Coach’s brother Pete, Rick’s wife Katie, Albert’s mother Annie, and Brandon’s father (Russell’s brother) Sean. All cry tears of joy, of course, especially Brandon. Then comes the twist… only three people gets to spend more than just those few cursory seconds with their loved one, and who that person is is entirely up to Ozzy. Oooh, nice one, show. Not sure why, exactly, but he chooses Albert, Coach and Brandon. Jeff sends a very sad Rick, Edna and Sophie back to camp, and then tells the rest of the group that they will be spending their “together time” on RedIsle.

I won’t go far into the “together time”, as it’s pretty much what you might expect. From what I could gather, Ozzy selected Coach and Albert because their opinions carried the most weight with the others, and a placated and happy Brandon is much preferable to batshit-crazy Brandon any day of the week. Coach tells Ozzy that his “Final Three” scenario does, in fact, include Ozzy, and I have to double-take. What? Seriously? With five ex-Savaii on the jury? Coach isn’t an idiot! Five votes is enough to win! I can’t imagine any of the rest of the tribe would be enthused to hear this strategy!

Brandon’s dad Sean is more than a little taken aback when he learns that Brandon has given up all hope of winning the million dollars in favor of playing Survivor the way the man upstairs wants him to. Sean, it seems, is cut from the same cloth as his Evil brother, and he interviews that Brandon needs to snap out of it and start playing the game, amazed that given his attitude, he’s still around. Sean then does an end-run by pleading with Coach himself to keep Brandon around, but Coach is not about to be bullied by two Hantzes in one lifetime.

On the one hand, yes, voting Brandon off would be one form of revenge on Russell, Sean and the whole Hantz family, and honorable or not, Coach seems like the kind of guy that is not above doing that. On the other hand, Brandon is, when you think about it, the perfect person to take to the Final Three. Between being bipolar, a jerk, a religious zealot, a Hantz AND the nephew of an oil tycoon, there’s not one person in Survivor history that would award him a million dollars.

Immunity/Reward Challenge. I’m running a little low on space, so I’ll keep it brief. The six players stand on the edge of a large hexagon game-board, taking turns by moving one space at a time. Once a space has been stood upon, that spot cannot be occupied again. Eventually, everyone will run out of space, and the last person standing wins, like a giant game of Qbert. Edna had to win, and the others pretty much ganged up on her to make sure she didn’t, and Coach ends up with the necklace. Brandon, subtle as a train wreck, rubs salt in the wound by taunting Edna further. Punk-ass twerp.

Whoever does the editing for Survivor are no dummies. It’s their job to make even the most obvious decisions look contentious. To that end, most of the pre-TC footage was of Brandon being Brandon: first the taunting, then the insincere apology, which Edna equates to a man buying his wife a diamond necklace after beating her half to death, which is a brutal metaphor but strangely apropos.

After seeing interviews of both Rick and Sophie admitting what a poisonous pill Brandon is, Edna plays her last card, the honor card, telling Coach, Sophie and Albert that Brandon’s actions have not earned him a spot in the Finals, and certainly not ahead of her, who has been pretty much straight-up since the game started. True, very true. Brandon has railed against everyone he perceived as unworthy, whether they were or not – first Mikayla, then Dawn, now Edna. Coach tells Edna that she’s right on all counts, but it’s not enough. Edna, of course, doesn’t know that Ozzy’s in Coach’s endgame masterplan, and Edna is far less likely to outduel Ozzy than Brandon is.

Edna’s final plea to Coach is for him to let her have the HII, which has been in Coach’s possession since early in the game, but that’s not going to happen either. Coach espouses that the HII is the biggest reason he’s still in the game, and as long as he has it, he’s safe. Edna then lies to Albert and Sophie that Coach is on board with voting Brandon off, and they seem to consider it.

Tribal Council. Not much point going over the minutes of TC this week, because the topic du jour is Brandon and his lack of honor, tact and that filter that allows one to keep idiocy locked inside. The editors did a good job of dangling the carrot of Brandon’s expulsion in front of us, but it was just a red herring, as Edna was – unanimously – voted out. She heads off to RedIsle and her upcoming execution. Yawn.

I don’t know for certain, but I’m guessing that whoever wins the duel between Ozzy and Edna will earn a spot back in the game. With the finale rapidly approaching, it still looks like it’s Coach’s season to lose and Ozzy’s about the only one with the gumption to take it from him.

Next week: the happy Upolu family completely implodes. And could the unthinkable happen at RedIsle? They’re certainly making it look that way…