Purple Rock Watch-Along: South Pacific Episodes 9-10 and 12

Blurry Denzel and Barbara Anderson join The Family and watch Episodes 9, 10, and 12 of Survivor: South Pacific.  Quick reminder: this Watch-Along will have spoilers for the entire season, so tread with caution if this is a concern for you. Also, we did not watch the clip show. Please feel free to discuss it in the comments below despite that. 


 Discussing Cochran

Barbara Anderson: As we all expected, these three episodes are a relatively quick resolution to Cochran’s flip. Of course, we have to first discuss how the remaining Savaii handled the decision. First of all, you got Ozzy being probably the most bored off pissed person I have ever seen.

Blurry Denzel: That was a pretty funny moment with Brandon stepping in for very unnecessary protection. I don’t know if Ozzy is just used to being blindsided or felt that he was living on borrowed time in this game but he took everything pretty well, especially in comparison to Jim and Whitney. Survivor has a long history of people being blindsided by a vote and confronting the person responsible in the dead of night. It’s actually pretty understandable to want answers in the moment but this case felt extra vile. Jim exclaims that Cochran a coward who he never wants to talk to again, a win for Cochran if you ask me. Whitney tells Cochran that he disgusts her for doing what he did after Keith and her saved him multiple times, which they shouldn’t have done in the first place. I find it extremely hard to sympathize with them in this situation. 

BA: Of course, we now know that Whitney and Keith were forming the foundation to their real life marriage, but during the airing of the show, Whitney comes off really badly in this stretch of episodes. In the same episode where she talks about how Cochran disgusts her twice, she also cries at a Tribal about how she is being villainized by The Family. I am so confused by this. Cochran does his best to handle his former tribemates, but everyone knows how this is going to end, especially Cochran. After all, he has waited 11 years to play this game and he is not going to leave it to chance.

BD: Cochran was in a tough spot. If he goes to rocks and actually succeeds, he is still gone at six or best case scenario is a goat. Now flipping kills off many of his potential jury votes as Savaii (besides Dawn) is not voting for him. I think the reality is that he was drawing dead heading into the merge no matter what he did. He doesn’t do the best job of trying to save himself once Savaii is picked off. He does rightfully identify Edna as the person he needs to flip a vote. What I don’t like is the gratitude plea he tries to make. No one owes you shit on Survivor. Cochran got played by Coach, Sophie and the rest of Upolu. He didn’t save them, they used him. That is not the best way to appeal to people who no longer need you. I think the move is highlight how hated you are and try to get in that way. Even then, it’s an uphill battle. 

BA: If Upolu was as cutthroat as Savaii claimed they were, they would have cut Cochran where they cut Ozzy. Instead, they showed their “gratitude” by allowing him to (somewhat technically) outlast his former tribemates. Of course, I’m sure at this point, Cochran was happy because at a certain point, his priorities seemed to have changed. I noted last week that Cochran rarely mentioned winning in those two episodes and others in the comments picked up on the vibe as well. Stick to the Plan had a great comment about Cochran, but what I really like is this line “What if [Cochran] flipped not with an eye toward success on this season, but on a future one?”. I absolutely agree with that and I think a lot of other people do too. A prominent example of this is a discussion Rob and Josh had on The Evolution of Strategy. I also think that Cochran’s character arc becomes becomes this massive meta game changer where we start to see people realize that they are not going to win the million this go around, so they start trying for another go around.  After all, we are currently in the third of four seasons in a row with returnees, so anything is possible. 

BD: If that was Cochran’s plan, than major props to him. His future does end up being pretty bright as he wins the game of being Probst’s best friend. Cochran 1.0 was a memorable player. He was able to be relatable with a lot of Survivor fans with his love of the game and his struggles. Survivor found a gem in narrative casting. I can listen to Cochran talk about the game on the island anytime. I do think sometimes he tries too hard but when he is most himself, he has been a bright spot on what has been an overall dim season to this point. Also, Jim has never returned and I’ll always get pleasure from that because I can be petty sometimes.


Ozzy’s Farewell, Round 2 and Redemption Island

BD: Another big character of the season that gets their torch snuffed is Ozzy. This was inevitable once Savaii was down in the numbers. Ozzy is the most intimidating immunity threat of all time at this point of Survivor. He has also found idols in multiple seasons. Getting out someone who decreases your chances of being safe as much as Ozzy does is the person you get out immediately, at least usually. The biggest impact Redemption Island has this season is the power it gives Ozzy. Ozzy rightfully points out that on Redemption Island he doesn’t have to provide for everyone, just himself (and RI guests). He gets to stay strong and focus on challenges while interacting with everyone on the jury. Ozzy becomes a bigger threat out of the game rather than in the game. Should Upolu have gone against conventional wisdom and kept Ozzy in the game, where he could perhaps be more controlled?

BA: I think Upolu has to know at this point that if they keep any of the non-Cochran Savaii alive, then they are just asking for trouble later down the line because that group will become a voting bloc. Ozzy is just a massive landmine in this post-merge that Upolu will have to detonate twice as Ozzy gets more perks to being on Redemption Island. Ozzy doesn’t have to get his hands  dirty with voting out people. At this point, he has only voted out two people correctly (of course, one of those was part of the Trojan Horse plan, but still). As he puts it, he is getting to take the “higher road” to a potential victory. Do you think that really is the higher road?

BD: For Ozzy specifically, yes. The more Ozzy has to interact or strategize in the game, the higher chances he has of screwing up. He can turn off other people with his attitude. He can get outplayed by more savvy players. I would bet on him making enemies. He will lose control of his narrative with others involved. On Redemption Island, he’s the hero he believes he is. This is the best shot Ozzy has to win Survivor and I feel like that only happens if he takes this road. 

Not rock bottom

BA: Speaking of Redemption Island, let’s talk about it. This feels like a vast improvement over the original in one simple regard: only one person wins and stays. I don’t know if that was a change they did once they realize that Ozzy would probably be the post-merge victor, but it feels like a great improvement over Redemption Island’s post-merge sausage party. Thoughts on that?

BD: I’m all for getting people out as quickly as possible. Redemption Island is not an interesting place for TV. There isn’t the same strategy discussions or idol searching or paranoia there or whatever factor makes Survivor loved. RI does seem to work best when someone is in solitude. You could spend less time when you only have to hear one person. Also, I think being alone adds a mystique to the Island. 

BA: Especially when they are struggling to add more to Ozzy that they are having to repeat the shots of him in multiple episodes. We get it: Ozzy is thriving while everyone else is struggling. Also, I want to apologize to the people who corrected me during Edge of Extinction. We absolutely spend more time on Redemption Island, especially when you got camera hogs out there like Ozzy or intriguing stories like Matt in RI and Candice and John in BvW.

Dawn, It’s Been Real

BA: Someone who could have been really intriguing by herself on Redemption Island is Dawn. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be thanks to a bunch of pesky dishes. I do think I may have overrated Dawn last week in the post and comments. She has shown that she is a good social player throughout this season who was able to leverage her challenge strength into a better spot in her tribe. However, her strategic acumen was indeed lacking because she should have sold Cochran out. She even says that right before her boot tribal.

BD: I find myself liking Dawn more the second time I watched this season. While I always felt she was a fascinating character, I didn’t remember how much of a Caramoan game was already here. Dawn is just so likable. I want to spend time with her on the Island. I can talk to her and know she will be supportive. Yeah, she has the occasional breakdown but I know I won’t get into arguments with her. Also, that woman is strong as hell. I would be intimidated going up against Dawn in challenges. She is a lot more cutthroat in her next time out and I think that is what is missing here. I do think Upolu makes the right move by cutting her sooner than later. You don’t want an underdog like Dawn getting toward the end. She was definitely the most dangerous Savaii member left, even if others wrongfully claim it’s Jim.

BA: Yeah, Jim the Rhino may be an immediate danger, but as Albert correctly points out, Dawn is a danger down the line. But, she is not a snake. She is more of a chameleon who can blend in with the others, especially given her religious background. Dawn is just so genuine and such a good twist on “tough older mom” trope that they were started to really hammer hard in this stretch of Survivor. She starts out like Holly Hoffman, but she ends up being a more social Monica Culpepper 2.0, especially during the eat or compete challenge.

BD: Well, Holly Hoffman also ended up being the best player on her season but I get the point you were making. Real quick on the other eliminations. Jim is someone who would be a scheming headache more than anything else. He is constantly going to throw mostly mediocre plans against the wall but you never want the lone gem of an idea to stick. Whitney was also voted out. I thank the show for getting that one over as quick as possible. 

BA: Whitney doesn’t even get final words. Yes, Whitney is someone who is often lumped in with the purple edits, but it’s weird because I feel like she is much more memorable than your Leifs or your Chelseas or your Julias. Maybe it’s her background in entertainment or maybe it’s the behind the scenes stuff, but you definitely get a vibe for who Whitney is as a person-and it’s not good. As for Jim…look, I have expended a lot of time on him. I’m so glad he didn’t make it on Cambodia, because that season would be lower than this one for sure.

This is for Blurry Denzel


The Downfall of Coach

BD: The people still in the game continue to maneuver their way to the endgame. Coach is currently in the best position. His game has giving me a disturbed feeling at times but his Family plan is paying off. He has control over players like Brandon. Rick (presumably) and Edna. If people are looking to flip on him, they won’t be able to get the numbers. He is perceived as the person in charge of things and is most likely to receive credit for things at final tribal. All he has to do is finish strong. Well, Coach is no Boston Rob. 

BA: After his best moment as a player, Coach has some not so great moments in this stretch. First of all, he decides to befriend Ozzy on his way out the door by sorta promising him that he will work with him when Ozzy returns from Redemption Island, even though Ozzy is easily the biggest threat to Coach’s game throughout this post-merge. Secondly, he tells Cochran that he believes Albert is trying to blindside him, which in theory would be a good idea, except for the fact that Cochran will use that information to try to prevent his own demise in the game later on. Finally, when asked by Probst at multiple Tribals if he is indeed the leader of The Family, he says that he is not, even though everyone knows that he is. Are there other moments of Coach bumbling in these three episodes or would you like to break each one of those down?

BD: I think those are the main moments where we see Coach screw up. I think it boils down to Coach not owning his shit. He still has this “honor and integrity” warrior persona, with extra religious seasoning this time, that he needs to live up to. He sees Ozzy as his equal. Ozzy is the man he needs to slay in the end. Ozzy is the person that gives credence to his self professed nickname. Albert is trying to play dishonorably by making alternate plans that goes against Upolu and Coach can’t stand for that unless it benefits him. He is in this together with the Family. To be fair, it’s smart to not potentially put a target on your back. My issue is it comes off as insulting the intelligence of others when claims to not being the leader. There are ways to downplay your control while seeming authentic. You are the leader as your experience makes you the best voice to follow but the others are so good in roles that it makes it easier to move forward. Saying something like that, I think works better. You call yourself “Coach” who the fuck are you trying to fool? He is becoming his own worst enemy. 

BA: It’s like he is desperately trying to Boston Rob, but his Coachness just seeps out of him. Boston Rob at least owns the fact that he was the biggest target in Redemption Island. Coach just can’t, which means that you have people like Albert trying to verbally outmaneuver him at Tribal in front of the jury. He leaves himself open in so many different ways, but he just can’t see it because he is convinced that he is the winner of the season already. Sure, Boston Rob was probably fairly sure that he was the winner, but he also knew that Ashley Underwood or Grant could stop him. Coach just can’t see that far ahead, which lead to him making bigger mistakes down the line.

Bolivar Ben

The Downfall of Albert and the Rise of Sophie

BD: Coach’s biggest threats in the game are Badass Sophie and Albert. I found the most interesting parts of this group of episodes is how those two are going about the game. Albert sees himself as the best player on the island. He also needs the others to see it. He dreads the idea of someone like Coach being seen as the mastermind. He wants to put plans together to show that he is really the force. I think this is a mistake and ends up being a detriment to his positioning in the game. His plan to blindside Edna is not good. I think if you put a betrayal plan together, you need to go after Coach. I think Edna is a half measure. The “she might take you spot” argument is best served when you can’t vote out your enemies. 

BA: He has to know that Edna is below some other people in that alliance, including himself. Yes, Coach does entertain the notion of taking Edna and Cochran to the end, but even then, he has to realize that people like Sophie could easily stop that from happening with a string of immunity wins. I really do think that Albert is trying the Cirie/Courtney move without realizing that seemingly no one wants to take Edna to the end. Edna is just the sixth in their alliance, while Courtney is quite possibly the best second placer to ever not get second place.

BD: He also jumps on board the “Cochran deserves to stay” train a little too much. That is a red flag to his alliance that he is willing to throw them under that train. I think Sophie saves him multiple times from becoming enemy #1 while also quietly displaying she has the power Albert wishes he had. Sophie shines here with the time she is given. She shuts down the Cochran talk before it gains momentum. She makes sure that Savaii is ousted without ever promising them shit, so they can’t feel burned by her. She is an assassin. At this point, the perception others have of her game still isn’t the highest but Sophie doesn’t make many mistakes in the paths she take. Her steadiness makes her dangerous. You can’t catch her sleeping at the wheel. Plus, she shows herself to be quite the challenge threat.

BA: Sophie’s big weakness in her game is her social game towards Savaii. Yes, she doesn’t promise them anything, but she also doesn’t really talk to them as far as we know from the show. That is something they won’t forget. However, they won’t also forget how Albert is desperately trying to get any jury votes he can. He knows that he won’t have Edna’s vote (another reason why he is desperate to get rid of her sooner rather than later, which makes no sense to me), but he wants in on Savaii’s votes. The problem is most of them know his game. They know that he doesn’t do anything around camp and basically only talks to them to get good with them on their way out.  A great example of that is getting rid of his reward so that Cochran and Coach can enjoy a spa day for Cochran’s “birthday” (another bad attempt on Cochran’s behalf to stay longer).

BD: I agree about Sophie’s weakness in this game. I also think Albert is coming off way more phony than he realizes. Looking forward we’ll see if they will rectify this or go deeper in the hole.

Our Thoughts on the Season So Far

BA: I personally thought that these three episodes would be the lull for the season. However, it is definitely table setting for the true endgame. Our major players get some spotlight, minus one who will become the biggest Upolu landmine in the game-Brandon.

BD: It was actually a relief to get less Brandon, with the exception of a couple of tribals. I needed time with players like Dawn, Albert and Sophie. Even Edna provided something different, even if it wasn’t all that good. I still think these episodes were kind of a lull, or at least a comedown from the previous two episodes. Certain players I found myself disliking more, which sucks because that has already been a main criticism of the season for me. I still don’t like that RI is a thing. I rather have Ozzy out of the game but will admit that it makes for interesting discussion. I’m looking forward to seeing how players fail next week. For a bad season, it does end very strongly. 

BA: The Sky is Falling mentioned that this season is more interesting than at least ten other seasons, and I agree with that thought. You have some compelling stories that are being told decently and the end is extremely good and interesting in a lot of different ways. It is also some of the darkest stuff that Survivor has dealt with, but that is what makes South Pacific unique. It answers a question that Survivor hasn’t really dealt with before: what happens when an alliance formed using religion makes it to the end intact? Join us next week to find out how that ends.