If you missed one of the most bizarre moves in Survivor history, make sure you catch up with last week’s recap.
This week’s episode begins at Savaii the night of the last Tribal Council. Cochran notes how quickly the game changes, and thanks to Ozzy’s plan, it has changed quickly again. The move may go down as one of the biggest moves in Survivor history. Cochran addresses the group about what he should say to Upolu upon The Merge. He’s pretended to like the members of his tribe for eighteen days, he can pretend to like Upolu. Ozzy arrives at Redemption Island and tells Christine that Cochran pulled out the Hidden Immunity Idol and ousted him. He then confesses that his move could have been the craziest thing he has ever done, or, in the alternative, the ballsiest.
The next morning, Christine and Ozzy arrive at the RI Arena with all members of both tribes watching. Jeff asks Ozzy if he is surprised to be on RI? Ozzy protests way too much about his “betrayal,” but Albert and Coach aren’t buying it. For the Duel, the players must make a pole out of sticks to grab three keys. Then using the keys, they must unlock three locks. The first to step through their unlocked door wins. Besides just being able to stay on RI, the winner of Duel will return to the game proper. “Survivors ready….go.”
Christine and Ozzy employ two different strategies: Christine uses fewer sticks by tying them together very close to their ends; Ozzy uses more sticks, but makes his pole a bit sturdier by overlapping them more. Ozzy’s strategy is far superior. He quickly secures all three of his keys, unlocks his locks and runs through the door. Ozzy is back in the game, and after nineteen difficult days, Christine’s game comes to an end. She places her buff in the fire and exits. Jeff sends Ozzy back to the remaining players, but with the command, “Drop your buffs because we are merged.” As the new merged tribe departs the Arena, Ozzy tells the camera that he hopes Cochran can infiltrate Upolu.
The group arrives at their new beach and an awaiting Merge Feast with their new yellow buffs. Coach asks Cochran how he feels about last night, to which Cochran says things can only get better. Cochran confides that everything has worked out so he can be a double agent. He then tells Coach that Keith has ostracized him from the beginning. Coach doesn’t believe what Cochran is telling him, and flat calls him out for the exact plan Savaii cooked up! Coach insists that Upolu is six players strong. Coach immediately works to sway Cochran by drawing a line in the sand and saying he knows about how people try to cut down those that are superior to him.
Cochran then tells Coach, Albert and Sophie about Ozzy’s plan, and how he, Cochran, is supposed to be a double agent. Brandon then asks who has given Cochran the most trouble. The latter replies that though Jim has a temper, Keith is the most rude. Brandon assures Cochran that he would be safe amongst Upolu. Cochran does give the HII back to Ozzy, but he recognizes that he has the power to decide how the game will take shape from here on out.
Day 21. Dawn asks Cochran about his plan. He says he doesn’t want to draw rocks if there is a tie. Dawn admits she feels no loyalty toward Savaii as she and Cochran have not been given any respect. She begins to cry because they agreed to stay with the tribe, but Savaii really aren’t nice people. She confides that she should have stuck up for Cochran sooner, but you have to protect your own interests in this game. Cochran points out that they finally have a chance to guide the game after the…
…Immunity Challenge. The merged tribe’s name is Te Tuna. Jeff takes back the Tribal Immunity Idol, and revels not one, but two Immunity Necklaces. One for a man, and one for a woman. For the Challenge, each player must balance on a perch while holding a coconut between two ropes. If the player drops his or her coconut or falls off his or her perch, the player is out. After a few minutes, the ropes will be lengthened to make it harder. The last remaining male and female will win Immunity. “Survivors ready….go!”
Cochran immediately starts wavering. Edna is out by putting the coconut against her body. Cochran falls out next. The first round is over, so the players replace their coconuts and lengthen their ropes. Whitney goes out, as does Sophie, so Dawn wins Immunity! Rick and Jim start having a hard time, but Coach goes out first. Rick finally drops his coconut, and Jim and Keith go out right before the end of round. This leaves Brandon, Ozzy and Albert for the third and final round. On one of hottest days of the game so far the men struggle to stay in the game. Brandon drops his coconut. Ozzy starts to wobble, but it is Albert who drops his coconut, Ozzy wins Immunity as well!
Back at camp, Ozzy and Whitney want Sophie out, but Jim wants Rick. He also wants everyone to confirm that they are OK going to rocks in the case of a tie vote. There are ten rocks, and two Savaii have Immunity, plus one person could play the HII, and the person originally voted for would be safe. Leaving only two people on Savaii at risk of going home. Cochran confesses that he still isn’t down with going to rocks. He finds Sophie and tells her Savaii’s plan. Cochran tells Coach that Savaii are going to eat him alive tonight, but Coach promises him that he will be safe if he flips.
Dawn wonders if Cochran will indeed turn on Savaii on the second vote. She is concerned that Upolu has no reason to protect him. Further, she has backed off her desire to flip because she actually does like her tribe. She’s praying that Cochran doesn’t betray Savaii at…
…Tribal Council. Coach, The Merge has arrived with the former tribes at six and six. Is it safe to assume a tie vote tonight? That is correct, Coach responds. Ozzy agrees. The only way to break up a tie is someone flipping, Jeff notes. Edna, can you see a scenario in which that happens? Sure, she responds, if someone doesn’t feel a part of their tribe. Cochran, you’re a student of the game, what are odds two tribes are this solid at The Merge? He doesn’t know. Jim, is there a chance someone from Savaii could flip? Zero chance, he says, as Savaii has the odds in its favor should they have to pick rocks. Albert calls Ozzy’s actions at RI ridiculous. Sophie says she was offended by his pretension. Ozzy admits that he may have been a bit over the top, but he was just trying to protect his tribe. In have he, no they, have the HII (Ozzy! SHUT UP!! Stop telling people you have an HII!!!).
With that, it’s time to vote. They do and Jeff collects the ballots. Ozzy plays his HII, but for Whitney. The gesture is for naught, as the first vote is for Keith, as are the second through sixth. Votes seven through twelve are all for Rick so we have a tie vote. For the second round of voting, the players may only vote for Keith or Rick, and those two don’t vote. The players re-vote. The first five votes are for Keith. The next four are for Rick with one vote remaining. “The eighth person voted out of Survivor: South Pacific…Keith!” Cochran immediately admits to Ozzy and Jim that was the deciding vote. Jim calls him a coward, but Brandon stands up to him and says that this is what he gets for the way he treated Cochran. Keith has his torch snuffed and heads through the Blue Light of Death to Redemption Island. As they depart, Brandon tells Cochran to stay close to him.
Next Time on….Survivor!!!
I have to be honest, I was bit upset that Ozzy’s plan worked out, at least up until the point that Cochran flipped on his tribe. There would have been something poetic if Ozzy has been ousted by Christine and thrown Savaii into chaos. Well, I guess Savaii ended up in chaos anyway thanks to the nerdy law student. Personally, I don’t understand Cochran’s move. When the game enters The Merge, it immediately becomes about the Numbers. While Cochran may have been the next to go in a Savaii vote, they need to keep him around now to try to maintain a numerical advantage over a very solid Upolu tribe. Instead, Cochran decided to switch alliances. Now, instead of being a vital part of the Savaii alliance for a couple more votes, he is now the most expendable person in the game: Savaii hates him, and he is at the very bottom of the Upolu alliance, if they even care to pull him along. What he should have done was stick with Savaii for a couple more votes, then find the weak links within Savaii, and team up with the remaining Upolu members to make a major move. But hey, the game has taken some weird twists this season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Cochran ends up in the Finals (actually, I would be VERY surprised).
Another big hit to the Odds with Keith going down thanks to a major betrayal by Cochran. It’s entirely possible Keith could go on a winning streak on Redemption Island (though he hasn’t been that great in Challenges, to be honest), but even if he returns to the game, most of his alliance will likely be wiped out, and an immediate ouster would not be shocking. Dawn continues to impress, and Ozzy continues to confound, so let’s see how the Odds now stack up.
Albert: 4-1. No reason to move Albert from the top spot. In fact, I’ve improved his Odds thanks to Upolu’s numerical advantage, his keen calling of bull$#!% on Ozzy’s story, and the fact that he might be making some moves in next week’s episode. Right now, everything is going in the right direction for Albert.
Dawn: 8-1. Although Dawn now sits on the short side of the tribe (thanks Cochran!), I am nothing but impressed with her play. Well, her physical play anyway. There likely won’t be another Challenge where male and female players both win Immunity, but I wouldn’t put it past her to be able to win an endurance challenge against anyone out there. Maybe her mental game needs some improving, but I think she is well-liked, and not seen as much of a threat, so Dawn should make it pretty darn far in the game.
Whitney: 11-1. I probably should have Whitney lower as she really hasn’t done anything to make her stand out as a great player or potential Sole Survivor. I just can’t help but feel, however, that she will somewhat lost in the shuffle and be able to pull out an Immunity Challenge win she absolutely needs it. Likely, I’m spectacularly wrong, but until that time, Whitney will likely float around the top of the Board.
Coach: 17-1. I will admit: Coach has exceeded all of my expectations. He took firm control of Upolu after Day 1, and has not relinquished control since. Telling his tribe about the HII notwithstanding, Coach has pretty much played a perfect game. Add in his rooting out the exact plan Savaii had for The Merge and “sympathizing” with Cochran until he came over to Upolu, and Coach is practically batting 1.000. Perhaps it is time for me to start thinking about how he could actually win the game.
Sophie: 19-1. Speaking of giving a player more credit, Sophie might be shooting up the Odds Board as well. She has a solid partnership with Albert, might have pulled Cochran in to an alliance (though he may more likely go with Brandon and Coach), and should be a small enough target to make it quite a bit farther in the game. She may end up playing it all too cute by half, but I think depending on Albert’s machinations next week, Sophie could be sitting Top Three.
Edna: 29-1. I like Edna. I would likely be friends with her and would probably have her as an ally if I was in the game. She’s smart, and I like talkative people. That said, I don’t see her as much of a threat to really to do anything to shake up the game. The reason she is even this high on the Board is because she is likely to be dragged to the Final Three as a vote void. (Speaking of the Final Three, only once has the third person in the Final Three received a vote (and it was only one vote for Amanda in Survivor: China). Can we please get rid of the Final Three? It’s useless and puts too many people on the Jury.) Come on Edna, show me something!
Rick: 33-1. Rick received votes! Only because Savaii didn’t really want him out and was figuring he wouldn’t participate in rock picking! Uh, that’s it!
Jim: 58-1. At least someone has realized that Jim is obnoxious and mean. Not that Cochran’s observation meant anything for Jim’s prospects. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about Jim this week. He gets hurt because Savaii is now down 6-4, and he will likely try to jump ship as soon as possible. He’ll still be at the bottom of Te Tuna, so really, Jim is kinda screwed.
Ozzy: 95-1. OK, credit where credit is due. Ozzy, your plan worked perfectly, insofar as you won the Duel, returned to Savaii and The Merge occurred right then. You even had Cochran return the HII to you. Congratulations. You then pulled a crazy move by announcing you had the HII, and then playing it for Whitney, who wasn’t Upolu’s target. Granted, you didn’t know Cochran was feeding Upolu information, but as you were pretty damn certain you weren’t the target (as you had Immunity), you should have kept the HII. Now, it is possible that you wanted to forego the whole picking rocks and hoping that playing the HII on Whitney would nullify any votes for her and automatically cast out whomever you were voting for, but: 1) you didn’t voice that opinion at all, and more importantly, 2) that means you chose to target RICK?!? How does this make any sense? ANY?!?! Ozzy, you have not learned a thing, have you?
John: 96-1. I applaud Cochran for making a move. I just don’t think it was the right one. As I described above, turning against your tribe when they have even numbers at The Merge doesn’t make much sense. Was Cochran really hurt that much by what Keith or Jim has said to him? I doubt it. I think Cochran just got tired of being seen as being dragged along and wanted to prove his Survivor mettle. Coach welcomed him with open arms and some ego stroking, and Cochran took the bait. Now Cochran is at the bottom of the Upolu tribe and will find no comfort from his former tribe in hope fo picking some of them up to turn on Upolu in the future. Again, I appreciate his attempt to make a move, but I think it was two Tribal Councils too early.
Keith: 103-1. Da-da-duh-duh-duh….and another one bites the dust! Yes, one of my preseason favorites has had his torch snuffed (but not buff burned!). Keith was unfortunately the target of a seemingly much wiser Upolu tribe. If Cochran turned on Savaii, Keith would be gone. If not, well he doesn’t seem to be much of a threat anyway. Seriously, has Keith done well in any Challenge this season? For a guy who looks like a great athlete, he hasn’t excelled physically at all. Well, he better turn on those sporty abilities soon as he is going to have to whether probably six or seven Duels if he hopes to return to the game. It’s a long shot, but it’s been done before.
Brandon: 110-1. Brandon did nothing objectionable in this episode, in my eyes. Yes, maybe he shouldn’t have gotten in Jim’s face at the end of Tribal Council, and called out his behavior, but I actually really liked his message to Cochran to stick by his side. Very savvy move as it lets the turncoat believe he has protection so he will be loyal moving forward. Still, I don’t think he has a chance in Hell of winning the million dollars, but a good move nonetheless.
That is this week’s Survivor, folks. What did you think of the episode? Were you upset that Ozzy’s plan actually worked (for a bit, anyways)? Would you rather The Merge didn’t happen when everyone expects it? Would you have made the same move Cochran did? Should Redemption Island be concluded once The Merge occurs? (YES!!!!) Should Ozzy have kept the HII for himself? Please leave your questions and comments below. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to tell you how the coconut came to be.