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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled iSurvivor/i: “Survivalism”
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Last week, I proposed a somewhat harebrained theory about this season of Survivor being the season of Coach. Tonight, there were a few moments that definitely backed up this theory, but something else became abundantly clear: Coach really only looks competent and sane because someone close to him is completely off his rocker. Who knew the best thing to happen to Coach’s game would have something to do with a Hantz?

After Brandon’s somewhat successful attempts to completely destroy his own character and position in the game last week, tonight he embarked on the Great Apology Tour of Brandon Hantz in order to help clean up his image a bit. He claims to have ruined his own game with pride, but everything about him screams insecurity and moral confusion, not pride. In the course of his apologies, he manages to raise Mikayla’s suspicions about him even more. She can’t get over his association with the Hantz blood line, and his tireless efforts to try to get her out of the game without apparent reason probably don’t help matters much. During his rounds, he somehow also manages to purposely tell Edna she isn’t actually part of their alliance, but an outlier being used. He does this under the guise of “truthfulness” but really it ends up feeling like more manipulation. For as much as he professes to not want to be a Hantz, it was very Hantz-like of him.

Over at Savaii, Jim is starting to get anxious about Ozzy’s relationship with Elyse and decides to approach Cochran for support in potentially getting Elyse out next. Cochran, who is grasping at straws to simply stay in the game, jumps at the chance and even manages to bring Dawn into the fold as well. For her part, Dawn has been feeling like quite the outcast because of her age difference in comparison with the rest of her tribe. It looks like she’s getting the loser edit, but it turns out she is really getting the hero edit as she awesomely wins the challenge for her team, when it comes down to a one-on-one weight holding challenge between her and Stacey. It was pretty darn great to watch.

Savaii is safe for the week, which means more trouble for the ever-restless Upolu. Things seem to be fairly straightforward, with the vote coming down to annoying alliance outcast Edna vs. no-ally-possessing Stacey. Stacey has a strong case for why she should stay, based on her very good performance in the challenge, but with her only ally being voted out, things seem destined for her to go. She does manage to do something interesting by throwing doubt Brandon’s way about Mikayla, Albert, and Sophie potentially having shady doings of some sort. Brandon, who has never met an overreaction he didn’t embrace, immediately goes to Coach and starts carrying on about how they have a problem in their alliance.

This is where Coach does something completely awesome and where I think having Brandon around is the best thing that could be happening to him right now. Coach immediately puts Brandon on shutdown, telling him in no uncertain terms to “stop it” and quit taking the word of someone who is on their last resort over a committed member of their alliance. It’s cogent, concise, correct advice. Brandon doesn’t hear one word of it, which Coach also recognizes and verbalizes. He even correctly points out why he lost his previous two times playing the game, and it’s more obvious than ever someone sat him down and forced him to reconsider exactly how he was approaching the game of Survivor. As much as I don’t think the “redemption” part of Redemption Island is necessary, this is what it’s for: To bring people back to give them another chance to right their wrongs and play the game a better way. I’ve never been a Coach fan before, but I’ve got to admit I’m rooting for him now.

Stacey’s attempts to muddy the waters don’t work, and she is voted out after another weird Upolu Tribal Council featuring a lot of Brandon Hantz tears. Listen, I know being Russell Hantz’ nephew must be difficult at times, but saying you want to use a reality show to redeem the family name that was sullied by a reality show in the first place? That’s some through the looking glass shit right there, of a type I just can’t abide. Brandon is a troubled guy, perhaps too troubled to see just how little this all really means in the larger scheme of life, and watching him break down on television is starting to feel less like entertainment and more like disturbing voyeurism. I suppose that’s what reality television is ultimately all about, but I can’t say it doesn’t feel just a little bit gross at times.

Stray observations:

  • We need to discuss the strategy of the weight-bearing challenge. How would you guys play it? Load up one person at a time until they fall? Spread the wealth? Get the strong guys out first and leave the weaker people to the end?
  • The Redemption Island challenge was actually a bit exciting for once, as far as those challenges go. You could tell by the reactions of the people watching it was a really tense affair. Too bad it really means nothing to the game at this point.
  • Thank goodness for the bathing suit fairies! (Although this does not explain whatever Jim was wearing.)
  • Can Albert talk more? Can Sophie talk more? Can anyone besides the four people we already know talk more? It feels awfully strange how little we know about a few people this far into the game.
  • Not a fan of the “Tell me something annoying about [blank]” question strategy employed by Probst at Tribal tonight.
  • “She is scrambling like scrambled eggs in a skillet right now.”
  • “STOP IT. I want you to stop it.”
  • “I tend to be a good judge of character.”

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