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It’s not a great sign for your casting department when someone who has five minutes of screen time in one episode has a more interesting game strategy than someone who has been playing the entire season. That’s right, in one quick appearance Daddy Hantz was far more compelling a player than Brandon has ever been, and at least 50 percent more sane. Is it too late to switch Hantz’s?

This was yet another uneventful week of Survivor, gameplay-wise, as all of Te Tuna is content to simply not play the game at all until they absolutely have to. This week, with Edna hanging around like nothing more than 90 pounds of dead weight, they don’t have to. Sure, they’ll talk about making moves. They’ll talk about all of the possibilities in the hushed tones of a doomed young couple planning a future that will likely never come to pass. But when it comes time to actually pull the trigger, absolutely no one seems to have the guts to take the shot.

No one except Cochran, that is. It’s really quite sad that this gutless group so thoroughly manipulated someone with actual guts to do all of their dirty work for them, and then cast him aside without a thought so they could all continue to not take any risks at all. I’m not condemning Upolu for what they did—Survivor is a game of lying and manipulation, and they definitely played Cochran well—but as a viewer, the way the show has deflated since Cochran’s shining moment has been disappointing. It’s hard to see how anyone except Coach is playing the game at all. Like last season with Rob, unless someone does something soon their entire existence on the show will have been in service of giving Coach the win. The funny thing is everybody sees it. Albert certainly does, and you can’t tell me Sophie doesn’t understand what’s going on here. So what is holding them back?

Because there was no gameplay to focus on this week, the hour mostly revolved around the trials and tribulations of Brandon Hantz. He is tearfully reunited with his shockingly young-looking father, who immediately notices just how close to the precipice Brandon has come. Daddy Hantz is especially concerned when Brandon declares he is playing the game as an example for Christ and not to, you know, actually play the game. Daddy Hantz’s shocked face is fairly amusing, as is his immediate decision to play the game for Brandon and try to at least secure some sort of safety for his son since his son seems to lack any survival skills at all. Daddy Hantz is a smart, sane schemer, and everything we all probably thought Brandon was going to be at the beginning of the season before he opened his mouth. I fully expect to see him next season as a contestant.

Daddy Hantz’s words of wisdom definitely didn’t penetrate the thick layer of crazy surrounding Brandon’s brain, which is best illustrated during his weird outburst towards Edna during the immunity challenge. Brandon's inability show loyalty to his alliance without blatantly disrespecting people not in that alliance is downright creepy; it’s like everyone who is considered an “outsider” must be shunned lest their mere presence infect him. Unlike Mikayla, Edna stands up for herself and makes strong arguments as to why Brandon is a wild card in the game and must go. Unfortunately, no one is interested in shaking things up and Edna’s biggest ally in the game is the one person who doesn’t want things to be shaken up most of all, so no matter how much everyone wants Brandon gone she’s doomed.

One thing I did genuinely admire was Coach’s slippery negotiations with Edna, staying on her side during their strategy conversation and never committing to actually voting her way, but making her think he had. Coach said “Have Albert and Sophie vote for Brandon and all will be well” and Edna heard “I will vote for Brandon and all will be well.” It’s pretty effective, and he’s been doing it for weeks now. Now that Te Tuna is whittled away to only the original five in the alliance, what happens next? Every week I think this will be the moment they start scheming and turning on each other, and every week I’m disappointed. Therefore, I fully expect to see Rick heading to Redemption Island next week. I can only hope they prove me wrong.

Stray observations:

  • Wowee, I think I need a phone! One that’s flat! And takes pictures! I wonder if Sprint sells those?
  • I did enjoy Cochran’s little moment of respect from Probst as he was leaving the game. Cochran was never going to win this game; at least he made it interesting.
  • Ozzy is pretty much unbearable to me. Between him immediately campaigning for Cochran’s jury vote to his shameless gifting of family time to the three most alpha males on the tribe, he is really coming across as an entitled douche. It’s Ozzy’s world, and only the big strong dudes are allowed to live in it.
  • Was Coach serious in his final three offer to Ozzy? If so, he is dumber than I ever thought. If Ozzy makes it to final three he wins the game, right? He has the votes.
  • “Who are you? UGH, Cochran.”
  • “I’m just gonna excuse myself since I’m not really part of this tribe.”
  • “I’ll eat a piece of his stool, that’s how much of 100% I am that he’s in with this.”

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