Survivor: South Pacific 23.07 “Trojan Horse” Recap

If you missed last week’s episode, please make sure you catch up with my recap.

This week’s episode begins on Night 16 at Upolu. Edna is upset that her name keeps coming up at Tribal Council, but recognizes that Brandon’s outbursts are costing him. Coach insists to Rick that they can control Brandon, but to the camera, Coach says that if the time comes to cut Brandon, he will.

Day 17. The Redemption Island Arena. Christine and Mikayla enter, much to the amazement of Ozzy and Cochran. For the Duel, they must take apart a crate and use the slats to build a bridge. They then must take the bridge apart and use some of the slats to solve a puzzle. With the rules explained, Jeff starts the Duel.

Christine quickly takes the crate apart by sliding out four slats at a time. She quickly moves to building her bridge. Mikayla, taking Albert’s advice, catches up. Christine finishes her bridge, but Mikayla follows close behind. Christine grabs all of her puzzle pieces, and begins solving the puzzle. Mikayla catches upand is the first to put together the RI Arena symbol, but it’s not exactly right. This give Christine time to solve the puzzle. “Christine stays alive!” Mikayla places her buff in the fire and departs. Jeff says Christine has become a legitimate force in the game. She, however, corrects him — she has always been a force. As the other players depart the Arena, Ozzy confides that Christine might flip if she re-enters the game, but she could also return to Upolu. He says that with The Merge coming up, if they lose the next Immunity Challenge, maybe they should send someone to RI that can beat Christine.

Savaii, Day 17. Ozzy says to Cochran that they should help each other. He also discusses his worst case scenario plan: if it comes down to it, he will go to RI. He’d give the HII to someone in hopes that they would give it back when he returns. “Sometimes you just have to sack up and go for it,” Ozzy confesses to the camera.

Over at Upolu, Coach does some tai chi and tells God that he’s not worthy of everything he has received. He thinks the only way to get the tribe’s spirits up is to tell them all he has the HII. Coach and Brandon then lead the tribe in a prayer circle. Sophie participates, but she finds it all suspect when Coach prays to find the HII with the HII in his pocket. They then search for the HII, but Coach and Sophie find Tree Mail instead. Tree Mail tells them to paint themselves in pairs. Coach then grabs the HII and tells the tribe that they just found it. Brandon thinks this means God is on their side. Will He be at the…

…Immunity Challenge? In addition to Immunity, the winning tribe will receive a Reward of a trip to the Survivor Cinema to see Jack and Jill starring Adam Sandler. Not surprisingly (and somehow better integrated than the Gulliver’s Travels tie-in), the Challenge requires the players to utilize the bonds that help you survive in this game. One set of “twins” are callers. The other sets are blindfolded and led through obstacles to grab four bags of masks. Once the bags are returned to the beginning of the course, one pair will only use touch to pair off the masks. The first tribe to pair all of the masks will win Immunity and Reward.

Rick and Coach, and Jim and Cochran are the callers. Survivors ready…go! Edna immediately smashes her head on an obstacle. She and Brandon get their first bag and head back. Keith and Dawn get their first bag as well. Both tribes gather their second bags, and then plunge into the water to grab their third bags. Dawn practically drowns, but Savaii is still back first with a pretty large lead. That lead is lost, however, when Cochran can’t manage to unclip Ozzy and Dawn and clip Whitney and Keith to the guide rope. Upolu is able to take a huge lead as a result, but that lead is lost when Albert can’t get his fourth bag released. Upolu does emerge with a small lead. The lead is widened when Whitney struggles to make it back to the beach. Albert and Sophie begin on their puzzle, leading Coach to start praying for victory. Ozzy and Whitney finally get back, but it is too late. “Upolu wins Immunity and Reward!” Coach gets the whole tribe on their knees to pray while Ozzy freaks out and tries to destroy the Challenge set. Coach says they are a loving family who gives their praise to God. Jeff then asks Ozzy what he is feeling now. Frustration. Frustration so strong he can’t begin to describe it.

Upolu arrives at the Survivor Cinema to enjoy hot dogs, candy, soda, and tolerate Jack and Jill. Back at Savaii, Ozzy declares the Challenge a disaster. He doesn’t understand what was so difficult about managing the ropes correctly. Cochran has always felt ostracized, but this brings it to a whole new level. As a group, they need to decide who’s going to go. Ozzy clearly calls out Cochran, who admits he was responsible for their loss. Keith says Cochran needs to believe that he can earn his redemption. Cochran isn’t so sure. He’s the court jester, what is he supposed to do? He’s not here to be a hero and save his tribe – he’s there to make it as far as he can go.

The next morning, Cochran tries to stop apologizing for losing the Challenge. Dawn tells him that’s why it is called Redemption Island. Ozzy had dreams that he did what he said he was going to do and go to RI. So, he gathers the HII and brings it to camp. Ozzy then tells the tribe he should be the one to go to RI as he has better odds of defeating Christine and making sure the tribes enter The Merge on even footing. The problem, however, is that the rest of the tribe doesn’t want to follow along. Keith worries that The Merge might not happen when they think it will. What if there is another team Challenge? A big decision must be made at…

…Tribal Council. Jeff asks Ozzy if there was any finger pointing after the Challenge. Uh…yeah! Most of fingers pointed at Cochran. He panicked when he couldn’t figure out the ropes. Jeff asks Cochran is he has ever found himself in situations like this? He responds that he is usually calm, but knowing that The Merge is probably in the morning, maybe RI can help them. Dawn describes their strategy in voting out someone to take on Christine. Jeff is confused because why would Cochran fight for them if they vote him out? Ozzy says he is going to be the one who sacrifices himself. Jeff is dumbfounded. Ozzy says his gut tells him to go to RI and prove himself to the tribe. Ozzy then says he will give HII to someone else. He has a plan to tell Christine that Cochran had the HII, played it, and did Ozzy in. But what if there is no Merge, Jeff asks. Well, at least he went out on his own terms, Ozzy responds. What if Ozzy loses the Duel? Then he is a bigger fool than last time he played. Keith isn’t really on board with this plan. Jeff says it is definitely a risky move, so let’s see if they have the courage to go through with it.

It’s time to vote. They do, and Jeff gathers the ballots. Jeff asks if anyone wants to play, or give away, the HII. Ozzy says he changes his mind and will let Cochran go to RI. “Just kidding,” he laughs. He gives the HII to Cochran. Jeff reads the votes. The first three are for Ozzy. “The seventh person voted out of Survivor: South Pacific…Ozzy!” Ozzy happily bounds down to have his torch snuffed, and runs out of Tribal Council. Jeff tells Upolu that they have made one of biggest moves in the history of the game, all based on one huge assumption: that The Merge is coming.

Next Time on……Survivor!!

Ozzy must win Duel, and Cochran must stay loyal.

Next week is shaping up to be an incredible episode of Survivor. I’m actually moving next Wednesday, so let’s hope the cable guy shows up on time! That said, I am very excited to see what the heck is going to happen. Will Ozzy win the Duel? (I bet he does.) Will The Merge happen? (I bet it does.) But there is one more important question that was not actually asked: Will the winner of the next Duel re-enter the game at The Merge? (I bet he/she doesn’t.) It is entirely possible that the RI winner won’t rejoin the game at The Merge. That was the situation last season with Matt and Survivor: Redemption Island, but it would be just like the Survivor producers to switch that scenario up for this season. If re-entry is delayed, Ozzy will be likely be at a huge disadvantage should he survive RI because the remaining Upolu members will have the numerical advantage at The Merge. Then again, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Powers That Be decide they really want Ozzy back in the game and do have the RI winner re-enter the game at The Merge, but I’m just surprised Ozzy never considered the possibility that the RI winner might not come back until much later in the game. However it turns out, it will be very interesting to watch next week.

Odds to Win

Just when you think you’ve seen it all over twenty-two and a half seasons of Survivor, you get Ozzy willingly getting voted out based on two dubious assumptions. If The Merge doesn’t happen next week, Savaii is in a whole lotta hurt, and will require some major adjustments to the Odds Board. Ozzy was already toward the bottom of the list, but let’s see how the rest of this week’s action effected the Odds.

Albert: 6-1. Evidently Albert and Sophie’s adventure against Coach has been absolved by the Big Man (no, not God. Coach!) as all seemed right in the Upolu universe. I’m not so sure Albert was particularly thrilled that Coach told everyone about the HII, but if it kept off of him for his maneuvering last week, it ended up being good for him. With Upolu now having the all important Numbers going into the possible Merge next week, and with Savaii committing some kind of attempted suicide, Albert regains favorite status.

Keith: 8-1. Keith, Ozzy is your strongest ally in the game. He is also a physical threat that equals huge target status post-Merge. How in the Hell do you let him fall on his sword and send him off to RI when there are so many unknowns out there? Yes, you voiced a bit of concern at camp and at Tribal Council, but dude, this is now your second big strategy mistake. Actually, it’s your second-and-a-half big strategy mistake — the half mistake was letting Ozzy give the HII to Cochran and not to you. Now, why did I actually move you up in the Odds, well I had to because of the Challenge performance of…

Whitney: 10-1. I maybe should have dropped Whitney even lower after she was nothing more than a huge anchor weighing down Keith in the Challenge, but if there was ever a time for her to suck in a Challenge, this was it. With Cochran completely self-destructing, Whitney’s difficulties will be unremembered. The reason I drop her down a couple spots then is because I’m beginning to think that should she need an Individual Immunity win to keep her in the game, she won’t be able to pull it off.

Dawn: 14-1. I admit, it seems crazy to have three Savaii members in the Top Four on the Board with them now down a player and with their strongest tribemate now over at RI. That said, can you really see any of the jokers on Upolu actually winning the game? Me either. As well, if anyone on Savaii were to flip and actually be trusted by Upolu, I believe that person would be Dawn. She is still at the bottom of the totem pole on Savaii, so she is ripe for flippage, and her attitude is such that I could see her fitting in well with the other tribe’s personalities. These are great qualities to have, especially when your tribe might enter The Merge on the short side of the Numbers.

Sophie: 15-1. Sophie and Albert have been similarly situated for pretty much the entire game. The reason I consistently have Sophie lower on the Board is because of her attitude and personality. That said, she has been making a steady climb upwards, and continues her ascent this week. With Upolu ascendant, Sophie is sitting pretty. Moreover, there are at least two targets on her own tribe ahead of her should there be another tribal Immunity Challenge. Last, like Dawn, Sophie may be primed for flipping if she sees that it is in her best interest. I am still expecting some major blowup rant from her (and I hope we get it!), but if she can keep it cool, Sophie just might win.

Coach: 22-1. We knew Coach was a religious/spiritual guy before, but this episode pushed his faith to a whole new level. I’m with Sophie in this regard: I’m not sure how sincere Coach’s sudden open professions of devotion to God are. I don’t doubt his beliefs, but Coach has clearly weighed his tribemates and has made a calculation that religion is the opiate of these masses. Look at how he ordered everyone to drop to a knee to pray immediately after their Challenge victory. No one questioned him, everyone immediately did as he or she was told. Coach is playing a masterful, Boston Rob-esque, game. I just have to believe that someone will be smart enough to eliminate him before he makes it to the Final Four.

Rick: 25-1. We were back to Rick not speaking this week. Or barely speaking, as the case may be. The cowboy just keeps rolling along, moving wherever the Winds of Coach blow him. Really, I have nothing more to say about maybe the most boring player ever. At least Top 5, right? (This is nothing personal against him. It could just be the edit he is receiving, but we have gotten nuthin’ from him, amiright?)

Edna: 32-1. Edna may have found a new form of anesthesia: ramming your head twice into a bamboo pole! Seriously, that had to hurt. Then again, how was it that the shortest person in the game managed to hit her head…twice?!? Anyway, Edna’s position in her tribe really hasn’t changed. I toyed with moving her up because if she The Merge is next week, one’s position within his or her own tribe matters much less, and having one strong ally matters a lot more. Edna has that in Coach, so it is entirely possible she will outlast a number of her tribemates, especially as she is one of the “weaker” players of which it will be assumed she cannot win an Individual Immunity, and therefore, safe to keep around.

Jim: 53-1. In honor of Jim not doing anything obnoxious this week, I moved him up the Board a bit. I’m sure he was more than thrilled to have Ozzy shipped off to RI of his own accord. That way, Jim didn’t have to “backstab” (frontstab??) him to see Ozzy out of the game. And if Ozzy returns from RI, well, Jim was always a loyal tribemate. Savaii is still down in Numbers, so there isn’t too much for Jim to cheer about, and I still fully expect him to lose his mind at some point.

John: 72-1. Somehow, Cochran is still alive…..with an HII!!! Yes, it was teased that Cochran might flip on Savaii next week, but honestly, do you see him doing that? It is true that he is clearly at the bottom of his tribe, but were he to flip at this point, he would still be at the bottom of Upolu. If he is going to flip, he has to make wait a couple more weeks after the stronger Savaii members have been eliminated and he can be useful to the minority Upolu alliance. Of course, this assumes that he can make it that far into the game. Cochran better be praying for The Merge next week because if it does come, he will find a new (and inexplicable as of a couple weeks ago) life in this game.

Ozzy: 84-1. Uh………..Okaaaaaaaaaaaay. So that happened! Listen, it’s one thing to be eliminated with an HII in hand. That’s happened a couple times. But to willingly have yourself eliminated, when still in the tribal Immunity portion of the game, on the bare assumption that 1) The Merge is occurring the next morning, and 2) the winner of the next Duel will re-enter the game, is just ludicrous. Oh, and he willingly handed over an HII, not to his alliance members, but to the weakest player on the tribe who has no incentive whatsoever to give it back. If this all works out according to plan, I’ll be happy to eat my words, but when has anything on Survivor ever worked out according to plan?

Brandon: 127-1. Yes, Brandon, God cares about Survivor. He cares if you win a Challenge. He cares if you win the game. He cares so much that He personally reaches down from the billowy clouds above to use His hand to guide the game to His whim. Now, seriously, I’m not mocking Brandon’s faith. I would never do that. I will, however, mock his belief that somehow God is personally interfering in Survivor. I never understand when reality competition contestants (or athletes for that matter) think God preoccupies Himself with such frivolous things when there are msny more important matters in the world. There is a reason we have free will: so God doesn’t have to worry Himself with blindfolded people dressed in painted-on bikini tops running into bamboo poles. All of that aside, we are almost at the point of the game where Brandon will be pulling a Phillip and be taken along to the end simply because he won’t win. Man I hope The Merge doesn’t happen next week, Upolu loses the Challenge, and Brandon melts down. I don’t know if I can take eight more episodes of him.

Christine: 200-1. She took out Mikayla, so color me impressed. Ozzy will be a wholly different matter, but there is something about being out there by yourself and having to focus so hard on the Duels that really makes someone able to do anything. I would not be surprised in the slightest if Christine beats Ozzy, especially if she somehow finds out that Ozzy asked to be voted out so he could eliminate her. It’s still a loooooooooong road back to victory, but Christine might be back int he game sooner than people think.

There you go. That is this week’s Survivor. What did you think of the episode? Was Ozzy’s move one of the smartest ever made, or one of the most ridiculous? What do you think about Coach telling the rest of his tribe about the HII? How do you feel about all of the praying that seemingly emerged out of nowhere this episode? Should I really have three Savai members in the Top Four on the Odds Board? Please leave your questions and comments below. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to be a huge Adam Sandler fan.

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