Survivor: South Pacific 23.02 “He Has Demons” Recap

Welcome Survivor fans! If you missed last week’s season premiere, catch up with my recap here.

The episode begins on Redemption Island. Semhar arrives and says she feels abandoned by her tribe. She doesn’t understand how people can be so cold-hearted. She then does what she does best…recite poetry. Over at Savai’i, Cochran thanks everyone for keeping him. He confesses to going into fight or flight mode at Tribal Council, and he fought. He needs to chill out though, and change his attitude to best help the tribe, and stop drawing attention to himself. Ozzy identifies with Cochran’s desire to play, but he needs to put in a better effort. Ozzy shares thoughts on Cochran with Keith, who agrees that Cochran should have an opportunity to prove his worth. Keith tells the camera that he likes Ozzy, and would normally want to align with him, but Ozzy has played before so he needs to be watched.

Day 4 at Upolu. Coach tells Edna he’s getting some bad feelings from the girls, but she helped him out after the first Duel. Rick, Sophie, Brandon and Albert are in Coach’s alliance, but Edna is a good friend. Coach asks her if Christine found an Hidden Immunity Idol, and she points out that Christine and Stacey have stopped looking so they might have found one. More importantly, that pair is quite tight. Edna confides that she is probably at the bottom of the tribe, so she has aligned herself with Coach. She promises that she is solidly with him, and as a result, he promises to protect her.

At Savaii, Cochran gets to work on coconuts. He needs his tribe to stop thinking of him as a liability. Ozzy says he’s going fishing, but looks for the HII instead. He climbs in a tree over the water, and under a rock stuck in the branches. Lo and behold, he finds an HII!!! (I thought it was going to be hard to find them this season!) Ozzy figures that if he can make it to the Merge and then play his HII, he could make it to the Finals.

Brandon confesses that he wants to emulate Coach and play honorably, but he feels like a hypocrite as he’s been lying about his uncle. It’s tearing him up inside, so he confesses to Coach (and his blircle!) that he is Russell’s nephew. Coach becomes very wary of Brandon because Russell had given Coach his word, then stabbed him in the back. Then again, Brandon had nothing to gain by telling him what he did, so he’s good with Brandon.

Back at Savaii, Elyse is hungry and to catch some fish, she needs to channel her Native American ancestry. Jim goes fishing with Ozzy and Keith, which gives him a chance to enact his 3 + 2 Plan: an alliance of the three guys and Elyse and Whitney. Keith tells the camera that Jim’s plan is funny because Jim has no idea that Keith and Ozzy already have an alliance. Jim says Cochran, Papa Bear and Dawn are the next to go.

Day 5. Upolu passes around coconuts before Mikayla goes fishing with Brandon. She says she is just a strong, solid person. Brandon, of course, can’t stand Mikayla because she’s evidently using her seductive ways to get attention. He calls her Parvati, and swears he will get her voted out of the game. Meanwhile, Christine tries to look for the HII clue. Sophie says she thinks Christine already has the HII, but Stacey says she hasn’t told her anything. Christine goes back to where Stacey missed the clue, and finds it herself. Does she tell her tribe about it before they head to the…

…Immunity Challenge. All of Upolu are eating some fruit as they enter to send a message to Savaii. For the Challenge, four members of each tribe will race to untie ribbons wrapped around a May pole, to release a set of keys. The keys will be used to unlock the other four members of the tribe. Those four players will move large crates in a puzzle to release the largest crate. The first tribe to get the largest crate on their mat wins Immunity, as well as a Reward of pillows, hammock, and blankets. Upolu decides Edna will sit out, and the players line up to start the Challenge.

All of the female players are on the poles except Cochran. Savaii has trouble unwinding the ribbons, letting Upolu take a huge lead, and releasing their keys. Stacey unlocks the Upolu guys to work on their puzzle. Dawn, eventually, secures Savaii’s keys, allowing Elyse to unlock her tribemates. Savaii finally gets to the puzzle, and immediately start flying through it! Upolu falls behind quickly. Savaii comes from behind and releases their large crate. The first four members of the tribe help lift it onto their mat. “Savaii wins Immunity!” Jeff hand off the Immunity Idol to Savaii and sends them back to their beach. On Upolu’s exit, Brandon admits they were overconfident, but now that they must face voting out someone, he will make sure Mikayla goes home tonight.

Back at Upolu, Coach congratulates the women for kicking ass. Christine thinks the guys could have moved faster. Coach tells his alliance that they should split their votes between Christine and Stacey in case one of them has an HII. Further, he informs his guys that Edna is loyal and not a threat, but on a need to know basis. In a quiet moment, Brandon tells Coach that he’s uncomfortable around Mikayla; she reminds him too much of Parvati. Coach understands Brandon’s concerns, but Mikayla is strong and needed for Challenges. “He has demons,” Coach says of Brandon. Sophie doesn’t understand why Brandon wants Mikayla gone because she’s so strong. Moreover, as Sophie considers herself a strong woman, would Mikayla’s ouster mean Brandon would want her (Sophie) out next? Coach confers with his alliance, but when Mikayla walks over, Coach asks her for privacy. Then Stacey comes over so he walks away. Albert tries to cover for the Dragon Slayer, by saying Coach is just being paranoid.

Christine asks Edna what’s going on, and the latter responds that they were talking about Sophie, but Christine points out that Sophie was part of the conversation! Brandon tells Christine that he’s voting for Mikayla. This makes no sense whatsoever to Christine; she must be the real target. As she’s nervous about her place, Christine goes to look for the HII. Brandon approaches Coach and flatly lies to him by saying Christine and Stacey are voting for Mikayla. Coach confides that Brandon is making him nervous with his insistence in voting our Mikayla. Is Brandon loyal or not? Coach will find out at…

…Tribal Council. Upolu receives their torches and fire. Jeff asks Brandon if he thinks he made a good first impression. Yup because he is a hard worker. Coach, what was the tribe’s first impression of you? Bad, he responds as he lost the first Challenge. Coach, unprovoked, then calls out Christine and Stacey for wanting to vote out Mikayla. The women, of course, deny this. “So glad you’re back Coach,” says Jeff. Coach wants Mikayla to stay because of her ability in Challenges. Mikayla doesn’t get why she would be a target. Stacey says she never talked to Coach about Mikayla, and Christine says she never even said Mikayla’s name. Who did Coach hear that from then?

Albert sticks up for Coach, and says that the tribe’s general dishonesty is coming from the HII. Coach says Christine went and looked for the HII a lot. Christine responds that, obviously, he’s threatened by her. “He knows he’s temporary,” Christine states. Jeff wonders why Mikayla hasn’t asked Christine and Stacey if they actually said they were targeting her. They deny the accusation again. All the while, Brandon has become visibly agitated. Noticing this, Jeff asks him if he has something on his mind. Brandon finally speaks up and admits he told them to vote for Mikayla. “Boom!” exclaims Stacey. “Welcome to Survivor,” says Jeff. He asks Albert if it worries him that his tribe is in such disarray? He responds by saying that people are revealing themselves, despite how much they might try to hide it.

Jeff admits that he has no idea what will happen, but it’s time to vote. They do, and Jeff grabs the urn. He asks if anyone wants to play an HII, but no one does. The first vote is for Sophie, the next for Edna. Vote Three is for Christine, and Vote Four for Stacey. Christine and Stacey each receive another two votes each, leaving them tied with three apiece and one vote remaining. “The second player voted out of Survivor: South Pacific…Christine!” Jeff snuffs her torch before Christine marches off into the Blue Light of Death. He notes that they are only five days in, yet already Upolu’s biggest obstacle is trust. With that, he sends them back to their beach.

Next time on…Survivor!

The pressure begins to get to Savaii, and Jim specifically. Meanwhile, Ozzy has an Idol, and Brandon struggles with the damage his lies have caused.

Two episodes in, and I have to admit I am already loving this season. There are some really interesting players, who are making some fascinating plays so far. I mean, it’s a shame that another Hantz is becoming so important to the season, but this kid is incredible. Yes, Mikayla is very attractive, but we haven’t been shown one second of tape where she was somehow trying to seduce Brandon, thereby putting his marriage in some sort of danger. If anything, the show has gone out of its way to show how much of a tomboy and asexual Mikayla has acted so far, making Brandon’s obsession with her all the more incredible. Throw in the excellent games Ozzy and Coach are playing so far, and I have been wholly satisfied with the opening of the season.

As far as next week is concerned, I wouldn’t be surprised if these tribes alternate Immunity Challenge wins, though I still do think Savaii is a stronger tribe. The Duel between Semhar and Christine might end up rivaling the one between Becky and Sundra where neither could make fire. Whomever wins, we are all losers for having to watch. Look also for Brandon to quickly find himself on the outs with his tribe and alliance, with everyone talking about how they don’t trust him, but no one actually doing anything about it and instead voting out Stacey should they have to back to Tribal Council. More important than all of this though is how this week’s episode effected the Odds to Win.

Odds to Win

Again, not much movement in the Odds this week as Christine was always a long-shot to win, and a couple players (Whitney and Papa Bear) literally did not appear on-screen outside of the Challenges. There was one big mover, however, and I’m sure you can guess who it is and in what direction (Russell might not want to read this….)

Albert: 7-2. The only thing negative that happened for Albert was the fact that Upolu lost a member of the tribe. He seems firmly ensconced in Coach’s alliance, and is still a Challenge beast. Albert is well on his way to the Merge and Jury. He seemed so calm, reasonable and even-handed at Tribal Council that I can’t imagine a scenario at this point where Albert would piss people off enough that they’d want to vote him out. All this equals Albert still being the favorite.

Whitney: 5-1. Seriously, did you see Whitney on the episode at all? She was in th Challenge, I know that, but otherwise, she was like a ghost. Granted, more time was spent at Upolu as they went to Tribal Council. To be honest, at this point, not making a show of yourself is a good strategy. I would like to see something from Whitney soon though, lest she end up being a floater (sorry, Big Brother word) that is eventually unceremoniously dumped somewhere in the middle of the game.

Keith: 7-1. Keith moves up a spot both on his own regard, and because of the situation surrounding Mikayla. Keith, like Albert, is firmly in Coach’s alliance, and is clearly necessary for Challenges. He is, however, quite wary of what Coach is doing in the assembling of said alliance, and seems to know to keep himself one step ahead of the veteran. Loyalty until it is advantageous not to be is the name of the game in Survivor, and it appears it is a lesson well learned by Keith.

Mikayla: 9-1. Poor Mikayla. How could she have guessed that her grit, determination, and general “not attempting to be sexy” would be so alluring to Brandon. I have never seen such an irrational hatred of someone before on this show. I’m not saying Brandon’s beliefs are invalid, far from it, but Mikayla has done nothing to try to seduce Brandon in the slightest. It’s the South Pacific, in summer. It’s hot. They are often in the water. Ergo, Mikayla is going to wear a bathing suit. A lot. It would be a real shame if Mikayla is undone because of Brandon’s insecurities, but at least for now, it appears Coach has reined him in. Nevertheless, she has to drop down a bit because she is clearly in the spotlight over at Upolu.

Edna: 12-1. I like the game Edna is playing. She’s sweet, she’s nice, and she has the Dragon Slayer as a confidant and protector. Her attempt at lying to Christine (about Sophie being the subject of the pow wow when Sophie was in the pow wow) was a bit misguided, but not impossible from which to recover. She is rightly aware that she is at the bottom of the tribal hierarchy at the moment, but with attention now squarely focused on Mikayla and Brandon, I figure Edna will be able to bore herself deeper into the alliance.

Dawn: 19-1. Dawn came very close to spiraling down the Odds board, but I had to stop and think, and realize that I was overreacting to her inability to get the keys down from Savaii’s pole in the Immunity Challenge. I first thought that this was yet another bit of unflattering light shining upon her, another nail in the coffin, but upon ruminating about it again, I realized that Savaii won the Challenge. Errors like hers are quickly forgotten in the joy of victory. Moreover, errors like hers (small ones) are quickly forgotten in three days playing Survivor. Yes, she is likely still on the chopping block after Papa Bear, but she has an opportunity to prove herself, like Cochran. She should be warned though, another off performance and she will tumble down this Board (I know she’s super, super scared!).

Rick: 20-1. There wasn’t much of Rick in this episode, but like some of the others above, he finds himself a strong and able player firmly set in the tribe’s majority alliance. I know he professed a dislike for Coach pregame, but he seems to be working well with the veteran. Not sure I have much more to say, so I will just tip my Stetson to the rancher.

Ozzy: 24-1. Well, Ozzy found the HII. I shouldn’t be surprised, and I suppose I’m not. I’m more disappointed. Oh, not in Ozzy, who is playing brilliantly so far, but rather in the Survivor producers for not hiding the HIIs well, or better yet, eliminating them all together (Seriously. How great would it be if players thought there were HIIs to be had, but there weren’t? The paranoia would be insane!). This is not Ozzy’s fault. As I said, he is playing very well, has a solid alliance, and has a first tribal Immunity under his belt. Yes, he has to be wary of Keith (to a certain extent), but otherwise, he is riding high, and with a timely play of the HII, he can make it near the Final Four.

Jim: 25-1. Jim benefits from Savaii’s win at the Immunity Challenge and Brandon’s precipitous drop. He thinks he is running his tribe, with his 3+2 Plan, but I must admit I chuckled at Keith’s confessional mocking Jim’s confidence. As was seen in the preview for next week’s episode, Jim might be starting to lose it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he falls down the Board next week. I have a feeling that is a scenario more likely to happen sooner rather than later.

Elyse: 28-1. Elyse is part Native American. She evidently believes this gives her the inherent ability to fish. Elyse is delusional in this belief. I have a sneaking suspicion Elyse will play the part of Natalie from last season, and just be a reliable vote that gets her near the Finals, but with no real expectation of winning. Show me something Elyse!

Sophie: 35.1-1. Like others, Sophie is in Coach’s alliance, and is hyper aware of Brandon and his shenanigans. My problem with her is that she seems to take offense to everything. I’m not sure if that is a proper description, but in every confessional, she seems pissed off that someone would affront her intelligence or dare to play the game in a way differently than her. This type of attitude will only get you so far (like Top 9). As far as we’ve seen, she hasn’t mouthed off yet to anyone in her tribe, but I have a feeling that blow up isn’t too far away.

Brandon: 35.2-1. Here’s out big loser for the week. Brandon, seriously dude, what the Hell is going on? As I said above in my piece about Mikayla, I respect your ethics, and understand where you’re coming from, but what has Mikayla done to make you think of her as a latter-day Salome? She has done nothing but kick some ass both at camp and in Challenges. She isn’t hitting on you, she isn’t strutting in front of you, she isn’t using her feminine wiles on you. Everything you are seeing is in your head, and it’s going to get you booted out of this game. Moreover, what the Hell are you doing confessing to lying and throwing other players under the bus?!?! If your ethics are that strong that you can’t lie in a situation where everyone else is lying because they are supposed to, you have no business being in the game. None.

Coach: 43-1. Coach continues his long, but steady, march up the Odds to Win Board. He is the head of the majority alliance on Upolu. He is a strength in Challenges. He can even be ridiculously frank with his tribemates and not be hated because of it. I still think he has a major target on his back, but I don’t foresee a scenario where enough people on his tribe could successfully collude behind his back to blindside him. Everyone’s attention is now on Brandon, and Stacey should go long before Coach, so the Dragon Slayer should likely make the Merge, but absent an HII like Ozzy has, I can’t see players allowing him to get near the Final Four.

John: 52-1. I applaud Cochran’s newfound desire to be an asset around camp. Unfortunately, he is still a major liability in Challenges. He may indeed make the Merge if Savaii rolls off a couple Challenge wins, but I don’t see him sniffing the Finals.

Mark-Anthony: 67-1. I think I caught a glimpse of Mark during the Challenge, but I could be wrong. No reason to move him up. Unfortunately for him, he’s still one of the next two in line for ouster at Savaii.

Christine: 371-1. After her opening comment upon seeing the veterans, was there any doubt Christine would be one of the first players out? No “loudmouth” player has ever won Survivor (Boston Rob was loud and opinionated, but never insulted people….to their faces anyway), and Christine will not be the first. The only reason she’s not lower is because I can’t conceive of a way she would lose a Duel to Stacey or Semhar.

Stacey: 372-1. With her only alliance member now gone (Christine), how can Stacey possibly survive in this game? Well, Upolu could sweep the remaining tribal Immunity Challenges and then Stacey could switch allegiances after the Merge, that’s how. Stop laughing. No, seriously, stop. It could happen. OK, it won’t happen. Ergo, Stacey will be the next person voted out of Upolu.

Semhar: Eleventy billion-2. I almost made her odds worse thank last week because of her terrible poem, but I figured that would just be kicking someone when she was down. I’m better than that (though not much).

That’s it for this week’s edition of Survivor. What did you think of the episode? Was Brandon out of his mind to try to pull off his lies? Is Coach as safe in his position as he thinks he is? Will Ozzy actually know how to best use his HII? Please leave your questions and comments below. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to use the machete, even though my mom told me not to.

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