Coach joins the list of players refusing to be called by a first name, while Savaii sees a major shake-up

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 28, 2015 at 12:28 AM EST
Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS
S23 E5
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So a guy walks into a pizza parlor and says, “Hey, I’m looking for Pepé.”

“Who?” says the manager.

“Pepé. Is Pepé here?”

“I don’t think so. Pepé! Anyone here named Pepé?”

No one answers.

“Sorry, no Pepé here, buddy,” says the manager.

“Are you sure? I’m pretty sure Pepé is right behind you,” says the customer.

The manager looks behind him but sees only pizzas just out of the oven.

“There ain’t nobody behind me,” says the manager.

“Sure there is. There’s Pepé. Pepé Roni!”

The manager then takes out a shotgun and shoots the customer in the face.

HA! HA! HA! Hilarious! Just a little “Chucky The Cheese” humor courtesy of my good friend Benjamin. Benjamin loves “Chucky The Cheese” jokes and Halloween jokes too. You know what else Benjamin loves? Being called Benjamin! Or Benji for short. Either one will do. Beep! Beep! Then you’ll be in the driver’s seat, baby!

Enough tomfoolery. Let’s get to last night’s doozy of an episode of Survivor: South Pacific. It’s a new day, and that means another new personality switch for Brandon. After offering a heartfelt apology to Mikayla, he’s now back to accusing her of having no class for dissing the Hantz family. Make up your mind, dude! Is she an evil temptress out to seduce all decent God-fearing men, or just some woman minding her own business? Brandon once again devolves into tears, insisting that “I’m a good person. I’m a good guy.” Hey, in the Hantz family, maybe he is. You know, if you’re grading on a curve and all.

The duel within Brandon then segues to the actual duel between Stacey and Christine to stay alive in the game. Stacey, knowing she will lose because she is Stacey, wants to make sure she sabotages her own tribe, especially the man who tried to hug it out with her at Tribal Council. She talks all about…honestly, I have no idea what she’s talking about. I rewatched it three times and can only make out bits and pieces. Something about Coach, Sophie and Albert running things, and Halloween, and hugs, and POW!, and someone named Chucky The Cheese that may or may not bear any relation to Chuck E. Cheese. (Heaven help us if Stacey and Ralph from last season ever make it on the same tribe. They’ll have to call that installment Survivor: Subtitle Island.) The one thing that is clear is that Stacey is refusing to call Coach by his self-appointed nickname, something which actually falls in line with my recent rant about players going to great lengths to force people to call them something other than their actual first name.

NEXT: Why adventure is overrated

The duel itself is a variation on one we’ve seen before as the two competitors are forced to roll a ball down a twisty chute and catch it when it comes out. Every so often they will be forced to add another ball. Stacey proves herself to be the master strategist by paying even less attention to spacing out her balls than she does to making sure people can understand what she is saying, and sure enough she proves Albert’s prediction of “It’s only a matter of time” to be correct. This means host Jeff Probst has to tell Stacey that “your adventure is over” which seems to be Redemption Island’s go-to farewell line and actually kind of bums me out.

Survivor used to be the one reality TV show that never used words like “journey” and “adventure” to make people feel better about themselves after they were cut loose. Probst would just snuff your torch and tell you to get the hell out. That’s why it was such evil genius. The suddenness of the exit was part of the moment’s ultimate strength. Sure, the voted out party got to say a few words over the final credits, but only after they took their walk of shame into the cold, blue light of death. And the words were usually very angry. With Redemption Island, the player’s last moment has now turned into a “Gee, this was an awesome experience” warm fuzzy feeling instead of the more dramatic bitter disappointment we all grew to love. (By the by, I realize this makes me sound like a horrible human being — wishing for pain and despair over rainbows and unicorns — but it terms of dramatic payoff, one is clearly superior over the other. Give in to the dark side, producers!)

Back at Upolu, Albert reports to Coach how Stacey insisted on calling him Benjamin. “If one person calls me Benjamin to my face I’m gonna go nuts,” he lashes out. (Um, the nuts train left the station a long time ago, my friend.) “My parents call me Coach. I’ve been being called Coach since I was 18.” This, of course, begs the question: Whom exactly was he coaching at the age of 18? Can you even be a coach at that age? Isn’t there some coach-in-training program at the very least? I know from coaching my son’s soccer team — which is hilarious in itself seeing as how I have never played a day of soccer in my life — that there are some standards and background checks involved in becoming a coach. Perhaps he was just a “Life Coach” or something. Once I get some free time, I’m going to look into this.

NEXT: Albert and Ozzy slip up

Albert is also worried about what Stacey said because she outed him to the other tribe as Coach’s number two (Assistant Coach?). He feels he needs to start looking for the hidden immunity idol, and sure enough finds the second clue. But then Albert does something incredibly dumb. He tells Coach and Sophie about it so they can help him. UGH! Not to go all schoolyard on Albert, but this is all about finder’s keepers/losers weepers, and the person that finds it and holds it is the keeper. And now that keeper is Coach, not Albert. Sure, Coach may share it if Albert needs it. But he also may not. What if Albert slips up and calls him Benjamin by accident? No idol for you! I don’t care that Albert couldn’t find it by himself. You know what? Keep looking! Have you seen how producers hide these idols? They’re not hard to find. I think there at least three hidden under my couch at this exact moment. Probst has said it himself as clear as day a million times: They WANT them to be found. Coach may think it was his praying to God that enabled him to find the idol, but there have been scores of others that needed no divine intervention to locate it. Just look under rocks and in crevices and it will be yours. Amen. I think Albert is a smart guy, but this was a stupid move, even if it doesn’t come back to haunt him.

Over on Savaii, John continues with the questionable move of insisting on wearing his collar up, making him look like a cross between Lewis Skolnick and an emaciated 1980s Ralph Lauren model. Ozzy asks him how he spells his last name, which according to Jeff Probst is proper etiquette before voting someone out. “You’re not going to have to spell it anytime soon,” answers John, while thankfully refraining from bringing oral herpes into the conversation.

Ozzy turns out to be the one to make the verbal faux pas when he talks about how Coach would be smart to get rid of Albert. First off, getting rid of your biggest physical asset when you are still fighting for numbers pre-merge is the exact opposite of smart, so let’s just make that clear right now. But the biggest problem for Ozzy is not his lack of strategic foresight but rather the fact that he just handed Jim a convincing argument to use against him later with Keith, using the logic that if Ozzy thinks Coach should get rid of Albert, then that means that Ozzy must want to get rid of Keith. “Nothing sells like fear,” says the evil mastermind, which I mean as a compliment of the highest order. Seriously, whether you like Jim or not, that is a savvy game move — using an offhand, seemingly innocuous comment against someone to trigger a complete shift in the balance of power.

Later on, Cochran decides to brave the water. “I’m slightly nervous about going out on a boat for the first time because I bring zero experience, zero ability, and zero confidence.” This coming from the man who will later refer to “middle-aged Ozzy” being a “lazy ass.” Hey, when you bring in fish the way Ozzy does — and make no mistake, that is not easy — you’ve earned a little hammock time. Even if your close relationship with your hammock partner may come back to bite you in the butt.

NEXT: Pig out!

Speaking of haunting, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over this week’s challenge. Now, I’ve seen some disgusting food challenges in my time. Anything involving the partially formed bird embryos that are balut comes to mind. And this ripping meat straight off the bone exercise has been done before on the show as well. But something about it this time made it even more barftastic. Maybe it was the fact that the producers appeared to lather the pig up with multiple layers of glaze and sauce to ensure that when the contestants spit it out, there would be a spray of fluid accompanying the meat. Maybe it was the POV spit cam in which we got to experience the angle of sitting right in the bucket of discarded pig flesh while players came and spat more right on top of us. Or maybe it was watching the contestants pry meat from each other’s mouths with abandon. All I know is, I actually had to look away a few times, peeking through my fingers like I was watching a horror movie, which in a way I kind of was.

What I did like about the challenge is the fact that we got to hear two whole words out of Rick. His big contribution to this episode: “That’s nice.” And I believe that brings him up to about 11 words total on the entire season. Way to crack double digits, baby! Having the mind of a 12-year-old, I also enjoyed all the unintentional double-entendres Probst kept spewing out while providing play by play. While nothing rose quite to the level of “Ozzy releases his coconuts,” I still snickered during lines like, “Dawn with a big hunk of meat!” and “The entire Upolu tribe coming back with a mouthful!” and “Coach, gnawing on something big!” Like I said, I’m an idiot.

When all is said, spit, and done, Upolu beats Savaii by two measly ounces, or, roughly the same amount that Mikayla picked up with her teeth off the ground when Rick dropped it and refused to pick it up. TEMPTRESS! Savaii is now forced to go back to camp and lick their wounds, and debate whether the licking will be safe what with all the herpes they just passed around. While John disgusts the tribe and then tries to prove what a busy worker he is, Jim finally makes his pitch to Keith. Keith seems on board but is worried about backstabbing Ozzy. He talks it over with Whitney, who has clearly emerged as his biggest ally. Do they take out the weakest member (John) or weaken and upset their strongest player (Ozzy)? Or do they pull a Coach, who in Heroes vs. Villains refused to vote out Boston Rob, but voted for Courtney instead, ensuring all the same that Rob would be the one to go home?

NEXT: How the hell do you spell Elyse?

Let’s go to Tribal to find out! Thankfully, this week Probst does not randomly order the contestants to start dissing and dismissing one another. Instead, he polls them on their food challenge injuries. Lots of cut lips and gums, as well as a Dawn’s broken tooth and Ozzy’s dislocated jaw. (And don’t even get me started on the herpes! It’s an epidemic, people!) John also worries that he’s “warping the arrangement of my teeth,” but seeing as how his strengths don’t lie in his million dollar smile (nor, apparently, in his soccer playing skills), that doesn’t seem to be the biggest of concerns. It’s a full-on mystery what will happen as the contestants go up to vote. Jim, John, and Dawn all go for Elyse (or Lys, Elice, and Elise, as it were), Ozzy and Elyse go for John, and it falls to Jim and Whitney, who indeed do pull a Coach, voting for Dawn.

Personally, I don’t get this gray area at all. You’re either with Ozzy or you’re not. Voting for Dawn is still sending his biggest ally and island snuggle bunny home, so whatever grand gesture you think you’re making by not driving the blade deeper into his back by throwing your vote out the window on Dawn instead, the fact is you still are allowing him to get stabbed. The end result is the same. Elyse is gone because you decided to let her go. If I were Ozzy, I would be much more pissed at Keith and Whitney for that flawed logic than at Jim for making a legitimate and bold game move. And make no mistake, it was bold. I love gamers who are fearless in shaking things up. They turn the good seasons into great ones. Jim has already earned his casting cred with this move. But the person who could potentially be sitting pretty in this whole scenario is John. Not only would be he long gone if Jim didn’t organize this coup, but now he can sit back while Ozzy bickers at everyone else but him. Jim, Keith, and Whitney will have to take the heat, while John can plot out his next move. Unless he sucks again in the next challenge, of course, in which case he could be right back on the chopping block.

But before we can get to next week, we have a bunch of goodies for you right here and right now. Make sure to check out my weekly Q&A with Jeff Probst where the host reveals how that disgusting food challenge was originally even more disgusting. Of course, because we can never have enough Survivor to watch, there’s also an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode as well as my pre-game interview with Stacey in the video player below. And for more Survivor scoop all season long, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. Now it’s your turn. Did Whitney and Keith make the right move in siding with Jim over Ozzy? Did Albert err in handing the idol over to Benjamin? And was that one of Survivor’s grossest food challenges ever? Hit the message boards and let us know. In the meantime, I’ll start warming the stove to prepare next week’s scoop of the crispy!

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