Last week was one of the best episodes of Survivor in quite a long while. In response to the buzz, the promos CBS aired endlessly all week touted a veritable Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome smackdown between Cochran and the remaining members of the tribe he betrayed. Instead of an epic battle, however, what we got was more like five minutes of righteous anger, one short confrontation, and…a double elimination episode? Okay, Survivor.
The beginning of the episode at least attempts to fulfill the promise of those promos, as it picks up immediately after Tribal with Ozzy pulling Cochran aside to basically tell him how much he thinks he sucks. Impressively, Cochran holds his ground and articulates him reasoning well; it was pure self-preservation, and Cochran really didn’t want to go out of the game because he pulled the wrong color rock out of a bag. It’s a sound rationalization, but we all know there is more to it than that. As Ozzy and Cochran talk, though, both Jim and Whitney come over and interrupt them, with Jim calling Cochran a “coward” and a staggeringly irate Whitney berating him. I actually totally get why Savaii is angry. They expected Cochran to do one thing, they counted on him to do one thing, and he did the exact opposite. I think it was the right decision for him, but I don't have a personal stake in the matter. What's amazing to me is the pure level of rage people can muster for a game show.
This is when things started to get a little wonky. There’s a quick immunity challenge Jim wins, and then an even quicker strategy session where Jim implies he is planning on giving Ozzy the necklace and somehow convincing the rest of Upolu to vote out Cochran instead. Then BAM!, we’re at Tribal 22 minutes into the episode. Here is when I started to understand this was a double elimination episode. Thankfully, instead of being confused by this I could instead by confused by Jim, who proceeded to offer perhaps the most insane Tribal speech ever, which boiled down to a plea for Upolu to help educate future players of Survivor that the game should be played honorably. To do this, reasons Jim, they should not reward devious behavior by voting out Cochran. No, seriously. That was his argument.
It’s an impassioned plea, one I almost think he believes, but it’s also perhaps the most hypocritical thing he’s ever said. Jim doesn’t play this game with honor. He was the first person to turn against his early alliance by scheming to vote out Ozzy’s henchwoman Elyse. He has never even mentioned that he thinks Survivor should be played “honorably” (whatever that means) until someone was devious in a way that hurt him. Also, you know, voting Cochran out instead of one of his allies might help him out a little bit in the game. Funny how he doesn’t mention that, huh? I basically spent his entire speech rolling my eyes and typing notes in capital letters. Jim, you are a moron. In the end, his speech has no effect and Ozzy is sent to Redemption, teaching future players that Jim doesn't know what the heck he is talking about.
After Whitney wins the second immunity challenge the vote is pretty much going to be Jim. We all know it, all of Savaii and Upolu knows it, and the fish in the ocean on their beach probably know it. Although Jim tries to pull a maneuver with Albert and Sophie the outcome of the vote is all but inevitable, which made for a very inert second half of the episode. The only redemption was a bit of patented Brandon Hantz crazy at Tribal when he takes offense to something innocuous Dawn says and Dawn very casually and calmly diffuses the situation. If we learned anything tonight, it’s that Dawn should look into work as a hostage negotiator, seeing as she can so easily diffuse a volatile personality like Brandon’s.
Overall, the episode was a bit of a letdown likely because of heightened expectations more than anything else. In the history of angry reality show confrontations, Savaii vs. Cochran was barely a three on the crazy scale. Unfortunately, any lingering resentment was more or less shuttered so the show could service this double elimination. I’m glad they structured the season this way—Savaii is obviously going out, so the faster we get to Upolu cannibalizing themselves the better—but after a barnburner episode like last week, this one was just not that compelling.
- Did any of you see those CBS promos? Cochran was only identified as “this nerd” and the show seemed to be taking the attitude that he was definitely in the wrong for what he did. I found them infuriating.
- Edna feeding Rick was nightmare inducing. Is there some kind of secret romance going on here? Or were they just drunk on sugar love?
- Someone needs to edit a fanvid of Cochran and Brandon set to Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity.” Immediately.
- Ozzy is turning himself into the perfect killing machine. Or at least a very good fisherman.
- “We’re not, like, gangsters out here, man.”
- “You got a lot to learn, buddy. You. Disgust. Me.”
- “You guys fell for my master plan!”
- “Cochran right now is playing the most brilliant third place game in Survivor history.”