Blurry Denzel and Barbara Anderson declare their free agency, shout about Benjamin, and continue the Watch-Along of Survivor: South Pacific with Episodes 4-6. Quick reminder: this Watch-Along will have spoilers for the entire season, so tread with caution if this is a concern for you.
Cochran vs Elyse
Barbara Anderson: Man, what a weird set of episodes that feel like table setting for the rest of the season. Let’s start with Savaii and their decision to take out Ozzy’s closest ally in Elyse over Cochran the outsider. I feel like this is a needlessly complicated move by everyone in Savaii, but before we get there, why don’t we talk about Ozzy’s attitude before Elyse goes home? He’s a little too cocky. Sure, he has the hidden immunity idol in his back pocket and a safe majority, but he should know that he could get blindsided at any time.
Blurry Denzel: Ozzy spends the first part of these group of episodes on auto pilot, which is his default demeanor on Survivor. So much of this comes easy to Ozzy. He can fish like no other, he is insane in challenges and always looks comfortable out in the wild. He is the best, maybe ever, in certain aspects of Survivor and everyone can see. From Ozzy’s perspective, why ever get rid of the best? Why even follow someone who isn’t as good as Ozzy? Ozzy doesn’t seem to think the others have their own ideas of the game should go. It’s easy to get one over on him because he doesn’t play defense. The thing is, why would his tribe even want or need to play someone like Ozzy without voting him out? He has shown to be pretty easy to read and maneuver against when you have to. I get it from players like Dawn and Cochran, who are on the bottom, but it seems like his alliance messed up here for what is not even a big payoff.
BA: All of this starts from Jim being Jim and realizing that he may not be as good with Ozzy as he thought. In Episode 4, he starts the groundwork to get out Elyse, even though Dawn and Cochran both would be down with getting out Ozzy then and there. Dawn even brings up Ozzy’s name. But, Jim is desperate to keep Ozzy because of Ozzy’s strengths as a player. However, Ozzy’s downfall starts by two of his major weaknesses- his arrogance and his lack of forward thinking.
BD: We have seen many Jims over the history of the show. The thing that surprises me is how quickly Keith and Whitney are on board for this move. They don’t seem like rock the boat players. They are in a pretty good position. They aren’t the older mom (Dawn), the schemer (Jim), the super fan (Cochran), or the challenge beast (Ozzy). They are in a position to coast. Their only threatening feature is as a duo and they go and break up the other duo. It’s baffling and what is even more boneheaded is that they think they can escape blame if they throw rogue votes on Dawn. Ozzy isn’t an idiot, but he can see through that. A player like him is only going to take it as an insult. Why wouldn’t they go after Cochran? They’ve made it clear he does not fit in with them.
BA: Those two and Jim are so spooked by the fact that Ozzy mentions how Coach will take out Albert. Jim immediately thinks that Ozzy will take either Keith or Jim out next, when clearly Ozzy’s number one priority is taking out Cochran. Anyone who knows Ozzy knows he is all about taking out physical weakness. Elyse is such an easy boot down the line because she is just an extra vote this alliance may need. Cochran is the boot that you need to get rid of ASAP.
Free Agent Ozzy
BD: Though there were a lot of moving parts that were involved in the one big decision Savaii had to make in this group of episodes, Ozzy still garners the most attention from his tribe and the camera. He has stated in the premiere that he has matured as a player only to spend the next couple weeks undermining that declaration. Ozzy was a lovable, though douchey, underdog in Cook Islands. All the fans lost their shit in Micronesia when he stepped on the island He even got a hero’s welcome at the start of this season but the more he is on screen, the more the bloom is coming off the rose. After his closest ally got voted out, he angrily declared to the whole tribe that any alliance with him is dead. Ozzy is a free agent. Do you think we have reached rock bottom for someone who was a once beloved figure?
BA: Not yet because he is not asking to be voted out. He still wants to play this game. Also, what he is saying about Tribal is right, but he goes about it in all the wrong way.
BD: Having Cochran, who is on the bottom, say you are acting like a “stupid bitch” and get positive reactions from it seems pretty bottom to me. Anyway, I agree that Ozzy is right and i do think he should be bothered. They both blindsided him and made him look ridiculous. His tribe not telling him the plan is a red flag. He acted like such a child though. He is not having fun anymore so he is just done. Telling the tribe about his idol was a bad move that reeks of desperately saving face after being played. The free agent thing is illogical. Where is Ozzy gonna go? He isn’t safe anymore. He needs to not pout for so long, talk up wanting to work with them and if you need to, stab them in the back after merge. Some of them are kind of smug about this whole thing and I would like to see shit go sideways for them.
BA: My only disagreement with you is that I have seen Ozzy return for a fourth season. That is truly the bottom of the barrel for his arc on Survivor. I do think that he thinks that Coach will work with him in a way that his alliance at this point will not. I also think that Ozzy hasn’t seen much of Coach’s previous seasons.
BD: You’re right, having that hair and Debbie being your demise is really rock bottom.
Mikayla vs Edna
BA: Meanwhile, on Upolu, the returnee gets the upper hand on the newbies strategizing to take out his pocket vote. It also ends the horribly problematic Brandon vs Mikayla storyline but in arguably the weirdest way possible. Of course, we have to talk about the fact that Brandon decides to tell Edna in Episode 4 that she is not in the Core 5 because he has decided to play like a Christian and stop the lying.
BD: Jesus Christ, Brandon is such a liability. Running wild needing to express his truth in an environment that Coach is gaining from, but it does not feel like it is worth it. Yes, this is the end of the awful Brandon vs Mikalya storyline, unsatisfying as it was. Brandon should’ve been shipped off long ago after peddling all the misogynistic nonsense, with Coach’s approval. Instead he plays the victim once Mikayla says one thing about his uncle and he gets to bulldoze through logic to get his way. He even says he wants to keep Mikayla but needs to honor his word that didn’t seem there two days ago. I do think Mikayla would’ve flipped and why not? She was ostracized through no fault of her own. Edna is more fiercely loyal, though she shouldn’t be. So there is some game reasons to keep her but no one should pretend Brandon is thinking game. The more interesting and less infuriating aspect of this move is the emergence of Badass Sophie but mostly Albert as someone who isn’t just along for the Coach ride.
BA: I think this move is fascinating because of the fact that Sophie and Albert are willing to expend social capital on someone who is openly disliked by one of their alliance mates. Sure, they think that Mikayla would be better for them in challenges, but yeah, Mikayla flips post-merge for sure. I could see her getting along with people like Whitney and Dawn very well. Plus, if you are Mikayla in this situation, would you really want to work with Brandon and Coach after this? I also think it is fascinating that a lot of the move seems to come from Stacey’s Redemption Island diatribe that Albert is Benjamin’s second in command and he desperately wants to not be seen as that. But, I honestly think Mikayla is not worth the spent social capital, especially as you see the way that Coach acts and talks about Edna.
BD: In a little look down the road, I believe that losing this battle is the best thing to happen to Sophie and Albert’s game. This is all about control, trying to get your people further along. Albert has a chip on his shoulder after Stacey’s words at redemption. He needs to get out from Coach’s shadow. He is not the assistant coach. He is his own man. Albert does seem to underestimate Coach though. I think it is still some residual feelings from seeing his previous seasons. Albert doesn’t realize that Coach has people like Brandon and Edna that are willing to give real importance to Coach’s antics. Coach shows that he has the control but in a way that is so transparent. Coach never feels like he isn’t full of shit even as he tries to come up with reasoning for his decisions to the audience. What do you think of how Coach is handling things so far?
BA: Coach sorta botches his explanation to Albert and Sophie but he probably thought that he nailed it because Coach has no self-awareness. Like yes, Coach is right to keep someone who is an easy meat shield as well as someone who is extremely loyal, but he doesn’t have to say that she will do anything that he will say. He should phrase as how Edna will be beneficial for the alliance. However, the swing vote here is not Coach, Albert, Sophie, or Brandon. It’s our favorite Rancher Rick.
BD: What a great lead in to get to talking about Rick. I have nothing to say. Coach had a conversation with Rick, Rick probably reasoned that a loyal Edna would be more valuable for his game. Good on Rick for figuring things out and he got multiple confessionals in one episode. Everything’s coming up Rick.
BA: For those keeping track, Rick got three confessionals in Episode 6. Three.
Our Next Three Boots
BD: We lost three more people this week, including Stacey, who will be sorely missed. Easily one of the best characters on the season, Stacey was always on the outside and was never able to break through despite Edna being right there to be voted out. So many great moments from Stacey, like her reunion with Christine. It’s a crime that those two were never on The Amazing Race. My favorite thing was that she was not here for any of Coach’s antics. Bad gameplay? Yeah, but goddamn was it worth seeing.
BA: Stacey showed some perceptiveness by telling Brandon to keep his eye on the Brandon/Sophie/Mikayla trio. She also showed no patience for Coach during both of her exits. Refusing the hug after being voted out is so good. I also enjoyed her calling Coach “Benjamin”. Of course, those moments have been talked about. My favorite Stacey moment is her dueling confessionals with Mikayla about how obvious Edna is being.
BD: We also lost Elyse, in a move to cut down Ozzy. We didn’t get much from her this season. She was close to Ozzy and she used Redemption as a platform to say that she can’t trust her former tribe and will jump ship. It’s the company line out there. She didn’t really shine on camera but could’ve made it far and took home a nice 50 thousand if things broke right.
BA: She also got some moments to talk about her Native American heritage, as some of us discussed in comments last week. That is something that you don’t really get as much any more. It’s a small miracle if we can figure out a contestant’s hometown, let alone anything else personal like that minus who shows up for the loved ones visit. But yeah, she is just there.
BD: We have covered Mikayla a lot these last two weeks. She was handed a raw deal with the tribe she was on. She did come across quiet during tribal but I understand that happening after dealing with Brandon. You can’t win an argument with him even if you are right. I voted for her to make it on Cambodia because of how this season turned out and was a little bummed when she didn’t make it. She is young and athletic plus chill enough not to cause headaches, I think under different circumstances she can go far.
BA: I still feel bad for her because she does seem like a likable personality, but her knowledge of the game was clearly lacking. What is shocking about that is in her bio, Mikayla mentions that she has watched the show for a while, but she just didn’t understand that she had to fight a bit to stay in at Tribal or that challenges are not called games (even when they do feel like games). I actually think what hurt her in Cambodia is that she did not look the same in her photo. She was already borderline forgettable, so that was a bit of a death knell for her campaign.
Our Favorite Bad Moves
BD: My favorite bad move of these episodes is Survivor deciding to run that disgusting pig challenge where players have to retrieve pieces of meat using only their mouths and spit it out into a bucket. I muted my TV and scrolled through my phone during this. Thank you Survivor for building in a break from my South Pacific rewatch.
BA: My favorite bad move comes from….Probst?!? Yes, my favorite bad move comes from the host who decided that instead of Tribal Council during Episode 4, Savaii would be the perfect guests for the pilot to The Jeff Probst Show. Instead of talking about the game, they would talk about feelings. While feelings can impact the game, there wasn’t a way that Stacey could argue her way out of leaving (which is a purpose for Tribal Council, last I checked). Also, this was probably the way that Probst and Production could confirm that Brandon had revealed to the entire tribe that he was a Hantz. It’s not like they had roughly 80 million confessionals about how Brandon is just a little Russell.
Our Feelings on the Season So Far
BA: I want to clear something up from our initial post. I am not saying SoPa is a top ten season. Far from it. I just think it deserves a little bit more credit than bottom of the barrel. That being said, on the surface, these were some rough Survivor episodes.
BD: These episodes had me annoyed, it probably shows a little in these posts. I think it is a case of a few unlikable personalities clouding up everything, There are some character stuff I did like but it’s mixed in with a lot of dread. Also every RI segment feels like a drag and that is even with people I enjoy like Christine being there.
BA: That being said, this is a strong challenge season (minus the ones used as RI duels). You got a lot of fun returning classics like weight-bearing and Alec Christie’s favorite, the meat collecting. Let’s take a look at that challenge.
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Oh….oh well. Also, Production stumbled upon two perfectly balanced tribes. If only they could do that in more modern seasons.
BD: The evenness of the tribes is one of my favorite things about this season. Low bars and all that. I will say that I’m really looking forward to next week, which includes a top 30 Survivor episode
BA: Yes, I have a weird feeling that next week’s two episodes are going to be great fun to discuss with all y’all. After all, we may be getting to one of the two big moments that this season is remembered for. Join us then!
After being an off and on viewer for 14 years, Barbara watched the season premiere of San Juan del Sur and the rest is history. And by history, she means winning two Survivor fantasy leagues, becoming the resident Cambodia contrarian and Survivor gossip queen and lurking in discussion forums. Oh, and she’s totally not a witch.
Favorite seasons: HvV, Philippines, Australian Outback, China, Cagayan
Favorite players: Sandra Diaz-Twine, Jerri Manthey, Denise Stapley, Aubry Bracco, Courtney Yates