First off, we would like to congratulate all four characters shown this season (Coach, Ozzy, Brandon, Cochran... Jim and Dawn's screentime might charitably be considered to have reached supporting character status) for putting aside petty concerns like starvation, and putting in extra attention-getting efforts this episode. Cochran's was essentially an exercise in mime: silently taking more Savaii abuse, then prancing about in Coach's jacket in a comical fashion. Even Jeff Probst succumbed to its mirth-inducing majesty at tribal council. Brandon's attempt involved stuffing himself full of muffin and laughing openly at the trying Savaiians in the second IC. And then there was Coach, racing to the beach, camera crew in tow, to crank out some early-morning Coach-chi before a challenge. But it was a sadly muted effort, and failed to generate any giant sun or lightning effects. Better luck next time, Coach.
Because in this episode (and the next, apparently), Coach's spotlight was eclipsed by the irrepressible antics of one Ozzy Lusth. Previously known for alternating bouts of half-hearted gloating and glowering, the Great and Powerful Oz expanded his palette spectacularly this episode. So impressively, in fact, that he achieved close to three-quarters-heartedness. Well, maybe that's exaggerating a little. But we're pretty sure he cleared the 50% mark.
First, when it was clear he'd be voted against, he made sad faces at fellow returnee Coach. We were quite impressed that Ozzy knew Coach was also a returning player, at least until we remembered they did share a helicopter ride at the start, and that Probst has no doubt mentioned it on several occasions. Still, the Coach mope session brought forth no tears. That would be unbecoming, perhaps even wienerish. Ozzy also made an approximation of a bordering-on-impassioned speech at tribal council about the very last bits of his soul. He then caught a small whale and came perilously close to giddiness about the quality of the reef at Redemption "Island." Dude. Dial it back, bro.
But what really pushed Ozzy over the top, or at least over the halfway mark, and earned him full Trolly honors this episode was his attire. Oh, sure, other people tried dressing as other attention-getters from this season - Brandon as Cochran, Cochran as mini-Coach, Cochran in camp as a confusing amalgam of Coach and Rick (an especially poor choice in terms of getting speaking-on-camera time). But Ozzy made the extra effort of putting a feather in his hair at tribal council, in a nod to beloved Trolly Champion Phillip Sheppard. To be fair, Phillip copied that from Coach, and technically, the real Coach was also sitting there at the time. But it was still possibly a Phillip reference. Although there was no pink underwear, nor did he have a headband. Hmm. Perhaps we should consult our panel of judges. Meh, we'll give it to him, anyway. For Ozzy, that was a lot of effort.
To be fair, there were eleven (sort of twelve) people to show in this episode, along with two challenges, two tribal councils, and two trips to Redemption Island. Not to mention Cochran in Coach's jacket and a full intro. You just can't expect the editors to waste valuable time showing people who are already pretty much done (Keith) or not apparently doing anything to begin with (Edna, Rick). A shot or two of them eating pastries, and they're pretty much covered, right?
But which of the never-shown contestants should we honor here this week? To a certain extent, even the occasionally-shown Sophie was hidden, although her Boston Rob-esque regurgitation during the first immunity challenge probably saved her from complete invisibility. So... Edna or Rick? Rick or Edna? We're gonna have to go with Edna. Rick's hat ended up on Cochran, so that's almost like being shown. Couldn't someone like Coach or Brandon at least have borrowed Edna's treemail visor? Is that too much to ask? Sigh.
True, Jim and Whitney actually ended up winning immunity in this episode, but Dawn was in both challenges until the end (more or less on the coconut one), which attracted Albert's attention. This concerns us deeply, because if Albert has noticed that Dawn is both a physical and social threat, surely someone else might as well. Maybe Sophie? Luckily she's female, so Coach is unaware she exists, except when Brandon feels threatened by her lack of a Y chromosome.
On the other hand, if Albert came up with the idea of Dawn as a threat, it's probably safe for a while, because, even on the off-chance Albert mentions it to Coach, Coach will pay no attention, at least until he believes he thought of it himself. Or until Brandon blurts it out in the middle of Tribal Council. And that could never happen, right? Oh, wait. Well, good luck, Dawn. Hopefully with both Ozzy and Jim out of IC contention, you'll actually win a few to save yourself now.
There was approximately zero actual strategy shown in this episode, beyond failed attempts by Jim and Albert that were quickly forgotten or thought better of. So instead we'll explore the question: Is Brandon pulling a Phillip, and acting up on purpose to get to the final three?
If so, it's actually a fairly nice piece of strategic play. Coach has a lot of options when he looks at people he can take to the F3 with him: Edna would be seen as a coattail rider even by Upolu, Rick has been a solid partner but made little other strategic noise, and now with Cochran on hand, there's someone that four or five people from Savaii actively dislike. If Brandon really wants to be the Guy You Love To Hate, he needs to step up his game a touch.
And step it up he did this episode, raising his arms in pastry-caked triumph as Jim was eliminated from the second IC. Or badgering legitimately nice Dawn for being (in his Mikayla-besotted eyes) insufficiently convincingly nice. Then there was the yelling about how he couldn't possibly be a villain, to nobody in particular at tribal council. Give him a headband, a feather, and a feigned speech impediment, and Brandon might have that slot completely wrapped up. This has to be intentional, right?
Either way, though, we're secretly kind of rooting for Brandon to be the chosen goat who gets to go to the final three, just to see if he can top Uncle Russell's maximal jury vote total of two. It seems within reach, especially if he's up against Coach (there must be some anti-returnee bias, one would assume) and Cochran (ex-Savaii member hostility). Brandon certainly hasn't done himself any favors with the latter group by openly dismissing the entire tribe as a bunch of hypocritical jerks, but you never know. Chase Rice got four votes. Why can't Brandon get three? And in Samoa, no less? Because it would be worth it to watch Russell's head explode at the finale. This game is flawed!
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