Tonight’s episode of Survivor was a sneaky one. It presented itself as seemingly nothing more than an hour full of annoyances; from an overabundance of Jesus to an overabundance of a crossdressing Adam Sandler, most of it was an eye roller. But, as the hour came to a close, the annoyances faded away, and actual gameplay took over, with one player making a move so out of the box it might be that player's saving grace, or that box might just turn around and become a coffin. It was almost enough to make me forget about the 30 seconds of Jack And Jill footage we were subjected to. ALMOST.
Let’s start with the religion issue, because for the last few seasons it’s become more and more prominent, and tonight it was abundant enough to almost cause physical discomfort. I realize it’s a symptom of the people the producers cast. They obviously aren’t sitting around forcing these people to pray. But consistently casting people who define themselves based on their religion is a problem if you don’t want to saturate your audience with that particular message. Also, group prayers to help you find an immunity idol (that you already have) and to immediately say thanks following an immunity challenge win seem more demonstrative than genuine. Obviously, this is a very subjective issue, but for me, it’s past the point of casual and has moved on to actively making me uncomfortable.
Aside from Upolu’s over-the-top religious fervor, the tribe also had some strange ideas about how to boost morale. Coach seemed to think letting his fellow tribe members know they have an idol pre-merge will be key to winning the next challenge. Between Coach’s confession this week and Ozzy’s last week, it’s hard to understand just what the advantage is in telling people you have the idol. Wouldn’t the best idol be a secret idol? While Coach is busy patting himself on the back for boosting team spirits by letting them know he has immunity for himself (see how weird that sounds?), back at Savaii, Ozzy is considering using his idol for a different purpose: to keep Cochran safe and send himself to Redemption Island to take out Christine. Cochran is understandably excited about this plan, and the two of them take this excitement into the immunity challenge.
This is where things start to look up. The immunity challenge is the familiar blindfolded challenge with a caller leading, but with an important twist addition of an obstacle course and puzzle to complete while blindfolded. It’s an insanely difficult challenge, fun to watch and grueling to complete. Such a difficult challenge should mean an amazing reward, like a gourmet dinner and sightseeing. Instead? The winning tribe gets a few hot dogs and the chance to watch Jack and Jill. And you thought Gulliver’s Travels was the lowest the show could go. The only thing keeping every single person from throwing this challenge is the fact they hadn’t been subjected to the trailer yet, so they didn't know what they were in for. Those poor bastards.
Despite the absolutely awful reward, immunity is a powerful motivator, and both tribes really give it their all. It’s a close challenge until Savaii seems to pull away near the end, until Cochran makes a mistake with one of the harnesses and causes his team to lose a tremendous amount of ground. In the end, Albert and Sophie manage to get the final puzzle done more quickly, and Upolu comes from behind to get the win. Savaii doesn’t take it well, especially Ozzy, who displays a level of frustration bordering on insane and childish. While Upolu stuffs itself with hot dogs and lowest denominator comedy, Ozzy is busy going back on everything he said about sacrificing himself to Redemption Island and instead turns the whole tribe against Cochran and has them all but sending him there on the spot.
Just when things seem hopeless for Cochran, Ozzy has some sort of spiritual fever dream that told him to stick with his original plan, and he decides to stick to the original plan in hopes he can go to Redemption Island and knock out Christine, thus removing the one person advantage Upolu would have going into the merge. The catch? No one actually knows when the merge will occur, so it’s very risky to vote out your strongest challenge competitor before his time. Despite the risks (and despite Probst’s hilariously incredulous face at Tribal), Savaii decides to take the chance and send Ozzy, with his blessing, potentially to his Survivor grave.
If it works, it will be considered one of the biggest moves in Survivor history. If it doesn’t, Ozzy is automatically one of the game’s biggest goats of all time. I’m of the Survivor mind that you don’t take risks this big before they’re absolutely necessary, and you NEVER volunteer yourself to be in a position to be removed from the game, so I can’t help but hope this all blows up in Ozzy’s face. Then again, if it works, he’s a genius, so what the hell do I know?
- Because it cannot be said enough: Worst. Reward. Ever. EVER.
- Who thinks there’s no merge next week? If I were a Survivor producer, I’d be doing everything in my power to make sure there was no merge next week.
- Christine is a beast. I hope she kicks Ozzy’s idiot ass next week.
- Nice bikini top and Longhorn, Brandon. Texas must be so proud.
- The more Survivor decides to show of Tai Chi Coach, the more I will remember how much I dislike him.
- “If there comes a time where Brandon becomes a liability, just like old Lennie Of Mice And Men, there comes a time when you’ve got to put a bullet in somebody’s head. In this game, it’s kill or be killed.”
- “Cochran was in charge of hooking them in, and he DID NOT do a good job!” Probst, always a gentleman.
- “You’re going to be taken to the Survivor: South Pacific Cinema, and you’re going to enjoy Jack And Jill.”
- “I think I changed my mind. I think I’m going to let Cochran go to Redemption.” Ozzy, such a jokester!