Blurry Denzel and Barbara Anderson design an elaborate Trojan Horse plan to watch episodes 7 and 8 of Survivor: South Pacific for revenge, basically. Quick reminder: this Watch-Along will have spoilers for the entire season, so tread with caution if this is a concern for you.
Barbara Anderson: Last week, we mentioned that these two episodes are so crucial to the season and to Survivor as well. However, let’s start with an important and iconic challenge. That’s right, it’s time for the twin challenge inspired by the classic Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill. How did they justify having pairs of castaways acting and painted as twins, BD?
Blurry Denzel: I had actually blocked this from my memory since I first watched South Pacific. Probst had an insanely long explanation of how this movie was a metaphor for family and teamwork and all this other stuff that I could not be bothered with. Survivor put way more thought into this film than Adam Sandler did. Justifying it is super easy because coincidentally this happened to be the most important challenge of the whole season with the merge right around the corner.
BA: Before breaking down the importance, the big thing I didn’t remember about this challenge is that it is a blindfold challenge. Now, blindfold challenges are pretty much the bane of many Survivor fans, but this one doesn’t have the crotch-level obstacles. Instead, it decided to go all out on ditches, wet sand, and the shallows of the ocean, which is even worse. Add to that the fact that you have other castaways in charge of rope to bring them back safely and it is a miracle that we only had one mishap, but it becomes so crucial to how Upolu beats Savaii in the long run. Why is Cochran in charge of rope management?
BD: Count me in as someone who thinks blindfold challenges can die in a fire. I don’t understand why rope duty is a job. Even more than that, I wouldn’t put Cochran in any position where he can single-handedly make or break a challenge. Savaii spent the season killing any confidence this already neurotic player had. They constantly put pressure on the dude.Just strap him up to Ozzy and call it a day. This has been a pre-merge with super close challenges between even teams and something like organizing where people go make such a difference. Upolu was better prepared and they reap the benefits in a huge way.
BA: Ah yeah, the benefits of watching a bad Adam Sandler movie. At least we get some good shots of Sophie faking joy and Coach selling Jack and Jill harder than Probst did after of course praying before, during, and after the reward challenge.
BD: Badass Sophie is amazing and very relatable here. Coach has never met potential camera time he couldn’t take advantage of. This challenge meant that Upolu could not be down in the numbers no matter what. Either Christine comes back and you could Matt Elrod her or you are tied in the numbers and play rock chicken with Savaii. So many more options because they won the challenge. I’ll sacrifice my eyes for 90 minutes of Jack and Jill for that.
BD: Savaii has more problems because they lost the challenge but they have noted super strategist Ozzy to come up with a solution. First off, I need to say that this shit is wild. This is a such a convoluted plan. Ozzy is going to voluntarily get voted out so he can be the conquering hero who beats the mighty Christine on Redemption Island. This is the same Christine that has murdered all of her former tribe with looks and words. Ozzy needs the numbers to be even at the merge. But there is even more to this glorious mess. Ozzy is going to paint Cochran as the turncoat who got Ozzy out, so Cochran can go be a double agent. What could go wrong, Barbara?
BA: Everything can. But, let’s break this down a bit. First of all, Ozzy is working on some real faulty evidence that Christine is going to go back to Savaii. If Mikayla had beaten Christine, then this plan makes more sense, especially with the fact that Albert was coaching Mikayla throughout the duel. Secondly, if Ozzy is going to go through with this plan, then don’t change your mind after the challenge because you want Cochran gone so much that all of Savaii is trying to perform Jedi mind tricks on Cochran so he can go and beat Christine at Redemption Island, and then change your mind the next day. Also, don’t call the person you are trying to send to be a double agent a weasel multiple times when you don’t have to. What else is bad about this plan?
BD: Giving that “weasel” your idol probably isn’t good either. Ozzy thinking he isn’t completely transparent is not a good read. I will say this about Christine. Even though she hates her old tribe with every fiber of her being, she is not going to rocks for the other tribe. They also aren’t playing their idol on some rando they only know from Redemption. Most likely she gets voted out at merge. That is a way better scenario than risking your own game. Keep your idol, bet on your challenge ability and go to battle 5 vs 6 without Cochran there. He needs to go here.
BA: Absolutely, they have done everything to tell Cochran he’s sixth with them and they still decide to go through with this plan. However, I think the big factor that seems to be clouding Ozzy’s mind here is how we went out the “last time”, ie Micronesia. The fact that he even includes how we went out “last time” because he didn’t play his idol vs how he went out “this time” with an idol play in his dumbass story to sell to Christine and Upolu is just proof that he is majorly overcorrecting. But, let’s be real here: he is telling everyone he wants to be the proto Chris Underwood and determine his own destiny, but what he really wants is to go to Redemption Island, hang out by himself, fish, and win duels. That is his ideal Survivor experience.
BD: I would go to Redemption to avoid Jim too. Redemption Island is built for Ozzy, and we’ll see that play out later in the season, but if he loses to Christine, he’s out and a laughingstock. Too high of a risk for very little reward. I want to know why the rest of his tribe (besides Cochran) went along with this stupid plan.
BA: So, the merge episode centers on Cochran and his decision to flip on Savaii. Throughout this episode, Upolu talks about how Cochran was treated on Savaii. From my perception this time around, I do not see real out and out bullying until after Cochran loses the Jack and Jill challenge. What do you think?
BD: They weren’t bullying him throughout the season but they also never made him feel like any more than a nuisance to them. Say what you will about Edna not doing anything after being told she was on the bottom, at least Coach made sure to make her feel important. It makes sense for her to not flip from her perspective. Cochran isn’t getting that same treatment from Ozzy. Just getting to be with people who aren’t waiting for you to live up to the negative expectations they have for you must mean the world to him. He needs to flip on Savaii. Yeah, Upolu never ends up breaking but Savaii is a sixth place dead end at best for Cochran. Would Savaii had been better off having someone else be the double agent or are they doomed no matter who it was?
BA: I think Jim would actual be perfect at this role because he can play up how he wants to take out someone like Ozzy, but no one else on his tribe does because he has that schemer attitude to him. I could also see Dawn handling it pretty well because of her maternal nature. Keith, Whitney, and Ozzy would all be horrible at it and give up the game quicker than Cochran does. Something that Savaii forgets about Cochran is that he is a major fan of Survivor so when Coach gives him the sale on the hammock, it works doubly well.
BD: Cochran goes about the flip in a weird way though. I don’t get flipping on the revote. That seems like unnecessarily twisting the knife and maybe that is what he wants. Keith ends up being the one who gets hit. Good on Upolu for picking up that Keith is someone who has affected Cochran the most. Cochran was itching to jump but Upolu did play it perfectly. Savaii got outplayed by the likes of Brandon Hantz.
BA: The selection of Keith is odd at first because Keith seems to be one of the Savaii people who likes Cochran until Ozzy’s sacrificial play. After that, Keith is done with him. Secondly, I hate how Cochran owns up to the flip immediately after Probst reveals the Keith vote. Let the tension build and see who Savaii blames…which would probably still be Cochran, but it could have been interesting to see who they might have blamed if it wasn’t him. As good as Upolu is as a whole throughout the montage of almost everybody wooing Cochran, no one is better than Coach.
BD: I’ll pay Coach a compliment here. This is the best move in Coach’s Survivor career. He efficiently calls out the bullshit double agent plan and makes it clear that no one on Upolu will flip. He then takes it to another level by appealing to Cochran’s emotions. He pinpoints that Cochran is being ostracized and gives a reason for why that is the case that is going to endear himself to Cochran. That one scene could’ve been in his winner’s reel if he played it right. Coach on this season is all about being more than a joke, more than bullshit ramblings, and for this moment I believed him.
BA: Coach is just so excellent in how he handles the merge. Upolu was able to find a way to beat two immunity necklaces and a hidden immunity idol from sending them to a rock draw that they certainly would lose just based on odds because of how well they were able to get Cochran to side with them. I do think it is interesting how often in these two episodes you don’t hear Cochran talk about winning, but rather lasting as long as he can. He already knows he is drawing dead no matter what here, which is good, I guess.
BD: Him flipping kills off any Savaii jury votes for him. He is sticking it to Savaii here and going elsewhere. He does try to help out one Savaii member in particular and what happens there is downright baffling.
BD: Cochran tells his entire plan to flip to Dawn and pleads with her to join him. Dawn is on board at first, knowing how Cochran has been treated. She has a change of heart later, which is fine. Sometimes sticking with the tribe is good. What I don’t get at all is why she doesn’t tell Savaii the plan or at least that Cochran is not with them. This is the do or die vote. I can’t come up with a rational explanation for this. A huge blunder by Dawn here. Can you make sense of this?
BA: I think she honestly hopes that he will change his mind, even though that defies logic. This is a great example of Dawn the player vs Dawn the human that will become prevalent during her stint in Caramoan. Dawn does have some good strategic ideas, but she sometimes get lost in the emotional appeals. Cochran reminds her of her son, so of course, she wants him to do well, even when that mean she won’t do well.
BD: That checks out. Now I don’t see how what exactly Savaii can do if Dawn does tell them. Cochran is too far gone. He mentions not wanting to draw rocks but I think that is just a cop out. He may still flip even if you play the idol on him. You are better off trying to guess correctly. It’s still frustrating seeing Dawn sit on information.
BA: Yeah, especially since this merge vote is so reliant on any scrap of information they can get. Of course, there should have been a red flag when Cochran was hesitant to agree to rocks in front of all of Savaii, but what can you do?
BA: Let’s give some attention to Upolu and their alliance based on religion. This is basically when it becomes almost a full-blown parody of itself when Coach demands everyone to get on their knees after they win Immunity. But, I don’t know if that is worse than them praying to find a Hidden Immunity Idol.
BD: Praying to find the idol is worse. Without that scene, Coach doesn’t really differ from other players who have brought their faith with them on the island. Coach knew where the idol was and manipulated his tribe into bonding by using their faith against them. If that crosses the line is up for debate but I know from that scene that Coach is better at Survivor with experience,he’s still Coach.
BA: Full disclosure, we didn’t realize that we didn’t talk about Coach’s idol hunting scene from last week until after we posted it, but it works here because it shows just hypocritical Coach can be under the guise of religion. It’s a fine line that Coach is walking right now because it’s one thing to vote people out, but it’s another thing to vote people out using religion. I think Sophie is on the right track when she describes it in a confessional as it feeling “icky”.
BD: And this isn’t even the most icky move Coach pulls this season.
Our Feelings on the Season So Far
BD: These two episodes are a vast improvement over last week’s grouping. While the moves were bad or baffling, it was fascinating to see, The season is tough when it comes to the likability of the cast. This has been the toughest thing for me to get past and I know it will get even darker before the dawn.
BA: I can see your point about the likability of the cast. You got a lot of bland and toxic personalities in this crew. However, they are playing. We just saw them try something novel with Redemption Island, which is something no one really tried on the previous season. Also, bright side: we got less Brandon this week. Finally, I hope that Dawn wordplay was totally intentional.
BD: You know me well enough to know it is. I do think them trying things makes this better than RI but i need more than that. I’m scared for next week being a downgrade but we will see. I also promise not to subject my friends to South Pacific at their place again this week.
BA: First of all, shout out to your friend. Secondly, yeah, you need to lower your bar a little bit.
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