“Taste The Victory” S23 / E5
- B Community Grade
Apparently, Survivor’s producers sat down after last season and thought what the show was missing was a giant heap of disgusting, because that was perhaps the grossest immunity challenge they’ve ever come up with. It was so gross, in fact, it easily eclipsed what was a lot of interesting scheming, allegiance switching, and bitter exposing of alliances. No, despite anything interesting there, all I will ever think of when this episode is referenced is meat.
Before the dreaded meat was introduced, Stacey got to exact a little revenge for her ouster by taking the opportunity at Duel to out the alliance of Coach, Albert, and Sophie to Savaii. Not only does she out this alliance, but she also goes out of her way to emphasize how “Benjamin”—she refuses to call him Coach—is in charge of everything that’s happening over at Upolu. She doesn’t necessarily tell Savaii anything they don’t already kind of know, but she certainly tells them enough to run back to their tribemates and spill the beans. While Dawn is relaying all of the juicy details, Ozzy mentions how Coach will probably want to get rid of Albert next, since he will be a threat post-merge. This immediately gives Jim pause since he and Keith are Ozzy’s strongest male competition on their tribe, and it strengthens his resolve to cut Ozzy’s power base by splitting up his close alliance with Elyse.
Back at Upolu, Albert explains Stacey’s tirade. It sets Coach off on a somewhat hilarious tizzy about how no one calls him Benjamin, not even his parents. For his part, Albert realizes by his name getting out there he will be considered a threat post-merge and decides to go looking for the immunity idol clue. He finds the clue but can’t find the idol itself, so he stupidly goes to Coach and Sophie so all three of them can look for it. Coach, who has been having just the worst day so far (seriously, don't call him Benjamin), manages to find the idol for himself. Way to go with giving up the clue, Albert!
Now, the dreaded challenge. For some reason, the producers decided it would be a good idea for the contestants to rip meat off a barbeque pig shank and deposit it in a communal bucket, with the tribe who can rip the most meat winning immunity. Listen. I’m not a vegetarian. I ate ribs today, as a matter of fact. But this challenge was foul. It was basically an excuse for Jeff to spout 100 different sexual innuendos while we see close ups of unkempt but generally good looking people rip hunks of greasy, juicy flesh with their teeth. Just awful. In the end, Upolu gathered two more ounces of meat than Savaii and won the challenge. However, as a people, anyone who watched automatically lost.
While Upolu's members are busy devouring the feast they won as a result of having stronger teeth, Savaii is back on its beach scrambling to figure out who to eliminate. The consensus appears to be Cochran, but Cochran, Jim, and Dawn are far more interested in booting Elyse instead. The only hitch in their plan is that they need one more person to vote their way in order for it to stick. Jim decides to use Ozzy’s statement about Coach voting out Albert as his strategy in getting Keith to switch his allegiance away from Ozzy. Keith seems game for the plan until he realizes Ozzy is going to automatically know he turned against him and be angry, which makes him hesitant. Interestingly, Keith approaches Whitney, who also seems to be on board with removing Elyse but is worried about looking like the bad guy. Their solution? Throw the votes to someone random instead in order to deflect blame from themselves.
Despite Whitney’s mention of this plan, going into Tribal, the decision as to who is going home between Cochran and Elyse is far from clear. Tribal itself focuses more on Cochran and his generally awkward demeanor around the tribe and around humans in general. For example, his observation that the entire tribe might have gotten herpes of the mouth from the immunity challenge is one of those things you should probably think to yourself, not blurt out to a paranoid, hungry group of people who can barely stand you in the first place. The more Cochran is confronted with any sort of pressure, the further he digs himself into these types of holes. It’s fascinating to watch but also a bit annoying, as you want to just reach through the screen and either cover his mouth or shake him very hard until he shuts up.
In the end, Cochran’s complete ineptitude at Tribal council discussions doesn’t end up hurting him because Whitney and Keith go with their vote-throwing strategy and Elyse is sent to Redemption Island. It was a bit of a surprise, as Cochran was getting one heck of a loser edit, but it was a welcome surprise because it is sure to wreak havoc on Savaii.
All I know is this: If they ever do that disgusting challenge again, I might just lose it.
- Even though this episode had absolutely nothing to do with Brandon and his weird issues, it still started off with a confessional featuring his tears. Stop it with that.
- “If anyone calls me Benjamin to my face, I’m going to go nuts. My parents call me Coach. I’ve been being called Coach since I was 18.”
- “Any way you can get that meat off using your mouth…”
- “Coach’s face, covered in sauce!”
- “This is a disgusting challenge.”