Survivor: Survivor South Pacific 23.14 “Then There Were Five” Recap

If you missed last week’s episode, you know what to do (click here!).

This penultimate episode of this twenty-third season of Survivor opens on Night 32 with Te Tuna returning to camp. The Final Five relish the fact that they have stayed true to each other since the first day. Of course, Brandon wants to pray, and of course, Coach knows that the real game begins now. Albert and Sophie contemplate who to vote out if Ozzy comes back. They toss around Rick and Brandon’s names, but then Albert confesses to the camera that although she doesn’t know it, Sophie is the next to go.

The next morning, Day 33, Coach tells Sophie that his head was spinning all night. Albert tells the camera that though he planned on going to the end with Coach and Sophie, the latter has been building too much of a resume. Albert needs to adapt his game to the players around him, and this calls for taking Rick to the end. He figures Rick is the least dangerous player left in the game. Who is the most dangerous? Likely the one playing in the…

…Duel. For this Duel, Edna and Ozzy will complete a slide puzzle to release a hatchet to be used to cut through a rope. Once cut, the rope will release a bag full of cubes that the players must stack so no color appears twice on a one side of the tower into which the blocks are stacked. Survivors ready…go! Ozzy quickly finishes the puzzle and releases his cubes. As he starts the final puzzle, Albert begins coaching Edna on the puzzle until she releases her hatchet and gets her cubes. Then all of Te Tuna tries to help Edna. She builds arranges her cubes outside of the tower, then swiftly places them. Does Edna have the solution? No! She has two reds on one side. That gives Ozzy time to place his cubes and call over Probst to check his work. Ozzy wins the Duel and stays alive! Edna burns her buff and departs. Ozzy heads back to Redemption Island and Te Tuna returns to their beach.

Though his tribe has spoken about it since the first day, Albert doesn’t give one whit about honor or integrity. Brandon thinks that Albert will never write his name down, but Albert is more than willing to cut Brandon, though he tells Brandon that they should vote out Sophie next. Sophie points out to Coach that every player who goes to RI has Ozzy’s comfort and final words ringing in their ears. She suggests they send Brandon to RI to put the two strongest players against each other. She then suggests that voting strategy to Rick, who agrees.

Albert goes to Coach to say that Sophie is the biggest threat. Coach fundamentally disagrees; he is disheartened because he has had a solid alliance with Sophie. Coach suggests that Albert is just scared of how much smarter she is than him. Brandon asks what they are talking about, and when they truthfully answer “jury votes,” Brandon says they are lying. Coach tells him that he is bullying them, and acting like Russell. Brandon is offended and asks for a hug. Coach rips him some more in a confessional but then, indeed, gives him a hug. Whom Coach will vote out will have to be determined by the results of the…

…Immunity Challenge. For the Challenge, the castaways will climb a very steep wall and collect five bags of puzzle pieces. The puzzle pieces must be paired up, leaving three pieces that don’t match. Those three that don’t match have numbers that must be used to unlock a code and release a flag. The first to release his or her flag will win Immunity and a Reward of a pizza party. Survivors ready…go!

Brandon quickly has his first and second bags, as does Rick. They get their third bags, as does Coach. Brandon and Rick go for their final bags. Rick is the first down to his table, with Brandon close behind. Albert takes a big fall on his fourth bag, but eventually everyone works on the puzzle. Brandon and Coach move ahead. Brandon takes three numbers to the top of the wall, where he enters the code and releases his flag. Brandon wins Immunity! “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Father!” he shouts. Probst informs him he can share his pizza with only one other person. Brandon says his dad told him to play with his heart, and so he picks Rick. Rick exclaims for the first time all season. Coach is at peace with Brandon avoiding elimination, but he is still pissed.

In a very Probst-Ian entrance, the pizza guy arrives on a wave runner. Sophie says the worst case scenario has occurred: Brandon won Immunity. She asks Coach who should go home, and they agree it’s Albert. When Sophie goes over to smell the pizza, Albert knows she is playing the game. She immediately tells the guys that she’s voting for Albert. Rick says that Albert said the two of them are solid for the Final Three. Brandon brings this up in front of everyone, and they all start yelling at each other. Albert is in some deep stuff. Sophie revels in it all falling apart around Albert.

After, Albert knows he is in some major trouble, but if he can get Brandon back on his side, he should be OK. Albert plays on Brandon’s religiosity by saying that he feels Brandon’s heart is closed to him. Brandon tells the camera that he [Brandon] is a sinner as well, so he has to forgive Albert. With that, he tells Albert that he will vote with him, and in fact, might give Albert his Immunity necklace.

Brandon goes to Coach and says that God speaks to him. He hopes Coach will accept the fact that he might give his Immunity necklace to Albert because if they don’t forgive Albert, how can they ask for forgiveness themselves? Coach confesses that this has complicated everything because he doesn’t know who to trust and with whom to align. He tells Brandon that while that might be God’s plan for Brandon, he needs to pray himself. Coach does, and one name appears over and over again. “My soul has never grieved as much as it is right now.” What will be Coach’s decision at…

…Tribal Council. Jeff notes that Brandon is in a very powerful spot, but before Jeff can even finish his question, Brandon gives the necklace over to Albert. The Jury and Jeff are beside themselves. Clearly, Brandon is no longer safe. Brandon says he promised to stay true to his commitments. Coach just shakes his head, and says Brandon was going to vote off Albert until he prayed. Brandon says that he was always loyal when he was in a gang, but he was often betrayed by his friends. It turned out they were not really a gang, but just people who took his loyalty for granted. Is there any chance that could happen tonight? Nope, Brandon responds, because he knows Coach and Albert have his back. Jeff says that they are his competitors in a million dollar game! Albert says that he believes there is a Greater Plan for him. Does that mean Albert would then give up Immunity for Brandon? If he felt Brandon was in trouble, yes he would. Rick feels in trouble because Coach has the HII, leaving him as one of only three people who could be voted out. Is Brandon feeling secure now? Not really — maybe it is his time to go tonight. Jeff again says that it is up to Albert to give back the Immunity. Albert responds that he is not going to because he truly believes Brandon is safe. Coach says he is at peace because he prayed too and received an answer on how to vote. Sophie’s eyes can’t roll any harder than they do. Does Brandon think Coach will vote him out? He admits he does.

With that, it’s time to vote. Rick votes for Brandon, Brandon for Sophie, and Sophie for Brandon. Coach doesn’t play the HII. Brandon and Sophie alternate the first four votes. Jeff reads the final ballot: “The fifteenth person voted out of Survivor: South Pacific…Brandon.” Coach tells him to go win Redemption. IN perhaps an omen, or a sign from God, the Immunity necklace falls off Albert. Jeff informs the remaining players that the winner of next the Duel will reenter the game. Then, the Final Five will duke it out.

Next Time on…..Survivor!!

Ozzy’s end game is clear, but for everyone else the game is on.

Well, that was surprising, now wasn’t it? Although I have to say I’m not terribly shocked. The circumstances were different leading up to it, but Albert played Brandon just like the girls in Fans vs. Favorites did to Erik, the only other person to willingly give up his Immunity necklace and then immediately get voted out. Brandon was headed for this from the beginning. As soon as he let it be known that he was that fundamentalist in his beliefs, he was inviting someone else to take advantage of those beliefs. Albert walked him right into handing over the Immunity Necklace. Once he did, there was no way Coach was going to allow Brandon to stay in the game. Yes, Albert voted for Sophie, his intended target, but even if Brandon went home, Albert had achieved his primary goal — staying in the game. Sophie identified Brandon’s weakness from the get-go: someone who is that adherent to his belief system will do whatever he is told, or is guilted into, because he is not making decisions for himself. Sophie was absolutely right.

So, where does that leave us? Well, Coach is certainly into the Final Four, as he can just use his HII at the next Tribal Council (it is the last opportunity he has to play it). Rick is going to make it into the Final Four because rick will be in the Final Three as a vote black hole. This leaves Sophie, Albert and Ozzy. I put Ozzy in there because I assume he will win the final Duel. The editing has been such that it seems the show has built up Ozzy’s return into the game as inevitable, and possibly leading to a showdown with Coach. Ozzy must win the next Immunity Challenge or else he will be sent right back out — there is no way any of the remaining players can allow Ozzy to sniff the Final Three. A majority of his original tribe is on the Jury, he will have dispatched with all of them by winning Duel after Duel on Redemption Island, and he would have won the final Immunity. A stronger case for victory has not ever been built (except by Rob, I suppose). If Brandon somehow defeats Ozzy, it is going to be a massive free-for-all, that should be rather entertaining. Whichever way it goes, that first hour of Sunday’s finale should be pretty great.

If I’m a betting man, I’d put my wager on this: Ozzy defeats Brandon in the Duel. Ozzy triumphs in the next Immunity. Albert is voted out. Ozzy wins the Final Four Immunity. Sophie is voted out as Ozzy decides to go against the best in the Final Three. Coach gives an amazing speech at the Final Tribal Council. Rick wins no votes. Ozzy wins 5-4 as Cochran tries to redeem himself by giving his former Savaii-ian the victory. Or Brandon wins the Duel and Coach wins the game.

Odds to Win

Now, as you will see below, my Odds don’t comport with my prediction above. How is that possible? Well, though I think Ozzy will be triumphant, it requires him to win three consecutive do or die Challenges (the Duel, then two Immunities). Yes, he has won a number of consecutive Duels, but Immunity Challenges are a different beast — he’ll have four, then three other players trying to beat him instead of just one or two. That is a much harder lift, and therefore, the odds are against him. So, here are the final Odds leading into the Finale.

Coach: 7-1. Still the favorite, but coming back to the pack a little bit. Unless Ozzy can pull off the scenario above, Coach is primed to win the game. He is automatically in the Final Four, meaning he really only needs to win one Immunity Challenge. Rick will take him to the Final Three, as will Brandon should he return (though I would love a Rick screwjob, saying he was playing opossum the whole time and that he really hates Coach, but somehow I don’t think that will happen). Once there, unless he is up against Ozzy, Coach will win, hands down. Then again, Ozzy could be there, or the remaining members of the tribe could turn on him. The former is much more likely than the latter, and the reason why Coach’s Odds have increased this week.

Sophie: 16-1. Sophie stays in second because I think Coach would rather have her in the Final Three (despite her two Immunity wins), than Albert. Coach seems to trust Sophie more, and believes her to be a weaker player. Plus, it is clear Albert turned on Sophie, so she has every incentive to target him. On the other hand, if Brandon were to come back, he is clearly on Albert’s side, especially as Albert voted against Sophie and didn’t screw Brandon over. But I think, in the end, either Coach will have the final say, or Ozzy won’t be so stupid as to bring Coach to the Final Three, and Sophie will end up there with a shot at a million dollars. (I know, I know! That wasn’t my prediction above. Just go with it!)

Albert: 17-1. Give credit where credit is due. With his back on the ropes, Albert was able to convince Brandon to give him Immunity. That takes skill and manipulation. I still think Albert is in danger if he doesn’t win Immunity, but if Ozzy comes back, and doesn’t win Immunity, Albert should be safely into the Final Four. If he does make it into the Final Three, I don’t think he has a strong case to win. He did win one Immunity, and may win a second. He did convince Brandon to give up his Immunity, but I just don’t think he’s well-liked enough to garner enough votes. His only chance is really to go into the Final Three with Rick and Sophie, and I just don’t see a scenario where neither Coach or Ozzy makes it. Stranger things have happened though!

Ozzy: 27-1 or 4-1. Obviously, Ozzy has the ability to get all of the wins he needs to make it into the Final Three. But this is really the only scenario that gets him there: if he doesn’t win one of those Immunities (assuming he gets by Brandon in the Duel), he is going to be voted out. He is too much of a Jury vote magnet to allow into the Final Tribal Council. So, if he wins all of the Duels/Challenges, he is by far the favorite to win (yes, Coach might be able to beat him if Ozzy totally bombs the Jury questions), but if he doesn’t he is a much longer shot. I guess we’ll have to wait and see on Sunday.

Rick: 237-1. There we go Rick! There’s the fire we had no idea existed at all! It was great to finally see Rick do something out there, but I can’t say it makes me believe he can actually win the game. Oh, have no doubt, Rick will be in the Final Three, but he has no shot at winning. At least we’ll actually get to hear Rick speak at the Final Tribal, unless no one on the Jury asks him a question.

Brandon: 924-1. Our long national nightmare is almost over. I have to imagine Ozzy is going to win the Duel. Then Brandon will cry and talk about how he brough honor back to his family name and to God. Then Brandon will appear on the Jury and likely have the final question, asking Coach why he played Judas to Brandon’s Jesus. If by some miracle (pun intended) Brandon makes it into the Final Three, I just can’t see the Jury giving him the million dollars. Only if he was going against Rick, and only Rick, could Brandon win, but that won’t be the case on Sunday. You were entertaining, Brandon, but you won’t be a million dollars richer. Oh, one more thing:

Odds Brandon will say something strange and cry at the Reunion: 1-10. We all know this is coming, right?

Chances Russell is in the audience and is interviewed at the Reunion: 1-1,000,000. We all know this is coming, right?

My Final Three Pick: Ozzy, Rick and Coach, with Ozzy winning. Alternatively, Coach, Rick and Sophie, with Coach winning unanimously.

That is the final Wednesday edition of this season’s Survivor. What did you think of the episode? Do you think Brandon has any shot of beating Ozzy? Is there any way Coach doesn’t win the game now? Has Coach played a better game than Boston Rob? Who would you like to win? What ridiculous way do you want the players to destroy the icons used to represent the former players during the Fallen Comrades trek? Please leave your questions and comments below. Remember, the Survivor finale will air this Sunday, December 18th, at 8:00pm ET/PT for two hours, followed by the reunion special. I’ll be back next on Monday with a finale recap. Until then, I’m off to not eat any more coconut.

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