Survivor recap: Instant Death
Coach threatens to drop the hammer on anyone switching sides as two more people are voted out
“I’m hoping there’s a Secret Double Redemption Island when I walk down that path.” — Jim, after losing his duel and being eliminated
Regular readers know that I have been no fan of the Redemption Island twist. It has neutered way too much of the drama of Survivor’s signature moment — the vote-off — for my taste. That said, I am totally on board with Secret Double Redemption Island. For one thing, there’s the name Secret Double Redemption Island. It’s kinda like Double Secret Probation, but without Dean Wormer and that smug preppy suck-up Gregg. Also, the possibilities for Secret Double Redemption Island are endless.
In my vision, I see Jim leaving Redemption Island Arena after his loss to Ozzy and suddenly dissolving into mist. What happened? Where did he go? We don’t know. It’s a secret. When he finally rematerializes a la Star Trek beam technology, he finds himself alone with only a machete, a pot, flint, and the ghosts of discarded Survivor twists and turns of yesteryear — the trunk of fake cash that used to sit at Tribal Council in season 1, directions to which side of the island everyone should live on depending on their ethnicity, a fleet of cars each containing the skeletons of the contestants that won those cars and therefore never won the game, Casa de Charmin, Ryan Shoulders’ “Die, Jerks” Outcasts buff, and, of course, a Medallion of Power which, in the greatest twist of all, contains no power whatsoever.
Of course, all contestants who are sent to Secret Double Redemption Island must enter Secret Double Redemption Island Arena, where they will compete in the ultimate duel: seeing who can last the longest in a never-ending double-feature loop screening of Gulliver’s Travels and Jack & Jill. The loser goes home. The winner stays alive. (But how alive can one person truly be after sitting through such a torturous experience?) The victor immediately reenters the game where he is beaten to a bloody pulp by his tribe after quoting entire scenes from the films while suggesting they all dress in drag and “get our Sandler on!”
I won’t make the same mistake. I hereby promise the rest of this recap will be 100% Sandler-free. And with that, we’re off for another exciting episode of Survivor: South Pacific. The episode begins with Jim arriving at Redemption Island. “I thought we were supposed to be in the final three,” he says to Keith and Ozzy. Who knows? Maybe you would have been if you had voted John off instead of Elyse. Or voted John off instead of Ozzy. Oh well. “I hate to say I told you so, gentlemen,” groans Ozzy, “so I won’t say it.” YOU JUST DID! Don’t be a wiener, Ozzy.
Back at Te Tuna (which I feel stupid typing every single time), Coach is busy telling everyone how awful Jim is and how Whitney and Dawn have nothing to worry about. That sounds great! Unless they’re worried about…you know, getting voted off, in which case, what the hell are you talking about, Coach? They have everything to worry about. Not only is Whitney worried, she says that other members of Upolu should be worried as well since all six of them (including John) can’t get to the finals with Coach. “I kind of want to laugh at them,” she says. “I don’t understand how these smart people can be so stupid.”
NEXT: Yummy Coach Kool-Aid for sale!
Coach’s ascension is nothing short of miraculous. Talking to the contestants before the game, they were all determined not to let a returning player come back and control the game the way Boston Rob did on Redemption Island. Rick even went out of his way to personally bash Coach. And then Christine told me last week that right as the helicopter landed, she and her tribemates made a pact to get rid of the returning player first no matter whom it was. You saw the reception Coach got there. It was frigid. Yet here he is in the ultimate position of power in the game. Unlike last season, Albert and Sophie are smart enough to recognize that something needs to be done, but at this point, what can they do? Edna, Brandon, and Rick all seem to be solidly in Camp Coach, so that severely limits their options. I’m not saying Coach has this thing all wrapped up. Albert and Sophie have some game. But the fact that Coach has gotten to this position at this point in the season is remarkable. I don’t think anyone could have predicted it.
Even John is riding the Coach train, telling us that, “As painful as it is for me to admit it, I am drinking the Coach Kool-Aid.” Not as painful as it is for us to watch you two attempting Tai Chi on the beach. Coach wisely decides to use John as a pawn against Albert, telling him that he’s worried about what the dating coach might be up to. (Speaking of which, if Albert is indeed both a baseball coach and a dating coach, doesn’t that make him twice the coach that Coach is? Just sayin’.) “Fishy things are abroad,” says Coach, although I have no idea what that means. I guess he means “fishy things are afoot,” but as we learned last week when Coach incorrectly attributed a quote to a Roman emperor that actually came from a Jheri curl salesman, the Dragonslayer is not exactly known for his accuracy when it comes famous sayings.
Hey, I got an idea. Let’s go take a trip to Single Redemption Island to see a group duel that Jeff Probst promised us we would never see! The difference being that at least this season only the winner stays alive. The others are obviously banished to Secret Double Redemption Island, which is either exactly like what I descried above or a web series of voted off jury members hanging out that is sponsored by Proctor & Gamble. One of the two.
Today we have a good ol’ fashioned endurance contest where the three men have to balance poles on their hands. Rick and Brandon surprisingly seem to be rooting for Jim while Whitney unsurprisingly is rooting for her island snuggle-bunny Keith. All those rooting for Ozzy, speak now or forever hold your peace. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? It doesn’t matter. Ozzy doesn’t need a cheering section. Some acting lessons, perhaps, and maybe even a haircut, but not a cheering section. He outlasts Jim and Keith, who become the first members of the jury.
I’m sorry to see Jim go. Some loved Jim. Some hated Jim. But Jim is the type of player and person that makes Survivor so much fun to watch. He’s lippy, has a temper, and is not afraid to make big moves (even if they end up not being the best moves). I enjoyed watching him. Keith? Keith fell victim to a numbers game, meaning with John, Jim, Ozzy, and Dawn on his tribe, there were too many other good storylines and personalities to follow. As a result, we didn’t see a lot from Keith. I will say I found his facial hair to be a bit awkward, but then again this is coming from a guy that’s been rocking sideburns since the first Bush administration, so who am I to judge?
NEXT: A seesaw battle
As for Ozzy, he’s so excited to still be in the game that he’s going to go climb a tree! (Very cool shot by the way. I gotta pause for the cause to give major props to the Survivor camera crew. This show always looks freakin’ amazing.) Ozzy’s also going to go catch some fish, and let me tell you, that’s no easy task in that water. While the sea life is plentiful — I once swam right over a giant turtle there — the current in that reef is very strong, which makes staying in one position to fish extremely difficult. But not if you’re Ozzy. What, you don’t think Ozzy is tough? Well you know who does? Ozzy! “The next couple of people coming through Redemption are going to have a big challenge in front of them,” he tells us, “and that’s me.”
I’ll tell you another thing that was tough: watching Dawn completely sabotage her own game by not tattling on John to the rest of her tribe when he was flipping. She said she didn’t want to mess his game up, which is flat-out absurd in an individual contest. She should have known better, and I know Dawn now knows she should have known better. I know this because that’s exactly what Dawn is telling John. “I think I was realizing this morning again how frustrated I am that I jeopardized my own game and didn’t out your game plan.” I would say better late than never, but in this case that’s not really true because in the cliché department this is more a case of too little, too late. She wants John to now reciprocate, which I think is about as likely as me not finishing this can of Milwaukee’s Best before the end of this — gulp…DONE! — sentence.
Can Dawn win immunity to save her own skin — which will be glazed, chewed upon, and spit back out into a basket like a Survivor roast pig unless she can pull out a challenge win? Well, immunity is back up for grabs after Probst forcibly removes the necklace from Whitney’s neck. The challenge is another balancing act in which the contestants must balance a bowl filled with rice (not crispy, unfortunately) on top of their heads while racing across two teeter-totters and then emptying the bowl into a container. Balance competitions always favor women, although Brandon is also in the mix on this one due to his abnormally round head making a perfect resting spot for said rice bowl. However, Sophie goes for broke, filling her bowl all the way to the top for transporting. This week she also manages to not vomit during her final leg, leading her to victory and the immunity necklace.
NEXT: The jury is out on Albert
Dawn seems a goner. Except Probst has informed the tribe that there will be a twist at the next Tribal Council, leading people to assume a double elimination could be in the works. If there is going to be any shake-up, now is the time, while there are still enough Savaii people around to do it. Dawn and Whitney decide to make their plea to Albert that it is time for him to make his move. After all, Whitney says, “Rick, he’s not even paying the game. And Edna, she’s so far up Coach’s butt it’s ridiculous.” Or is it? Edna’s a smart woman. Who knows, maybe she’s found the secret location of Secret Double Redemption Island.
Albert is a smart guy as well. He knows if he can secure all the Savaii jury votes and make it to the end, he’s won. Will he gain enough favor by keeping them around for a few more days and sending Edna to Redemption Island instead — if he can even locate her in Coach’s butt to vote her out, that is? “This game is not out-clean, out-organize and out-gather,” he says of Edna, not realizing that he may have just inadvertently given Mark Burnett a fantastic product placement idea for an upcoming challenge sponsored by Home Depot.
But to make such a move, Albert needs John on board. He broaches the subject during a game of island chess/checkers. “There’s a move that we have. It’s a high-risk move. This is if you want to gamble…” And really he should just stop talking right there because John is not exactly what I would call the gambling type. It was his fear of gambling and possibly pulling the colored rock that led him to flip in the first place. If indeed you got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run — as Kenny Rogers once opined — then John will fold ‘em, walk away and run before the hand is even dealt. Coach sees Albert playing both sides and goes into intimidation mode, acting like an old mob boss and promising that if anyone votes against the original five “it is instant death.” Unfortunately, with the Redemption Island twist, no death is instant in this game, but I digress.
At Tribal Council, Probst does his best to try and avoid another Boston Rob situation with one person inevitably marching towards the title with predictable vote-out after vote-out. “You’re telling me as an avid fan of this game you have not started thinking beyond seven?” he asks John while nudging him towards making a move. “You’re going to be very, very late to a party that is not very interested in letting you in the door.” The other fascinating element is watching Coach try his darndest to convince everyone that he is not the tribe leader. Remember, this is the same man that threw huge hissy fits at Tribal in Tocantins because his tribe refused to anoint him leader. Now, he has finally realized that there is absolutely nothing to gain in such a designation. Coach 3.0 continues to impress.
NEXT: Sophie schools the competition
In any event, Dawn — or Don, according to Brandon, who perhaps just wrote her name that way because it’s easier to think of her as a man than some female temptress out to get him to cheat on his wife — is voted off and Probst reveals there will be another immunity challenge right then and there leading to another immediate vote-off. Love it. I have been advocating for this exact scenario for some time now, and while Survivor producers tend to ignore approximately 96% of my suggestions (like going back to a final two, hiding idols at challenges, and, most importantly, having Probst once again deliver the votes via hacking his way through the bush, skydiving and motorcycling to Los Angeles), it is nice when one finally does make it on to the air.
The second immunity challenge is a trivia test based on information the contestants were provided with during their one day pre-game Survivor school session. Let’s see who actually bothered to study! Not Albert, Edna, and Rick, evidently, who all miss the very first question. Eventually it comes down to Whitney and Sophie, and leave it to the recent college grad to pull it out. Sophie’s victory spells Whitney’s doom, and sure enough she is unanimously sent to Redemption Island to battle Ozzy and Dawn. This is especially depressing for me because Whitney was pre-game pick to win it all. HOW DARE YOU LET ME DOWN LIKE THAT, WHITNEY! The only way you can possibly make it up to me is a with a private performance of “Skinny Dipping.” And just for the record, I’m not referring to the song. (Buh-dum-bum!)
Who will win and stay alive? And will John be able to crack the Upolu six, or is he next to go? Well, we won’t be finding out next week, because Thanksgiving means it’s recap episode time. I used to always make fun of the recap episodes, but right around the Tocantins season they started getting good, showing lots of deleted scenes and storylines, so definitely make sure to check it out. But right now what you should be checking out is my weekly Q&A with Jeff Probst. You also need to be checking about our own exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode in the video player below (along with my pre-game interviews with Jim and Keith). And for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. Now it’s your turn. Should Albert have made his power-play against Coach? Will Rick ever speak? And whom are you rooting for to take home the title? Hit the message boards and let us know, and I’ll be back soon with another scoop of the crispy!
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