And just like that, they were gone.
At this stage in the game, Survivor knows how to format a season for optimal excitement. So last week they crammed two Immunity Challenges and Tribal Councils into an episode that saw Ozzy and Jim sent to Redemption Island, and this week the players were “surprised” with another challenge and vote on the spot at Tribal Council. (When Jeff says he’ll have a “surprise” for you that night at Tribal Council it’s rarely a hot fudge sundae, y’know? So it’s wise to prepare for a second vote.) Thanks to these double eliminations, Savaii has been obliterated – Dawn and then Whitney were sent to Redemption Island and the only tribemate who remains is Cochran, the one who jumped ship.
This is good, because now the game really begins. Sophie had the opportunity to change up the game this week and she didn’t take it – and I’m sure you can debate both sides of that argument. But now the tribe is at seven, a magic number in Survivor. Seven is when it’s time to change the game, and it also means that anyone wanting to take advantage of Cochran will have to act. Because once he’s gone, Upolu will have to start eating themselves.
Can we all just take a moment to be really, really surprised that Coach has made it this far? Because I am. Following that first episode, I really didn’t predict that he’d even be in the game at this point, let alone leading the tribe. Players like Rick were so adamant about voting off the returning player no matter what and Coach didn’t exactly receive a warm welcome when he was assigned to his tribe. Yet here he is, king of the castle, and Rick either isn’t saying a word or no one can hear him through his mustache.
After performing some tai-chi with Coach on the beach, Cochran both proved he needs to work on his core strength (no surprise there) and admitted that he was drinking the Coach kool-aid. Not gulping it down, but pleasantly sipping it. Oh Cochran, you ingest the poison either way. But Cochran’s growing affinity for Coach was working for the Dragon Slayer, who was becoming paranoid that he’d be voted off. Albert was acting squirrely, you guys!
This is interesting, because on the one hand Coach was right – Albert is freaking out. He’s playing the game. He’s thinking about important things like jury votes and who he wants to sit next to in the end, and those strategic thoughts don’t benefit Coach. But I’m fascinated by whether Coach will be able to hold it together. So far this season he’s played a much smarter game than he ever has before. But will paranoia take over before he can get to the end? I felt like we started to see a chink in the Dragon Slayer’s armor this week.
Duel time! It was Ozzy vs. Keith vs. Jim (so, a truel) and only one would survive. Unfortunately, I knew it would be Ozzy since the previews last week showed him catching fish and standing on top of palm trees, and we’d seen none of that yet. Thanks a lot, Survivor producers!
The players had to balance poles on the backs of their hands, pressed against a plank of wood above them. Lose tension and your poles would fall, eliminating you from the challenge. A couple people told Probst they were rooting for Jim, surprisingly. Whitney admitted she was rooting for Keith. No surprise there, considering their showmance was never shown on screen but acknowledged by other players in post-game interviews. And of course, there’s the news that their relationship broke up Whitney’s secret marriage. The drama! Jim was out of the challenge first and became the first member of the jury, followed by Keith.
On the one hand, I feel bad that Jim was out so early since I always like seeing fans of the show stick around. But he was kind of a jerk, and furthermore I had a bit of a friendly competition going on with my boyfriend about Jim – he’d placed him at #1 on our joint Survivor office pool list and I put him down farther, with the theory that he’d play well but his aggressive personality would rub people the wrong way. That might not be exactly what went down, but Jim’s out so I win and the boyfriend loses. Haha!
Now, let’s discuss Ozzy. Yeah yeah, he’s basically made for Redemption Island in a lot of ways. It removes him from the strategy aspect of the game (so, basically the part of Survivor that is the reason I watch – this is why I’m not a fan of Ozzy…), which is his weakest area. He’s amazing at fishing and climbing trees and generally being really cool and outdoorsy, and he can really focus on that at Redemption Island. There’s no question that Ozzy will be well-fed. And his entire fate rests in challenges, at least for the time being, which he’s usually good at. But the challenges could be anything, and they’re not necessarily ones that will play to his strengths. Dawn and Whitney have both proven themselves to be good in challenges. They could potentially beat him in an endurance, balancing or puzzle challenge. They could beat him in a beanbag toss. I mean, they’ve basically been playing carnival games over on Redemption Island, they’re not sumo wrestling. Dawn or Whitney could take Ozzy out, and I don’t think he realizes that.
I usually like balancing challenges so I enjoyed the Immunity Challenge this week. Players had to balance bowls of rice on their heads and cross two see-saws to empty it in a basket. The first person to fill their basket enough to raise a flag would win.
Interestingly, the challenge came down to Dawn, Brandon and Sophie. I expected Whitney and Edna to do better than they did, and I was surprised Brandon did so well. I guess mental instability has little to do with physical stability! It must be his low center of gravity. Sophie took a risk with an overflowing bowl of rice and it paid off – she redeemed herself for throwing up that coconut water and losing the challenge last week by winning Immunity this week. Yay! (I have Sophie in the office pool, so I’ll be rooting for her all season. Cross your fingers for me, I’ve never won!)
Probst had told the players he had a surprise for them at Tribal Council, but I don’t think we saw anyone discuss the possibility of a double vote. They must have, right? How could you not?
Coach thought the vote was easy – Dawn was more of a threat, so she’d go before Whitney. But Albert, as I mentioned earlier, had jury votes on his mind. His idea was for him and Sophie to band together with Dawn, Whitney and Cochran to vote out Edna. That way they’d butter up members of Savaii for jury votes and would lose Edna, who likely won’t vote for them in the finals anyway. It was an interesting plan, and parts of me thought it made sense. There will be at least four or five members of Savaii on the jury and keeping Dawn and Whitney in the game longer could secure those jury votes. But voting off Edna early wouldn’t just lose her vote, it would lose Coach’s as well, probably Brandon’s, and maybe Rick’s. Voting out a member of Upolu when there are still two members of Savaii kicking around (three, if you want to include Cochran) could make your whole tribe turn on you for good. It would be a risky move.
It all came down to Sophie. She didn’t care about alliances or betrayal, she just cares about what will get her to the end and what will help her win. And in the end, she didn’t go for it – Sophie and Albert voting for Dawn along with the rest of their tribe and she was sent to Redemption Island. (Of course, there was one vote for some dude named “Don”, which I knew would be Brandon’s.)
I feel bad for Dawn. She tried for so long to get on this show, and once she made it she really struggled. She had a few breakdowns when the game began and faced a big challenge as one of the older people on her tribe. But her Waterloo came with the merge. Not only did Dawn decline the opportunity to jump ship with Cochran, she didn’t tell her tribe what he was going to do. That decision not only screwed up her game, but it screwed up the games of everyone on her tribe. And why? Because she didn’t want to mess up Cochran’s game? Bad, bad decision. This is an individual game and Dawn should have been thinking about herself. She should have either flipped with Cochran when she had the chance or she should have sold him out to the rest of Savaii so they could vote accordingly. Instead she let Cochran throw her tribe’s numbers advantage out the window, and they were picked off one by one from there. I like Dawn and I hope she does well at Redemption Island, but she has no one to blame but herself for ending up there.
Decision Time 2.0
And as predicted, an Immunity Challenge and second vote followed that Tribal Council. At that point I really wished that Sophie and Albert had voted along with Dawn, Whitney and Cochran because it would have been interesting to see everyone scramble with Edna out of the mix. Who would they have voted for? Would Sophie and Albert have gone back to Upolu or would they have voted out someone like Coach? We’ll never know, and instead it was an easy, predictable decision.
The vote was a quiz about survival skills. Only Sophie, Whitney and Coach lasted through the first two questions. Coach went out on the third question, leaving the two ladies. If Whitney had been up against anyone other that Sophie, I would have been rooting for her to win. It would have been interesting to see what would happen if Upolu had to vote out one of their own. Would it have been Cochran or Edna? But since Sophie’s my girl, I always feel better if she has an Immunity necklace on. The med student won (but props to Whitney for doing so well) and Whitney was sent to join her pals on Redemption Island.
What did you guys think of the episode? Sure it was a tad predictable, but that always happens when people play Survivor well. Now that we’re down to seven, I’m hoping we see some people shake up the game and make their best plays to get to the end. And who do you think will win next week’s truel? I think Dawn and Whitney could pose a bigger threat to Ozzy than he realizes.