Survivor South Pacific – Episode 23-9 Review – “Baked Goods”

So that was a weird episode, right? I kept saying “But we’re only ten minutes in, why are they have the Immunity Challenge already?” and “We’re starting Tribal Council at the half hour mark?” and “What about the duel?” It was might confusing. Last night’s episode of Survivor featured two Immunity Challenges, two Tribal Councils, and two people being sent to join Ozzy on Redemption Island…but no duel.

And really, it’s for the best. Upolu and Cochran are standing strong, which means they were two predictable Tribal Councils. It’s a natural thing that happens when people play a good game of Survivor – all Upolu has to do is pick off the remaining Savaii members, and then go to town on each other. That’s when things will get really interesting, but until then it’s best to get through these more predictable eliminations as quickly as possible.

I thought I’d read an interview with Jeff Probst before this season started where he said they wouldn’t let the people on Redemption Island stack up like they did last season. And yet here we are with three people on Redemption Island. I really hope two of them get sent home, because not having to win, but simply not having to lose, is not as high stakes as a one-on-one match. That said, a Keith vs. Ozzy vs. Jim match up could be exciting, since those are three strong physical competitors. Part of me hopes the challenge is something really girly, like balancing teacups.

Harsh Words

Following the Tribal Council where Cochran flipped on Savaii, emotions were obviously running very high. People were mad. Ozzy was furious that he’d put his life on the line for Cochran, only to be betrayed. Jim laid into Cochran with an expletive-laden rant, calling him a “piece of s— coward” a “poor excuse for a man” and a “f—ing piece of s— nerd.” Whitney told Cochran he disgusts her, having betrayed her after she and Keith put their necks on the line for him.

Of course, they were all right to be mad. Whitney’s right, she and Keith saved Cochran by voting out Elyse. Jim is right – after all, the plan to vote out Elyse and save Cochran was his idea. And yes, Ozzy offered himself up to go to Redemption Island, thus relieving Cochran of that fate. They all have a right to be mad, but that’s the game and Cochran made the best move for his game. He has nothing to be ashamed of.

Two things from this whole hullabaloo stood out for me. The first was Ozzy saying “That’s how a wiener plays” to Cochran, which I found hilarious because it almost sounds like saying “That’s how a winner plays.” The second was Little Hantz coming to check on Cochran when he was talking to Ozzy, apparently to make sure no one had stabbed him or anything. “We’re not, like, gangsters out here, man,” Ozzy told him. Well, Brandon’s neck tattoo suggests otherwise, but OK. And there was Dan from Survivor: Nicaragua. He had a gangster vibe. But I’m getting off track.

Ring Toss

The first challenge this week had a weak first half and a cool second half. In the first round, the first four people to toss a coconut into a target would move on. That’s it – just get one coconut into a target. Dawn, Whitney, Sophie and Jim all moved on. In the second round, the four players had to crack open coconuts, fill their mouths with the water from it and move through and obstacle course before depositing the water into a tube. The first person to fill his or her tube won Immunity. It would have been a better challenge had they scrapped the first portion and had everyone trying to fill tubes with coconut water.

The challenge quickly came down to Sophie and Jim, and was I ever rooting for Sophie. First of all, I have Sophie in the Survivor pool. Second of all, that choice is shared by my boyfriend and I, so we had to agree on how to rank the players. He wanted Jim at #1, I didn’t. We ended up putting him lower (but still not as low as I would have on my own) and have had a running bet all season long about how well he’d do. So I’ve kind of been rooting for Jim to fail all season long just so I could prove I was right. Also, Jim’s kind of a jerk.

It was incredibly close, but Sophie threw up her last mouthful of water and that gave Jim the opportunity he needed to win the challenge. It didn’t matter though, because all it meant was that Upolu could set their sights on voting out Ozzy.

Frankly, I don’t even know why Cochran would need to be convinced to go along with the plan, but Brandon made an argument anyway. “How many times do you have a chance to vote Ozzy out of this game?” he asked. “Apparently, two,” Cochran replied. It took Little Hantz far too long to catch the joke. Ozzy made some kind of lame plea to Coach, who responded by reciting one of the quotes he’d memorized before heading out for Survivor. If my wonderful Catholic grandmother were there, I’m pretty sure she’d have said “I hope you know your prayers that well!” (It’s the required Catholic response to hearing any memorized piece of useless or trite information.)

Before Tribal Council, we were all treated to a lesson in just how arrogant Jim is – he decided that maybe he’d give his Immunity Necklace to Ozzy and make a speech about honor and integrity that was SO rousing that everyone from Upolu would feel compelled to vote Cochran out. Yes, Jim thought he could change the entire fate of the game with his words. Poor Ozzy really got his hopes up. “Knowing Jim, I believe that if he says he’s gonna give me the necklace, I believe he will.” Oh Ozzy. You don’t know that slimeball at all.

Jim’s speech at Tribal Council turned out to be less than rousing. Let’s just say he’s no Sue Hawk, y’know? Furthermore, he decided not to give Ozzy the Immunity Necklace after all. What a jerk. The votes were cast and Ozzy skipped off to Tribal Council, leaving behind the promise to greet anyone who arrives there with a nice fish dinner before he sends them packing.

BFFs Reunited

Ozzy wasn’t joking – the guy is like Mowgli, I’m pretty sure he was raised in the jungle. He caught a giant fish and cooked it up to share with his bestie Keith. Ozzy is such a strange dude. He’d be perfect for Survivor if it had nothing to do with strategy and everything to do with surviving in the wild. He actually seems like he prefers living in the jungle to normal life. I don’t love him on Survivor because he has weak social and strategic games, but I’d totally watch a reality show where we just film Ozzy living in the wild for the rest of his life. It would be like a really primitive version of The Truman Show.

Eat or Play?

Because we went straight from Ozzy arriving at Redemption Island to the second Immunity Challenge of the episode, we never got to see whether Jim and Whitney realized just how many votes Ozzy got – because he also got one from Dawn.

Dawn, just what is going on with you? You were going to flip with Cochran, and you didn’t. You knew for a fact that he was going to flip, that one of your Savaii players would go home and your tribe would be down in numbers. You knew this, so you should have known that that was the time to also jump ship. You know when’s not the time? Now! Now, once it’s safe and Cochran has already made the big move and everyone knows your days are numbered. Now it’s not trustworthy, it’s just desperate.

We went straight into the second Immunity Challenge, which was a good one – because before it even started, the players had a decision to make. Did they want to try and win immunity, or enjoy a feast of iced coffee and baked goods? The decisions were both surprising and predictable. Predictable because the seven people who you’d expect to feel safe chose to eat. Surprising because, guys, that’s totally weak sauce. The Dragon Slayer should always compete! And Cochran? You’re still on thin ice buddy, I would have played. Someone could have found another Hidden Immunity Idol, who knows? Look, I know y’all get hungry out there but this is for a million bucks! I like to think that I’d play, no matter what.

The challenge was a balancing one. Players had to stand on a beam while balancing a ball on a curved bow. Jim was out pretty quickly, but Dawn and Whitney battled it out for a while. And it was obvious who Upolu was rooting for – Dawn. She’s a likable lady, and even told the people sitting out that she was trying to last as long as possible so they could eat more. Um, really Dawn? You’re playing so that they can eat and not so that you can be safe during Tribal Council? Get with it.

Whitney won Immunity, but the display of affection for Dawn worried some people – particularly, Albert. He wanted to vote Dawn out, and with good reason. She’s well-liked and was slowly infiltrating the Upolu alliance. But was she really more dangerous than Jim? Sure, Jim is far less likely to make any friends. He’s a jackass. But he could go on an inconvenient Immunity run. That is possible. Sophie disagreed with Albert and wanted Jim gone instead. Off to Tribal Council we went, not knowing which person the tribe had agreed on.

Loco

Even though Upolu is just picking off Savaii one by one, Tribal Council wasn’t without controversy. After Dawn mentioned how hard it was to watch everyone eat while she competed for Immunity, Brandon took offense – wasn’t that in contradiction to what she’d said during the challenge? Kind of, yes, but Brandon’s overreaction to Dawn’s comment scared the crap out of her. She basically begged him to forgive her – I’m surprised she didn’t get down on her knees. Didn’t anyone tell her how unpredictable this kid is?

The continuous painting of everyone from Savaii as bullies caused Whitney to shed a few tears, since she felt like she was being villainized and painted as a bad person when she’s not. This is where Cochran runs into a problem – we don’t yet know who will get to be on the jury, but if it includes everyone who’s currently on Redemption Island, I don’t think Cochran can win. Maybe Dawn would vote for him, but I don’t think Keith, Ozzy, Jim or Whitney will ever come to respect the game he played, even if it gets him to the end. That means it will be very difficult for Cochran to get enough votes to win. Not impossible, but very difficult. He’s Russell Hantz-ed himself, becoming the best person to take to the end because he has such a slim chance of winning.

Cochran uses his prop comedy skills to befriend Albert.

Jim was sent to Redemption Island, likely ruing the day he decided that Elyse was a threat and he’d rather have Cochran around. Oops! Hindsight, right dude?

Despite being a predictable episode, I still enjoyed it and I think this is the strongest season of Survivor we’ve seen since Heroes vs. Villains a couple years ago. What did you guys think of the show?


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