Note: We're giving Cochran a pass here this week, even though he mixed metaphors with the Manson Family and Jonestown. It's his birthday, or so we heard.
Oh, Ozzy. Will you ever stop spearing fish? Or roaring from atop coconut trees? (Helpful hint: next time, wear tie-dye and a bushy fake beard, your roar should generate more screentime than a silent helicopter fly-by.)
Yes, this week we learned, as we did the week before, and the week before that, and the week before that, that Ozzy really enjoys his alone time on Redemption Island. True, he was technically not alone for a day of it, when he was forced to share his realm with the intruders Dawn and Whitney, but soon enough he was back to mastering his domain, spearfishing his brains out (is that what the kids call it these days?), and rehearsing witty lines, such as "winning... that is what I do best." Ozzy, you may never win an Oscar, but you just won yourself a Trolly*.
True, it may be somewhat unkind to call attention to the undue attention paid to the guy on Redemption Island, what while Coach was busy doing Coach-chi on the beach with Cochran, or that camera-hog, Rick, was chuckling about Princess Albert. (We loved when he collapsed to the ground, chortling "Well... you'd better let him out!" And also his in-depth discussion of uncomfortable piercings: "Lesson learned: Don't do it, kids.") But while the show's underwater team did get to burn through some more of their otherwise spectacular B-roll footage of sharks and colorful fish, was it really worth sacrificing the title sequence to re-(re-, re-) learn that Ozzy enjoys fishing and the beach, and not so much the social part of Survivor? Seriously, his sequences are turning into the Survivor equivalent of Daenerys chapters. Less, please.
*Award has no monetary value. Void in the state of Delaware and the Virgin Islands. Take with plenty of water. Should the condition persist for more than four hours, please consult your doctor.
We're starting to see a trend here: Apart from his clockwork breakdown at Tribal Council (plus a brief thumbs-up in camp to Cochran's ability to sit still while fishing), Brandon was completely unheard from in this episode. Just as in the last episode (Ep.10). We're not sure how Survivor's editors expect us to make it through another whole episode without mention of Russell Hantz (which usually occurs during a Brandon confessional). Does such a travesty of a show really even count as Survivor? Sure, you can push the DVD releases of the Thailand and The Amazon seasons all you want, CBS, but we're pretty sure they don't have any Hantzes in them, so they're kind of like fake Survivor, right?
Of course, Brandon was talked about, especially at Tribal Council, where that mean old bully, Cochran, pointed out that you can't talk strategy with Brandon, it's not in his vocabulary. While Cochran was pointing out an uncomfortable truth, we'd like to take the opportunity to curry favor with Brandon, by telling him to buck up: this is another proud Hantz family tradition that he's maintaining, or perhaps even improving upon. We'll note that Brandon may even have been even more proficient than his Uncle Russell at voting people off, which was Russell's sole discernible in-game skill, apart from finding poorly hidden individual immunity idols, which has long since ceased being particularly remarkable. You might even say he marched into Russell's run-down house, and flipped it.
And as mentioned above: honorary ICU mention this week to Dawn and Whitney, whose pre-duel time at Redemption Island with Ozzy apparently was deemed less show-worthy than even more shots of Coach Coa-chiing, Ozzy fishing, and Cochran fretting.
This was really a good week for Albert to finally get around to winning an individual immunity, which by sheer coincidence was in a rehash of the one tribal immunity he single-handedly won for Upolu (well... almost, if he hadn't been competing against both Keith and Jim, and been saddled with "help" from Coach at the time). Going into this episode, we thought (as did Gordon Holmes) that Albert seemed like the most likely target, although we were sure the editors would rue the loss of their go-to source of long-winded strategy stories that end up going nowhere. Like the time he went to Shelbyville, because he needed a new heel for his shoe? Yes.
But Albert avoided the dreaded Wrath of Rick (also Edna) by winning immunity, shifting the boot focus squarely back on to Cochran's shoulders. Naturally, he didn't so without huffing life into another unlikely scheme, this one being Cochran's last-ditch attempt to form an anti-Rick collective with Edna and two other non-Rick, non-Brandon votes. It was the style at the time. Still, if Albert wants to stick around this game, he'd better keep it up with the challenge victories (just not plan to do so). Because if The Family decides he's expendable, we all know what happens when Albert has a plan.
Similarly to the manner in which his benevolent leader image started to tarnish in the recap, Coach's claim that "honor and integrity" are paramount in his game is now starting to rub up against reality. At which point he's forced to whap it on the nose and tell it "Bad claim! Get down!" or just ignore it, and hope nobody else is paying attention. Since the latter has worked so well with this group so far, guess which one he'll chose?
Sooner or later, though, people will start to notice. Sophie was privy to Coach not-quite-"finding" the prayed-for hidden immunity idol, as was Albert. All three promised Cochran would join them in the final four, in order to grease his post-merge flipping wheels. But Coach clearly had a separate deal worked out with the rest of his tribe, in which Cochran was seventh and Edna sixth. Which is why Sophie's public insistence on sticking to that order, just as Coach was beginning to entertain thoughts of keeping Cochran around longer, earns her this week's Slitty award.
Sophie's not the one trumpeting her honor and conspicuously praying at every opportunity. But by forcing Coach to live up to at least one of his words, she's keeping the target off her own back (especially good in a week she didn't win immunity), while also forcing Coach to tarnish his own brand with soon-to-be jurors. Since we never really saw her interact with Cochran (while 90% of the post-merge show has been Cochran's slightly creepy bromance with Coach), it's hard to be sure this will actually pay off. But at least it's better than another failed Albert plan, abandoned the second it left his lips.
Honorable mention this week goes to Edna who at least made an attempt to avoid the looming next boot while the numbers were plausibly in her favor. A bit sad that her special alliance with Coach does not translate into Coach actually voting with her, or making an even the slightest attempt to save her. Maybe it was because he got massages elsewhere this week? Coach is such a slattern.
Recaps and commentary
Exit interviews - Dawn Meehan & Whitney Duncan