Survivor South Pacific – Episode 23-7 Review – “To Duel or Not To Duel?”

It was a stupid move.

Let’s just get right into it, guys. While Ozzy’s decision to sacrifice himself and have his tribe send him to Redemption Island was a gusty move, it was a stupid one that depends on too many variables in order to succeed. The plan is this: Ozzy arrives on Redemption Island, beats Christine in a duel that could be anything, and then the merge takes place immediately afterward. There are two important aspects of this plan that are entirely out of Ozzy’s control.

First of all, he could lose the duel and go home. The duels thus far have not been particularly physical, so Ozzy isn’t going to have that much of an upper hand against Christine. In fact, we saw a sneak peek of what the duel will be, and it looks like something that Christine could handily win. Hell, maybe she plays a game exactly like this at a backyard BBQ every fourth of July. You don’t know. There are lots of reasons Christine could end up winning the duel. Cochran, as much as I enjoy the little guy, was the weakest link and should have been sent packing.

Now, let’s say Ozzy does win the duel. Trying to predict when the merge will take place is not easy to do. Sure, historically it’s taken place around now. But producers have switched up the game before, and they’ll do it again. Tribes have merged at even numbers, so who’s to say there won’t be one more Tribal Council before that happens? If there is another Immunity Challenge before the merge hits, Savaii will be missing one of their strongest players. They will have a translucent young Woody Allen in his place. They could go to Tribal Council and lose yet another player.

IF everything works out, it’s a decent plan. Ozzy could let the other tribe know that Cochran was supposed to be voted out but played the idol instead. Not only will the enemy think the idol has been played, but Cochran could play double agent and pretend to flip to the other side in order to know who they’re voting for. But it all depends on a couple of incredibly dangerous gambles. And you know what the kicker is? Ozzy made this decision based on a DREAM HE HAD. A dream! Who is he, Shambo? Never make major decisions based on things that happen in dreams! If I took my dreams seriously, I would be living in an underground bunker in Montana, hiding out from the multitude of serial killers, rapists and home invaders who chase me in my “dreams”, or awaiting the impending tsunami, earthquake or complete world apocolypse that also appear when I close my eyes. (You can tell I’m a really relaxed and fun person, right?) But I don’t, I live in a downtown apartment and simply plan escape routes when I can’t sleep at night.

Bridge Over Troubled Survivors

OK, let’s talk about the duel. Ozzy and Cochran attended as spectators this time, along with Sophie and Albert from Upolu. Mikayla and Christine faced off in a challenge that required several steps. First, they had to take apart a wooden box made of planks. Then they had to use the planks to build a small bridge, which they would run across. Then they would pull out only the planks that had a pattern and use those to complete a puzzle.

Christine maintained a slight lead throughout the whole challenge and, even though it was close, managed to pull out another win. Her fifth in a row! Looks like you don’t have to be a Jesus-loving spry young blond man in order to go on a crazy Redemption Island run. You just need spunk and easy challenges. So maybe there’d be hope for me should they ever allow Canadians on the show.

Christine’s fifth straight win made Ozzy recall a notion that he’d actually expressed in some pre-game interviews – maybe he should go to Redemption Island on purpose. I think when Ozzy mentioned that prior to the game, he was imagining a tribe that would refuse to accept a veteran player either based on Russell Hantz’s reputation or Boston Rob’s success. I think he thought Redemption Island would be a viable way for him to stay in the game, because he’s much stronger in challenges than he is with the social game. I don’t think Ozzy was planning to sacrifice himself for the greater good from the get-go.

When Ozzy first said they needed to send someone to Redemption Island to oust Christine I thought “Ha! What are you, volunteering? Not only do you need someone who can beat her, you need someone who will stay loyal to the tribe despite having been voted out. Who’s THAT gonna be?” But, alas, he was volunteering.

Of course, Cochran was delighted when Ozzy shared this idea with him. It was pretty obvious that Cochran would be the one to go should the tribe lose the challenge. So this was like Christmas morning for Cochran.

I know you can’t be sure of anything in Survivor, but I was surprised Ozzy wasn’t more aware of the fact that Christine seems to be on the outs with her former tribe. She was voted out by them first, and there have been clear signs of animosity during every duel. There had to have been conversations about that at the Savaii camp. This week, Albert was actively trying to help Mikayla defeat Christine. Again, it’s impossible to be sure of anything in this game and paranoia can run deep, but the odds that Christine’s anger is an act and she’d actually stick with Upolu should seem slim even to Ozzy. 

Tai-Sheeesh

Oh god, Coach’s Tai Chi is back. And now with creepy praying! Yikes. You know, I wasn’t really minding Coach this season. I thought he was doing a good job. But he had to go all Crazy Christian on me, didn’t he? (This is not meant to offend all Christians, just the ones who think God would have an interest in reality television, please don’t send me nasty emails like you did when I complained about Matt Elrod…) 

Over at Upolu, Little Hantz was still concerned about finding the Hidden Immunity Idol. Now, if I were Coach I never would have shared that information with Little Hantz. I would have let him look and look and look, never finding it. In fact, I would have rubbed salt in his wounds by saying “Wow I guess you were right, you’re nothing like your uncle.” But no, Coach instead had to pray to God that they’d find the idol, and then pretend to find it. Goodness. Should I be more bothered by the most deceitful prayer ever, or the fact that he was praying to find the idol at all? Both. I am bothered by both things.

But guess what? Coach got out religious-obnoxious’d by Brandon, who celebrated the “finding” of the Hidden Immunity by declaring “It’s definitely an advantage having the big guy upstairs on your tribe.” UGH. I am so disgusted by that statement that I refuse to believe he was suggesting that God is rooting for one reality TV show tribe over another, and instead I’m going to assume that Coach lives in an apartment above Brandon, and his nickname is “big guy”.

Twinsies!

I forgot about Survivor‘s stupid movie tie-in reward challenges, so when the teams were told to dress up as “twins” for the challenge I thought it was dumb, not really really dumb. Of course, it was actually all for Adam Sandler’s new movie Jack and Jill, in which he plays both roles. I saw a trailer for this a few weeks ago and I’m pretty sure it might be the worst movie ever made. And Adam Sandler has some doozies.

For the challenge, one set of “twins” had to act as callers while the other two pairs of “twins” had to go out onto a course, blindfolded, and retrieve bags containing masks. Cochran and Jim were the callers for Savaii while Rock and Coach did the job for Upolu. Another job the callers had was to untangle the ropes the other pairs were hooked onto as they went out on the course.

At first, it was a pretty close race and an entertaining challenge to watch.  Though, I was distracted by the unsettling fact that many of the Upolu members had crosses painted on their faces and by Coach’s creepy mid-challenge prayers. Oh dear. Next thing you knew, Savaii fell way behind as Cochran was unable to untangle his tribemates. When Ozzy and Whitney went out on the course to retrieve their next bag, something wasn’t right about their ropes and Whitney kept tripping. That gave Sophie and Albert a chance to pull way into the lead, retrieving the last bag for their tribe and quickly pairing up the correct masks to win the Reward/Immunity Challenge.

And with that, everyone went nuts. Coach ran around like a lunatic, shouting “On your knees! On your knees!” His basic sentiment “Stop celebrating and pray, damn it!” as he finally corralled his tribe long enough to get them to all kneel down and PRAY, thanking god for their victory. Seriously y’all, I almost threw up. Coach! God didn’t help you win that challenge, Cochran did. Go thank him. What is with Coach? He hasn’t been doing this since Day One, has he? Did he run out of mood stabilizers or something? What the hell?

Speaking of needing mood stabilizers, Ozzy could use some too because that kid has quite the temper. As Coach was forcing everyone around him to pray (Did he even check to make sure everyone is Christian? Or religious?) Ozzy was throwing a temper tantrum, running around screaming and kicking things. From the way Ozzy acted, you’d think he was about to be forced to watch an atrocious Adam Sandler movie or something. When he finally stopped going berserk, he manically ranted to Probst about how frustrating it was to lose because Cochran had hooked him onto the rope wrong. Yikes.

So Ozzy went back to camp with a vendetta against Cochran, and Upolu went off to their reward punishment (from God, perhaps?) of having to watch the worst movie of all time. At least the candy looked good.

Hero/Dreamlover/Fantasy (Any song by Mariah Carey would be appropriate here)

I think the episode title was meant to refer to Ozzy, but if the plan he came up with is executed correctly it will be Cochran who’s the true Trojan horse.

After returning to camp from the Immunity Challenge, the consensus of the tribe was that Cochran would be voted out. Everyone was honest and straightforward and discussed it right there with him – he was the weakest member of the tribe and had blown that challenge for the group. But then the discourse went past honest and moved into a weird Oprah-like state of positivity or, as Cochran himself put it, a “weird Kumbaya rationale.” Everyone started Cochran that this was his chance to be redeemed, that he just needed to believe he’d win the duel and then he would. It was like everyone read “The Secret” before coming on the show. Frankly, I hate that kind of stuff just as much as I hate Coach and Brandon’s religious crap. No one’s going to win a duel or a challenge because they envision it or pray for it. You know what? I envision myself winning the lottery all the time, but it never happens. I also envision myself becoming an incredibly famous and rich blogger, I envision myself becoming a rock star, and I envision myself winning a role on glee. None of these things ever happen. I envision the hell out of them, but that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t sing and have never actually purchased a lottery ticket.

Cochran, of course, was devastated by this turn of events. “I’m not here to be a hero,” he told the camera. He had no interest in going to Redemption Island so he could win the duel, he just wanted to stay in the damn game.

But oh! Oh, did Cochran ever luck out. Or hey, maybe he was envisioning that Ozzy would have a change of heart. In any case, Ozzy woke up the next morning and said he’d dreamed he went to Redemption Island. It was his destiny! Or something. I’m pretty sure his guy is bipolar.

The most ridiculous part of Ozzy’s whole plan was that it meant giving up the Hidden Immunity Idol. The guy was already voted out with one in his pocket before, and now he was actually handing it to someone else before instructing them to vote him out. Oh Ozzy, just because you’re in control of your destiny this time doesn’t mean it’s any less stupid.

The tribe was not thrilled with Ozzy’s revelation, especially Keith. He raised the incredibly valid point that they cannot be sure the merge is happening next, and therefore they still need to keep their tribe strong. But Ozzy’s mind was made up, and he headed into Tribal Council with the intention of getting voted out. Jeff was definitely surprised, and told Ozzy “If you don’t win the duel, you go out a bigger fool than last time.” But Ozzy had made up his mind and the tribe was on board, so he handed Cochran the Idol, the votes were read, and he headed off to Redemption Island.

I have to say, you know what I would have loved? If Probst had told the tribe “Guess what? The merge isn’t happening yet. How do you like them apples?” But he didn’t, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

What did you guys think of the episode? Did Ozzy make a gutsy move, a stupid one, or both? Do you think Cochran will stay loyal if Ozzy does return to the game? Sound off in the comments section!


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